"Fill me up, Lord," is a lyric from a song on the radio these days. I woke up with it in my mind this morning, so I went looking for it in the Bible, of course. It's not worded as a plea in the Bible; it's worded as a certainty. Psalm 16:11 reads, "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
There is quite a difference between a plea and a declaration. They come from totally different places in our lives. One comes from want, the other from confidence. Neither is wrong. When we ask God to fill us, often we have a list of things we want. We want the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2) - wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, power, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord. Or we are asking for the fruits of the Spirit given in Galatians 5:22 - love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
But when we come from a place of confidence we can declare, "You will fill me with joy . . . . " That is where we long to be. We hunger for the place of certainty, knowing that God wants all good things for us, knowing that he would never deny us, knowing that we have the rights of children of God.
For Reflection: Where am I today? Am I asking for or declaring the gifts and the treasures of God?
Let us pray. "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." I thank you, Lord.
Paul has one more use of "temple" in his letters to the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 6:15b-16, "What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.'"
In Paul's day there were temples to false gods, dead gods, which he contrasts with the temple of the living God. The living God lives in a living temple, not in a building filled with statues of false gods, whether Roman or Greek. The living God chooses living temples, and that is who we are. Not only did God live with us and walk among us, he continues to do so in believers today.
Further we should be separate from those who worship false gods (vs 17) and purify ourselves from anything that contaminates either body or spirit (vs 18). Paul said this because he knew how difficult it was to live surrounded by non-believers. It is easy to be contaminated by unbelief, by worldly ideas, by false gods, unless we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit
For Reflection: Am I entangled with false gods or unbelievers in ways that I shouldn't be? Have I been contaminated?
Let us pray. Jesus, let me in to your decontamination unit. I want to be wholly yours.
We are not only corporately temples of the Holy Spirit (see the February 10 post), we are also individually temples of the Holy Spirit. Paul makes this point to the Corinthian community in a section of his letter against sexual immorality. Obviously, immorality was a problem in the community because Paul writes to them, answering their questions about it. Not only have people been divisive, but they have been boasting, cheating one another, suing one another, and using one another's bodies for their own pleasure (1 Corinthians 6). Paul is quite clear that such things ought not to be happening in the church.
Again he says to them, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (1 Cor 6:19-20). By engaging in sexual immorality we dishonor our own bodies. By sinning against our very selves, we sink to a low level - a level unworthy of someone who has been redeemed at the price of Jesus' death.
For Reflection: Am I treating my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit? Am I getting the proper amount of rest, food and exercise? Am I guarding my eyes from images they shouldn't see, my ears from things they shouldn't hear, my mouth from things it shouldn't say? Do I remember the price that Jesus paid for my life?
Let us pray. Jesus, I'm sorry for the times when I have been careless and negligent toward my body or the bodies of others. I realize that my body belongs to you because it was created by you and redeemed by you. I do not have the right to do with it whatever I want. I thank you that your Holy Spirit lives in me.
We are not only ambassadors who live in an embassy, we are temples of the Holy Spirit. Paul emphasizes this teaching to the believers in Corinth. He first uses it in his exhortation toward church unity. The believers, the members of the church, corporately are one temple in Christ because God's Spirit lives in them as a body of believers (1 Corinthians 3:16). Therefore anyone seeking to destroy the unity of the church, as some evidently were, is seeking to destroy the temple of the Holy Spirit. This is not a good thing.
Being united in Christ is an important matter to Paul. He constantly warns against those who would try to separate or cause division in the body. We are not meant to be solitary Christians, or, as some have said, Lone Ranger Christians. We are meant to be part of the body of Christ. The body is composed of a diverse group, yet we are to be one in belief, one in the Spirit, as Jesus and the Father are one (see John 17).
For Reflection: Have I done anything to sow dissension in the church? Gossip? Criticism?
Let us pray. Lord Jesus, I know that you want us as Christians to be one just as you and the Father are one. That's a tall order, but all things are possible for you. I repent of the times when I have caused or attempted to cause division. I repent of being critical of others in the church. I repent of spreading gossip or rumors.
Those who have died in faith will rise to eternal happiness. It is this hope of the resurrection to which Paul refers throughout his first letter to the Thessalonians. Christians are not like other people who, when a loved one dies, have no hope of their continued happiness or of ever seeing them again. We will see each other again in the resurrection. That is our sure hope.
So we should not grieve as non-believers do when someone dies. And, in fact, we should not fear death. There is life beyond this one, and it is a better life. In heaven there is no pain, no illness, no sorrow, no mourning. In heaven there is the presence of the complete fullness of God. That is our sure hope (1 Thess 4:13-14).
For Reflection: This hope should make us happy. This hope should reassure us about our future life and the lives of others who are in Christ. Do we have this happiness and assurance deep down within us?
Let us pray. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us (Romans 5:1, 2, 5).
We move now to 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8. The topic is sanctification which comes from the Holy Spirit (v 8) through the avoidance of porneia (from which we get the word pornography). This word is translated variously as unchastity, sexual immorality or fornication (v 3). Sanctification, or holiness, cannot come without control of one's own body. Each man should have a wife chosen because of holiness and honor not because of lust (v 4-5). And certainly no one is to wrong a brother or sister through adultery (v 6).
Why not engage in fornication and adultery as those around them were doing? Because God is an avenger who calls the Thessalonians to holiness, to purity by giving of his Holy Spirit.
For Reflection: Temptations abound. Have I kept myself pure from pornography, unchastity, fornication and adultery? Besides sinning against myself, have I sinned against others by involving them in my fantasies of immorality? Have I been unfaithful to my spouse in thought, word or deed?
Let us pray. Jesus, we know that you call us to greater and greater holiness. But the world of fantasy lures us into unholy territory. Help us to bring every thought captive to you.
"The weapons of our battle are not of flesh but are enormously powerful, capable of destroying fortresses. We destroy arguments and every pretension raising itself against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive in obedience to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
"Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction" (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Upon hearing the good news that Jesus was the Messiah, that he died to set them free from their sins and to bring salvation to them, many people came to believe in Jesus. These words of the gospel message delivered by Paul and Silas were accompanied by powerful works of the Holy Spirit to heal and deliver people. People's lives were changed. They were set free from the power of sin and eternal death to live in the freedom that Jesus brought. They received the good news with such conviction that they were able to suffer persecution without faltering, even as new believers. Paul thanked God for the way in which they had received the good news. He said, "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
They had set their lives on a new path. What lay around the bend was unknown but they knew that with the power of God they could face anything. The word of God was at work in them.
For Reflection: What changes has the gospel, the word of God, brought in my life?
Let us pray. I thank you, Father, that someone preached your word to me and I too came to believe in your word and the power of your death and resurrection. I thank you for all who have preached your word to me and I thank you for opening my heart to receive it.
When Jesus sent out the apostles and disciples to follow his example (Luke 9 and 10 as we discussed in our last post), he gave them the power and authority to do what he did. Luke 9:1 says, "he gave them power and authority." In Luke 10:1, it says, "the Lord appointed seventy-two others." Those who were with Jesus were appointed with the power and authority of Jesus. In Luke's gospel, we don't have the same ending as in Matthew 28. Instead Jesus opened their minds to understand what was written about him in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms (Luke 24:44-45) and he told them to wait for the Holy Spirit to clothe them with power.
Since he would no longer be present with them in the flesh, they needed the power of the Holy Spirit to be with them. They receive that empowerment of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. Peter, the presumably uneducated fisherman, begins to preach from the Prophet Joel and from Psalms. And so the next chapter, the chapter of the church, the believers, our chapter begins.
Believers receive this power from on high, the Holy Spirit, in baptism. Sacramental churches also have Chrismation or Confirmation. Some add the "baptism of the Holy Spirit". Whatever we want to call it, we need the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, to enable us to live the normal Christian life.
For Reflection: Have I been baptized? Am I clothed with power from on high? If not, today is the day. If I have been baptized, do I act like it?
Let us pray. Jesus, I have been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. Help me to live up to it today and every day with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is in the house! As we saw in yesterday's post, in Luke's Gospel, Jesus' standing up and reading from Isaiah in the synagogue is the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. He then goes out to start fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy, as he said he would do. He teaches with authority (Luke 4:31-32, 36); he frees a man possessed by a demon (4:33-35); he heals many people (4:38-41); he preaches the good news to all who would listen (4:42-44).
Jesus does not ask us to do anything for which he did not give us an example. And just as he did not do things in his own strength, he does not want us to do things on our own strength. He had the authority of the Father and the power of the Spirit to preach, to free, to heal. He prayed before he began his ministry, he prayed all during his ministry, he continues to intercede for us before the Father (Romans 8:34).
For Reflection: If Jesus needed to pray, how much more so do I need to pray?
Let us pray. Jesus, you set the example. You laid out the mission. You showed us how to accomplish it - through our prayer, with the authority of the Father, empowered by the Holy Spirit and your own intercession. It is in partnership with you that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). You are the source, the holy one.
Jesus proclaimed his marching orders when he stood up in the temple of Nazareth and read from Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19).
These are the orders given to him by the Father and enabled by the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew why he was sent. He had a mission, a purpose. He also had help. He had his Father's authority behind him and Holy Spirit with him always. He embodied the Trinity. He was never alone in living out and accomplishing his mission.
For Reflection: If Jesus needed the Father's authority and the Spirit's anointing, how can we expect to get by without them?
Let us pray. Jesus, I see the mission you had and I want to follow your example. I too need the Father's authority and the Spirit's anointing. I want to embody the Trinity to the extent that I can because there are still people who have not heard the good news, who have not been set free, who have not been healed, who do not know of your favor. I need your help to walk in your footsteps and continue your mission of bringing the kingdom of God on earth.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.