[Divine power] is displayed not in dramatic manifestations that intrigue men but in lives of quiet confidence and steady persistence that glorify God.
We have sought to circumscribe the ministry of God’s Spirit, despite the fact that it is depicted in terms of two of the most uncontrollable aspects of nature – wind and fire. We have settled for adequacy when God’s purpose for us is abundance.
Our reliance on the Spirit is not intended to foster an attitude of “I can’t do it,” but one of “I can do it through Him who strengthens me.” The Christian should never complain of want of ability and power.
When it is a question of God’s almighty Spirit, never say, "I can’t."
For Jesus, time alone with God was not an option… The gospel of Luke tells us that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Lk. 5:16)… This is precisely where you and I so often miss out on all that God has for us. Unlike Jesus, we attempt to live life in our own energy. We think we can keep giving out without getting replenished. Then, wearied and weakened by the demands of life and ministry, we become impatient and annoyed with the very ones God has sent us to serve. Rather than exhibiting a gracious, calm, joyous spirit, we become uptight, frazzled, and frenzied (people), resenting, rather than welcoming, the people and opportunities God brings into our lives.
Don’t ever forget that you cannot do what God has called you to do. You cannot parent that child, love that husband, care for that elderly parent, submit to that boss, teach that Sunday school class, or lead that small-group Bible study. God specializes in the impossible, so that when the victory is won and the task is complete, we cannot take any credit. Others know we didn’t do it, and we know we didn’t do it. We must always remember that we can only live the Christian life and serve God through the power of His Holy Spirit. As soon as we think we can handle it on our own, we become useless to Him. We have to be willing to get out of the way, let God take over, and let Him overshadow us.
Dull. I find, by experience, that, let me make Resolutions, and do what I will, with never so many inventions, it is all nothing, and to no purpose at all, without the Spirit of God; for if the Spirit of God should be as much withdrawn from me always, as for the week past, notwithstanding all I do, I should not grow, but should languish, and miserably fade away. I perceive, if God should withdraw his Spirit a little more, I should not hesitate to break my Resolutions, and should soon arrive at my old state. There is no dependence on myself.
While it is true that people are converted and matured through expositional preaching, the word of the gospel must be wedded to the Spirit’s work in order for conviction of sin, regeneration, repentance and faith, and lifelong perseverance to come. Or to put it differently, “Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Cor. 3:7)
It is when believers are out of answers, confidence, and strength, with nowhere else to turn but to God that they are in a position to be most effective. No one in the kingdom of God is too weak to experience God’s power, but many are too confident in their own strength. Physical suffering, mental anguish, disappointment, unfulfillment, and failure squeeze the impurities out of believers’ lives, making them pure channels through which God’s power can flow.
Without His divine empowerment, preaching the gospel would be nothing more than dead letters falling upon dead hearts.
Mortification from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, unto the end of a self-righteousness is the soul and substance of all false religion… The Spirit alone is sufficient for this work. All ways and means without Him are useless. He is the great efficient. He is the One who gives life and strength to our efforts.
If the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives, if He is convicting us of sin, if He is giving us faith in Jesus Christ, if He is persuading us that the Bible is God’s Word, if He is enabling us to call God Father, if He is making us fruitful in ministry, if He is helping us grow in grace – if the Spirit is doing any of these things at all – then no matter how much we are struggling in the Christian life, we have God’s seal of our eternal salvation.
Humble people are weak in themselves. Humble people then because of that weakness depend on the Lord. And those who depend on the Lord are really strong because they are strong in His strength and not their own.
No one is too weak to experience God’s power, but sadly our churches are filled with people that are too strong and too confident in themselves. There is no taste for God’s power unless you are convinced you need it. The physical suffering and mental anguish and disappointment and failure are not roadblocks, but the actual channels where God’s grace can flow and His power can be manifested in and through us. When we are weak we are strong when we depend on Christ.
Without the Spirit of God we can do nothing. We are as ships without wind or chariots without steeds. Like branches without sap, we are withered. Like coals without fire, we are useless. As an offering without the sacrificial flame, we are unaccepted.