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Jamie Johnson
3 November 2013

Be Filled - Continuance

NOTE: This is a written version of the message I delivered to a group of residents at Kings Daughters Community Health & Rehabilitation Center on November 3, 2013.

There was a guy at a gym with a small bottle of shampoo. And he was able to use that bottle for some time. However, what eventually happened? The shampoo ran out. It feels that way with faith sometimes. We feel small -- and we are -- and we feel depleted or spent and we yearn for strength to continue. We pray to God to give us strength when all along we need to pray that He is our strength.

Sometimes we want to throw our hands up and give up instead of looking up. Instead, we need to calm down, kneel down and lay it down. We need to press on. We need to continue. Yet, how does one do this when he or she is feeling defeated, feeling sapped, feeling tired or feeling empty? This gets into the concepts of being filled and continuance.

Miles J. Stanford writes in The Green Letters about continuance. What is it? Consider some of his words:

When we first start out, hungry and zealous for Him, it is often imagined that extensive progress has been made when as yet we have barely begun. As our Lord takes us along through the years, it slowly dawns on us that there are vast, almost infinite, areas of development through which He must still lead us.

Many of these development areas are just plain desertóno spiritual activity, no service, little or no fellowship with Him or with others. What prayer there is has to be forced and is sometimes dropped altogether for months at a time. Bible study finally grinds to a halt; everything seems to add up to nothing. It is during these necessary times that the believer often feels that God has ceased to carry out His part and that there is little or no use in seeking to continue on. And yet there is a hunger deep within that will not allow him to quit....

Are we to love and trust and respond to Him only when He seems to be "blessing" us? What sort of love is that? Self-love? Our Father strips everything away from time to time in order to give us the opportunity of loving and trusting and responding to Him just because He is our Father. He knows what the cross is going to mean in our lives. He knows the death-march that lies ahead of us in order that there may be resurrection life. He knows the barren, bleeding hearts beyond to whom He must minister through usóhence He is going to bring us to the place where we donít care what happens, He is all that matters!

...

His relentless processing will discourage and baffle us if we simply want heaven when we die. But if we want what He wants, all that we are taken through, including the desert, will encourage us. Thus we will continue because we know that He ever continues to work in and through us that which He began and finished on our behalf in our Lord Jesus Christ.

...

Did you hear that question: "Are we to love and trust and respond to Him only when He seems to be 'blessing' us?" I mentioned last time about letting go and hanging on and I mentioned a song "Blessed Be Your Name" where the lyrics say the following:

...
Blessed be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

...

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, Blessed be Your name

So the question: "Are we to love and trust and respond to Him only when He seems to be 'blessing' us?" What's the answer? No! Even when we are weary, we are to praise Him and trust Him and look to Him and go to Him. Does your heart choose to bless His Name?

The key to continuing on and blessing His Name in spite of circumstances is to want what He wants and resist what He resists. Dr. Larry Crabb, in his book Connecting, writes the following:

God's method is neither to merely issue commands from the general's tent (do what's right) nor to improve the functioning of diseased organs (fix what's wrong). Instead he becomes so intimately a part of us that we want to resist whatever he doesn't like and release the good things he has aroused within us.

That's what God wants for us. He wants to become "so intimately a part of us" that we will have His desires. This is how we can carry on regardless of circumstances. If we know God is good, then what He wants is good and we can be encouraged in spite of circumstances. With that encouragement, we can continue. We are to continue.

Years ago, I was talking with a cynical and bitter man who wanted me to blame God for all the atrocities he saw in the news. I wouldn't. And he asked why I wouldn't. I told him that this is earth, a fallen and broken place. I told him he longs for something more and I pointed to Christ. He has heard the truth of Jesus. And you have, too! Have you trusted Jesus? Even when you are worn out and spent, are you trusting Jesus? Are you practicing continuance?

Continuance is about Jesus, not what we get from Him. You see, I am that guy with the small shampoo bottle that eventually runs out. Yet, I have used it repeatedly for over 5 years. How is that possible? Because I have kept refilling it through the years. We, again, are like that bottle. We have to keep being refilled through the years. Ephesians 5:18 (NASB) says, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit." I am not talking about salvation here. When you are saved, you are forever saved. However, there is no means of being filled unless you already have the Holy Spirit (unless you are already saved). You must know Christ. I am talking about the day-to-day journey of relying on Him for each day, each moment.

The Greek Word, πληροῦσθε (plerousthe) is the "be filled" in Ephesians 5:18 (Source). This word means "be you filled." Specifically, it means to make full, to complete (Verb - Present Passive Imperative - Second Person Plural - Source). The NIV Study Bible Footnote says, that "the Greek present tense is used to indicate that the filling of the Spirit is not a once-for-all experience. Repeatedly, as the occasion requires, the Spirit empowers for worship, service and testimony." The base word filled -- pléroó (πληρόω) -- means "I fill, fulfill, complete" (Source).

What does this have to do with continuance? To continue on, you must keep being filled. It is not a one-time event. Often Christians think, "OK, I'm saved" and they check the box off their list and think, "That's done." Yes, you are saved if you have trusted Christ, but the walk of faith is not done. The Christian walk is a journey. It is day-by-day. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus says, "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11, NASB). We need to rely on Jesus daily. We need the Holy Spirit to work in us daily.

Lamentations 3:21-23 (NASB) says the following:

"This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
The Lordís lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness."

Do you need His lovingkindeness, His mercy? When is it newly available? It is new every morning. Whether it is for your own sin or giving you mercy to forgive another, it is new every morning. It is not to be a once-only experience.

Similarly, Isaiah 33:2 (NASB) says,

"O Lord, be gracious to us; we have waited for You.
Be their strength every morning,
Our salvation also in the time of distress."

How often is He needed to be their strength? Every morning!

We also need to rely on Him daily because we are to take up the cross daily. Luke 9:23 (NASB) says, "And He was saying to them all, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me....'" Where can we get such strength? How can we do it? We don't have the strength. We can't do it. We need Him to do it through us. We need Him to be our strength. We need to be filled daily. In fact, we need to be filled every hour! Like the old hymn says, "I need Thee every hour". Listen to the words:

I need Thee every hour,
Most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine
Can peace afford.

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior!
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour,
Stay Thou near by;
Temptations lose their power
When Thou art nigh.

I need Thee every hour,
In joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide,
Or life is vain.

I need Thee every hour,
Teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises
In me fulfill.

I need Thee every hour,
Most Holy One;
Oh, make me Thine indeed,
Thou blessed Son.

The most important question: Do you know Him? Are you trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation based on His perfect life, His perfect work on the cross, His death and His Resurrection?

Next question: Are you going to Him daily to be filled so that you will desire what He desires?

Final question: Are you trusting Him this hour to fill you that you may continue as He desires for you?

If you know Christ, you have eternal life and that will continue for eternity. It is hard this side of Heaven, but you can go to Him and be filled for each day. Start practicing continuance now, relying on Him moment by moment. I know I need Him this moment. I know that I need Him in the good times and bad times. I need Him. We need Him. Be you filled and continue in Him for He has made a Way.


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