The main topic that God seems to be teaching our household this month is about the Holy Spirit. It seems everyone we talk to, everything we read, all our studies & gatherings with the Church all have much to do with the Holy Spirit.
Last week in my Bible Study group, we talked about the fact that the Holy Spirit would never leave a believer but that His work could be quenched - I Thes 5:19 (or grieved Eph 4:30) by us.
It has nothing to do with God's love for us changing ...but it has everything to do with choices we make that can quench, stifle, or grieve the Holy Spirit (a real being!) that dwells in each believer. Simply put, by the choices we make - we don't allow Him to "work" at full capacity in us.
I couldn't get that word, "quenched" out of my mind. Finally I realized, maybe this is something God wants me to pursue further - so I looked up the word, "quenched" and saw that it meant stifled, destroyed..... then looked further and saw that it could also mean, "to satisfy" as in to quench my thirst. Yes! That's the connection I was thinking of!
The Spirit can be quenched by us (stifled).... or it can quench us (satisfy). God has given us the free will to make choices daily in how we respond to Him.... and dependent on those choices we will be either "filled with" (which I am realizing that word really is better described as controlled by or intoxicated with) the Holy Spirit....or the opposite choices will lead us operating under our own efforts - thirsty and hungry.
Then I remembered this post on Alan Knox's blog http://www.alanknox.net/2011/09/life-in-christ-and-filled-with-the-spirit/#comments and a comment there about eating & drinking Christ that I needed to pursue further as I thought about being thirsty & hungry. So I looked up John 4 & John 6 and just loved those passages.
"I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." - John 6:35
"I am the bread of life." - John 6:48
"Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me" - John 6:57
Jesus is our bread! Bread nourishes... and bread is something we must partake in daily - multiple times, throughout the day! (especially when pregnant I might add.... really!)
If we choose to stay "plugged in" (John 15) to Jesus throughout the day, the Word, the Bread of Life - we will captivated by His love. As we focus on Him instead of ourselves - we are filled with the Spirit!
The Spirit is always desiring to help us grow in christlikeness. And when He is not quenched or grieved - He is the one who will teach us and guide us to become more christlike when we are out living our life! There will never be a point where He has dried up. He is always working & always ready for us to be ready! He is the "SPRING of living water welling up to eternal life" - John 4:14 - not a quick afternoon shower or water from a faucet. He is a SPRING desiring to be uncovered so He can pour forth and overflow abundantly.
The question and plea we should send to God should not be to ask God for MORE of His Spirit... we have all the Spirit in us we are gonna get. The plea should be for God to help us get out of the way and be nourished by Him alone. To help us see how we are quenching Him!
We must ask God to help us realize our 'work' is not things we need to do - but our efforts all start to giving Jesus the devotion He deserves (listening, submitting, paying attention to, giving time & praise). We must ask God to help us desire to partake in the "Daily Bread" of Jesus, The Word - throughout the day - so we will not quench the Spirit but will instead be filled with Him.
When we are Spirit filled, Spirit lead - He will give us the power to follow Jesus & become more like Him. The Spirit will be the one to remind us what the Word, Jesus has taught us and who He is as our Lord & Christ. The Spirit's main role is to bring glory & honor to Jesus.
It all starts with giving Jesus our time and praise and love. It all starts with relationship with Him. So that's what it looks like - partaking in the Bread of Life daily, allowing His love to fill us so we will not quench or grieve the Spirit, so that the Spirit can then help us LIVE OUT love (bearing spiritual fruit & worshipping God all come as a result).
This is why it's so important to study His Word & spend time with Him each day.... I really get it now. Truly getting this is so powerful to me. It isn't about trying harder. It's not about setting up a daily discipline of studying His Word so that we could have more knowledge. It's about being transformed by who we are nourished by. It's about giving Him control of our lives by who we pay attention to and are nourished by.
So how should leaders get others to become more christlike? Tell them how important it is to study the Bible every day? I guess you can tell them that --- but there's no point in telling them that if they don't understand it's all about relationship. This transforming life only starts when we tell Him we are ready for a personal, real relationship with Jesus Christ and want Him as Lord & Savior.... and then give Him the time that we would give anybody who has captivated our hearts!
We can't try to get others to change by getting them disciplined in actions & their own efforts.... and focusing on those acts... that creates nothing but self-righteous followers who quench & grieve the Holy Spirit. (He is quenched when we try to do His work ourselves!!!) .... We must instead show people how much Jesus has done for us, how much He loves us and how He desires so much to be the CENTER FOCUS of our life! Help others be consumed by His love by letting them see US totally enjoying Him. God is most glorified when He is enjoyed!
HIS love changes the world. His kindness leads us to repentance. The RELATIONSHIP with Him is what changes us - not any efforts we put forth. It's all about relationship. LOVE God, LOVE others. And it all starts with giving Him the time & attention so He can fill us with HIS Love. (I John 4:10) THEN we will never be hungry or thirsty. We will be quenched and our world will see that!
"The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let the one who hears say, "Come!" Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life" Rev 22:17