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Title: “In God’s Power”
Series: Doing Church God’s Way
When a hurricane hit South Florida, Norena’s home was one of many that was severely damaged. The elderly woman received an insurance settlement, and the repair work began. However, when the money ran out, so did the contractor, leaving an unfinished home with no electricity. Norena has been living without power ever since. The astounding part of this story is that the hurricane was not Katrina, but Andrew. Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992. Norena lived in that dark, unfinished house for 15 years. No heat when the winter chill settled over South Florida. No air conditioning when the mercury climbed into the 90’s and the humidity clung to 100 percent – not one hot shower. Without money to finish the repairs, Norena just got by with a small lamp and a single burner. Her neighbors didn’t seem to notice the absence of power. Acting on a tip, the mayor of Miami-Dade got involved. It only took a few hours of work by electrical contractor Kent Crook to return power to the house. Norena said, “It’s hard to describe having [the electricity]…to switch on. It’s overwhelming.” [end of illustration.]
How many Christians have been living their entire lives without ever knowing what it was like to have the overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit operating within? To be frank, I think some of us have had that power turned off for so long, that we wouldn’t even recognize it if it came back to us. But, of course, it doesn’t have to be that way.
– In this series – Doing Church God’s Way – we are looking to the Bible to find out what specifically God’s intentions were for His church. And there can be no doubt that one of those intensions was for individual Christians and the church as a whole to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus left the earth for heaven, He gave us this promise:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8 (NLT)
This promise was not limited to those who were gathered with Jesus that day, but was a promise echoing the Great Commission given to the entire church. God intended for His Church to be a church that moved, breathed, and acted in His power. Now there are three specific ways Jesus said that this power from the Holy Spirit was to be applied that we are going to look at today.
- POWER RECEIVED
I guess it should go without saying that to receive the power you must first have the Holy Spirit as your guide, but perhaps we should spend a moment on this as a refresher. The power that Jesus promises is given, “when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” And when does the Holy Spirit come upon us? It is when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received forgiveness for your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” – Acts 2:38-39 (NLT)
The gift of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit Himself – if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior then you already have the Spirit as your constant companion and guide. And notice that this promise is for all succeeding generations, not just for those these words were originally spoken to. If you are a Christian today then you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you, therefore, you also have the power of the Holy Spirit within. You do not have to be a Christian superstar, a singing sensation, or a well-known speaker to have the Holy Spirit – if you are a Christ follower you already have the Holy Spirit. Now we want to make sure that we understand that the power we are talking about is not our power – It is the power of the Holy Spirit. And we also need to be clear that we are not talking about having some type of super power to fly, leap tall buildings, or anything of that nature. This is the power of God, given by God, to accomplish the things that God wants accomplished. In other words, we are talking here about having something that is holy, precious, and to be used specifically in fulfillment of God’s desires.
- POWER APPLIED
It is one thing to realize you have the power of the Holy Spirit, it is quite another to actually apply that power in your everyday life. Consider the woman we talked about earlier who had the electricity turned on at her house after all of those years. What if, after turning her electric on, no one had bothered to tell her? All she had to do was flip the switch, but until she did that, the electricity would have done her no good.
It is the same with the Holy Spirit – we are all promised that we will be empowered by Him, but until we begin to actually use that power, we will continue to live as if we had no power at all. When Jesus speaks to His early disciples, He specifically tells them that this newfound power they have is to be used to, “tell people about me everywhere.” In other words, the disciples were not given a choice as to how they were to use this power, and the power did not have multiple applications. The power was given so that they could lead other people into the salvation experience they themselves had come to know.
I know that some of you become very nervous when we start talking about sharing the gospel, or giving your testimony to others, or becoming involved in evangelism. Not everyone has the ability to speak in front of people, and many of you are shaking in your shoes just thinking about telling someone else about how to become a Christian. But the great news for all of us is this – we are not the ones doing it – it is the Holy Spirit working through us. You’re going to have to trust me on this until you experience it for yourself, but I can guarantee you that once you begin sharing the Good News about Jesus you will find that the Holy Spirit is taking over your speech, and that God is speaking through you. He wants to use you, no matter who you are, as His vessel for evangelism.
Pastor Steve Yeschek, Crystal Lake, Illinois, lost his sister, Judy, after a five-year battle with cancer. She was a woman who, as Steve described her, was a party animal—a big drinker with a self-contented lifestyle. She was someone everybody loved, because she exuded excitement and a thrill for life. When Steve tried to share Jesus with her over the years, she would laugh it off and keep partying. But at the age of 44, her world caved in – she found out she had breast cancer. She later learned her husband had cancer, too. Adding to the devastation of these two blows, she discovered her husband was having an affair. He subsequently announced he didn’t love her anymore and left her. It was in that context that she began to ask eternal questions and soon prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior. From that time until her death, Jesus and his Word and purpose became her priority. With the same gusto she lived life as an unbeliever, she now approached her new life in Christ. Her greatest aim was winning others to Christ. She boldly shared her faith even as she was undergoing surgery after surgery, praying for a miraculous healing from the Lord. Judy ultimately came to see that the greater miracle would be for her friends and family to come to know Christ. Even as she struggled for every breath, she talked her way out of the hospital about ten days before her death so she could be baptized and publicly proclaim Christ as the only way of salvation. Judy invited everyone she knew to come to her baptism service. Under the power of the Holy Spirit, she mightily and urgently shared her testimony. Her 84-year-old father came to faith in Christ that night and was baptized—along with her ex-husband, a number of nieces, a college roommate who was a New Age cultist, her aunt, her sister, and others. Ten days later, Judy died. Even still, more people came to know the Savior. When Steve read the message she had prepared for her own funeral service, another 100 people received Christ that day. [end of illustration.]
Now how did Judy, an ordinary woman, become such a powerful witness? We could speak about her personality, her experiences, and many other things that might have contributed, but most of all we would have to say that she opened herself up to be used by God. She was willing to apply the power of the Holy Spirit in telling others about Jesus Christ. When Jesus spoke to His disciples he told them to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. He was covering everything from telling those they knew the best and were most comfortable with, to telling people who were very much unlike them. And His promise was that if they would be willing to share the message, they would receive all the power necessary to deliver it.
Now this is where you and I come in – are we willing to be spokesmen for God? Are we willing, like the early disciples and like Judy Yeschek, to make ourselves available for God’s use? If so, God promises that He will empower us to accomplish His will. It is really as simple as that.
- POWER TRANSFERRED
Now when we go into our Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, what is going to happen? Some of those people that we talk to are going to respond by accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior and then what is going to happen? They will receive the same Holy Spirit that we have, along with the same power to do God’s will. And that power will be transferred from one generation of believers to the next, until that day that Jesus returns for us. If you will research church history you will find that the Gospel message spread out from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the ends of the earth, just as Jesus instructed His disciples. He made the promise, they acted on that promise, and we are here today as a result of their obedience.
Now, here is the big question for each of us to answer individually, as well as our church as a whole – who are we going to transfer this power to? Where is our Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria? Who are the people God has called us to influence, and when are we going to get around to giving them the message that Jesus loves them and will save them for all eternity? The fact is, we can’t wait around for someone else to do it, because that “someone else” might never get around to telling them. It is up to us, in this church, and in this generation, to spread the Good News that has been given to us. We do not want to be guilty of spiritual selfishness, where we are willing to receive the message for ourselves, but unwilling to share that message with others.
As we spend these weeks learning about Doing Church God’s Way there is nothing any more important than what we have learned today. God is ready to use us for His glory – all we have to do is act. What it really comes down to is this – can God trust me to trust His promise? Am I willing to move out of my comfort zone and allow God to use me for His glory? Am I willing to be His mouthpiece so that future generations can experience the same salvation that God has so generously shared with me? My hope and prayer is that we can all answer, “Yes, I am willing, able, and ready to be empowered by God to tell others about His Son.”
 KUTV, “Woman Turns Lights on After 15 Years in the Dark,” KUTV.com (2-17-07)