“Father, let me be weak that I might loose my clutch on EVERYTHING temporal. My life, my reputation, my possessions, LORD, let me loose the tension of the grasping hand. Even, Father, would I lose the love of fondling. How often I have released a grasp only to retain what I prize by “harmless” longing, the fondling touch. Rather, open my hand to receive the nail of Calvary, as Christ’s was opened– that I, releasing all, might be released, unleashed from all that binds me now.”
— Jim Elliot
I am in awe of how quickly my time of service here has flown by! Looking back, it has certainly been a beautiful whirlwind! Sitting here now, knowing that only one month remains I have begun to reflect on all that God has done in and through me (and in and through others around me) in such a short period of time. I really don’t know where to begin. In fact, I am not even quite sure that I could pinpoint everything God has done over the past month and a half. However, I know that I am not the same as I was before….nor will I ever be the same. I have been touched, lead, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit more so than ever before and at this point I cannot imagine wanting to go back to the way I was before. I am less of “myself” than ever before and it is absolutely awesome!
God is in the business of renewing hearts, minds and souls. Therefore, it is no wonder that each time we are open , willing and obedient to listen, see, hear and feel Him He is faithful draw us closer into His presence, revealing Himself to us and though us, transforming what little we bring from ugly, dead and broken into something unimaginably breathtaking, alive and whole. It is only when we are in Him that He will sanctify us into greater holiness for His glory! I am beginning to discover that to KNOW Him is to LIVE IN Him. I believe that this life of really KNOWING Him is the “abundant life” promised in the Bible.
Jesus promised this abundant life and we long for it, yet few Christians seem to have it. Why? I would propose that it is not God preventing us from taking hold of it…. but rather ourselves and the lack of living in and by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not an oversized electrical current you just plug into when you need additional help, or a theological concept, but just as real and active as Christ. He has personality as well as a specific job description and a definite desire to be an active part of our lives.
Galatians 5:22-23 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” The fruit of the Holy Spirit are the results of the Holy Spirit taking a role in the life of a Christian. The Bible makes it clear that everyone receives the Holy Spirit the moment he or she believes in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13-14). One of the primary purposes of the Holy Spirit coming into a Christian’s life is to change that life. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to conform us to the image of Christ, making us more like Him (Sanctification).
The fruit of the Holy Spirit are in direct contrast with the acts of the sinful nature in Galatians 5:19-21, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 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.” Galatians 5:19-21 is what people are like, to varying degrees, when they do not know Christ and therefore are not under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Our sinful flesh produces types of fruit, and the Holy Spirit produces types of fruit.
The Christian life is a battle of the acts of the sinful nature with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. As fallen human beings, we are still trapped in a body that desires sinful things (Romans 7:14-25). As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit producing His fruit in us and the Holy Spirit’s power available to us to conquer the acts of the sinful nature (2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 4:13). A Christian will never be completely victorious in always demonstrating the fruits of the Holy Spirit; not until we are glorified upon the Second Coming of Christ. It is one of the main purposes of the Christian life, though, to progressively allow the Holy Spirit to produce more and more of His fruit in our lives – and to allow the Holy Spirit to conquer the opposing sinful desires. The fruit of the Spirit is what God desires our lives to look like…and with the Holy Spirit’s help, it is possible!
It is kind of funny, a couple of weeks ago I was chatting with one of my sister’s here about how I suddenly realized that there are certain personality flaws (okay, we will call it by it’s original and authentic name: “SIN” ) that I have possessed for quite some time (in fact, as long as I can remember) that I was no longer battling with since my arrival here in Honduras. For those of you who know me (the good, bad and ugly) you know that I often times have a temper revealed in my sarcastic comments and my “smart mouth” type words. But three weeks into being here I realized I had not felt that unrighteous anger/temper I had battled with for so long and therefore, was honoring God more with my words of love and respect towards others. The other sin I have struggled with could probably be summed up as a form of pride, basically I think I know best and if things (ministry, dreams, goals, plans/schedules, relationships, etc.) do not go according to my expectations I may get finicky, controlling, angry, bitter, anxious, depressed etc. But since being here I have slowly become less and less controlling and high strung…. I would even go as far say I am relaxed, flexible and easy-going. For those who know me, I know that is hard to believe…. but God does miracles ( ; !
So I asked both myself and my sister here in Honduras this question, “Why is it that I can be one person here and a different person at home?” We both threw out guesses but none of our answers seemed correct. But after much reflection, prayer and time in the Word the Lord revealed what it was. It was certainly not my effort that has rid me of this sin (cause I have tried many times in the past and my efforts; while they may create habitual change for a while, always fail to provide lasting heart changes). And Honduras is just a place…. me removing myself from one place and coming to a different place physically was not/ and will never be the cure for sin. But the position of my heart before God really did/and will always allow Him through His Holy Spirit to work out the sin in my heart. While here in Honduras I have been intentional about allowing God to have complete control in my life and by God’s Sovereign plan I have been placed into circumstances where I have been given the grand opportunity to be completely dependent on Him alone. This is why I believe I have been changing…. because I have actively been living my everyday life practicing the presence of God through His Holy Spirit.
It is the love of the Heavenly Father, revealed through His Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins so that we might be reconciled with God and be able to enter into a relationship with Him by the gift Holy Spirit who dwells in us that really changes our lives! The cool thing about this is that we cannot be separated from the source of this change and that whether I am here, or there, or anywhere (that’s kind of Dr. Suess’ish sorry ( ; !) God wants to, can and will continue to work in me and through me. Although I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity to serve God and the people here in Honduras and would gladly accept the call to return one day, I know that I do not have to be here in Honduras physically to find God at work in my life or in the lives of others…. God works within hearts and the position of my heart it what truly matters.
I want to wrap-up with this final thought that God spoke to me during my devotional time this morning: God does not care about the greatness of the task…. rather, He cares about the love that accompanies the task. So whatever God has called you to do today, do it all in love and all for His glory. Live a life marked by His love by the guide of the Holy Spirit and you will discover the abundant life you have been promised! Grace and peace.