Sermons

Jesus Gave Them Power

June 14, 2020 Speaker: Reid Strahan Series: Miscellaneous

Topic: Power Passage: Luke 9:1–9:2, John 4:10–4:14

I was moved very deeply recently by a short phrase from Luke 9:1.  “Jesus gave them power”.  “He called the 12 together and gave them power”.  If you stop and think about it, this is an amazing thing!  Jesus had power, he gave it to them, and now they had it.  And they were able to do something they couldn’t do before, because Jesus gave them power.  He gave it to all of them.  Without this power, they could not carry out what he just asked them to do.  It takes power to cure diseases and heal and it takes power to preach.

We must never forget this basic truth that Christ has power!  And he is able and willing to impart it to us for what we need.   When Jesus has something for us to do, he gives us the power to do it.  It is a real thing.  And it changes what we are able to do.  

Christianity is a religion of power!  We are born again by the power of God, we are kept by the power of God, we serve God in the power of the Spirit, and in the future we will be resurrected in power.   

This power is something we are to know and experience.  And it is to make a difference in how we live, and in what we are able to do. 

During the 18th Century a great move of God took place called the Great Awakening. God gave power to various men to preach and thousands were drawn to Christ.  John Wesley and George Whitefield were two of the more well known men God used in this movement but there were many others.  William Grimshaw was also a part of this move of God.  John Wesley said, “A few such (men) as him would make the nation tremble.  He carries fire wherever he goes”.  Wesley meant he carries the power of God wherever he goes. 

When Paul and Silas came to Thessalonica the people said, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also”. That takes the power of God! 

Often I feel my need for this power.  In some measure, I have known Christ’s power.  But I want to know it more. And the more that I have known it, the more I never want to do ANYTHING without it.  In “The Lord’s Work, the Lord’s Way”, Francis Schaeffer quoted an old hymn that said, “O crucified and risen Lord, Give tongues of fire to preach thy Word”. Schaeffer said, we need that.. “Because the world is hard, confronting it without God’s power is an overwhelming prospect”.  

On one hand, I am fully convinced from the scripture that the same power that raised Christ from the dead DOES dwell in me and in you, and in all who belong to Christ.  Paul prayed in Ephesians 1 that the eyes of our hearts would be opened so that we may know the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.  That prayer implies that there IS power there, but that prayer ALSO implies that we need to KNOW this power in our experience, we need to see it.  In Ephesian chapter 3 Paul prayed that according to the riches of God’s glory, you would be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit in your inner being.  That prayer implies our need for an increase of power, and an ONGOING replenishing of inward strength through the power of the Holy Spirit.   

When we get away from believing in, and expecting this kind of mighty energy to be at work in us, our spiritual lives are in danger.  Paul said in the last days, people will have a form of godliness but will deny its power. Have nothing to do with such people.  2 Timothy 3:5

In 1958, David Wilkerson saw a picture in Life Magazine of 7 teenage gang members on trial for murder in New York City.  During a gang fight these 7 teenagers had beaten a young man to death.  But David was moved with compassion for these gang members and was drawn to New York City to preach to them.  He was young and skinny and awkward, and did not know the lingo of the street gangs. There was nothing about him that would suggest he could relate to, or reach the gangs of NY City….except the call of God and the power of God!!   So he went to NY and walked into the courtroom where these gang members were being tried, and impulsively rushed the bench, and asked the judge for permission to say something to them.  He was immediately thrown out of the court.  But a reporter from the New York Daily News took a picture of him, with his big black Bible, which went all over the city.  And he became known as “the Bible preacher who interrupted the gang trial”.  

Out of that experience David Wilkerson began a ministry to the drug addicts and gang members on the streets of New York.  A leader of one of the gangs called the Mau Maus, Nicky Cruz, was converted to Christ.  The story of that conversion became a book called “The Cross and the Switchblade”.  David Wilkerson went on to preach the gospel to teens in NY, and cities all over the country, with many thousands coming to Christ.  He started Teen Challenge with ministries in over a hundred countries around the world, presenting Christ himself as the hope for teens struggling with drugs and alcohol.  He was a whirlwind of activity for God. 

When I got done with his biography, I was deeply stirred, NOT by how great David Wilkerson was, but by the power of God to move an ordinary person to do great things for the kingdom.   When I read the biographies of men like Wesley, Whitefield, AB Simpson, Hudson Taylor, George Muller, I see something compelling these men from the inside out.  We see it in the life of Jesus, always doing the will of the Father, doing what he sees the Father doing, speaking what he hears the Father speaking. 

We see it in Paul.  DMLJ said,  “Can you not see it?  He is like a volcano.  There is a power, a fire within him, moving him, energizing him, carrying him along irresistibly in the performance of his great and high calling”.  But Paul would be the first to say this is the power of Christ. 

He said, “We proclaim Christ, so we may present everyone perfect in Christ...To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works within me”.   Paul said, “I work!” I work hard!  But it comes from Christ’s power working mightily IN ME.

I am not suggesting that we are to copy what any of these men did, or that we CAN copy what they did.  I am not suggesting that Christ’s power is only seen in some great, public work. Often it is demonstrated in small, obscure places, with one person or a handful of people.

But we MUST also know something of the power of God, pulsating, within us.  And, based on the word of God, we CAN know and experience the power of Christ in us too!

I am not talking about power for ministry only!  Our entire experience as a Christian is built on the reality that an EXTERNAL POWER, from outside us, has come into us and is now at work in us.  Paul said “Work out your salvation because it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure”.  God himself is actively producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases him.  So you respond to this activity of God in you and you work, in obedience to HIS working in you.  

This work of God inside of us is hard to put into words but we all know something of it in our own experience, if we belong to Christ!    

DMLJ  “It is the difference between life and a machine. The machine you have to wind up and it goes for a certain length of time, but it stops.  But this is life, and it is life within, a POWER that is operating within…. There is an impulse within, a call, an urging,..a longing is created...you are aware of a working within you.  “It is God who is at work in you”.   

This same inward working of God is described in Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well. 

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 

Jesus said, “If you only knew the gift God has for you!  If you only knew who was speaking to you! You would ask me, and I would give you living water!”  This woman was going through her normal routine of life.  She did not know God had a gift for her.  She did not know that Jesus the Messiah was right there in front of her.  She didn’t know that a powerful, life-giving, thirst-quenching, gift from God was available to her.   Of course, the gift of God is Jesus. And everything we need and everything God has for us comes to us through Jesus!  But she didn’t know that.   

I think the reason so many Christians don’t really think going to Jesus is the answer to their needs, is exactly the same reason this woman at the well did not ask Jesus for living water.  We don’t know the gift of God!  We have so little comprehension of what is available to us in Jesus.  We have so little comprehension of who is right there, beside us, speaking to us.  So we do not really expect anything from him and so we do not ask him for power, or living water, for the Life we so need.

But Jesus is saying, if you only knew what is available to you, IN ME, you would ask! And it would change everything!

Jesus went on to say to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  John 4:13,14  NKJ translates this as “a fountain of water, springing up to everlasting life.”

The water that Jesus gives is living.  It is bubbling up or springing up.  There is a force to it.  It is irrepressible.  It just keeps coming.  Just when you think there can’t be more, there is more.  There is always more!  What a wonderful promise!  

Jesus said, that is what it is like for My life to be in you.  My life is an unending, life-giving power in you. The Christian life is not primarily about getting us to do the right things and say the right things. The thing that makes us new people is that we have this well of water within us springing up to eternal life.  In another place Jesus said “the one who believes in me will have streams of living water flow from deep within him”. We live FOR God because we have life FROM God...IN US!   

 

How do we experience all this more fully?  There is no formula. There is mystery.  We walk with God and trust God and he moves and works and uses us.  We don’t always know how.  But he does.  Here are four things that help:

*First: Ask God to open our eyes to his mighty power at work within you.

I personally believe the great spiritual problem in many of us, is that we are unacquainted with this inward work of God in our soul. 

John said, “We have come to know and to believe the love God has for us”.   We can HEAR that God loves us but we have to come to the place where we KNOW that and BELIEVE that.   In the same way we must also come “to know and to believe” the fountain of living water, springing up within us.  We must come to know and believe the mighty power of God at work in us.  If we don’t know it or don’t know it very substantially, we need to pray what Paul prayed. “Open the eyes of our heart so that we may know the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe. 

*Second:  Desire to know the power of Christ and to live in that power.  Desire is so important!  Desire drives what we ask for and seek for.  And what we seek for is what we find!  

Once Paul knew Christ he wanted to know him more and he wanted to know the power of his resurrection more! 

Paul’s episode with the thorn in the flesh shows his great desire to know Christ’s power! When Paul suffered from this thorn in the flesh (whatever it was), Jesus said to Paul, “My power is most felt and evident when you are weak, or under pressure or in pain”.  Paul said, “If that is the case, then I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses”.  Why?  “So that the power of Christ may rest upon me”. That is how much he desired the power of Christ!   

*Third: Simply trust in the reality of Christ’s power. It’s not something we can see, we often do not feel it, BUT WE CAN RELY ON IT!  We trust that it IS there, we venture on it.  Regardless of how we feel, we trust the objective reality that Christ lives in us through his Spirit.  We affirm and confess boldly that have a well of water springing up within us!

Often in the mornings I will say, “God I entrust myself today, to the working of your Spirit you have given me.  I entrust myself to your power which mightily works within me.  I entrust myself to your life, to sustain me, and uphold me and guide me and enable me to live for you today.  I place no confidence in my own strength but I trust in your power.    

AB Simpson put it this way: We give ourselves to him, he takes us

We bring an empty hand, he fills it.

We are the capacity.  He is the supply

We are the temple.  He occupies it.

We are the channel.  He flows through it.

Let us receive him into every pore and fiber of our being.  Let every chord and member be a channel for His indwelling and in-working.

*Fourth: Make a daily choice to draw from the power of Christ.  Choose to draw from the living waters within you.  It is possible to be a Christian and live out of our own thoughts, feelings, old patterns of reacting to people and circumstances. Paul told the Corinthians, when you are jealous of each other and quarrel with each other,  “Are you not acting like mere men?”  1 Corinthians 3:3  We are NOT to act and talk like mere human beings!  Why? Because we have living water within us!  We have the gift of God, Jesus living in us!  Are we talking like people who have living water?  Or like people who do not know the gift of God. 

Watch what is going on in your heart and thoughts and ask am I drawing from the well of living water, or just from my human impulses?  

In conclusion remember this, the Christ we serve and know, is a Christ of power!  And he gives power to those who believe him and love him.  And I want all of us to know that more! 

Prayer: Father, thank you for putting within us something living and powerful.  Thank you for your Spirit.  Open our eyes to know the mighty power of his working in us. And strengthen us with that power as we go out into the world.  “O crucified and risen Lord, give tongues of fire to preach your Word”! 

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