Don’t trade in the power

Good day everyone. Today I wanted to write a follow up to my last post. If you haven’t read it yet give it a click here and check it out. It’ll definitely help this content make more sense.

If you take note of all of the incredible things people did in the Bible, the inescapable connection you’d notice is that none of them did it on their own power. God brought the animals to Noah’s ark. God directed Moses in the exodus of Israel from Egypt. God led Joshua into the promised land to take possession of it. God empowered each of the Judges who rescued Israel. God’s Spirit filled the prophets enabling them to work wonders. God’s Spirit gave birth to the church and used them to spread a world wide revival. Wonders, miracles, changed lives, raised lives, parted waters, walls crumbling, nations preserved, and hearts set free. All of these things were only possible through God’s Spirit and the power that comes along with it.

Every power possessed by humanity is extremely limited, and often ill directed, unless envisioned and driven by the Spirit of God. But even well meaning followers of God have gotten sidetracked down through the ages. Really, it’s easy to do. Even the most ardent Christian can find themselves living self reliant and disconnected.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John‬ ‭15:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Few chapters in all of the Bible depict God’s design for our lives quite like John chapter fifteen. Jesus illustrates our relationship with Him like that of a grape vine. All branches receive their nutrients from the vine itself. Whenever the connection between a branch and its roots are severed it begins to die. As long as the connection stays strong however, that branch can flourish year after year. The same is true for any tree or plant. And Jesus used that imagery to show us how to live a full life.

If you want to know the key to living a powerful life, it’s right there in that chapter. It’s captured in one word…abide. To abide is the state of being in something. In this case, Jesus is referring to Himself. The powerful life is one lived in Jesus. In other words, it’s a life lived like Him, through Him, and for Him. Paul said it in a different way.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus is our example, our source, and our life. Far too many of us trade in that life for empty customs and traditions. It doesn’t take a non-believer to live an impotent life absent of Spiritual zeal and power. So many try to find God through their own means and their own interpretations. Some put so much emphasis on laws and rituals yet pay no regard to the law of love behind them. Look at all the people who Jesus confronted during His time on Earth. They were often rigid, greedy, self righteous, nitpicking control freaks who were absent of love. They filled the coffers at the synagogue yet disregarded the needy on their way in. In Mathew 23 Jesus calls these types of people out for being hypocrites by tithing all sorts of things yet neglecting the ‘weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.‘ We should never seek the life of those living opposed to Jesus and that’s exactly what will happen when the letter of the law outweighs the love of the Law-giver in our hearts.

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John‬ ‭15:10-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There it is. Love others by laying down our lives. That level of love in our lives is a good indicator of just how well we’re connected to the Vine…to Jesus. Feeling disconnected lately? Me too. The good news is, unlike the branch of a grapevine, our connection to Jesus can be mended. His love can be reborn in our hearts. We just need to stop abiding in the wrong things.

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I’ve got the Power

Anyone who was alive in the early 1990’s probably has the lyrics of the extremely catchy song by SNAP running through their minds after reading the title of this article. In fact, it was in my mind the entire time I wrote this post. It probably will be the rest of the day.

There are many ways to be powerful. A person could be physically strong, mentally fit, financially equipped, or politically connected. All of these things have their inherent benefits. But none of them represent the greatest power available to mankind. They can all be an incredible blessing, but who they are a blessing for is determined by how they are used.

When we think of strongmen, no doubt Samson has to come to mind. He was by far the strongest man mentioned throughout the story of the Bible. He defeated lions with his bare hands, took down hundreds of men by himself, and pulled down buildings. But all in all, his life was a major waste, and his strength for nothing but show, except for the times he was connected with God. In the book of Judges it talks about how the Spirit of the Lord came over Samson and gave him strength. The Spirit was the key and the purpose was endgame. Who cares if someone can bench 350 pounds. How are they using that to benefit others and serve the purposes of God? How is the Spirit guiding that ability? I think of professional athletes who have been endowed with great physical abilities. None of it matters unless they use it for something far great than getting a paycheck and putting on a show for people.

Another great example would be Daniel. He was taken captive at a young age but he rose to prominence and political prestige quickly. His ascent was only meaningful in the sense that he would use his influence as part of a greater story. Daniel prayed, a lot, in order to keep his focus on what really mattered. That was the only thing that saved his life and set his future and legacy. The same can be said about Joseph, who’s brothers sold him into captivity, but later became the second most powerful person in the world. What kept him on track was his connection with God and determination to stay within His designed course. It wasn’t political influence that made them powerful, it was their relationship with the LORD. It wasn’t a policy agenda that drove them, it was the heart of God that supplied their vision.

Most people will never be world class athletes, political influencers, or wealthy elites. But none of those things determine someone’s real power. Physical fitness fades, money can’t enter the grave, and no one remains in political office forever. Just as it was for Samson, Daniel, Joseph, and countless others, it’s the power of connection that makes someone truly powerful. We have to be in tuned with God’s plan for our lives and how that fits in to a much bigger story for humanity. We have to stay connected through prayer and meditation. Then, and only then, will we have access to the greatest power in the world, the power of the Holy Spirit. There is no other power on earth that can transform a life, a culture, and a people quite like this one.

Prior to entering the promised land, Joshua was coronated as the leader of Israel and given charge to conquer and take back a land that was filled and defiled by the worst of humanity. These people would have made Hitler look like a saint. But that’s besides the point. God’s greatest advice was this: be strong and courageous and know that I am with you. God went on to tell him that his success was directly linked to his connection with God Himself. Joshua was instructed to meditate on God’s words day and night. Joshua went on to become one of the greatest commanders in world history. Not because of his military acumen, but because of his faithfulness to his God.

We will only become truly powerful in life when power isn’t what we seek. What makes someone useful isn’t their skill set, it’s a humble disposition and a servant’s heart. The people who will make the real difference in life are those living in a bigger story, one that is not about them, but about the One who made them. God made us not as instruments for selfish gain, but as messengers of His love. A love so powerful that it cannot be stopped. But a love that is only possible through a deep connection with God Himself. That is the point of your life and mine.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. John‬ ‭15:4‬ ‭ESV