I am sitting in a safe and comfortable hotel in Turkey. I have everything I need at my fingertips. A coffee machine. My bible. (OK, perhaps I should have reversed those.) A comfortable bed -- with PILLOWS !!! (I love pillows.) A small refrigerator to chill the water bottles they deliver everyday. Every morning I can take the elevator downstairs and they have a substantial breakfast with more than enough.
This morning as I was sitting in the breakfast room, sipping coffee and eating my eggs, something totally unexpected happened. My phone popped up with a warning that it was almost out of power. The problem wasn't supply. I have close to a dozen different power outlets in my hotel room. PLENTY of supply. Nope, the problem was that I was so exhausted last night that I forgot to plug my phone in when I collapsed into the bed. I was more focused upon pillows than phones.
I rely upon my phone, just as most of you do. Especially here in Turkey, it is my link to multiple significant things going on on five continents. So, as soon as I returned to my room, I connected my phone to a power plug to get it recharged.
Then I sat down to do my morning office, read the scriptures and pray.
And I realized that I had done for my SPIRIT precisely what I had done for my phone -- reconnected to the source of necessary power for ongoing operations.
Today's verse tells us to PRAY IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. You cannot do that unless you're connected to the Holy Spirit. No connection to the Spirit, no power.
Actually the list of similarities is quite astounding. One day during the past week I was awoken by a call related to an urgent crisis in the Afghanistan project I'm dealing with. I went straight from bed to my computer and my phone, addressing the issues. One of our people had been arrested and was being held by the national police. The situation threatened a number of significant aspects of our operation. My key person on the ground, the one upon whom I rely for leadership of our day to day operations ,messaged me in the middle of the crisis and warned me that the police were going door to door in the very place we were hiding refugees. He said, "If I have not responded within 6 hours, I am probably taken by police."
Here's my confession. On that particular day I never got to my daily office, reading the scriptures, or my regular time of prayer. (I know, you're shocked!!! The BISHOP didn't read his bible ?!?!?! Oh my, what is this world coming to ????)
After about twenty hours of intense drama, serious negotiation by our team leader and intercession I DID finally get back to my pillows. I was exhausted.
The point of the illustration is that dealing with one emergency after another will sap the power out of you, and you had better have a means of "plugging in" to get recharged. Because, if you do not, then sooner or later you will find yourself powerless.
If you are going to PRAY IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, you need to be connected.
One of the things you quickly learn if you do a lot of international travel is that you'd better have the right plug if you expect to be connected to the power outlet. As I shared yesterday, Jesus is THE way, THE truth and THE life. He insists that no one comes to the Father except through Him. He's the only PLUG into the source of real spiritual power and life.
So STEP ONE to get connected is to come to Jesus and accept the gift of gracious forgiveness He purchased for you upon the cross. No other "plug" will work. You cannot earn your forgiveness, you can only appeal to the grace of Jesus. He has paid the price for all your sin. All you can do is accept the free gift of grace.
Then you need to keep plugged in to the source of His power. Grace doesn't eliminate effort, only earning. We still need to pray. Still need to read His word and seek His wisdom. We still need to live out our faith in His power.
In his letter to the Ephesian church, the apostle Paul tells them to "be filled with the Spirit." It is not totally evident in English, but the Greek tense indicates a CONSTANT PRESENT ACTION. So the "Bishop Robert Version" of this verse would be "always be being filled with the Holy Spirit." It is not something that is supposed to stop, it is something that is supposed to be happening all the time, every day.
To PRAY IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT we need to have the Holy Spirit within us. We need to be yielded to Him, His gifts, His expressing Himself through our lips and hands.
Paul's letter to the Ephesian church wasn't the first time he'd spoken to them about the Holy Spirit. When Paul first visited Ephesus and found some believers there, his first question to them was “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Their response was to admit that they had never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.
Well, THERE IS !!!! And He wants to fill you with His power so that you can be an effective witness for Jesus Christ.
Under the Old Covenant, God's people were called to be witnesses for Him. In Isaiah 43:10, God tells His covenant people, "You are My witnesses."
Under the New Covenant, It is Jesus in Acts 1:8 who tells His disciples that they will be HIS WITNESSES after they have been filled with the Holy Spirit. It would be the equivalent of high treason for Jesus to usurp God's call for His people to be His witnesses -- except that Jesus IS God in the flesh. Emmanuel, the name announced by the angels, means "GOD WITH US." Jesus clearly claimed to be God, His disciples knew it. So for them to become HIS witnesses made perfect sense.
STEP ONE, as I said, is your relationship to Jesus. Paul's question follows as STEP TWO. Receive the Holy Spirit. In fact, "always be being filled with the Holy Spirit."
Let Him lead your speaking, your acting, your life. Let Him fill you with His power and His gifts. Let Him lead you as you pray.
Don't forget to get yourself "plugged in" to God's power --
PRAY IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT