Pentecost 6

June 30 & July 1, 2018   Pentecost 6

 

Dear friends in Christ Jesus:

   Smart phones, iPads, and blue rays fill our homes. Microwaves, refrigerators, and air conditioners all seem to be necessities these days. Computers, printers, telephones are all important tools at work. And all of these need a power source. Can you imagine living without batteries? Without electricity or natural gas?

   Gas prices are on the rise and though we complain about the cost, yet we still drive wherever we want to go.  But can you imagine what it would be like if all the oil dried up? Where would we be without fuel to power our cars and jets? How would we get from point A to point B? To maintain the way of life we’re used to, in fact, in order to survive, we need fuel. We need food. We need power. Otherwise we die.

   The same is true of us spiritually. We need power. And we can’t find it on our own. We can’t fuel our own way to heaven. We can’t even fuel our own way through the problems of this life. But the good news is we don’t have to. We have a power source that never runs out, that never needs recharging, and the cost will never rise.  In fact, our spiritual power source will always be free of charge. Our power source is Jesus. Today, as we review the second part of the second article on Jesus’ dominion and ask, “What does this mean?” we see how much we need to Plug into the Power of Jesus.  And as we plug in to him through the Word, we come to better know that power, and we become better equipped to use that power. Listen to text, Ephesians 1:18-23:

   I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

   Have you ever been away from home for a while when all of a sudden your cell phone went dead? Ever been out on the road when the battery of your car died and left you stranded? Ever been at home when the power was out for a few days? It’s not fun to lose power, is it?

  In our lives, there are plenty of times that we lose power—and not just in our phones, our cars, and our homes. We lose power at work, in our finances, in our relationships. Life at times can be a struggle and seem out of control.  But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that we ever thought we were in control in the first place. The real problem is that we rely on ourselves and our own power way too often. We buy into the lie that, “If it is to be, then it is up to me.” But that’s simply not always true. We don’t have the power within us to deal with the all the problems we face. We don’t have the power to have a secure future. And we certainly don’t have the power to deal with our sin or with the guilt that ensues.

   I know that no one likes to hear it, but quite honestly, on our own, we’re powerless—like dead batteries. Or worse, we’re like corroded batteries that not only don’t work, but ruin whatever we come into contact with. And for thinking we’re just fine on our own, for relying on our own power and resources, for ignoring God’s infinite power that he offers in our lives, for our sins we deserve to be tossed into the garbage of hell.

    But you know the solution. The Apostle Paul states, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know… his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Where we are powerless, God has acted with his infinite power. You know the power he’s displayed in Christ. Jesus came and took your sins on himself and carried them to the cross.  Though he was crucified, died, and was buried in apparent weakness, you know that in his death is the power to forgive all your sins. He took them away as he paid your punishment.  He died for you.  But Jesus didn’t stay dead.  “That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” You publicly confess your trust in that power every week. You say, “I believe in Jesus Christ… He descended into hell.” (To declare his victory over death and Satan and all his forces.) Then you add: “The third day he rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

   Who’s in control? It’s not you. It certainly isn’t me. Jesus is in control of everything. Jesus has all the power.  “[God] seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything!”

  But perhaps an even more important question to ask is, “How does Jesus use that awesome power?” And you know the answer to that question too: “God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” God takes care of his believers as well as he takes care of his own body because that is in fact what you are—the very body of Christ.  He is ruling all things for you.  Yes, for you!

   Are you powerless? On your own, yes. But you’re not on your own! You have the sure and certain promises of Jesus that he has the power to rule over all things and that he uses that power only to bless you.

   So be at peace. Quit trying to be in control. Control is just an illusion anyway. Trust in the power of the Word that promises you forgiveness. Trust in the power to give you his body and blood with the bread and wine to give you that added assurance. And trust that he is in control of every aspect of your life.

   But, the fact that Jesus is the one who is in complete control with all the power, doesn’t mean that you can then sit back on your couch, grow lazy, and become disengaged. While I pray as Paul did, that God will enlighten the eyes of your heart that you may better know God’s power, I pray that it’s not just an academic exercise. You see, when Paul said, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know… his incomparably great power for us who believe,” he wasn’t talking about just knowing the facts. He was talking about knowing the truths of God’s Word and trusting in them to the extent that you put them into practice. You don’t just know about God’s power in your head. You’ve experienced it in your life and God wants you to use it in your life every day. He wants you to plug in to that power, not just for the certain hope of an eternity with him in heaven someday, but as you live your life right now.

   What good is a fully charged phone if you never use it? What good is a computer connected to the grid if you never turn it on? What good is a fully charged auto battery if you never hook up the terminals? You know God’s forgiving power. You know God’s power to rule over all things. Now use that power in your lives.

   What does that look like, to use God’s power in your life? It has many wonderful facets. Let me give you just a few examples: 

•      Having experienced God’s power to forgive your sins in Christ, you now have the power to forgive others, just as you’ve been forgiven—even if they’re not sorry. You can let it go!

•      Though you might have a timid disposition, you have the power to be bold in the way you live, showing no fear, having no fear, because you know that God is in control.

•      Though you may be concerned about your finances, you have the power to be generous, trusting that God will meet all your needs.

•      Though you may have been hurt by others, you have the power to be kind and compassionate to them, not even worrying about how they respond. You have the power to be hurt and abused for doing what’s right without growing bitter or resentful.

•      You have the power to love others selflessly just as Christ loves you.

•      You have the power to deny your selfish desires and make sacrifices to serve other.

•      You have the power to boldly speak of God’s forgiving power in Christ.

  And through all of this Christ is ruling. He’s ruling to change your heart. He’s ruling to change people around you. He’s ruling to change the world. On your own, you are powerless. But you’re not alone! Connected to Jesus in the Word, you have all the power you need and more. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16)

   Now, stay plugged in. Stay connected to the body of believers to grow in your faith. Worship whenever you can. Don’t be content to let one hour a week be all that you feed your faith. Would you really want to live life with only one hour of electricity per week? You could do it, no doubt. But would you really want to? So don’t be content with only one hour of spiritual power. Read your Bibles and devotions every day. Get charged up! Get the power that never runs out, that never costs you a thing and use that power to God’s glory as you “live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness, just as he has risen from death and lives and rules eternally.” And may God give you the power to say, “This is most certainly true.” Amen. 

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