Is your mind more like a landfill, or a garden?
Landfills are just dumping ground for whatever comes along. They are places where the things of yesterday may or may not break down. Things there rot and breed flies.
A garden converts the waste from the past that is mixed in it into fertilizer, and uses it to produce fruit in the future. It reduces the past to an investment in the future that is no longer recognizable as its former identity.
What are you allowing to enter your mind? What are you meditating on? The past, or the future?
How do you allow the past to influence your thoughts: as raw material for transformation, or as a layer of rubbish that takes up space and stinks?
Set your minds on things that are close to the throne of God. (Colossians 3:2)
Jesus is, by some mystery, present with us when we are where we should be. When His disciples asked Him for the sign of His coming and the end of the age, He gave them a long answer (Matthew 24&25). Included, in 25:31-46, is His prophetic description of His judgement of the nations. He will judge them with regard to whether they fed Him, clothed Him, and the rest. Part of that mystery is that no one knew when they were with Him, even when they did what they should have done: “When did that happen?”
Luke wrote in his record of Jesus that, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to two disciples on their way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-31). They did not know it was Him, though, until He opened their eyes to know it.
It seems that a good prayer to pray might be, “Lord, open our eyes so that we can know our times of being in your presence, and experience all there is to experience in those times.”
A stream passes through a forest. A couple are carrying a canoe through the forest with great difficulty until they find the stream. Then, they are liberated by the stream from the difficulties of the forest. If they become liberated from the banks of the stream, or the direction of the stream, they have lost their freedom from the forest.
A train without tracks limiting its path has no freedom to travel.
Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
(Romans 8:1-4 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
Enthusiasm literally means being filled by or possessed by a god. (EN= in; THUS=theos)
Enthusiastic new believers lead more people to commitment to Jesus than seasoned evangelists do. Enthusiastic salesmen sell more products than salesmen who know more about the product and the customers by better education in those areas. Puritans made the term enthusiastic an insult because they didn’t believe anyone could receive revelation, so they mocked the idea that someone was filled.
Enthusiasm is what Paul was describing in Philippians 2:12-13:
So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose.
A good plan for moving deeper in the Spirit and gaining more of Him is to increase the level of your surrender. The more He has of you, the more you will have of Him.
Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
(Romans 12:1-2 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
Not many people are technology-free enough to have a watch that needs to be wound. When winding watches was the norm, though, if you didn’t do it, your watch failed to keep the right time because it stopped ticking.
If you carry your lunch to work or school, you have to prepare for having it when you need it. You either need to pack it the night before, or get up in time to do it before you leave home, or your mom does it.
Your mom isn’t preparing you for a day in which you walk in the Spirit. You need to take responsibility for submitting to Him yourself. You need to do something that resembles a preparatory request for filling and leadership, and an ongoing submission in the form of listening for it through the day.
Paul wrote this about Abraham’s confidence in Yahweh’s habit of keeping His promises:
He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. Therefore, it was credited to him for righteousness.
(Romans 4:20-22 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
What has He promised you? Don’t grow tired as you wait for Him to fulfill it. He is full of faith, and wants to empower you to be full of faith. Expect better than the best you can imagine.
It’s pretty awesome when believers gather and wonders happen. People being healed, freed from demons, getting saved and worshiping Jesus as if there is no veil between the holy of holies and the front row; it is sometimes clear that Jesus is raised from the dead and wants to influence our meetings with that fact.
I am convinced, though, that the best measure of maturity for congregations and their meetings is the same as it is for individuals: how quickly do we respond to situations with answers that prove the influence of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fullness of faith, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23).
If that is missing, I would infer that there is something important about His presence and influence that is, too. It really is going to be bad for some people one day to stand before Him and be asked, “Who are you?” Reminding Him of the awesome meetings might not be enough to settle it.
We are influenced by relationship, not just presence.
There are two great basic reasons to be filled with the Spirit of the Lord. One is to have more access to Who He is. Another is to give Him more access to who you are.
Once isn’t all there is, either. Be refilled at every opportunity. There are rooms in the dwelling place you call your heart that He has not been given the keys to, and they are locked. He wants to be there as much as He wants to sit in the formal living room, where all the furniture is covered with plastic and the big fat family Bible sits on the coffee table.
He isn’t afraid of any of the rooms in our hearts, and we shouldn’t be afraid of His presence bringing light into the darkest corners of any of them. He wants the place to be full of Life and Light and Love.
He wants the keys.
I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:16-19 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
Jesus taught that work and spiritual disciplines will be rewarded. The warning He offered regarding the rewards was that some will be from humans and some will be from Yahweh:
“Whenever you fast, don’t be sad-faced like the hypocrites. For they make their faces unattractive so their fasting is obvious to people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you fast, put oil on your head, and wash your face, so that you don’t show your fasting to people but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
(Matthew 6:16-18 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
It makes me want to be careful about what I let into my heart or mind if someone sees me doing a good job and praises me for it. Be thankful, but don’t be distracted. Put the discipline or the work back in the possession of Jesus.