Protection, New Life, and Power
I pray that you are well and encouraged. I discern, sadly, that many are not. To help combat this discouragement I give you today’s message. Please share this with others. Please know that I am happy to add people to my email list. Just forward me the emails.
Today we will continue to look at some of God’s promises. I am firmly convinced that most people have no idea how much God loves them. God loves us so very much. I also believe that most people have no idea how much God desires their fellowship. God really desires our fellowship. He desires our communication, our trust and faith, our love and worship. He even desires that we share our failures, as well as, our mistakes.
God, through his Holy Spirit, is constantly reaching out to us. We just discussed, a few weeks back, one way that God does this is through his prevenient grace, the grace that he pours out onto us before we even believe in him or are aware of him.
God protects us. He protected me early in my life before I had faith of any kind. My guess would be that many of you can tell stories about how he has protected you. I want us to begin with Psalm 121 today. This psalm was originally a pilgrimage song. A song sung while on the pilgrims trail to Jerusalem or while traveling. It is a dialogue of confession and assurance. Assurance that God does indeed protect his children, all of them. Psalm 121,
“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
Let’s contextualize this: Just imagine traveling in Israel 2200 years or so ago, humming this tune or singing this as a song. This would be something that you would have memorized as a Jewish child. A promise from God that you took to heart and believed as a child, then, when an adult, you taught it to your children. It was part of your belief system, something that you’d always known, something that you would never think of doubting.
Now, let’s come back to modern times. Please allow me to update the wording somewhat for a modern paraphrase of Psalm 121,
“I lift up my eyes to the long line of tail lights – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth.
He will not let your car swerve or drift – he who watches over you will not fall asleep at the wheel, indeed, he who watches over his flock will neither doze or sleep.
The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your AC in the humid summer and heat in the winter, do not fret. You will be safe both day and night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm – No matter where you are or what you are doing God will watch over you today and forever.”
God was and is the unsleeping guardian over Israel. He is also our never sleeping protector today. Ever present and constantly on duty, God is always on watch for his flock. Are you one of his flock? Do you know the shepherd’s voice? If not, why not?
Let’s go to our next promise, 2 Corinthians 5, where God promises us something unique, a new life, a fresh start, a clean and fresh beginning for our life. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15,
“For Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. (In other words, when Christ died on the cross, he died on that cross in our place). And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
Verse 14 begins with an interesting point, Christ’s love is what compels the born again believer. When I was a kid, my father’s switch or belt compelled me. As I learned to drive, a fear of a ticket compelled me to watch my speed. As a Christian, knowledge of Christ’s love for me compels me to no longer live for me and my wants and desires, but instead, to live for the one who took my place on the cross, Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17,
“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”
When we give our heart to Jesus, we are born again, and we have a new life. The old human and all of their ways of living are gone, they are new. This is a fresh start, a mulligan, for you golfers, a new beginning.
For a guy like me, with thirty years of dirty laundry living, this was an awesome feeling.
My past was no longer filled with shame and embarrassment, it was now, suddenly, my testimony, who I was before Christ. I was completely forgiven for all of my sins. No one else can do this except Christ. Are you living in the shame of your past? Why? Why would you, when you can call on the name of Jesus?
The last promise comes from the lips of Jesus himself. This promise is real, but it comes with responsibility. I’ll set the scene, Jesus is about to ascend away from the disciples up into heaven. The disciples are still confused about what is really happening. They ask Jesus, “ Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” This is what Jesus said to them, Acts 1:7-8,
“It is not for you to know the times or the dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The disciples were still thinking about the Old Covenant stuff, but this is New Covenant stuff. Holy Spirit power, it is a real power. Some of you understand this power, some of you do not. Some of you are figuring it out. I’ll try to help you understand.
It’s about trusting and believing in what the Holy Spirit teaches you. The more that you listen to and believe, the more power that you will receive.
If you feel as if you do not know the Spirit it is probably because you are arguing and debating with the Holy Spirit about what he’s trying to teach you. You are being stubborn and stiff necked about subject matter, you're clinging to the world and its beliefs, and this hinders your growth by encouraging within you an unteachable spirit. This frustrates you and your learning.
Have you ever said, "I just cannot understand the Bible"? If you have you are not alone. The Holy Spirit will "open your eyes" to the scriptures, if you let him. If you disagree constantly, in your mind, with what is being revealed to you through the Spirit, you are the definition of the double-minded person. James 1:5-8,
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."
I know many very smart people that this scripture describes. I love them very much and so does God. But they are either too stubborn or too proud to humble themselves to the Holy Spirit of God. I know that they are tired of being blown around on the sea of life.
Let go of the world and invite the Holy Spirit to reveal things to you. Welcome the Spirit as a teacher.
This is real power with the Spirit, including a power to not fear. A power to overcome fear. When you have it, you will want to take the testimony of your old self, and share with others what Jesus has done for you.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC