Saturday, June 6, 2009

What Fills Your Tank?

When I was twenty something (all too long ago), I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to rebuild and restore a 1955 Chevrolet. As you might expect, the motor I chose to put in it was slightly more powerful than necessary. Did I say "slightly"? Oh yeah, it could really move down the road. Unfortunately for me, however, in the late 70's and early 80's the government began to mandate change in the formulation of gasoline which led to the removal of lead as an additive. The result of this was immediate and profound in my car as the motor needed lead and the resulting octane in the worst way. Basically, with the wrong kind of gas in the tank, my car ran about as lousy as my lawn mower.

As believers, we have a fuel tank as well, and the gas we choose to put in it will dramatically affect our performance for Christ. I have spent a lot of time studying and analyzing what the Bible has to say about the Church just before the end of the age, and the best thing I can say about it is that it looks like it runs just about as well as my car did with the wrong gas. If you find that hard to believe, just look at what Jesus says about it in His letter to the Church.

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15,16 KJV

Since the issue here certainly seems to be a lack of performance, my question was what were they doing wrong to put themselves in this position? The answer to that may be far more simple than you think. If we look at Jesus' own words to His disciples just before He ascended to Heaven, we get our first clue.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8

The power to which Jesus refers is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which He sent to us on the day of Pentecost just 10 days later. So if Jesus Himself told us that when we become believers we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, and along with that gift the "power" we need to serve Him as we should, why isn't the Church "performing" as it should? The answer to that is given to us by Paul the Apostle in his letters to the Church in Rome and Ephesus. Notice if you will that the problem he addresses is the same, as well as his description of the reasons.

Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:11-14 RSV

Therefore it is said, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light." Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. Ephesians 5:14-20 RSV

Do you see the problem here? Rather than being filled with the Holy Spirit and using that power to serve God, the believers Paul describes here are only interested in filling their tanks with what Satan calls "fun". The three things Paul describes here are drunkenness (drinking to excess), debauchery (partying to excess), and sexual immorality (sexual contact outside the bonds of marriage). In essence what Paul describes here are believers more interested in filling their tanks with the lusts of the flesh just as non believers do rather than being filled with the Holy Spirit and serving Him. They spend their time partying, drinking, and pursuing sexual immorality as a means to feel good. As believers these people are just puttering along like my hot rod on weak gas because they choose to put the wrong gas in their tanks.

To be filled with the Spirit is to receive the power to say no to self, and to say yes to obedience to Christ. We serve Him by being different and letting our light shine, not by acting the same as the world, concerned only with self indulgence and having a good time. Do you remember the post from a few weeks ago about the parable of the ten virgins? The result of not having enough oil (the Holy Spirit) was being left behind. In Revelation Jesus says He will spit the lukewarm believers out of His mouth. In 2 Kings 2:9 the prophet Elisha asks for a "double portion" of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a gift to all believers, but it is also something that can and needs to be refilled at times. Have you asked God lately to fill your tank with more of the power for living that you need? Is your desire to be filled with the Spirit, or to satisfy the lusts of the flesh? All we need to do is ask, and God will give us all of the Holy Spirit our tank can hold.

Jesus gave believers a warning concerning how they choose to live in the time immediately preceding the rapture of the Church, which I believe is extremely relevant to this discussion.

"But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; Luke 21:34

My question to you is just what are you putting in your tank?