Date: November 8, 2018 (Training)
Bible Text: | Betty Swann
Series: Pillar Four
What are you doing for the Lord? Is your life just caught up in your career, your family, yourself and what you want out of life, or can you honestly say this is something I do for the Lord? Our whole life is meant to be lived in the power of the Holy Spirit, just full of Him. I am going to talk about how to do that today. I want to ask you, what do you do to minister to the Lord through helping other people? One time I was sitting in a church in a town that I did not even live in, just happened to be going to church that day with some friends and the pastor asked that question. He said, “What are you doing to help someone that in no way can they help you back, no way at all?” I sat there and thought, “Well, I do not know. I think everybody I help can help me back. I do not guess that I am.” It really made an impact on me. We never know how it will affect someone when we say a simple little sentence. That man probably does not even remember ever saying that sentence, but look at how it touched me. I went home and I began to pray, “Lord, what could I do? How could You use me?”
A few weeks after that there was an article in the paper that said, “I am a reporter. I do not think people understand what it is like to be in jail if you have never been there. I have just spent the night in the women’s section of the jail and I want to tell you what it is like.” This reporter began to talk about it. In the article the reporter said, “They do not even have a preacher or minister to minister to them.” I read that sentence and I thought, “That is terrible. They need somebody. I wonder if I could do something like that.” That was all God leading me. It looked so simple just hearing a man say a sentence and a couple of months later reading. I began to pray, “Are you calling me to a jail ministry? Is this what you want me to do because they cannot help me back?”
The next little leading that happened, I was listening to the radio and a friend had said, “Betty, listen to the radio. They are going to talk about something going on in the jail with a woman there.” What they said was, “A young woman has been arrested, along with her boyfriend, and they had 60 pounds of marijuana in the trunk of their car. They were just going through Amarillo on I-40. Something made the police pull them over. When they checked the car they had all of this marijuana in it. The couple said, “It is not ours. We just needed money to get back to New Jersey and we agreed to take this and that is all we did.” Guess what? They got put in jail. My son is a policeman and has said to me, “Mother, I do not know if it is God. I do not know what it is, but policeman have a sense or a knowing when they look at a car and something is not right about that car.” What is that all about? That is about the Holy Spirit empowering them to do their job; just knowing that something is wrong in that car. He has told me that before. He said, “I have stopped cars and I did not even know why we stopped them. My partner stopped a car and we did not even know why we stopped it. We just did a license check, it turned out they guns in the car and they were up to no good.” You see, that is why when you are doing the wrong thing you do need to be afraid. You think how can I hide that? God tells them what nobody else knows or could know. That is part of being filled with the Spirit of God. When you are doing whatever God has called you to do, to help people who could not be helped in any other way or to do a job that other people do not even want to do.
There is a key to living a victorious life. The sad thing is, most people are not living one. Is that not sad? You only have one life to live and yet people are not living it. They think if I had some money or if I had a husband or if I had a wife; if I had a good job, I have a terrible job, or if I had a good church since there is not even a good church in my town. All of those things, if, if, if, if. If I just had this, life would be good and that is not true. If your life is not good right now, it is probably not going to be good then. How do I know that? Abraham Lincoln said one time, “I have discovered most people are as happy as they make up their mind to be.” God says, I can give you joy. I can give you joy unspeakable and full of glory no matter where you are.” You have to understand that the Christian faith did not get started when everybody had a good job; everybody had money coming in, food to eat and a place to live. That is not how the Christian faith got started at all. In fact, it got started where they lost their job for their faith. They lost their homes for their faith. They lost their families because they were Jewish and they were following the Way, which was a sect to the Jews. It was like parents saying to kids, “What are you doing? This is not us.” They lost everything, and yet in the middle of it they had a joy that people wanted what they had.
Has anybody ever come up to you and said, “I do not know what you have, but you are different from me and I want what you have. How did you get that? What is that?” I have laughed a lot because when you are not in the Bible and around Christians, you do not know what to call it. I have noticed that when people who do not walk with the Lord are around people who really walk with the Lord; they will say, “They are just so nice. They are just nice.” I am thinking, “Jesus Christ died on the cross and you are calling it nice.” I am filled with the Spirit of God because He paid the price so I could be. They do not know the terms. They just know that there is something there.
Before I got filled with the Holy Spirit I had been in church all of my life. Since I was a baby I had been in church and church was boring. I never saw anything that was life changing. People were sweet. People were nice. They went to church every Sunday but it was not like I want to give my whole life to that. Then I found it. God usually lets you meet somebody in just an ordinary way and yet they have it. That “it.” What is that? It is the life of the Holy Spirit is what it is. I would look at these people and I would say, “I am a Christian. They are a Christian. How are they different? What do they have that I do not have? They have something that I do not have.” I began to notice that they talked about the Lord like they walked with Him, like they talked to Him everyday. It was intimate Jesus. Jesus this, Jesus that, the Lord this, the Lord that, the Lord spoke to me, the Lord told me. I was thinking that never happened to me. How does that happen to them? Is that real? Did that really happen?
It is okay to look at a person’s life and examine it. There is nothing wrong with that. You are getting ready to make a major decision with your life. I looked at them for maybe six months. I would read the Bible and I would listen to what they said. I would go check it out in the Bible. I began to think there really is something to what they are saying. I still do not what you call it and I only know how to say, “They are so nice. They are so kind. They are so sweet. They are so loving. They are so kind to me.” I just did not know how you got there. Thankfully, I had a pastor who every Sunday, almost without fail, at the end of his sermon would say, "Pick up a blank piece of paper and just say, Jesus, I have signed my name at the bottom. It is not filled in. You fill it in Jesus and I will do it.” I thought “Wow. I do not know if I want to do that or not. What if He asks me to go to Africa? What would He ask me to do? What if I did not like what He asked me to do?”
The thing that kept drawing me was the life of the Spirit in these people, the victorious life they were living. They were from all walks of life, wealthy, poor, average, but they had it. They had that special key to this victorious life. I gradually watched it and wanted it. Oh my goodness, what it took to get there was like jumping off the high board to me. Remember the first time you jumped off the high board and you looked down there and you saw that water and you thought, “Oh can I go back down? Can I climb back down? I do not want to do this.” Maybe you climbed back down and then you said, “Nope, I want to do it.” All of your friends are saying, “Come on! It’s great, it’s great.” You jump off and then you say, “It is great.” You jump out of the water, climb up again and go down, climb up, go down. It is great. That is the way the Spirit-filled life is. It is wonderful. It is wonderful. In fact, life is dull without it. How do I know that? It says in Proverbs, “The backslider’s life is boring. The Godly man’s life is exciting.” You may say, I thought I was Godly. My life is not exciting.
Once again, I want to ask you something. What are you doing for Jesus’ sake to help people who can in no way help you back? If you get involved in something like that, you will know. You will see what I am talking about because life gets exciting. What if you say, “I am pretty old and actually my legs do not work that well. I am on an oxygen tank.” Maybe you say, “I am young. I do not want to miss life. I want to have fun in life. If I serve God it probably would not be any fun. I want to have fun.” Remember what the Bible says. The godly man’s life is exciting. You need to understand. God does not say give Me your life and you will never have fun again. You will be in church all of the time. You will be praying all of the time. You will never have any fun. He does not say that. Read the Bible. Read about the people in the Bible. They lived lives that were exciting. They lived lives that were fulfilling. They reached their potential. Do you not want to reach your potential? You cannot do it without this key of being filled with God’s Spirit. You cannot do it. It is available to anybody that asks for it. It is there. He wants you to have it.
I have really, really served the Lord 36 years. I have been a Christian all of my life, but when I was 26 years old, I turned it all over. I just did that blank piece of paper thing. I did it. I did not know what was going to happen. I said, “Jesus, I am going to do it. I am going to put You first in my life and I do not know how You do it. If You show me how I will do it.” He had to show me how. It has been great. Did I just make that one commitment one time 36 years ago? No, I have made it a lot. As you walk with the Lord, He opens up more and you see Him more. He is beautiful. You want more and you step forward. You say, “I want more.” The Lord says, “It is there.” There is something inside you that says, “I want to give You everything.” He will show you areas that you thought had given Him everything but you have not. You move in deeper and deeper. It gets better and better.
I have had hard things happen. You think that you are probably one of those people that nothing bad has ever happened to you and you do not even know how hard life can be. You probably live a charmed life, a Cinderella life. Nope, I have not. I have had some really hard things happen that devastated me. Really hard, some of my own doing, some of other people’s doing, just life. If you said to me, “Overall, Betty, describe your life.” I would say, “Wonderful, exciting, full of adventure, walking with God in all kind of places, getting to do things that I never dreamed I could do, all because of God, all because of God’s favor in my life that He wants to give. He wants to give you favor.” I have just said, “Lord, I do not want to die and go to heaven and not have reached my full potential.” If you pray a prayer like that and you live a long time, then you are going to have a lot of things happen. They are never going to quit happening. I look at people that are 85 or 90 right now because when you look at the statistics on life in America today, even the actuaries in life insurance will say, you better plan for 100 because that is where people that are born after this certain year are probably going to end up. I am in that group. You have to think about it. I do not want to be this old and cranky. I do not want to do that. I want to be like Joshua and Caleb. Caleb was an old man and he kept saying, “I want it all God. Give me the mountain.”
When do you get the Holy Spirit? Do you get the Holy Spirit because you have to ask for it? Yes, you get the fullness. You get the Holy Spirit when you are saved, when you ask Jesus to forgive you of all of your sins and be your Savior and Lord. When you do, the Bible says in Ephesians 1:13, “Because of what Christ did, all of you others too who heard the good news about how to be saved and trusted Christ were marked as belonging to Christ by the Holy Spirit who long ago had been promised to all of us Christians. His presence within us (it comes in when you get saved) is God’s guarantee that He really will give us all that He promised. The Spirit’s seal (it is canning time for people in some countries) upon us means that God has already purchased us and that He guarantees to bring us to Himself. This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious God.” You get the Holy Spirit. If you are a Christian, if you are a true believer, you have the Holy Spirit in you. He has a job to do. He teaches you, corrects you, instructs you, guides you, blesses you and pours out God’s love on you. He has a job. However, there is more to it than that. The Bible says, "Be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Turn in your Bible to Galatians 5:20. In Galatians it talks about how you know if the Holy Spirit has filled you up. How do you know He is controlling your life? Listen to this. “When you follow your own wrong inclinations your life will produce evil results.” Check it out. “Impure thoughts, eager to do lustful pleasures, idolatry (You say that you don’t have any idols in your house, but it could even be something like playing golf that is your idol. You can have anything that takes more importance in your life than it should). Some of you men and women caught up in mediums, psychics and horoscopes. God says do not have anything to do with that. Hatred, fighting, jealousy, anger, constant effort to get the best for yourself, complaining, criticisms, the feeling that everyone else is wrong except your own little group and wrong doctrine, envy, murder, drunkenness, wild parties, all of that sort of thing. Listen to what the Bible says and this is pretty serious. “Let me tell you again, as I have said before, anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
The Kingdom of God is within you as well as the life to come. But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us. Let us stop right there before I tell you what kind of fruit it is. If you are in the Vine of Jesus, He said, “I am the Vine and you are the branches, you cannot do anything apart from Me.”
Sometimes people try to do it in their own strength. If you have ever tried to live the Christian life in your own strength by keeping the rules, doing what you think God wants you to do, always afraid He is mad at you, always afraid you are not doing enough, it is very tiring. It is just so tiring. In Galatians 5:22, “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this fruit.” My husband’s testimony is “I have always served the Lord even as a small child, but I thought I had to do it. I never understood that you cannot live the Christian life. It is impossible. You cannot do it. Only Jesus can do it through you and that is the Holy Spirit’s job.” He will produce this kind of fruit in our lives.
Do you have a lot of love or are you mad at everybody? Do you have joy, peace and patience? How is your patience? Can you wait and wait and wait? You can if the Holy Spirit is controlling you. You may have been waiting on something for two years but if the Holy Spirit is controlling you, you can wait even longer. What about kindness and goodness. Do you want to be a good person? I would love to be a good person. I have been a bad person. Can a bad person be a good person? If the Holy Spirit controls you, yes. How about faithfulness and gentleness? You may say, I am a truck driver, nobody would say I am gentle. There are a lot of really big guys who are gentle giants. There are professional football players who have that reputation. He is big as an ox, but he is gentle. You can when you are controlled by the Spirit. How is your self-control? How do Spirit-controlled and self-control go together? It is like this. You have to make choices and that is self-control. When the Holy Spirit controls your life, He speaks to you and suggests go this way. Do this thing. Give this money. Help this person. You say I am tired, but Holy Spirit if you want me to do it, I will do it. You are controlling these desires within you that want to do something different. It says there is no conflict. “Those who belong to Christ have nailed their natural evil desires to His cross and crucified them there.” Think about that. It is a pretty exciting verse. That means I can take a wrong desire, a natural desire that is evil that plagues my life and makes other people unhappy and nail it on the cross. Did you listen to what I just said? It is amazing. It says you can take it and nail it just like that to the cross and crucify it there. You can crucify your flesh. If you believe in deliverance, which I do and I have seen a lot of it, I will give you a little saying. “You cannot cast out the flesh and you cannot crucify a demon.” So many times we blame it on the devil, but it is us, just us. We wanted to do it.
Listen to this key to living victoriously. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit’s power, then let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives, and then we will not need to look for honors and popularity which lead to jealousy and hard feelings. You have an audience of One that you are trying to please. Do you know who it is? It is Jesus and He loves you. You are so special to God. Do you know that? If you could ever grasp that, how special you are to God then it is easy to give all of your life to Him. It is easy. Remember, if He is not Lord of all then He is not Lord at all. You have to give it all. Not everybody who says Jesus is Lord really means it. Jesus said, “Many people come in that day and say Lord, Lord, we did all of these great things, and He will say I never knew you.” How could that be? The Hebrew word for “know” is intimacy. He said, “I never knew you.” This is a daily process. You have to die daily to yourself and sometimes that is really hard. The apostle Paul said, “I die daily.” He was the greatest Christian besides Jesus. He wrote almost half of the New Testament. You can live a victorious life. Give it up. It is worth it and you will be so glad.
QUIET TIME QUESTIONS
1. Who do you put first in your life?
2. What audience do you try to please?
3. What struggles do you have with the flesh and what Scripture(s) can help you overcome?
4. What is the key to living a victorious life?
5. What are you doing for the Lord to minister to others who are not able to do anything for you?
6. Take a blank sheet of paper, sign your name at the bottom and ask the Lord to fill your page.
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Topics: Holy Spirit Power