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Jack Graham - Powering Up

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    Jack Graham - Powering Up
TOPICS: The Power of Spiritual Engagement

Here's what I know about the Bible, God's word is unchanging. It is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Just like Jesus. Maybe you've heard about Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday on social media. Well, what we do at Prestonwood and PowerPoint is to take you back to the Bible. And there are times when we say something and know that there just isn't another way that it can be said in a better way. In 2007, I preached a sermon here at Prestonwood Church that I believe is the right word from God for you today and for our culture. So join me now as we jump into a sermon way back from 2007, as we go back to the Bible and the message is called Powering up.

We are beginning a series of messages today from the book of Acts that I'm calling THE POWER OF SPIRITUAL ENGAGEMENT. And I'll talk to you a little bit later in the message about just exactly what is spiritual engagement, but in the first chapter of Acts Jesus gathered that small band of believers, those disciples around Him on the Mount of Olives. There heads were spinning, these men who had followed Christ for three years. They'd been through the experience, the terrible ordeal of the cross, but then the exhilaration of the resurrection. They'd been with Christ for 40 days. He had taught them, instructed them, prepared them, and now these final words are being offered by Jesus before He ascends up into heaven.

And as He's speaking to them, He is laying out a plan for success, a strategy by which the message and the mission of Jesus will be continued and carried on through those who would follow Him. It's important to listen when the Lord speaks. You know, if you're a ballplayer, you learn to listen to your coaches. And it's the coach's responsibility to get the team ready, ah, to prepare every person to succeed; to outline a strategy, a game plan and then to give them the tools in order to execute that game plan.

I guess my favorite coach of all time was Tom Landry. Twenty-nine years head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, our beloved brother in Christ, faithful Christian, used his platform as a coach to share his faith. One day Tom Landry was asked, "How do you do it? How do you keep producing winning teams year after year? How do you take a group of individuals with their own agendas and forge them into a unit, to build them into a team that wins so successfully"? Tom Landry said this: "My job is to get men to do what they don't want to do in order to achieve what they always wanted to achieve". Of course, what football players always wanted to achieve would be championships. Super Bowl trophies! And Tom Landry knew how to prepare his team year after year to win.

Well, Jesus knew how to prepare us to win and He shows us how we are to succeed in life an in our witness for Him by teaching us to "Power Up", and that's the title of this message, "Powering Up". But the problem is many Christians don't know the power of God in their lives. And as a result there's something missing, the picture is not clear. Our witness is not strong. We're blanking out and breaking up, rather than giving a powerful signal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And so Jesus gathered these men as He gathers us today. It's as though we are in a locker room and He's outlining the strategy and the game plan and He tells us exactly what we're to do.

Look at verse 4: "And while staying with them He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, which" He said, "you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now". And so when they had come together, they asked Him, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom of Israel"? He said to them, "It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has fixed in His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth".

These disciples of Jesus were misfitted for the opportunity they were given. They were uneducated; they were untrained, and yet something happened that transformed their lives. And that something that happened was exactly what Jesus promised, the gift of the Father, the presence of His own Spirit, the baptism of the Spirit. And as a result they were filled with fire. They powered up to change the world. And as Jesus challenged them to go into all the world and to make disciples, He did not leave them alone. He said, "I promise to be with you and as I am alive right now, I will be alive in you".

There is no human explanation for what happened in those early days of the church as the gospel exploded into the first century. And it is said of these who followed Christ, they turned the world upside down. There's no human explanation for that! This took place because of the arrival and the anointing of the Spirit of God upon their lives! They would later say, describing what was going on, "We are witnesses of these things and so also is the Holy Spirit". And the Holy Spirit of God revolutionized, revitalized these reluctant fearful men, transforming them into bold, brave hearted witnesses for Christ. The Holy Spirit controlled their lives. And the story of Acts, as we're going to be pursuing it in the coming days and weeks, as the story of God taking common men and women and doing an uncommon thing as they were spiritually engaged, powerfully committed to share the Gospel of Christ.

What is spiritual engagement? Spiritual engagement is a daring, vital faith in Christ. Spiritual engagement is connecting with God in inviting, engaging, elevating, inspiring worship. It is praying and knowing that your prayers are going to be answered. Spiritual engagement is a living relationship with Christ in which His gifts are manifested in your life and you serve Him with power and your witness is strong and vital, your marriage is growing, your family relationships are committed, and this spiritual transformation, this spiritual engagement in your life is a result of the work of God's Holy Spirit in our lives!

So many Christians are tired of the superficial and are desiring the supernatural in their lives! They want to know can Jesus really change my life? Can Christ revolutionize my family? Can God really use me to make a difference in the world? Is there enough power for me to overcome the work of the enemy against me and the forces of evil flowing in this world? Is there enough power that I can overcome temptation and the struggles and win life's most important and significant battles? Is there power? And the answer is Yes, there is power and that is the power of Jesus Christ by His Spirit in us! The prelude to this power is what I want to think about for just a moment. Because the first thing that Jesus said about powering up is not to go but to wait. He said, "What I want you to do is to wait right here in Jerusalem for the coming of the Spirit".

And we're told that's exactly what they did. They waited and they prayed together as one heart and one soul. And as a result they received the power of the presence of the Spirit in their lives. So how do we experience God's mighty power in our lives? We begin by engaging Him in prayer and waiting on God. Before you go and rush out, knocking things over and tearing things up, wait until the Spirit of God is filling your life! And if you will pray and invite the Spirit of God to invade your personality and fill your life, He will do it.

Another one of my favorite coaches is the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Tony Dungy. He recently told the story of his life in a book A Quiet Strength. It's a great title to describe his life because he taught us that you can win the right way. When the Colts won the Super Bowl championship last year. And Tony understands that God is giving him his coaching career as a platform in which he can share his faith. And in the book there's a chapter called "Defining Success", and it said something that is so good that I want to take the time in this message to share it with you:

"The competing views of success in our world often create an interesting tension. Society tends to define success in terms of accomplishments, awards, material possessions and profit margins. In the football business winning is the only thing that matters. God's Word, however, presents a different definition of success. One centered on a relationship with Jesus Christ and a love for God that allows us to love and serve others. God gives each one of us unique gifts, abilities and passions. How well we use those qualities to have an impact on the world around us determines how successful we really are. If we get caught up in chasing what the world defines as success, we can use our time and talent to do some great things. We might even become famous. But in the end what will it mean? What will people remember us for? Are other people's lives better because we lived? Did we make a difference? Did we use to the fullest the gifts and abilities God gave us? Did we give our best effort and did we do it for the right reasons? God's definition of success is really one of significance. The significant difference our lives can make in the lives of others, the significance doesn't show up in win-loss records, long resumes or the trophies gathering dust on our mantels. It's found in the hearts and lives of those we come across who are in some way better because of the way we live".

That, my friends, is spiritual engagement. It is understanding the purpose of life. That whatever God has given us to do, that we are to do it for His glory to change lives. It's all about the journey. It's not about the ball for Tony Dungy. It's about the journey, the lives we touch, the world that we change, the legacy that we live and that we leave. And the prelude to this kind of power is, before we engage, to disengage and to wait on God, and to pray that the power would come. Too many churches would function and are functioning business as usual without this power of the Holy Spirit! In fact the Holy Spirit could leave most churches and everything would go on just as they've been going on, with no power and no success! We must pray for the power.

Alan Redpath said, "Never undertake more Christian work than can be covered with continual prayer". God shows us what to do and then He empowers us to do it. And we're grateful for that. Then there's the promise of spiritual power. Jesus called it the promise of the Father. Of course, the Holy Spirit is not a force, an impersonal force, but rather the third person of the God. He is God Himself in the Spirit. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. And in verse 8 He speaks of the power that comes when the Holy Spirit comes. "But you shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you".

Now what kind of power is He talking about? The same power according to Paul in the book of Ephesians that brought Jesus out of the grave! The word that He uses is the word, we get our word dynamite from this word power. But perhaps, while there is explosive power in the work of the Holy Spirit, most likely, most often, the better description of this is dynamic power! A continual source of strength and energy within us! And because God enables us and equips us, we are ready for anything in life. Let me tell you what Jesus said about this power. He said to His disciples, He said, "These works that I have done, you will do. (John 14:12.) And greater works than these you will do".

Can you imagine how stunned they must have been when Jesus said, "What I have done is just the beginning of what you're going to do and greater works of the Father". Certainly greater in numeric, in number because through the years the works have continued. And that's really what the book of Acts is about; it's the continuation of the work of Jesus Christ. Luke who wrote the Gospel that bears his name also wrote the Acts, and what we have is that continuation of the work of Christ through His church. Now no longer in His physical body, limited in time and space to one place, one time, but now in His spiritual body, His church, He is everywhere. And everywhere around the world that the sun shines, it shines on someone preaching the Gospel. Every night someone is preaching the Gospel, 24/7, around the world the Gospel is being proclaimed.

In our own ministry, through PowerPoint Ministry there is never a place on the earth where the sun sets on the message that we are delivering together, the Gospel of Jesus Christ! That is an incredible thing! That's power! But on a personal level, on a personal level, God has called every one of us to reach the person nearest to us. Did you know that God will give you the power to reach your friends and your family members for Christ? Did you know that God holds each one of us personally responsible for the people nearest us? That we would share Christ with them in the power of the Spirit! And that brings me to the final word which is the purpose of spiritual power. Because the purpose of spiritual power is clear, isn't it?

Verse 8 says: "And you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses". My witnesses... The mission is given! Now it's our time in the power of God's Spirit to execute it. Some of you senior saints here this morning... did you know you can't retire from the work of Jesus Christ? Did you know retirement is not in God's vocabulary? That we're called for the rest of our lives full time until Jesus comes to share Him? We are witnesses of these things! What things? Jesus said, "You are witnesses unto Me"!

The word, the witness, the message, the world needs to hear, must hear is the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! His death, His burial, His resurrection, period! The book of Acts, chapter 4, verse 12 says Jesus is the only one who can save people! Everyone, listen to me, everyone needs Jesus! And Jesus said, "You are to tell My story". We can do a lot of things, and we should strengthen the weak, we should help the fallen, we should heal the sick, comfort the sick, we should feed the hungry, bless the poor. But above all else, we can do all these things as we should, but miss the point of what Jesus told us to do. He said, "Be My witnesses! Tell people about Me"!

You don't have to have a spectacular story to tell somebody else about Jesus. Don't tell them about yourself, tell them about Jesus. Tell them about the day you remember when Christ changed your life by the power of His Spirit! All of us can do this. This past week one of the great Christians of our generation passed away, went home to be with the Lord, Dr. D. James Kennedy. As a young seminary student, preparing for the ministry, I was introduced to Jim Kennedy, the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. And I was introduced to him through a book that he had written and a ministry, a program that he had designed, called Evangelism Explosion. It became a textbook for our seminary class room.

The purpose of Evangelism Explosion was to teach people, to train people how to share their faith, reproducing reproducers. And the whole idea is that we must unleash the laity, that we must train God's people to effectively and proactively share the faith. Jim Kennedy had come to faith in Jesus Christ as a young man. He was sleeping in one Sunday morning after a late night. And he was awaken by a radio preacher by the name of Donald Barnhouse. And he heard two questions that morning that changed his life. The first question that Barnhouse asked as he was waking up was: Are you certain that you're going to heaven when you die? Are you for sure that you're on your way to heaven?

Well, by now Jim Kennedy was wide awake because he didn't know whether he was going to heaven or not. Figured he wasn't. And then he heard a second question: When you stand before God and He asks you, "Why should I let you into My heaven?" what would you say? Kennedy didn't have a clue. He later realized that those two questions are diagnostic of a spiritual condition of every person and he formed them into the introduction of his presentation because you see Jim Kennedy and received Jesus Christ. He was called into the ministry. He started a church called the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. He became a great cultural warrior. But most of all at heart he was a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. And not only himself but in reproducing himself he ushered millions of people into the kingdom of God because of the witness of Jesus Christ.

And as a young man I was taken by that approach, and in our churches in Oklahoma, our church down in Florida and here at Prestonwood we have always worked on that principle, that simple basic principle, that strategy that Jesus gave us so long ago. That all of us, not just the professional types, not just the religious clerics, but that every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is given the responsibility to be witnesses unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and then we would be given the power to do it.

And I love what Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ said, "Witnessing is sharing Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God". And when we do that, God moves with power. You can get all excited about the Holy Spirit, but if you are not being led by the Spirit of God to tell people about Jesus Christ, you're missing the point. Jesus said, "He shall speak, he shall testify of Me". And the Spirit of God is given to us that we might share Christ. Here's what James Kennedy said: "The solution to the desperate problems of our world is for us to become involved in our culture and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If Christians would do these two things our nation and ultimately our world would be transformed almost overnight".

I believe that's true. So how do you power up? You believe what you just heard, you receive the Word of God and the witness of God's Spirit today. Because some of you think, "Well this is for somebody else; it's not for me". Believe! Believe that God can fill you, that God can use you! Ask Him to invade your personality and to give you the words to say as you witness and share your faith, as you grow in your faith, as you give your faith away. Understand that that is true success when you power up in Jesus' name.

I close with this: Oliver Cromwell, the leader of Britain, was concerned that they had a lack of silver in the country, the coinage, the silver coinage in the country, so he sent some of the soldiers out across the country to find silver to make the coins. Soldiers came back and said, "Sir, the only silver we found was the silver in the statues of the saints standing in the cathedrals". Cromwell smiled and said, "Good! Go melt those saints and get them in circulation"! May the Spirit of God baptize us with fire, that we would be melted and molded into the image of Christ and get in circulation for Him! Power up, church! Power up, believer, and God will use you as a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ!

Father, we thank You for Your word to us today. And we pray that what we've heard, what we've seen, what we've experience would change us from the inside out. Lord, we do want You. We wait for You. We pray for the power of Your Spirit. We ask that You move in our lives. And Lord, that You will sweep across this church, every one of us, Lord, that we would discover gears that we didn't even know we had, gifts to serve You and to be used by You and a mouth to speak of Your grace and of Your power. For we pray in Jesus' name. AMEN.

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