Many of us have experienced glancing at our cell phone to see that the battery is in the red zone. It has so little power left, it may run out while we’re on an important call or cause us to miss an important email.
All too often our Christian life can look like this. The unending demands of day-to-day life, family, work, and financial woes wear us out. Furthermore, our sins and failures deflate us, and we feel powerless to follow the Lord. We barely have enough “juice” to deal with everything. It seems like we’re perpetually in a state of “low battery” and on the verge of completely running out.
Feeling drained and weakened indicates we’re in need of power in our spiritual life. But what is the power we need? And how do we get it?
Paul’s experience and Philippians 4:13
Let’s look first at the experience of the apostle Paul. In Philippians, we see he was a person who lived Christ in all kinds of circumstances, good and bad. How was this possible? Paul says in Philippians 4:13,
“I am able to do all things in Him who empowers me.”
Note 2 in the Recovery Version helps us understand what “empowers me” means:
“The Greek word means makes dynamic inwardly. Christ dwells in us (Col. 1:27). He empowers us, makes us dynamic from within, not from without. By such inward empowering Paul was able to do all things in Christ.”
Paul’s word in verse 13 was more than a nice idea or theoretical possibility. It was his personal testimony, his actual experience. We can realize this when we consider the background of the book of Philippians. Paul wrote this epistle to the Philippians while he was imprisoned in Rome. Yet throughout the book he repeatedly said that he rejoiced. How could he do that? No amount of positive thinking could enable him to rejoice in such a negative situation. Paul was able to rejoice because of the Lord’s empowering. Rather than being oppressed, he was full of rejoicing, even in the most trying of conditions. His rejoicing was a manifestation that he was empowered by Christ within.
To rejoice takes power
Our experience tells us it doesn’t take much strength to grumble or to bemoan our situation. It comes easily to us, and before we know it, we’re brought down even lower. It takes power to rejoice. So without experiencing Christ as our power, we live our life in survival mode, barely making it and unable to rejoice.
Then how can we be empowered, like Paul was, to live a buoyant, vitalized, even joyful daily life?
Paul’s prayer for us
In Ephesians 1:19-22, Paul prayed that we would know, “what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” If we’re ignorant that such a power exists, we can’t consciously and deliberately experience it.
According to Ephesians 1, the power Paul prayed for us to know is the same power that operated in Christ to raise Him from the dead, to seat Him in the heavenlies, to subject all things under His feet, and to make Him Head over all things. No wonder Paul called this a surpassingly great power! And according to verses 19 and 22, this awesome power is “toward us who believe” and “to the church.”
“To the church implies a kind of transmission. Whatever Christ, the Head, has attained and obtained is transmitted to the church, His Body. In this transmission the church shares with Christ in all His attainments: the resurrection from the dead, His being seated in His transcendency, the subjection of all things under His feet, and the headship over all things.
Toward us who believe (v. 19) and to the church indicate that the divine power, which includes all that the Triune God has passed through, has been installed into us once for all and is being transmitted into us continually, causing us to enjoy Christ richly and to have the proper church life as His Body, His fullness, the issue of God’s blessing mentioned previously.”
This surpassingly great power that overcame every negative thing—including death itself—has been installed in us and is being continually transmitted into us! To know this is a tremendous thing. But if we simply know about the power and stop there, it may not benefit us that much practically. For us to actually experience the power installed in us, one more thing is required: we need to tap into it.
The need to plug in
A cell phone isn’t designed to run on its own. Its battery has to be charged regularly, even daily. And though power may be available, simply being near an electrical outlet won’t charge it. It has to be plugged into the outlet to get charged.
Similarly, we weren’t designed to run on our own energy. Christ wants to be the source of power for us to do all things. And in our case, the divine power isn’t just near us; it’s in us, always available to us. But we need be “plugged in” to the power source to experience the transmission of the power.
How to plug in
We “plug in” by contacting the Lord in our spirit. And we need to do this regularly. This is why it’s so necessary for us to fellowship with Him and to spend time with Him in prayer and in the Word every day. A day without this is a day without power.
In particular, we need to devote time, especially in the morning, to be with the Lord Jesus to “plug in.” During such times when we put all else aside just to contact Him in our spirit, Christ imparts more of his divine life into us and revives us. Through opening to Him in prayer, reading His Word, and even praying with His Word, the power that enables us to do all things is transmitted into us.
Then, as we go about our day, we can call upon the name of the Lord Jesus to receive more of His empowering. When we turn to our spirit by calling on His dear name, we tap instantly into the transmission of this undefeatable divine power.
Instead of struggling on our own, limited power, we simply need to spend time being “plugged in” for longer charges every day. In addition, during our day we can enjoy quick “charges” by calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus. If we tap into the power installed in us regularly—every day and throughout the day—we’ll experience Christ as our power.
When we enjoy the transmission of power, we’re made dynamic inwardly. Nothing of this world will deflate or oppress us. Instead of barely making it, we’ll be vitalized to live a rejoicing life, whatever the circumstances, able to do all things in Him who empowers us. Praise the Lord!