This is post 1 of 3 in the series “THE POWER OF …”
- The Power of Spiritual Adrenaline
- The Power of the Master’s Name
- The Power Of Your Influence And The Influence Of Your Power
The Power Of Spiritual Adrenaline
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is filled with perfectly beautiful passages, but the passage with which he closes the letter is certainly as beautiful a passage as there is in all of Scripture. Please hear the word of Almighty God: “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do. And the peace of God will be with you. I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me but you had no opportunity. Not that I complain of want, for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. In any and all circumstances, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.”
Here is a true story. It appeared in the newspaper last spring. It happened in a little place called Lawrenceville, Georgia. It seems that a young man, aged 16, a young man named Tony Caballo, was underneath his Chevrolet automobile repairing it when suddenly the bumper jack slipped and the car fell down upon him knocking him unconscious, trapping him there and threatening to crush the very life out of him. His mother, Angela Caballo, age 50, saw what happened, rushed over, reached out and grabbed the bumper of that automobile and lifted the automobile four inches and held it there until neighbors responding to her cries for help could come and drag the young man to safety. Later on Mrs. Caballo was asked how a small 50-year-old woman could lift the weight of an automobile and she replied, “I prayed to God to help me, and He gave me the power to do it.”
Sounds rather incredible, doesn’t it? But the fact of the matter is that it is a true story. It did happen. And not only that, but there is a perfectly logical explanation for it. You see, under normal circumstances, Mrs Caballo would never have had the strength to lift the weight of that automobile. But in that one single moment, a moment of challenge, a moment when she saw her son’s life being threatened, in that moment there was suddenly shot into her system great jolts of adrenaline which enabled her to do what ordinarily she could never have done. Now, what I would say to you today, parallels that experience. For based on my reading of the 4th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, I want to suggest to you that there is such a thing as spiritual adrenaline. In other words, Paul is saying to us here, I think, “Our God stands ready to shoot into our lives great jolts of spiritual power which will enable us to face up to any circumstance which we encounter in life.” Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Notice, please, that he didn’t say “I can do all things—. If he had said that we would have laughed him out of court. That would be utterly absurd for any human being to say, “I can master every situation and circumstance which I encounter.” No human being can say that. And Paul didn’t say it. No, Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ…” He was not asserting his self-confidence, he was asserting his Christ-confidence. And he calls us to do the same thing. He calls us to grasp this great truth that through Christ we can indeed do all things.
I want to set before us now two questions which I believe will lead us to be able to assert not our self-confidence but our own Christ-confidence.
Here’s the first question: If Christ has the power to change your life, in what area of your life would He have to begin?
Now, that’s a question which, if properly considered, will force us to acknowledge the reality of our own sin. And let’s admit it, that’s not easy to do. There are very few people who are willing to come right out and admit their own sin. Some people try all kinds of things to avoid doing. Some people will spend their time living in yesterday, speaking about the good-old-days, gilt-edging all their memories just to keep from having to face up to who and what they are in the here and now.
And then there are other people who spend their time pointing out the sins of other people and casting stones at other people just so that no one will take the time to look at the sins which infect their own lives.
And then there are still others who try to write the whole business of God and faith and sin off as being just a trivial matter, and they answer every question with a “guffaw” and they indicate to you that all of that doesn’t really matter to them in life. They are getting along perfectly well, thank you.
But the fact of the matter is that sooner or later every single one of us in one way or another will have to confront the reality of our own sin. I am simply suggesting that we do it now. I mean, Paul says it here: “I can do all things through Christ”—all things means all things—all things means Christ can help us to deal with the deepest sin that lurks in the darkest corners of our lives.
So, what is that sin for you? It’s there lurking away. What is it? Is it your pride, your arrogance, is it that haunting insensitive way you relate to your spouse or your children? Is it your fear, the fear of the unknown or the fear of that which you know all too well? Is it your slavish dependence on material things, your love for and attitude toward money? Is that what it is? Is it your cowardice, your unwillingness to come to grips with the issues that affect you in life? Is it the fact that you cheated someone or cheated on someone? Is it a problem with alcohol or some other drug? What is it for you?
Whatever it is, hold it uppermost in your mind right now, and once you’ve got it in your mind, drop it into the hands of Jesus.
A prominent Southern businessman became an alcoholic. In order to get help he checked into the town’s clinic, it’s a hospital which specializes in the treatment of alcoholism. After a considerable period of time he was rehabilitated, at least as far as the hospital could bring him. It was on a Saturday afternoon, the day that he was to be released. He was talking to one of the doctors, and the doctor said to him, “You know, you’ve got your problem licked except, except for a 5% failure factor which is in your own mind. And I want to tell you something, unless you figure out some way to deal with that 5% failure factor you are going to be back on the bottle again before very long. The businessman said, “Well, how do I get rid of that failure factor?” The doctor said, “Give it to Jesus.” Well, now, this was a sophisticated, proud, self-sufficient businessman, and that was not the kind of advice that he wanted to hear. For he simply dismissed the whole thing, and he went on. As he walked the streets of New York, however, the great question of that failure factor began to bother him and he began to wonder what he was going to do about getting rid of that failure factor. He continued to walk, and the hours passed. Evening came. It was then that he happened to pass one of the great churches of the city of New York, it happened to be the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. He decided to go in for a few moments. The door was locked. It was Saturday evening. He tried all the doors. They were all locked. No one was there. But, around on the side and for a reason which even now he cannot understand, saw the door had a mail slot in it. And for some reason he reached into his pocket and pulled from his wallet one of his business cards and dropped it in the mail slot. He said that in that moment as he dropped that card into the mail slot it was almost as if he had dropped his problem into the hands of Jesus. And there for a long while he stood on the steps of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, locked out, but locked in prayer. He prayed and he wept, and he prayed some more. For there in a crisis of personal confession he offered his problem to Christ and there he and Jesus together began to conquer that problem. And it has never challenged him since.
That’s what Paul is trying to get us to understand, that that kind of thing can happen in your life. No matter what problem or fear or sin or temptation or difficulty you may have, Christ is able to help deal with it. So what is that one area where Christ would first go to work in your life? Hold it in your mind right now. And then sometime before this day is out offer it to Jesus. He will help you to conquer it. That’s His promise.
But there is a second question that I would set before you. If Christ has the power to change the world, what role would you like to play in His plan?
Now that’s a question that forces us to come to grips with God’s will for our lives. It forces us to try to discover what it is that God wants us to do in life and then to go on and do it. You see, the reality of the thing is this: that when you and God agree together as to what it is you are to do in life then nothing can stop you in your purpose.
We Christians need to be remembering that. Think of it this way. Do you realize that Christianity literally covers this earth? Christians are to be found in every land and nation, in every city and town and hamlet all across the face of this globe. Christians are to be found in every government, in every institution, in every profession, in every occupation, in every walk of life—in every class or strath or segment of society, Christians are there. And, you know, if all those Christians, in all of those places, were suddenly to decide that they were going to do what they believed God wanted them to do in life then I submit to you that within a matter of days this whole world would be a haven of peace and love and joy and happiness and security. The key ingredient is belief. We don’t seem to believe.
I remember when I graduated from high school they put across the top of the program: “They conquer who believe they can.” I can’t accept that. There are some people who are far from God and they believe the wrong things, and they will not conquer, not in the end. Now, I would change that to read this way: “They conquer who, believing in Christ, believe they can.” For when Christians believe in themselves because they believe in Jesus Christ, then nothing, nothing can stop them in the cause of Christ which is to change this world in which we live. Nothing can stop us.
There is nothing wrong with self-confidence, you see, as long as the self is resting in Jesus. For the God of Jesus Christ is the God of power. The lightning slices across the skies. That’s God’s power, and no one can master it or define it. The wind blows wherever it will and we cannot see it. All we can see is what it does. That’s God’s power. No one can define it or destroy it. The sea moves with great unending swell. That’s God’s power. No one, no one can control it or embrace it. Our God is a God of power and He stands ready to shoot great jolts of that power into the midst of our lives. But the tragedy is that so many of us are like those people who live in a row of sharecropper shacks alongside Interstate Highway 40 just outside Memphis, Tennessee. They are little, tumbledown shacks, there is no electricity in them, and yet the strange thing is that right above them are huge high tension transmission lines that are literally humming and shaking with power. Why is that there is all that power above but no power in the houses below? Simply because there is no connection between the lines and the houses, and there is no transformer to reduce the power of the transmission lines down to household levels. That’s what Jesus Christ is for us. He is the connecting line, plugging us in to the awesome power of Almighty God. And He is also the transformer who takes the great power of eternity and focuses it down right into the midst of our daily living enabling us, like Paul, to face up to any and all circumstances in life.
Christ can do that for you. That’s His promise. So, claim His power, won’t you? Claim it inside your life. Confess today where Christ needs to go to work in your life, and then enable Him to go to work there. Claim it outside your life. Try to discover what it is that God wants you to do in life and then throw yourself into the task without holding back. For this is the Good News of the Gospel, that you, you, and you,..and you…and you…and you. YOU! You can do all things through Christ who will strengthen you. That’s His promise. Claim it for your own.