Power Outages

Connecting Points

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Today’s Topic:  Filled with Power

Today’s Text: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit)…Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power… Acts 6:5a and 8a 

Stephen’s faith was correctly placed in Jesus Christ. He had completely experienced God’s grace. He was overflowing with the fullness of the Holy Spirit. And as a result, he was filled with God’s power.

My mind is filled with so much today that I am simply going to bullet point some truths for you so I don’t get wordy and long. Contemplate each statement and let the Holy Spirit teach you the lessons you can apply to your own life.

  • Faith and grace must always be our focus ahead of power. Power produces pride if not held in the context of faith and grace.
  • We must be in love with the God who gives power and not the power God gives. The love of power will quickly become an idol and set itself up against an honest knowledge of God.
  • The Scriptures clearly describe the application of power to our lives. Don’t be confused by emotionalism or public displays of what appears to be supernatural abilities. These are the things the Scripture say are the working of the power of God in our lives.

1.  That we may experience Jesus Christ living in and through us.

Ephesians 3:16-17a  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,   so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

2.  To know the fullness of the love of God and be filled with Him.

Ephesians 3:17b-19  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,   may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,   and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

3.  To participate in the divine nature and escape evil desires.

2 Peter 1:3-4 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.   Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

4.  To know we are secure in Christ.

1 Peter 1:5  Through faith we are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 

5.  That we may stand up against any and all opposition and even suffer for Christ’s sake.

2 Timothy 1:7-8  For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 

Philippians 3:10  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 

6.  That we may live by faith alone and bring glory to Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12  With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.   We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

7.   That we might patiently endure all things with thanksgiving and joy.

Colossians 1:11-12  being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully   giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you  to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 

8.   That we may resist the power of sin.

Ephesians 6:10-11  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.   Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 

9.   That we may be servants of the Gospel

Ephesians 3:7   I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power

10.  That we might bring glory to God even when we are weak.

2 Corinthians 12:9  But God said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 

I challenge you to truly study these verses. It may be that you have been looking for the wrong evidence of God’s power at work in your life.

Pastor John

Full of Grace

Connecting Points

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Today’s Topic:  Filled with Grace

Today’s Text: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit)…Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power… Acts 6:5a and 8a 

“We cannot be filled without the very real experience of that with which we are filled.”

I have a favorite beverage I drink at supper. It is healthy, sugar free, and tastes great. It comes in a small packet filled with just enough powder to mix with a 16.9 ounce water bottle. I mix it in a tall glass. It changes the color of the water from being crystal clear to deep red. Most of the time, much to the frustration of my wife, a small amount of the powder falls on the countertop. It is almost invisible while dry. But when I wipe the counter with a wet paper towel, everything turns red – the paper towel, the counter top, and my fingers.

“We cannot be filled without the very real experience of that with which we are filled.”

Being filled with grace is only possible if we have truly experienced grace. Grace is defined as “unmerited favor.” Grace is an undeserved gift. Think deeply and clearly about this – it is a gift that is completely, irrefutably undeserved. There is absolutely nothing that makes it a reward for any action or value. It cannot be earned. Absolutely everything about the recipient is contrary to the very nature and character of the gift. Unless we understand that, and have experienced that, we cannot be filled with it, which means we have no such gift to give to others.

Recently a convict, who has just finished his term of penal servitude, applies for a job as a night watchman at a jewelry store. With all his heart he wishes to lead an honest life. He hides his past from the potential employer. He is hired. He has full access to the store through the quiet hours of the night when he has everything under his care and every opportunity to rob his employer. On the first evening, he meets one of his old companions, who questions him, “What are you doing here?”

“I’m the night watchman.”

“Over this jeweler’s shop?”


“Does he know what you are?”

“No, keep quiet; if he knew, I should be dismissed.”

“Suppose I let it out that you are a returned convict!”

“Oh, please don’t; it would be my last day here, and I wish to be honest.”

“Well, you have to give me some money to keep quiet.”

“Very well, but don’t let anyone know.”

This man still has his job, but he lives in constant fear of being found out, because he does not know that his past can be forgiven.

Let’s change the story hypothetically. Let us suppose that instead of the employer hiring the man in ignorance of his character, he chose instead to go to the prison and visit the man in his cell. He then said to the convict prior to his release, “Now I know you—what you are, what you’ve done, every robbery you’ve committed, but I am about to give you a chance of becoming honest. I’ll trust you as my night watchman over my valuable goods.” When he is released from prison, the convict is faithful at his post. He meets an old companion who threatens to inform his employer about his past. The guard asks, “And what will you tell about me?”

“That you were the ringleader of thieves.”

“Yes, but my master knows all that; he knows me better than I know myself. Yet he forgave me of my past and gave me this post as a gift, and I intend to be faithful to him.

Of course, this silences his companion forever.

The real reason more grace isn’t seen in people’s lives is that they are still thinking about themselves from a position of pride and self-worth. Only when we become truly broken in spirit and recognize that we are totally and irrefutably empty of anything that demands God’s recognition will we experience true grace. Then, and only then, will Jesus Christ visit us in the prison of worthlessness and offer us the gift of eternal life. Jesus Christ is the only Master who is “full of grace and truth.” Jesus Christ is gracious to you and me because He knows the truth about us, that we deserve nothing but hell. But through His grace heaven can be our share, if we personally and by faith appropriate His grace. And once we understand His grace, we too will be filled with grace towards others.

Pastor John

Who’s At The Door?

Connecting Points

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Today’s Topic:  Filled with the Spirit

Today’s Text: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit)…Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power… Acts 6:5a and 8a 

The second thing that marked the life of Stephen was that he was filled with the Holy Spirit. For some reason many people in the Christian church today are avoiding the truth of this blessing from God. They have either decided to be content with a complacent form of Christianity, or they have so emotionalized their experiences that they bear fruit only for themselves. The truth is that from the moment of our salvation we have been given full access to the nature of God through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. The problem is that we have not given the Holy Spirit full access to us.

Author A. W. Tozer said something very honest and convicting. It dug deep into my heart today, as I pray it will do to you. He said, Before we can be filled with the Spirit, the desire to be filled must be all-consuming. It must be for the time the biggest thing in the life, so acute, so intrusive as to crowd out everything else. The degree of fullness in any life accords perfectly with the intensity of true desire. We have as much of God as we actually want.

We have as much of God as we actually want. So many people claim to want to be completely committed to Christ, but aren’t. So many Christians think they desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but they aren’t. Far too many of us are in a state of denial about what we really want. We may get all emotional in church and shed a few tears, and honestly at that moment pray for a new sense of commitment and filling. But as soon as the car door slams and we head for dinner, the world invades our minds and we are once again captivated by new desires. We have as much of God as we actually want.

Suppose you had been house hunting in a development of new homes. Several are already filled with families, but some are empty. When you find an empty one you try to get in to see whether you like it or not. If the house was full, occupied by people, you wouldn’t dare try to get in. But an empty one is one that is available for occupancy, and you want to know if it’s right for you.

That’s exactly what Satan does. He looks for empty houses. He looks for unoccupied space. He will enter through any unguarded door or window and take up residence in any unoccupied room. He doesn’t care if it’s a closet. In fact, those are his favorite places because they are the least noticed and usually already hiding something. Satan is always house hunting, and he doesn’t politely knock. He assumes, and rightly so, that any unoccupied space is rightfully his. You may not understand this, but you have given him permission to be there unless you have already given permission for the Holy Spirit to be there.

Jesus told a parable about this in Luke 11:21-26.  “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters. When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’  When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”

So many Christians are in a state of despair because they have allowed Satan continued access to their lives. They may not even know they are doing it. But unless we are intentionally and consistently inviting the Holy Spirit to control every nook and cranny of our hearts and minds, we are intentionally giving permission for Satan to have that space. We may be in denial about that, but that’s the truth. Any unoccupied space is our choice, and whether or not we intentionally send out an invitation, our choice to not let the Holy Spirit occupy it is a choice to let the enemy have it.

You see, we are naturally of the flesh, and therefore the Father of the flesh needs no special permission to invade our space. But as children of the heavenly Father, we have the privilege of inviting the Holy Spirit of God to fill every space of our hearts and minds. And when He does, Satan cannot enter. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. All the enemy can do is knock. He flees when we send Jesus to answer the door.

Pastor John

We’re Home!

Connecting Points

Monday, April 26, 2010

Today’s Topic:  A Man of Faith

Today’s Text: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit)…Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power… Acts 6:5a and 8a 

Twenty-one and a half hours of flying tests one’s endurance and patience. But we made it home last Thursday and give all the glory and praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He was with us – as He has promised – every step of the way. His Holy Spirit in us gave us clear direction for every ministry opportunity and was faithful to produce fruit as He ministered through us. It was an awesome three weeks of being in His presence and under His direct supervision. Why does it take a missions trip to remind us that this should be the norm for all of us? It is how we should be walking in the Spirit every day.

Over the next few days or weeks I will be sharing with you the lessons God taught me and the experiences He gave me during the time spent with our friends ministering to the people of Swaziland. But before I get into that, I must share with you what the Lord taught me upon my return.

On Saturday morning I came to the office to seek the Lord for what He wanted me to preach on the following day (yesterday) in church. The Holy Spirit reminded me of the story of Stephen in the book of Acts. It hit me very hard and I have taken it as my personal challenge for spiritual growth in my life. It encompasses much of what God showed me on the trip to Swaziland. Stephen’s life may have been short, but it was certainly full and fruitful. Let me tell you why.

There are four things that the Scriptures say were true of Stephen. I desire the same four things to be consistently true of me. Here’s the first one for today:

  1. He was a man full of faith. He completely trusted his life into the hands of his Savior. He needed nothing else but his faith in Christ. Faith brings fullness of life. He didn’t need possessions to bring fullness to his life. He didn’t need prestige. He didn’t need pride and power. He simply trusted the trustworthy One. He sought the Kingdom of God first and God provided all else that he needed to accomplish the work of the Kingdom.

So many times we get distracted by the things of the world. They may even be good things, like family, friends, and career. But if the desire to serve as an ambassador of the King in His kingdom work isn’t our top priority, then we need to carefully evaluate where we have placed our faith. Stephen’s faith was fully in Christ alone, and these things proved it:

  • He upheld the truth over traditions (Acts 6:10-15). He did not compromise for the sake of keeping people happy.
  • He stood up to criticism (Acts 7:1-53) He boldly proclaimed his faith in Jesus and the message of the Gospel.
  • He was a sincere student of God’s word. (Acts 6:10)
  • He accepted responsibility and served in the local church (Acts 6:1-6)
  • He kept his focus on the eternal and not the things of this life. As the tempers flared and the tension increased, and Stephen began to feel physically threatened, he never turned his focus from his faith in Christ. He never tried to defend himself or protect himself. He simply focused on the glory of God – But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”  (Acts 7:55-56)
  • He served his Savior no matter what the cost (Acts 7:54-60)

 I encourage you to read the story of Stephen and review the list I have given you of the marks of his faith. Then diligently pray and work to make the correct and lasting application to your life. The Scriptures say that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) It’s time we truly evaluate the condition of our faith and make sure that our lives are living proof that our faith is in Christ alone.

Pastor John