What is "power"?
There are many definitions of power. It is the combination of strength and speed. It is the authority to act. It is the product of voltage and current. It is energy per time unit. It is influence or persuasiveness. It is the rate at which work is performed. It is the eleventh album by the rock band Kansas.
Do you know that believers have access to God's power? Yes, the same God who created the universe. Yes, the same power He used to raise Jesus from the grave. The Bible tells us we do (Romans 8:11, Ephesians 3:20, 2 Timothy 1:7, 2 Peter 1:3). If we have access to so much holy power, then why do we so rarely utilize it?
God has given us all we need, not only for life, but for abundant life. There are usually two reasons we do not experience God's eternal power regularly: 1) either we're not properly "plugged in" to the power source, or 2) we're plugged in, but there is a short in our wires somewhere. We have access to God's power all the time, the problem is we neglect to access it.
The power God gives us is difficult to define, but I think it is simply the ability to become more like Christ. This is impossible in us alone. That is why it requires God's power working in us. This power causes us to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). This power gives us the ability to serve others. It gives us the ability to overcome sin. It gives us the ability to have self-control. It gives us the ability to persevere.
God's power displayed in mere humans is awesome. If we could experience it in fullness, I think we would want to experience it regularly. So how do we get there? Let's use the word "POWER" as an acrostic to help us remember five disciplines or actions that are crucial to us experiencing God's power: Pray, Obey, Worship, Expect, Remain. If you apply these five actions in increasing measure, you will see God's power manifested in your life.
Famous evangelist Billy Sunday is quoted as saying, "If you are strangers to prayer you are strangers to power." We cannot utilize the full power of God if we're not praying. We cannot grow in Christ if we are not praying. If Jesus needed to pray (Mark 1:5, Mark 6:47, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12), then how much more do you think we need to pray? E.M. Bounds, a great student of and writer on prayer, said, "Prayer is faith taking possession of its unlimited inheritance."
Prayer is powerful (Romans 8:11, Mark, 11:24, Acts 1:14). Prayer doesn't so much change God's mind as it changes our mind toward God. Praying prepares us to see the power of God by getting us ready for God to act (11 Chronicles 20:1-30). Prayer admits our own limitations. This is when God reveals himself to us.
Prayer is commanded (Matthew 26:41, Luke 18:1, Ephesians 6:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is commanded because it requires humility. Humility is key to God allowing us in his presence. Prayer is also relational, and if we're going to have fellowship with God and others, we need this type of communication. Thus, prayer is a spiritual discipline that our obedience demands.
Prayer has conditions (John 15:7). We must be obedient. We cannot harbor secret sins. We must not be indifferent to the needs of others, but we must show mercy. Self-indulgence will cause failure in prayer. Failure is also caused by our stubbornness and disdain for God's commands.
Prayer is answered (1 Kings 18:37-38, Acts 4:31). Prayer is not always answered the way we would like, but it is answered. You have probably heard the ways God answers prayers: "Yes," "No," or "Wait awhile." The last answer is probably the hardest for us to take, because it requires patience and complete trust.
Obedience is how we show our love for God and Jesus (John 14:15-23, 1 John 5:3). This is contrary to the world's way of thinking, but critical to the believer's way. We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). Our attitude towards obedience should not be "I have to do this," but rather "I get to do this." Because we know God loves us, we know he only has our best interests at heart. What he commands is for our own good. It may not be the most fun or easiest way, but it is the best way.
Disobedience is one of the sins that prevent God from hearing our prayers. If our prayers are hindered, we cannot fully experience God's power. Obedience is a choice. In the Old Testament, God gave the children of Israel a choice of blessings or curses. They usually chose curses and "reaped the whirlwind." If we have a choice and we know that choice will benefit us greatly, why not choose it?
God will reward our obedience (Ephesians 6:8), though we may not immediately see the reward. In fact, we will not see many of the Bible's promised rewards until eternity. But we will get rewarded, and these rewards are in addition to our salvation. Our hope in a future blessing should help motivate us to obedience.
We struggle with obedience because we have the wrong attitude about it. We obey more out of fear or obligation than out of love. The world and our flesh tell us that obedience is for the lowly, scared, and timid. They say obedience is for animals and is degrading for a human. However, if we change our thought process to understanding obedience is simply an expression of our love, then we will want to be obedient. And as we are more obedient, we will experience more of God's power.
Worship comes from the word "worthship" which means that we worship that which is worthy (Revelation 4:11). God is the only one worthy of worship. Worship is not for us. We insult God when we act as if worship is to entertain or please us. God should always be the object of our worship and we are the subjects. We relinquish control of our lives and give ourselves to God as an offering. We worship Him because of who he is and what He does.
Worship is basically communion with God where we interact with Him and other believers. It is devotion focused on Him and shared with others. There should be elements of remembering (looking back), expecting (looking forward), and honoring (in the present looking up). Paul D. Adams says worship is the "free and spontaneous response that delights in glorious revelation of God ultimately shown to us in the crucified and risen Christ."
Like prayer and obedience, worship is one of those spiritual disciplines that is not optional. In fact, it is essential. Dwight Bradley put it this way, "When a person worships God, it is as a thirsty land crying out for rain." Worship is a hungry heart seeking love. It is a soul searching for its counterpart.
Worship starts with inward attitude that is often expressed outwardly through praising, singing, etc. (Colossians 3:16). True worship is a balance of the heart and the head (Romans 12:1-2). We worship in "spirit and truth" (John 4:21-24). John Ortberg tells us to "pursue worship that links well-ordered minds with overflowing hearts."
Though worship regularly occurs in church where we come as God's people to respond to him and go to reveal him, location does not really matter in worship. We should have a worshipful spirit all the time. Our service and ministry stem from our worship. Every task, every moment should be an opportunity to worship God. We should do nothing less than worship the source and foundation of our power.
According to Webster's Dictionary, expect means "to look for as likely to occur or appear." It implies a considerable degree of confidence that a particular event will happen. Words in the Bible that are synonymous with expect are faith and hope (Ephesians 6:16, Philippians 1:19-20, Hebrews 11:1).
Having an expectant attitude is a discipline that needs to be developed. Our attitude has such a profound affect on our lives that we need to work to develop a positive one. One of the ways we can do this is by being ever hopeful in all things, even more so in time of struggle or turmoil. James said "consider it joy when you encounter various trials, know that the testing of your faith produces endurance..." (James 1:2).
Satan cannot steal our salvation (heart), so he attacks the mind. His aim is to make us ineffective in our Christian walk. He wants to short-circuit our power outlet by planting seeds of doubt and causing us to become undisciplined. Cynicism, discouragement, bitterness, and anger are the attitudes he would like us to have. As difficult as it is, we must force negative thoughts out of our mind. Negative thinking leads to a sour spirit.
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). Positive Christian thinking is critical (Philippians 4:8). What we think about is what we bring about in our lives. People will not be attracted to the gospel of Christ if it is brought by a bunch of grumpy, gripey people. Let's keep expecting the Lord to do His work in us and keep looking for his eminent return. An expectant heart is a hopeful, happy, powerful heart.
Jesus is the source of all the good things we have through God, including His power. Jesus tells in John 15:4-11 that we have to remain in Him in order to be fruitful. Producing fruit is the evidence of remaining in Him. Jesus also gives us the consequences of not remaining in Him, which are in drastic opposition to remaining in Him (hint: removal, fire, burning).
The Greek word translated "remain" in the NIV is from the word meno. This word is also translated "abide," "continue," "stay," and "dwell." It implies some decision to stay or continue in. It is a choice we make to persevere in our walk with Christ. When we remain or abide in something, we are loyal to it even to death. We keep doing what needs to be done even when it is hard and requires great effort. We do not quit in the midst of the struggle.
Our Christianity is not just a "Sunday thing," but an every day thing. It is not a one-time surrendering but more of an ongoing conversion to the image of Christ. If we are to become like Jesus and bear fruit for Him, we need to remain, stay, abide in Him. We need to "continue in" his word and in the things we have been taught (1 John 2:24, 2 Timothy 3:14). Remaining is a discipline we should choose to do daily if we want to see God's power manifested in us.
It is crucial that we keep our dependence on Jesus and our communion with him. Our dependence on him needs to become habitual. Remaining in him is necessary for producing what is pleasing to God and profitable to us. When our pride tells us we can "go it alone" is when the branch starts to die. There will be no power for godly living if we do not regularly maintain the connection to our power source. Our branch must stay attached to the Vine.
As you review the five disciplines, you may have noticed that all are related. You may have noticed a common thread running through each. The common thread is relationship. A relationship is a connection. These disciplines require a connection to the source of our power. Our power was embodied in and exemplified by Jesus Christ. In Him was all the fullness of the Father, and in Him we come to know and have access to the Father. Maximum spiritual power comes from maximally maintaining our connection (relationship) with God through Christ. All we have to do is choose to do so. Choose POWER.
About the Author
Jeff Coble is an teacher and runner who desires to help others run with perseverance. He has been a Christian over 35 years. He's active in his community through his church, his children's schools, sports, and Boy Scouts. He's been married 18 years and has three sons (ages 14,12,10). For more info, visit his website at www.runwithperseverance.com.