THE RESPONSIBILITY OF LIVING IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
24 OCTOBER 1993
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Thessalonians 2:1-4
There are many church members and people who claim to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, but a relatively small percentage of the people in the world actually do exhibit such a life.
If you have the power of the Holy Spirit, and you claim to have the gift of healing, then when you lay hands upon a sick person they will be healed, regardless of that person’s faith.
If you have the power of the Holy Spirit, and you claim to love as Christ loves, you will love even your enemies and others will see and believe.
If you have the power of the Holy Spirit, you don't have to perform any
miraculous signs or wonders, but by your life you will perform “spiritual heart
surgery” on others.
To many who are not in the Holy Spirit, words like love and compassion, and even more so, to act out our love and compassion, seems to them as foolishness and weakness, when in fact it is the proof of living in the power of the Holy Spirit.
If you have the power of the Holy Spirit, and you claim to be a leader, then you will exhibit Christ-like qualities, and others will follow your leadership and teaching.
Joshua the son of Nun had this leadership ability.
Let's begin by looking at his anointing, as recorded in Numbers 27:15-23.
And as we look at this passage, let's remember that Moses has been told by God that he will not enter the promised land.
15. Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying,
16. "May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation,
17. who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd."
Moses is exhibiting love and compassion for the people.
He is not jealous of them because they are going into the promised land and he is not.
He is seeking their well-being in the power of the Holy Spirit.
18. So the Lord said to Moses, "Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him;
19. and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation; and commission him in their sight.
20. "And you shall put some of your authority on him, in order that all the congregation of the sons of Israel may obey him.
The Lord doesn't want to take any chances that some of the people will doubt Joshua's power. He wants the entire congregation to know that his anointing is from God and not from man.
And I know with absolute certainty that the Lord desires to commission each and every one of us to His service, but we must be willing – as was Joshua.
21. “Moreover, he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the Lord. At his command they shall go out and at his command they shall come in, both he and the sons of Israel with him, even all the congregation.”
Remember that the Lord has commissioned some of you also: some of you to take care of the business affairs of the church, and others to visit those in need, and others to write inspirational letters and messages for the newspaper, and others to teach, and others with the gift of hospitality.
And there are many more jobs to be commissioned, for those who are willing to accept the responsibility: these could include such things and being a peacemaker to the world around us, in which we work to end the madness of war, capital punishment, and the suffering and exploitation of animals and the environment.
And the list goes on and on...
22. And Moses did just as the Lord commanded him; and he took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation.
23. Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses.
Some of you may be saying, "I am not a Moses or a Joshua. This can't be applicable to me."
Well, my dear friends; it can, and it is.
And just to prove my point, I want you to hear what some unknown writer added to the end of Deuteronomy many years after is was originally written, for he didn't want future generations to be discouraged when their commissioning was not as spectacular as was Moses'.
Listen to what we are told in Deuteronomy 34:9-12.
9. Now Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; and the sons of Israel listened to him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.
Part of the responsibility of living in the power of the Holy Spirit is to recognize that everything you receive from the Holy Spirit doesn't have to be new.
God is also a God of conservation, and He invented recycling.
He wants us to utilize our wisdom to incorporate the wisdom of others into ourselves, so that we multiply the power given to us all.
In this way each successive person and generation should be able to accomplish more than those who went before them.
Jesus told us this very fact in John 14:12.
12. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father.
Each of us here is potentially one of the "you" referred to in this verse.
And just in case we think only in terms of the spectacular, let's return to Deuteronomy 34:10.
10. Since then no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,
11. for all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and all his land,
12. and for all the mighty power and for all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.
This passage tells us that not everyone is a Moses, and that God deals with each of us in differing ways.
The passage also tells us that God only puts His power upon those who obey Him, as did Joshua.
Therefore, if we are looking for God to pour out some special anointing upon us, we had better be prepared to receive it.
Do we have within us the Godly wisdom of the ages?
We should; for it is recorded for us on the pages of our Bible, and to assimilate this wisdom into our power base, we must read and reread our Bible and study it and apply its wisdom to our lives.
Then and only then are we prepared to receive God's special anointing.
Remember, God doesn't want us to be a bad witness. He wants people to look up to His prophets and teachers, so that others will want what God's people have, and become like them.
I am afraid that a lot of Christians have the same problem that Jonah had. They want the power and the glory, but they don't want to do everything the Lord tells them to do.
Do you remember how the Lord called Jonah to go to Nineveh, and how he didn't want to go because he didn't want to see the people of Nineveh repent and be forgiven; so he tried to flee from the Lord and went to Tarshish and boarded a ship? (Jonah 1:2-3)
2. “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.”
3. But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
And after he suffered and finally went to Nineveh, and it happened as he feared it would, he prayed to the Lord. His prayer is one of the most interesting in the Bible.
Listen to what he said, in Jonah 4:2-3.
2. And he prayed to the Lord and said, "Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore, in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that Thou art a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.
3. "Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life."
There are many people, out here around us, who have fled from God and the church because they didn't like something or didn't want to accept any responsibility, or because of the hardness of heart found in the church from those who refuse to follow Jesus' loving and peacemaking examples.
And many of these same people are like the people of Nineveh; they only want some hope in their lives, so that things can be better than they are today.
Our commission as the church is to deliver that message to them.
But remember, it is not what we say that will convince them; it is our consistent life before them that will convince them of a better way of life for themselves.
In 1 Thessalonians 2, beginning at verse 1, Paul reminds them of his commission in coming to them. Listen to what he wrote:
1. For you yourselves know, brethren, that our corning to you was not in vain,
2. but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.
3. For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit;
4. but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts.
Does anyone here doubt that you, personally, have been entrusted with the gospel of Jesus Christ?
If you doubt, then also question whether or not you are really a Christian, for once we have accepted Christ in our hearts, we have also been entrusted with the gospel; we have also been given the responsibility to live as Christians.
When this happens, we become very much as Paul; or at least we should.
And we can't fake this either, for God indeed sees the intent of the heart.
So if we want to see the real power of the Holy Spirit poured out upon us and this community, then we must sincerely and consistently work at living with unconditional love and compassion, without exception, as the central focus of our lives.
This is our responsibility.
This is living in the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is being a believable Christian.
Your Comments are welcome
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