Big Picture - Chapter 2 Fill My Cup, Lord

by Doug Perry,
This can be a really touchy area, so I want to tread lightly.  I like word pictures, so we'll try it that way.

Everybody has a cup. So that you have a visual, let's say you're a 16 oz. coffee mug.  In that cup is You and the Sin (world, satan, evil).  That's the nature of man since the fall in Genesis.  (If you don't think man is sinful and flawed by nature, go read the Undeniable Axioms.)   When you accept Jesus as your Lord (Master, Owner, Supreme Commander), then the redemptive power of the Holy Spirit (God, Jesus) comes in and provides a barrier of sorts between the You and the Sin.  But the daily grind of living in this place, particularly America, keeps shaking everything up.  Imagine a jar of Italian Dressing with layers of oil and vinegar.  They don't really blend and change their nature, they're just shuffled up.  If you sit the jar down and give it some time to quietly settle, you'll see the divisions again.  In America, we hardly ever have time to "settle."  That's what Prayer is for - to quickly resort the ingredients (settle) so God will stand in between us and our sin again and we can see more clearly. 

Big Picture - Chapter 2 Fill My Cup, Lord
The redemptive power of the Holy Spirit is different than the empowering power of the Holy Spirit.  In John 20:22, it says Jesus "breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'."  There is the redemptive power, but they were told to stay in Jerusalem and wait (Acts 1:4-5).  THEN came the empowering power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost - rushing wind, tongues of flame, the whole show (Acts 2:1-4).  Immediately they went out preaching in such power and with such miracles that thousands came to Christ right on the spot.  They weren't doing that after Jesus breathed on them.  It wasn't until the empowering of the Holy Spirit that these fishermen were fearless speakers and teachers and leaders (and martyrs, by the way). 

So what happened to them?  How could they live in harmony and share with each as they had need?  (Acts 2:42-47)  What made them sell off all their stuff?  Why weren't they afraid?  (Acts 4:31-35)

Well, I think it works like this.  The empowering power of the Holy Spirit filled them the rest of the way up and displaced the Sin.  That is, there just wasn't any more room for the bad stuff because they were so full of God.  Some people describe this as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5 - "For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”)  Some people describe it as being Filled with the Holy Spirit or "Spirit-filled" - which makes more sense for our cup analogy (Acts 2:4 "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit").  That is something that is still a gift and a promise to us today (Acts 2:38-39 "Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”).  In fact, without it, we disobey Christ's command to "wait in Jerusalem until the Comforter comes".  That is, we go out under our own power to wage war against the enemy without the empowering power of the Holy Spirit.

I want to take just a quick moment and describe the graphic below.  You see, depending on your willingness to lay everything down, you can seek the Holy Spirit and still be unwilling to release every sin (cup on left). You'll get more empowering and you might even have enough to show evidence of some of the stuff you read about in Acts (tongues, miracles, healing, etc.), but you're not going to find holiness (purity, sanctification - I Thess. 5:23, Gal. 5:24), because there are still things you won't let go of that have a grip on you and whisper in your ear.  The second cup is someone that really does seek to lay down every sin and is filled with Holy Spirit, but there is still a lot of themselves in there.  That's fine, but pretty soon the Holy Spirit is going to start chewing on you to pour out even some of YOU (third cup).  If you can do it, eventually there'll be nothing left in there but God (fourth cup).  A cup like that you can shake up as much as you like and nothing happens. That's how people are burned at the stake and preach for an hour while they're on fire. Or are stoned or electrocuted or tortured and don't feel pain.  The world can shake all it wants and it doesn't matter, only God is left in there.

Once you have proven that you're capable of keeping Sin out of your cup, you can start praying for a bigger cup. Because the danger is greater as the cup gets bigger, God doesn't want you to commit yourself beyond what you can handle.  The bigger the cup, the more the enemy wants to take you out.

Big Picture - Chapter 2 Fill My Cup, Lord2
It's like the parable of the talents (Matt 25)- some are trusted with one, some with two, some with five.  If you're a trustworthy two talent person, prove yourself and then ask for five. But know that there is twice the danger. It requires a lot of maintenance to keep a big cup filled. That means hours of time in prayer and LOTS of obedience.  Some people have cups the size of oil tankers, but even just the evaporation of daily living on something that size leaves lots of room for Sin to sneak back in and cause trouble.  That's why you see high profile figures that are mightily used by God eventually crash and burn in some fiasco.  The enemy is gunning for them and there are lots of places to sneak in when you have a gigantic cup. 

It works in reverse, you see.  This isn't a one-time thing.  Peter is "filled" here (Acts 2:4) and here (Acts 4:8) and here (Acts 4:31). You don't get "Baptized in the Spirit" and then stay full.  It's a constant daily struggle.  We can pour off the Holy Spirit through our wilfill Sin - disobedience, pride, anger, unforgiveness, lust, etc.  Then the Sin will always swoop in to fill up the vaccuum.  We can start to pour the YOU back in if we get prideful or willful.  Oh, you might keep the "Gifts" that came with reaching a certain level of Holy Spirit, but that doesn't necessarily mean you're holy and pure anymore.  (That's one of the great secrets that some church leaders want to hide!)  Almost immediately in the early church you can see an example (Ananias) of someone who was "filled" and let satan back in (Acts 5:1-11).  As soon as Sin enters your cup again, you have to start wondering whose voice you're hearing.  You see there are only three choices - Your imagination, God or the enemy.  Only by the power of God can you resist the enemy enough to push him out.

How could Jesus say, "Go and sin no more." or similar things in 1 John 5:18 or James 4:7?  Is it really possible to be pure and holy and live a sinless life?  The short answer is, "Yes!".  But you need to focus on a daily walk with God and be willing to acknowledge your mistakes, repent of them, wipe the slate clean and keep moving.  Do we fall?  Sure.  But hopefully less and less all the time.  It all comes down to obedience.  Are we doing/living/speaking the way God would want?  If we are, then we have all the power we need to resist temptation and send the enemy running.

One other thing, the more Holy Spirit in you, the more you can accomplish for God.  That is, think of it as jet fuel.  Does your cup hold enough to power a two-seater Cessna or a 747 Jumbo Jet?  At some point you have enough in there to ask for spiritual gifts (they require fuel) and God will give them to you (as He sees fit).  Tongues requires the least amount - it's the lowest on the list of gifts.  We're to pray for the greater gifts. Why? Because they require a bigger cup and do more damage to the enemy.  You're going to need a REALLY big cup if you want your SHADOW to heal the sick! (Acts 5:15)  And even then, you can still have sin sneak in (Galatians 2:11-15)!

Above all, pray for wisdom.  God is always happy with that prayer.  And He's likely to give it to you - and then you're going to need some of the other stuff to make it really effective.  See, Solomon asked for wisdom and got everything else along with it (I Kings 3:4-15). 

But don't pray for a bigger cup unless you understand the danger and are willing to do what it takes to keep it filled.  The bigger the cup, the more damage you can do.  But every day will be harder than the last as the enemy pounds on you more. 

But the rewards are beyond compare!!


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