Wednesday, July 11, 2012

JESUS' POWER AND AUTHORITY IN US.


JESUS’ POWER AND AUTHORITY IN US.
A. Brother

“They were amazed at His teaching,
because His message had authority.”
--Luke 4:32

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John…
they were astonished and they took note
that these men had been with Jesus.”   
--Acts 4:13

“I have given you authority…
to overcome all the power of the enemy;
nothing will harm you.” 
--Luke 10:19

These passages tell us of Jesus’ power, authority, courage and boldness being handed down to His disciples.

Where have these qualities gone today?

Is God’s arm too short?  Has He lost His power?  His authority?  Where are His courage and His boldness?  Did Jesus abdicate the throne?  Does He no longer possess these attributes?

Or is something wrong in us; in those who claim to belong to Christ?  Is there something missing in those of us who call ourselves believers in Christ?  Something that prevents us from seeing the power, authority, courage and boldness of Jesus from being fulfilled as He promised?

Perhaps we have become as the teachers of the law were in Jesus’ day.  Living by creeds, curriculums, plans, programs, systems, principles, and precepts, instead of by the power of the Spirit of God changing us into the strong, courageous, bold character of Jesus Christ, Lord of all.      

Today many of our pastors, leaders and teachers are “reeds swayed by the wind”…men “dressed in fine clothes”…not prophets and power-filled messengers of God’s Word.  --Luke 7:24-26.  And those of us who inhabit the pews, well, we are worse.  We sit and soak, and savor the aroma of the Word of God without tasting the meat, and without standing to speak in boldness of what Christ shows us.

Jesus tells us that those who truly follow Him will do what He is doing, and more.  That the Spirit will dwell in them with power.  That they will boldly proclaim the Truth, even if it means shaking the foundations of religious institutions and worldly traditions.  That they will be empowered to do the things Jesus did, including showing His love to all those around us.

Brethren, Jesus waits on us.  Are we waiting on Him?  Are we in constant prayer as the early Church was—praying to receive the power of the Spirit that we may do God’s work in His Way?

The promises have never changed.
         
“Jesus Christ is the same—yesterday and today and forever.”  --Heb. 13:8

What in our churches today requires or waits upon the power of God?  What in our daily lives today as Christians requires or waits upon the power of God?  Our church, business and personal lives almost completely rely on our own power and our own authority.

God knows we live and move and do all things in our own power and authority.  We’re not fooling Him.

The world knows we live and move and do all things in our own power and authority.  They see our weakness and dependence on worldly things.  We’re not fooling them.
         
Brethren, I say with sadness, and knowledge of my own failings, that we often live as the pagans do.  There is very little difference.  The proof is this: we depend upon, worry about, and act upon all things around us in the same manner and order in which the pagans depend on them, worry about them, and act upon them.   We worry about jobs, money, homes, cars, possessions, getting ahead, having the good things, fitting in, being respected, being popular, having toys, building bigger and better churches, political issues, sports, music, the latest technology, everything.

Often nothing in our lives as “Christians” differs from the world except the fact that we say we believe in Jesus, and participate in our church activities!

We are religious.  But we don’t shake the world by the power of God’s Spirit.

As Jesus went about His Father’s business, He shook things up.  He caused problems.  Things were never status quo with Jesus around.  He shook up the pagan world, and He shook up the religious world.  Jesus made people uncomfortable.  He spoke Truth where falsehood abounded.  He called out sin when He saw it.  He reached out to help everyone hurting or hungry or thirsty, and spent His time with those in need.
 
To the religious leaders of His day Jesus said, “Are you not in error because you do no know the Scriptures or the power of God?”  --Mark 12:24 

He so troubled the waters of the conventional seas that the religious leaders hated Him.  They challenged His authority continually.
         
“By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked.   ”And who gave you authority to do this?”  --Mark 11:28
           
Who challenges our authority today?  Whom do we threaten?  Whose pagan or religious ways do we shake up?  Whose waters do we trouble?  Where is the mighty Kingdom of God today that challenges the power and authority of Satan’s hold upon people and the world?

To all of us in the ekklesia of God—the Body of Christ—I say:  We must seek the Lord God and the power of His Spirit.

We must wait upon Him, hear His Word and obey it, leaving modern worldly or ‘Christian’ convention behind and being willing to live as the Church should live, empowered to speak and act boldly on Jesus’ Truth.

Brethren, we must obey God rather than men!
         
Do we doubt that Jesus is the ultimate “mover and shaker” of all things?  Do we doubt that Jesus is the enemy of religious convention, and comfortable apostasy?
Or do we really down deep, just doubt God completely, and doubt that Jesus will have His Way?

“As He was leaving the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Look, Teacher!  What massive stones!  What magnificent buildings!’  ‘Do you see all these great buildings?’ replied Jesus.   ‘Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.’ “   --Mark 13:1,2

The power and authority of Jesus will throw down every monument we build to religion, and every false god we serve.  He is Lord of all, and is over all, and though the world and the religious don’t recognize it, His Kingdom and His Lordship have already begun.  Either we are members of that world-shaking Kingdom, or we are not.  This is what Scripture teaches.  If we are, then we have His authority and His power within us, and we will live humbly as His servants in love, overcoming all the difficulties and trials in His Name together!  And when He comes for us, we will be ready to receive Him, our lamps lit, dressed, and already rejoicing.
                                                                            

Friday, July 6, 2012

WE CANNOT KNOW WHEN CHRIST WILL RETURN


 IT IS NOT FOR US TO KNOW
A. Brother

“He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know
the times or the dates the Father has set
by His own authority.  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.’”
Acts 1:7,8

“They were looking intently up into the sky
as He was going, when suddenly two men in white
stood beside them.  ‘Men of Galilee’, they said,
‘Why do you stand here looking into the sky?
This same Jesus, who has been taken from you
into heaven, will come back in the same way
you have seen Him go into heaven.’”
Acts 1:10,11

What a lesson for all of us who await the Lord Jesus’ return.  Anyone who knows Christ should be eagerly anticipating His arrival to take us home with Him.  Yet we are given, as the apostles were given, clear instructions about what we’re to do while waiting.

Are we to spend our time speculating on the times and dates of Christ’s return?  Jesus Christ Himself tells us we can’t know those things, because they are set by the Father, and nobody will know before it happens.

Incidentally, this was the last instruction given by Christ before His ascension into heaven!  He knows us so well.  We will tend to “get into” the spectacular, the speculative.  We will tend to want to solve this great mystery of when Christ is returning. 

Our earliest brethren were reproved by the angels immediately when they continued to stand gazing up into the sky after Jesus had been taken up from them.

Our Father tells us to obey Him, and that means doing what we’re to be doing in Christ, without spending our time “stargazing”, and speculating back and forth endlessly about when and how Christ is coming back.  Throughout history, there have been disobedient groups of Christians who, instead of seeking the power of Christ in their lives to be His witnesses, and to bring others to Him, have spent their time focusing on the “when” and “how” of Christ’s return.  So today we have the same happening.

However, brethren, we are to resist and reject those activities.  We are to focus on Christ, and on the work of the Kingdom, as He instructed us.


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