January 3, 1996 I officially began as a pastor. I remember the first day…with my job description on the desk in front of me…I remember thinking…“How on earth am I going to do this? I won’t last a week!…How can anyone live up to this job description? It’s too big…it’s impossible…I’m only one guy!” Maybe you have asked similar questions:
- “How can I live for God faithfully in 2018?”
- “How can I tell others about Jesus?”
- “How can I live a life of triumph and victory over sin in 2018?”
- “I am one breath away from failure. How can I serve Him in 2018?”
- “I feel inadequate like a failure. I am not up to the task.”
Hey! when you think about it…living for Jesus really is a gargantuan task! (Yes that’s a real word!) It is impossible! Yet more than ever, the world…needs you and I to live for Jesus! They need the church to be the Church…they need believers to be genuinely living out their faith. To be FAITHFUL…REACHING…WATCHFUL…LOVING…SERVING…CARING.
In Zechariah 4, God gave a young Jewish prophet named Zechariah a vision of a lamp stand. You may ask: Why a lamp stand? That’s a good question. For the Jewish people, lamp stands…were a symbol of God’s presence with them…and a symbol that they were to be a light in the dark world. As a nation, they had just endured 70 years of captivity in a foreign land. Now they were back in their beloved city that had been decimated and they were restoring the city and their beloved place of worship, the Temple. One of the important items in the inner sanctum of the Temple was a lamp stand that the high priests would ensure there was plenty of oil for lamps to burn though the day and the night. But they hadn’t built the temple to completion yet. In fact, the workers had even stopped building at one point because of discouragement and other obstacles..
Rebuilding the Temple so they could be a light to the world was a gargantuan task! So God spoke to Zechariah and told him to tell the governor Zerubabbel (yes that was his real name) that he did not have what it takes to rebuild the temple. Imagine being told “Hey buddy…you do not have what it takes to build and complete this project.” This is what God actually said: “So he answered and said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6) In other words, “Hey Zerubabbel! You don’t have the power…but I do! You can’t build the temple on your might and power! You need Me…the power of the Holy Spirit to build it.” A powerful lesson that Zerubabbel had to learn.
Now think about the lesson we need to learn…we simply do not have what it takes to defeat Satan. The Bible teaches Satan is our very real enemy…he is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone for lunch…he is a deceiver and liar, possessing enough power to destroy us render our mission impossible. We simply can’t defeat him.
Martin Luther the great reformer wrote a hymn that spells this out clearly: “…For still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe…his craft and power are great…and armed with cruel hate…on earth is not his equal. Did we in our own strength confide…our striving would be losing…were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing…”
Think about it this way…there are three ways that we can live the Christian life:
- We can trust our own strengths, wisdom, abilities and talents…and go it alone.
- We can borrow the ways and the resources of the world…and do it their way.
- Or we can completely trust and fully depend on the power of God to live for Him.
If left to ourselves, we’d be decimated by Satan…our strength is no match for his, even the collective strength and wisdom of the world…it’s not our power we need…it’s God’s power…it is not by might, nor by power, but by the empowering Holy Spirit.
God has promised to His disciples power for living. In Acts 1:8 Jesus promised: “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.”
Pastor Tony Evans said of this power: “This power of the Holy Spirit creates a powerful people who have His powerful presence carrying out His powerful program…weak men who fled from Christ, spiritual weak-kneed wimps who ran when the going got tough, received power from the Holy Spirit when they received power, they preached and thousands were saved.” That’s the power we want…That’s the power we need!
A little later in the book of Acts the Jewish authorities are trying to shut up the apostles but they were amazed at their courage…even after they were beaten and ordered to stop preaching, the apostles still went out and preached some more! Where did they get this power? From the Holy Spirit…God’s power alone! The Holy Spirit empowered the early Christians to work miracles as they proclaimed the Gospel…He gave power to the preaching of the early church so that when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they proclaimed the Word boldly and with great power!
In the same way, we too…have been given the task of being a light to a very dark world…and building God’s kingdom as we go…being FAITHFUL, REACHING, WATCHFUL, CARING, LOVING, and SERVING …the ministry and mission of the church is downright humanly impossible…we cannot do it on our own strengths and abilities…but as the Holy Spirit empowers us, we will receive more than enough power to accomplish the work He wants us to do! This is the only way we can do His mission!
“…‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”
Until next time. Keep looking up!