The Power of God (10-4-14)
Grab your bible and let’s go deeper into Acts 1 & 2
Read: Acts 1:6-11
Can you picture it? Jesus’ best friends and family had just watched him be tortured and die and then rise from the dead. They must be thinking, “This is it, right? Now you make all things new?” But, Jesus says, “Buckle up, there is still more work I have for you to do” And then he says one of the most popular verses in all of scripture: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This is in the same vein as the words we hear Jesus tell them in what is known as the Great Commission.
Read: Matthew 28:18-20
We who have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb need to take very seriously this battle cry of Jesus. These are our orders from our General. What we have to see today is that we can’t even begin to think about participating in, fulfilling, this GREAT COMMISSION if we don’t have and depend on the power of God living in and through us.
So here is the main point that I think Jesus is teaching us: Special power is essential for an expanding witness of the Gospel. We cannot and will not effectively and consistently bear witness of the life changing Gospel to those who do not have it, if we first do not have the Power of God in and moving through us! In other words, if you and I are ever going to authentically, effectively, consistently LOVE OTHERS, we must have a power that is beyond our own!
Read: Acts 2: 1-4
The anointing and the fire of God falls upon us when we place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The third person of the Trinity, named the Holy Spirit, is the one who dwells in the life of every believer at the moment of Salvation. The problem with many modern Christians is we tend to either all too casually engage the Holy Spirit in our daily lives or often give very little credit to the active work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This creates a huge problem in the witness and work of the church in the world we are called to be a light in.
John Stott said it well when He said, “The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers – the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called ‘nominal Christianity’. In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved; enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place & shape to suit the convenience. No wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism.”
Soldiers: Let me ask you this: If you are on fire, is there anything about your life or actions that are casual or comfortable? If the fire of God is upon us we will not casually engage God and others who need him! The early Christians who were in the upper room and who took the Gospel of Jesus out to strange and lost people were mostly tortured and murdered for their faith! There was nothing casual or convenient about how God wants to move through his people to share his good news!
Now, in a modern American western society, you and I most likely will never get the privilege of dying for the one who died for us! But that doesn’t mean the Fire of God is not able to do remarkable and sacrificial things through you and I every day!
The LOVE of God that is growing within you as you press into Christ is a sacrificial love. It is a love that causes you to lay your life down on the altar of God as a living sacrifice. Not so that you can earn his favor or love, you already have that, but because of what Christ has done for you on the cross. The sacrificial love that moves through you and I equates to a life that willingly follows Jesus’ example to lay your life down, so that it can be an aroma to God that is pleasing. And so that it would be a counter-cultural testimony to a lost and hurting generation of a loving God who can set them free as well!
The Fire of God will change your life. The question is: Are you letting the Holy Spirit reign in your life? Is the Fire of God burring so bright and white hot in your life that the sacrificial LOVE of God is mobilizing you out of your comfortable lifestyle and into the lives of hurting people? Hear this today: The children of God who are walking in the Holy Spirit ARE on fire with passion…a sacrificial love that burns bright and changes the lives of the lost and hurting around them.
At our National Run in 2011, Rev Todd said it so well when he challenged us with this:
“If your definition of Passion for God is low commitment and little sacrifice but faithful attendance to the events of your church where you can be fed a good sermon or enjoy some fellowship then all you really want to do is date God. Hear this today, God did not send his son to die for us and send his Holy Spirit to ignite us so that we could enjoy the benefits of hanging out with him but not be willing to put on the ring of Commitment! The modern church will be impotent and ineffective if we are only into the benefits of God… kind of like a religious gold digger girlfriend who loves the chocolates and jewelry and companionship of her boyfriend.”
The last time I checked my bible it said that Jesus is coming back for his Bride. Not a girlfriend!
We need the Fire of God to purify us and mobilize us to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. God is not looking for a bride who is playing games with his resources. God is not a warm and fuzzy feeling in the pit of your stomach. God is not temporary joy when he causes something to go your way. God is an all-consuming FIRE!”
The question is: Have you put your life on the altar of God? Your most prized possessions and relationships? Your safety and comfort? If so, the all consuming fire of God will burn inside of you and compel you to GO! To LOVE! To SERVE! To SACRIFICE!
Read: Acts 2: 22- 41
This is the testimony of Revival! This is the evidence of a God at work through his people by the power of the Holy Spirit after Jesus ascended to heaven! This is the testimony of the Gospel that we are to share with all those we come into contact with, saying, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Soldiers, we can’t do it on our own. We need FIRE! We need power! We need JESUS!
Finally, Read: Acts 2: 42-47
Two things to take from this:
- There is a huge temptation and unfortunately practice in Christianity to sometimes act only on the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Problem is sometimes our interpretation of the leading of the Holy Spirit is influenced by our selfish or fleshly desires. This is why we constantly see the in the NT the practice of Christians doing live together in community. The way we test and confirm the leading of the Holy Spirit is the authority of the Word of God and the counsel of the mature Christians in our lives. This is what we see happening here. There was no power in Christians running solo. They did everything together. We too need to remember that God has saved us and empowered us to fight this fight together in true authentic regular community.
- They gave themselves away. They shared with each other. They sold their prized possessions so that they could give to those who were in need! They didn’t complain for what they didn’t have, they rejoiced in God for what they did. “They had FAVOR WITH ALL PEOPLE!” And what happened? God added to their number day by day those who were being saved! This is a picture of the Power of God moving his life changing Gospel in and through his people.
May this be a growing reality for our ministry as we press forward in all God has before us.
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC