Sunday, October 13, 2013

Real Power

I didn't realize it had been nearly seven weeks since my last post. I have been ruminating over a number of issues and power, who has it and how it is used  seems to be at the center of nearly everything I see lately.

Our United States government is in shutdown gridlock over who has the right and power to control spending, budgets, and laws. The bottom line is  while there are those who take a principled stand on their specific issues-- both left and right-- the people whom Congress and the President were elected to serve are the losers. Our elected officials won't even talk to each other. Each group MUST have its own way, much like school-yard children,  bullies and far too many church pastors.

The saying from Lord Action in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887 is that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It's true.

I also see power shifts in the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis is shaking up his 1.2 billion member flock with a major shift towards social justice and a de-emphasis on traditional Catholic teaching. That has upset both the traditionalists and the post Vatican II reformers. He's ruffling everyone's feathers to some degree. That's ok. That institution needs some major shaking. However, the problems of de-emphasizing traditional doctrine is being seen as a sign by some that anything and any lifestyle may be accepted, including the oxymoron of born-again atheists.  Only in Catholic theology could that be discussed as it has on one Christian forum.

 I remember in the late 60s and early 70s following the conclusion of Vatican II that social justice was the big thing. Unfortunately there was no meaningful change that occurred in the hearts of those professing and pushing that action. In the college I attended, there was a Lutheran minister who was part of the social justice movement and he found that while it was part of the Gospel message, there was little impact because proponents tried to use social justice programs to bring people into a relationship with God. 

It was exactly backwards. People needed to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ first before  they could really encounter the Holy Spirit's move to love and serve others.  Putting the good works first was nothing more than trying to earn God's favor, despite the fact it did help the recipients. How much better for them had the proponents been born-again with a living relationship with Jesus and then received the other help they needed. Both spirit, soul and body would have been helped.

My devotional readings for today incorporated Acts 2, where the apostles and disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, the power source Jesus promised to those who believed. It was different than water baptism or just accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. The apostles had already done that. This was POWER from on-high, a promise from God that He was still in the miracle working, life-changing ministry through ordinary everyday people.

Somewhere along the way, most churches and believers have either not been properly taught about the Holy Spirit or He has just been ignored.  True power for the believer lies in the Holy Spirit. Jesus made the promise to His apostles:

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
(Acts 1:8 NKJV)

Again in Acts 2, Peter quotes the prophecy of Joel:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.'
(Acts 2:17-21 NKJV)
The beginning of the last days started at Pentecost when Peter quoted the prophecy of Joel. Signs and wonders followed. However, the entirety of the prophecy has not been fulfilled. What does that mean? Simply that we are still in the last days and the promise of the Holy Spirit's power is still readily available. Bad teaching says such signs and wonders ended with the time of the apostles.  God's written word says otherwise.
If you want real power in your walk with God, if you want something that means more than just  intellectual ascent of a belief, if you want to really experience what God has said exists as a gift for believer, then ask for that outpouring of power the Holy Spirit has. He will energize your life as never before and He will give you ability to be a witness to the  Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  That is His mission and His gift to you-- to share the good news of salvation to a lost and dying world where power is sought in all the wrong places and for all the wrong reasons.God's word says it, I believe it and that settles it. 
 Then get yourself into a Christian church that actually believes this.
The Holy Spirit gives you the real power for all the right reasons.
The word of God says so. Check it out for yourself and see what and Who you have been missing.  God's word says it, I believe it and that settles it.
God bless.