The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Walking in Power’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 8/23/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1U8TCVL
From Potential to Power
All of us have God’s potential in us. We are made in His image, according to His likeness (Gen 1:26-27). We share His DNA because we are His sons and daughters. But not all of us see His power in our lives.
How do we move from potential to power? How can we position ourselves so God is free to move through us with miraculous strength?
In the Book of Acts, Peter preaches to Cornelius’ household about God’s power:
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. – Acts 10:38
Power is the Greek word dunamis, which means “inherent power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature” (Strong’s #141). Jesus got His power from God. He was able to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out demons (Matt 10:8) because God had anointed Him to do it!
The humbling realization when it comes to God’s power is that moving in power has nothing to do with us. God’s miracle-working power is not something we can cultivate in ourselves; but rather something He must cultivate in us. That revelation should be incredibly freeing. When you pray for the sick, or for any miracle to take place, the outcome has nothing to do with you! The result of your prayers has everything to do with God, and His constant willingness to honor our prayers from a place of relationship with us.
The Purpose of Power
God’s miracle-working power proves that He is real. In Scripture, we see Jesus criticize the people around Him as a “faithless and perverse generation” (Matt 17:17) because they did not believe in God’s power. Every generation seeks a sign that God is real, but it is up to believers to pray that they would see it.
Showcasing God’s power is the most poignant way to prove to unbelievers that God is real. I sat and spoke with someone recently who was having trouble believing God is real. They knew all the Scripture that supported His existence, but was having some serious trouble bridging the gap from intellectual understanding to practical experience.
I could have come up with an intellectual proof to demonstrate God’s existence. Instead, I shared a handful of testimonies. People in our congregation cured from terminal cancer. A newborn cured of “incurable” liver disease. A severed finger that re-grew when exposed to faithful prayer.
You see, there are certain things that I can’t un-see. God has proved He is real to me on so many occasions, that it is no longer within my right to doubt His existence. Our mission, as a church, is to demonstrate to others that God is real. When we pray, we should expect to see His miracle-working power on full display. As we pray for others, and they see His power for the first-time, entire generations of people will be motivated to become faithful disciples of Christ!
Miracles are still for today. As a church, we are fighting against cessationist theology: the doctrine that spiritual gifts ceased when the original twelve apostles died. Vast portions of the church have subtly accepted this stance, and the result is clear in our prayer lives. We seldom pray for things that require God’s miraculous power. Instead, our prayers have been neutered by our unmiraculous expectations. We settle for prayers focused on nominal, subjective improvement in our lives, and call it a day when we “feel better.” Instead, we should be praying specific, objective prayers that rely on God to show up and show off: to only settle when we see His best with our own eyes!
Church leadership is, unfortunately, largely responsible for the decline in believers showcasing God’s power. As pastors and leaders, we easily become afraid to pray for supernatural results. We think that if we pray for something big, and nothing happens, it’s our fault! We think it means we are less holy, or less faith-filled, than we should be! But that is never the case. Signs, miracles, and wonders have nothing to do with us, and everything to do with God! When we step outside of our own insecurities and rely on Him to show up and show off, His power will be put on full display!
We fight the myth of cessationism with Scriptural truth. The truth is, God’s will has not changed:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. – Heb 13:8
Jesus’ earthly ministry was filled with constant, miraculous demonstrations of God’s power. If that was God’s will then, it is still His will now!
What’s more, the same Holy Spirit who empowered Jesus for His earthly ministry empowers us for ours!
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. – Rom 8:11
If you are filled with the same Holy Spirit as Jesus Himself, and God’s will has not changed, then why should signs, miracles, and wonders ever cease? And if we, as God’s church, don’t pursue God’s power in our lives, then who will?
What God’s Power Is Not
1) God’s power is not magic.
The power of God – breakthrough on earth as it is in heaven – cannot be conjured up. His power cannot be purchased for any sum, or earned with any resume.
The story of Simon the Sorcerer proves this point for us well. Simon was a magician in Samaria. As the people of Samaria started believing in Jesus, Simon realized that he was not as powerful as he once thought. He saw God do things that no level of expertise in magic or medicine could accomplish. When Peter and John came to pray in Samaria, Simon wanted what they had:
And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! – Acts 18:18-20
Simon’s desire for God’s power came from a place of selfish personal ambition, not from a place of selfess Kingdom expansion!
God’s power is not for sale! It isn’t dispensed at any school, or packaged into any self-help program. God’s power comes from relationship with Him. Without the divine authority that comes from relationship, power is impossible!
2) God’s power is not a feeling.
Too often, we think we have to feel God’s power for something to happen. Many times, I will feel the anointing as I pray for people. The anointing is transferable, and we can feel God moving through us as we lay hands on other people.
However, just because we don’t feel Him doesn’t mean He’s not up to something! Some of the greatest testimonies I have ever seen have come from prayers where I haven’t felt a thing! As God’s people, we are not called to be feelings-led; we are called to be Spirit-led. Step out and take a risk based on God’s word, even if you don’t feel like it!
3) God’s power is not complicated.
Jesus is not complicated. His Gospel message is not complicated. Our infinite sin required infinite suffering. Jesus came and bore it all on the Cross for us. He served as our substitute, so that we could enjoy His reward in heaven!
God’s power is simple. Can I show you?
The Power Pattern
We see a pattern throughout Scripture when it comes to God’s power. I am intentionally using the word “pattern,” instead of the word, “formula.” A pattern implies correlation: we see certain consistent elements whenever God moves powerfully in Scripture. A formula, on the other hand, implies causation. We can never force God’s hand, and push Him into action. We can, however, invite God to move in and through our lives with power!
Power comes when God’s word is mixed with potential. We see this throughout Scripture. Allowing this pattern to play out in our daily lives is how we will see God’s power moving through us!
In the Creation Story, we see two things happen. First, God’s Holy Spirit was present to effect change:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. – Gen 1:1-2
Second, God spoke.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. – Gen 1:3
When the Holy Spirit was present, and God’s word was introduced into the atmosphere, creation took shape! God’s power was activated as the word was mixed with Spirit.
We see the same pattern in Jesus’ ministry:
Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. – Lk 5:17
God’s Holy Spirit was present. The atmosphere was ripe for change – supernatural progress. Then, Jesus spoke:
Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus. When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. – Lk 5:18-25
God’s Holy Spirit was present to heal, and God’s word was introduced into an atmosphere ripe for change. Power followed!
When we follow the same pattern in our lives, God will follow our words with signs, miracles and wonders, wherever we go. We are filled with God’s Holy Spirit. The active ingredient for God’s power is already in you! The first condition for power – the presence of God’s Holy Spirit – is satisfied whenever we walk into a room. The second condition – God’s word – is all we need to see God’s power in our lives. All we have to do is speak His word into any circumstance requiring change, and watch the supernatural take shape!
Jesus told His disciples to follow this pattern before ascending to Heaven:
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. – Mk 16:15-20
We don’t have to chase after signs, miracles and wonders. They should follow us. As we simply introduce God’s word where His Holy Spirit is already present, power will follow!
You don’t have to be a traveling evangelist to demonstrate God’s miracle-working power. You don’t need to spend hours in prayer every day to see God make stuff happen when you pray. Once you are filled with His Holy Spirit, all you have to do is speak His word over any situation, with the earnest expectation that change will take place.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” – Jn 14:12
– by Pastor Mike White
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