Part 19

Back To the Holy Fire pt 19
“15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father…” Ephesians 5:15ff
Pentecost is quickly approaching, the day we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit into the believers, as Christ had promised. The story behind Pentecost goes to Jewish tradition. There where five main yearly feasts, (not to mention the lesser ones), each calendar year in the Hebrew system. At the time that Jesus entered Jerusalem to be tried and Crucified, it was the feast of Tabernacles, where they all camped about the city, to remind them of the time in the wilderness when God fed them with manna. Then, came the seven-day feast of Passover, the highlight of course, was when Christ was crucified and then resurrected the third day, (the first day of the new week following Passover). Then, the fifty-day countdown began to Pentecost, the feast of the Harvest. This was the time when the High Priest was to make a grain offering to God, signifying “first fruits” that are given to the most high.
All of this is very symbolic of the coming of the messiah and His redemptive accomplishments in our lives. The coming of the Spirit in essence was the beginning of the Harvest of humanity, the Divine nature of God taking up residence in the hearts of people to bring them into His dynamic presence. It is quite significant.
In our passage today, it begins with the word “therefore…” meaning that the preceding text is a precursor of the important admonishment about to come. What we have read and learned so far is foundational to what is to come. As on country preacher once said, “when I see a ‘therefore’ in the scripture, I always go back and see what it is there for!’ Paul suggests that he has just given us a lesson in wisdom, and that we need to decide to “walk” in wisdom, to choose to be wise. The days are evil, he says. Now, as I read the history of his time, I understand that he was referring to the building anti-Christian climate of Rome, and the impending persecution that would come. Nevertheless, our present day is no different from his when it comes to iniquities of this world. With Ben Laden on the loose, the wars in the Middle East, fascism on the rise, honor killings of innocent women, hedonism running rampant on television, and so on, we all should remain awake; we should walk with wisdom. The admonishment is this: make the most of your time. In other words, use your God-given talents and ever-growing knowledge of Him for purposeful pursuits in the Kingdom. Be aware that the Spirit of God is given to each of us to be present in every moment. Jean-Pierre De Caussade, and 14th century mystic wrote that each moment is a “sacrament.” We are to live in the “Sacrament of the present moment.” In this way, we can accomplish more, and bring ultimate Glory to our Father in Heaven. This passage of scripture contains a lot of meat, and I could spend many pages just on the Spirit, and what it means to be “full” of the Spirit, however I have chosen three sentences that point to living in the moment, and they ultimately lead to continuous infilling of the Spirit. I will say this about the phrase, “be filled” with the Spirit. The Greek text actually states, “be filled and keep being filled…” There are two main reasons for this. One is that we simply run low in life sometimes, and need refreshing, on a regular basis. The other is, we should be running over with living water, as artesian wells, for others to drink from. If we keep giving to others, then we must keep receiving from the Father fresh waters of the Spirit.
How do we get there?
First, Paul says to “understand what the will of the Lord is…” Now to be sure, no one can fully understand the mind of the Almighty, who is infinite, since we are finite. Paul is not speaking metaphysically here, he is speaking on a practical level, which he does most of the time. He is saying, “Seek to understand God in your own life, get to know the Father, and what He wants you to do each day. Read the word and apply it to your emotional well being, and practice the goodness of it toward others…” In other words, understand how to live. So the, one step toward being filled with the Spirit is seeking.
The second statement that helps us is simply “be… filled with the Spirit.” Sounds too easy, huh? Shakespeare is quoted “to be… or not to be…” Paul is giving an imperative here. It is not an option for successful living as Christians. Simply Be… Receive. Jesus made a promise that the Spirit would come to the children of God. (See John 12, 13, 14, 15) I do not think that the Son of God is one to lie, so simply receive.
Finally, there is this: “…’Giving thanks always for all things…” A heart that is cultivated to be gracious and grateful will invoke the presence of God. The key is that we must learn to be thankful for all things. No matter what comes our way, when we make a choice to give praise and adoration to God for what we have, and for one more day, and for the present moment, we can begin to realize the dynamic presence of God in our lives.
Recap: Understand… Be… Give Thanks…
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About Friar Timothy, Franciscan Urban Mission, INC.

Disciple of Jesus Christ with a Progressive Message, Author, Franciscan Friar, Musician, Social Activist, and Urban Missionary View all posts by Friar Timothy, Franciscan Urban Mission, INC.

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