Summary: As we look at the Book of Acts, what we find is that when we are connected to God through the Holy Spirit, great power comes. We are not created to live powerless existences
Breathe: Unleashing the Power
Acts 1:4-8 2 Tim. 1:7
Herbert Jackson tells the story of when he was a new missionary who was assigned a car that would not start without a push. After pondering his problem, he devised a plan. He went to the school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class, and had them push his car off. As he made his rounds, he would either park on a hill or leave the engine running. He did this for two years. Ill health forced the Jackson family to leave, and a new missionary came to that station. When Jackson proudly began to explain his arrangement for getting the car started, the new man began looking under the hood. Before the explanation was complete, the new missionary interrupted, "Why, Dr. Jackson, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable." He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, started the car to Jackson’s astonishment. For two years needless trouble had become routine. The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting that power to work. J.B. Phillips paraphrases Ephesians l:19-20, "How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God." When we make firm our connection with God, his life and power flow through us.
As we look at the Book of Acts, what we find is that when we are connected to God through the Holy Spirit, great power comes. We are not created to live powerless existences. In Acts 1 Jesus makes a promise to the disciples about the gift of the Holy Spirit. “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit….. 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.” It is on the Day of Pentecost that we see this gift fulfilled through the sound of a violent wind and tongues of fire which landed on each of the disciples. These disciples, who had all denied and deserted Jesus at the cross and were now hiding behind locked doors in fear of their lives that they were the next to be crucified, all of a sudden were filled with power. They couldn’t contain themselves and so went down into the streets of Jerusalem and started to preach the Good News of Jesus, each in different languages to the pilgrims who had come to the Holy City for the Festival of Weeks and that day “about 3000 were added to their number….” That event shows us that one of the marks of the Holy Spirit is living with power. And here’s the exciting part: that same power which was unleashed on the disciples at Pentecost is available to you and me.
Second, God created us with a purpose and a God potential. God has this incredible plan for our lives but the problem is we think we can’t get there. We tell ourselves we can’t do that because we’ve sinned and aren’t worthy to embrace all that God has in store for us. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you and plans to give you a hope and a future.” It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done or how you have fallen short of God’s will for your life, that is a word for you. Three times Jeremiah uses the word plans. God not only has a plan for you, God has plans for you. God has great plans for your life and wants you to experience them all. No matter how bad we mess up, no matter how far we run from God, no matter how rebellious we are, God still has incredible plans for your life and the power to make them happen in your life. God has a limitless supply of opportunity laid out before you. There is power in knowing that.
Third, my weakness is an opportunity for God’s strength. Too often we fall victim to the big lie that weakness is the opposite of power, that my weakness is a limitation on God’s power and that God is only as powerful as my weakness. When we buy into that lie, then we end up pointing a lot of fingers at other people, placing a lot of blame and always playing the victim. But instead of doing that, Paul learns that his weakness is an opportunity for God. Look at 2 Cor 12:9. In this passage, Paul has been pleading with God to take away this weakness and struggle in his life. It doesn’t say what it is but what we do know is that Paul felt that it hindered him in his work for Jesus Christ and thus wanted it gone. He prayed continuously for God to relieve him of this weakness and struggle in his life. God said to Paul in return: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (And Paul responds) “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”