Under the Influence

Have you ever been pulled over by a police officer because you were in a hurry to get somewhere and were speeding?  Has anyone ever wondered if you were “under-the-influence” of something or someone else?  Has anyone point-blank asked you, “What were you thinking?” or “Where did you get that idea?” 

Many people ask me, “How can you tell if God is speaking to you, or if it’s your own thoughts or desires, or if it’s coming from somewhere else?”  We’re all under-the-influence of something or someone.  The important question is “Who or what is influencing me?  If I’m stressed out, I may be vulnerable to be influenced by anything or anyone.  If I’m exhausted or sleep-deprived, my fatigue may be talking.  If I’m sick, I may be influenced by what’s wrong with me and respond from a position of sickness instead of health.  If I’ve indulged in overeating, whatever I’ve ingested will likely influence what comes out of me.  If I’m captivated by a book that I’m reading, I’ll likely share with you what I just read.  If I’ve just spent a lot of time with you, then I’m taking in everything that I’m hearing and learning and experiencing with you.  If I watch a trilogy movie series, I’ll be quoting movie characters or referencing the movies in my conversations.  If I’ve been sitting with God in prayer with God’s Word open before me, I’m likely to respond with something fresh that the Holy Spirit has placed on my heart.  Whatever I’m feeding is influencing me, and whatever I’m starving is losing its influence on me.

Are you under-the-influence of the Holy Spirit?  The Bible says that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in you, and He will transform you.  Jesus told His followers that the Holy Spirit will come upon them, and they’ll receive power to be His witnesses.  Jesus taught His disciples that they’ll be better off after He ascends to heaven because He will send His Spirit–the Counselor, the Comforter–to remind them of everything that He ever taught them.  Have you asked God to send you His Spirit to live and make His home in your heart? 

Some people believe that when they “said the prayer” and received salvation that they received everything they will ever need to live the spiritual life.  In my own person experience, I daily need a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  I daily need fresh revelations and empowerment from God’s Spirit.  I’m so prone to wander and wonder and be distracted that I have to keep escaping the chaos to slip away and find quiet places to hear God’s Spirit speak, correct, teach, and encourage me.  If I regularly go to the refrigerator for something new to eat, and I eat three meals a day, and I’m always drinking something, how much more do I need to go to God to strengthen our connection and to receive something that’s fresh in the moment to eat or share with His people?  What are your feeding habits?  Sometimes we go to God after we’ve tried everything else.  He’s like the stuff in the back of the refrigerator that we’ll eventually eat when everything that we prefer is gone.  At other times we reflex immediately to God and find just what we need. 

I believe that God is grieved because He created us to get everything we need from Him, yet we turn everywhere else first, looking for something to satisfy and to sustain us.  If you liken it to parenting, when you spend all of that time preparing a good home cooked meal and your kid turns and makes faces and says, “Yuck!  I’m not eating that.  Can we order a pizza?”

God calls us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all that we need will be given to us.  We’re designed to be closely-connected to His life-giving Vine to have abundant life.  We have Jesus’ life-giving Words at our fingertips, but our hands are on the remote control, our cell phones, our game controllers, or in a bag of chips.  Do you think that God is more sad, mad, or just waiting for us to turn to Him?  What does it take for God to get your attention?  A nudge? A whisper?  A wake-up call?  A crisis?  Or losing what you relied on instead of trusting Him?

When you’re under-the-influence of the Holy Spirit, everything changes.  Your perspective.  Your power.  Your focus.  Your decisions.  Your goals.  How you spend your time.  What you talk about.  What you invest your time in and what you refuse to allow to influence you.  When the Holy Spirit dictates what you say “yes” and “no” to, you’ll be different from everyone around you.  Be different.  Wait for the Holy Spirit to influence you before you speak and act.  Practice being led by the Holy Spirit and watch how His influence and your influence changes. 

Here’s the good news or bad news, depending on your current perspective.  The Holy Spirit wants to fill and control you.  In order to be full and directed by God’s Spirit, you have to give up and surrender everything else.  You can’t be in control of you or anything else if God’s Spirit is in full control.  As you reflect on your life, what is God’s Spirit inviting you to surrender in order to be under-the-influence of the Holy Spirit?        

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