January 8 “Power”

Power

Without purity, power consumes the one who holds it.
Nothing like this had ever happened before. There had always been sick folk but never a healer. Demons had plagued people since the beginning but never had there been a man with a greater power who defeated them. There had been teachers before, but such words of truth and authority had never echoed from these Galilean hills. The multitudes grew to unmanageable numbers.

New Strategies
The constant flow of divine power through the human frame of Jesus was exhausting. Some creative thinking was in order. There was always the beautiful Sea of Galilee; an escape route to provide Jesus some distance from the crowds. He told His men to find a boat and have it ready. The boat gave him space but it did nothing to stem the flow of the sick ones who called out for His touch. Using the voices of their hosts, demons screamed even at the approach of Jesus crying out—“You are the Son of God!”—even as the poor invaded ones lay helpless on the ground. Jesus delivered them of their possession and sent the devils away commanding them to keep their mouths shut. But the toll taken on the humanity of Jesus was great. New strategies were needed if the pressing needs of the pressing crowds were to be met.

  • This amazing power must be shared. Thus, New Wine required some New Wineskins.
  • Jesus called His closest followers to the top of a hill and chose 12 of them to share the work and the power.

Mark’s description is crucial to our understanding of the Call of Christ today:

Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons

The names of the 12 men Jesus chose would be remembered forever. He shared His power with them, His truth with them, and His compassion with them. Strangely enough, one of them was named Judas.

Called to be with Him
The call to ministry for Christ must be preceded by the call into fellowship with Christ. “To be with Him” is not a calling reserved for preachers; it is the call of Christ to each of us! If we are to step into this stricken world in His name, we must first answer the call to be with Him.

How do we do this?

  • Through consistent prayer and consumption of the Word of God,
  • Through the knowledge of the general and specific things He has called us to do,
  • Through consistent obedience to His call, and
  • Through vital connections to His church in worship, discipleship, fellowship and service.

In these ways Jesus shares His power with those who obey His call to be with Him.

Scriptures:
Mark 3: 7-19
But Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea. And a great multitude from Galilee followed Him, and from Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and beyond the Jordan; and those from Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they heard how many things He was doing, came to Him. So He told His disciples that a small boat should be kept ready for Him because of the multitude, lest they should crush Him. For He healed many, so that as many as had afflictions pressed about Him to touch Him. And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, “You are the Son of God.” But He sternly warned them that they should not make Him known. And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons: Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter; James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom He gave the name Boanerges, that is, “Sons of Thunder”; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Cananite; and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. And they went into a house.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, it is beyond amazing that You have called me to be with You! I must order my life around this call. The power to touch others in Your name flows from Your nearness, even Your residence in me. The wisdom to walk this earth in peace is in the sound of Your voice in my heart. Help me preach Your word with the work of my hands and the holiness of my life and the gentleness of my manor. As I preach Your word, signs will follow! Hallelujah! Amen!

Song:
Close to Thee
Words: Fanny Crosby; Music:S. J. Vail

1. Thou my everlasting portion, more than friend or life to me,
all along my pilgrim journey, Savior, let me walk with thee.

Refrain:
Close to thee, close to thee, close to thee, close to thee,
all along my pilgrim journey, Savior, let me walk with thee.

2. Not for ease or worldly pleasure, nor for fame my prayer shall be;
gladly will I toil and suffer, only let me walk with thee.

Refrain

3. Lead me through the vale of shadows, bear me o’er life’s fitful sea;
then the gate of life eternal may I enter, Lord, with thee.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 25, 2017

Energy

The dictionary defines energy as “available power.”
To have the energy life demands, one must have reliable sources of power. So we exercise and eat and prepare for the day in ways that seek to get us energized.

Sleep is a source of energy. Food obviously fits into this category as does water, oxygen, vitamins, minerals, sugar, caffeine, and Wonder Bread. (In the 1950’s, Wonder Bread promised to build strong bodies eight ways!)

Our natural energy comes in specific types:

  • Physical energy,
  • Mental energy, and
  • Emotional energy.

These three forms of energy have their own sources and each of us must provide the raw materials these sources need to produce the physical, mental, and emotional energy life requires.  If we do not, we risk losing the ability to function through:

  • Physical exhaustion,
  • Mental fatigue, and
  • Emotional burnout.

Spiritual Energy
There is also a spiritual dimension to the human life and a fourth type of energy—spiritual energy.  This energy also has its sources:

  • Prayer,
  • The Word of God,
  • Praise and Worship, (Which, of course, are forms of prayer.)
  • Fellowship with other believers, and
  • Christian service.

Deny or Embrace?
People who deny the existence of the spiritual side of life still need the things of the spirit.  They substitute physical, mental, and emotional activity for the spiritual activity for which their depleted spirits are starving.    No matter how high the art, how sublime the culture, how elated the aftermath of the workout, none of these things satisfy the human spirit.

People who embrace the spiritual side of life face a danger as well—we can also substitute human activity for the action of the Holy Spirit.

  • We can deplete our physical beings by working in the Kingdom of God solely in our own power.
  • We can drain our brains of all life trying to manipulate people and events toward a “spiritual” outcome.
  • We can approach an emotional breakdown by trying to save the world or even our little corner of it.

Ruach—The Breath of God
The truth is this: when we gave our hearts to Him, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit came to live in us!  We have the ruach, the Breath of Heaven in us!  Talk about an energy source!

How do we tap this source?  Two ways:

  1. Christian Disciplines, (Prayer/Word/Worship/Service) and
  2. Deeds of mercy.

The Christian discipline of daily prayer including worship and the Word is as essential to spiritual energy as diet, exercise, nutrition, hydration and breathing are to physical energy and study, fun, and concentration are to mental energy.

When we expend our energy to touch a hurting soul through witness or service, we are sharing Jesus’ favorite meal!  He told the disciples after he had ministered life to the Woman at the Well, “I have food that you know nothing about–my nourishment is to do the will of my Father and finish His work.”  Serving God does not cost us energy; it provides us energy.

With daily prayer and faithful service, we find an energy source that will never be depleted—and neither will we!

Scriptures:
John 4:31-34
…his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
2 Timothy 1:6-7
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
Ephesians 3:16-17; 20-21: 6:10
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being…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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen….Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
2 Corinthians 4:7-10
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are my strength! I stand in dangerous places because You are my safety. Help me build the structure of my life on You, the Solid Rock. In the cycle of day and night, You are my energy throughout each day and my rest every night. As the Bible says, I want to be “strong in the Lord and the power of Your might.” Grant me a constant source of spiritual energy as Your Spirit dwells within. I need Your wisdom to regulate my life so that I rest when it is time to rest and work when it is time to work—all in Your amazing grace. In Your powerful name, Amen.

Song:
Old Time Power
Words and Music: Charles D. Tillman

1. They were in an upper chamber,
They were all with one accord,
When the Holy Ghost descended
As was promised by the Lord.

Refrain:
O Lord, send the pow’r just now,
O Lord, send the pow’r just now;
O Lord, send the pow’r just now
And baptize every one.

2. Yes, the pow’r from Heav’n descended
With the sound of rushing wind;
Tongues of fire came down upon them,
As the Lord said He would send.

Refrain

3. Yes, this old-time pow’r was given
To our fathers who were true;
This is promised to believers,
And we all may have it too.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved