When you are living for Christ, there should be a noticeable difference from the life you had to the life you are living. People should see a difference. People should be asking, “What is different with her?” or “What happened to him?” when they see you. If there is no change, it is likely that you are still living the same life. This is very easy if you stick with doing the same things as you did before.
Paul tells us to “check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.” This is not something done overnight, but it is something that helps us to grow in Christ. The Holy Spirit will reveal to you what is not good for you. This can vary from person to person. If it is not good, toss it out. As you slowly remove what is not good, and you surround yourself with what is good and pure and true and worthy of praise, you will start to change. You won’t even realize it is happening.
If you stay right where you are and do not listen to the Spirit, you are neglecting the opportunity to become who you were made to be and you are missing out on so many great things. God promised you that you would do great things through Christ. That is an awesome promise and it is true. You cannot imagine the great plan He has for you. But if you start cling to the good and remove the bad, you will see that plan unfold—and it’s a beautiful plan.
“Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 [MSG]
When I was a little kid, I loved to play pinball. If you look at a pinball machine, you will see it has the paddles at the bottom. Sometimes there are paddles up in different areas as well. There’s lots of noise. You shoot the ball up and the ball’s all over the place. It’s hard to really focus on where the ball is because your eyes have to go so fast. That is a lot like life.
We try to have time with God. We’ll sit and open up our Bibles. We’ll try hard. We will even listen to the Bible in the car as we are driving. While we are doing that, our cell phones are ringing. Horns are blowing. Things are happening. As a parent, I know I’ll sit down determined to read my Bible. Then I hear, “Mom, mom…” It could even be the dog barking or someone knocking at the door. Something is always going on.
In life we are standing there, and we keep on hearing all this noise. We are trying to keep our focus on God but it’s so hard. You keep on focusing everywhere else and you can’t focus where you need to focus.
I find that it’s important to take all the bells and whistles and put them all away, to take the cell phone and put that aside. You need to have yourself a special area, a special time, a special something where you can be alone with God– where you can read His Word and where you can pray. We need to be able to be alone and meditate and allow the Spirit to speak to us about what we are praying for and what we are reading. It’s hard to do that with all of the bells and whistles in the world. When we are listening to others… When we have full schedules and so m any activities that we don’t have that peace. Only Jesus can give us that peace and if we don’t have the time to take to listen and to have that peace, then we are never going to get it.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:19, it says, “Do not quench the Spirit.” Verse 21-22 says, “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” It’s very important to not quench the Spirit and if we are not allowing the Spirit to be heard because everything else is bouncing around in life and we have all the bells and whistles and the board is almost on tilt, it gets to be a little hectic. We get overloaded and the board tilts and we have to wonder: is it tilting because of everything that is going on or is it because of God? Sometimes it can be from outside influences and sometimes it can be God.
The problem is we keep on pushing the buttons rather than lifting our hands and removing them from the paddles. We need to find out if it’s tilting because God wants us to go in a certain direction or if it is ourselves or others making the board tilt. Removing the bells and whistles is how we effectively listen. We need to hear what God is actually saying. In the end it is all about who is controlling the pinball machine. Is it you? Is it the outside people? Or is it God?