The 23rd Psalm is unquestionably one of the most comforting and encouraging scriptures in the entire Bible. It is the song of the sheep. It is a song about a sheepís confidence and security with its shepherd. If you know that Psalm you know that the whole Psalm is a commentary of the 1st verse. "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." Look at
the first 4 verses, The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His nameís sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Here is what I know, my Shepherd is committed to my well-being and all I have to do is follow. He will always be with me to take care of me and to lead me in right paths. Even if the path is scary, I donít have to be afraid, because I know He is with me and He is committed to protecting me. And I say, "Wow," that is exactly what I want. I want to know
that whatever I do I am being led by my Lord. I want to know that the decisions I have to make and the choices I make and my reaction to things, and my goals are Godís leading. I want to know what I am supposed to pursue and what He wants me to do. Donít you? I want to know what His will is for me. I will never forget reading, what the benefactor of the famous Rhodes
scholarship, Cecil Rhodes, said, "If there is a God and He cares for men, then the most important thing in all the world, is to find out what he wants me to do and to do it."
Our God also wants us to know what His will is and He wants us to do it. His overall purpose and plan for your life is-What? To be like Jesus. God loves you just as you are but He loves you too much to leave you that way. The born again life is the life of learning to live again like Jesus. Do you understand this? It is a transformed life. A life of
morphing from a caterpillar to a butterfly. He doesnít want you to walk on water, or turn water into wine, but he does want your character and conduct to be like Jesus and that takes some Holy Sweat. Remember that Paul told Timothy to exercise himself to godliness; intentionally workout, exercise like in a gym, use some Holy sweat, to be Godly (1 Tim. 4:7).
I. The Holy Spirit In Jesusí Life
Now, here is what we know about Jesus, Although He was fully God he was also fully man and submitted Himself to the will of the Father, under the leading of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 11:1-2 says, "There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of
wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord."
Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18), "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;"
Luke 4:1 says, "Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness."
Though He was fully God, He was also fully a man and so He yielded Himself to the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit of God. I canít explain that, I only know that it is true. "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me," He said.
II. The Gift of The Holy Spirit in Our Lives.
Now, here is an important truth. God has come to be within every one of you who have trusted in the person and work of Jesus. Letís look at Johnís gospel for a moment:
* John 7:37ff,
*John 14:15-17 and 25-26
* 1 Cor. 12:13
The point here is that every believer has the indwelling presence of God with them all the time and forever. John 14:16, Matthew 28:20 and Hebrews 13:5 remind us He will never under any circumstances ever leave us or forsake us. Do you believe this?
So, here is a question, why is He here? What does He want to do with us?
While this is a whole course of study in Seminary and takes a life of experience, let me tell in brief.
A. He wants to help you to change. Being born again, is a spiritual birth and the Holy Spirit is given to help us to morph. Look at 2 Cor. 3:12-18. In Christ, we see that we are not under an old religious system but under grace and the Holy Spirit is helping us to morph. Has your life changed since you have been born again? Do you exhibit more love,
joy, peace, patience, self-control, and less anger, frustration, anxiety? Are you quicker to forgive, have a greater interest in the well-being of others, find yourself doing things you never thought you would do for the glory of God? Where does that come from? It is the work of the Holy Spirit.
B. He has come to teach us Godís word and Godís will. That is what our Lord said in John 14 and again in John 16. He will help you to remember what Jesus has said, and will guide you into all truth. Look at 1 Cor. 2:9-16. The Holy Spirit helps us to understand deep Biblical truths about God, about ourselves, about Sin and Salvation, Heaven and Hell,
the Future of our world, Satan and demons, the God Ė man and Savior, and about Himself. It is His presence that makes these truths make sense in our minds.
C. He has come to enable us to do Godís will (Romans 8:1-14). Morphing and becoming like Jesus is not possible by ourselves. Neither is the ability to obey Godís word and will. Changing from prejudice and hatred to love; from anger and malice to forgiveness and grace; trusting God with our lives by faith; giving 10% or more of our income away;
volunteering our time to serve others, and more, is impossible apart from Godís enablement. Jesus our Lord said in Matthew 28:18-20, "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20
teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. All the power and authority of the universe is Jesusí and He is with us always. So there is no reason, no excuse for not trusting and obeying Him. What He is telling us to do, He also is here to enable us to do.
III. Some Observations about Being Filled with the Spirit?
Now there is a lot more but, this is enough to show us that God is with and in us by His Holy Spirit so that we might be like our Lord Jesus and carry on His life and ministry. But here is the big question! How? How does He lead me? How can I tap into His power? How can I know when He is speaking to me? Romans 8 uses such language as walking according
to the Spirit, or Living according to the Spirit, and being led by the Spirit. Paul will tell us in Ephesians 5:18 to be filled with the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit and being led by the Spirit are both used in Luke 4:1 of Jesus. Paul will also tell us to walk, or live our lives, in the Spirit, and to be led by the Spirit, in Galatians 5:16-18. My question again is,
How? How can we do that? How can I know Godís will? How can I know if what I am doing is by His Spirit? Well the answer is, it takes Holy Sweat. Letís look for a few moments at Eph. 5:18.
Notice a few things with me please.
A. This is a command, not a suggestion.
B. It is something I determine to do, not something that happens to you. This is contrary to what some of our Charismatic or Pentecostal friends might say. They think that the filling of the Spirit will be accompanied by some supernatural phenomena. But not so.
C. The Greek tense implies that it is something to be constantly repeated and not a one and none thing. Keep on keeping on being filled with the Spirit. It is something that I must constantly determine to do.
D. It is contrasted, not compared to being drunk with wine. When someone drinks alcohol they are allowing that alcohol to control their mind and actions, their speech and character. Allowing your mind and body to be controlled by alcohol has no redeemable value, no good purpose (meaning of dissipation or debauchery). So, donít turn to alcohol to cope
or try to figure out what to do.
E. It has the idea of control or guidance. To be filled could mean to get all the tank can hold or to get more of something, like filling your glass or filling your fuel tank, or filling your stomach. Or, it could mean to be controlled by something. If the Holy Spirit were a thing and not a person, it might mean to get more of it, but since He is a
person, you have all you will ever get, which is all of Him. So it doesnít mean to get more of Him it means to be controlled by Him. Like a person who is filled with anger or rage, or a person who is filled with joy, or excitement. To be filled with the Spirit or to walk in the Spirit, is to allow the Holy Spirit to have control of my life; to led me and guide me.
IV. How Does the Spirit Fill Us?
But I still havenít answered the question, How can I walk in the Spirit, How can I, a mere mortal be a Spirit Filled Christian and thus be more like my Lord Jesus? How can I know if what I want, and what I am pursuing is Godís leading in my life? Or how can I know what decision to make, about school, a job, where to live, and what decision to make? I
want God to lead me like a Shepherd. But I canít see Him and at times I canít feel Him. I wish He would just hand me a letter, or like in the TV series, Touched By An Angel, I wish He would send an angel to give me a little insight. I wish I could have a dream and see a staircase to heaven, or hear an angel tell me what to do. I wish God would just speak to me and tell me
like He did the Prophets, what He wants me to do. But I need to learn some things and get some exercise as I learn to discern and follow the leading of my Shepherd. So here is what I know. It takes:
A. Desire Ė If you were to take a careful look at Ephesians 4-6 you would see that it begins with an intentional desire to be different from the world and to live like Jesus. It means I want to put off the old man or woman, that I was, and to put on Jesus, like taking off dirty ragged cloths and putting on new fresh clean cloths. Thatís what Ephesians
4:17 Ė 5:18 tells us. I want to know what Jesus would do and then I want to do that.
B. Self - Denial. Ė This will take Holy Sweat and exercise, because every day and sometimes every moment, you will struggle with what you want versus what God wants. You must be willing to say like Jesus, "I may not want to do that but never the less, not my will but thine be done." This is what we call the battle of the flesh. I donít always want to
forgive, or confront, or go on the mission field, or serve, or show hospitality, or grace, even though I know it is Godís will. Or, the problem is that we often tell God what we want and then expect Him to work out the details. But we must begin as servants or soldiers reporting for our orders for the day. When Paul first encountered Jesus, He asked, "Lord what would you have
me to do?" (Acts 9:6)
C. Pray, Ask, Seek, Knock, ask God for directions. Commit yourself to following His Spirit today. After you ask, seek, and knock, learn to listen. We will talk more about this in two weeks.
D. Dig into Godís Word- Most of what God wants us to do is revealed in the book, by direct command, principle, precept, or example. Listen carefully, The Holy Spirit will never work or speak but in accordance with what God has revealed in His Word. I am always cautious when I hear someone say, "God told meÖ." I always want to know a support text for
that. When Debbie said, God told her to adopt, she knew that James 1:27 says, this is the mark of true faith. And, that we are only Godís children because He has adopted us. Most of the decisions we need to make can be made by simply applying principles from Godís Word. There is no substitute for meditating in this book. Jesus said that He the Spirit of truth will bring Godís
word to your mind. Like you, I wish God would just give me a divine zap and show me every move, but He wants me to store Godís word like info on a computer. Then when I need it, He brings it up.
E. Discern the Presence of God. What if you mediated on Psalm 16:8 for a few days? I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. I will be aware that God is always with me. I will live in His presence. You must never forget this. God is always with you. Whether you feel or detect His presence or not, He is
in every moment. He is here, right now, in you. He is there when you are alone with your computer or with your TV. He is with you when you are seeking His will. He is with you when you are tempted, and He is with you when you are walking in the Spirit. Always, live in light of the constant presence of Godís Holy Spirit.
F. Discuss the Possibilities with Spiritual people. If you donít sense the right way to go. Seek counsel. It doesnít have to be your pastor, but you know people who will seek Godís will or who know Godís word well enough to advise you. Proverbs 15:22 says, "Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established."
Sometimes God speaks through His Holy Spirit in the lives of Godly people.
G. Depend on God. After you have Godís answer by command, principle, counsel, then by faith go forward and trust God for the results. Remember Proverbs 3:5-6; "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths."
And if God seems to be silent, the best advice I can give you is to stay put, and keep doing what you know to do. Godís answer may be a day, week, month, or year or 4 years away for a reason. There may be something that is according to His time, or something you have to do even though you donít know what it is right now, or something you need to learn
or go through. Be faithful where you are until the answer is clear. Learning to walk in the Spirit and letting Him fill you takes some Holy Sweat. But you can do it. The God who loves you and sent His Son to save you, wants to be your Shepherd and lead you as He changes you to become more like Jesus.
V. The Evidence of Being Filled With the Spirit.
By the way, how will you know if you are walking in the Spirit? It wonít be by some supernatural action like speaking another language. It will be by your conduct and character change. Just take a quick glance at Ephesians 5:18ff. Paul says five things will be obvious.
A. By your Speech Ė it will be laced with Godís Word.
B. By your Songs Ė You will be singing songs or listening to music that is laced with praise and worship of God.
C. By Your Satisfaction Ė You will be thankful for everything.
D. By your Submission Ė You will want to be a servant. Husbands will care more about their wives needs than their own. Wives will care more about their Husbands success and needs than her own. Children will want to honor their parents, Parents will want to be parents for their children caring about their spiritual as well as their physical growth.
Employers will want to take care of their employees, and employees will care about doing their best for their employers.
E. By your awareness of Spiritual Warfare (6:10ff). You will be aware of Satanís desire for you to ignore Godís leading and will.
Here is the conclusion, God loves you and saves you just as you are. But He has plans for you. He wants you to be like Jesus in your character and conduct. And, not just some of you but all of you. And He has given you all that you need to do that. He has promised to help you do that if you will use a little Holy Sweat and exercise He will fill your
life, reveal His will to you, and led you like a shepherd.
Letís pray about it.
If this life lesson has encouraged or helped you let me know, or if you have any questions, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you. (p.s. I wonít put you on a mailing list or ask you for money). It would encourage me to know that you were encouraged.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman