By Pastor Glenn Pease
Every day of your life you enjoy the pleasure of power. The power to flip switches and give light in the darkness, and heat in the coldness. The power of electricity is the source of abundant pleasure. When we lose that power we are deprived of all our electric devices, and it is a major pain. All of us have electrical devices and gadgets that no longer work. They look just as nice as they did when they worked, but they are powerless to give us pleasure anymore.
All the pleasures of life revolve around some kind of power. Life itself is a form of power, and when that power ceases we are just like an electrical device that no longer works-we are dead. Power is life and power is pleasure. The Sun is the source of the power of life on the physical level. God made it that way, but He is Himself the Sun of our spiritual solar system, and all of our power to have life, and to enjoy it, comes from Him.
The Psalmist says in verse 11, "For the Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He behold from those whose walk is blameless." God is our sun, the source of all our pleasure, because He is the source of all our power. Power and pleasure are linked together as one. This theme is everywhere in the Psalms. Here is Psa. 84 verse 5 he says, "Blessed are those whose strength is in you." Then in verse 7 he says, "They go from strength to strength." God is the source of all our power, and the whole point of the Christian life is to grow in that power, for that is what the abundant life is all about. It is about power to achieve the purpose of God in our lives. Paul said he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him.
This theme is found often in the Psalms.
Psa. 22:19, "O Lord, O my strength haste Thee to help."
Psa. 71:16, "I will go in the strength of the Lord."
Psa. 18:1, "I will love Thee, O Lord my strength."
Psa. 18:32, "It is God who guideth me with strength."
Psa. 27:1, "The Lord is the strength of my life."
Psa. 28:7, "The Lord is my strength."
Psa. 59:17, "Unto Thee, O my strength will I sing."
There are many more, for this theme is one of the major themes of the Old Testament. God is the source of the power to experience all that is good and pleasurable. Without Him we are like an electrical appliance that is not plugged in. We do not function to produce pleasure for God, for others, or for ourselves.
Norman Vincent Peale in most famous book, The Power Of Positive Thinking, tells of the husband and wife who went through a terrible trial. Bill was the vice president of his company and expected to become the president. But when the time came he was passed over by a man brought in from the outside. His wife was furious and insisted that Bill tell them off and quit. He was reluctant to do so. Doctor Peale was a good friend, and so they sought his advice. He urged them to sit in silence before God, and ask Him to give them the power to choose the right way. They were to plug into their power source, so to speak, and see how the power of God flowing through them would help them function in a way that would please them. As they waited on the Lord the wife had a change of spirit. She realized anger and not wisdom was controlling her.
She agreed to encourage Bill to work with the new man to see what would happen. It turned out that Bill really liked the new president, and the new man consulted with Bill often. Two years later the president was called to an even better job and Bill became president. He and his wife were so grateful they did not let the power of anger decide their future. They let the power of God do it, and the result was great pleasure.
Power to do the will of God is one of life's greatest pleasures. Weakness that lets the flesh determine our direction in life is one of life's greatest pains. The great battle of life is between pleasure and pain, and which one dominates is determined by our source of power. That is why verse 5 says, "Blessed are those whose strength is in you." Happiness in life means God is the source of our power. This theme breaks into many parts. There is-
The power of praise.
The power of prayer.
The power of passion.
The power of priority.
The power of participation.
The power of pursuit.
The power of persistence.
The power of purpose.
The power of possessions.
The power of purity.
The power of prevention.
The power of positive thinking.
All of these and more are themes of power and pleasure in Psalm 84, and the rest of the Psalms. Power and pleasure are linked to just about any theme you can imagine.
The Bible makes it clear that how we look at life makes all the difference in the world in how much power we have to enjoy the pleasures that also please God. The power to focus, for example, is a key power for enjoying the pleasures of life. Jesus said in Matt. 6:34, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Jesus is saying the power to focus on today, and the problems in front of your face right now, and not be filled with anxiety about the future, is a key to the good life.
The Pilgrims in Psa. 84 are focused on making every day a day of praise, and a day of victory. Even in those days where they must pass through the valley of Baca, the focus is on making it a place of springs. The power to make every day a day of progress is a basic pleasure of life. Alcoholics Anonymous has used this principle to help millions of drinkers get power over their lives again. They teach them to break their life down into manageable segments. One day at a time is their slogan. Don't worry about staying sober the rest of your life, but just stay sober today, and just start by staying sober this hour. Success comes by the power to gain control of your life by taking hold of small enough chunks of it. Try and deal with all of life, or even a year of it, and you lose control. Just grab hold of now, and do what is best, and you will grow in your power to control your life.
Those who ride bicycles say it is easier to ride a bike up a hill at night than in the day time. Some terribly hard hills have been negotiated at night that are practically impossible in day light. The reason being, at night the cyclist can only see the few feet his lights hit in front of him. He feel he can go that few more feet, and so he keeps on. But in the day light he sees the whole hill, and the whole problem at once. He is overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, and his strength is sapped. The power to keep going is increased by focus on just a little at a time. Likewise, the power to live the Christian life is more available when we take it step by step, or at most, a day at a time.
If you go through life asking yourself what I would do if atheism takes over our nation, and I am forced to choose my faith or be cast out of the country, you are loading down your emotion system with burdens that are folly, and which Christ has forbidden you to carry. It is not your responsibility to worry about what might be. Just do today what you know is right. Every day you live in obedience for that day will make you stronger so you have the power to do what is right when a testing time may come. Worrying about it before it comes weakens you for the day it does arrive. Power to do the will of God comes with focus.
Paul had no control over how other people would treat him. Often they treated him badly, and he found himself in the valley of Baca. But Paul always made it a place of springs. His best letters were written from Roman jails. Some of his greatest songs of praise were sung in a dungeon. He had the power to experience pleasure in the most painful of situations because of his ability to focus on the positive. John Bunyan wrote Pilgrims Progress while in Bedford Jail. It became the best selling book next to the Bible for many decades. He had the power to focus on the real issue which was, how do I make this barren desert produce life? He did it and gave pleasure to millions.
Helen Keller is quoted by millions because of her determination to make her barren desert a place of beauty. She did it and brought pleasure to herself and masses of others. She said, "The one resolution, which was in mind long before it took the form of a resolution, is the key note of my life. It is this: Always to regard as mere impertinence of fate the handicaps which were placed upon my life almost at the beginning. I resolved that they would not crush or dwarf my soul, but rather be made to blossom like Aaron's rod with flowers."
The power to find a positive focus in every situation is the potential for every child of God. It is not automatic, however. It has to be a conscious desire. Paul was an expert at it, but he says as a mature Christian in Phil. 3:16, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection...." Paul is ever seeking the power to make springs in the desert valley. He is ever seeking ways of bringing life out of death, as Jesus did in the power of His resurrection.
Easter is the greatest celebration of power in the Christian year because Jesus on that day produced the greatest pleasure-the pleasure of endless life. His power to do that is the foundation for all the pleasures of the Christian life. Paul says without the power of resurrection all else is worthless. But in that power we can make springs in every valley. Cooper wrote, "Brave your storm with firm endeavor, let your vain repining go! Hopeful hearts will find forever roses underneath the snow."
J. Oswald Sanders in his book Spiritual Problems writes, "We live in a power-hungry and power-conscious age. Every heart, whether regenerate or unregenerate, craves for power in one form or another." We have power to do things today that our parents never had. Several months ago I had only the power to plug in a computer and play some games. In just a few months I had the power to search the entire Bible and do marvelous studies with the power of the computer.
There is great pleasure in growing in power. Every Christian should be hungry for power to be more effective in living the Christian life. The Gospel is the good news that the powerless people of the world can still have the greatest power in the world, the power to get right with God, and experience His forgiveness and the joy of salvation. Many of the early Christians were slaves who had no power whatever in society, but they had the power in Christ to experience all the pleasures of salvation and the abundant life. They had the power to love God, to love their neighbors as themselves, and to fill the whole vast valley of this fallen world with the springs of pleasure.
The Bible has much to say about power. Look at just a few key verses: Prov. 24:5, "A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength." Knowledge is power, and all Christians should be determined to get knowledge, especially knowledge of God's Word. One of life's greatest pleasures is knowing the will of God. Peter says in II Peter 1:3, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him..." We have the power to know all we need to know for the good life. It is found in the Word of God. It takes time and effort to get that knowledge, but great pleasure awaits those who seek, for seekers will find.
We have to deal with the reality of Christians who are constantly burning out. They labor long hours and put forth great effort to serve the Lord, and often it seems to be all for naught. It gets discouraging and they lose their energy and the will to press on. Pastors and Christian leaders drop out continuously because they lose their power. Paul had to deal with this in his day. In Gal. 6:9 he writes, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Sadly, however, many weary Christians do give up. They come to the end of their rope and they throw in the towel. But this does not need to happen if they tap into the power that God provides.
We read in Isa. 40:29-31, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will sore on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." How do we get in on this revitalization and rejuvenation when our batteries are almost dead? Is there a spiritual energizer that will enable us to keep on going and going? Yes there is! The Holy Spirit is the believer's energizer, but like any source of power, the Holy Spirit does not work in us if we are not plugged in. We must first of all trust in Christ as our Savior, and ask Him to be Lord of our lives. When we invite Jesus into our lives as Lord we become capable of receiving the power of the Holy Spirit.
We then have to open the lines for that power to flow, and we see the Biblical way of doing this is by means of praise. David had a pattern in his life of praising God to begin his day, and, thereby, tapping into the strength of God. In Psa. 59:16-17, he says, "I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God." David links power with love so that to be always loving is the same as being always strong. When we are not full of love for the people or the project we are into, we become weary with it. It is all work and no joy. But when love fills us for the people and the purpose we have power, and there is pleasure in what we are doing. God's power flows through love, and so if you do not love you short out the flow of His power, and have to operate on human strength alone. This soon leads to burn out.
This is why praise is so essential to power. Praise is what keeps us in love. As soon as you cease to praise, your love begins to decline. This is true for mates, for friends, and for children of God. Show me a weak marriage, and I'll show you people who seldom praise each other. Show me a weak Christian who no longer has time and energy for the things of God, and I'll show you a Christian who has ceased to praise God in the morning, or any other time of the day. Praise is love expressed, and love expressed is the equivalent of plugging into the source of power. Cease to praise and you cut your power lines. Praise often, and you open up more lines for greater power and more pleasure.
The Christian life begins with power. By faith in Christ we are empowered to become Children of God. Then growth comes as a matter of increasing in power, and becoming stronger in the Lord. Just as a new born child grows stronger until it can roll, then sit up, and then walk and talk, and ever growing in power. So the Christian is to be ever growing and able to do for God this year what they could not do last year for lack of power. The prayer of Paul for believers in Eph. 3:16 is, "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being." Pray for power, and praise for power, for it is God's will for believers to be ever advancing in their enjoyment of the pleasure of power.