Friday, February 24, 2012

There's Power in Christ

I revised this from my sermon last week.  PLEASE LEAVE COMMENTS.

Ephesians 3:14-3:21

  Three people were arguing about what profession was used first in the bible. The Surgeon says, "The Medical profession was used first when God took a rib from Adam and made Eve.

The Engineer says, "No, engineering was used first. Just think of the engineering job it took to create the world out of chaos. But the Politician says, "You would have nothing if we didn't create chaos in the beginning?”

I think politicians see themselves as men and women of power, but I think most Americans view them as creating chaos in our country. Power is not found in politics. 
  I think we have some really good things available to us in Christ but often, we don’t even realize it! And we don’t put these things to use in life. And one of them is the power to overcome obstacles and difficulties in life.

Paul tells how to receive power for life.
1- Power through prayer
2- Power through Spirit
3- Power through love


16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.

Preacher John Wesley said, “I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it.” Could this be the reason that he was able to accomplish so much for Christ during his lifetime?

John Wesley traveled two hundred and fifty miles a day for 40 years.  He rode 250,000 miles in his lifetime. He preached forty thousand sermons (2 or 3 times a day); produced four hundred books; knew ten languages. At eighty-three he was annoyed that he could not write more than fifteen hours a day without hurting his eyes, and at eighty-six he was ashamed he could not preached more than twice a day. He complained in his diary that there was an increasing tendency to lie in bed until 5:30 in the morning.
He was quite a man, quite a preacher man! And you could easily see why he accomplished much for Christ.

Abraham Lincoln said, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.”
 I wonder why Abraham Lincoln wanted to go any other places before going to God in prayer! Why didn’t Lincoln want to go to God first? Why don’t we turn to God first instead of turning to Him as a last resort?

It’s like what Corrie Ten Boom said about prayer. She said, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” Why not make the Lord in prayer your steering wheel instead of your spare tire?! “Jesus, take the wheel!”

Matthew 7:7-11 7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Luke 11:1 “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Why did the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray? What did they see in the prayer life of Jesus that made them want to learn to pray? Could it be that Jesus received power through prayer, power through talking to His heavenly Father?

There is great power through prayer, but not because of who we are, but because of who He is!


16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

An American with an English gentleman was viewing the Niagara whirlpool rapids, when he said to his friend: “Come, and I’ll show you the greatest unused power in the world.” And taking him to the foot of Niagara Falls, “There,” he said, “is the greatest unused power in the world!”

“Ah, no, my brother, not so!” was the reply. “The greatest unused power in the world is the Holy Spirit of the living God.”

There is some truth to this story and that is, the Holy Spirit is a spirit of great power. He waits to give us strength to serve the Lord, but He is not to be used, but rather we are to be used by Him!

- It was said of the famous preacher, Dwight L. Moody of 1800‘s, that he didn’t have a monopoly on the Holy Spirit but that the Holy Spirit had a monopoly on him!

THIS IS OUR NEED TODAY. The Holy Spirit needs to have a monopoly on our lives and when He does, we will experience greater power for life and service.

E. M. Bounds wrote: “The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men…Men of prayer."

D.L Moody said, "I believe firmly that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and everything that is contrary to God's law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts.

“But if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God. We must be emptied before we can be filled." AMEN. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. And the Holy Spirit.

If the Holy Spirit is indeed the third person of the Godhead, and He is, then we need Him just as much as we need God as our Heavenly Father and Jesus as our Savior!

John 16:7-13 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.

Acts 1:8 “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.”

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.

The Holy Spirit can strengthen our inner being or our human spirit if we ask God for His strength. But what if we don’t ask? Does this mean that we have to go it alone or without help? I don’t know but I sure don’t want to try to do things on my own. I want to rely on God’s Spirit to strengthen me for life and service. I can’t serve or teach and preach without His help! Maybe you can, but I can’t.


17 And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Rooted and established in love. Is there anything better than this? God is love so is there anything better than being established in love? And when you love like God loves people, there is great power.

Here is a love story. It’s called: CYMBALA'S EASTER STORY. Jim Cymbala preaches at a church in the slums of New York. He tells the following story: It was Easter Sunday and I was so tired at the end of the day that I just went to the edge of the platform, pulled down my tie and sat down and draped my feet over the edge.

“It was a wonderful service with many people coming forward. The counselors were talking with these people. As I was sitting there I looked up the middle aisle, and there in about the third row was a man who looked about fifty, disheveled, filthy. He looked up at me rather sheepishly, as if saying, “Could I talk to you?” We have homeless people coming in all the time, asking for money or whatever. So as I sat there, I said to myself, though I am ashamed of it, “What a way to end a Sunday. I’ve had such a good time, preaching and ministering, and here’s a fellow probably wanting some money for more wine.”

He walked up. When he got within about five feet of me, I smelled a horrible smell like I’d never smelled in my life. It was so awful that when he got close, I would inhale by looking away, and then I’d talk to him, and then look away to inhale, because I couldn’t inhale facing him. I asked him, “What’s your name?” “David.” “How long have you been on the street?” “Six years.” “How old are you?” “Thirty-two.” He looked fifty--hair matted; front teeth missing; wino; eyes slightly glazed. “Where did you sleep last night, David?” “Abandoned truck.”

I keep in my back pocket a money clip that also holds some credit cards. I fumbled to pick one out thinking; I’ll give him some money. I won’t even get a volunteer. They are all busy talking with others. Usually we don’t give money to people. We take them to get something to eat.

I took the money out. David pushed his finger in front of me. He said, “I don’t want your money. I want this Jesus, the One you were talking about, because I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die on the street.”

I started to weep for myself. I was going to give a couple of dollars to someone God had sent to me. See how easy it is? I could make the excuse I was tired. There is no excuse. I was not seeing him the way God sees him. I was not feeling what God feels.

But oh, did that change! David just stood there. He didn’t know what was happening. I pleaded with God, “God, forgive me! Forgive me! Please forgive me. I am so sorry to represent You this way. I’m so sorry. Here I am with my message and my points, and You send somebody and I am not ready for it. Oh, God!”

Something came over me. Suddenly I started to weep deeper, and David began to weep. He fell against my chest as I was sitting there.

He fell against my white shirt and tie, and I put my arms around him, and there we wept on each other. The smell of His person became a beautiful aroma. Here is what I thought the Lord made real to me: If you don’t love this smell, I can’t use you, because this is why I called you where you are. This is what you are about. You are about this smell.

Christ changed David’s life. He started memorizing portions of Scripture that were incredible. We got him a place to live. We hired him in the church to do maintenance, and we got his teeth fixed. He was a handsome man when he came out of the hospital. They detoxed him in 6 days. He spent that Thanksgiving at my house. He also spent Christmas at my house. When we were exchanging presents, he pulled out a little thing and he said, “This is for you.” It was a little white hanky. It was the only thing he could afford.

A year later David got up and talked about his conversion to Christ. The minute he took the mic and began to speak, I said, “The man is a preacher.”

This past Easter we ordained David. He is an associate minister of a church over in New Jersey. And I was so close to saying, “Here, take this; I’m a busy preacher.”

We can get so full of ourselves. There is great power in living a life of love.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.