A Need for Fresh Power

A NEED FOR FRESH POWER

Most organizations have a vision statement. Do you know the vision statement for this church? Why do we exist? What is our purpose? Whether you know it or not, we received our vision statement directly from Jesus Christ.

Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

How are we going to accomplish this vision? Is there a plan? The only way to accomplish this vision is through the person and work of the Holy Spirit. We are hopeless without Him. To the degree we understand and experience the Spirit of God will be the exact degree to which Jesus’ vision for His church will be accomplished. What He calls us to do, He equips us to do it.

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."

Without the Holy Spirit, we can’t effectively minister to people, we have no power over the enemy, and neither can we love God nor one another. The Holy Spirit, whom the Father sent after Jesus ascended, is Immanuel, God with us. He is essential. We must seek Him.

Jesus said in John 14:26,But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Today is Pentecost Sunday, the anniversary of the day the Holy Spirit was given to the Church. However, the Holy Spirit was not just for the 120 in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, but He is promised to every believer. The foundation of Christianity is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ made spiritually real in us by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is risen and He is made alive in us by the Holy Spirit!

The power of the Holy Spirit fills us when we crucify our flesh and follow Jesus. Unfortunately, many people prefer a religion that doesn’t require much self-denial and makes them feel good about themselves. What they don’t realize is that they don’t have God at all, but a self-satisfying spirit. They may be fans of Jesus but they are not His follower, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is God. He was in Jesus. The Holy Spirit was sent by the Father to be in us. Without the Holy Spirit, we are not Christians, which means “like Christ”. We are still lost.

Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ, does not belong to Him.

Spending earnest individual time in communion with God through prayer and Bible reading is critical to being filled with the Spirit’s power and accomplishing the vision of the Church.

Acts 3:1-8 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

By the Spirit, Peter discerned that God wanted to heal this individual. If we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we should expect God to give us supernatural discernment and instructions. Our souls (mind, will, and emotions) are to be so in tune with the Spirit of God that we instantly cooperate with what He tells us to do (talk, be quiet, pray, help, witness, go, don’t go, etc). Too often, we second guess the Spirit’s voice and fail to respond.

All of us should react to what God has done in our lives like this beggar did. Whether it is a crack addict who has been set free, a child who has been healed, a homosexual who has been delivered, or a hedonist who gets saved—there’s something irrefutable about a life touched by God and filled with peace and joy from the Holy Spirit.

Soon a crowd gathers, wondering what happened to the beggar. The Holy Spirit gives Peter another convicting sermon while explaining how the crippled man was healed. As part of his sermon, Peter shared the Gospel and said in Acts 3:14, You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.”

How dare Peter to preach this way! Didn’t Peter disown Jesus three times? Yes, he did, but Peter is not wallowing in self-condemnation, for “therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, (Romans 8:1). This is a forgiven Peter preaching. We are not disqualified from sharing the Gospel because of past sin. Our forgiven sin actually validates the Gospel we are preaching.

Peter doesn’t try to appease the crowd so they will join the Church. He is led by the Spirit to preach the Truth. As a result, another 2000 people became believers in Christ. Quickly, by the power of the Spirit, the Church became a congregation of 5000 men and their families.

Acts 4:1-4 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.

You would think everyone would rejoice in the beggar’s healing from God, but this Spirit-led act landed Peter and John in jail. Fear is the reaction of religious people devoid of Holy Spirit’s power. To them, there must be some other explanation for this healing, for this doesn’t fit their doctrine. Besides, these unschooled men haven’t studied the meaning of the Scriptures. They will mislead the people; therefore, they must be silenced.

Acts 4:5-10 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.

Why do you think Luke, who wrote the Book of Acts, inserted that phrase I underlined? If Peter and the others had been permanently filled with the Spirit back in the upper room, why bring it up here? If being filled with the Spirit is just automatic for all believers, why this peculiar mention? It would be like writing, “then Peter, who was breathing, said to them…”

Apparently, Luke felt there was something noteworthy that needed to be pointed out. Peter was not just standing up as a former fisherman to answer his inquisitors as best he could by himself. Instead, he was a man filled with the Spirit of God! We marvel at the thought: It was Peter, sure enough, a man who disowned Jesus three times, a man with frailties and weaknesses like all of us—but it wasn’t exactly Peter alone. It was “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit,” so that this court didn’t really understand what it was up against.

Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Peter and John showed no fear, no intimidation, before the highest governing body in Judaism. Didn’t they understand that this council had arranged the crucifixion of Jesus and could easily do it again to them? Yes, they understood that. However, the power of the Holy Spirit made them fearless.

We must never be intimidated by what the devil or men try to do, whether by striking out at us as individuals, or at the local church, or at the Body of Christ as a whole. We must instead ask our Father to fill us with the Holy Spirit so we have His words to speak, and the boldness to speak them. This will glorify Jesus and accomplish His vision for His Church.

Acts 4:14-22 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. "What are we going to do with these men?" they asked. "Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name." Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

Peter and John were released, but warned to not speak about Jesus again. Would this episode make the church afraid to tell others about Jesus? Not if they are filled with the Holy Spirit!

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Without the Holy Spirit the disciples would be afraid. That is why they called a prayer meeting. They needed fresh power to remain courageous. Prayer in the early church was a vocal, earnest activity.

Acts 4:23-31 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: "'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.' Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Wow! That is amazing! But, wait a minute! Hadn’t they been filled with the Holy Spirit back on the Day of Pentecost? What is this filling all about? It shows that we can’t live off what God did in our lives yesterday, last week, last month, or last year. We need fresh power from the Holy Spirit every day.

The reason we don’t sense the power of the Holy Spirit like we did when we first believed is because we don’t seek or ask our Father to fill us with the Holy Spirit. We think our baptism was enough and we rely on yesterday’s filling. However, we need continual infillings of the Spirit to meet the strong, ungodly forces of today.

The greater the onslaught and the more evil the tactics that Satan comes up with, the more God’s Spirit must be entreated to equip us for battle. Persecution is increasing and we need the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill our vision and to endure to the end! To many Christians don’t know this and therefore, there will be a great falling away that Jesus warned us about.

Colossians 1:25-28 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

The Gospel is not a religion. It is about Christ in you! There is a growing number of believers across the world who are hungry for the Christianity of the New Testament in all its spiritual splendor. They are not satisfied with the contemporary church nor with the fruit is it producing. They are seeking something real, something powerful, something that makes a difference in their lives and their home.

Does that describe you? Do you long for the reality of the Spirit of God in you? Do you desire the Spirit of Christ in you so strong that you give thanks and praise and rejoice in all circumstances? Is the Holy Spirit the most important person in your life, so that you are willing to crucify yourself rather than grieve Him, because nothing else will satisfy you, but Him?

Or is the Liar telling you that this Holy Spirit stuff is passe, for those believers back in the day when they didn’t have Bibles? The fact that you have a Bible doesn’t scare Satan, especially if it remains unopened most of the time.

The truth is Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Nothing has changed. God certainly hasn’t. But neither has the Liar. The religious spirit, the enemy, didn’t want people empowered with the Holy Spirit in first century neither.

Every day the enemy tries to keep us from focusing on Jesus, denying ourselves, obeying God, praying, and reading the Word. He wants to keep us from being filled with the Holy Spirit. He is not afraid of a powerless religion. It is a religion he can use to manipulate and deceive others.

Jesus said in John 15:4-5 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him, bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

We need to constantly abide in Jesus and we need Him to constantly abide in us. We need His fresh power every day, every moment of every day to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. How do we get this power? For a born-again believer, we start our day with prayer.

Luke 11:13 “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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Don’t start your day without the Holy Spirit in control. Pray, confess, repent, die to self, read, get suited up with the whole armor of God, and get filled with His Spirit. You can’t do this by sleeping late and rushing off to work or school. Spend quality time in the early morning with your Father in Heaven, then go out into the world to accomplish God’s will in every situation and with every person you encounter during the day. During the day, pray unceasingly, and listen to the Holy Spirit telling you what to do and say.

If you have never given your life to Christ, then you must do what Peter said,

Acts 2:38-39 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call."