Friday, March 7, 2014

Spirit Walking

                Have you ever wondered what it means to walk in the Spirit? Have you ever met someone that was so full of the Spirit that just being in their presence made you want more of Jesus? I can answer yes to both these questions. Last evening at our women’s study, we met Stephen, a man who was full of the Holy Spirit. If you have ever read the account of Stephen you will know that his life ended pretty brutally at the hands of others. (Acts 6-7) But, Stephen was a man who was full of the Holy Spirit. He lived a life that was controlled and directed by none other than God Himself. To me, that is what it means to walk in the Spirit. But, I wanted to make sure, so I went to my Lord and asked Him to show me what it means for me, personally, to walk in the Spirit.
               “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5
                Paul shows us what it looks like for someone to walk in the Spirit. He states that those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh. But, if we live according to the Spirit our minds will be on the things of the Spirit. To walk in the Spirit means that our lives will be controlled by Him and our lives will reflect His power over us. We will set our mind, which means that we will pay attention and give heed to the Word of God, for the Word of God is the owner’s manual on how to live in the Spirit. The only way we can truly walk in the Spirit is if we know the way He wants us to walk. You don’t leave home on a journey without directions. So we should not expect to walk the journey of this life without knowing where we are to go, and we can only know that through the study of His Word.
                Our lives are a continual movement of events that carry us from one place to another. I always picture the Mississippi river whenever I think about my life. Since I grew up along the banks of the Mississippi I have a firsthand knowledge of how peaceful and how volatile it can be. But, much like the
Mississippi, my life is constantly moving. It bends and breaks off into smaller sections, it moves faster in certain areas than it does in others. It can become slow when it begins to dry up from drought, it can flood when too much snow and rain fill its shores, and it can be the most peaceful, beautiful river I have ever laid eyes on. But no matter what is happening, the river keeps moving. But what does this have to do with living in the Spirit? We are the river that the Holy Spirit wants to constantly move. The Holy Spirit is to be constantly moving us and directing us in the way that God wants us to go.
                Think of it like this. You are a car, or a truck (whichever you prefer) the one who is doing the driving is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is to be constantly driving us to the destinations the Lord has prepared for us. But no matter what, the Holy Spirit is the one driving. He is the one that is constantly in control of your life, moving you through the channels of life. So if we are to live by the Spirit, then He must be in complete control of our lives. He must be the current that propels our lives. He must be the steering wheel, the gas pedal and the brakes.
                If the Holy Spirit is to control us, to guide us, to drive us, then our lives will reflect His steering and His influence. Paul writes in Galatians that those who live in the Spirit will bear the fruit of the Spirit. We know that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) If we live by the Spirit, if He is in control then these characteristics will be found in us. They will be what come out of us when we are faced with drought, floods and storms. They will be seen in us and through us in the good, the bad and the ugly of our lives.  But, if we choose to live according to our flesh, and set our minds on the things of the flesh, than what will be seen in us will be the opposite. We will be adulterers, unclean, idolaters, full of hatred and pride, drunkenness, etc. (Galatians 5:19-21).
                To walk in the Spirit means that everything we do and think is centered in the Spirit of God. We will reflect Him and not ourselves. We will be open and sensitive to His leading. His influence will be stronger than any other influence, whether from without or within. “Moral and spiritual life thrives on self-discipline and self-denial. Without them, it fades away.” (Dayton) We must train our minds, our hearts and our bodies to be obedient to His leading, His control and His desires for us. We must train ourselves to rely upon Him and Him only.
                “To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be energized and controlled by the third person of the Godhead in such a way that under the acknowledged lordship of Jesus Christ the full presence and power of God is experienced.” (Dictionary of Bible Themes) We should be a bunch of Jesus’ walking around. We should be a people so focused on God that our lives reflect Him and only Him. We should be so full of the Holy Spirit that when people meet you, they know that God dwells in you, and that they have just seen Jesus.
               I am not saying that we will look like Jesus physically, but that we will look like Him spiritually. All that Paul listed off for us in Galatians 5 about the fruit of the Spirit can also be used to define who Jesus Christ is. He is love, He is joy, He is peace, He is longsuffering, He is kindness, He is goodness, He is faithfulness, He is gentle, and He is in complete control. If we are to walk in the Spirit, if we are to live according to the Spirit, then we must focus on Him and Him alone. We must allow Him to take complete control of our lives- our minds, our hearts, our thoughts, our desires, our dreams, our goals, and even our very breath.
                The thing that set Stephen apart from others was the Holy Spirit. The thing that set the Apostles and disciples apart from the world around them was the Holy Spirit. Do we allow Him to set us apart from the world? Do people see Jesus in us? Are we allowing the Holy Spirit to be in complete control of our lives? Are we allowing Him to be the current that keeps us moving, and the Pilot of our vessels? To live and walk according to the Spirit means that we are reflecting Jesus in our daily lives, and that we are open and ready to be obedient to wherever His River of life takes us. Are you walking in the Spirit today? Is your mind focused on the things of the Spirit or of the things of the flesh? Whichever one you are focusing on, your life will reflect it.  

                Father, I pray today that we would become a people that are sensitive and open to the leading of Your Holy Spirit. Father, I pray for a fresh-filling today of Your Spirit. May people see Jesus in me, may they see the power of Your Spirit working in me and through me. I pray, Father, that we would all come to the fullness of the knowledge of Your grace, that we would become a surrendered people, fully controlled by Your Holy Spirit, and not by our own fleshly desires. May Your name be glorified, through Jesus Christ my Lord, forever and ever. Amen and Amen.