As a secondary English teacher, I oftentimes find myself frustrated with my students when I give them an assignment, show them an example of the end result, and model for them the process it takes to get there. Then, when it is time for them to perform, they come up short. They do very little of the work, or they do not do it the way that I instructed, but they still want a grade as if they have. Sometimes I feel like they want me to do the work for them and are just unwilling to apply the abundance of tools I have given them. I feel frustrated because I have done all I can to prepare them for the task at hand, but they simply won’t do what it takes to be successful.
Jesus felt this frustration towards His disciples. He had given them instructions, provided them an example to follow and even modeled for them over and over how to walk in the authority and power that had been given to them. We have a picture of this frustration in Matthew chapter 17. Jesus’ disciples came face-to-face with a demon that had possessed a boy, but were unable to cast it out. Jesus rebuked them publicly by calling them “faithless.” When asked why they were not able to perform, Jesus responds in the well-known verse Matthew 17:20 : ”Because of your unbelief, for assuredly I say to you, if you have faith of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘ Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (NKJV)
We love to quote this scripture especially during our seasons of tests and trials, but we must not leave out verse 21: “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting”. (NKJV) Our faith needs to be accompanied with a devoted life. As Jesus approached the end of His ministry, He felt it imperative to impart in His disciples the principles of His power so that when He was no longer present physically, His disciples would be able to continue the work He had assigned them.
I believe the same frustration Jesus felt towards his disciples He also feels towards us. In a Satan-ruled world where spiritual warfare is at an all-time high and all Hell is breaking loose in our schools, our communities, on our jobs, and maybe even in our own homes, the church seems content in operating at 50% In John 14:12, Jesus declares: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (NKJV) That’s power! Jesus said we will do greater works than He did. Throughout my studies of the ministry of Jesus, I have learned that He performed some awesome works. He opened blinded eyes, He unstopped deaf ears, He healed infirmities of the mind, body, and spirit, He cast out demons, He even raised people from the dead and we should be doing even more! Jesus would not have said it if it wasn’t true. So, why is the church still jumping and shouting over new cars and new homes? Jesus never performed a miracle for himself, but the church seems to be consumed with “Self”. This shift in focus of the church has greatly depleted our power.
Jesus gives us a step-by-step example of how to operate in the fullness of the power He has given us. After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. He then fasted for forty days and forty nights and was led into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted of the devil.(Matthew 3:16-4:3) In every situation in which Jesus was tempted, He reflected on the word of God and He spoke the word with authority over His situation. In these scenes, He has given us the five principles of walking in His power:
- Be born again. The baptism of Jesus is a picture of the need to die to our earthly selves and resurrect as saints, people set apart for God. Water baptism does not “save” us. It is a public declaration of our desire to be one with Christ and take part in his death and resurrection. It is one way we declare to the world, “I belong to Jesus.”
- Receive the Holy Spirit. When Jesus arose from the water, a dove descended from Heaven and landed on Him. (Matthew 3:16) The dove represents the Holy Spirit. Jesus wanted us to know that the Holy Spirit was essential to becoming who we are destined to be. The Holy Spirit is a teacher, comforter, and helper. (John 14:16, 26) When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, our lives change. We begin to walk, talk, and live a life worthy of our calling. We are able to love our enemies who despitefully use us. We begin to take on the mind of Christ. What is important to Him becomes important to us. The Holy Spirit is essential for advancing the Kingdom of God. All of the good works in the world cannot replace a holy and set apart life led by the Holy Spirit.3.
- Yield your life. When Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights, He was providing an example on how to yield oneself wholly as vessel for God’s service. He modeled how to be a living sacrifice worthy and acceptable unto God. (Romans 12:1) He starved His body in order to show us how to walk after the Spirit and not the flesh. (Galatians 5:16) We are called to crucify our flesh daily. (Galatians 5:24) To deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him. (Luke 9:23-24) Some of us must deny ourselves that which we desire on a daily basis in order to yield ourselves completely to Him. If we have one foot in the world still holding on to what is important to us, there is no way we can be effective in fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives. The songwriter says, “I’ll give myself away so you can use me. My life is not my own, to you I belong. Here I am. Here I stand. Lord my life is in Your hands. All my dreams, all my plans, Lord I place them in Your hands.” Have you ever just listened to the words of that song? Do you know what it means to yield your life? I believe many of us are missing this. We are still trying to fulfill our own personal goals and dreams. We believe because these things aren’t sinful or evil, there is nothing wrong with them. We need to seek the Kingdom of God FIRST (Matthew 6:33). He wants all of you. Your dreams, your plans, your goals, your will. If you truly want to walk in the power of God, you have to give it all and trust that His plans for you are best.
- Be a student of the Word. When Jesus was tempted, the first thing He did was reflect on the written word of God. Over and over, He defeated the enemy because He had an understanding of what had been “written”. Jesus didn’t have to study the word, He is the Word! (John 1:1), but He wanted us to know how important it is to know the word for ourselves. We have to study the word of God and hide in our hearts so that in times of trial, temptation, and trouble, we have truth we can stand on. The Holy Spirit assists us in this area by bringing to our remembrance the word we have studied that is applicable to our situations. (John 14:26) The word of God is a weapon; it’s powerful; it’s sharper than any two-edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12) It is a guide in the darkness when we don’t know where to go because it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. (Psalm for:105) When the Holy Spirit pulls back the curtain of your heart, what is in your arsenal? Do you have an array of Word that can be used in diverse trials? Or is your supply depleted?
- Speak the word with authority. The last of our principles is the most important because it is the culmination of all the above and the one we oftentimes leave out of the equation. We must speak the Word over our situation and take authority. When God created the earth and everything in it, He used the power of words. He spoke “it” and “it” happened. When He created us in His image, He gave us the authority to do the same. After God created Adam, He told Him to name the animals. Whatever He called them, they became. (Genesis 2:20) Adam even named his helpmeet. He spoke and things happened. God gave Adam dominion and charged Him with the responsibility of subduing the earth. We have power to rule and conquer all that is beneath us. When Jesus spoke privately with His disciples, He told them that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed they could SPEAK to a mountain. If we become one with Christ, accept Him as our savior, receive the gift of His Holy Spirit, yield our lives to Him through prayer, fasting, service, and sacrifice, study His word diligently, we will feel EMPOWERED with the faith we need to speak to the mountains in our lives. And they shall be moved!
Jesus has given us our assignments. The Great Commission calls us to go into all nations and make disciples. (Matthew 28:19) The enemy is waiting to tempt us with our eyes, our flesh, and our lives. He wants us to choose self over the assignment. He wants us weak and unprepared when the trial comes. When face-to-face with him, Satan wants us to feel powerless. Unfortunately, he has been succeeding in his plan. The church is weaker than ever. Jesus has shown us the end result. He has shown us the works we will do if we follow His plan. He has even modeled for us how to live and walk in the anointing of God. It is up to us to take everything He has given us and apply it. Some of us are waiting for God to speak. He has given you the power to change your surroundings. Use it!