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The template of our traditions: Last Sunday night I felt strangely stirred toward a particular expression of worship, but as I looked around me I decided against it. At that moment of decision I realized that many of us in that room were bound by a particular tradition, a tradition passed down through generations of similar worship expressions and it was the tradition. I’m not saying that this was bad, God knew our hearts. But should our tradition monitor the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit our tradition? I simply raise up these questions for reflection and perhaps coffee conversation. It is worth thinking about in relationship to others; even ourselves.

God’s command to “be filled with the Holy Spirit is found in (Ephesians 5:18-21). When we open our lives to Christ, receiving him into our lives as Savior, we become recipients of the first part of God’s salvation, deliverance from the penalty of sin, through His shed blood on the cross. At that same time we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who brings new spiritual life to birth deep within us.

It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who enables us to live in the second part of God’s salvation: The second part is deliverance daily from the power of sin. This is accomplished through being “filled with the Spirit,” or controlled by the Spirit. We are empowered as we are controlled by Him to live as God has called us to live when He said, “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

The filling of the Holy Spirit is for all of God’s people: His control is not just for a select few, and Paul’s call upon the Ephesian church to be, “filled with the Spirit,” was a command, not just a request. Being filled with the spirit is to be a way of life for the Christian, not just an isolated event. The verb tense of Paul’s statement in the Greek would be, “be ye being filled”.

The Holy Spirit speaks: He will speak to us by bringing back to our minds Psalms and Scripture and spiritual songs, so we can be encouraged, and to encourage others. The Holy Spirit doesn’t work in a vacuum: he works through the Word. For example, the psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” We must put the Word of God in our heart to give the Holy Spirit something to work with. Col 3:16, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to the Lord.”

The Holy Spirit will speak to you giving you encouraging words from within: By his words you can be built up and build up others. “Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:27)

Come as you are; express your worship to God as the Holy Spirit leads you and that from your heart. We must give each other permission to express ourselves to God. Some may lift their hands, some may clap their hands. Some might bow their knees, others may not. It is the heart that God looks at. We need to treat each other with love and sensitivity.

According to Paul, if we are going to “make the most of every opportunity as Christians living during evil days” (Ephesians 5:16) Paul addresses the importance of the Holy Spirit, and how he aids us in doing this. We need the fruit of the Spirit, the wisdom of the Spirit, and the power of the Spirit to live in these days. Zechariah 4:6 reads, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” (You will succeed because of my Spirit.)

Worship through gratitude, John Stott writes: “The grumbling spirit is not compatible with the Holy Spirit. Grumbling was one of the besetting sins of the people of Israel”. (v20) Paul writes, “...always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We must understand this statement carefully. We are not called upon to thank God for evil. Don’t tell people who are going through hard times created by evil that they ought to be thankful for the evil. We must allow the context to interpret the text. Our thanksgiving is informed by the Nature of the father and the Name of the Son; giving thanks to the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Should an abused wife be thankful for an abusing husband? Is abuse of the Lord? Absolutely not! Should we be thankful for cancer? Plane crashes? Drunkenness? Broken homes? No. What we can thank God for is his willingness to enter into our hard situations and work them for the good of those who love him; who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Until next time,

Pastor Joe


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