By George O.
Scottish playwright James Barrie dolefully commented
on the difference between our expectations for life and the realities
we actually experience: "The life of every man is a diary in
which he means to write one story, but instead writes another. And
his saddest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what
he vowed to make it."
Such a statement reflects an attitude of disillusionment
far from the promise of Jesus: "I have come that they may have
life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10, NIV).
How can we be sure the end result of our living
parallels the statement of Jesus rather than that of James Barrie?
The Bible has clear answers.
Most of the time our concern for life has to do
with living better here and now. But God has a more expansive view.
He seeks to empower us to live eternally.
No matter how much money, power, health or success
you have, it will not exempt you from dying. Only Jesus can give you
resurrection-order life whether you are wealthy or on welfare;
whether you have great influence or none regardless of age,
gender or ethnicity. Life is not available outside of Jesus Christ.
So begin with Him. Confess your sin and need to
Him (1 John 1:9). Ask Him to enter your life (Revelation 3:20). Believe
on Him with your heart and confess Him as Lord with your mouth (Romans
10:8,9). Follow Him by being baptized in water and learning His way
of life and thinking (Matthew 28:19). Commit yourself to be part of
His church (Acts 2:42).
The Lord has a wonderful gift for you along with
salvation: the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 2:4,38,39). You
cannot live the Christian life under your own power, nor can you effectively
witness to others about your newfound faith unless the Spirit of God
enables you. The purpose of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is to so
overwhelm you with the presence of God that you will no longer dwell
on your own weaknesses and inadequacies, but instead be filled with
assurance and boldness.
Have you noticed how two persons accomplish the
same job? Look at the difference between the 15th and 16th presidents
of the United States. Immediately we recognize the 16th president
as Abraham Lincoln, but are hard pressed to recall the name of the
15th. Why? Both held the same office and faced the crisis of a nation
divided over the issue of slavery. What made the difference? One,
Lincoln, had a personal enablement; the other didnt. It wasnt
their constitutional powers which made the difference. Both exercised
identical legal authority as president. It was a personal empowerment
in Lincoln not possessed by the 15th president.
It is equally possible for us to live our Christian
lives as that unremembered 15th president.
We have the office of being a Christian, but are
devoid of the power. That is why we need the baptism in the Spirit
and the ongoing filling of the Spirit to bring a song to our hearts,
thanksgiving to our lips and proper relationships with others (Ephesians
Have you given your life to the Lord? Have you
received the baptism in the Holy Spirit? Are you continually full
of the Spirits presence? If the answer to any of these questions
is no, then ask the Lord to meet you at the level of the need you
have right now. Seek a pastor or mature Christian to pray and counsel
What comes after conversion, water baptism, the
baptism in the Spirit, linkage and identification with the local church?
How do we live empowered each day with strength to overcome the sadness
and hurt of life and invigoration to challenge the monotony and humdrum
of daily existence?
Heres a checklist for daily use:
1. Have I opened the Bible today and let it
speak to me?
Failing to take Gods Word into your life
is like neglecting to eat. You become weak when you do not receive
2. Have I prayed meaningfully today?
I use my hand as a prayer guide: the thumb represents
persons who are nearest my heart; the index finger, those who are
an example and point the way; the middle finger, those who are in
places of temporal and spiritual authority; the next finger, my weakest,
those in great need and vulnerability; and the little finger, me
the smallest and least.
3. Are sin, bitterness or unforgiveness a part
of my life?
I need to practice daily spiritual cleansing and
not let impurity build up and become caked into my life. Each night
as I go to sleep I must seek to do so with a clear conscience (Ephesians
4. Am I sensitive to how God may want to guide
or use me today?
Peter prayed during the noon hour, and the Lord
changed the destiny of Cornelius and his family because Peter opened
himself to being guided of the Lord (Acts 10:9). I must not live so
structured that I block out what God may want me to do. And when I
know what He wants, I must obey.
5. Have I sought to help or encourage someone
today whose need is greater than my own?
The Lord commended to us the example of the Good
Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). When I am emotionally expended or dealing
with personal hurt and sorrow, I must rise above my concerns to enter
in to the concerns of another. The Lord is my example. On His cross
He focused on the needs of others for forgiveness, pardon and support.
6. Do I live, as Jesus taught, one day at a
time (Matthew 6:11,25-34)?
I cannot be empowered to live the future unless
I am empowered to live today. I must not daydream about how different
today would be if I could order it so. God has given me today and
seeks for me to glorify Him in it. If I am faithful in small responsibilities
now, He will decide what my lot will be tomorrow.
7. Have I relinquished myself to His full control
Sometimes hurtful things hit us and we feel diminished.
How can we live to the full when we have taken a hard blow to the
midsection and the air has been knocked out of us? We must change
our focus from asking why to asking what now.
In Romans 8 Paul did not concentrate on the why,
but the what. In so doing he reminded us that the future glory will
be greater than any present suffering. The Holy Spirit is interceding
for us even when we dont have words because the pain is too
great; God is always working for the good; nothing can separate us
from the Lord. In such times I am empowered as I realize how much
God loves me, guards me and cares for me. He has a stronger grip on
me than I have on Him.
Out of this daily relationship with the Lord flows
the quality of life in which we are empowered to be persons of love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness
and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23).
The other day I flew in a private plane. I took
the co-pilots seat even though I dont know how to fly
a plane. I noticed that each time the pilot pulled on the stick, the
identical stick for the copilots seat mimically moved in the
same direction. The needles on my duplicate side of the instrument
panel registered the same as those on his side.
Empowerment to live as a Christian is like flying
in that co-pilots seat. As long as I dont take the stick
or the throttle, but let Him do the piloting, its a good and
safe trip. It would be absurd for me to attempt to take controls from
Him when He is on the plane. I must let Him move the controls and
monitor the gauges. When the day comes that I know enough about flying,
then He can monitor my progress; and if I fly the plane like He would,
He will let me continue. But no matter how experienced I may become,
I must always yield control to Him.
If I want to live empowered, then each day I will
sit in my co-pilots seat, go through the checklist He asks of
me, but make sure that I never attempt to fly the plane by myself
or without His direction and approval. My empowerment comes from Him.
So must yours.
By the way
in case you wondered
the name of our 15th president was James Buchanan.
George O. Wood, D.Th.P.,
is general secretary for the Assemblies of God.
From Chapter 16 of Questions
and Answers about the Holy Spirit (Pentecostal Evangel Books,