POWER FAILURES IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
“Teacher, I brought you my son, possessed with a spirit … And I told your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.”
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of preaching a revival service in Shreveport, LA. The meetings went for four nights, Sunday – Wednesday. I told the church on Tuesday night that for the final night of the revival, I would be preaching on hell … so I needed them to bring unsaved friends, neighbors, co-workers and the like.
When I arrived at the church on Wednesday night, I almost missed my turn. The church was pitch black. There had been a power failure in the area, and they did not expect to get the power back until late that night. UGH! We rigged a way for me to preach in the dimly lit room—with no microphone! Double UGH! Ten minutes before the start, God graciously brought the power back on. We were all very thankful.
You know, it is a troubling thing to have a power failure in the church building right before the service. But that predicament pales in comparison to having a power failure in the child of God!
THE NINE POWERLESS DISCIPLES
Mark 9:14-29 tells the story of the nine disciples who were left behind when Jesus took Peter, James and John up to the Mount of Transfiguration. While they were experiencing the glory, the other nine were experiencing a different story. They were doing battle with the devil … and were losing the battle. It was embarrassing and humiliating. They had been given the authority and power to cast out demons (see Mark 6:7, 13), yet the demon in this young boy wouldn’t budge.
Can you relate to a power failure in the Christian life? Can you relate to facing a temptation and failing miserably? Maybe the temptation is with lust … or greed … or insecurity … or selfishness … or pride … or worry … or anger … or bitterness … or jealousy. These are all sins we cannot defeat in our own strength. We need His power to rise above. So, why can we not access it? Why do we fail? The answer lies in the story.
1. Power failures come when we get away from Jesus. The nine disciples were away from their Master. Now, their physical distance—He was on the mountain and they were in the valley—was a picture of their spiritual distance. They were operating on their own and thus experienced the power failure! Listen: none of us can make it on our own. We must abide in Him, “for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The Song says, “I Need Thee Every Hour.” The truth is we need Him every second. A frequent prayer of mine is this, “Lord, keep me clean and keep me close.”
2. Power failures come when we waver in unbelief. When the disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast out the demon, He answered by saying, “Because of the littleness of your faith” (Matthew 17:20). When the demon did not immediately leave, the disciples started to doubt they could accomplish the task. They became like Peter on the Sea of Galilee, “And seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:30). We must keep our eyes on the Savior, not on the swirling seas. We must cling to His promises, regardless of the circumstances and the apparent lack of results. Remember, Abraham waited nearly 30 years for Isaac, the son of promise, to be born.
3. Power failures come when we neglect to really pray. In Mark’s gospel, Jesus answered the disciples’ question of why they could not cast out the demon this way, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer [and fasting]” (Mark 9:29). There are three essentials for victory in the Christian life: God’s word, faith, and prayer. These three are all connected. The word builds our faith, and prayer connects us to God and empowers our faith. The disciples could not access the authority that was given to them because they were not praying and fully depending on the Lord. It was as simple as that. Listen: a poor prayer life reveals a self-sufficiency that is destined for failure. We need Him every second of every hour … so we need to pray often and have an attitude of prayer always.
BUT I KEEP FAILING!
If you are continually suffering from a power failure in your Christian life, take heed to these three critical areas above. Spend time with the Lord every day, confessing your sins and yielding yourself afresh to His Lordship. Cling to His promises like a dog with a T-bone steak. Walk by faith (His word) and not by sight (your circumstances). Talk to Him many, many times throughout the day. Include Him in every trial, every temptation, and every task. Victory comes to those who take the Lord at His word and abide in Him!
Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries