Beth Moore — Filled to the Measure
Everything we switch out for what Christ came to minister to our souls, every bit of that is an idol -- every bit of that! So, we have struggles thinking of the Old Testament concepts, of their culture, when really we understand this one. We are a culture that certainly understands idolatry. We’ll turn to substitution.
I want you to hear some words out of Isaiah 44, verse 20. Jot down that address, but I’m going to read it to you. Isaiah 44, verse 20. Another name, as we’re thinking in the terms of idolatry, it says this so perfectly, “He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot say to himself, ‘Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?’” “…a deluded heart misleads him.”
The word of God tells us that, above all, the heart is deceitful. That your heart -- if you’re just going to go on emotion, on how you feel, especially before that heart begins to get sanctified and gets some fullness from Christ, when we’re still just an accident waiting to happen -- that heart will lie like a dog to us. Anybody know what I’m talking about?
How many bad relational decisions have we made because of a deluded heart? It says that with this deluded heart we can’t look down our right hand and go, “What I’m doing to try to fill my emptiness is one big fat lie!” It is a lie. It is a lie! It’s what’s at the base and at the root of every addiction. Because it lied! And now we’ve got to have more. And we’ve got to have a little more than we did last time, because then, of course, we kind of adjust to that level, and more and more and more… Subsistence or substitution.
You sit tight right there in Luke 4, but I’m going to read to you some stunning words out of Jeremiah 2, that speak to this perfectly. It says in verse 13 of Jeremiah 2, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
When we dig our own cisterns it’s not going to work. It is not going to work. It has cracks in it every time and everything we pour into it just pours out of it. When I come before Christ and I say to him, “All right Lord, I mean I am a need waiting to be filled.” See, that’s fair. That’s fair! I know I’ve got cavernous places in my soul. Psalm 90 says, “Satisfy me in the morning with your unfailing love.” That’s exactly what we see in Ephesians 3. Let’s turn back there right now. Let’s take a look at this because I want you to note something.
In being filled to the measure that is specified in Ephesians 3, notice with me that it says, in the context of grasping how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, it says that you may know that love that surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Oh, please go there with me. Because you and I don’t just need to be full, we need to be full of somebody’s love. Every single one of us has an innate, overwhelming, not just desire to be loved, but a need to be loved. You are never at greater risk, nor am I, than when we are not feeling properly loved. We will look for that. You want to talk about an empty vessel? If we do not go to God to get that cup filled, let me tell you we are going to get ourselves into a tremendous amount of trouble, because there is something very real inside of each one of us that not only needs to be full, I’ve got to know somebody totally loves me. I cannot change that, no matter what I do.
But the word of God is teaching us how to come to him. Before he fills me up, I’ve got to empty myself out. That’s when I’m going to come, and I’m going to bring him my confessions of sin. I always have something to confess. I’m going to bring him my concerns. I’m going to tell on people that have hurt my feelings. Do you understand what I’m saying? We’ll do all of those things. Then after I just empty myself before him, I want to ask him, “Lord you come, you just overtake me.”
See, the filling of the Spirit is not about a spiritual gift! It’s about a state of being. Full! And with that fullness comes power, and you never know what you’re going to do with that kind of power. Something beyond you.
I want to tell you a story that I told many, many years ago, that remains dear to me. Particularly because people bring it back up to me over and over again. It’s probably the thing I’ve been asked about as much as anything regarding stories and Bible studies along the years. It’s such a statement in my own life, and such a memory of God overtaking me and enabling me to do something I couldn’t do. You have no idea how dangerous you would be if you would live filled to the measure with the fullness of Christ.
I was headed off to the east side of the country to Asheville, North Carolina to speak. I’d been memorizing scripture and I remember very clearly I was memorizing John chapter one at the time. I was on the airplane, and the way I do my memory work is I have to say it. I read it then I say it out loud, and I read it then say it out loud. I read it and then I look away from it and see if I can say it. So I did this over and over again until I got stumped on a passage and the guy sitting next to me completed my sentence. And he was not happy about it. [Laughter] He had no desire to memorize John chapter one. None! None.
So, I got to my layover and I was about to go -- I was going into a small town, Asheville, so I was about to move to a prop. I had to go through a part of the airport that was just one large room where you went off into several different halls, down to the smaller planes. For a small airport, in the small part of the terminal it was packed, absolutely packed. Our chairs were all facing one another so there were a set of chairs that were against the wall and I was in the one straight across from them... I was totally immersed in my memory work.
The only reason I am telling you this is I was filled to the measure. I had had a wonderful morning with him and I was filled to the measure. So I was sitting Indian style in my jeans and sweater, and I had my Bible open in my lap, and I was going back over it and back over it. Boy, I was getting it. I was all the way down to about verse 18, and boy, it was coming to me. I was having a great time.
Suddenly I see that the eyes of all the people against the wall are watching something behind me. It was like a movie because all of their eyes shifted this way, this big around, and they began to come this way. Whatever it was, it was going right behind me. I’m thinking, “Oh, I wish I were looking.” Are you like that? I’m a people watcher. I so desperately thought, “What are they looking at?” And I can’t wait to look for myself until it comes all the way around here. Suddenly, in my peripheral vision, I began to see a little of it. It is a flight hostess that is pushing a man in a wheel chair right to the end of my row, and there is nobody between us. And this place is packed. So I want you to know that Jesus went to a significant amount of trouble to make sure that I saw this man.
I wait until everybody else gets more polite, and then I go -- And when I look over at him, he was the oddest sight. He looked like he was not one iota less than about 129 and I’m not kidding. This was the oldest looking person I had ever seen. Not only that, but he had gray hair that was down to here. His finger nails were every bit as long as mine. He was clean, but it was just an odd sight!
His pants looked like he had obviously lost a lot of weight because they were just bunched up. I’ll never forget how he looked. His head was just hanging down like this and his hair was in streams this long. Whoa! It was one of those times when you think, “That is Howard Hughes!” [Laughter] “That has got to be Howard Hughes.” You think any moment, “I’m going to have an Elvis sighting.” You know, it was that kind of thing. This is what’s happening in the airport today… so I can hardly take my gaze off of him.
I try to get my face back down and go back to my memory work. This is how much God thinks of us just memorizing scripture but not doing anything with it… because the Lord begins to compel my heart. Overwhelms me! Overwhelms me! Well, I have learned, I’ve walked with him a long time. I knew by now that is scary. God is up to something when he is overwhelming your heart like that.
I just thought, “Oh please, God, no! Oh, please! Please, God, no!” because I’m already knowing he wants me to witness to this man. So I say to myself in my spirit -- and I’m not talking out loud, but in my spirit I’m talking to God silently. I’m sure my mouth is going – because I say to him, “Do not make me witness to that man!
Now, I’m going to tell you, as clear as I’m talking to you now, the Lord spoke to my heart. There’s been very few times I’ve ever heard God be this articulate with me. And I’m telling you, word for word, these words came into my heart: “I’m not asking you to witness to him; I’m asking you to brush his hair.” “Lord, that man needs witnessing to! What good is combed hair if a man is lost? And I can tell, Lord, that man – I am your witness, I am your witness! I am your witness! I am your girl! Me! Me!” I’ve got the Roman road! Amen?
Still, in my heart, I mean we’re just having a fight. “I didn’t tell you to witness to him. I told you to brush his hair!” I thought, “I don’t have a hair brush!” I fix my hair, and then it’s done for the day, until I unfix it. And the brush is in the luggage. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?
So I say, “I don’t even have a hair brush!” And the Lord’s still compelling me. So I get up, walk over, and I’m thinking to myself, “I don’t even have a hair brush.” I’m supposed to be thoroughly equipped under all good works. I do not have my hair brush!