Excerpt from Jim Cymbala's book Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit.
When critical situations arise and I come to the end of my abilities, I deeply feel my inadequacy. Something more is needed. But more of what? Not more praise and worship choruses — I know tons of those. Not a better translation of the Bible. Do I need a degree in counseling? No, most of all I need power from heaven...
If we don't have access to spiritual power, how can we accomplish what needs to be done? Power to overcome sin. Power to overcome spiritual enemies that attack us. Power to endure hardship and affliction. Power to witness. Power to speak. Power to pray. Isn't more spiritual power probably the greatest need we have today?
[The Holy Spirit appeared "like a dove" at the baptism of Jesus (Luke 3:22).]
It's interesting that the risen Christ's final words before his ascension concerned spiritual power. "I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49, emphasis added [also see Acts 1:8]). It was as if Jesus looked down the corridors of time and knew that even having the right gospel message wouldn't be enough. We would face so many such obstacles from satanic strongholds that we would never evangelize the world effectively without the power that only the Spirit can impart...
A Surprising Command to the Apostles
[Jesus] told them to do the exact opposite of what they were inclined to do...
Think about the situation the disciples were in [after the resurrection]. They had been with Jesus who had risen from the dead. And for the first time, they finally understood the meaning of the sacrifice he made on the cross, the blood that was shed for the remission of all sins. They had seen the nail marks in his hands. They had seen him ascend into heaven. Imagine how badly they must have wanted to tell people about what they saw! Think of the excitement when they finally understood the good news. They felt the desperate spiritual state of those in Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, as well as the rest of the world. Let's start this evangelizing business right now, they must have thought. Let's get the message out. We're wasting valuable time.
We might even think that Jesus would agree with that kind of thinking. That he'd say, "Okay, now that you've seen the nail marks and you know I'm alive, go out and preach the message!" But he didn't. He told them to do the exact opposite of what they were inclined to do. Jesus told them to wait...
The Holy Spirit was sent to accomplish many divine purposes, but at the top of the list was the empowering of God's people to reach the world with the gospel of Christ...
A Key to the Power Source
Whenever we are determined to help the spiritually blind see & to set the oppressed free, we can prayerfully expect the Holy Spirit to work in power as promised by Jesus.
If we lose sight of God's heart of love for the world — including our own cities and neighborhoods — we will experience little of the Spirit's power, since we are on a different page than our Lord is on. But whenever we reach out with purpose to share the good news of salvation through Christ; whenever we are determined to help the spiritually blind see and to set the oppressed free, we can prayerfully expect the Holy Spirit to work in power as promised by Jesus.
- Jim Cymbala
Q: Which is easier to rely on: the Spirit's power, or your own? I'd love to see your comments.
-Adam Forrest, Zondervan
Learn more about Spirit Rising
(Image & some styling above are web-exclusive features not included in the text of Spirit Rising. Image attribution: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican). This post does not represent the views of Zondervan or any of its representatives. The writer's personal opinions are shared only for information purposes. To receive new Zondervan Blog posts in your reader or email inbox, subscribe to Zondervan Blog.)