The most important ‘factor’ in developing the “Fruits Of The Beatitudes” in one’s life, was discussed in May 2016 post of the “Life’s Deep Thoughts” blog—’WILLPOWER’—the determination, resolve, self-discipline, and self-control needed to delay short-term gratification in order to meet a long-term objective.
Examples showed that the human being has proven it can do ‘amazing’ things by having a lot of willpower, by being determined, and not giving up. However, there is a ‘power’ available to us that takes ‘willpower’ to a WHOLE NEW ‘LEVEL’! That would be the ‘empowerment’ of the HOLY SPIRIT of God.
To do REALLY ‘AMAZING’ THINGS in this world, WILLPOWER IS JUST NOT ENOUGH! Just think of Moses parting the Red Sea, the apostle Peter walking on water, and Joshua stopping the sun for 12 hours—these could not have been done with ANY AMOUNT of willpower! The Holy Spirit ‘empowered’ them to do these things.
Last month I discussed how to change a habit—and make it ‘stick’. The post focused on what is called the “habit loop,” with the ‘reminder’ being the trigger to initiate the desired change in a current behavior. I also mentioned that experts say that ‘easy’ habits take six to eight weeks to develop, though some behaviorists say it will take up to three months to make it become ‘automatic’—though some ‘very difficult’ things can sometimes take years to change. So, to make a new habit a ‘behavior’, it takes a lot of determination and self-control—it takes ‘WILLPOWER’!
We have many common names for willpower: determination, drive, resolve, self-discipline, and self-control. But psychologists characterize willpower, or self-control, in more specific ways. According to most psychological scientists, willpower can be defined as:
– The ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals or objectives
– The capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling or impulse
– The ability to employ a “cool” cognitive system of behavior rather than a “hot” emotional system
– Conscious, effortful regulation of the self by the self
– A limited resource capable of being depleted
Many people believe they could improve their lives tremendously if they only had more of that ‘mysterious’ thing called willpower. With more willpower we would all eat right, exercise regularly, avoid harmful drugs and excessive alcohol intake, save for retirement, stop procrastinating, and achieve all sorts of noble goals.
Too often though, we assume that willpower is about having strong moral fiber or gritting our teeth and ‘staring down’ the threat. But that’s wrong. Willpower is really about properly directing the ‘spotlight’ of attention, learning how to control that short list of thoughts in working memory. Although we might not be able to resist the delicious temptations of the world, we can ‘outsmart’ them by finding ways to avoid that internal conflict in the first place. The only way to boost willpower is to recognize the inherent ‘WEAKNESS’ OF THE WILL.
In her book, “The Willpower Instinct,” Stanford Health Psychologist Kelly McGonigal describes the ways we use our willpower by breaking it into three categories—each of which use a different part of the brain.
The first is “will” power. It is what we use to ‘force’ ourselves out of bed when the alarm goes off, to make it to the gym, or to stay late working at the office when all your friends are at ‘the’ party.
Any time our natural inclination is to stop or give up, but we make a conscious decision to take some kind of action, we are exerting this form of willpower. This is the power to say “Yes.”
The second is “won’t” power. This is the ability not to ‘give in’ to temptations, such as food and shopping sprees. It is what we use to control our emotions and hold our tongue when involved in a dispute. This is the power to say “No.”
The third is “want” power. This is the most important form of willpower that we possess. It is the ability to see the ‘higher purpose’ behind our actions, and to work toward long-term goals.
Any time we feel like there is just no way we can ignore a temptation or persevere through a challenge, yet we find something deep ‘within’ ourselves to do the right thing, we are exerting this form of willpower. This is the power to say “Whatever it takes!” So, when one has an overarching goal or ‘inspiration’ in mind, it is much easier to ‘exert’ one’s willpower to achieve it.
Some people, when developing a plan to accomplish a goal, begin with “I have to” do this stuff to achieve the goal. Meanwhile, your brain is subconsciously ‘paying attention’ to this, by saying you “have to” do something, you are claiming that there are better things that you ‘want to’ do, but you are ‘restricted’ by your plan. Then, when it’s an ‘obligation’, your brain will devise excuses to skip doing something, especially if you are low on willpower (usually at the end of the day).
That’s why you should change your perspective, and switch your motivation to “get to.” This will shift your brain from using your “will” power to using your “want” power—which is much more ‘powerful’.
McGonigal also points out that one of the most replicated findings about willpower is that it seems to be finite—that is, we only have so much and it runs out as we use it. Willpower like a muscle—it can get exhausted by overuse. But, just like our physical muscles, there are some researchers who believe we might be able to strengthen our willpower by ‘training’ it.
Willpower is considered a laudable and coveted personality trait because it indicates that individuals are motivated to succeed, which translates to getting tasks done and accomplishing goals. This trait of is often associated with similar characteristics of resilience, which is the power to overcome setbacks rather than give into them.
Sometimes, even though people lack extraordinary talent, they accomplish great feats through feats of sheer willpower:
– It took Thomas Edison over 1,000 tries to make a working light bulb
– Beethoven composed five of the best-loved symphonies of all time while he was deaf
– Abraham Lincoln had dozens of failed businesses and failed attempts at public office before becoming President
– Henry Ford had five businesses fail before he created the Ford Motor Company
– “Colonel Sanders” was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant tried his chicken recipe
– Walt Disney had many failed businesses before founding the Disney Company
– Bill Gates dropped out of college to start a company that failed, but later founded Microsoft
[ Other examples: http://www.onlinecollege.org/2010/02/16/50-famously-successful-people-who-failed-at-first/ ].
Being determined to make things happen requires a commitment to a ‘purpose’. It has been said that, “Real leaders are ordinary people with extraordinary determination” (Author unknown).
The human being has proven it can do ‘amazing’ things by having a lot of willpower, by being determined, and not giving up. However, there is a ‘power’ available to us that takes ‘willpower’ to a WHOLE NEW ‘LEVEL’! That would be the ‘empowerment’ of the HOLY SPIRIT of God.
To do REALLY ‘AMAZING’ THINGS in this world, WILLPOWER IS JUST NOT ENOUGH! Just think of Moses parting the Red Sea, the apostle Peter walking on water, and Joshua stopping the sun for 12 hours—these could not have been done with ANY AMOUNT of willpower! The Holy Spirit ‘empowered’ them to do these things.
Pastor Rick Warren stated that, “Living by faith means you are attempting to do something you cannot do yourself. Anything you can do by your own efforts obviously does not require faith. But in the areas of your life that seem unchangeable—the intractable problems, the persistent areas of failure, the stubborn bad habits that won’t respond to willpower—these things require power greater than you possess.” He was discussing the Holy Spirit.
Even though psychologists say we can “train” ourselves to have more willpower, paradoxically, the Bible says that we will have the most willpower when we actually ‘SURRENDER’—to the Holy Spirit. Living under and by His power is freeing, calming, and settling. In the final analysis, growing in willpower means totally and unequivocally TRUSTING the Holy Spirit and His power to lead us.
So, how does one receive this ‘power’ from the Holy Spirit? Well, first off, He focuses on God’s ‘children’—someone who has ‘surrendered’ their life to His Son, Jesus, thus making peace with Him. [ More about this in a previous Life’s Deep Thoughts post:
The moment you ‘invite’ Jesus into your life as your Savior and Lord, you experience a spiritual birth (John 7:37-39), and at that specific ‘moment’ of salvation you became a child of God and are ‘filled’ with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:3). You are then given this ‘power’ to live a holy life and to be a fruitful ‘witness’ for God. The Holy Spirit takes up residence ‘inside’ you—permanently! (John 14:15-17).
By surrendering our will to His, and by asking Him to live His life in and through us (Galatians 2:20), we strengthen our willpower by having regular ‘contact’ with Jesus and God The Father.
It is an evidence that the Holy Spirit has come into your life, when your conscience in ‘sensitized’ to sin—awakening in you a new desire of not ‘giving into’ sin.
The power to become sensitized comes not by our willpower, efforts, talents, or ‘schemes’—it comes only through the power of the Holy Spirit.
His indwelling presence enables Christians to be changed from the inside out. Resolutions, willpower, and the best intentions are not enough. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to make the required changes God wants to make in our lives (Philippians 2:13).
The thing is, if you’ve ‘blown it’, take heart—only when we come to the ‘end’ of ourselves are we able to receive the Holy Spirit and experience His power!
[ NOTE: If you, at this time, would like to become a child of God, a suggested “reconciliation” prayer is below ].
As our divinely indwelling “Helper,” the Holy Spirit performs a function no human counselor can even approach. He is constantly there, pointing the way to the truth, applying the truth directly to your ‘heart’, prompting you to conform to the truth. In short, He ‘sanctifies’ us in the truth (John 17:17). “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
The Holy Spirit’s main role in the Christian is that of teacher: “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).
The more you saturate your mind with what you learn about the Holy Spirit from the Bible, the more He ‘controls’ your thoughts. By yielding yourself totally to the Word of God (the Bible) and letting it permeate your life, you’ll be controlled by the Spirit’s desires. The Bible says that we should be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). What does that mean?
Well, it actually means to be constantly and continually controlled and empowered by His ‘presence’. The Holy Spirit overrides your normal abilities and actions, instead of doing things only with our own strength or ability. To live a “Spirit-filled life” means to yield yourself to the control of the Spirit to occupy every part of our lives, guiding and controlling us. Then His ‘power’ can be exerted through us so that what we do is ‘fruitful’ to God. The “filling” of the Spirit does not apply to outward acts alone; it also applies to the innermost thoughts and motives of our actions. Instead of doing only what we ‘want’ to do, we now are ‘guided’ by Him to do what we ‘should’ do. An illustration might clarify this.
A high jumper typically tries to clear seven feet. He backs up, gets in his stance, takes off running, lifts his foot, and then jumps over the bar with all of the effort that he can muster. He tries to go as high as he can go. The high jumper believes he can do it, and he does as much as he can. If he knocks over the bar, he goes back again and tries a little harder next time.
On the other hand, when a pole vaulter is planning to clear the bar, he will typically try to get over a much higher level—sometimes triple that of an Olympic high jumper can achieve. This is because the pole vaulter has a ‘helper’—a carbon fiber pole—and he is not merely depending on his own ‘ability’ to make it. He is ‘confident’ in the pole–trusting the pole has enough strength and elasticity to do what is needed in order to propel him over the bar. The pole vaulter is depending on what he is ‘attached’ to rather than simply relying on himself. Because of this, he is able to go higher and farther than he ever could have on his own. This could be a metaphor for the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life.
When you rely on the Holy Spirit, He will give you abilities to do much more than you could ever imagine. He “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” [ Ephesians 3:20 ]. The power IS IN YOU—you just need to learn to ‘access’ it! That happens when you YIELD every aspect of your life to the Spirit’s control.
Now, when one mentions the “power” of the Holy Spirit, many people think of miraculous demonstrations and intense emotions. But, most of the time the Holy Spirit’s power is released in your life in quiet, unassuming ways that you aren’t even aware of or feel. He often ‘nudges’ us with “a gentle whisper” or “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12), that most of the time is not ‘auditory’.
However, there was a very ‘impressive’ example of what the Holy Spirit can do back when Jesus left this earth. It is called “Pentecost.”
This was a VERY, VERY ‘UNIQUE’ instance—the ‘beginning’ of the Church—when God signaled the beginning of the immense change from the “Old Covenant” to the “New Covenant.”
Nothing like this had ever happened, before or since, in the history of the world—not even during Moses’ time or even Elijah’s time. What happened at Pentecost was to point to the apostles as the ‘messengers’ of God—and mention of this kind of thing happening faded out after the apostles passed away.
Prior to Pentecost, the saints of God were empowered both selectively and infrequently. But, just before Jesus left this earth, He promised the apostles: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” [ Acts 1:8 ].
The apostles were given extra ‘power’ for special service: “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.” They were given an “extra filling” to meet the tremendous demands that were going to be placed on them as they ‘founded’ the Church.
Immediately after the Holy Spirit “descended upon them,” the disciples spoke to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem (50 days after the “Feast of Passover”). These people hailed from a variety of nations, and therefore spoke many different languages. Imagine their surprise and wonder when the disciples spoke to them in their own languages! Clearly, this was not something the disciples could have accomplished on their own without many months—or even years—of study. The Holy Spirit’s power was made manifest to a great number of people that day, resulting in the conversion to Christianity of about 3,000 people!
[ NOTE: Jesus had done many “signs and wonders” with the Holy Spirit ‘empowering’ Him in a special way to demonstrate to people that He was not just a mere man, but that He was the Messiah of God that had been prophesied (Luke 3:22). So, He was given some unique ‘supernatural’ abilities that the apostles were not given (they never did any ‘miracles of nature’, as Jesus did, like multiplying food or stilling a storm). This was done to demonstrate and authentic Jesus, His ministry, and His Messiahship—therefore it is irreproducible and unrepeatable. ].
God did something REALLY ‘SPECIAL’ at Pentecost—something that is NOT EXPECTED to happen like it again until the “Tribulation” period.
So then, how does this all happen in our lives? Well, primarily through the choices we make. We choose to do the right thing in situations and then trust God’s Spirit to give us His power, wisdom, faith, hope, and love to do it. Since God’s Spirit lives ‘inside’ of us, these things are always available for the asking.
In the field of psychology, it generally refers to willpower as “self-regulation”—something that the apostle Paul knew about way back in the first century, when he listed “self-control” as a “fruit of the Spirit”—something that is CRITICAL for human flourishing. Without self-control—or “willpower”—we are vulnerable to the ravages of temptation and SIN.
We all have a natural ‘inclination’ to do the wrong thing, and a natural ‘resistance’ to doing the right thing—because sin is ‘fun’ (you wouldn’t do it if it was a ‘bummer’!). But that will only last for a while. The author of the Book of Hebrews said: “…enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin only for a season” [ Hebrews 11:25 ]. There are always ‘consequences’ of sin. After you have your ‘kicks’ there will be ‘kickbacks’! You will eventually ‘pay’ for it, and it won’t be worth the short-term pleasure!
To explain this a different way, the ‘law’ of sin can be looked at as the spiritual counterpart of the physical law of gravity—they both pull you down! As you can expect, it’s much easier for a person to pull someone else down from a ‘ledge’ than it is to be pulled up to the ledge—because then you are working ‘against’ the law of gravity. It is the same thing with sin—it is much easier to be ‘pulled down’ and do the wrong thing than it is to be ‘pulled up’ to do the right thing. An illustration might help here.
You say to yourself that you are going to ‘ignore’ the law of gravity, and you are going to ‘will’ yourself to be able to fly. So, you just jump off a cliff and start ‘flapping’ your arms really fast to make yourself fly. Well, you know what’s going to happen—you’re going to ‘meet’ the ground in a way that you would rather not! The law of gravity is ‘stronger’ than your human desire and ability to fly.
The same is true in the spiritual realm. When you try to do the right thing simply by your willpower, you’re just ‘flapping your wings’. It might happen for a little while—a few weeks or months—but eventually you’re going to ‘crash’! You eventually get tired and stop ‘flapping’. You are not going to ‘beat’ the law of gravity physically, and you’re not going to ‘beat’ the law of sin spiritually. It’s going to create great ‘frustration’ in your life! If you continue to try to overcome your ‘temptation’ with your own willpower, you will become frustrated and you will lose hope—which will then lead to discouragement and despair.
This “Frog and Toad” animation (“Cookies”) presents the ‘tests’ of willpower better than I can say it:
The reason for all of this is that a Christian has two “natures” inside them—which are in constant conflict. The “old nature” which you were born with, and your “new nature,” which was given to you when you became a Christian. The new nature always wants to do the right thing, but the old nature (“flesh”; “carnal self”; “old man”) will ‘war’ against it. It sometimes might actually feel like there’s two ‘people’ inside you. An Indian legend says this well:
“An old Cherokee Chief is teaching his grandson about life. ‘A fight is going on inside me,’ he said to the boy.
‘It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.’ He continued, ‘The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.’
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, ‘Which wolf will win?’
The Chief simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’”
So, even though the Christian tries to do right, your old nature will always be there trying to be prideful, self centered, lustful, or exaggerate—and willpower WILL NOT be strong enough to ‘defeat’ your old nature. If you think you are going to change by just ‘wanting’ to change, or ‘learning’ to change, you are going to be sadly disappointed! Knowing ‘what’ to do is not enough to change you.
The apostle Paul emphasized this when he said of himself: “So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me, loves to sin. Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in!” [ Romans 7:25 ].
You CAN’T ‘BEAT’ SIN with willpower. After a while you will get frustrated and the temptation will ‘overcome’ you—and you will go back to you old ways. You then will be at the ‘end of your rope’, totally defeated, and just want to give up—and that’s good! Yes, I said, “that’s good.” Because THERE IS A ‘CURE’!
The answer is not a ‘principle’, a ‘program’, or a ‘pill’. It’s not the latest ‘motivational’ book, going to a week-long ‘self-help’ retreat, or getting a prescription for anti-depression ‘medicine’. It’s a ‘person’—the HOLY SPIRIT—and He doesn’t just want to be a ‘resident’ in your life, He wants to be ‘President’ of your life! He wants you to ‘surrender’ it all to Him, and stop trying to do everything with your own ‘willpower’—because it’s impossible! All of own best intentions are not good enough. But, He can ‘empower’ you to win the internal ‘battle’. Let Him do it for you!
The apostle Paul said it this way: “So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves” [ Galatians 5:16 ].
You can have all the best intentions and make all the ‘promises’ to yourself that you aren’t going to do something, but your willpower will not be enough—you need the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will help you do the things you can’t do on your own, and will fulfill in you what God desires to do in your life.
Resolutions are great, and a good ‘start’, but to really ‘eradicate’ something in your life, you need to be ‘EMPOWERED’ BY THE HOLY SPIRIT!
The Bible tells us that God wants to ‘empower’ Christians to do things we cannot do by ourselves: “Your help will not come from your own strength and power. No, your help will come from my Spirit” [ Zechariah 4:6 ]. ‘Amazing’ things like the parting of the Red Sea, walking on water, or stopping the sun only happen very, very infrequently—when God is doing something really ‘special’ in the history of mankind—so, not all of us should ‘expect’ to do things like these.
But, if you are a Christian, you CAN EXPECT the Holy Spirit to regenerate you, participate in your justification, sanctify you, confirm your adoption as a ‘son’ of God, indwell you, and immerse you into the ‘union’ with other believers (called the “body of Christ” or the “Church”).
The Holy Spirit also gives you spiritual “gifts” to equip you in ministering to one another. He strengthens your ‘inner man’ for all righteousness. He guides you. He delivers you from sin. He illuminates the Scripture to your understanding, and He produces right ‘attitudes’ in you.
When the apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me,” he was talking about the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence (Philippians 4:13). What this means is that within the believer is an indescribably rich power source. The Spirit works through people to get done what is impossible for them to accomplish alone. In fact, the Bible says that He can do “far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)—and the apostle Paul certainly proved that with his prolific ministry.
What is God ‘calling’ you to do that’s “far more abundantly beyond all you think you can achieve”? Well, within you lies UNTAPPED POTENTIAL—not your own strength and abilities, but the unlimited ‘might’ of the Holy Spirit! His power will be ‘unleashed’ in response to your ACTING BY FAITH.
Now, just because you have this amazing ‘power’ inside you, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be able to do the things the apostles did—like ‘absolutely’ being able to heal others or yourself of any physical affliction. But, when the problems do come, the person with the Holy Spirit can help you ‘deal with’ any adversity with a calm and confident attitude.
In addition to all the things previously mentioned that the Holy Spirit provides, He also functions as “fruit-producer” in our lives. When He indwells us, He begins the work of harvesting His “fruit” in our lives—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These are not works of our flesh—which is incapable of producing such ‘fruit’—but they are ‘products’ of the Spirit’s presence in our lives. The “fruit of the Spirit” is the character of Jesus, and the primary reason a Christian is ‘given’ the Holy Spirit’s power—is to make them become more ‘Christ-like’. It’s God’s purpose that the Christian would “become mature, attaining the full measure of perfection found in Christ” [ Ephesians 4:15 ]. The “fruit of the Spirit” is God’s ‘primary’ expectation for how we live out our lives.
[ For more detailed info about the “fruit of the Spirit,” read this previous Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
As one starts to ‘bear’ fruit—as God’s Word begins to ‘refine’ them—they receive more ‘power’ from the Holy Spirit. As we cannot produce ‘fruit’ (godliness) apart from the Holy Spirit, He ‘infills’ the Christian to “put to death” the old ‘nature’ helping them to ‘clothe’ themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12).
Hopefully, by now, you understand that no ‘believer’ should attempt to live the Christian life or relate with the ‘world’ without the involvement of the Holy Spirit. Doing so will lead to a life of frustration!
But, some Christians feel they are ‘lacking’ in this power. All I can say to you—and me—is that if you feel that way, it’s not God’s fault. The power IS WITHIN YOU–all you need to do is turn on the ‘switch’!
Being ‘filled’ with the Holy Spirit is like having your house wired for electricity. The lights won’t come on until you flip the ‘switch’, and let the ‘power’ flow.
One of the things that keeps the Holy Spirit from being ‘manifest’ in your life is when you live for yourself rather than for Him—you are not ‘connected’ to Him so He can empower you. This illustration might help.
Let’s say you notice that your refrigerator is not working—the ice cream in the freezer is melting. So, you go online and research how to fix it. You find the manual for your exact model, and it shows you all the parts for your refrigerator. You spend a lot of time studying the manual, reading it thoroughly. Then, you go to the refrigerator and start adjusting things—applying what you learned. But, no matter how much you try what the manual said to do, nothing seems to be working. In fact, all you have done is frustrated yourself and wasted a bunch of time—while your ice cream is making a larger puddle.
After a few hours of effort, someone comes up behind you and says, “Hey, it’s unplugged!”
This is just like your spiritual life with the Holy Spirit. If you are not connected to His ‘power’—or don’t allow Him to empower you—you will waste your time trying to make your life ‘work’! You must develop an intimate ‘relationship’ with Him, so He can empower you and maximize the ‘destiny’ God has intended for you!
Of all the ‘gifts’ given to mankind by God—after that of Jesus—there is none greater than the presence of the Holy Spirit. So, my prayer for you is that you would be willing to ‘surrender’ to the Holy Spirit, be “filled” by Him, and be ‘used’ by Him for God’s glory! Also, that you would be constantly aware of His ‘presence’ and be sensitive to Him. In doing this, mixed with a little bit of faith and some practice, you will begin to regularly experience intimacy with God on an ENTIRELY NEW ’LEVEL’—making the reality of His Kingdom ever more present daily in your life, and in the lives of others you interact with!
The thing is, the Holy Spirit’s ‘voice’ is often a “gentle whisper” to our ‘hearts’—and ‘hearing’ Him requires the discipline of taking time to ‘listen’ carefully.
So, how do we become more sensitive to the ways of the Holy Spirit? Well, we have to develop a ‘listening ear’—to ‘still’ our spirit enough to not allow other ‘voices and hindrances’ from getting in the way of our hearing the Holy Spirit. It is not by accident that “He that has an ear, let him hear” is repeated 16 times in the New Testament—and of those, seven times the words “let him hear what the Spirit is saying” are added (ex: Revelation 2:29).
Jesus promises that when we ask the Father He will increase the work of the Spirit in us: “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” [ Luke 11:13 ]. SO, ASK!!! He wants to GIVE IT TO YOU!
Though psychology researchers tell us that human willpower is finite, the ‘empowering’ and ‘filling’ of the Holy Spirit in a Christian is LIMITLESS! It is not how much of the Spirit we have, but how much the Spirit has of us—and that’s UP TO US!
Sadly, because we are ‘sinful’ creatures, we will never experience ‘all’ of the great power of the Holy Spirit has to offer on this earth, but, through intense prayer, we CAN ‘TAP’ into His ‘power’ enough to OVERCOME OUR WILL—with HIS ‘WILLPOWER’!
Developing your willpower will definitely help you accomplish ‘great’ things in this life—but they are not going to last forever (“The earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” – 2 Peter 3:10 and “For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” – 2 Corinthians 4:18b).
The apostle Peter emphasizes this by going back to the Old Testament (Isaiah 40:6-8) to reiterate that your “new life” (being a Christian) will last forever, because you ‘follow’ the teachings of the “eternal, living Word of God” (the Bible):
“People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the Word of the Lord remains forever” [ 1 Peter 1:24-25 ].
We are going to be on this earth about 80-100 years—a ‘blink of the eye’ in comparison to eternity! So, if you want to do something that WILL LAST FOR ETERNITY, the Bible tells us how and what to do: You must be ‘right with God (be “born again”), then you will be ‘empowered’ by the Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit’s help, He will ‘sanctify’ you by developing in you “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” [ 1 Corinthians 13:13 ].
As a reminder, the Holy Spirit’s goal is to develop in you the ‘character’ of Jesus—the “fruit of the Spirit.” It just so happens that the first ‘quality’ of the “fruit of the Spirit” is “love”—one of those ‘things’ that will LAST FOREVER!
Jesus was also pretty ‘direct’ about what we need to do: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” [ John 3:5 ].
So, I pray that “God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13); that “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26); and that “from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit” (Ephesians 3:16).