Death to Life

Have you ever felt that time is passing you by? My husband and I have talked on numerous occasions about this. How we feel that there is something else we should be doing, but the day-to-day life stuff always fills our days and next thing you know another year has gone by. We are physically alive, doing the tasks of our days, even enjoying some fun times, but it is almost like we are spiritually dead or numb.

Our spiritual side, the one that provides purpose and meaning to our lives, does not appear to be alive. Both my husband and I are Christian. We are active in our church. We love our God. We know that God has made our spirits alive. So why do we feel dead?

According to Ezekiel 37, a beautiful illustration of what God does when we are filled with His Spirit, the valley was full of dry bones, and the Lord raised the vast army from the dead. The Lord tells Ezekiel to tell His people that He will put His Spirit in them and they will live (vs. 14). So when we came to Christ, our spirits came alive because God filled us with His Spirit. So why do we not feel this way?

Now there are some times when we feel alive. In church, when we are in praise, our spirits are awakened and for the briefest of moments, we see with different eyes. But it doesn’t take long for the business of the week to dull that and again, we find ourselves slipping into a spiritual slumber.

That thought reminded me of a part of Christian’s journey in Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress:

“I saw then in my dream, that they went till they came into a certain country, whose air naturally tended to make one drowsy, if he came a stranger into it. And here HOPEFUL began to be very dull and heavy of sleep; wherefore he said unto CHRISTIAN, “I do now begin to grow so drowsy, that I can scarcely hold up mine eyes; let us lie down here and take one nap.”

Chr. “By no means,” said the other; “lest sleeping, we never awake more.”

Hope. Why, my brother, sleep is sweet to the labouring man; we may be refreshed if we take a nap.

Chr. Do you not remember that one of the shepherds bade us beware of the Enchanted Ground? He meant by that, that we should beware of sleeping; wherefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober.

“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:6

Hope. I acknowledge myself in a fault; and had I been here alone, I had, by sleeping, run the danger of death. I see it is true that the wise man saith, “Two are better than one”.

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.” Ecclesiastes 4:9

Hitherto hath thy company been my mercy; and thou shalt have a good reward for thy labour.
Chr. “Now,” then said CHRISTIAN, “to prevent drowsiness in this place, let us fall into good discourse.”

Hope. “With all my heart,” said the other.

Chr. Where shall we begin?

Hope. Where God began with us. But do you begin, if you please.

Chr. I will sing you first this song.”

That is it! Can’t you hear the enchanted song of the evil one trying to lull you to sleep even now? Satan cannot steal my salvation, but he can make me unproductive for the Lord, if he can entice me into spiritual sleepiness. I read the end of the passage from Pilgrim’s Progress to see what they did to keep from falling asleep. They decide to keep each other awake by talking of what the Lord has done for them and by singing. Doesn’t that make sense? Don’t we feel a spiritual resurrection every time we speak of what God has done, or listen to another’s testimony? And every time we lift our spirits to God in praise? There is no time left to be caught up in spiritual slumber. We need our spirits alive. We need to raise up as a vast army of believers, spiritually alive, ready to do the work of the Lord!

Let’s work together to stay awake. You tell me what God has done for you…. and I will start with a song:

Power

Have you ever felt powerless? I know I have – many times. Just think of the last time you had the flu! Wouldn’t you have given anything to have it stop? Power is important. We need it. Rely on it. You wouldn’t buy a toaster or a vacuum that doesn’t work. Nor would you buy a car that only moved if you pushed it. We only want these things if they have power.

What about church/religion/God? The world offers so many options to those seeking. You can find a church to suit any interest or genre. So what makes Christianity so special? Paul, in his first letter to the Thessalonians wrote, “for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance” (1:5). Christianity is not a religion that is made up of nice thoughts and empty words. God has power – and He will use it! Just as Elijah went altar to altar with the prophets of Baal and God showed up with undeniable power; just as Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified so that He could prove He was God by rising from the dead three days later; God still wants to move with power today. Can we say of our church or our own ministry that “our gospel [is not] in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit?” (1 Thess 1:5). I am not sure we can, or at least not consistently – but why would that be? God has the power available to us and He clearly desires to use it.

So why is our gospel so powerless? One of the questions that I have had the evil one plague me with at my lowest times is, “what has God done for you lately?” Outside of, well I am still breathing… sometimes, it can be hard to think of an answer. Has God lost His mojo? Am I just not important to Him anymore? No, that is not it. God’s word tells us: if we ask, it will be given (Matt 7:7); whatever we ask in [Jesus] name will be done (John 14:13); and we do not have, because we do not ask (or we ask amiss) (James 4:2-3). I am not asking. We as a corporate church are not asking. We need to be asking – begging – for God’s power and Holy Spirit to be present!

People want things that work. That have power. If our church or ministry has power, they will come. They will want it. They will want God! God’s power does not end when He saves us. He has so much more to do! It is time to humble ourselves before the Living God and sincerely ask for His will to be done, for His Spirit to anoint, and for His hand to move!

I know I need Him. Our church needs Him. Our city needs Him. Let’s open the door and invite Him in….

Filling

I remember being in the arms of my husband and enjoying his presence with me. The closeness I felt is immense, but the yearning for a deeper closeness remained. I would squeeze into him a little tighter. I would say, “I need to be closer. I wish I could be so close it would be like you would be inside of me.” Unfortunately, he cannot fill me. The deepest place within that is aching to be filled can only be filled by the Spirit of God Himself. That place has been there all along, whether I was looking for Him or not. The emptiness was there and there is nothing else that can fill it. The closeness that is required to fill that place is how intimately God wants to know us and be known by us. He is not a God that is far off. He is personal. And He has been waiting for the invitation to fill that place within me that aches to be loved and surrendered to One that I can completely trust and be free with. Come Spirit, fill me!