"You've Gotten Some Bad Fuel!"

We recently had some trouble with one of our cars not starting immediately. It was uncharacteristic for this vehicle that it took three tries for it to finally "fire the cylinders." This is our second car that is used locally for short distance driving to the school, post office, grocery and drug stores. Monique depends on it and when something like this happens, she quickly loses confidence in "her car!"

I tried to diagnose it without success. A quick check of the battery showed it to be fully charged. The starter didn't seem to the problem since it started five times in a row. I next thought it might be the fuel pump. Since most cars have that pump in the tank these days, it is impossible to know if this was the problem. I was quickly out of suggestions to explain this anomaly!

So, with anything related to automobiles, the best person I know to consult is my Dad, the lead mechanic of our family. Since December, 1961, Dad has been the proprietor of Joe's Auto Repair. Before that, he had crafted his skills in the local Ford garage for thirteen years. When you do the math of his entire career, Dad has been at this kind of work for more than seventy of his ninety years. He is the master of diagnosis and is regarded as a "Doctor of Motors!" Monique insisted that I call him. After reviewing some of the symptoms of the problem, Dad finally interrupted, "Okay, Let me tell you what I think. You've gotten some bad fuel!"

I didn't challenge Dad's analysis because I had heard a similar diagnosis from a friend of mine who is a specialist with small engines. After tuning up my leaf blower a couple of seasons ago, Lew recommended a special fuel for two-cycle gasoline engines. He told me that "bad fuel" is often the culprit with small engine failure. He recommended a product that is similar to the fuel that race cars use. While it is rather pricey, it has a rich mixture that stabilizes the fuel (even during cold winter months!) and is resistant to moisture. I have used this since his recommendation and my blower fires every time on the first pull! I'm a happy customer!

Two great minds! Dad was recommending the same kind of product in an additive that cleans the engine injectors, dissolves fuel deposits and controls moisture in the gas tank. I bought two cans at the local box store and poured one into the tanks of both vehicles. The result? For less than seven dollars a can, there are no more issues with starting or any hesitation when accelerating! Thank you, Dad!

I got to thinking about this prescription for a Christian's spiritual life. Do some of us have some "bad fuel" issues that require a "spiritual additive" for correction? Without pushing this metaphor too far, I can say that every believer has an unlimited supply of fuel at his or her disposal for living the Christian life. It is the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul said to the Colossians, "Christ in you, the hope of glory!" (Col. 1:27).

I can remember the exact time that this great truth came to my understanding. I was a senior in college at the time and serving a small church as pastor in a nearby community. We were doing a book study on the spirit-filled life and this teaching became real for me. I had accepted Christ at eleven years of age, was baptized into our church, and began to attend Sunday School and worship. However, I thought living the Christian life was my responsibility to carry out in my own strength. I had already run out of fuel several times over the intervening years and was "sputtering" in my service for Christ as I entered my early twenties. In short, I was not "hitting on all the spiritual cylinders!"

It is not within our power to live the Christian life! We will surely fail if we attempt this faith journey on our own. We need Christ to live within us through the Holy Spirit. We need His power to enable the fruit of the Spirit to live out of us. Paul spoke often about the need to walk in and by the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:16-26). It is only by the Spirit's enabling and animating that we are able to bring to life "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." Without the Spirit's leading, we will act out of our fallen nature and this "bad fuel" will not sustain us!

Are you in need of help, direction, and strength today? Then, heed this advice from God's Word to "Keep in step with the Spirit!" (Gal. 5:25). Our Lord is ready and willing to empower us if we get in step with Him!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com

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