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People need hope more than ever. As followers of Jesus, we have this promise in Colossians 1:27.....Listen to Radio Podcast featured on Moody Radio April 17 2024 

Stop & Start

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,

Ephesians 5:18

My mom and dad enjoyed alcohol. Every once in a while, my mom would make a highball at night. They would drink beer with steamed crabs. Dad would enjoy a beer while watching television. At parties, they always had a drink or two. This went on throughout their long lives. I never saw them drink to the point that they lost control.

Sometime after his 100th birthday, my dad was having trouble sleeping. And when you’re 100, sleep is most important. When one of the nurses told him that drinking could make it harder to sleep, he stopped drinking. I could not believe it. He gave away all his wine, schnapps, and regular beer. He replaced it all with non-alcoholic beer.

I sometimes like to have a beer or a glass of wine when we go out for dinner. But it’s always, always, always just one. I enjoy it and then that’s it.

You see, there’s drinking and then there’s drinking. There’s drinking, there’s drinking too much, and then there’s getting drunk all the time.

I know that there are some people that believe drinking is forbidden at all times. Or at least not very wise. And I respect them. This is not the time or place to try and figure that out.

What’s right in front of us are people in the church at Ephesus who are getting drunk all the time. These aren’t people that are just having a drink with dinner or are celebrating a little bit too much at parties. No, these are people that are getting drunk all the time.

And when they get drunk, they really tie one on. They are so drunk, it’s like they are soaked in wine. They’re sloppy drunk. They are so drunk all the time, it’s like they have abandoned their life, their faith. They are being reckless with their drinking. Their drinking is corrupting their lives and their faith.

But God offers a better way. He tells us to replace drinking with being filled with his spirit. And this filling of God’s Holy Spirit is not like picking up a glass of wine and then putting it down. It is a moment-by-moment filling by God of his spirit in us. We are to be constantly in the business of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

It's like turning on the faucet full force and putting a class underneath. It fills it up and then the water starts spilling over the edge. But you don’t turn off the spigot. You just let the water run, and run, and run. It keeps filling and overflowing the glass.

And a funny thing about filling a glass like that. If there’s any dirt in the bottom of the glass, it gets moved around. Eventually, that dirt gets moved to the top and out of the glass.

That’s the kind of life that Stephen lived before the Lord. He is described as “full of faith and the Holy Spirit.[1]” I don’t know that about you, but I wouldn’t mind being seen as that kind of person.

And when life went sour on him, when he was arrested because of false charges, he didn’t fall apart. He didn’t cry out, “Oh, why me?” He didn’t blame God. He didn’t throw a pity-party for himself. He didn’t fall into depression. He didn’t post pictures of sad cats on Instagram.

When he was brought to court, he wasn’t in sackcloth and ashes. They didn’t have to drag him in, kicking and screaming. And just so you know, the fix was in, they already had made up their minds about Stephen even before he opened his mouth. When they stared at him, looking to intimidate him, “they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.”[2]

Now honestly, is that the way you or I would be seen when we we’re dragged before a judge and jury that had it in for us? I can’t speak for you, but I’d be screaming, “Unfair! You got the wrong guy. I want my lawyer.”

But not Stephen. He had been doing nothing more than feeding the hungry. And when asked questions about this Jesus, he answered them. They argued, but he answered. They were the aggressors, he was responding.

So, how do we act when life becomes unfair? How do we react to false charges? When lies about us are posted on social media? Do we have a face as an angel? Or are our words and thoughts more about defending ourselves? Revenge?

When we’re filled to overflowing with God’s Holy Spirit, it can’t help but spill over into our daily lives. It will change the way we act and speak. It will change our attitude. It will change the way people see us.

In these desperate times, the world is looking for people that don’t lose it when everything just falls apart. They’re also looking for people that stand up under the weight of daily life.

Only a personal relationship with God through Jesus gives us his Holy Spirit. He’s the one that empowers. It’s time to stop whatever is preventing you from running to him and to start receiving God’s Holy Spirit to overflowing. Why not start right now?

Noodling Questions

  • Where has God shown you an area of life to “stop” and “start?”

  • Which is harder, stopping or starting? Why?

  • What attracts you to people that are models of stopping and starting?

[1] Acts 6:5 [2] Acts 6:15

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