Over the last several weeks I have shared about the Holy Spirit and my quest to have a greater understanding about what it is and the role it plays in our lives. I have shared ways that have worked for me to unleash more of the Holy Spirit in my life.
As we empty ourselves, die to our ideals and repent, we need to make sure we are filling ourselves up. I have noticed on my own journey, no matter how much I empty myself, if I’m filling up my empty space with the wrong stuff – all my work is in vain. Empty spaces tend to fill themselves up.
As I continue to create more room for the Holy Spirit, I have been working hard to fill those empty spaces. I have found a few ways to begin to fill that space:
We must fill ourselves with God’s word. I think many people feel like if they don’t have 30-60 minutes to read the bible, they skip it all together. Some of my most meaningful times in God’s word have lasted 10 minutes. I take a chapter or two and read it. I then find a verse or a concept from the passage to think about or implement throughout the day. Our phones make reading the Bible incredibly easy and convenient. I have a plan I follow on my phone that alerts me when I don’t read. The days where I’m not able to get my reading done in the morning, I find a break in my day, open my phone and read. Meditating on one truth has been more powerful for me than just skimming over several books at a time.
I’ve been challenged recently to put my devotionals aside and just focus on reading the Bible. Devotionals are amazing and I am sure I will read many in my lifetime. But we also need to remember, devotionals are someone’s interpretation of God’s word and are based on their personal experience.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
As you can see, God’s word is not a bunch of historical stories, it is alive and active. God wants to speak to YOU, TODAY, through words written thousands of years ago.
We must fill ourselves with prayer & worship. Prayer doesn’t require specific words, a specific time or a specific place. Pray as you run, pray in the car, pray while you go to the bathroom. Go before God as you are. Talk to him like he is a friend. If you don’t know what to say, go to the Psalms. Find a Psalm focused on praising God and read it to him. Put an empty chair next to you and pretend God is sitting there next to you. Just tell him about your day. When you are feeling discouraged or disconnected, put worship music on. I do this several times throughout my day and it is amazing how worship music can dramatically change the atmosphere around me.
We must fill our life with life-giving community. You become like the people you spend time with. If you hang out with people who exercise, you are much more likely to exercise yourself. If you spend time with people who are following Jesus, you are much more likely to follow Jesus. A couple things to keep in mind as you seek community. 1. You have to be intentional. Friendships organically happen when we are in high school and college. The shared time and space force relationships. The older we get and the more busy we get, the harder it is to make friendships. Bryan and I are very social. People often ask how we do so much and have so many friends. It is not an accident. We have chosen for me to work part time so we have time for friendships and community. It takes one of us to have the emotional and time margin to make the plans, keep the house clean and prepare to have people over. And when we find people we enjoy, we invite them over. I have found most people appreciate an invite. 2. It takes time. Making friends is like dating. You meet someone, go to coffee; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. You have to try again, again, and again, and then something finally clicks and you find your people. You will have a couple awkward moments along the way, that’s okay, I promise it’s worth the investment.
Life-giving community has accelerated and strengthened my faith like nothing else. In part because there is nothing like being around someone who is walking out in the fullness of who God created them to be. They aren’t bound to worldly expectations. They have a confident humility. They exude grace and peace. People (myself included) flock to them. We want to have what they have.
How do they get that way?
They are filled with the Holy Spirit.
I say this because He has made it clear to us what our lives will look like when the Holy Spirit is unleashed in our lives.
Galatians 5:22-23 tell us “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control….”
He has given us a Litmus test. A litmus test is a way to prove or measure something. I believe what Jesus is saying to us in Galatians 5 is (paraphrase mine) “Do you want to know if you are filled with the Holy Spirit? Ask yourself, are you loving? Are you joyful? Are you peaceful?….if not, come to me, let’s examine your heart.”
I encourage you to memorize Galatians 5:22. Write it on post-its and put them all over the house, your car or your office. Throughout the day, take a pause. Look at Galatians 5 and ask, “what am I lacking here?” Ask God to show you. Examine your heart. Is there something in your life not fully surrendered, something stifling your joy? Is there a sin in your life keeping you from peace?
Then do your part, surrender-even if it’s the 20th time you have done it today. Repent. Stand up and take a little walk, forge a new path. Fill your mind and heart with God’s word. As you empty yourself, fill yourself up with truth and worship. And as you do, you will become less and he will become more.
I want to end this series about the Holy Spirit with a story about my dog, Aspen. For whatever reason we got Aspen in November, right after Thanksgiving. It was cold and she spent the first few months sleeping and laying around. Towards the end of February it was nice enough so we decided to take Aspen to the dog park. We took her off her leash. At first, she looked at us not really sure what to do. We had never allowed her off her leash before. She looked again and before we knew it-she took off. She was SO fast! The four of us just stood there with our eyes and mouth wide open. We had no idea our lazy, sleepy dog could run so fast.
She was unleashed.
I think that is an incredible analogy of what sin does in our lives. Sin is the leash keeping us back from being the fullness of who God created us to be. We often find ourselves sleeping when we have been designed to run. The more we work out the knots of sin, the more the Holy Spirit will rush through our veins bringing the fullness of the life intended for us.
And do you know what will happen when you become unleashed from sin?
People around you will step back in awe and wonder how you learned to run so fast.
Which in turn will give you opportunity to link arms with someone and say, “What do you know about the Holy Spirit?”