End of Summer Tune-up

End of Summer Tune-up

Study Guide, August 14, 2022

Pastor Clay Olsen


At one of our Men’s Retreat/Advance meetings we were talking about some of our old cars. That was fun and fascinating. My Grandpa had a 51 Chevy. It was a beauty. My brother drove it while he was in college. A car like that could bring up to $40K today. My other brother had a 57 Chevy. It was a sweet car. A car like that could bring up to $60K today. I once had a 64 Chevy Chevelle. A car like that could bring up to $50K today. And then I had a 70 Roadrunner for a while. That car could really move. But we won’t go into that right now…That muscle car in pristine condition could bring up to $75K today. Don’t you wish you would have held onto your old cars? But, if you think about it…I think that this means that we are getting much more valuable the older we get too! Right? That just seems logical, doesn’t it? Although my Dad used to say his ‘trade-in’ value just kept going down.

But the thing is, a lot of owners of old cars loved to tinker and tune-up their beloved autos, and some still do. And of course, with those older cars, you could do a lot of work on them yourselves…before the engines turned into computers. Those, too, still need tune-ups…it’s just a lot more complicated.

We all need tune-ups ourselves now and again. Fortunately, we have the Owner’s Manual that we can use to adjust the carburetor of our soul and re-align the tires of our emotions and re-ignite the spark plugs of our minds. You get the picture, right? So let’s do a little ‘end of Summer Tune-up’ for some more efficient running in our travels as Disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here’s something that regularly needs adjustment. The Apostle Paul put it like this: Eph 5:18- “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…” NASU So, we might ask: “What is ‘dissipation’? The Greek word for ‘dissipation’ is ‘asotia’. And ‘asotia’ means ‘profligacy’. Well, that helps, right? What is ‘profligacy’? Profligacy is something you don’t want to be known for…for to be characterized by profligacy is to known as ‘foolish’, ‘reckless’, and ‘prone to excessiveness.’ So basically, Paul is instructing us Disciples to avoid alcoholic drunkenness or intoxication, which then promotes foolishness, recklessness, and then one is prone to excessiveness in thoughts and actions. But instead, we are to be filled with a different ‘Spirit’, or rather, we are to be intoxicated or under the influence and control of the Holy Spirit.

That’s quite a striking word picture right there, don’t you think? And that’s also pretty clear to understand. But where it gets a bit cloudy in our thinking is how we are to go about this ‘filling of the Holy Spirit’. And it gets cloudy because we naturally begin thinking that to be filled with more of the Holy Spirit, we just need to find a way to get more of God the Holy Spirit in our life, as though God was somewhat hidden or aloof or even reluctant about it all. And so off many Believers go, searching for, and looking for ways, and formulas, and just trying to figure out how to obtain more of God in their life.

The problem is that so many are going about ‘being filled with the Spirit’ by following their own flawed human reasoning about it all, because ‘being filled with the Spirit’ doesn’t begin with an ‘action’…it begins with an ‘attitude’…a right attitude that then produces a right action. Now, many of us are familiar with this passage about this attitude, but we haven’t developed the ‘aptitude’ in practicing this ‘attitude’. But this passage instructs in both. And right here is also where we need the ‘tune-up’. So let’s look: Phil 2:5-8- “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” NASU

So the experience of ‘filling with the Holy Spirit’ doesn’t begin with the action of getting more of the Holy Spirit, it begins with an ‘attitude of emptying’ something out of us first! It doesn’t begin with an action of acquiring, but with an attitude of emptying. Now, in the theological context of this we know that Jesus attitude of ‘emptying’ included emptying Himself in relation to His independent use of His divine attributes. In other words, in Jesus’ ministry as the Last Adam, or the perfect Human, He emptied or surrendered His will to the Father’s will in all things, as in, “Not My will, but Thy will be done.” Jesus was continually emptying Himself in submitting to God’s Spirit in all things. Certainly, as perfectly divine and perfectly human Jesus was also continually and perfectly filled with the Holy Spirit, but it is this ‘attitude of emptying’ that we are commanded to practice. And note, not ‘suggested’ to practice, like being filled with the Holy Spirit is an optional thing for believers who are into that sort of thing…no, being filled with the Holy Spirit is a command by God to us. And yet, just like our God, it is a command that creates the experience of ‘blessedness’ and ‘usefulness’ and ‘fruitfulness’ and so on.

But a key concept that we are to take away from this is that God is never holding out on us experiencing more of His Spirit and His life. Rather, it is us who simply need to, day by day, make more room for God in our life so that the Holy Spirit then has room to fill us, to influence us, to take control in us, which the Holy Spirit is more than willing and ready to do! So, again, the way that we experience more of God in our life is by giving God more room in our life for God to then fill us with His Spirit and His Spirit’s work!

Which brings us to these two pitchers of water. To simply illustrate this concept simply, we could think of one of these pitchers as us and the other pitcher as Spirit of God. Now, both of these pitchers are full. One is full of us…the other is full of the Spirit. Which points out the challenge. There is only one way to fill our pitcher with more from this pitcher of the Spirit of God, right? And it’s obvious to everyone what we’re going to do here. However, what is not so obvious is that this is exactly what we are to be doing in our own lives every day, in order to be making room for and being filled more with God the Holy Spirit. What is also not so obvious is how our natural human reasoning so often just defaults to thinking that there is some way to experience more of God without first emptying out more of us first! But that is not only illogical…it is also unreasonable. What is also not so obvious is that we so often wonder why we don’t seem to be filling up with more of God in our life, when all the while we are still so full of ourselves. We have to first make room for God, and we have to keep making more room for God in our life by first emptying out more of our own selves first and regularly, as in…day by day. And what we are emptying out is our independent use of our own life, our own self, as in…our self-will, our self-occupation, our self-expectations, and so on. What we are trying to adopt in our practice is pronouncing Jesus’ prayer of: “Father, not my will, but Thy will be done.” And we then do this by adopting Jesus’ attitude about it all.

Basically, until we adopt an ‘attitude of emptying’ we will never develop the ‘aptitude of filling’. Just like with this simple exercise of first emptying this pitcher in order to make room for the filling by this pitcher, so are we to first empty more of our self-willed life in order to be filled with more of the Spirit-willed life in us.

Again, some might think of this exhortation as… “Elementary dear Watson!” And if so, that’s great. Yet, for many of us, we simply need more simple steps in order to get ‘tuned-up’ in this discipline of being filled with less of ourselves and more of God’s Spirit. It’s simply one of the ‘dailies of our daily Discipleship’…daily ‘emptying’ out more of yourself in order to make more room for God’s Spirit to fill you and then use you and then bless you.

Speaking of ‘blessings’…Here’s another concept that we could all use a little tuning up in…in both our understanding and our experience. The Beatitudes, or the ‘Blessed Attitudes’, have nine pronouncements of ‘Blessed’ in nine verses in a row. And, of course, the Beatitudes encompass every experience of Discipleship. We did a series on the Beatitudes a while back, so let’s just do a ‘tune-up’ here on one the main components. Plus, just like most concepts in the Christian life, there are greater depths of meaning and experience in these virtues than is often realized, especially in this pronouncement by Jesus of ‘Blessed’. So, again, let’s get on with a ‘tune-up’ on this one as well.

Blessed’ is a very unusual word-concept because it not only carries many features, it also carries a ‘double tense’. For example: This word has often been translated as ‘Happy’. And ‘happy’ is often associated with present joy, pleasure, and gladness. Certainly, these are included in relation to the Beatitudes. But wait, there’s more! The Greek word for ‘Blessed’ is ‘Makarios’. And ‘makarios’ includes not only present joy, but also the continued possession of God’s favor along with His future reward of this ‘Blessed’ accomplishment. That’s why we find Jesus declaring that even those that are persecuted for His sake are ‘Blessed’, as in they can not only experience the fruit of God’s Spirit of His ‘love’ and ‘joy’ and ‘peace’ in the present, but they can also be assured of God’s continued favor and of His future rewards for them for any and all of their hardships now. Their ‘blessed’ condition connects the present with the future.

Some Greek translations use the term ‘Congratulations’ as synonymous with the word ‘Blessed’. How about that? That’s quite an eye-opening way to read the Beatitudes! (Read Mt. 5:3-12) So ‘Blessed’ is a double-tense reference to God both conferring His favor on you in the present and God also promising His rewards on you in the future. How amazing is that?

There is also another feature to this featured word of ‘Blessed’. For not only is it a pronouncement of God’s fortunes conferred upon us, but it is also a practice that can be created by us, that is, by working with God’s working in us. What? What does that mean? Well, let’s think about it. Often in our lives when things are challenging, or things are difficult, or we are just going through hard times or hardships…that’s often when we nobly think or say, “Well, I’m just going to have to make the ‘best’ of it”, or “We are just going to try to make the ‘best’ of it.” And, yes, that is a really noble attitude and a brave way to look at and to attempt to deal with whatever tough things you have going on in your life…trying to make the ‘best’ of it. That’s good. However, there’s something ‘better’ than even the ‘best’. Yes, there is even another step that takes ‘making the best of it’ up to another level. And that is, because of God the Holy Spirit dwelling within us and empowering us, as God’s children we can not only seek to ‘make the best’ of whatever it is we are dealing with or going through, but also, and more so, we can make the ‘blessed’ of whatever it is that we are dealing with or going through! We can make the ‘blessed’ of it! We can tune-up our good attitude of trying to make the ‘best’ of things in life into an even better attitude by now trying to make the ‘blessed’ of things in your life and other’s lives as well.

For when you try to make the ‘blessed’ of whatever it is that you are doing, you are tying it into God’s ways of doing it. And by tying it into God’s ways of doing it, you then set every present situation into motion in such a way that it not only brings God’s sufficient grace into your present, but also sets up God’s special rewards for your future. When you try to ‘make the blessed’ of things, you are connecting it to even bigger things, even future things. One example of this comes from what was said about Moses in the heroes of the faith chapter in Hebrews. Heb 11:24-26- “It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.” NLT Moses made the ‘blessed’ of his conditions by choosing God’s righteous ways for dealing with his difficult days. And so he experienced not only God’s present favor, but he was also assured of God’s future rewards for him as well.

Again, go back to what Jesus was saying…for every step in following Jesus from being humble in spirit to persecuted for His sake…every step was not only accompanied by an inner soul happiness but also a promised future fulfillment. Each ‘blessed’ was also joined with a ‘they shall’ or a ‘they shall be’! Read verses 4-9

By the grace of God working in us we can not only make the best of things for now, we can make them be the ‘blessed’ of things for both now and forever. By the grace of God working in us we can not only make the best of things even for others now, we can even make the blessed of things for others now and forever, as we seek to be used by God as He works His blessed works in us and through us in the lives of others around us. So we can even tune-up our attempts of dealing with the difficulties of life by dealing with them the ‘blessed’ way we can. And remember: Trying to make the ‘blessed of things’ is the way that we can multiply the impact and the value and the significance of trying to make the best of things. It turns even the ‘best’ into the ‘blessed’. And the ‘blessed’ is even bigger than the ‘best’!