Where is the power of God?

The chief outcome of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is not speaking in tongues, but divine power – spiritual power. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said that we would receive power when the Spirit comes upon us and be witnesses unto him as a result. Although the book of Acts shows us that the outward evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is the speaking in tongues, one cannot help but notice multitudes of Christians, including ourselves, who speak in tongues but do not have much spiritual power. What has happened to the power that was promised to disciples of Jesus who were baptized with the Holy Spirit? Where is the power to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, preach the gospel, suffer for the gospel and to live holy lives? Have we really received the baptism with the Holy Spirit? Or have we just received the ability to speak in tongues because we have sought tongues and not power? Or have we quenched the power of God by constantly sowing to the flesh? I believe that there are a few reasons for this lack of power in our lives –

1. We have received the Spirit in a limited measure. In John 3:34, John says that the Father gave Jesus the Spirit without measure. We, the disciples of Jesus have received the Spirit in a limited measure. Although why this seems to be so cannot be identified with certainty, it may have to do with the extent of brokenness in a person or the extent of thirst one has for God. It is worth noting here that we can receive greater measures of the Spirit.

2. We have desired tongues and not power, and got what we desired. Some of the methods used nowadays in getting people to “receive” the baptism with the Holy Spirit are bizarre, to say the least. They range from “repeat what I say” to “blank your mind” to repeating “Hallelujah” amongst others. The entire focus is on speaking in tongues and the moment the person starts uttering a few syllables, he is declared to have been filled although he has not even experienced the Spirit “coming upon” him. Some of these dear believers are clearly oppressed before and remain unchanged after the experience.

3. We have grieved the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is to be yielded to and followed all along the way. James tells us in 4:5 that the Spirit within us yearns jealously as He does not want us to be defiled by the world. He can be grieved (Eph 4:30) and will not strive with us or compel us to follow his leading. If we choose to do things our way, He will just allow us to – after trying to get our attention prior to that.

4. We have sown to the flesh. Gal 6:8 shows us that sowing to the flesh will result in a harvest of corruption. No matter the dosage of the teaching about grace we may have been fed, sowing to the flesh will always result in reaping decay and death. I know only too well of the periods when I have experienced the power of God working through me, for it to cease when I have given in to the flesh.

5. We have not been out on the front-lines. The power of God is absolutely critical for those on the front lines of the work of preaching the gospel and making disciples. For those who are content to just stay at home, this power is not necessary – only a measure will do. The soldier who is at the beach on a sunny day needs an umbrella, not a weapon. This divine supernatural power is necessary when we are occupied with following the Great commission – so that we can use it to demonstrate the truth of the gospel. Jesus is the baptizer with the Holy Spirit. The only condition that was to be met before the Spirit could be poured out was the ascension of Jesus to the Father’s right hand. Once that was done, He received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and He poured out “what you now see and hear.” Its not about the upper room or the ten days of waiting or the sound of the rushing wind or the tongues of fire – its just about desiring the baptism fervently and looking to Jesus. We have spent too much of our time and lives having replaced the shields of gold with shields of brass like the Israelites did of old. What we have is not what was promised and the sooner we recognise this, the sooner will be our emancipation. Let us cry out to God for a greater measure of the Spirit and yield completely to Him that He may work out his perfect will through us.

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20/20 vision

20/20 vision indicates that we are able to see the same line of letters that a normal person can, at a distance of 20 feet. When a person is unable to see clearly, there is a need for a correction, often through the use of spectacles.

As Christians, we can easily get distracted from the main issues of life and focus on things or issues of interest to us and are unable to focus on things that are in God’s heart. There are many legitimate issues that vie for our attention and often succeed, sometimes to the detriment of our souls. 20/20 vision for the Christian is to see things as God sees them, to focus on things that he focuses on, to prioritise that which He prioritises.

I was drawn to three instances in the Word where we find a focus on things that are not in God’s heart and God’s gentle correction.

1. Mark 9:2-7 In this passage, Jesus takes three of his disciples and goes up a high mountain and was transfigured before them. Moses and Elijah appear and speak with Jesus. The disciples are in such awe at the sight that they propose to make three tabernacles – one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah and to stay there. Immediately, a cloud overshadowed them and God spoke to them saying “This is my beloved son, listen to him“. God gently helps them to see that his desire for them was not to build the tabernacles, but to listen to Jesus. Similarly, as Christians, we can have so many plans either for our own lives or for the church and desire to get into projects that seem right and often get bogged down by them, when all that God wants of us is to listen to Jesus. Listening to Jesus and doing as he directs is what God wants of you.

2. John 21:21,22 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me.” When Jesus met with some disciples at the seashore after his resurrection, he was speaking to Peter. During this conversation, Peter asks Jesus about John, saying “what about him?” Jesus then gently showed him that it was not necessary for him to be concerned about God’s plans for John, rather Peter was to focus on one thing – to follow Jesus. God’s plan for us is to follow Jesus – “to follow the lamb wherever he goes”. Following Jesus’ leading and plans for our lives will bring the greatest satisfaction. He has a plan for your life and will lead you to fulfill that plan. We need not worry about others and God’s plans for others, what is needed is for us to follow Jesus.  The path that God has ordained for us is unique, one that is designed just for us and it will do us immense good to be where God wants us to be.

3. Acts 1:6-8 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked him, saying, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And he said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” In our day, we find such interest with regard to the second coming of Christ and the signs and prophecy, often to the point of being plain silly – when every change in our natural or political environment becomes a sign that the world is going to end. Well, the disciples were concerned about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. Jesus corrected them, telling them to focus rather on what was absolutely critical – the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the receiving of spiritual power with the aim of being witnesses to Christ. Today, too the Lord wants you to focus on what is necessary, the power of the Holy Spirit.

Stop the unnecessary focus on things that are not necessary or sometimes detrimental to your growth. Do not get into projects that seem right or even into ministry that seems right because of the need, just listen to Jesus. Jesus was not driven by human need, he did what His Father told him to do. There were a multitude of sick people lying at the pool of Bethesda but Jesus healed only one – the paralytic. Make it a point to listen to Jesus. Learn to hear and obey.

You do not have to worry or be envious of God’s plan for someone else – you just follow Jesus. Don’t worry about whether other denominations or churches are as fundamental in doctrine as your church is. God has a wonderful plan for your life and He is committed to fulfill that plan. Be content to just follow Jesus. He is your role model, take his yoke upon you and follow him.

Turn your focus away from too much involvement in the future or in prophecy or in peripheral matters, you focus on being filled with all the fullness of God, on the power of the Holy Spirit. I am not saying that we should not study prophecy or the end times, just warning about an inordinate focus on them. 1 John2 says that if we abide in Him, we will have confidence when he appears and will not shrink back from him in shame. I have noticed that often, it is our lack of power that is such a misrepresentation of Jesus to unbelievers. Seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit and you will receive power to be a witness for Jesus.

20/20 vision. Let us see as God sees.