Filling stations, the places where you go and purchase fuel for your car or truck, used to be full service.

Many of the people reading this devotional will find what I’m about to say hard to believe, but ask any of the older folk you know and they can confirm it. There were people whose job it was to put the gas into your tank. If you pulled into a gas station, stepped out of your car and started to put your own fuel into the tank, that created a stir! It simply wasn’t done.

Yup, believe it or not you’d pull up the pump, then sit there and wait. Someone would walk over to the car and greet you by saying something like, “What will it be?” And you’d either give the dollar amount of how much gas you wanted to purchase, or just reply, “Fill it up!” As amazing as it seems, these people USED to have uniforms and caps, too. They’d even check your oil!

In today’s verse, Jesus speaks about the motivation for His earthly journey:

Have you ever run out of gas in your car? Probably. Most of us have, at one time or another. Not frequently, of course. We had a car once where neither the speedometer nor fuel gauge were operational. The only way to make certain we didn’t run out of fuel was to track the number of miles we had driven. We’d literally have to re-set the trip odometer every time time we filled up with fuel. We knew the car could run about 375 miles on a full tank, but every time we hit 250 miles on the trip odometer, we’d fill it up again.

Interesting, isn’t it, that Jesus says He came that we can have LIFE? Some folks might think, “Well, that’s nice. But I’m already alive; thank you very much.” Except they’d be wrong. Without Jesus, you may LOOK LIKE you’re alive; but the part of you that needs to be alive so you can live in God’s coming new creation was stillborn. It receives life when you receive Jesus.

Jesus came and did all He did so that He could offer you that life. The cross and the resurrection open the way to the life He offers. His messages and miracles provide the proof that He is who He claims to be, and therefore has the right to make the offer. But they also demonstrate the absolute need for the offer to be made. At some point you have to ask yourself, “If I’m not truly dead in my sins, what possible reason would Jesus have had to come and die on the cross?”

His answer is direct and to the point: I HAVE COME SO YOU CAN HAVE LIFE.

He didn’t come so you could understand your purpose, have a better family, get spiritual gifts or peace in your heart. Those are all effects of what will happen when you give your life to Christ, of course. But effects always have a cause. And you receive those effects and many others BECAUSE you receive life from Him. They are all part of the HAVING LIFE TO THE FULL part of what Jesus said.

If you’re going to have life “to the full” you need to be filled up. I’ve been accused of being filled with lots of things (and not all of them were nice), but what you WANT to be filled with is the Holy Spirit. The very Spirit of God whom Jesus sent to utterly fill you with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These things are what the bible calls the fruit of the Spirit. When He is living in you and maturing your character, God intends that this fruit becomes more and more evident for others to see.

Being filled with God’s Holy Spirit is often tied to images of anointing in the bible. In other words, they are images of OIL. Oil being poured out on someone’s head. Or the oil of gladness. Oil was used in the ordination of priests and the institution of kings; in fact, it still is today. Even the sick are told to call for the elders of the church so that they may be anointed with oil and receive prayer for healing. Oil is the very image of the Holy Spirit.

Most people approach their walk of faith like it’s an old-time filling station. They pop into the church, plop their backsides onto a chair or a pew – then they sit there and wait. They expect the attendant to fill up their tank. If they don’t feel full enough after church is done, they either find another filling station or stop going to filling stations altogether.

A real walk of faith has much more in common with a self-serve approach. We need to do a great deal on our own. We read our Bibles every day, we worship and pray every day. (Ahem, sometimes we find a devotional to add in that encourages us and makes us think.) Of course we come together as churches to worship Him, to hold one another accountable for how we are using the life He’s given, for instruction on how to live it better, and to to celebrate the Eucharist. The fullest lives are lived in families and communities, not alone. These communities help us become more effective at being who we are called to be and doing what we are called to do. But if that gathering is the only time you engage with Jesus, your life will never be filled up with His.


He meant it! He will do it. First, come to Him and ask for the life He offers. Then take that life He gives and FILL IT UP with Him, His word and the active use of the gifts He gives.

And don’t forget to check the oil! Oil keeps the engine running smoothly.


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