By James Smith (1802 – 1862)
We greatly need spiritual power in the present day. We need to be endued with the Spirit of power from on high. The wisdom of men can do little for us in the world in which we are engaged, and, if our faith rests on that, we shall surely fail.
What is it we need? We need to be more like Jesus and His early followers! We need to be just what His precepts require us to be. But this we shall never be – unless we receive the Spirit of love, power, and of a sound mind, in greater measure than we ever have yet. O for glowing zeal, active benevolence, and self-denying devotion to the Lord’s service!
But to bring about such a state of things – to whom shall we look? The power of God, and the power of God alone – is able to accomplish it. O what a mercy, that with God, all things are possible; that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us!
Without Christ we can do nothing; but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. “Power belongs unto God.” But then He has promised to give power to the faint, to strengthen us with all might by His Spirit in the inner man. His power was exerted in His apostles, who became remarkable for holiness and usefulness; and that same power has been given to all in measure, who have ardently desired it, and earnestly sought it. If we have it not, it is because we do not set our hearts on it, and diligently seek it, or because we seek it for some impure and improper purpose. For God was never more willing to give – than He is now. The promise was never more true – than it is now. The throne of grace was never more accessible – than at present. And surely the world and the church never more needed the power of God than now.
It was possessed in fullness once, it has been displayed gloriously in times past; and as Jesus, the giver of power, is the same today as He was yesterday, when His church possessed and exercised it – then the reason for the deficiency must be sought in ourselves, why we have it not.
Let us then humble ourselves before God for our selfishness, our love of ease, our conformity to the world, and our worldly-minded churches. Let us also take off our dependence from every creature, and from everything in man – and fix it on the power of God alone. Let us believe the promise of the Savior to His waiting, watching, praying disciples, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you” (Acts 1:8).
Let us believe His promise, and pray with downright earnestness and perseverance for the power of God. It is no use our complaining, finding fault with others, or wishing for a different state of things in the world or the church, without this. This is the great remedy for all our evils, and this remedy may be obtained – but not in the way many people take; no, we must deeply feel our need, deplore our condition, realize our guilt, confess our sins, and, in dependence on divine grace – make up our minds to give the Lord no rest until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high.
God is willing – are we? God is ready, but not to sanction our coldness, indifference, and worldliness. He will give, but we have no right to expect until we feel our need, believe the promise, and plead it in faith with perseverance. God may deny us, if we are not earnest; but if like Jacob at Peniel, if like Elijah at Carmel, if like the Syrophenician woman, we will not be put off, but show that we are sincere and earnest, He will open the windows of heaven and pour out a full blessing upon us.
O Lord, give power to pray, power to believe, power to persevere, and then give the power we need to work with success!