Read Acts 1
Focus on verse 8
One of my favorite old jokes is the story of a man who lived by himself out in the back woods of Kentucky. He had no power to his little old log cabin, so he would cut wood to fire his stove on which he cooked his food. On one of his rare trips to town to pick up supplies, he got talking to a salesman at the hardware store about how he could cut two cords of wood a day with his trusty old buck saw. The salesman showed him one of their newest chain saws promising him that with a chainsaw he’d be cutting at least four cords a day. This got the old hermits attention so he agreed to try it out. “It’s got a sixty day money back guarantee” bragged the salesman, “but we’ve never had anyone bring one back!”
Two days later the old hermit was back with the chainsaw, and he didn’t look happy. “I want my money back!” he exclaimed. “I’ve worked harder than ever these past two days and barely got half a cord cut!”
The salesman was a little surprised, but he took the saw from the hermit, and checked it over. Then he set the choke and pulled the cord and as it roared to life the old hermit jumped back shouting, “What’s that noise!?”
The moral of the story is, if you don’t know where the power comes from, it can’t do the work for you.
Today we begin reading in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. It begins with the ascension of Jesus and His order to the disciples to wait in Jerusalem where the Holy Spirit would empower them to carry His message of eternal life to the end of the earth.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (v. 8)
Forty days later as they are praying in an upper room, they are transformed from timid fisherman to fearless witnesses, speaking in languages they did not learn.
This power of the Holy Spirit continues to be available to followers of Jesus to this day. Unfortunately, we have in many cases reclassified and theologized the Holy Spirit into something we try to control rather than allowing Him to control us.
The Holy Spirit is not a mystical force that we can manipulate to do our bidding. It is rather, the third person of the Trinity, who will indwell and empower us to do His bidding as we choose to walk in obedience to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit does not answer to us, we answer to Him. I believe it is in this principle where we most often go off the rails in our pursuit of God. It is about power, and we like power, but it’s not our power, it is His power.