Fill My Cup, Lord

July 10, 2014

Source: Stuff and Things Blog

Yesterday I posted my latest revision of a sermon called How Can I Be Filled With the Holy Spirit? This is actually the third version of a sermon that I first preached over 40 years ago. The topic seems even more important to me today than it did when I was younger. As I roll along life’s highway, I think I have a better understanding of what Jesus meant when he said, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). When we confess our weakness and inadequacy and yield ourselves to the Lord day by day and moment by moment, we are filled with the Spirit and so enabled to serve God effectively.

Today I got a note from a friend who asked some very pertinent questions:

Now that I said the prayer and invited the Holy Spirit to control me, now what? What do I do next? Read the Bible, go witness, wait for a fuzzy feeling?

That’s a fair question, especially since I included (for the first time) a prayer to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Knowing all the objections that can be made to a prayer like that, I still think a written prayer helps many people formulate their thoughts. It helped me to write it. I hope it helps some folks who read it.

Here is what I wrote in the paragraph just after the prayer:

I have one final word of advice for you. Do not wait for a feeling or an emotional experience. Go and serve the Lord right where you are. As you walk in the Spirit, others will see Christ in you, and God will give you everything you need to do his will.

I’m all for “fuzzy feelings.” I get them myself from time to time. But I don’t think anyone should wait for a “fuzzy feeling.” The verses following Ephesians 5:18 suggest three very practical results of the filling of the Spirit:

Singing to one another (v. 19).
Giving thanks to God “always” and “for everything” (v. 20).
Submitting to one another (v. 20).

I am struck by how mundane and non-spectacular these are. They don’t involve miracles or strange languages or visions from heaven. When we are filled with the Spirit, we will love to sing, love to give thanks, and love to submit to others. We will be changed from self-centered louts into people who worship gladly, give thanks always, and enjoy letting others take the lead.

We should think of the filling of the Spirit as the “daily fuel” of the Christian life. That’s why we need to be filled again and again and again. Recently I listened to a message Ray Ortlund Sr. gave some years ago at Glen Eyrie, the Navigators conference center in Colorado. At one point he commented on how often God tells his people to “wait” on him. It’s hard for us Type A, supercharged, gotta-get-the-job-done types to slow down and wait for anyone, even God. Ray Ortlund made a wry observation about that:

We often say, “Don’t just stand there. Do something.”
God says, “Don’t just do something. Stand there.”

No amount of busyness will compensate for the lack of divine power in our lives. It’s hard to slow down long enough to understand how empty we really are. When we finally say, “Lord, I’m empty,” then we discover the truth of being filled with the Spirit. That should be our daily cry because we need the Lord more than we know.

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