To Be A Christian of Power
By Pastor Chen Anti
Bible Verse Reading: 2 Timothy 1: 7, 2: 1
"God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline." "You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." "Power" means strength, ability and it is opposite to cowardice and weakness. Those who are afraid won't have strength and who are weak will be utterly disheartened. "To be strong" is a characteristic of a Christian. But when shall we be strong? And how shall we have power?
1. When shall we be strong?
1.1 When we are suffering and in adversity, we should be strong. Human beings are weak and it is hard to avoid getting sick. Usually we are disheartened and feel hopeless in such a situation. Paul is used greatly by God, but at times he became weak. A thorn was given him in the flesh. Three times he appealed to the Lord to have the thorn leave him. But God told him, "My grace is sufficient for you." (Ref. 2 Corinthians 12: 7- 9) Paul then obeyed the Lord and continued working for the Lord. Trophimus and Paul's assistant Timothy both suffered from illness, and they persistently served the Lord as they used to. John 11 records that Lazarus, the one loved by the Lord, suffered from serious disease and the Lord did not cure him of his illness immediately. Later he passed away but our Lord raised him from the dead, which revealed His miraculous power. Luke 16 records the begging Lazarus, who was covered with sores. He was hopeless to survive, even the dogs would come and lick his sores. But he revered and loved the Lord. And ultimately, God gave him eternal life. We see from these people that in spite of their weakness in health, they worship the Lord all the same and always strong and courageous. Job lost his children and property within one day and was inflicted loathsome sores. His wife, not understanding him, reproached him. But he said, "The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." (Ref. Job 1: 21) His faith grew from hearing of God into seeing God. (Ref. Job 42: 5) Job sets a good example for us. Life involves suffering, but we should not be weak or disheartened. As long as we depend on God and are with God, we can be strong and courageous.
1.2 When we are in adversity and disheartened, we should be strong. Life very often involves sad things, so people often give blessings to each other, saying, "Wish everything goes well with you." God does not promise that everything will be well with us, but HE promises to care about us and give us peace when we are in trials and tribulations.
Joseph's life is full of frustrations. He was born in a rich man's home and sold as a slave. His brothers tried to kill him, and they sold him finally. But God's mercy was with him, he was not killed, instead, he was highly valued by his master. When his master's wife seduced him, he ignored. He was framed up and wronged by her and sent to prison. But relying on the Lord, he kept strong when there seemed a dark future awaiting him. Blessings come after suffering and the sun shines after it is rainy. God gave grace to him. He was promoted out of the prison and became the prime minister of Egypt. Since God allows inflictions on us, we must look up to HIM and HE will definitely bless us!
1.3 When we are attacked by enemies, we should be strong. David was fearless when he faced his powerful enemy Goliath. He said to the enemy, "This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down…and…give the dead bodies…to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth…" (Ref. 1 Samuel 17:46) As expected, he defeated his enemy. Joshua and Caleb were full of confidence when they faced their powerful enemies in Canaan, and God blessed them richly and gave them the pleasant land of Canaan. Maybe you are not admitted by college, maybe there is disharmony in your family, or maybe your work is not so satisfactory. But whatever situations we are in, we should always be strong and courageous.
2. How shall we have power and be strong?
We are not strong by ourselves, but by the grace of the Lord:
2.1 "You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 2: 1) The grace is the saving grace fulfilled by the Lord. The death of Lord Jesus on the Cross has defeated the power of death. Superficially, it seems that Jesus was powerless and crucified. Nevertheless, it shows the wisdom and the power of God. God is love. Lord Jesus sacrificed himself for the sinners out of his love for us and out of his forgiveness of us. His was crucified on the Cross for the salvation of human beings. The Cross shows God's grace and justice.
2.2 Being with the Lord, we have power. "Immanuel" is the precious promise given to us by God. We will feel lonely without God because we cannot get help from human power. Before Moses passed away, he told Joshua, "Be strong and bold…He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." (Ref. Deuteronomy 31: 7 - 8) God also promised Joshua, "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Do not be frightened or dismayed." (Ref: Joshua 1: 5- 9) Being with the Lord is the secret to Joshua's victory. "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear not evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff-they comfort me. (Psalms 23: 4) When the Titanic was sinking, the Christians on board peacefully sang the hymns in front of death while other people were dismayed and frightened. May the Lord be with us and lead us in the right paths.
2.3 Depending on the Lord's truth, we have power. "Fasten the belt of truth around your waist…" (Ref. Ephesians 6:14) We do not depend on physical body for strength, but rather, on the guidance of the Lord to win. Truth is our philosophy and gives us directions. It's opposite is absurd and evil. Let's hold on the truth and fight against evils. God's love is in our heart and we must long for his love. Stop evils with powerful truth and we must not wink at evils. Love "does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth." (1 Corinthians 13: 6) We should never allow heretical beliefs. May that we always learn from Jesus and have strength from God. "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)