Sunday, September 20, 2015

Power with a Purpose

For those who heard me speak to the VCC family on Friday night, here are my notes. I hope to put up the notes for what I shared for the offering as well in the near future, but for now, here’s the outline for what I said in the “main message.” You will notice that these notes have things that I didn’t say, and that I said some things that aren’t in these notes (always happens, of course), but the core of what I believe Papa wanted me to share is here in these notes. 

The number one thing associated with the coming of the Spirit in Jesus’ words in Luke and Acts is power.

“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49 NIV1984)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV1984)

This means that when Paul encourages the Ephesians to “be being filled with the Holy Spirit” he hand in mind at least to some extent “being filled with power.”
“18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be (being) filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20 NIV)

So we can indeed “be being filled with power.” But power for what? What’s the purpose of the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives? Here’s A few thoughts of many possibilities.
1.     The most obvious in the context of Luke and Acts is power to witness (with signs, wonders, miracles). See Acts 1:8, 4:31.
2.     The power to assure also comes to mind. Your knowing that you, each of you, are Abba’s dearly loved child, sealed by His Spirit and guaranteed eternal relationship with Him is part of the powerful work of the Spirit in your life.
Romans 5:5 (NIV) And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 8:14-16 (NIV) For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV) And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
We see three different ways that Holy Spirit assures us that we are God’s dearly loved children in these passages: 1)  He pours God’s love into our hearts (I have seen this happen in very obvious ways many times). 2) He bears witness with our spirits that we are for sure God’s sons and daughters, and every believer can listen to his/her heart and hear it cry out to God as “Abba/Papa” as part of this assurance. 3) He touches us, marks us, with power in a way that we know we have been touched by Heaven’s power as a down payment, a guarantee of more to come in eternity. Notice that this only makes sense if we know by experience that we have been “marked with a seal.”
3.     The power to love  
Galatians 5:22-23 “The fruit of the Spirit is love…”
Ephesians 2:22 (NIV) And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Ephesians 4:2-4 (NIV) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us individually to love others as Jesus loves us. It is He who also creates community and sustains healthy relationships as we individually and together work with Him to maintain healthy relationships (the “unity of the Spirit).
4.     The power to be transformed (healed and matured).
Romans 8:5-9 (NIV) 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
Romans 8:13 (NIV) For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
It is the Holy Spirit who empowers and guides the healing and transformation process in our lives. Self-guided effort at “becoming a better Christian” never works. It is only through partnership with the Holy Spirit that transformation can truly take place, and that partnership includes being in community with others who help us hear and respond to the Holy Spirit.  (The fruit of the Spirit can only be produced in community. You cannot produce love without having others to love. You cannot be kind or gentle or patient, etc., without having people to be kind to, gentle or patient with, etc.
5.     Power to bear fruit and to fulfill God’s purpose for you/us (Colossians 1:28-29)
Colossians 1:28-29 (ESV) Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
This has always been an amazing passage to me and one that clearly debunks the idea that living the Christian life and fulfilling our purpose in life is automatic or easy. Paul’s language here is very strong and speaks of great effort, but it’s effort that’s empowered and directed by the Holy Spirit. Human effort independent of intimacy with the Holy Spirit is bound to lead us away from grace and back into the bondage of religion. But the opposite of human effort is not “effortless” but rather Spirit-directed and empowered effort that flows from assurance and acceptance in Jesus.

The Main Take Away Thought? These all require our participation in some way (except perhaps assurance and even that one requires us to pay attention to our hearts).

  1. Our part? It’s to “Trust and obey,” not as cringing slaves but as mature sons and daughters who know that God’s power has purpose!
  2. Don’t settle for feeling good because God touched you, don’t settle for going back to business as usual once you have had your “Friday night drink” of God’s Spirit. 
  3. Yes, let God touch you, clothe you with power. God’s clothing you with power always has purpose. Which purpose rises to the top for you? Witness, Assurance, Maturity, Destiny?

You can see the live stream of this message by clicking here