FTF-15 - 7 Habits of Highly Useful Believers

150118AMFTF-14 Habit of Prayer .docx

The Habit of Prayer:

Connecting with God

Matthew 28:18-20

Why should we pray? The more we examine this precious opportunity given to us by God, the more we are drawn into deeper and deeper connection to the Almighty King of the Universe.

Prayer is what Jesus modeled so clearly from the pages of the Gospels.

Prayer was what surrounded all of the major events recorded from Christ's life.

Prayer is what we are to do or we will faint Jesus said.

Pray or faint, pray or miss out, pray of

Live Life Deliberately

For most of us, we struggle with really knowing what it is that we are supposed to do for the Lord. That is why the prayer that Jesus commanded in Matthew 6 is so important.

As you turn there, may I remind you of one of the simplest and yet most profound spiritual exercises that Jesus prescribed for us? The Lord's Prayer was an exercise designed to keep each of us in step with God's plan for our lives.

Remember that simple prayer that changes me?

Matthew 6:5-15 "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.[b]7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 "Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

      Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

       10 Your kingdom come.

      Your will be done

      On earth as it is in heaven.

       11 Give us this day our daily bread.

       12 And forgive us our debts,

      As we forgive our debtors.

       13 And do not lead us into temptation,

      But deliver us from the evil one.

      For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.[c]

14 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

What we just read is what I like to call:

The Prayer That Changes Me

The seven simple steps, or lessons we are to live by, are found in the natural phrase divisions of this prayer:

1.     God, focus me on who You are; I NEED You to help me focus;

2.     As I see You, control me each day. I NEED You to bring me under Your control;

3.     I seek You to lead me through all the myriads of choices life presents each day. I NEED Your leadership;

4.     Then I will trust that You will supply me with whatever I need to accomplish Your will. I NEED what only YOU can supply;

5.     Cleanse me so I stay in close touch with You and Your plan. I NEED Your cleansing;

6.     Protect me from everything that seeks to keep me from You. I NEED Your protection;

7.     Empty me so You get all the glory and honor for my life. I NEED You to empty me so I can be filled with You!

Enlist yourself each day as a slave of Christ. Go to Him and say I want You to be my Master and I willingly again present myself back into your Hands. Remember, that was the content of the prayer Jesus commanded us to use a life-long pattern in Matthew 6.

Jesus framed the way we should pray by building a template for us.

We can fill in any words, but they all must somehow attach to this framework.

 Focus me back upon who you are as God; Control me as my Master; Lead me in doing what pleases You;  Supply me with whatever I need to do Your will; Cleanse me from anything that displeases You; Empty me so You get all of the credit from my life.

 

The Prayer of the Redeemed: Focus Me, Control Me, Lead Me

Remember the words of Christ that are to frame our daily lives? We call it the Lord's Prayer, but it is actually our mission statement for all our earthly life.

The first three elements deeply impact our understanding of the daily surrender of Redemption. They are these words:

 

"Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed by Thy Name":

 

Get summary from TRU

Focus me on the reality of Revelation 4, and the holy scene of constant adoration and worship around the Throne of God in Heaven.

Focus my heart, my life, my mind upon You as My King.

I bow before You. I adore You.

You are the King of My Life.

 

"Thy Kingdom come":

 

You my God are the Great King of all the Universe.

You sit enthroned in Heaven.

I bow with all of creation before You.

Control my life is what this petition is all about. Our bowing started when we bowed in the humble repentance of salvation to Him as our Lord, Master, and Savior.

I want to live a life of reverent submission.

I want to walk in the Spirit, pleasing You my God.

I want the life of Your progressive sanctification.

 

"Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven":

 

This third phrase bridges the scene of us in Heaven worshipping around the Throne, and us here on Earth growing in our desire to love, serve and follow our Lord and our God.

 

Lead my steps in Your pathway, is my heart cry as the one You redeemed.

I need You as my Master to lead me.

Show me Your way, and guide me through life.

 

When God describes a person's life, He usually does so very succinctly and measures whether or not they served Him well. As we open to Acts 13, we are opening to God's assessment that David lived life deliberately for what pleased God. David sought and followed what God wanted done in life, not what David wanted done. There are only two choices on the shelf of life: doing what pleases me, or what pleases God.

David's life was summed up by the only One who can look at every moment of our life, from start to finish in one glance, and reduce us down to a statement. For David, that summary statement in mentioned by Paul in his sermon in Acts 13.

Acts 13:36 (ESV) For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep andwas laid with his fathers and saw corruption

What we see is that God has placed each of us on earth, in a specific time, for a specific purpose. God then measures whether we accomplished what He desired in that time period.

When we know the purposes of God (which are revealed for us in His Word), and live accordingly, we have a life that serves His purpose, and thus is lived deliberately for God. The lesson for us is that we need to:

 

Live Life Deliberately

For most of us, we struggle with really knowing what it is that we are supposed to do for the Lord. That is why the prayer that Jesus commanded in Matthew 6 is so important.

As you turn there, may I remind you of one of the simplest and yet most profound spiritual exercises that Jesus prescribed for us? The Lord's Prayer was an exercise designed to keep each of us in step with God's plan for our lives.

Remember that simple prayer that changes me?

Matthew 6:5-15 "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.[b]7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 "Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

      Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

       10 Your kingdom come.

      Your will be done

      On earth as it is in heaven.

       11 Give us this day our daily bread.

       12 And forgive us our debts,

      As we forgive our debtors.

       13 And do not lead us into temptation,

      But deliver us from the evil one.

      For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.[c]

14 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

What we just read is what I like to call:

The Prayer That Changes Me

The seven simple steps, or lessons we are to live by, are found in the natural phrase divisions of this prayer:

 

1.     God, focus me on who You are; I NEED You to help me focus;

2.     As I see You, control me each day. I NEED You to bring me under Your control;

3.     I seek You to lead me through all the myriads of choices life presents each day. I NEED Your leadership;

4.     Then I will trust that You will supply me with whatever I need to accomplish Your will. I NEED what only YOU can supply;

5.     Cleanse me so I stay in close touch with You and Your plan. I NEED Your cleansing;

6.     Protect me from everything that seeks to keep me from You. I NEED Your protection;

7.     Empty me so You get all the glory and honor for my life. I NEED You to empty me so I can be filled with You!

 

Enlist yourself each day as a slave of Christ. Go to Him and say I want You to be my Master and I willingly again present myself back into your Hands. Remember, that was the content of the prayer Jesus commanded us to use a life-long pattern in Matthew 6.

Focus me back upon who you are as God; Control me as my Master; Lead me in doing what pleases You;  Supply me with whatever I need to do Your will; Cleanse me from anything that displeases You; Empty me so You get all of the credit from my life.

 

 

 

Jesus Gave the Prayer of Those In God’s Kingdom

 Look again with me, now that we understand what the Gospel of the Kingdom of God really means, at the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer is cry to stay each day with the heart’s desire God wants in us, from those who are in the Kingdom of God.

As we turn back to Matthew 6, may I remind you of one of the simplest and yet most profound spiritual exercises that Jesus prescribed for us? The Lord’s Prayer was an exercise designed to keep each of us in step with God’s plan for our lives. Remember that simple prayer?

 Matthew 6:9-13 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come.  Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.  For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

 

 Christ Wants Us Coming & Asking For Help Each Day

 The seven petitions that we are to live by, are found in the natural phrase divisions of this prayer:

 

God, focus me on who You are.

  “Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed by Thy Name”: Focus me on the reality of Heaven, and the holy scene of constant adoration and worship around the Throne of God in Heaven. Focus my heart, my life, my mind upon You as My King. I bow before You. I adore You. You are the King of My Life. You my God are the Great King of all the Universe. You sit enthroned in Heaven. I bow with all of creation before Him.

 

As I see You, control me each day.

 

“Thy Kingdom come”: Control my life is what this petition is all about. Our bowing started when we bowed in the humble repentance of salvation to Him as our Lord, Master, and Savior. I want to live a life of reverent submission. I want to walk in the Spirit, pleasing You my God. I want the life of Your progressive sanctification.

 

As I seek You to lead me through all the myriads of choices life presents each day.

 

“Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven”: This third phrase bridges the scene of us in Heaven worshipping around the Throne, and us here on Earth growing in our desire to love, serve, and follow our Lord and our God. Lead my steps in your pathway, is My heart cry as the one You redeemed. I need You as my Master to lead me. Show me Your way, and guide me through life.

Then I will trust that You will supply me with whatever I need to accomplish Your will. Then I will know that I need to ask for You to: Cleanse me so I stay in close touch with You and Your plan; and Protect me from everything that seeks to keep me from You; and Empty me so You get all the glory and honor for my life.

So as we live each day Jesus left us with the:

 

The Prayer of a True Disciple

 

Focus me back upon who you are as God;

Control me as my Master;

Lead me in doing what pleases You; 

Supply me with whatever I need to do Your will;

Cleanse & protect me from anything that displeases You;

Empty me so You get all of the credit from my life.

 Please stand with me, and invite God to rule over every moment of our days through that prayer Christ left us to pray!

 Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come.  Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.  For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

 

Each day we get a fresh new start at refocusing our lives on what matters to God.

Those elements of what matters to God are the same truths that Jesus asked to be taught to every new believer. Isn’t that amazing? That’s because:

 

Discipleship is Biblical

Today as we look at our Great Commission call to “go and make disciples” (Mt. 28:18-20), we are using the very same textbook, the actual original syllabus, and the very same materials Christ's Church has always had, and has always used:  God's Word, the Bible.

We have the amazingly clear plan God left.

We have the only guide that comes with promised Divine power.

We have the only resource that has been tested throughout the world, in every generation: and that has always worked perfectly. Yet with that discipleship plan written out and ready to go, it seems that many are not using it.

To some, our lives as believers is bewildering & confusing.

Often it seems like everyone has a different plan, a new program or a new emphasis. Some Christians are actually exhausted trying to keep up with each new emphasis, or reading each new popular book, going to seminars, conferences, and staying online in case they missed something “new”.

But that is not what Jesus left us to do. We were not left to chase the newest Christian idea trending through Twitter, posted online, and shared on Facebook. Instead, each new generation is called to examine the Scriptures, learn how to personally follow what Jesus taught, and live in such a way that we can show others how we are following Him.

 

Discipleship is Basic

For the past several weeks we have been looking at the elements, that Christ said need to be communicated in person or face2face. We can grow as Christ's disciples all alone, just reading our Bible, spending time praying, and learning how to obey the Lord; but we grow best when we are discipled in person by others, in small groups, through the community of life together in the Body of Christ.

 

If we were to sift down both the Scriptures, and the many books written about discipleship, or nurturing, or mentoring: we would find some very basic elements that are in both the Scriptures and in many books.

Though some of the names and terms may differ, there are a handful of elements, or disciplines, or habits that are to be trained into the lives of each new believer.

 

Discipleship Produces Highly Effective Believers

I like to say that the lives of highly useful or effective believers are marked by ongoing right choices, which can be cultivated into spiritual habits.

There are actually 7 habits that mark the lives of those who are highly effective for God. These are the foundational truths of Christ’s ministry and are reflected throughout the Book of Acts & the Epistles. These are the truths that sharpen us as believers, that focus our lives on what matters to God, and what opens our lives to His power and blessings.

Here they are:

1.    Believers need to be trained in Understanding Salvation: Jesus came to save (Mt. 1:21). So, knowing what salvation is, assured that the work of grace has begun, and knowing how to share that faith is foundational.

2.    Believers need to be trained in Seeking Nourishment from the Scriptures: Some of Christ's first words are about the “daily bread” we need from God's Word (Mt. 4:4); and because all our minds are being fed something, we all should be asked: “What is feeding yours?”

3.    Believers need to be trained in Expecting Spiritual Warfare: Jesus went right from Baptism to the Wilderness of Temptation (Mt. 3:16-4:10); and so do most believers. The only difference is that He was prepared. We must learn to resist Satan’s neutralizing attempts at our desires to be: Serving in Christ's Church, Soul-winning as a lifestyle, maintaining Simplicity prompted usefulness & and experiencing the power of Scriptural Meditation.

4.    Believers need to be trained in Living in Prayerful Supplication: Christ's teaching on the necessity and His example of personal prayer habits is a strong reminder (Mt. 6:9-13). Our prayer life always reflects how much we need, trust, and love our Lord.

5.    Believers need to be trained in Understanding Life as a Stewardship: Christ's parables so often pointed at an accounting, or stewardship of our lives (Mt. 25:21,23). We all need to soberly remember that we are each given a lifetime that can be invested or not invested, for the Lord.

6.    Believers need to be trained in Seeking Spirit-Filled Living: When Jesus described salvation it included an overflowing river of the Spirit (Jn. 7:37-39), because we can only be useful to God when we allow Him to overflow our lives.

7.    Believers need to be trained in Cultivating Spirit-Surrendered & Consecrated Lives: Paul capped his monumental doctrinal letter with a plea for regular, ongoing choices of surrender (Rom. 12:1-2): because we must keep presenting our bodies and seeking the renewing of our minds.

These are all elements of the new life Christ offered through salvation.

 

Seven Habits of Highly Useful Believers

These elements are blended, connected, and displayed from the pages of Scripture in the lives of those who followed and served the Lord.

1.    (Saved) Understanding Salvation: Jesus came to save (Mt. 1:21). So, knowing what salvation is, assured that the work of grace has begun, and knowing how to share that faith is foundational.

2.    (Word-Fed) Seeking Nourishment from the Scriptures: Some of Christ's first words are about the “daily bread” we need from God's Word (Mt. 4:4); and because all our minds are being fed something, we all should be asked: “What is feeding yours?”

3.    (Spirit-Filled) Seeking Spirit-Filled Living: When Jesus described salvation it included an overflowing river of the Spirit (Jn. 7:37-39); because we can only be useful to God when we allow Him to overflow our lives.

4.    (Consecrated) Cultivating Spirit-Surrendered & Consecrated Living: Paul capped his monumental doctrinal letter with a plea for regular, ongoing choices of surrender (Rom. 12:1-2): because we must keep presenting our bodies and seeking the renewing of our minds.

5.    (Connected) Living in Connection to God: Christ's teaching on the necessity and His example of personal prayer habits is a strong reminder (Mt. 6:9-13). Our prayer life always reflects how much we need, trust, and love our Lord.

6.    (Invested) Understanding Life as a Stewardship: Christ's parables so often pointed at an accounting, or stewardship of our lives (Mt. 25:21,23). We all need to soberly remember that we are each given a lifetime that can be invested or not invested, for the Lord.

7.    (Watchful) Practicing for Spiritual Warfare: Jesus went right from Baptism to the Wilderness of Temptation (Mt. 3:16-4:10); and so do most believers. The only difference is that He was prepared. Jesus told us the way to survive is to “watch & pray” (Mt. 25:13; 26:41). We must learn to resist Satan’s neutralizing attempts at our desires to be: Serving in Christ's Church, Soul-winning as a lifestyle, maintaining Simplicity prompted usefulness & and experiencing the power of Scriptural Meditation.

 

1. Saved: Understanding the Salvation Jesus Came to Give

In John 7:37, first Jesus describes salvation when He said: "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” That is salvation. That is coming to Him in faith and being supernaturally saved. Then Jesus described the result of salvation in verse 38: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

Did you hear how Jesus described the normal life of the believer? God planned that the life of a born again person become like a flowing river of life. Not anything like a little trickle—He said Rivers of water.  What does that mean?

When God’s Spirit flows out of our lives we are so excited about all our sins being gone. In fact when we are involved with communion, it is such a time of remembering of what Jesus did.

The joyous streams of the Holy Spirit cause us to be so thankful that we are forgiven. Next we are:

 

2. Word-Fed: Understanding that our souls Need Nourishment from the Scriptures

When God’s Spirit flows out of our lives, the Bible seems just like having God talking to us. When we are full of Him as you read this Book and start over again, perhaps in the New Year, it’s just like having God talk to us. That’s what it’s like Jesus said- when out of us flow rivers of living water.

Some of Christ's first words are about the “daily bread” we need from God's Word (Mt. 4:4); and because all our minds are being fed something, we all should be asked: “What is feeding yours?”

 

2. Spirit-Filled: Understanding that Spirit-Filled Living Is God’s Plan

In fact, one word tells all there is about walking in the Spirit today. Please turn with me to Ephesians 5:18-19, and as we read, may we find the secret they knew and followed and like them, do the same!

Ephesians 5:18-19 (NKJV) And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,

That is God’s plan. That is why this may be one of the single most vital lessons in personal discipleship. Because, more than anything else, the Spirit of God can totally alter the way you live. God's Spirit can change us into brand new people!

The Scriptures show us that a truly spiritual person will be growing in visible ways, in each of these areas that are described in v. 22-23. Staying filled with the Spirit is visible; and it shows up in the:

 

The Nine Life-Altering Changes the Spirit of God Brings

Love is the absence of selfishness. It is the product of the Holy Spirit present in our lives (Rom. 5:5). The whole law is fulfilled: by loving God and our neighbor, Jesus said. Love involves personal sacrifice for another.  

Personal checkup question:

Do I sacrifice my way so I can follow God’s way?

Do I sacrificially deny myself so God gets His way?

Can others trace my progress in expressing God’s love?

Do those who watch me see me as less selfish and self-seeking than I was last month, or last year?

    

Joy is the spiritual quality that releases us from circumstances; because love and self-centeredness cannot co-exist. However, the Apostle Paul said that he was II Cor. 6:10 - sorrowful yet always full of joy.

Personal checkup question:

Do those that know me and watch my life see evidences throughout my daily life at work, school, and home as a more and more joyful person?

    

Peace is the internal serenity that only God can give. Troubles are not absent. Rather, God is present! God promised to keep us in peace, if we will just cling to Him (Isaiah 26:3).

Personal checkup question:

Has peace through changes, upsets, unexpected twists, struggles, challenges, trails, and pains become more and more a way of life for me this year?

Do people notice your growing peacefulness?

    

Longsuffering/Patience is the absence of personal irritation at the actions of others. It is that bearing long with people that Paul spoke of in I Corinthians. Patience is also one of the Supreme attributes of God. It is His character that is revealed as being gracious and longsuffering. See Ex. 34:6; Num. 14:18; II Peter 3:9.

Personal checkup questions:

Ask yourself,  am I more patient than I was three months ago, or less?

Does patience characterize the way others would describe my: driving, explaining constant questions, directing how things need to be done, and interacting with people in general?

Are you patient? If we are not increasing in patience, it is only an evidence that we are not yielding and submitting to the Holy Spirit.

    

KINDNESS is a beautiful reflection of God in our lives. It is the absence of an abrasive manner in my dealings with people. It is a chosen reflection of Ephesians 2:8 and 4:32 in my life. “Kindness is seen as that sensitivity toward others that issues into deeds of self sacrifice and love even toward the unlovely and undeserving ones”. Kindness will soften any word or act that might hurt another.

Personal checkup questions:

Is God changing my way of looking at people and responding towards people?

Would someone following me around for a day say that my actions are showing an increasing tendency toward personal kindness with others?

    

GOODNESS is being Godlike! It is the opposite of fallen humanity. Look at how Jesus is described in Acts 10:38, when the Holy Spirit anointed His life: He simply went about doing good. 

Personal checkup questions:

Am I a visibly better person than last year to those that feel my life up close?

Do people see me doing good, to all those around me?

Do people think of the presence God when they see how I act, or do they think of the absence of God?

 

FAITHFULNESS is the idea here. God wants to produce in us a trustworthy and dependable life. Surrendering our schedules to God makes us the kind of person that keeps their own life in order so that you can count on them. Like Psalm 15 speaks of, they make and keep their word.

Personal checkup questions:

Am I making strides in reliability and dependability?

Is my life less and less out of control, and more and more under God’s control?

Am I faithful in punctuality, finances, promises, and my spiritual disciplines like prayer & the Word? Any part of my life that is out of control is reminding me that area is not under God’s control.

    

GENTLENESS is the opposite of asserting ourselves. The Lord said that the meek were the ultimate winners (Mt. 5:5). Those who are servants of the Lord must not strive to get their own way (II Timothy 2:24). Spirit-filled lives resist selfish ambition (James 3:16) because it is a reflection of Satan, not of God. Remember Jesus described Himself as ‘meek and lowly’ (Mt. 11:29).

Personal checkup questions:

Would people say that I am assertive or gentle?

Do I fight for my idea, plan, agenda, and preference, or am I willing to let another express their way?

What shape are my personal agenda and ambitions in: are they intact, and my rights being defended?

Or is my personal, self-driven agenda in hopeless shape, crucified with Christ and fading?

    

SELF-CONTROL is defined by the Greek Dictionary as “a virtue, which consists in mastery of the appetites and passions, especially the sensual ones.” The only force that can control or flesh is the Holy Spirit. When yielded to Him we become vessels that are worshipful sacrifices to Him, and no longer to self. Self cannot control self. Flesh is not able to harness flesh. Only the Spirit can discipline us for godly living (Titus 2:11-13).

Personal checkup question:

Do I lead a disciplined life or an un-disciplined life?

Would others think of me as graciously under the control of God’s Spirit?

Am I beating under and giving knockout blows to my flesh like Paul was in I Cor. 9:27? Does it seem like God is taking over more and more of my life, my attention, and my schedule?  

     These nine reflections of God are produced by His Spirit in every part of our lives surrendered to Him. So, look inside, are these nine reflections of God present in your daily life? Are these manifestations of God’s control growing?

 

Back to the Seven Habits of Highly Useful Believers

See how completely connected together each of these elements that Christ taught, and that are portrayed in Acts & the Epistles?

These elements are blended, connected, and displayed from the pages of Scripture in the lives of those who followed and served the Lord.

1.    (Saved) Understanding Salvation: Jesus came to save (Mt. 1:21). So, knowing what salvation is, assured that the work of grace has begun, and knowing how to share that faith is foundational.

2.    (Word-Fed) Seeking Nourishment from the Scriptures: Some of Christ's first words are about the “daily bread” we need from God's Word (Mt. 4:4); and because all our minds are being fed something, we all should be asked: “What is feeding yours?”

3.    (Spirit-Filled) Seeking Spirit-Filled Living: When Jesus described salvation it included an overflowing river of the Spirit (Jn. 7:37-39); because we can only be useful to God when we allow Him to overflow our lives.

4. Consecrated: Cultivating Spirit-Surrendered & Consecrated Living:

Paul capped his monumental doctrinal letter with a plea for regular, ongoing choices of surrender (Rom. 12:1-2): because we must keep presenting our bodies and seeking the renewing of our minds.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

 

4.    (Connected) Living in Connection to God: Christ's teaching on the necessity and His example of personal prayer habits is a strong reminder (Mt. 6:9-13). Our prayer life always reflects how much we need, trust, and love our Lord.

5.    (Invested) Understanding Life as a Stewardship: Christ's parables so often pointed at an accounting, or stewardship of our lives (Mt. 25:21,23). We all need to soberly remember that we are each given a lifetime that can be invested or not invested, for the Lord.

6.    (Watchful) Practicing for Spiritual Warfare: Jesus went right from Baptism to the Wilderness of Temptation (Mt. 3:16-4:10); and so do most believers. The only difference is that He was prepared. Jesus told us the way to survive is to “watch & pray” (Mt. 25:13; 26:41). We must learn to resist Satan’s neutralizing attempts at our desires to be: Serving in Christ's Church, Soul-winning as a lifestyle, maintaining Simplicity prompted usefulness & and experiencing the power of Scriptural Meditation.

 

3. Understanding that Spirit-Filled Living Leads to Surrender

 

The opening words in Romans 12:1 are almost a play on words. That word that opens this chapter’s first verse in Romans 12:1 “I beseech” (parakaleo is a verb, and the noun form of that verb is one of the very precious names of the Holy Spirit, Who is called the Paraklete (Comforter) by Jesus in John 14.

  God wants us to respond to Christ's mercy declared, by His death on the Cross, by surrendering to His plan for our life.

 

 

 

God Keeps Us Filled When Surrendered

Simply stated, our life in Christ is to live out what God designed us to be. Life is most of all about who we are because of Christ, and that determines what we do.

Since God uses the term “filled”, in Ephesians 5, as we turn there, we will start to think of that truth illustrated in life.

Ephesians 5:18(NKJV) And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

Filled is the normal state of life we are to pursue as believers. It is not for only the few, it is for all. It is not for only super-saints, rather for every saint, every believer, and each of us today.

Now, let me share how I explain this to a believer when we sit down in a Bible study. This lesson is so vital because many believers are stymied by this term, what it means, what it looks like, and so on.

Spirit-filled living is like riding a bicycle:

We either get our tires filled or they are empty; and

We either keep our tires repaired and filled or they go empty; and

We either go through life riding as God designed us to do, on full tires or we trudge through life pushing what God designed for us to ride, and live with “flat-tired, spiritually-emptied” lives.

Each of those contrasts reflects a series of choices. If our spiritual life were compared to the tires of a bicycle we ride, then the three “states” of bicycle riding would closely parallel the three pillars of our spirit-filled lives described by Paul.

 

Pillar-1: God Designed Us To Operate Full of His Spirit

First, the “normal” state of a bicycle that is in use, that works, that is used to ride places is “full”. That means the tires are full. You can jump on at any time and just peddle off.  “Full tires” means that the bike is functional, it is what is was designed to be as a transportation tool, the bicycle works, and the bike can be used at any moment.

That is the Ephesians 5:18, “full” condition Paul just described. Paul commands us all to stay what we were designed by God to be which is full. Then he mentions the evidences in v. 19 of the Spirit overflowing our life.

Normal believers were designed by God to be over-flowingly “filled” by God’s Spirit.

 

Surrendered & Consecrated Living Means Avoiding Leaks

Second, Paul alludes to another way our spiritual lives can become, which is also illustrated by how our bicycles can become. Have you ever had a bike with a leaky tire? You always had to check that tire and grab the pump and get it back to full inflation? You find that need when you jump on and it can’t hold you up.

The tire is soft and the bike isn’t working the way it should. That is the state that we as believers can find ourselves in, as described in Ephesians 4:30. Now turn there with me and see the warning about the ‘leaking” spiritual life.

Ephesians 4:30 (NKJV) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption

In Ephesians 4:30 the word “grieve” is the Gk. lupeo, which means to make ‘sad, heavy, sorrowful, distressed’. That is what makes our Spirit-filled lives leak, when we grieve the Spirit.

Using our bicycle analogy, think about a soft tire. There are many reasons for tires to lose air pressure: it can have a puncture, a bent wheel rim, a valve cut, and so many other possibilities.

Since I am not a master-bicyclist, just roll that thought over to Ephesians 4:25-31. Paul gives a list of the types of actions that puncture, damage, and hinder spiritual lives staying full or useful for God.

 

Driving Tip One: Beware of These Items That Leak Out Our Spirit-Fullness

Look at this amazing list of items that can injure us each day. I think of them as all sorts and sizes of road hazards, like potholes, nails, sharp objects.

With that picture in your mind, look with me at all the ways Paul says believers get deflated, un-filled, and unusable in their spiritual walk. Each of these dangers litter the road of life, we all drive over, around, and can get injured by these on a regular basis, because they grieve the Holy Spirit:

Ephesians 4:25 any falsehood

Ephesians 4:26 sinful anger

Ephesians 4:27 occultic exposure

Ephesians 4:28 any theft

Ephesians 4:29 rotten talk

Ephesians 4:31 bitter attitudes

 

Driving Tip Two: When Punctured Pull Over & Get Repaired

Now the question is, “When your bike tire gets soft because of wear, damage, or puncture, do you park the bike, and say it is useless, it will never work?” Or do you check the damage, repair, or replace, and re-inflate the bike’s tire so you can keep on riding?

Do tires wear out? Yes.

Do they get injured? Yes. It is expected. It happens quicker if we choose to ride over nails each day, and crash the bike against curbs, and rise through piles of trash, sharp objects, and so on, right?

Now here is the spiritual lesson of the Spirit-filled life explained by Paul: avoid those things that “grieve” the Spirit. When the Spirit is grieved we get less and less able to operate the way we were designed to operate. We slowly go flat, and we can’t go through life the way we were designed by God to go.

Pause now and ponder the lessons:

 

Driving Tip Three: Expect Tire Damage

     Life is full of dangers, punctures, sharp objects, many unseen, and unexpected. Disciple-makers come to spiritual bikers and say, that’s all right, we all get leaks. You are not a bad bicyclist, you are normal, and here is what to do to ride longer between leaks.

     Just because we lose our fullness is it time to give up and never ride? No. We pull over, get repaired, re-inflated, and go on. That is normal life as a believer. No one stays “full” every day, all day, from start to finish. Not Paul, not the heroes of the faith, and not any of us.

     It is normal to expect tire damage.

 

Driving Tip Four: Use the Tire Repair Kit

     That is what the “be renewed” of 4:25-27 is all about. The put off, be renewed, and put on is the constant cycle of spiritual living. God made us to keep getting re-filled because we only operate as He designed us when we are full. But a mechanism for repairing leaks has also been sent by God, and He is also always there. It involves confessing to God that I am leaking, asking Him to help us check what happened, and coming to Him as the only one that can refill us. Then going right on immediately after getting fixed.

     It is normal to need and get repair.

 

Driving Tip Five: Start Avoid Anything That Damages Your Tires

That is what the sanctified, mature, and godly walk is all about.

If you always crash when operating in the dark: stay in the light.

If you cut your tires each time you are on a certain road: start avoiding it.

Tell others how you always get deflated there and ask them to remind you not to go that way.

 See how we all work together? We all are on bike tires that are equally vulnerable. We help each other stay on safe road, and repair flats. God wants us to avoid anything that punctures and destroys our ability to stay filled.

It is spiritual maturity to avoid things that always damage your tires. Why? Because:

 

Pillar-3: Un-Repaired Leaks Lead to Flat-Tire Living

Turn over with me to 1 Thessalonians 5:19. In this verse we see the most miserable condition a believer can operate in: a time of the Spirit of God being quench. Note how simply Paul says it:

1 Thessalonians 5:19 (NKJV) Do not quench the Spirit.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:19 the word “quench” is the Gk. sbennumi which means ‘extinguish, stifle, retard, choke’.

Go back with me to the image of someone trudging along, pushing a bike with a flat tire? Or think of one of those cars abandoned by the road after a tire blows? Both are constant reminders of a spiritual condition we also can face.

Bikes pushed long distances: are not living up to what they were designed to be.

Cars left by the road because their tires won’t hold them up for travel: are not living up to what they were designed to be.

Believers who are empty spiritually, not overflowing with the Spirit’s fruit & power: are not living up to what they were designed to be.

 This morning, no matter how far we have trudged along through life instead of riding filled with the Spirit, it is only one step back.

The Holy Spirit is Our New Operating System

Please open with me to Romans 5. Here Paul rapidly describes the seven byproducts of justification in v. 1-5. Paul lists what God does in us when He saves us, and then ends in v. 5 with the way God accomplishes such amazing changes inside of our hearts, minds, and lives. In this tiny section we see that the Spirit of God is the OS we have in Christ.

 

Romans 5:1-5 (NKJV) Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

 

The Spirit of God, operating within us gives peace in v. 1; access, grace and rejoicing hope v. 2; and inexhaustible hope mixed with a river of love in v. 5.

 

Understanding Our Operating System

 

You and I have the most powerful OS in the Universe.

The Programmer Himself lives with in us.

Our battery life is endless; and our system is constantly updated, renewed, and synced.

As they talked behind me, I remember my children teaching me the same things, don't you. It's part of life, and its normal and natural to say have you tried this, have you seen how to do this, have you tried downloading this or that. Words we often hear are: “Here is how it works”, or, “Watch me show you how to do that”; or, “Just try this”; and, “Here is how that works on my phone”. That is what disciple making is all about.

How far are into delving into your OS?

How many features of the OS do you know about?

Do you know how to use some features?

Do you have anyone you know that helps you figure out how to take and move pictures, send and attach them, and so on? 

That is the language of the electronic world we are all progressing through; and that helping each other understand how to make our smartphones work, is also so much like the early days of the Church, when the spiritual world was being explained to those early of the first century. Everyone filled with the Spirit was showing and telling what God was doing in their life. 

 

The Features of God’s Operating System

 

I am actually a life long student of Gods OS: I am always looking, reading, and listening to system operators around me to understand how to use what God has already given me in His Spirit.

In just the Book of Romans I've found a dozen different functions God wants me to allow Him to use in my life. 

 

He Is The Witnessing Spirit of God

Romans 1:3-4

He Is The Liberating Spirit of God

Romans 8:1-4

He Is The Transforming & Mortifying Spirit of God

Romans. 8:5-8, 12-13

He Is The Quickening Spirit of God

Romans 8:9-11

He Is The Guiding Spirit of God

Romans 8:14

He Is The Encouraging Spirit of God

Romans 8:15

He Is The Assuring Spirit Of God

Romans 8:16-17

He Is The Hoping Spirit Of God

Romans 8:18-25

He Is The Interceding Spirit Of God

Romans 8:26-30

He Is The Sacrificing Spirit Of God

Romans 12:1-2

He Is The Gladdening Spirit Of God

Romans 14:17; 15:13

He Is The Outreaching Spirit Of God

Romans 15:16

 

These are God’s Plans For Our Spirit-Empowered Lives

 

God has designed the most amazing operating system in the Universe for each of us believers. This OS is powered by the Omniscient, Wise, and All-Powerful Comforter, who is known to us as the Spirit of God.

Our Spirit-powered OS works anywhere, with the coverage area described by God Himself as “whither shall I go…”. God says our OS is connected anywhere we go, in any situation we find ourselves, and can never be taken away, switched off, stolen, infected by a malicious virus, or crash.

Our OS has many features, most of which go unused for most of the lives of most believers. In just the Book of Romans the Apostle Paul explains 12 elements of this OS.

In the Book of Acts we saw examples of this OS in action; but when we get to Romans we see Paul explaining all the facets and functionality built into the spiritual OS that we each received the instant we were saved.

God’s OS is unique in one sense, because it is designed just for us, through a combination of unique spiritual gifts or abilities God gave to us, combined with the Divinely designed, unchangeable elements of our lives.

Each of us humans, saved or not, were born in a physical body that God designed (He “knit us together”). As one person well stated it, we are all spiritual & physical snowflakes, uniquely designed for a purpose by God.

 

God Designed Every Facet of Our Lives

 

Our body’s physical appearance with all of the shapes, sizes, shades, and so on that makes each of us unique were planned, and built into us by God. The Scriptures explain that God Himself watches over the formation of every single, immortal human being formed within their mother. That may be why God is so opposed to the murder of any human whether born or unborn.

Our body’s physical abilities whether limited, challenged, superbly healthy or not: were designed by God.

Our mind’s mental capacities, whether fast, slow, deep, distracted, creative, or struggling: were designed by God.

All of our emotion’s spectrums, moods, feelings, and response patterns: all started out exactly as God planned.

On top of all those physical, mental, and emotional systems, God has made us primarily a spiritual being. That is why our Spirit-empowered operating system is so vital. God made a way to use every part of us He has designed: for His amazing purposes. The more we understand what He has designed for us, the more useful we are to Him.

 

Explaining the Spirit-Empowered Features God Designed for Us

 

Let me show you what I mean. To make it interesting, let's back through Romans. Starting in chapter 15, note what God's OS, which He calls Spirit Fullness or when I'm Spirit-filled. 

These are the features of the Spirit-filled life.

 

1. God’s Operating System He Designed For Us Has:  Spirit-empowered Investments in God’s Account

 

Romans 15:16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

 

We are designed with an automatic investment program. We were designed to share the Gospel so God can be glorified through saving more people that we point to Christ.

Paul here described what he did for the Lord as sharing the Gospel, so people get saved, so they can become my offering of worship to the Lord. Spirit-Empowered Investing means we start seeing eternal value in sharing the Gospel.

When the Spirit empowers us, we begin to see that going and making disciples of all the nations is the best investment we can make in life. Everything in our sphere of influence slowly starts to revolve around that goal.

 

We design our marriages to be useful to God, not just profitable and comfortable to us.

We raise our children to be useful to God, not the world.

We measure our jobs by whether or not they contribute to us being useful to God, or whether they make us worldly, selfish, materialistic, and lukewarm.

We start looking at our house, our purchases, and all of our possessions as to whether they help us reach the nations or hinder us.

We begin tracking our time usage and see whether it reflects a burden for serving God’s desires or serving our own desires.

 

Paul uses picturesque language from the Roman World to describe how the Spirit of God, filling his life empowers the radically new operating system to start working inside of Paul’s human life.

Paul was a minister (leitourgos was a public religious servant)

Paul was ministering (hierourgeo means perform sacrifice as priest)  

Paul’s ministry was presenting gentiles as an offering to God that was sanctified (higiasmene means set apart for divine service)

Persecuted saints in Acts 8, best illustrate this Spirit-Empowered Investing in God. Look at what happened to normal people, when filled by the Spirit, and operating God’s way:

 

Acts 8:3-4 (NKJV) As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. 4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.