Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Under the Mattress

Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

In many ways we felt kind of sorry for this old couple. They lived in a run down old house. The paint had long since disappeared. All you could see was the drab old grey exterior that tends to happen when a house isn't cared for. While everyone else in the huge metropolis of Pierceville, Kansas had nice green lawns, at this house there was dirt, nothing more, just dirt. Rarely could you ever walk by the house without hearing yelling and screaming going on. And forget about trying to sneak around their house. The very second you set foot on their street the barks and growls began. It was a pack of man-eating wolves that surrounded their property. Many sales careers ended on their front porch. Ok, perhaps I may be exaggerating slightly but those things sure seemed true to me at 7 years old. Every time I ever saw the man, he was wearing the same thing: grey hat, grey shirt, grey pants, wouldn't surprise me if his underwear was grey as well. Chances are that none of those things started out grey, but that's what they were now. Actually, he matched his house perfectly. Did you ever see the children's movie "Snow Day"? Well this man could have been the snow plow driver, including the teeth. Surely this was the poorest family in all of Pierceville, Kansas. Then one day, tragedy struck. There was a fire in the house. Literally adding fuel to the fire was stacks of newspapers, as high as 5 feet. By the time the men arrived to help put out the fire, the house was already engulfed in flames. When they tried to pull his mother to safety, she fought like cats and dogs, kept screaming something about her bed. Sometime later they discovered what she was screaming about. Underneath the mattress on her bed was money. Cold hard CASH. Not just a little, there was an incredible amount of money stashed there. It turns out that what appeared to be the poorest family in town, was actually one of the wealthiest! The problem was, they never took advantage of the wealth they possessed.

In today's passage, we see the disciples listening to Jesus as He spoke some of His last words before the ascension. "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you." With Jesus leaving, the remaining disciples needed some reassurance. They needed something of a confidence builder. Something they could sense, that they could feel. My wife and I have been drinking a vitamin supplement drink for a few years now. It is a powder we mix with orange juice. On the can it says it tastes good. I'll bet the guy that wrote that likes peas too! Something happens to Pam about five minutes after she drinks it, she literally feels it kick in. It's as if something surges through her veins. All of the sudden she feels energized. In a spiritual sense, the disciples needed something just like this, they needed to be spiritually energized. There were times when they were with Jesus that they felt like they could do anything, but in just a few moments, He would be gone. What would they do then? "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you." Now, at this point in time, I'm going to go against what many believe to be true. There are many who believe that before the Holy Spirit came, the disciples had no power, that in a spiritual sense they were powerless. My personal opinion is that this was not the case. Let me ask you a question here. Was there ever a moment that the omnipresent God wasn't with these men? You're right, they were never alone, never without the presence of God. Let me ask you a series of questions now. Did Moses turn his staff into a snake? Did he part the Red Sea? Did he bring water from the Rock? Did Joshua make the walls of Jericho crumble? When Gideon and his army of 300 faced over 127,000 Midianites, was it their skills in hand to hand combat that gave them victory that day? The answers to every one of these questions are the same, it was NOT the men of God that did the work, it was the HAND of God that did the work. Since I am in the question mode, let me continue. Since the Old Testament days, in what ways had the power of God diminished? Are you catching my drift here? The fact of the matter is, nothing within the nature of God had changed. However, something within the lives of these 11 men had changed, and was about to change even more. While these men had grown spiritually in a huge way, (by the way, isn't that what happens when you go through great trials? They either make you or break you.) there was still room for more growth. But Christ-likeness is a final destination that we will never arrive at here on earth. At the same time, it is the one destination we should pursue, with all our hearts, until God calls us home. While the disciples knew full well that Jesus is the Son of God, they didn't realize yet, that He would still be with them, even when he wasn't….well… with them. "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you."

Personally I believe, that the power that these men needed to a certain degree, was a power they already had. It was as if it was hidden under a mattress so to speak. And what the Holy Spirit was going to accomplish, was to light a fire that would move these men to rip the sheets off their beds, toss their mattresses aside and unleash the incredible spiritual wealth they already had. That brings us to the here and now. If you have put your faith and trust in Christ, you have at your disposal unimagined power to accomplish the will of God. Unfortunately for many, in fact, not many but MOST, that power is buried, hidden beneath the mattress of mediocrity, or the mattress of selfishness, or the mattress of un-forgiveness, or the mattress of hate…… the list of mattresses is unending. Folks, if you don't see the Hand of God working in and through your life, it is not the Hand of God that is to blame. It is you who is to blame. Somehow, at sometime you have taken God's power and buried it under a mattress. May today be the day you toss that mattress aside and unleash the power of God in your life.

Tearing the sheets and tossing the mattress aside,

Jim

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