Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.
At one time or another, we’ve all glanced at our cell phone only to see that the battery is in the red zone. It has so little power that it might run out completely while we’re on an urgent call, or cause us to miss an important email or message.
All too often, our Christian life can look like it’s in the “red zone.” The unending demands of day-to-day life, family, work, and financial woes wear us out. On top of that, we’re discouraged by our sins and failures, and we feel powerless to follow the Lord. It seems like we barely have enough “juice” to deal with everything in our lives. We’re perpetually in a state of “low battery,” on the verge of completely running out.
Feeling drained and weakened indicates we’re in need of more spiritual power. But how do we get it?
In this post, we’ll read some verses in Philippians and Ephesians, along with their insightful notes from the New Testament Recovery Version, to discover the source of power for our Christian life.
Paul’s experience seen in Philippians
Let’s first go to the book of Philippians, which is a letter written by the apostle Paul to the believers in Philippi.
In every chapter of this book, Paul spoke of rejoicing:
1:18—“Christ is announced; and in this I rejoice; yes, and I will rejoice.”
2:17—“But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice, and I rejoice together with you all.”
3:1—“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord.”
4:4—“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
These weren’t just some superficial, upbeat utterances from Paul. We readily understand this when we realize Paul’s circumstances at the time he wrote this epistle. He wasn’t in an environment of comfort and ease; he was a prisoner in Rome. Yet even though his situation was so difficult, he repeatedly stated that he was rejoicing, and he encouraged the Philippian believers to rejoice in the Lord also.
Certainly no amount of positive thinking could have enabled Paul to rejoice in such a suffering situation. Yet in that most trying environment, somehow Paul was full of rejoicing.
How was that possible? In Philippians 4:13, Paul said:
“I am able to do all things in Him who empowers me.”
Paul wasn’t speaking theoretically. This was his personal testimony, his actual experience. He was able to do all things—including rejoicing in the Lord while enduring imprisonment—in Christ, who empowered him. Paul’s rejoicing was a manifestation of His being empowered in Christ.
Let’s read note 2 in the Recovery Version on the word empowers:
“The Greek word means makes dynamic inwardly. Christ dwells in us (Col. 1:27). He empowers us, makes us dynamic from within, not from without. By such inward empowering Paul was able to do all things in Christ.”
Paul was able to rejoice because Christ was empowering him, making him dynamic inwardly. As a result, instead of being oppressed and depressed by his circumstances, he was full of rejoicing.
To rejoice takes power
We know by experience that it doesn’t require much strength or effort to grumble about an unpleasant situation. Complaining about our environment comes all too easily to us. And the more we complain, the lower we’re brought.
But to rejoice, especially in a difficult environment, takes power.
So how can we be empowered like Paul was to live a joyful life?
Paul’s prayer for us
If we’re ignorant that such a power exists, we certainly won’t know how to experience it in our lives.
In Ephesians 1:17-23, Paul prayed for the believers to know four crucial spiritual matters. One of them is the surpassing greatness of God’s power, as verse 19 states:
“The surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the operation of the might of His strength.”
Note 1 on power in verse 19 says:
“According to the apostle’s prayer, the third thing we need to know is the surpassing greatness of God’s power toward us. This is very subjective and experiential to us today. God’s power toward us is surpassingly great. We need to know it and experience it.”
This power isn’t meant to be objective to us. God intended that we would know and experience this power today and every day.
The surpassingly great power of God
Note 2 on verse 19 explains this power in more detail:
“The surpassingly great power of God toward us is according to the operation of the might of His strength, which He caused to operate in Christ. God’s power toward us is the same as the power that He caused to operate in Christ. Christ is the Head and we are the Body. The Body participates in the power that operates in the Head.”
Christ is the Head, and we believers are His Body. This is how we can participate in the power that operates in Christ the Head.
Ephesians 1:19-22 describes how God caused this power to operate in Christ. It operated in Christ to raise Him from the dead, to seat Him in the heavenlies, to subject all things under His feet, and to make Him Head over all things to the church.
No wonder Paul called this a surpassingly great power.
Paul said in verse 19 that this power is “toward us who believe.” Then in verse 22, he said that Christ is Head over all things “to the church.”
Note 3 on Ephesians 1:22 explains the significance of the two phrases toward us who believe and to the church:
“To the church implies a kind of transmission. Whatever Christ, the Head, has attained and obtained is transmitted to the church, His Body. In this transmission the church shares with Christ in all His attainments: the resurrection from the dead, His being seated in His transcendency, the subjection of all things under His feet, and the headship over all things.
Toward us who believe (v. 19) and to the church indicate that the divine power, which includes all that the Triune God has passed through, has been installed into us once for all and is being transmitted into us continually, causing us to enjoy Christ richly and to have the proper church life as His Body, His fullness, the issue of God’s blessing mentioned previously.”
The surpassingly great power that overcame every negative thing and exalted Christ to the heavenlies is transmitted to the church, His Body. This power, which includes all the Triune God has passed through, has been installed in us who believe and is being continually transmitted into us! So we don’t need to plead for power; it’s in us already. To know this power is a tremendous thing.
But simply knowing about the power, and even knowing it has been installed in us, won’t benefit us that much. For us to actually experience the power that’s been installed in us, one more thing is required: we need to tap into it.
We need to plug in
A cell phone isn’t designed to run on its own power. It’s built with a battery that needs to be recharged. And though an electrical outlet may be available nearby, that isn’t enough. We have to deliberately plug the phone into the outlet so it can be charged.
Similarly, we weren’t designed to run on our own energy. Christ wants to be the source of power for us to do all things. And in our case, the divine power isn’t just near us; it’s in us, always available to us. But to experience the transmission of that surpassingly great power, we need to be “plugged into” Christ as our source.
How to plug in
Since the surpassingly great power of God has been installed in us already, it’s not a matter of asking the Lord to give us more power. We simply need to contact Him regularly to experience the transmission of Himself as power to us.
So we need to spend time with the Lord Jesus, especially in the morning, to “plug in.” During such times, as we open to Him in prayer, read His Word, and even pray with His Word, Christ imparts more of His divine life into us. This is how we’re empowered in Christ and enabled to do all things in Him.
And we can be empowered by calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus. This is a simple way to turn to the Lord in our spirit and instantly tap into the transmission of this undefeatable divine power. We can enjoy quick “charges” anytime, anywhere, by calling upon the name of the Lord. We can also plug in and contact the Lord by singing and by praying short prayers. If we practice this regularly, our sighing will be turned into rejoicing in the Lord.
When we’re made dynamic inwardly, nothing in this world will deflate or oppress us. Instead of barely making it, we’ll be vitalized to live a rejoicing life, whatever the circumstances, able to do all things in Him who empowers us.
If you live in Australia, you can order a free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version here to read all the notes on the verses we cited in this post.
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