By Whose Power Are You Living?

Acts 19:5 – One day the evil spirit answered them, [the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest] “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”

In the name of Jesus, the seven sons of Sceva attempted to drive out a demon from a man who was demon-possessed. But they didn’t really know the “Jesus” whose name they invoked. The demon was not terribly impressed with them. Therefore he, through the man he possessed, jumped on the seven brothers and gave them the beating of their lives (Acts 19:16).

This made me think of my own life and ministry. Do I live and minister in and through the power of the Holy Spirit or in my own power? God tells Zerubbabel in Zechariah 4:6…

… “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

Even though Zerubbabel didn’t have the human power and prestige of a David or a Solomon, God assured him he had something even greater – the Spirit of the Living God! Therefore, he would be able to accomplish what God set before him.

And so, I’m back to my question: Am I trusting and depending upon the only One who has the true power to overcome demons, problems, obstacles, sin, and all the rest? Or am I trusting in my own “might” and “power?”

I sometimes think that some predicament that I’m faced with might reply to me: “Jesus I know, but who are you?” And yet, if Galatians 2:20 is true, and I really do have the Lord of the universe living in me, then what kind of extraordinary fool am I for not living and ministering in his power and authority, rather than my own?

Lord forgive me. Please enable me to live by faith in you and dependence upon your Spirit. Provoke me to live for you, with you, like you, and by you. For your sake I pray. Amen.

Grace and Truth,
Dale

Advertisements

Prayer for Resisting Temptation

A Prayer for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
by William Barclay

O God, our Father, help us to resist the temptations which continually attack us.

Help us to resist the temptations which come from within and from our own natures:

     The temptation to laziness and to too much love of ease and comfort;
     The temptation to pride and self-conceit and to think of ourselves more highly than we ought;
     The temptation to put things off until it is too late ever to do them, and to refuse to face the unpleasant things, until it is too late to do anything about them:
          Help us to resist these, O God.

     The temptation to despair, and to lose heart and hope;
     The temptation to lower our standards and to accept things as they are;
     The temptation to be resignedly content with life as it is and ourselves as we are:
          Help us to resist these, O God.

     The temptation to let passion and desire have their way;
     The temptation to trade eternal happiness for the fleeting thrill of moodiness, to irritability, to bad temper;
     The temptation to criticism, to fault-finding, to thinking the worst of others:
          Help us to resist these, O God.

Help us to resist the temptations which come to us from outside.

     Help us to say No to every voice which invites us to leave your way.
     Help us to resist every seduction which makes sin more attractive.
     Help us to walk through the world, and yet to keep our garments unspotted from the world.

Help us to be wise enough never to play with fire; never to flirt with temptation; never recklessly to put ourselves into a situation in which it is easy to go wrong; never unthinkingly to develop habits which provide an opportunity for sin.

Grant unto us that grace which will give us the strength and the purity ever to overcome evil and to do the right; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

My Life for Yours

(I thought I might share this devotion again. I wrote it a few years ago.)

John 12:24-26

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. [25] The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. [26] Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

In our scripture Jesus is teaching his disciples that he is going to die, but that he must if they would live. A kernel of wheat must die if it would produce many seeds.

Why hasn’t reformation and revival broken out across the church at Southside…or any other church around us lately? There are perhaps many reasons, but could one reason be that we are holding on too preciously and tightly to our own lives – unwilling to die – so that we might reproduce many seeds through our deaths? Do we love our lives too much in this world, so much so, that we are actually losing our lives?

My life for yours. Genuine, substitutionary, and sacrificial living. Following and serving our King wherever he may lead…to whatever end. This brings honor from the Father. This glorifies the Father.

My life for yours. Training and nurturing our children in the Lord – when we rise, when we go to bed, as we live throughout the day, when it’s convenient, when it’s inconvenient – making sure that our children are not merely “taught at” but saturated in the things of God each day, all day – because they are eternal beings and heirs of the King. “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Are we leaving a godly legacy to and for our children and our children’s children for a thousand generations? Are we dying so they can live – really live? Can we think outside our individual lives to see how our own deaths will extend the Kingdom of God by producing many seeds? Will we believe the promises of God that he has made regarding faithful, covenantal parenting? My life for yours and for a thousand generations after you. Talk about a payoff!

But this is hard. That’s why it’s called death. Death to self. It is intentional, committed, disciplined. It’s every day, all day. It’s the discipling of our children because it is our joy, blessing, and responsibility before God to do so. Our lives for theirs. The Kingdom of God grows in such ways. Darkness is engulfed by light through such ways. Reformation and revival are ushered in through such faith and obedience. God promises blessings to such as these.

We must die. We must do with less stuff if it means more time with our families. We must wrestle with our children at the end of the day…even when we are tired. We must discipline our children, even when we would rather not. We must cast a God-glorifying vision before our children (and reiterate it every day) of who they could be for Jesus. We have to read great stories to our children (even when we’d rather doze off) so that their imaginations can ignite as they put themselves in the places of the characters in the stories. We have to read to them about the heroes of the faith who have gone before us, so that they might see how others have given themselves for Christ and his Kingdom. We absolutely must teach our children who our God is – his person, plan, power, purpose and so on. We must drive home again and again what the gospel is and is not (after all, we’re not trying to merely make better citizens or “behaviorally correct” robots). We must teach them grace and show them grace. They must learn what it means to know, love, and follow Christ. They have to understand that our faith is a total world and life view that addresses every sphere of life.

We are called to create Christian cultures in our homes though the power of God’s Word and Spirit, that those cultures might spill out into every other sphere of life. This is first and foremost our (the parents’) responsibility, not others…not even the church. Our lives for theirs. We must die so they can live.

Can we let go? Of our wants, things, desires, passions – our very lives? We must if we would find real life – abundant life – eternal life. Life in service to the King is not our own…it’s better. Only in dying are we raised. Only in dying are more seeds produced, and therefore, more fruit. Our lives for theirs.

From our commitment and hard daily labor now, what might God do in response? Might he use one of our children, (or one of our children’s children), to bring many to Christ, to redeem the culture, to usher in reformation and revival in the church, to extend the Kingdom of God as never before? We have every reason to believe he will! But we must die. We must fall to the ground and die. We must hate our lives in this world. We must give our lives for our children’s lives, and for their children after them, that God might be pleased and choose to honor us by blessing those for whom we gave our lives.

My life for yours. Our lives for theirs. This is biblical faith.

Grace and Truth,
Dale