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Written by Jim Jordal   
Wednesday, 18 November 2015

BE THANKFUL IN ALL THINGS

By Jim Jordal

“ Don't be drunken with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,  speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing, and singing praises in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God, even the Father; subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ.”                             Eph. 5:18-21 WEB

If we were to actually do what the Apostle Paul, speaking for God, suggests above, our churches, and ourselves, would become transformed with new life. But possessing new spiritual life consists of much more than merely knowing about it---we have to accept it as something we need, and then we need to allow it to become evident in our behavior.

The first admonition, not to be drunken or in dissipation with physical things, speaks to one of humanity’s greatest weaknesses---to seek meaning in things and behaviors that cannot now, or ever, impart true meaning to life. They are all artificial parodies of real filling with the Holy Spirit. The common culture of our land offers scores of damaging as well as futile attempts to capture the true meaning of life in money, things, achievement, power, domination, entertainment, music and so on. But none of these substitute, as jaded participants soon find out, for the indescribable presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Paul’s second admonition is to “be filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing, and singing praises in your heart to the Lord.” The singing of spiritual songs and reading of psalms of praise do not necessarily  constitute the infilling of the Holy Spirit, but are rather responses to the Spirit within. There’s nothing wrong with this behavior, but it can be done in the human spirit of the flesh as well as under Holy Spirit guidance.

 How does one become filled with the Holy Spirit? Acts chapter two records how it happened to an entire group on the Day of Pentecost. They had gathered to await the promise of Christ that they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 2:8).  As they prayed and counseled together “with one accord in one place” there came a “rushing, mighty wind” that filled the house. Tongues of fire siting on each of them accompanied this great wind as each of them became filled with the Holy Spirit.

Notice that the Holy Spirit came in response to Christ’s promise of the Spirit as the group was gathered together in prayerful unity. They were already believers, and were filled with faith enough so that they were willing to patiently wait for the promise of the Spirit. When the Holy Spirit did come, they responded by “speaking in other tongues.” Thus began one of the more contentious practices within the Christian faith---that of speaking in tongues.

Some Christians assert that speaking in tongues is evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Others believe tongues were for the purpose of spreading the gospel, since non-Israelites now heard the gospel preached in their own language. Others attributed it too drunkenness. Whatever the case, Holy Spirit infilling is a reality that should be at work in every Christian church or gathering.

A major evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit is that the Spirit brings power to the scene, whether it is power to witness more effectively, or to preach more powerfully, or to perform acts of charity more effectively and thankfully, or to simply believe more strongly in your mission as a disciple of Jesus Christ and his mission.

That’s why we sing and praise and render our heartfelt thanks for the many gifts of God at this Thanksgiving season. That’s why we obey the Great Commission in carrying the word of God to all nations and peoples; and that’s why we live in hope of the soon return of Christ to take up his earthly kingdom.