In the final act of the book of Acts (chapters 21-28), the apostle Paul makes his way to Jerusalem, heading straight into a storm of trouble that the Lord has warned him is coming. It doesn’t take long for the storm to break.

No sooner does he walk onto the temple grounds, than Paul is spotted by Asian Jews who recognize him from his mission work and ignite a riot against him (21:27-28). Paul might have lost his life right then and there were it not for Roman soldiers who rushed in to arrest him. Over the next several chapters we see Paul slapped around like a hockey puck, defending himself before an assortment of government authorities, each one more powerful than the one before.

But Paul has power of his own that God has given him, and he doesn’t hesitate to use it.

When given permission to address the Jewish mob, he speaks in the Hebrew language to show them he is one of them. He informs them that he was educated at the feet of one of their most respected rabbis, and that he grew up worshiping God and revering the Law just as they do.

When he speaks to the Roman tribune commanding the garrison, he speaks in Greek, the lingua franca of the age, to get his attention. When the tribune later tries to beat the truth out of him, Paul appeals to his Roman citizenship, a sort of get-out-of-jail-free card, that saved him from the flogging.

When addressing the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council made up of two parties – the theologically conservative Pharisees and the liberal Sadducees – Paul declared that he was a faithful Pharisee who was being persecuted for his beliefs. This set the Pharisees against the Sadducees in a comical fashion that led to Paul being sent to the regional governor before whom he unleashes his oratorical training. When later giving testify before the king of Judea, Paul again used his citizenship to appeal his case to Caesar himself, which brings him to Rome by the end of the book.

To put it plainly, at every stage in Paul’s imprisonment, he used power that God had given him to advance his cause for the sake of the gospel. So what power has God given you to advance your life, to help influence others for good, and to promote the growth of the kingdom of God? You have a lot more power than you realize!

  • Are you healthy right now? Good health gives you power to do things that’s just harder when you’re in a sickbed.
  • As with Paul, education gives you power.
  • Are you skilled at something? I’m terrible at plumbing and carpentry. Believe me, I am left in awe by people who wield power tools like trained swordsmen.
  • Do you have a cheerful personality? That gives you the power to encourage others. We live in an epidemic of loneliness today. Encouragement is in short supply. So use your power.
  • Can you drive? That’s a power. There are shut-ins in your neighborhood that could use rides to a doctor’s appointment or to pick up groceries.
  • Money gives you power to bless or curse people. Your generosity or even a random act of kindness may mean all the world to someone.
  • Can you cook? That’s an essential and tasty power.
  • Do you understand computers and technology? Then you have terabytes of power to bless others with.

To use your power doesn’t mean you have to get involved in some lengthy and elaborate thing either. It oftentimes just means taking one step in the right direction. I talk to addicts who tell me their story of why they’re so messed up. I listen and am sympathetic, truly. But invariably what I tell them is, “Take one step toward healing. One step toward freedom.”

My heart goes out to young people today who have been virtually brainwashed into thinking that they are weak and power-less. They grew up coddled by well-meaning parents who wanted to protect them as much as possible from this cold, cruel world. But the worst thing you can do for kids when they’re growing up is shield them from hardship, hardwork, and responsibility. Banks are not mean for asking you to pay back money you borrowed from them. Bosses are not tyrants for asking you to come to the office. People are not filled with hate if they happen to hold an opinion different from yours. Freedom of speech is not something you need a safe space from.

But rather than be taught the power of resiliency and resourcefulness, children are repeatedly told what they can’t do, and they acquire a learned helplessness. When all the while, God has given each and every one of us incredible potential and power to advance our lives and increase his beauty, goodness, and love on the earth.

So in Christ’s grace and strength, use the power that he gave you, and take one step in the direction you ought to be heading in. When Jesus healed a paralytic, he said, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” I have healed you. The power is in me. So follow me, and take a step.

That’s what repentance is. Here you’ve been going in one direction. And at last you know now that it’s the wrong direction, and it’s killing you. So tell the Lord to forgive you for being so boneheaded. Turn around and move in his direction. Don’t worry about how hard it will be or where he will take you months or years from now. Just take a step. Then another. Follow him. That’s using your power. And when we follow our Lord just one step, one day, one prayer, one act of obedience at a time, we can change our lives and our world for good and for God.

 

 

Bear Clifton is a pastor, writer and screenwriter. His latest book, “Communion With Christ” is now available through Amazon. His blogs and scripts can be enjoyed at his ministry website: trainyourselfministry.com and his writing website: blclifton.com. Bear is also the author of “Ben-Hur: The Odyssey”, and “A Sparrow Could Fall”, all available through Amazon. 

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