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Faithlife

God Didn't Leave Us Powerless

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“’If you are thirsty, come to me! If you believe in me, come and drink! For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out from within.’ (When he said ‘living water,’ he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him).” –John 7:37–39 nlt

1.  God’s spirit flows or rages within us.

How’s it flowing with you today?  The scripture tells us that everyone who believes in Christ receives the Spirit and that this Spirit of God cannot be contained.  If the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit is within you it will flow through you.  It’s like an artesian well, a well in which water is under pressure; one in which the water flows to the surface naturally.  I have no problem seeing that in the lives of certain people who call themselves Christians.  I am unaware of it in the lives of others.  In the lives of certain Christians I sense defeat.  I sense preoccupation with the here and now.  I encounter a “down-in-the-mouth” posture toward life and it is tragic because this is not what He has promised.  One can only conclude in the lives of some that there is no belief, that this sort of person has never really encountered Christ or that there is something that restricts the flow of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

So I ask you again today, “How’s it flowing?”

When Jesus’ mission was accomplished, when he laid down his life and broke free from the grave, were the disciples really ready to be left?  Could they make it on their own?  Could they possibly carry on His mission.  Apparently Jesus had knowledge and confidence that they would make it just fine.

What happens when we step away from people that we love?  It’s a frightening thing.  My daughter Erin had gone to a Christian school for the first 6 years of her academic experience.  She was now entering the public school system.  I was torn over this for several reasons.  There were very real financial pressures that we faced as a family with two of our children in the Christian school.  We served an aggressively evangelistic church.  The preaching, teaching all suggested that in order to win the world, we needed to go forward into the world rather than to retreat from it.  I didn’t want my children to fear the world as though they were unable to survive in the middle of a secular world that had little or no regard for God. 

There are people who feel that way you know.  They hardly know how to relate to a non-Christian person and the thought of impacting that person with the love of Christ is absolutely foreign.  They are clean and spotless on the outside, untouched and untouchable – probably but absolutely impotent.  I think that I fear the idea of my life counting for nothing more than I fear the possibility of sinning.  God forgives our sin but I can’t see where he forgives our refusal to use what He has given us to bring others to Him.  Remember the “one-talented” man who hid his talent and was cursed by the Master.  Remember the barren fig tree?  Remember those who ignored the needs of the “least” in Matthew 25?  “Depart from me . . .”  We comfort ourselves by times for our lack of trying by telling ourselves that someone might have been positively influenced by our lives and therefore there might be fruit. 

For the disciple who is actively engaged in the process of influencing and winning the lost, this is a very real possibility.  Think about it – the more you engage with that process, the more fruit you will see – where there is no doubt that God has used you in some fashion.  And the more “spill-over” there will be but accidental evangelism, . . . I doubt it.  I certainly wouldn’t bank on it. 

Every year I asked Erin if she wanted to go to public school.  Her thought process changed in Grade 6 and she began to gear up to go to Riverview Jr. High.  I think that it was most likely the most frightening thing that she had ever faced in her life.  I was frightened as well.  I had no idea if I was making a decision that would lead her to spiritual ruin or a more vital faith.  I am of the opinion that faith that is not questioned or tested is more fantasy than faith.  My “guts” told me that she needed to lose the fear and develop a dependence on God.

I drove her to school that first fall morning of her Grade 7 year.  She had this wild mop of curly hair that bounced with every step that she took.  Innocence personified.

Riverview Jr. High, prior to the middle schools, was the largest Jr. High in the Commonwealth and it had a nasty reputation.  There were large pubescent attitudes all over the place.  Nasty.  I prayed with her in the car as I let her out that day and continued praying as she slung a shoulder harness tastefully over one shoulder.  She was cool – she knew how to be cool.  I prayed that God would give her a greater desire than fitting in.  I prayed that she would stand up and stand out because she had something in her that was greater than anything that she would find in the halls of Riverview Jr. High.  It wasn’t something that she put on – it was more than cool.  It was Christ incarnate, bigger than she was and she walked away that morning in His Power and His care.

" Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing." (Philippians 2:12-16, NIV) [1]

Was I comforted by that thought – nope.  I was still scared to death.  Was this the right decision for my little girl.  A stale faith became a vital one.  She challenged her teachers in class respectfully and caused them to question the validity of their own belief systems.  I can see her huddled in the middle of her basketball team, courtside, leading them in prayer.  There were the rivers of water raging in her, flowing out of her, blessing those around her.  It was a beautiful thing to see.

Sometimes our faith is diminished because we cower to big loud bullies, Goliaths.  We just shut up and sit down rather than standing in God’s strength, in His love and compassion and offering ourselves to His care whether we are proved to be heroes or fools.

"Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world. I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children." (1 Corinthians 4:6-14, NIV)[2]

I love the saying, “I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?”

I wonder how Jesus felt when He walked away from the rag tag band of “”I-don’t-get-its”.  I wonder if He felt a little like I did when Erin got out of the car to take on her Jr. High School.  You know what, I don’t think that he had one uneasy thought.  I don’t think he worried for one minute.  I think he felt sorry in one way for the world because he knew that they wouldn’t know what hit them.

" Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things." (Acts 17:1-8, NKJV) [3]

Look what happened where the abandoned followers of Christ went.

" Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him." (Acts 3:1-10, NKJV) [4]

A lame man who forgot his real need and adjusted to life without hope of anything different.  He had contented himself with survival at the Temple.  He went to the house of God and never sought the healing hand of God.  How sad is that?  We do it though don’t we.  There are perhaps people here today who don’t even recognize your greatest needs and you don’t ask for them anymore.  He asked for silver or gold and was given what money could not buy.  He received what the rich man could never give him.  He was carried there that day begging to survive and hit the jackpot.  Never went away with a penny more than he came with and forgot what he had come.

And you know what’s even worse than that?  We believe that people’s greatest needs are financial and we wear ourselves out trying to meet those needs.  We think that physical needs are the primary concern so we spend our prayer meetings praying for the physical and forget about the greatest need.

Are you worried my friend about the world encroaching on the church?  Can you understand dear saint that the church

is well kept in God’s hands.  Can you see that He can take the least likely among us and raise them to be spiritual giants as they lean on His strength and His supply.  I think that from time to time we look around and don’t see what God sees.  We see weakness, we wonder who will step forward to provide leadership in the church tomorrow and we become like overprotective parents and forgot that the preservation of the church is God’s concern and the fact that He sees those who will step forward right now.  They are not the ones that you would pick.  Not the most likely.  They are the ones that you don’t see.

"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”" (1 Corinthians 1:26-31, NIV) [5]

2. God’s Spirit fills us.

"Do not be drunk with wine, which will ruin you, but be filled with the Spirit. Speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord. Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yield to obey each other because you respect Christ." (Ephesians 5:18-21, NCV) [6]

“Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18 ncv). The verb tense caused original readers to see capital letters: BE FILLED. With the same imperative gusto that he instructs, “Forgive,” “Pray,” and “Speak truth,” God commands, “BE FILLED.”

The real question is not how do I get more of the Spirit?  God can only fill us to the point that we are willing to empty ourselves.  A few weeks ago in a First Fire service I talked about being filled.  If a millionaire called me and told me that he wanted to fill my garage with $100 bills, do you know what I would do?  I’d go home and empty the garage.  There are things in there that I have tried to throw away several times.  Really all that I have done each time that I have tried to order my garage is to throw away certain things and tidy up other areas.  Tidying your garage will not make additional room.  You have to strip it to the walls if you really want it to be filled with something of greater value.  I have junk in my garage compared to the value that could be realized if it were empty of my trinkets.  That’s exactly what God would like to do for you.  Compared with what he has to give you, your life is filled with junk, things that are occupying space that could be filled with something of far greater worth.

" Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:3-9, NIV) [7]

 3. God’s Spirit seals us.

The Holy Spirit is God’s mark on us—His guarantee that we belong to Him.   You are a marked man or woman.

"Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." (2 Corinthians 1:21-22, NIV) [8]

"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14, NIV)[9]


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[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[2] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[3] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[6] The Holy Bible : New Century Version , containing the Old and New Testaments. 1991. Dallas, TX: Word Bibles.

[7] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[8] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[9] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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