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Jack Graham - The Secret of Our Strength

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    Jack Graham - The Secret of Our Strength
TOPICS: Not Ashamed, Strength, Holy Spirit

The Apostle Paul was an incredible man, an amazing man. Once his life was transformed by the power of Jesus Christ, God used him to change the world. You would be hard pressed to point to another individual in all of history that made a greater impact on the world than Paul the apostle. He said, Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". I can do. Now that's a bold statement. Too many of us live with "I can't do". We have the idea that victorious living, abundant living is for someone else. But He wants all of us to experience the fullness, the freshness of life in the Spirit. God wants you to know and to grow so much more as you experience the power of God's Spirit.

Today's message is called "The Secret of our Strength". What was the secret of this man's strength? How could he do so much? How could he make such a bold claim? "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". In 1 Corinthians chapter 6 and verse 19: "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, you are bought with a price. So glorify God with your body". Paul was empowered, and he's saying that we all are empowered by the Holy Spirit who lives in us. This is the source, the secret of our strength. Unfortunately too many have never experienced victory in their lives in Christ. Over the years it's been my observation that there are three kinds of people sitting in church each week; three kinds of people that are listening to me right now. Certainly there are people who don't know Christ, people who are unsaved.

The Bible calls an unsaved person the natural man. In other words, you're living in your natural state, you're living apart from God, you're living in your humanity but you do not know His power to save. So in every service, every time we get together there are people who are unsaved. And then there's another group. Paul talks about the carnal. These are the nominal, half-hearted, often selfish, and often sinful Christians who do not live in the power of God's Holy Spirit. In there attitudes and in their actions you would barely know that they are believers at all. And in some way there is so little difference between the way a natural man lives and some Christians live. This is called carnality, living in the flesh.

There's so many nominal church members, nominal believers. That is they barely believe. They're saved but they are barely saved! Unfortunately we're seeing in our own culture that the nominals are often becoming the nones in the next generation, because if you don't have the power of Christ, how can you pass it on to your own children and to your own family? But these are the half-hearted believers, these are the in-between believers, these are the perpetually eight and eight believers. Always in the middle, always mediocre, and they need something new. They live in depletion; they live in defeat; they live unfulfilled; they live unsatisfied. They're often miserable. Their attitudes do not reflect the love of Christ. On and on I could go.

There are so many who are listening to me, watching me right now who would fit into this brand. You are a part of that unwashed middle. Carnal and without the power of God upon your life! I'm here to tell you today there's more! There's so much more that God wants to do in you! And that's the third person that Paul talks about in the Scriptures, seated here in this room today, and that is the spiritual or the spirit-filled. These aren't perfect people, of course, but they are people who have yielded their lives to the work of the Spirit of God in them! They live godly lives, lives that honor Christ, Christ-like lives. They are devoted to Christ. They understand the principle that Paul gives us here and throughout the Scriptures, that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, therefore, spend your life glorifying God! You are the temple of the Holy Spirit! God inhabits you 24/7.

If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, He has come to live in you permanently! You have the Holy Spirit! The question is does the Holy Spirit have you? Are you allowing the Spirit of God to control your life, your days, and your destiny? This is the Spirit-filled life, this is the source of victory! This truth, the reality of the risen Christ, this power of His presence in us should embolden our witness and elevate the way we live, the way we walk! What does the Holy Spirit do in our lives? And the Holy Spirit is not an it, a thing or even an influence; the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead, the third person of the Trinity who lives in you. The Holy Spirit is called the Paraclete, the Helper, the Promise-fulfilled, the Comforter. He helps us to grow in Christ, to become more like Christ.

The Holy Spirit enables us to experience God's presence in our life everyday. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter who sustains us and strengthens us. In times of suffering, in times of pain, in times of grief and heartbreak, He is our Comforter. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is our prayer partner; that He intercedes for us and with us when we pray. The Holy Spirit, we're told in the Bible, empowers our witness so that when we share Jesus Christ, the words that we speak, the witness that we give is empowered by God's Spirit. The Holy Spirit enlightens our minds when we study God's word and apply the Truth, helping us to understand God's Word in our life. The Holy Spirit is our strength when we go up against spiritual battles day after day; when we face temptation and trials and tests! All of this and so much more is the work of the Holy Spirit! It is the witness of the Spirit that is in us that helps us to know that we know Christ.

The Bible talks about this witness, this internal witness of God's Spirit in us, so that we can say "I know that I know that I know"! You say, "What is the witness of the Spirit"? I can't describe it; I just know that God's Spirit is in me, encouraging me, blessing me, helping me to know more and more about Christ! So don't you want that kind of life? Don't you want to live God's way? Too many of you, you know you're not going to hell, but that's about it! What about the life that you've been given? What about the days on earth that God is providing for you? It's not too late for you to experience the much more that Christ wants to give you today. He is with you. He is in you. He said "When I send the Holy Spirit, He will do greater works in you even than I have done," meaning that when God's Holy Spirit is in His people, His body the church, the works that we do throughout time and history are even greater than the span of years that God had on earth in Christ.

The Holy Spirit is our Sanctifier, meaning making us holy. Is it your prayer, is it your desire that you would live a godly life? A holy life? After all the Spirit who is in you is the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit wants you to be holy! Now in case you're getting a little nervous, thinking, "Well, I don't think I can do that; I don't think I can live this life. This is too big; it's too challenging"! Let me remind you that you can't, but He can! The work of the Holy Spirit is to equip you, to empower you as the secret of your strength to experience life at the highest level, at the best level. I've often illustrated it with a glove. If I laid a glove on this pulpit and said to the glove, "Alright, glove, go over here and pick up that Bible".

Of course, the glove can do nothing; has no power to pick up the Bible. I can preach to the glove, "Glove, the Bible says go pick up that book". I can lay a guilt-trip on the glove, say, "You're doing the wrong things, glove! You need to go pick up the Bible". I can give the glove an example. I can say, "Glove, this is how you do it. You pick it up just like this". But as long as that glove is empty, it's powerless! But let me insert my hand into that glove, put all five fingers in that glove, and then the dexterity in my hand becomes the dexterity of that glove. The strength of my hand becomes the strength of that glove. And anything my hand can do, that glove can do! That's a simple illustration to say that when Christ is in you-hand in glove-than He enables you to live the life that you have been given.

So you can never say I can't if the power of Christ is in you! This is the way we are to live. Not carnally, not selfishly, but powerfully and godly! The Holy Spirit gives us gifts to serve Him, spiritual gifts. We'll talk more about these gifts when we talk about what Paul said about the church. But the fact is that we need to affirm first today is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit! You are the temple of God! You are purchased by the blood of Christ, you are possessed by the Spirit of Christ; indwelt! But every Christian should not only be indwelt by the Spirit, but infilled by the Spirit. This is why the Bible speaks of the filling of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5:18, the Apostle Paul speaks of this filling of the Spirit. He says, "Be filled with the Holy Spirit". This is a command, not an option. It's a word picture really. To be filled with the Spirit is a beautiful picture of a sail boat, catching the wind, and as the wind blows and the sail flies, that boat is moved along. This is how we are moved by the Spirit of God. It's also a picture of permeating something. It's like taking meat. I'm learning how to cook on an egg, one of those green eggs, and the guy that was teaching me how to do this, I mean it's complicated. I mean, there's some really good cooks in this room; and it's complicated, but the key to cooking this meat, according to my friend, Trace Arnold at Three-Stacks Barbecue, is to get the right rub in the meat. And so you rub that meat with the sauce or the barbecue and when you get it in there, it permeates the meat and it tastes a lot better. Well, that's the idea here. It's the rub, it's the permeation. It's the sauce! It's the secret sauce of the believer because the Holy Spirit is in us. It's also a word which means to control something.

Ephesians 5:18 says: "Do not be drunk with wine", that's excess, "but be filled with the Holy Spirit". So this is a comparison, it's a contrast and a comparison. It's a contrast in the sense that: don't be drunk on wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit. That's the life of the believer as compared to the life of the world. But it's also a contrast because when one is under the influence of alcohol, one is dominated and controlled by the alcohol. And people start saying things and doing things that they wouldn't ordinarily do under the influence. Well, Paul is saying when we are under the influence of the Holy Spirit, when we yield our lives to Him, when we drink deeply of the Holy Spirit, then He fills us and He uses us and changes us and makes us more like Christ. That's the filling of the Holy Spirit.

You say, "Okay, what is this filling of the Holy Spirit"? It means that you surrender your life completely to Christ; your body, your brain. "What? Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? Therefore glorify God with your body which is the Lords". So you give Him your body, you give Him your brain, you give Him your intellect, you give Him your ambitions, you give Him your talents, you give Him your career, you give Him your money, you give Him your possessions, you give Him your desires, you give Him your decisions, you give Him everything! Everything! You say, "Everything"? Yes! He bought us with a price! We belong to Him. Don't take back what God has provided in Christ and Christ alone! So to be filled with the Holy Spirit begins really with the slaying of the self-will. It begins with death to self.

Paul would later testify in Galatians 2:20: "I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live, yet, not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me". When you dethrone self and enthrone Christ that is the spirit-filled life! This is a daily decision. It is the heart's desire of every Christian. It is a yielding of your life, your temple to the Lord.

I've been fascinated, Deb has been watching this show called Fixer Up, or the Fixer-Uppers or something like that. A couple down in Waco... How many of you have seen this show? Alright. I'm in on the show, alright. It's a good show. It's about a couple who take torn down, dilapidated houses that you wouldn't want to live in typically, and they fix them up. And I can't think of their name, Jojo and Chip or something like that. And he's the handyman. He does a lot of the work, and they bring the contracting crews in. But she's the designer. She's the visionary. And together this little couple, I mean this show even makes Waco look good. Okay? I mean, everything looks great. These old torn down, dilapidated, dirty looking houses.

You know, refrigerators out in the yard. They take these things, they take a little money and they fix these things up, and when the people come in who have bought these houses, you know, they are blown away when they see this place that they wouldn't live in; now they would live in it! It's a place that they would want to live. In Ephesians chapter 3 the Scripture says, Paul speaking again, Ephesians 3:17 "Let Christ dwell in your hearts". Let Christ be at home in your hearts. Let Him live in your life. In other words, give Him every room, beautify it for Him! Don't keep any dirty secret closets! Clean those up! Clean those out! Get rid of the garbage and the stuff that causes that house to be so ugly! And let Christ have every room. A place that Jesus would want to live! A place that He would want to abide!

It's amazing, isn't it, that Jesus would take something that is old and broken down and dirty and seemingly in the past, and make it brand new! That Jesus could take someone ugly like me, like you and make us beautiful! All things are beautiful in His hands! The Holy Spirit makes our heart Christ's home and keeps working, getting rid of all the dirt and all the disorganization and all the dishevelment of our lives, and He makes it a beautiful temple, a testimony to His grace. Is Christ at home in your heart? Have you given Him access to every room, every nook and cranny of your life? Have you said, "Lord, without reservation my life is Yours".

Again, I say the Spirit-filled life is simply to glorify God. He said, Glorify Christ! Live for Christ! Honor Jesus with your life. And when you are filled with God's Spirit, He will use you. Look, what your wife needs, sir, is a spirit-filled husband. Ladies, your men need spirit-filled wives! Our children need spirit-filled homes where Christ is the life and the Lord of all! He needs my life, all of it. And you know, the great news is when we offer what we have, when we give what we give, He takes and what He takes He cleanses, and what He cleanses He fills, and what He fills He uses! This is the source of our strength. Die to self and live in the power of Christ. Dethrone self and enthrone Christ! Is there anything in your life that's keeping you from becoming the man, the woman that God would have you to be? Maybe it's a relationship that's wrong that's quenching the Holy Spirit's work in your life. Maybe it's an attitude towards someone else. It could be the entertainment that you are indulging in your life; that you know does not make you more like Christ, does not make you more godly. Maybe it's the places that you go.

You do know wherever you go, you take Christ with you, right? Are the places you are going, are the things that you are doing glorifying Christ? Are you honoring Him? The Spirit-filled life is the Spirit-filled life of Christ in you. The most important spiritual lesson I learned outside of my own salvation is this exchanged life: that He takes me and my weaknesses and my emptiness, and fills me with His love and His grace and His power and enables any of us to do what only God can do. Don't say you're a "can't do" Christian when God says you can do in Christ. Enthrone Christ means to give Him first chair, give Him the steering wheel. However you want to put it. Give Him His rightful place, not just a place, but, not even just prominence in your life, but preeminence in your life!

To seek him first, to love Him more. It is to embrace every day, with arms opened wide, saying, "Lord, my life is Yours. Cleans me, change me, fill me, use me for Your glory". And that's the greatest life of all. It's the source of all of the Christian life. So let me ask you a very personal question: Are you filled with God's Spirit? I didn't say does the Spirit live in you; He does if you're a Christian. But are you filled with the Holy Spirit right now? Are you waking in step with the Spirit of God or are you indulging the flesh and your own carnality? Are you living for yourself, or are you living for the glory of God? I'm calling all of us to experience the fullness and the freshness of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
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