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                I do not like pinto beans. I can tolerate them if they are refried and covered in cheese sitting beside a burrito and rice, but all alone out of a pot, I do not like them. This was unfortunate for me growing up because my family loved them. At least twice a month my mom would make a pot of beans with cornbread, and that was dinner. This would be the only nights that I would ever go to bed at least a little hungry. I just could not make myself eat either the beans or the cornbread (and yes, I really am from the South. I have the right to not like certain things even if a Southerner is supposed to. I also don’t like grits – so there.)

            One particular evening, my mother made pinto beans. I had just come home from a particularly brutal football practice. I felt like I was starving. I would have eaten the south end of a north bound mule that evening I was so hungry, but all we had was beans. I got a bowl of beans and a hunk of cornbread, and grudgingly took a bite. In my delirious hunger the beans actually tasted good. I took another bite. It was even better. I ate two bowls of beans. My parents thought I had turned the corner on one of their favorite meals. Alas, that was not to be. The next time she cooked beans I was not as hungry, and they did not taste as good. I have yet to become so hungry again that pintos taste good to me, but that night they filled me up. When you are hungry everything tastes good. You just want to be filled.

            Spiritually, we also get hungry. Over time and with the demands and burdens of this world we start to spiritually dry up. The fire and excitement that we once had for Jesus starts to diminish. The Holy Spirit always remains in us, but we start to miss what he tells us and quit doing what he says. We become dry and hungry. We start to try to do more stuff with our own strength and we begin to stumble more. We just feel like corn stalks that have been in the summer heat with no rain. How do we avoid this?

            Ephesians 5:18 gives us the answer. Paul tells us,” And don't get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit:” The answer is to be filled with the Spirit. The Greek tells us that this is a continuous process. It is saying “be being filled with the Spirit.” It is like a never-ending drink that only needs to be topped off daily. We are filled with the Spirit at salvation (and he never leaves) and we are refilled throughout our lives. It is this filling that prevents us from drying up and withering down to nothing.

            When was the last time you allowed yourself to be filled with the Spirit? Just as the Greek tells us that it is a continuous process, it also tells us that we can reject the filling. It is our choice. God is not going to force Himself on us. We can only be filled if we allow it. If we want to be filled, it is easy. It is a matter of just asking for it and doing what comes next in Ephesians 5. We “19 address [ing] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Not only is being filled with the Spirit, it is also fun. It is having Church the way God desires for us to, and the cool part is that this Church is not relegated only to Sunday mornings. It is any time we want it to be. It can be when we are all alone, when we gather in a service, when we go on a trip or retreat, or anytime. The truth is that God simply always wants us to be filled with Him. Quit trying to make it through without Him. I know how easy it is to get bogged down with the daily tasks and get tired. I know how easy it is to get so busy that you quit getting filled. Don’t confuse work with worship (http://shallow-well.org/index.php/online-sermons/sermon/161-worship-then-work). Work is important, but not as important as worship. Worship leads to filling. Filling leads to being more useful and productive. We must all take the time to refill. Think of worship as a vacation for the soul. It recharges you and gets you ready for the next event. Please, take every opportunity to be filled with the Spirit. I promise you that it is worth it.

MJ

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