Lesson 11 -- first quarter 1997
February 9, 1997
© Copyright 1996, Christian Light Publications
"Full of faith and power." Think of it! What would you do if you had this kind of fullness? Maybe go on tour, healing many people of their incurable diseases and freeing others from demonic bondage. Maybe be an ambulance and fire truck chaser. Maybe provoke some Mt. Carmel confrontations with false prophets and satanic religions. Maybe put on convince-the-skeptic demonstrations of God's power. Of what use is it anyway to be "full of faith and power"?!
Note that our lesson text addresses other manifestations of faith and power besides great wonders and miracles. From where does Stephen's renown come? Not from those wonders and miracles! We know Stephen best for his bold preaching and martyrdom. I submit to you that "the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake" were just as much an expression of his faith and power as were the wonders and miracles. So, of what use is faith and power?
Boldness. It seems we humans tend to suffer one of two extreme afflictions in this area: cringing, cowering cowardice or brazen, bullying boldness. Sometimes I think most people either have a spine so flimsy you can't prop them up or else use their solid, rigid backbone to whack others over the head. Both of these extremes are wrong; neither of them is the boldness that comes from faith and power. Christian boldness knows the truth and stands for it and on it without apology. Christian boldness is also characterized by that heavenly wisdom spoken of in James 3:17.
Witnessing. Faith takes the witness out in confidence, knowing that the work is the Lord's. Faith says, "I will preach the truth. I'll trust the Spirit to do the convincing." Faith believes that God will use even the most faltering human words to bring about divine accomplishments in the lives of people. Power makes our witnessing assured and compelling. Power allows the witness to confront all opposition in all realms as he tenaciously strives to wrench men's souls from the claws of the evil one.
Edifying. Building up others often proves more wearisome and discouraging that building a house, sewing a dress, planting a garden or anything else that requires the orderly arranging of inert, uncooperative matter. Enter the power of God in our lives, giving us endurance to not quit before we are done. Enter faith in God, filling us with patience toward the individual and confidence in the results. Be a Stephen in your congregation; encourage, exhort, lift up, comfort, instruct, build.
Purity. Did you keep yourself pure this week? As darkness extends across the planet and sin's stains suffuse souls all around, protecting personal purity becomes progressively more problematic. Whether we talk about our bodies, our thoughts, our spirits, our values, our emotions, our desires, our activities or our friends, purity is tough. How will being "full of faith and power" make the difference in your life?
Commitment. The heavy tramp of disloyalty is gradually stomping out commitment. Why do individuals turn away from or even against those people and those values for which they once stood firm? I believe one answer is a lack of faith in God and His character. If I don't believe God is steady, sure and certain, why should I be? Another answer is powerlessness. The test of commitment comes and we collapse.
May the Lord bless His church with members of every generation who will yield unconditionally to Him. Till that happens, we will be unable to cast so much as a shadow of faith, power, wisdom and Godly spirit!
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