Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Pentecostal Power

There are all kinds of power in the world. Some folks are power hungry. They want to be in control. They want others to look up to them. Then there are those who love the power that money gives them. They climb the ladder of success hoping that at the top of the ladder they will find the financial wealth that will position them for life. Some love the power that a title or position brings to them. They want and crave respect. Sometimes the power folks seek after, is knowledge. The more education and knowledge they can attain, the more powerful they feel. For some, sexual achievement is power. For others, dominance and control is power. But for the believer, power originates with God, and unless the believer is 100% yielded to the source of ultimate power that originates in God, he does not know what power is all about.

Power is an awesome thing.
Not everyone can handle the position of power. Many are intimidated by those around them who appear more powerful. They feel weak, without authority, uncertain, indecisive, and anxious. But Christ Jesus never intended that any follower of his feel that way. Too often we forget what we have been given—an awesome gift. It was promised by Jesus long before he ever died and the promise was fulfilled shortly after his resurrection. Gifts can be wonderful things if we know what they are for, how they are to be used and when they are to be put to work on our behalf. If you gave Christopher Columbus a piece of paper that was printed, detailing his flight from England to American on a American Airlines jet, he would have no understanding of what it was or how is was to be used. Yet such a piece of paper could have provided him with a quick flight across the ocean instead of a journey of months. He did not know the power of air flight. All he knew was sailing ships. Knowledge had increased over time. Today, we look back through the pages of history and the Bible to the days of Christ and the disciples, and the gift God gave on the Feast of Pentecost. We have seen the power of Pentecost at work in our world and in days gone by. Yet like Christopher Columbus, many are just as ignorant about the gift given on that momentous day in history. We often tell ourselves that the power of Pentecost is mostly for preachers and evangelists and missionaries. They are the ones who get to experience the miracles, the power, the dynamics of this gift. Let’s look back for a moment to the Bible and see what it tells us.

Who is it for?
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. (John 16:13) Jesus was speaking to the future leaders of the early church. He wanted them to know that the purpose of this Spirit was to teach and guide, and that He would lead them to grasp divine authority. Since the fall of man, in the garden of Eden, authority had been stripped away. But now, this new authority would lead these fledgling Christians into an new walk of spiritual authority, the kind that Jesus used every day. It was not just for those early disciples… but as Joel the prophet said hundred of years before...this gift was for everyone, young and old. 28 “ And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.( Joel 2:28-29)
He gave his followers some very clear instructions. There were to wait for a ‘gift.’ and when that gift arrived, it would change them all, giving them ‘power’....“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised...For John baptized in water, but in a few days you will be BAPTIZED with the HOLY SPIRIT”... you will receive POWER WHEN the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses...” (Acts 1:4-5, 8) And of course like every promise God makes, it came to pass. They knew something outstanding had happened because of the strange thing that happened to them all… When the day of PENTECOST came, they were all together in one place.... All of them were FILLED with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4) Then they remembered what Jesus had told them all just before he ascended to heaven….“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) And so we know that this power is for all believers, young and old, for all nations. Jesus does not have an exclusive company. It is not reserved for the few rich and famous. It is for everyone. The gift is for all.

Where did the power go?
Many churches today seem to be lacking in the power that these early disciples experienced. We often ask ourselves why? As I study the Word of God, I see several key things that the church of today is sadly lacking. While we often seek the power….we fail to seek the power giver. It is a misplaced affection. We want shortcuts. We want instant results. We want numbers, and ministry and respect. But we are lacking in modeling our lives after Jesus. Jesus did not come to promote His will or ideas. He came only to speak the will of the Father who sent Him. He was a humble obedient servant. He had no personal agenda. He only wanted what God wanted. God wanted a sacrifice. We don’t like that word very much. We don’t want to make sacrifices let alone be one. I wrote an article some years ago that spoke of the sacrifice God expects of us. For there to be a fire, there must be wood or fuel. And that fuel must give its all to produce the fire. It has no will of its own. It is just fuel in the hand of the fire tender. If the church is to experience holy fire once again, it needs to re-learn the role of sacrifice. It’s not what the pastor wants, or what the family demands, or what the President decrees that matters. It is where your own heart is in relationship to God. Daily, He wants to find it on the altar. We will never know what could have been if we continue to do things our way….
So often it is a struggle in authority.
We allow ourselves to be intimidated. We let Satan take the lead. We walk in fear. We tremble at His voice. And we have forgotten he is an ‘already defeated’ foe. We have been given the authority he once had. Remember the words you just read a moment ago??? “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore …” We also forget how He gave that authority to his followers….”Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.”( Luke 9:1) If we have that same authority today, why does it not seem to be working? Has God changed? No! We have! We have failed to walk in humility before God. We have failed to know His heart. We are intimate with everything around us that is earthly, but we are not intimate with Him. We listen to all the voices around us, but we fail to listen to His voice alone. When we pursue power, position or results we are out of line. John Bevere describes it this way…. “How would you describe a marriage relationship of a woman whose only ambition was to produce children for her husband? She would only be intimate when it would produce the offspring she wanted; she would have no interest in knowing her husband personally. I know it sounds absurd, yet how different is it from our cry for God to ‘use us to get people saved’ when we ourselves don’t enjoy relationship and fellowship with Him. When we are intimate with God, we will reproduce the way He intends.” God never wanted to be ‘used’ but he does want to be loved. Yes, there is a secret we must learn and that is that integrity and power are linked to a holy intimacy with God. How many have ‘used’ God...called Him Lord, did miracles in His name, even cast out devils, but because they lacked intimacy and integrity, he will tell them, “Depart from me you who practice lawlessness.” (Matt 7:23)

Pentecostal Power...
The power is still there. It is waiting for us. As we first prepare our hearts for humble service, then listen to his voice and move in His direction, we too shall see a demonstration of the power of Pentecost. We can walk in divine expectation of miracles, healings, deliverances. That power will change our services from performances and entertainment to the pursuit of God. It will change our music from carnal rhythmic repetitions to heavenly inspired melodies from the heart. But there are some things we must do. We must recognize the attacks of the enemy and not be intimidated by them. We must stand our ground in the power and authority Christ has given to us by the power of the Holy Spirit. As the disciples experienced Pentecostal Power, they change from timid men, afraid of worldly authorities—to powerhouses for God. As they were filled to overflowing, the boldness oozed from them. They took their stand in God. They knew His authority was greater….for greater things they would do. We also can step forward into that place of intimacy with God, being filled with the Spirit daily, walking in His guidance, moving at His direction, flowing in the gifts, overcoming the attacks of the enemy and putting satan under our feet. You can fear man or devils and walk in defeat or you can stand tall, focused on the One who is your Deliverer. Remember…."God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don't ever quit." ( Tim 4:2 TMB).
J. Johnson

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