Tag Archives: Christ indwells us

Life’s a Grind Without the Oil of Gladness

To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3 

Trying to live the Christian life without relying on the Indwelling Spirit of Christ is like running an engine without oil.

On a couple of occasions I’ve neglected the vital upkeep of adding motor oil to various vehicles. One resulted in the demise of the Wheel Horse tractor I inherited from my grandfather. And if it wasn’t for the durability of Toyota truck engines, the other would have left my brother and I stranded on the side of the highway between Columbia, SC and Athens, GA. Good thing he noticed the red light on the dash board. It was almost three quarts low.

Sometimes I’m a slow learner, but I got it now; Engine oil is critical for lubrication, minimizing friction and cooling the pistons. It’s the very lifeblood of an engine.

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Only with Jesus can we Live the Christian Life

I’m learning the same thing about the Holy Spirit in my spiritual life.[1] For years I thought my job as a Christian was to model my life after the Jesus I read about in the Bible; trying really hard to have peace, patience, kindness, self-control and joy. If you’ve tried this yourself, you know the futility of this kind of effort. Sooner or later we all discover that there’s only one person who can live the Christian life and it’s not us; it’s Jesus in us.

Coming to the End of Ourselves

Often it takes a crisis for us to realize we can’t live without Christ. We come face to face encounter with our failures and inabilities. Not fun, but necessary. More often than not these failures are revealed in our relationships with those we love. When this happens, we find ourselves at a crossroad in life.

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At the Crossroad

In the midst of emotional turmoil we often choose to numb our pain with our coping mechanism of choice, but this delays the inevitable. Pain is an alarm to be heeded. Pain screams, “Take your hand off the stove!” Denying the pain only deepens it’s affect until  it takes over our lives completely.

Another choice is to realize our desperate need for Jesus.  Humbly turning to Him, we admit  our inabilities to love without Him. There may be dark nights of the soul, huddled only with our Lord, but full surrender leads to life changes.  “Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5b

Summary of the Christian Life

Out of Paul’s sufferings He wrote:

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Spiritually, we have died.  Christ, by His Holy Spirit, has taken up residence in our lives. We no longer have to try harder, but must depend upon Him to be our patience, our goodness, our peace, our self control, our joy.

Ours is to rest in the fact that He is at work in us.

Ours is to yield to His Spirit, realizing that apart from our vital connection to Him, we can do nothing of true value.[2]

Trying to live without dependence upon the Holy Spirit is like an engine without oil, a ‘grinding it out’ in a swirl of activity; movement without lubrication, joyless friction.

Burnout or Joy

Recipe for a life of burnout: Live in the swirl of activities with no awareness or dependence upon the Holy Spiri; going through the motions in your own energy and strength. Just do it. It’s all up to you.

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Recipe for a life full of joy:  Realizing we were designed to run on the oil of gladness. [3]  choose a life of overflow as you yield to the Spirit of Jesus in you to love whoever God puts in your path.

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Challenge: Is there an area of your life in which you’re just going through the motions, an area in which you feel burned-out in? If so, come to Jesus.  Realize that you were not designed to operate without His Spirit, the Oil of Gladness. Recognize your inability to live even one moment without full dependence upon Christ,  allow His Spirit to refresh your life giving you His Joy.

“He must increase and I must decrease.” John 3:30

Prayer:  Dear Lord Jesus, thank you so much for dying for me and securing a place in our Father’s presence. Thank you for sealing us with the promised Holy Spirit, a pledge of our inheritance and the power and lifeblood of our lives. Keep me ever yielded to you that I might love others as you have loved me.

[1] The Holy Spirit is widely symbolized by anointing oil. See Luke 4:18

[2] John 15:5

[3] John 7:37-39

 

Finding a Friend in Need

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Mathew 5:3

 Being in need is not a bad thing. In fact it’s essential to our spiritual journey.

Robbie is my friend. I met him a few years ago at a men’s conference at Myrtle Beach. After the conference was over, I discovered he was homeless.  This was very humbling for me to find out.

Over the years, Robbie has attended our small group and our church. We’ve meet his niece and he has become very dear to us.

He’s had a stable place to live a few times, but he mostly rotates between  the Oliver Gospel Mission and an abandoned building  he calls the ‘Camp site’. He gets work when he can.

For all he’s going through, I’ve never heard him complain.

We communicate mostly through facebook messaging when he’s at the library, or when he can find a WIFI hot spot for his track phone.

One afternoon, a few months ago,  we agreed to hang out for a while. I picked him up at the library and we went to Lizard’s Thicket, a local restaurant.

“Order whatever you want Robbie,” I said as I slid in the booth across from him.

“You’re not getting anything?” he asked.

“No, I’ve already eaten.”

Robbie closed up the menu. Even though he hadn’t eaten since an early morning breakfast at the mission, he thought it impolite to eat in front of me.

“Alright, I’ll get some fried okra,” I agreed.

Robbie grinned and opened the menu back up.

Later, as we were eating, I asked Robbie how his day was going. “It’s a beautiful day and I’m sitting here eating fried chick and okra with you, how could it not be a great day?” he chuckled.

“Do they let you keep your stuff at the mission?” I asked, as I forked a couple of okra.

“Not really,” he replied.

“So where do you keep your things?”

“I have a few  clothes at the campsite, but  my stuff’s in a  book bag in your back seat.”

Wow! Most of Robbie’s earthly possessions were in my back seat. This was  inconceivable to me. My friend was acutely aware of his need in a way I’d never experienced.

Being in need is actually something I’ve avoided; partly because of pride, but mostly because of the vulnerability of having to depend on someone else.

Spiritually speaking, being needy is an absolute necessity. I can’t earn my way to heaven. I need the death and sacrifice of Jesus to blot out my sins and grant me access to heaven. But I also need Him moment by moment as I seek to live a Christ-like life.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Poor in spirit means embracing our spiritual poverty. We must know we need Jesus.

Not only do we need the death of Jesus to be acceptable to a holy God, but we need to depend upon the life of Jesus in us to live moment by moment. There’s only one person who can live a true Christ-like life and it’s not us, it’s Jesus in us.[1] The Sermon on the Mount teaches us this.

The word “saved”, used in Romans 5:8-10, not only means delivered (as in rescued from eternal separation from God), but it also means to be healed and made whole. We are to continually embrace  our need of Jesus, knowing that apart from Him we can do nothing. [1]

Challenge: Think about an area of your life you’re still trying to live in  your own abilities. Take a moment and embrace your need for Jesus in this area.  Hand’s open, surrender it  to Him.

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Lord, I’m sorry for the times I haven’t fully trusted you and tried to live on my own. I need you desperately. Please show me when I forget my great need for you.

By the way. today is Robbie’s birthday. If you know him, wish him a happy one. He is a blessing to many.

[1] John 15:5