Friday, March 1, 2013

Godly Power: Are you ignited?

Godly Power: Are you ignited?

Many things need power to work.  The power comes in many ways; through electric, or fire for example.  If you are in a dark room you would turn on a lamp or light a candle to illuminate the darkness.  If you want to feel heat in your home, you fire up your furnace or light the fire place.  However, these things will not bring forth the desired results if you do not ignite the flame or turn on the power source.  If you do not ignite the flame within your furnace for example, you will be cold until the fire is ignited.  The power source has to be turned on or ignited if you want your stove to produce heat to cook your meals.  Today, I want us to look at another source of power, godly power and what happens when it is ignited.

ACTS 1:1-8

 1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

**6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”


~ I wrote about Jesus (acts 1:1) Former book:

The book of Acts starts with us reflecting back on the foundation that was set before us in the “former book.” The book of Luke was written to give a reliable and precise record of the history of Jesus Christ's life.  Luke paid great attention to detail, including dates and events that happened throughout the life of Christ.  His account shares with us the suffering of Christ and all He did for us.  A theme that is emphasized in the Gospel of Luke is the humanity of Jesus Christ and his perfection as a human.  Jesus was the perfect man who gave the perfect sacrifice for sin, therefore, providing the perfect Savior for humankind. The message of this Gospel was intended for instruction (1:4) for those among whom the book would be circulated.  He wanted to commend the preaching of the gospel to the whole world.

Act’s starts, then with a point of reminding the disciples of the foundation that had already been laid (on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus) and this foundation is what was now leading them into this new chapter, the building of the kingdom.  For sure, the disciples are ready and understand fully what is to come, right?  Sorry, no, we have a problem…


“Then they gathered around him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’” (Acts 1:6)

~The disciples did not understand the kingdom. They were expecting Jesus to set up an earthly, Davidic like kingdom where he would appoint them positions of great honor and esteem.  They did not yet understand that the kingdom was HERE, the godly kingdom that would never end.

~Today we do not understand the kingdom.  We are no different today than the disciples of Jesus’ time.  We still do not fully understand the kingdom.  Many are expecting Jesus to set up an “earthly domain” for them to rule or a place that allows them comfort and ease.  They are excepting positions and places where they will be esteemed.  Yet, to live for Christ does not always bring honor and esteem, but ridicule, rejection, persecution and suffering for the cause of Christ (Acts 15:26).


But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Yet, we do not have to be discouraged! Jesus promises all that will believe and follow Him the power to carry out the work of the kingdom.  In the scripture above, Jesus tells the disciples where they will be able to go and do because of the power being ignited within each of them. (Note: this same power is available to us today to accomplish the same tasks).

The power of God would make them able to go to:

Jerusalem ~ they would be able to go to their home town and to the same temples that crucified Christ.  The power would help them to deal with the different groups and belief systems.

·         The Zealot movement took the revolutionary option. It advocated outward violence, even armed rebellion, to rid Israel of Roman oppression. {God’s power would help them tell the people to stop trusting in their war-plans, and trust in Jesus}


·         The Sadducees were the great pragmatists (practical thinkers) of the day.  As wealthy lay-nobles, priests and aristocrats, they sought to conserve their wealth and power through compromise with Rome.  Most of the members of the Sanhedrin were from the Sadducee group. {God’s power would equip them to tell the people to stop trusting in their money and status, and stop going along to get along.  They had to tell them a relationship with Christ was the only thing of great value.}


·         The Pharisees were in many ways the idealists of Jewish society.  Most of the Scribes (the 'theologians' of the day) were Pharisees.  In general, the Pharisees sought to live a life of spiritual purity by a meticulous following of the torah (Jewish law).  They did not believe in compromise with the Romans (as did the Sadducees) or in revolutionary activity (as did the Zealots).  Jesus rebuke of the Pharisees was because of the emphasis on the law that resulted in legalism which in turn, became a pretext for hypocrisy.  They believed in the resurrection of the dead.  From their perspective, Jesus seemed to relativize the law which explains their anger towards him. {God’s power would help them tell the people to stop trusting in their observation of the Law or in their traditions. They had to tell them traditions don’t save, heal, set free or deliver only a relationship with Christ does.}


·         Finally, there were the Essenes who solved the problem of Jewish identity in a Roman-occupied Israel by withdrawing to a monastic-like setting.  They completely opted out of mainstream Jewish society.  The most notable group in Jesus' time was the Qumran community who lived an ascetic life and was waiting for God's apocalyptic intervention in human history. {God’s power in them would help them tell the people to stop withdrawing from the world, from suffering and being involved, and to get engage in kingdom building.}


Judea – They would be able to go to the homeland, which was accustomed to Jewish religion, not Christianity, and share the message that would convert from traditions and relying on the Laws of Moses, to a faith in Jesus Christ.

For the ordinary people of the Jewish homeland, Rome was a kind of dominant political factor.  Although they might not have seen Romans on a day-to-day basis, the imposition of Roman power was certainly there.  Everyone knew that Rome was the source of both the wealth and also the source of some of the problems that occurred in the Jewish state.  So the political reality of the day was of a dominant power overseeing the life on a day-to-day basis. The disciples were empowered to encourage others to trust God and stop looking at the government as the problem or the savior of their situations, but look to God.

 Samaria – They would be able to go to their neighbor, those that they hated and hated them.

The Jewish inhabitants of Samaria identified Mount Gerizim as the chosen place of God and the only center of worship, calling it the “navel of the earth” because of a tradition that Adam sacrificed there. Their scriptures were limited to the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible.  Moses was regarded as the only prophet and intercessor in the final judgment.  They also believed 6,000 years after creation, a Restorer would arise and would live on earth for 110 years.  On the Judgment Day, the righteous would be resurrected in paradise and the wicked roasted in eternal fire.

In the days of Christ, the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans was greatly strained (Luke 9:52-54; Luke 10:25-37; Luke 17:11-19; John 8:48). The animosity was so great that the Jews bypassed Samaria as they traveled between Galilee and Judea. They went an extra distance through the barren land of Perea on the eastern side of the Jordan to avoid going through Samaria. Yet Jesus rebuked His disciples for their hostility to the Samaritans (Luke 9:55-56), healed a Samaritan leper (Luke 17:16), honored a Samaritan for his neighborliness (Luke 10:30-37), praised a Samaritan for his gratitude (Luke 17:11-18), asked a drink of a Samaritan woman (John 4:7), and preached to the Samaritans (John 4:40-42). Then in Acts 1:8, Jesus challenged His disciples to witness in Samaria. Philip, a deacon, opened a mission in Samaria (Acts 8:5). The empowerment would help the disciples to come to the fullness of Christ and heal the differences between them and the Samaritans.
Ends of the earth – This covers everybody else!  Those they do not even know exist yet.  The power would allow them to reach the hopeless, the homeless, the bound and those in prison to sin.  Everyone and everybody!

You may be saying to yourself, “I’m saved and am filled with God’s spirit, so what does this have to do with me?”  Good questions.  My question then to you is why aren’t you igniting or fanning the flame?

2 Timothy 1:6-11

6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering {misery to my fleshly man} for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.

Fan the fire: what does that mean? To fan a fire, you must continually give it “air”, oxygen so that it will continue to grow. If air is cut off from a fire, it will eventually go out. This means, we must actively allow the “air” the breath of God, to fuel His Spirit within us. This means, we cannot become comfortable where we are presently.  If we do not continue to “fan into flame” the gifts in us they can become cold and we can lose our zeal for telling the gospel message and for kingdom building.

If we examine ourselves and we are not sharing the gospel with our “neighborhoods”, or “homeland” to our “enemies” and to the “entire world” we must ask ourselves are we truly fanning the flame?  Are we doing kingdom work or have we become comfortable within our own “kingdom domains”?  Have we become like one of the groups God sent the disciples back to reach?  Have we withdraw from the world and become a modern day Essenes?  Have we become comfortable reading our Bible and praying, without every looking outside our church doors to those around us?  Have we become like the Sadducees, wheeling and dealing to accomplish our own agendas and programs?  Have we become like the Pharisees, happy to promote our traditions and heaven forbid anyone try to do anything differently.  We were not mean to become like those that the disciples were sent to minister, we were to become the “disciples” that were sent to make a difference!

Today we need to ask God to re-ignite our flame for sharing the gospel with a lost and dying world. We need to ask Him to help us if we have found ourselves conforming to the patterns of those that Jesus came to change.

Prayer: Lord, forgive us for losing sight of what kingdom work looks like.  We ask you to reignite us with your power and help us to go into all the world and share the good news of Christ.  Help us to activate the gifts that are with us.  Help us to become true worshippers, worshiping you in spirit and in truth.  Today we seek to walk in your godly power---ignite us again! Amen.



Carson, D. & Douglas, J. (2005). An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Elwell, W. & Yarbrough, R. (2005). Encountering the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Whole Bible. (1991). United States: Henrickson Publishers.

Youngblood, R. (Ed.). (1995).  Nelsons New Illustrated Bible Dictionary.  Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.