5 Ways to Honor God With Your Time

Stewardship is about honoring God with what he’s blessed us with. One of God’s gifts is time. And, it’s a precious gift, because in the grand scheme of things, our time on earth is extremely brief!

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. (Psalm 39.4, NLT)

So, we want to make the most of our time on the planet.

Teach us to number our days so we can have a wise heart. (Psalm 90.12, CEB)

Of all of the ways we might honor God with our time, here are 5 that I think are critically important …

  1. Connect with God! (prayer, reading Scripture, worship, etc.)
  2. Serve God’s purposes in the world!
  3. Spend quality and quantity time with family (or primary relationships)!
  4. Create margin! (sabbath, rest, self-care, etc.)
  5. “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry!” (John Ortberg)

What other ways do you think help us honor God with our time?

Train: My One Word for 2015

My One Word for 2015 is TRAIN. It was the focus of my sermon on Super Bowl Sunday.

Last year, I challenged people to come up with One Word, and so far this year, we have nearly twice as many people who submitted their one words for the year! (My one word last year was CHASE).

Super Bowl Sunday was a great time to talk about training. A few weeks ago, I read a great article about Tom Brady by Greg Bishop. The article describes Tom Brady’s tremendous discipline in his ongoing, year-round training.

I love what the Bible says about training. In fact, I believe training is the Bible’s word for discipleship.

When the Apostle Paul talked about training, he illustrated it by talking about the sporting event of his day (likely the Isthmian Games, which were held the years before and after the Olympic Games) …

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9.24-27, NLT)

Paul often referred to his own training. He said, “I’m a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia but raised in this city. Under Gamaliel’s instruction, I was trained in the strict interpretation of our ancestral Law” (Acts 22.3, CEB). He also said, “As the Jewish leaders are well aware, I was given a thorough Jewish training from my earliest childhood among my own people and in Jerusalem” (Acts 26.4, NLT).

Proverbs 22.6 is familiar to many people: “Train children in the way they should go; when they grow old, they won’t depart from it” (CEB). Paul adds, “Fathers, do not make your children angry, but raise them with the training and teaching of the Lord” (Ephesians 6.4, NCV). Offering more advice, he says, “older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children” (Titus 2.4, NLT).

In another well-known Scripture, Paul states, “Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character” (2 Timothy 3.16, CEB).

Life experience also trains us. The writer to the Hebrews notes, “No discipline is fun while it lasts, but it seems painful at the time. Later, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12.11, CEB).

Some people have trouble reconciling grace and training (or effort). But I love what Dallas Willard said: “Grace is not opposed to effort. It is opposed to earning.” Our spiritual training is not about earning; it’s about growing in grace and becoming more and more like Jesus in every way!

Paul says grace is an important part of our training. He writes, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2.11-12, NET).

Paul, writing to his trainee, Timothy, writes …

If you point these things out to the believers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus who has been trained by the words of faith and the good teaching that you’ve carefully followed. … Train yourself for a holy life! While physical training has some value, training in holy living is useful for everything. It has promise for this life now and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4.6-8, CEB)

Train yourself for a holy life!

Jesus spent the final years of his life and ministry training his followers. He informed them, “A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6.40, NET). When fully trained, we will be like our teacher, Jesus!

As I focus on the word train this year, I want to train in the areas of …
– Connecting with God!
– Leadership & Communication
– Exercise & Nutrition
– Sleep & Rest

A key part of my training is my early morning routine where I get up early, spend time connecting with God and reading. Then, after breakfast with the kids and walking them to the school bus, exercising before jumping into the rest of my day. Taking a break in the afternoon, especially on days when I have an evening meeting, and getting to bed at a decent time at night, as well as eating well, are also important components.

So, what’s your training regimen?

The Resurrection of Jesus

It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of the resurrection of Jesus. It is central to our faith as followers of Jesus!

The Apostle Paul wrote, “if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10.9, CEB). Jesus told his friend, Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” And, I think he asks us what he asked her: “Do you believe this?” (John 11.25-26).

Everything rises and falls on the reality of the resurrection!

If there was no resurrection, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then the rest of the gospel has no foundation. Paul put it like this …

If Christ hasn’t been raised, then your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins … If we have a hope in Christ only in this life, then we deserve to be pitied more than anyone else. (1 Corinthians 15.17,19)

This year, I was particularly drawn to Luke’s account of the resurrection. Luke conveys how much of a surprise, and how hard it was for Jesus’ disciples, to comprehend that Jesus had risen from the dead.

When the women arrived at the uncovered and empty tomb, “They didn’t know what to make of this” (Luke 24.4). The angels they met there asked them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He isn’t here, but has been raised” (Luke 24.5-6).

After they reported what they heard to the rest of the followers, “Their words struck the apostles as nonsense, and they didn’t believe the women” (Luke 24.11).

Even after repeated attempts by Jesus to prepare his followers for his death and resurrection, the resurrection was still a total surprise!

Luke also includes the story of Jesus encountering the two disciples on their walk home from Jerusalem. Over the course of a lengthy and painful discussion, their eyes were slowly opened to the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, when all of a sudden, they realized that it was Jesus they were talking to!

The gospel writers conclude their accounts with a commissioning to go and be witnesses of Jesus. Especially for Luke, the end of the gospel is also the beginning of our mission and work on the earth. In Acts 1, Jesus is with the disciples, challenges them with the great commission, and returns to heaven. And several days later, the Holy Spirit is poured out on Jesus’ followers, empowering them to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth!

This all happened because Jesus is who he said he was. He lived, suffered, was brutally killed, and was also raised from dead, conquering sin and death forever. Everything rises and falls on the reality of the resurrection!

Each of us, like Peter, who went to the tomb to check out the women’s story, must investigate the claims of the gospel, including the resurrection. We must choose whether to embrace the reality of the resurrection or to reject it.

I believe Jesus’ words from the sermon on the mount apply …

Everybody who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise builder who built a house on bedrock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It didn’t fall because it was firmly set on bedrock. But everybody who hears these words of mine and doesn’t put them into practice will be like a fool who built a house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It fell and was completely destroyed. (Matthew 7.24-27)

Rejecting the resurrection is like building on sand. But embracing the reality of the resurrection, and living in its power, is like building on solid rock. The resurrection is that important!

Everything rises and falls on the reality of the resurrection!

Cultivating a Movement: Keep Moving Forward!

We’re at the end of our series on Cultivating a Movement (see Surrender, Rely on God’s Power, Pursue Holiness, Scatter Seeds, Preserve Unity, Pray Through, and Be Moved With Compassion).

I’ve been describing a movement as a people God can move through, a church God can use. A dictionary definition of a movement is, “A group of people who share the same goal and work together to achieve it.” That ought to describe the church!

While this series comes to an end, its importance does not. I consider it part of my job description as a pastor to cultivate a movement. And, the church must keep moving forward!

Comfort Zone
We all have a comfort zone, a space where we’re most comfortable, where we feel fairly safe. But we can’t spend our whole lives there, especially not if we’re followers of Jesus!

Jesus followers are risk takers!

I love what Mark Batterson recently tweeted …

When I think of taking risks for God—willingness to go where God leads—I think of Peter’s attempt at getting out of the boat to walk on water with Jesus. It didn’t turn out so well for Peter, but it was certainly a great lesson, and a great story!

When Peter realized, in the middle of a storm, that it was Jesus on the water, and not a ghost, he said, “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14.28, CEB). Jesus said, “Come.”

It started out pretty well. “Peter got out of the boat and was walking on the water toward Jesus” (Matthew 14.29).

But that’s when reality set in for Peter.

But when Peter saw the strong wind, he became frightened. As he began to sink, he shouted, “Lord, rescue me!” Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him, saying, “You man of weak faith! Why did you begin to have doubts?” (Matthew 14.30-31)

The focus in the story is on Peter, but I love John Ortberg’s take on the story, which he developed in his book, If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat (see my post on the book).

Peter risked it all by getting out of the boat, while the other disciples stayed behind where they would, at least, have something to hang onto!

Following Jesus requires total surrender. Oswald Chambers used the phrase, “a reckless abandon to Jesus” to describe total surrender. Jesus followers must live with a reckless abandon to Jesus!

I invite you to pray the prayer we’ve been praying at Centre Grove for a while: Lord, do something unpredictable and uncontrollable!

We will also need to stay humble, stay hungry, and stay in tune with God! All three aspects are essential if we’re to keep moving forward!

Jesus invites us on a great adventure. Total surrender—a reckless abandon to Jesus—is required. Jesus said …

All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. (Mark 8.34-35)

Jesus followers are risk takers!

Cultivating a Movement: Be Moved With Compassion!

We’re nearing the end of my sermon series on Cultivating a Movement (see Surrender, Rely on God’s Power, Pursue Holiness, Scatter Seeds, Preserve Unity, and Pray Through).

There is clearly a great deal of need in the world. And, the only organization in the world that truly has the power to change the world is the Church, the body of Christ!

But why aren’t we seeing more change and transformation in the world?

Here are three possible reasons …

  1. We don’t think we can make a difference. Perhaps we see the needs around us, but we don’t help because we feel inadequate, incapable of doing any good for others.
  2. We don’t know where to start. Maybe we see the needs around us, and though we care, we simply have no idea where to start or what to do.
  3. We don’t care. Perhaps we see the needs around us in the world, but we don’t care enough to get involved.

Well, if we’re going to be a movement, we must be moved with compassion. Compassion compels us to get involved and to make a difference!

I love the places in the gospels where we’re told Jesus was moved with compassion. One of those places is in Mark 6 where Jesus feeds thousands of people with a little bit of food. The story begins, “When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he was moved with compassion because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6.34).

Rather than sending people home hungry, Jesus instructed his disciples to give them something to eat. With only five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus asked the disciples to seat the people for the meal. Jesus gave the food, which he had blessed, to his disciples, to distribute it to the people seated on the ground. Not only did everyone eat, but there was plenty left over!

And, it all started because Jesus was “moved with compassion.”

Jesus once told a story about the Good Samaritan (Luke 10.25-37). In the story, there is a man who’s been robbed and left for dead. After being ignored by a priest and a Levite, a Samaritan (despised in the eyes of Jesus’ listeners) “was moved with compassion” (Luke 10.33). He took care of the wounded man and made arrangements for his recovery. Jesus concluded the story, saying, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10.37).

I’ve also always loved the order of events found in Matthew 9.35-38. We’re told …

Jesus traveled among all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, announcing the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were troubled and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9.35-36)

Jesus traveled. Jesus saw. Jesus was moved with compassion. Often, we wait to be moved with compassion before we go and see. But if we go and see, we will be moved with compassion!

After seeing the great need, and the great opportunity, Jesus said …

The size of the harvest is bigger than you can imagine, but there are few workers. Therefore, plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest. (Matthew 9.37-38)

God is looking for people who are moved with compassion to make a difference in the world for the kingdom of God. Compassion compels us to get involved and to make a difference! This is why we pray, “Lord, break our hearts for what breaks yours!”

Andy Stanley offers some great advice. He says, “Do for one what you wish you could do for many.” This is a great way to avoid feeling paralyzed—not knowing where to start—or wondering what kind of difference you can make. Just start somewhere!

Pray “Lord, break our hearts for what breaks yours!” And, then “Do for one what you wish you could do for many!”

Cultivating a Movement: Pray Through!

I’m in the home stretch of a sermon series on Cultivating a Movement (see Surrender, Rely on God’s Power, Pursue Holiness, Scatter Seeds, and Preserve Unity).

Too Busy Not to Pray!
We often live as if we’re too busy to pray. In an effort to get things done, we cut out prayer time. This is a pitfall even for people in ministry. A. W. Tozer said, “In an effort to get the work of the Lord done, we often lose contact with the Lord of the work.”

In reality, we are too busy NOT to pray (see Bill Hybels’ book of the same title)!

And, this is so important for the church, because prayer is the heartbeat of a movement!

In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches his followers about prayer. He says they shouldn’t pray for the purpose of impressing others. Rather, Jesus says …

… when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6.6, CEB)

After talking about prayer, Jesus turns his attention to fasting, and instructs his followers …

When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face. Then you won’t look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6.17-18).

In both cases, Jesus says God is “present in that secret place.”

In The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson states, “In the grand scheme of God’s story, there is a footnote behind every headline. The footnote is prayer. And if you focus on the footnotes, God will write the headlines.”

Jesus begins his model prayer, “Our Father …” Our prayers are determined by our view of God. Batterson suggests, “The size of our prayers depends on the size of our God. And if God knows no limits, then neither should our prayers.”

Jesus prays, “Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven” (Matthew 6.10), or in the traditional language, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. ”

This is a core prayer for a movement. It’s all about God’s kingdom!

Batterson suggests, “The bigger the vision, the harder you’ll have to pray!” God has given the church a mission, a mission that’s bigger than we are. It’s more than we can accomplish on our own. We must rely on God’s power. Prayer is the heartbeat of a movement!

Some practical ways I invited people at Centre Grove to pray through, especially over the next several weeks (at least through Easter), include …

  1. Use the prayer guide for cultivating a movement (we’ve been praying some of these prayers for a while) …
  2. Develop a prayer idiosyncrasy, a prayer practice that’s unique and meaningful for you.
  3. Practice fasting, perhaps the Wesley Fast (described in this post on fasting).

Prayer is so important. Prayer can never be the only thing we do, but it will always be the most important thing we do! R. A. Torrey said, “There have been revivals without much preaching; but there has never been a mighty revival without mighty prayer!”

Prayer is the heartbeat of a movement!

Cultivating a Movement: Preserve Unity!

I’m near the midpoint of a series of messages on Cultivating a Movement (see Surrender, Rely on God’s Power, Pursue Holiness, and Scatter Seeds).

One thing churches must also do is preserve unity!

Sadly, churches can be notorious for their lack of unity. When this is the case, the church develops a bad reputation in a community. So, it’s important for churches to preserve and protect unity!

The church can be known for a lot of things, some good, some bad. When people in a church are growing in Christ and serving the world, they are known for what’s good. The church is at its best when everyone is growing and serving!

The Apostle Paul wrote a lot about church unity. He often referred to the church as the body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12, he wrote …

Christ is just like the human body—a body is a unit and has many parts; and all the parts of the body are one body, even though there are many. We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jew or Greek, or slave or free, and we all were given one Spirit to drink. Certainly the body isn’t one part but many. … If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it. You are the body of Christ and parts of each other. (1 Corinthians 12.12-14, 26-27, CEB)

On a similar note, Paul wrote in Romans 12 …

We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. (Romans 12.4-6a)

Paul’s words in Ephesians are also important. Midway through the letter, Paul challenges readers “to live as people worthy of the call you received from God” (Ephesians 4.1). Acknowledging that unity doesn’t happen automatically, he says, “make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit” (4.3).

To help the church preserve unity, God supplies what the church needs. “God has given his grace to each one of us measured out by the gift that is given by Christ” (4.7). Specifically, “He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (4.11), that is, church leaders.

God’s purpose …

was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4.12-14)

God put leaders in place so that the body of Christ could grow and be equipped to serve. The church is at its best when everyone is growing and serving!

Paul encourages …

let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part. (Ephesians 4.15-16)

What would it look like if each one did its part, if every follower of Jesus in the church was growing in Christ and serving the world? That is God’s goal. It should be our goal, too.

The church is at its best when everyone is growing and serving!

Cultivating a Movement: Scatter Seeds!

I’m working my way through a series of messages on Cultivating a Movement (previous messages include: Surrender, Rely on God’s Power, and Pursue Holiness).

The Church has been entrusted with the gospel—the good news of Jesus Christ. We have a story to tell …

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. (John 3.16, CEB)

But, if we’re not intentional, we can easily take this gift for granted, or worse, avoid our God-given mission, altogether!

The Apostle Paul wrote, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel: it is God’s own power for salvation to all who have faith in God …” (Romans 1.16).

That needs to be our attitude, too. We must not be ashamed of the gospel. It is the only message that has the power to change the world!

That’s the ultimate goal of a movement—to change the world. In the United Methodist Church, we say our mission is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!”

Stated another way, God sends us to scatter seed that will change the world!

Jesus began the parable of the soils (or the parable of the sower) this way: “A farmer went out to scatter his seed” (Luke 8.5).

A farmer …
The work of the church, and the work of leaders, in particular, is to cultivate. Movements, like harvests, don’t happen overnight; they must be cultivated!

A farmer went out …
By definition, the Church is called out, but it is also sent out. Just as the farmer “went out,” so too must the Church go out into the world. One of Jesus’ favorite words appears to have been “go.” It’s the key challenge in his final words to his disciples before ascending into heaven. In John’s Gospel, the first thing Jesus said to his group of disciples after the resurrection was, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” We are a sent Church!

A farmer went out to scatter seed.
That’s what we do. We scatter seed. We serve. We proclaim. We give witness to Jesus Christ!

The harvest depends on the type of soil on which the seed lands as well as the amount of seed that’s scattered. In fact, one of the lessons of the story is to scatter seed generously. Jesus concludes his teaching on the parable, saying …

The seed that fell on good soil are those who hear the word and commit themselves to it with a good and upright heart. Through their resolve, they bear fruit. (Luke 8.15)

Paul conveyed a similar idea when he wrote about an offering the Corinthian church was preparing …

I want it to be a real gift from you. I don’t want you to feel like you are being forced to give anything. What I mean is this: the one who sows a small number of seeds will also reap a small crop, and the one who sows a generous amount of seeds will also reap a generous crop. (2 Corinthians 9.5b-6).

Scatter seed!
We scatter seed simply by being fully devoted, and growing, followers of Jesus. As such, we’re salt and light in the world.

Another great way to scatter seed is by serving in a specific (outward-focused) ministry in a local church. In fact, serving alongside other followers of Jesus is one of the easiest ways to reach out to people and “scatter seed”!

When scattering seed, it’s helpful to remember Paul’s word of encouragement …

A person will harvest what they plant. … Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6.7-9)

Let’s scatter seed. Lots and lots of seed!

God sends us to scatter seed that will change the world!

Cultivating a Movement: Pursue Holiness!

Last month, I found myself saying, “I don’t just want to pastor a church; I want to lead a movement!” That sentiment has shaped my first sermon series of the year: Cultivating a Movement. So far, I’ve talked about Surrender and Rely on God’s Power.

Another area that’s vital to being a people God can move through, a church God can use, is holiness. It was certainly a central part of the beginnings of the Methodist movement. Wesley described the mission of the Methodist movement as spreading “scriptural holiness over the land.”

In prayer, I often use a phrase from Psalm 24.4. The phrase comes in response to the psalmist’s own questions in verse 3 …

Who can ascend the Lord’s mountain? Who can stand in his holy sanctuary? Only the one with clean hands and a pure heart … (CEB)

God, give us clean hands and a pure heart!

The writer to the Hebrews states it pretty bluntly: “Pursue the goal of peace along with everyone—and holiness as well, because no one will see the Lord without it” (Hebrews 12.14, CEB).

Pursue holiness! No one will see the Lord without it!

When I talked about relying on God’s power, I used a vessel to describe what we are to be. Paul put it this way in his letter to Timothy …

In a mansion, there aren’t just gold and silver bowls but also some bowls that are made of wood and clay. Some are meant for special uses, some for garbage. So if anyone washes filth off themselves, they will be set apart as a “special bowl.” They will be useful to the owner of the mansion for every sort of good work. (2 Timothy 2.20-21, CEB)

Some translations use the language of a “vessel of honor” instead of “special bowl.” Being washed and set apart makes us useful!

But what I also love about holiness in the Wesleyan tradition is that you can’t talk about holiness without talking about grace and love.

Love grows where God moves!

In the Wesleyan tradition, we describe the multiple facets of God’s grace, using terms such as prevenient (or preventing or preparing), justifying, and sanctifying, among others (convincing, convicting). The bottom line is, God’s grace is always at work in people’s lives, no matter what stage of the journey we are in!

The value of sanctifying grace is that God’s grace doesn’t stop when we are justified (or saved). God keeps working IN us on a lifelong journey of transformation!

In Wesleyan theology, holiness is closely tied to love—love of God and neighbor. As we pursue holiness, and experience greater and greater transformation, we also grow in our love for God and our love for others!

Means of Grace
Today, we commonly talk about spiritual disciplines. But I love the language Wesley used—“means of grace.” Spiritual disciplines are ways in which God chooses to work in us!

Wesley talked about the means of grace in two areas—works of piety and works of mercy. God works through us in works of mercy. God works in us in works of piety (e.g., prayer, searching the scriptures, holy communion, fasting, and participation in Christian community).

We pursue holiness as we engage in works of piety and work of mercy!

Cultivating a Movement: Rely on God’s Power!

I’m working through a sermon series at Centre Grove called, Cultivating a Movement (which was the focus of my latest prayer for the Church).

I want to be part of a movement for God. My working definition for a movement is simply a people God can move through, a church God can use!

I started with Surrender. Next is “Rely on God’s Power!”

I will always remember my second sermon at Centre Grove in July 2008 when I challenged people to be contributors rather than consumers. Picking up with that imagery, consumers are like containers. They hold onto what they have; it’s all about filling the container. But contributors are like vessels, with the purpose of being used by God and passing on what they receive.

Vessels rely on God’s power. And, God moves through people who rely on his power!

The New Testament talks an awful lot about power. That has especially grabbed my attention in recent months. Here’s a small selection of verses from the Bible (all from Common English Bible; emphasis added) …

  • Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news about him spread throughout the whole countryside. … They were all shaken and said to each other, “What kind of word is this, that he can command unclean spirits with authority and power, and they leave?” (Luke 4.14, 36)

  • The whole crowd wanted to touch him, because power was going out from him and he was healing everyone. (Luke 6.19)

God’s power flowed through Jesus. That same power ought to flow through followers of Jesus. Luke, who uses the word “power” more than the other gospel writers combined (not to mention Acts), writes …

  • Jesus called the Twelve together and he gave them power and authority over all demons and to heal sicknesses. (Luke 9.1)

  • Look, I’m sending to you what my Father promised, but you are to stay in the city until you have been furnished with heavenly power. (Luke 24.49)

  • But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1.8)

One of the first passages that grabbed my attention a few months ago was 1 Corinthians 2.4-5 (see Under the Influence of the Spirit and Preaching With a Demonstration of the Spirit). Paul writes …

  • My message and my preaching weren’t presented with convincing wise words but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. I did this so that your faith might not depend on the wisdom of people but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2.4-5)

  • God’s kingdom isn’t about words but about power. (1 Corinthians 4.20)

Paul emphasizes God’s power in the midst of a prayer for the Ephesians (see Ephesians 1.17-23). In Ephesians 3.20, he adds …

  • Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us.

Finally, I love the prayer the early disciples prayed after getting into some of their first recorded trouble with the religious establishment. In Acts 4, the disciples conclude their prayer …

  • Now, Lord, take note of their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with complete confidence. Stretch out your hand to bring healing and enable signs and wonders to be performed through the name of Jesus, your holy servant. (Acts 4.29-30)

I especially love the result Luke reports …

  • After they prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking God’s word with confidence. (Acts 4.31)

God’s power at work through his people. When God moves, places are shaken. And, God moves through people who rely on his power!

With Acts 4.31 in mind, I have made a couple of lines from the Newsboys’ song, “God’s Not Dead,” part of my prayer for a movement. I invite you to do the same …

Let heaven roar and fire fall. Come shake the ground with the sound of revival!