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Monday, January 14, 2013

This Is A Test....

I remember when I was a little girl, we didn't have 24 hour a day TV with hundreds of channels.  We had three channels that ended at midnight.  After than, on one channel, anyway, there would be a screen of striped colors with the following announcement:  "This is a test of the emergency broadcast system.  If this were a real emergency.....".  The test was showing how viewers would be warned if there were ever a real emergency.  Along with the test came a loud blaring horn.  An annoying warning that something was wrong (or would be wrong in a real situation).

There is a sort of "warning system" in the Bible that will show you and I if we are allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us and show whether we are growing in our spiritual lives, or not.  We are given this gift at baptism, according to Acts 2:38.  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for theforgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is said to be our helper, teacher, counselor, comforter....and many other descriptive words.

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 
John 14:26

The Spirit will teach us and remind of, but we have to allow God's Spirit to work within us and help us. When we don't allow Him to work within us and do the job He came into you to do, we are grieving Him.  

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 
Ephesians 4:29-31

So here is the test.  It's from Galatians 5:16-23.  The heading in the NIV says "Life by the Spirit".  Basically it is a list of traits that come from the sinful nature, then a list of fruits (character traits) that come from the Spirit.  We will find ourselves in one of the categories - maybe in both of the categories. Either way, we will be able to examine our lives by this list and "test" whether we are growing in the Spirit or not.  

16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

So what if we find that we are not producing the fruits of the Spirit like we should?  What if we find areas that need improvement (which we all will)?  What do we do?

First of all, PRAY.  Pray and ask God to help you grow in that area.  Ask Him to soften your heart to allow the Spirit to work within you.  And ask him for opportunities that will cause you to grow in that area.  He will help you.  He wants to help you.  Prayer is the first step.

Second, open your eyes.  There are opportunities to use each of the fruits of the Spirit every day.  The problem is that sometimes we're so caught up in our own lives that we're too busy to really open our eyes and see what is going on around us.  There are people who need YOU everywhere.  There are people who need to hear about Jesus all around you.

And third, take action.  Just seeing things doesn't cut it.  We must ACT!  We must DO!  We must step out of our comfort zones and work for the Lord.  That's how we will produce those fruits of the Spirit.

It would be nice if our bodies/souls/temples of the Lord (within us) had a warning system where a light would flash and a loud horn would blare when we were in spiritual danger, but God didn't make it that way.  He did, however, give us the best guide ever to test ourselves - and that is by His Word.  It will convict us and it will encourage us.  But again, we must open our eyes, our minds and our hearts.  We must be receptive to what we read and have the courage to listen to those warning signs.  

Remember that you and I are not alone.  We have a counselor and a helper.  God's Spirit is waiting to help us. Always!

1 comment:

Wa Wa Waughs said...

HA! I was thinking how funny that would be if we all had a horn or light blinking every time we acted selfishly, etc!

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