"Talk with each other much about the Lord, quoting psalms and hymns and singing sacred songs, making music in your hearts to the Lord. Always giving thanks for everything to our God and Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ by submitting to each other" (Ephesians 5:19,20).
Mary was one of those ardent, faithful church members - a Sunday school teacher, choir member and active participant in a home Bible study - who just assume they are filled with the Holy Spirit because they do everything their pastor or Christian leader asks of them.
"Why has no one, up to now, ever told me that I needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit?" she asked me just after I had publicly suggested that very thing.
To help Mary better understand her own spiritual condition, I read to her the above passage from Ephesians. Then I asked her several questions relating to that portion of Scripture.
"Are you talking about Christ to others? Is your heart filled with melody to the Lord? Do you spend time in God's Word daily? Do you have a thankful spirit? Do you submit to others in the Lord?"
Mary hesitated only a moment. "If these are evidence of a Spirit-filled life, I must not be controlled by the Holy Spirit. But I would like to be. What should I do?"
With great delight and joy I shared appropriate Scriptures with her, and together we bowed in prayer as she claimed by faith the fullness and control of the Holy Spirit in her life. Surrendering to the lordship of Christ, turning from all known sin, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, she now knew with certainty that she was filled with the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit is not a once-and-for-all-decision, but a way of life in which we claim the fullness of the Spirit moment by moment, day by day, by faith.
Today's Action Point
I will honestly compare myself with the evidences of the supernatural, Spirit-filled life listed in the fifth chapter of Ephesians. If these are not true in my life, I will claim by faith the fullness and control of God's Holy Spirit, and ask Him to make these qualities a reality in my daily relationships with the Lord, with my loved ones and with others.