April 24, 2011
INTRODUCTION – Weeks ago when I began to anticipate preparing for Easter Sunday, I sensed the Lord directing me to focus on the power of God. Since then I have been meditating on the New Testament scriptures that speak to this subject, of which there are many. 101 references in fact – found in 96 different passages, though a handful of those are parallel passages in the gospels, like Jesus’s rebuke to the religious leaders, which is found in both Matthew 22:29 & Mark 12:24 – where He said, “You are mistaken, not understanding the scriptures or the power of God”
One of the many things that sets Jesus Christ apart from all of the other religious leaders known to man is He established a kingdom – that He and the other New Testament writers proclaimed would be characterized by supernatural, not military power. And the reason it is indeed characterized by supernatural power, unlike the empty platitudes that characterize all the other religions – is because the King of this kingdom rose from the dead, and was given all authority over heaven and earth by His father in heaven, with whom He reigns in heaven.
When the apostle Paul penned his long letter to the church in Rome – he wanted them to know in the very beginning of his letter – that the Head of the church – Jesus Christ – was declared to be the “Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, ….”Rom. 1:4
If there had been any doubt about His divinity up to that point, and we know with some – even of His followers – there was some uncertainty – especially because they never expected this one they had all grown to love and admire – to die such a seemingly pre-mature and violent death; if there had been any doubt – – it was thoroughly vanquished when they looked inside the empty tomb, where they know a very dead Jesus was placed; and a heavily armed Roman guard stood in watch – daring anyone to get anywhere near it; And for a few of them who still had doubts, when they later saw and spoke with Him face to face in the room they had gathered in – – those doubts were once and forever dealt with.
By the way – if there is anyone here this morning that has any doubt that Jesus Christ did truly rise from the dead – I have placed some of my favorite articles and books on that subject over on the fire place hearth. Please feel free after the service to avail yourselves of those resources. Articles are free; books need to be checked out.
My purpose this morning is not to convince you of the reality of His resurrection. Most of you wouldn’t be here; and I can promise you – I wouldn’t be – if we didn’t know – that was a fact of history. No my purpose is rather to convince you that because He rose from the dead and is very alive and well – sitting at the right hand of the Father in heaven – – that the same power that raised Him from the dead is available to us – – as we learn to live life His way and for His purposes.
The apostle Paul proclaimed to the church in Corinth – a church that was big on words – – – religious chatter if you will, but devoid of power, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power.” I Cor. 4:20 When the kingdom of God invades a home, or a business or a neighborhood, or a dysfunctional clan – – power is released – – and transformation takes root. No amount of mere words can pull that off.
In his circular letter to the church in Ephesus, and the church throughout that region – Paul recorded some of his prayers for them – so that they, and we, could know what God’s will and intention for us is . And it is very clear that part of His intention and will for us is that we know how great His power is towards us who believe. Listen to this prayer as I read from Eph. 1:15-19 “For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe…”
Paul is saying it is the will and desire and intention of God for every one of His children who love and are seeking to follow His Son – to know the surpassing greatness of His power toward us – – or the surpassing greatness of His power available to us – for everything He has called us to be and to do or accomplish in this earthly life.
So for the rest of our time together this morning – I want to share with you eight ways that Christ’s death and resurrection have provided a way for us to walk in and experience the same power that raised Christ from the dead. 8 ways in which we can expect the power of God to show up as we learn to walk with Him in faith and obedience.
I. Power for witness – Acts 1:8 “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”; Rom. 15:18, 19 “For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”
Example of the real estate broker for Korn co-founder and former lead guitarist – Brian Welch Korn has sold 16 million albums in the US and over 40 million worldwide. Ten of the band’s official releases have peaked in the top ten of the Billboard 200, eight of which have peaked in the top five. Eight of those releases are certified Platinum by the RIAA, and one is certified Gold. Korn have also earned seven Grammy nominations — two of which they have won (for “Freak on a Leash” and “Here to Stay”).
3 things about this guy’s witness: 1. Centered on Christ, not church, not moral living, not conservatism.
2. Used the word of God.
3.natural – in the course of serving his client
II. Power to heal the sick – Acts 3:11,12 “While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?”
In the next chapter, Peter and John had been arrested because they were telling the crowds about the reality of Jesus Christ’s resurrection; and the authorities interrogated them and specifically asked them, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this? (referring to the healing of the lame man); and Peter again was very clear that it was not by their power or authority, but rather by the power and authority of the crucified and risen Christ.
Example: Joshua in Albertsons
A third way in which God wants us to know and experience His supernatural power is by abounding in hope in a hopeless world III. Power to abound in hope in a hopeless world – Rom. 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
God doesn’t want you walking around just a little bit beyond or above depression. He wants you to abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit all the time – no matter what!
Now I admit there are plenty of reasons for hopelessness:
1. Seemingly unwinnable or never ending war against muslim terrorists;
2. Ever exploding national debt with seemingly unbridgeable divide between democrats and republicans on how or even whether to solve the problem.
3. Natural devastating disasters seemingly on the increase;
4. Unemployment, and overworked employees who still have jobs, but are doing the work of two or more because others have been layed off, and thus are on the edge of exhaustion;
5. Problem of so many turning to a variety of addictions to dull the pain of their hopelessness and anxiety.
6. Ever disintegrating family life and relationships
It is in the midst of all of that – that Jesus Christ expects us to be a people abounding in hope by His power. The movie – “Soul Surfer” – made 20 million dollars so far – great example of the hope only Jesus Christ can give as Bethany Hamilton’s dreams of being a professional surfer seemed to be dashed, not to mention all the other things in life that require two working arms and hands.
IV. Power to convince and persuade of truth regardless of eloquence – I Cor. 2:4,5 “and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”
My issue with southern accent and lack of trained mind and well read-ness
V. Power to be made sexually whole, and to then stay sexually pure in a sex crazed world – I Cor. 6:12-20
Like the Corinthians – a number of the people in this room sought sexual pleasure in all the wrong places for a season. But today we are increasingly walking in sexual purity and freedom – – seeking sexual pleasure only within the confines of marriage. And we haven’t had to move to the top of a remote mountain somewhere and join a convent or order of monks to do it.
Emailing ongoing conversation with a person who might be one of the most God and church and Christianity hating and scorning people I have ever met.
We are basically sexually driven animals and we just need to face it and live with it and not try to restrain it.
VI. Power to thrive and conquer in weakness – II Cor. 12:9,10 “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
We –like Paul – would rather have our weaknesses removed – – whether they be financial challenges; family or extended clan issues; job issues; and some day they will be; but in the meantime – we are learning that His power and agenda is not limited by them; in fact we seem to experience His power more through them some times, because
VII. Power to walk in steadfastness and patience – Col. 1:11 “strengthened with all power according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience;..”
Our culture and society is increasingly devolving into a nation of quitters and extremely impatient people.
One of the many things that will increasingly set us apart from the world is our ability to show up for work or school or fathering or whatever – every single day; on time; with right attitude – – and no illusions about things always going perfect – – and problems being solved immediately. Stead fastness – that ability to never waver – to never decide – Ah I’m an exception today – or I’m just going to veg today. Since I don’t feel like it, I’m not going, or calling, or praying, or whatever the responsibility is.
God wants to give His people power to be the one person in their company or on their block or in their family who can always be counted on; and who will be patient when problems do not go away overnight.
VIII. Power to have the very life of Christ lived through us – Eph. 3:14-19 “…that He would grant you , according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;….”
God the Father so loves His Son – that He wants to have millions of Him walking the earth in every strata of society. He wants Him to speak through my mouth. He wants Him to see through your and my eyes.
God’s power is so great – that the risen Jesus Christ can somehow live His life through the personality and body of Randy Nash, and Jeannie Kitzman, and David Mitchell and….
CONCLUSION – MINISTRY TIME