During this Christmas season know that the greatest gift you can receive is Jesus Christ and His power through the Holy Spirit. Remind yourself of that every time you see the beauty of the Christmas lights. I was thinking the other day that many make a big deal about saying Merry Christmas as opposed to Happy Holidays. Yes we are to keep the reason for the season, but remember Christmas time is not a joyful time for many who do not want to hear either salutation, as they do not have the hope of eternal life. They do not understand the joy of salvation nor how it is even possible to have Philippians 4:7 “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Why would they as many Christians don’t even have it. We the church should be offering this great gift as it should be reflected in our lives. Jesus the Christ (the anointed one) is the only way to be saved. John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This gift is not for you to keep it to yourself but to share with others. This gift begins with love and our returning that love by obeying but it does not stop there; we then love others. Matthew 22:37 “Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.” John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Belief in God’s word is the key. Too many people have been lead astray by a counterfeit gospel. Again be careful of counterfeit power. Suddenly they find themselves not following the whole counsel of God’s word and missing power. Paul said in Acts 20:27 “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” Sadly the church has and we are seeing the result of God turning his face from us. Hebrews 10:37 says, In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back. 39But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
To actually go and do what Jesus has commanded us we need the power of the Holy Spirit upon us. Jesus said Matthew 28:18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” You also have to read Mark 16 and Luke 10 to understand the power that goes with that sending. John 14:12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. 15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. Sadly many Christians do not believe this. Because they don’t see it happening they write doctrinal and denomination distinctives instead of repenting and turning from their wicked ways. Just as bad are those who have it in their doctrines but do not follow it.
Jesus did not send us on a mission without empowering us. Many people miss this when they read the book of Acts as they start with Pentecost. Pentecost is what happens for those who obey and believe even for us today. Countless people have turned away from the word of God and have stopped believing. The problem is they forget that Jesus said to teach others to obey. They have also missed the command to wait. They miss this because they jump into the book of Acts in chapter 2. “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Notice they were all together in one place, at least the ones who waited. Yes this is the power that follows all who believe and obey. What many Christians have done is that they forgot to start in Luke 24 with the command to wait. Luke 24:47 “repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Then you start at the beginning of Acts 1:4 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.” By not waiting they are not clothed with power. This is the empowerment that comes from obeying. This is the only way Mark 16:20 takes place in our lives. “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”
All through history we have men and women who want to do great things for the Lord but will not wait to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Truthfully most of us do not even know what it looks like. Judges 2:10 “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” Many do not even believe that they do have to wait. Theologians have come up with explanations for this lack of power in the church and have lead many astray. Now we have ended up with churches who are only talk. Isaiah 29:13 “The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:20 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” This then leaves you with 2 Timothy 3:5 “only a form of godliness but deny its
power.” To fix this we must repent because we have disobeyed the Lord and his word. We must humble ourselves before the King and turn from our wicked ways. Because we are not clothed with this power, we must repent. Jesus said in Revelations 3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Jesus is knocking at the doors of the church. When will we answer him and let him in?
This is how it supposed to be. Isaiah 11:1 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— 3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.” Luke 4 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” We like John said are supposed to be doing the same.
Today is the scripture being fulfilled in your hearing. It is obvious that the church is not seeing this. So instead of living by a ceasationist theology which many live by knowingly and unknowingly. (The best way to describe this is with this quote. “My conviction is that the Divine power, so manifest in the Church at Pentecost, was nothing more nor less than what should be in evidence in the Church today. Normal Christianity, as planned by our Lord, was not supposed to begin in the Spirit and continue in the flesh. In the building of His temple it never was by might nor by power, but always by His Spirit. Jonathon Goforth”) Let us repent before the Lord. Psalm 85:4 “Restore us again, God our Saviour, and put away your displeasure toward us. 5 Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations? 6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your unfailing love, Lord, and grant us your salvation.” Habakkuk 3:2 “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” By repenting and calling on God to renew us again we see Isaiah 64:4 “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. 6 And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. 7 Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.”
Will you return to the heart of worship with your repentance?