God's power in the life of the faithful

It is often said that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” and this saying should be heeded by everyone, not just when it comes to DIY but also when it comes to understanding the kind of lives God wants us to lead.
The story is told of a woman who invited a group of friends over for a special dinner. Owing to the numbers invited she hired someone to help with the catering and aiming to impress she also bought the best food money could buy. She also got a special kind of mushroom to accompany the meal. Shortly before cooking began, she noticed that the mushrooms had become discoloured and since there wasn’t time to buy more she decided to test them by feeding some to the dog. She thought to herself that if the dog didn’t get sick then they would probably be alright! The dog eagerly consumed the mushrooms and seemed fine. The mushrooms were duly cooked and given to the guests. Later as pudding was being served the person she hired hurried in and whispered to her “Ma’am the dog is dead!” Not waiting to hear any more she leaped to her feet in panic and told her friends that they had no time to lose. They had consumed tainted mushrooms and must get to hospital immediately. Later that night when she and her guests returned from having their stomachs pumped she asked where her dog lay. The maid replied “Out in the front yard where he crawled after the car hit him!”
The moral of this incident is that people should always investigate a matter thoroughly before jumping to hasty conclusions. A little knowledge really is a dangerous thing.

When we read about the message Jesus gave to the crowds we soon discover that He was continually calling upon them to repent and start following God. Repeatedly He used phrases like “repent for the Kingdom of God is near” (Matthew 4 v17) and “unless you repent you will perish” (Luke 13 v 5). His followers were commanded to pass on the same message ( see Luke 24v47) which is why the Christian Church right down to the present day is continually warning people to repent of their sins and prepare for the Day of Judgement. The Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross only becomes effectual for an individual when or if they repent. To receive forgiveness from God sincere repentance is an absolute necessity.
Often however this is as much of the message that people hear! Oh yes they hear the part about the need to change their ways as a preparation for God’s Judgement, but they don’t wait to hear the second part of the message which is the wonderful promise that He will supernaturally help them to achieve such a change. They run a mile from Church and Christianity because they think its impossible for them to change; they feel too ensnared and too trapped by something. Perhaps they are addicted to drugs or alcohol, perhaps they feel enslaved to immoral inclinations or immoral behaviour. If only they waited long enough to hear God’s full message. The complete message of the Gospel is that “when God gives the command to change, He also equally provides the power to do so.”

We know that DNA the size of a pinhead contains so much information that if it where put into written form the books containing these encoded instructions would stretch to the moon and back over 200 times! Again, we know that the universe is so vast it contains billions of galaxies each containing billions of stars. Surely any Being Who could design DNA and run such vast universe must also have enough power to help an individual change their life! The full Gospel message is that if a person lets God into their life He has the ability to renew their heart and transform their character. This transforming power is freely available to all who sincerely want it and it is the specific work of the Holy Spirit Whom Jesus promised would assist all true followers to bear the fruits of righteousness.(John 14 vs16-18).

Reading true stories of how God changes lives is a great antidote to all the bad news we see on television. Take for example the change that occurred in the life of James Bryant. Both of his parents were alcoholics and with such an upbringing James himself also became addicted to alcohol. After he got married and had a little son he tried to break away from this habit using just his own strength but he kept on failing. One day in a state of despair he attended an open air church service run by a city missionary. The missionary explained the promise in John 1v 12 that “those who receive Christ, to them He gives POWER to become children of God.” (See also Philippians ch 4v13 “I can do all things through Christ Who STRENGHENS me.” And Romans ch7v17-18 “Though you were slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart…and have been set free from sin and become righteous.”)

On his way home Jim thought about that promise and realised that in Jesus there was help to achieve what he couldn’t do alone. At home he got down on his knees and repeated various Bible promises the missionary had given him. Nothing happened. Unable to bear it any longer at about 3am he went down on his knees a second time and from the depths of his anguished soul cried out “Oh God deliver me from this curse. Give me the power I need to become a child of God.” Instantly Jim felt something change deep inside him and had the sense of a prisoner being set free. He said “I arose from my knees a new creature in Christ.” He now had the power he needed to remain sober and put his life back together.

Another example of Divine help occurred to a drug addict who was equally at his wits end. This youth and his mum were sitting in a park when they noticed a church service about to start. Curious to see what it would be like he said to his mum he wanted to attend. Months later he said to the minister ‘You preached a sermon on “Hope”. As I sat there you had no idea that I was an addict bound by a chain I couldn’t break and getting more discouraged about myself all the time. Then suddenly you reached a point in your sermon where you said “Jesus can put hope into a hopeless heart. With Him there are no hopeless cases.” Then and there I opened my heart to Him and felt His power come into my life.’

God’s promise of salvation from bondage to sin and immorality begins in this life and isn’t just reserved for the next. He is the Helper of the helpless promising power to change in the here and now. This transforming power liberates by giving strength to turn from every kind of behaviour and conduct forbidden in the Word of God. Perhaps it might be an addiction to alcohol or drugs, an addictive sexual relationship, an unforgiving attitude towards others, a love of power or wealth or whatever. The promise is that God loves us so much He gives us power to rule over our sinful inclinations rather than leave us subject to them like slaves. Jesus has the power to set us free. If we truly make Jesus the centre and purpose of our lives that power of self-control will ours. Galatians 5vs 16- 26, 1st Corinthians 6 vs 9-11 and Colossians 3v5-16 explains what God’s promise of victorious living means in practice.

In 2nd Timothy 3v 5 St Paul describes certain people in society “who display a form of godliness but who deny it power”. Do not be perturbed by the lack of faith displayed by these sort of people. Scripture assures us that God’s transforming power is indeed available right now and countless millions of Christians down through the centuries have personally experienced this truth for themselves.

The will of God will never take you,
Where the grace of God cannot keep you,
Where the arms of God cannot support you,
Where the riches of God cannot supply your needs,
And where the power of God cannot endow you.

The will of God will never take you,
Where the Spirit of God cannot work through you,
Where the wisdom of God cannot teach you,
Where the army of God cannot protect you,
And where the hands of God cannot mould you.

The will of God will never take you,
Where the love of God cannot enfold you,
Where the mercies of God cannot sustain you,
Where the peace of God cannot calm your fears,
And where the authority of God cannot overrule you.

The will of God will never take you,
Where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears,
Where the Word of God cannot feed you,
Where the miracles of God cannot be done for you,
And where the omnipresence of God cannot find you!

Author unknown

Jesus is the answer. Now what is the problem!