Sunday, October 24th, 1999
The Secret of Inner Power
Recently Beverley and I went to a retirement dinner of a friend, David Denton. David has been responsible for all of the telecommunications for three Olympic Games and the man responsible for the design of the telecommunications for Sydney 2000 Olympics. In Australia, he is known as "Mr Olympics." Naturally, there were many Olympic champions and officials present. Among them, Sandy Hollway, Herb Elliott, Arthur Tunstall, the Chief Commissioner of Police, former Premier Nick Griener and many others.
Seated next to us was John Devitt, former Captain of the Australian Olympic Swimming Teams in our golden years at the 1956 and 1960 Olympics and the 1958 Commonwealth Games. John was the men's 100 metres world record holder and a gold medallist from the Rome Olympics. Over dinner, talking about great Olympic champions, I asked John if he had ever met Al Oerter, the American Discus thrower. I regard him as one of the greatest athletes of all time. To my surprise he told me that Al Oerter had recently flown to Australia to speak at a dinner of past Olympic Champions.
Al Oerter discovered his discus ability when he idly picked up the discus and threw it farther than anyone else on the University track team could. Al Oerter won consecutive Olympic gold medals in 1956 in Melbourne, in 1960 in Rome, in 1964 in Tokyo, and in 1968 in Mexico City. No-one else has done this. During his career he set new world records four times. He was the first to throw the discus more than 200 feet which was believed to be an unbreakable barrier.
But what stands in my memory happened in Mexico City in 1968. In his first throw, he slipped and ripped the cartlidge in his rib cage, a devastating injury for a discus thrower. He was bleeding internally, his breathing was hampered and his rib-cage hurt terribly. He refused to leave. He passed on the next four throws and stepped into the circle for his last attempt. Ignoring the pain, he wound down like a coiled spring and then started into the throwers spin. He cried out in a loud voice, "God, give me strength!" and let go. The 2 kilogram discus flew from his hand and landed with a new world and Olympic record and his fourth gold medal! Al Oerter is an Olympic legend and a man of God.
How can you call upon God's strength? Enough of us need God's strength. Of all groups of people in Australia, Aborigines feel the most powerless. Yet I have seen among the black community a new generation of young leaders emerging who are sober, articulate and purposeful. Of the forty or so with whom I have spoken, virtually all have been through the experiences of despair, alcoholism and unemployment. But they have become changed people, and in every case, they have been renewed by the spirit of God! They have been converted from despair and hopelessness and converted to personal discipline and community involvement. Across black Australia, the Spirit of God is moving.
Today the white community also needs the empowering of the Spirit of God. Too many face hopelessness, unemployment, drug abuse, homelessness, financial pressures and lack of purpose. They feel they are not coping and are powerless. They need to find the secret of inner power.
Inner city dwellers lack a voice in how their community is governed and seek to be heard. The poor lack authority over their situation and want inner power to control their own lives. Businessmen want power to complete sales and make budgets so they can get the bank off their backs. People with debt problems realise they need inner power to reduce their outgoings in line with their cash inflow. People wanting to reduce their intake of food, alcohol, caffeine or other drugs know they must have inner power to enable them to take control of their own lives.
Jesus Christ taught people to seek the miracles within that can be released by inner power. In reflecting upon this John said: "To as many as did receive Him, to them He gave power to become the children of God." John 1:12 Isaiah encourages the Israelites while they were captives in Babylon, by reminding them of God's power "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40 God gives strength. Old age takes it from us. We do not dream the dreams we once did, nor see the visions. We become weak and tired, and some fall exhausted. "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
What a promise of inner power! Some Christians think the only sign of the Spirit's indwelling presence is some feeling or miraculous demonstration. How many know that one sign of the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God, is inner strength that enables a man to throw a discus?
God's indwelling Spirit manifests Himself in many ways according to the scriptures, and the provision of inner power is one of the most needy expressions of the Spirit's presence within. Not to have power is to be powerless, to feel that you have no control over yourself or your destiny, to know that your inner resources cannot cope with whatever comes. But even the powerful find situations in which they cannot cope. Those who have the attributes of power and authority also know stress. Roy L. Smith says: "The modern man lives in one day more than men of a hundred years ago lived in a month. More issues have to be met, more problems have to be solved, more decision have to be made. All such conditions produce tension. The competitions of life are sufficient to break the strongest, and they will unless we have access to divine sources and know how to appropriate strength for the business of living". p22
Everyone of us needs to discover the source of inner energy. The New Testament teaches that the Holy Spirit is our alternative source of energy. The history of the church demonstrates how ordinary people accomplish the extra-ordinary. Other Christians reveal how the Holy Spirit releases in them new energy that enables them to cope with their powerlessness. Note New Testament teaching about what the Holy Spirit does for us:
1. THE SPIRIT CONVICTS, CONVERTS AND COMFORTS.
a. Convicts: John 16:8-11 The Holy Spirit is available to all when you first start thinking about your life and Jesus Christ, about your own sin and God's judgement, and about what you ought to be doing.
b. Converts: John 3:6-7 Jesus made it clear the Holy Spirit now is at work converting you from your old life to God's new life. So radical is this change of direction, it is like being born anew. The Holy Spirit reveals God's love for us, supremely in the Cross where Jesus died to forgive us our sins. Convicted of our sin, the Holy Spirit converts us to God.
c. Comforts: John 16:7 Jesus promised that when He left this earth He would send a helper, a comforter, to be with us to strengthen us. The Holy Spirit comes alongside of us to comfort us with strength. Bible translators of the Miao Hill tribe in Western China could not find an equivalent word for Comforter. Then one of the missionary translators heard a local man say he was going to visit a woman whose son had died in order to "get her heart round the corner". Instantly the missionary translator knew he had the word for the work of the Holy Spirit: "The Comforter - one who comes to you and gets your heart around the corner." The Holy Spirit convicts, converts and comforts the believer.
2. THE SPIRIT INDWELLS, INSTRUCTS AND INTERCEDES.
Now the Holy Spirit helps the new Christian. a. Indwells: John 14:15-17 Ephes 5:18"God is at work in you to make you willing and able to obey His own purpose." The indwelling Spirit of God has been of comfort and strength to believers: "God is our refuge and strength, a present help in time of trouble." Ps 46
b. Instructs: Rom 8:15-17 It is the Holy Spirit who instructs how we live as a child of God. The Comforter is also our Teacher, teaching us, and bringing to our memory what we have learnt of Jesus, so that in time of witness, we are helped by the Spirit of God to remember our Christian experience.
c. Intercedes: Rom 8:26-27 The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and even prays for us, interceding,"pleading with groans that words cannot express." The best guide is Alan Norling's JESUS THE BAPTISER WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT available in your bookshop.
3. THE SPIRIT EQUIPS, ENDOWS AND EMPOWERS.
The scripture teaches we have neither the power to please God nor cope with the demands of living. In our own strength regardless of our natural abilities we can never be what God wants us to be, nor effectively cope with the ups and downs of life. We need God. God meets our needs by giving us the Holy Spirit who provides additional energy supply.
a. Equips: 2 Tim 3:16-17 The Scriptures are used by the Spirit of God to equip us for work in His service. The Holy Spirit is available to all believers and He equips us to live. He is entirely independent of our physical and mental capabilities and our natural talents. He equips us to live as strong Christians. God will even chose the weak and despised people of earth, in order that people might see His strength at work within them. Paul was physically weak, but God's Spirit turned him into a powerful man.
b. Endows: 1 Cor 12:4-11 The Scripture in four places indicates that the Holy Spirit gives to all Christians some spiritual gift to be used in God's service.
21 gifts are mentioned by name in the scriptures. Some people have the gifts of HELPING: such as serving, giving to others, showing mercy, craftsmanship, and healing spiritually, emotionally or physically. Some people have the gifts of DIRECTING OTHERS: leadership, administration and encouraging faith. Some have the gifts of MINISTERING THE WORD: through apostleship, prophecy, evangelism, pastoring, teaching, exhorting, wisdom and knowledge, discernment, and music. Some have the gifts of the SPECTACULAR: working miracles, speaking in tongues or interpreting them. These gifts of the Holy Spirit are different from natural abilities. Only one is usually given and is given to help others, and will be lost if it is not exercised. God then gives us power to exercise these gifts of ministry.
c. Empowers: Acts 1:8 Jesus told His disciples to wait until the Holy Spirit came upon them and then they would have the power of the Spirit within them. He helps Christians cope. It is not human strength, but super-human strength. Thus Christians say: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
That's the bottom line: our sense of powerlessness is met by the Holy Spirit who empowers us! The indwelling power of the Spirit of God enables each of us who find life tough to find the inner power to cope. That is one fruit of the Holy Spirit's presence within your life.
How can you know the Holy Spirit within?
1. Hunger for His presence in your heart.
2. Confess every known sin privately to God.
3. By faith ask for Him to fill your life with His Spirit.
4. Live confidently in the strength of the Spirit.
Rev Dr Gordon Moyes AM.
Gordon Moyes 1999
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