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Keeping the Power On

Keeping the Power On

We are in a season of opportunity here at Epic and I want to encourage you to lean in or lean back in. If you are staying at home because of a genuine health concern, I want to encourage you to continue to do so until it’s wise to be back here in person. But if you are staying at home because of habit, I want to lovingly call you out of that and back into engaging here with us. While we’re grateful for technology, we keep hearing from people – “There’s nothing like being back here in person.”

And I want to invite all of you to join us next Sunday for our HOME prayer walk, following the 11:00 gathering. We’re going to divide into groups and walk down the main streets in SoMa and ask God to provide the right place at the right time at the right price. Can you imagine the day you physically walk into God’s provision of a space you spent time praying for?

Power is not one of those things we think about until it is gone. Seriously, when’s the last time you woke up, turned on the light in your home and thought, “I’m so grateful that power is present today”? But when you experience a power outage for multiple hours and then you see the light come on, you’re so thankful for power. And you promise yourself that you’ll never take power for granted again.

You can lose power for all kinds of reasons. The weather can cause the loss of power or a transformer could have blown. Or someone could have simply turned off the power grid so they could do some maintenance work. But think about this:

What causes us to lose power in our spiritual lives?

I have a deep conviction for my life, for your life, and for our church:

We are not accessing all of the power that God has made available to us.

As we’ve been walking through the Gospel of Mark, we have seen so much power on display. Yes, from Jesus. But not just from Jesus. He has sent his disciples on a mission to drive out demons and heal the sick. And they did it – talk about power! And yet, these disciples still had much to learn from Jesus about the secret of how power works. I pray we will learn this secret too, in a message I’m calling, “Keeping the Power On”

Mark 9:14-29 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashing his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

There are some battles that demand greater power than you possess on your own.

When you come face to face with a battle that demands greater power than you possess on your own, you only have two options – lose the battle or access a power that is greater than yourself. Aren’t you tired of losing battles? What if there’s another option?

We’ve already seen the disciples casting out demons before. What’s different this time? Did they encounter an evil spirit more powerful than all of the others they’ve had victory over? Here’s a verse Shauna showed us in her message on January 16:

Mark 6:7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.

Now did Jesus only give them authority over some impure spirits or all impure spirits? As we hear the rest of this conversation, it appears that the disciples were no longer exercising faith in Jesus or relying on His power. 

When this father tells Jesus that his disciples could not drive out the evil spirit, Jesus responds with these words – “You unbelieving generation!” Jesus wants to see faith present in these disciples and he wants to see faith present in us. 

Had the disciples assumed they were able to do this on their own? It is easy to start our faith journey humble and dependent. We see God use us and do great things through our lives. But then we start to assume we are the source of power for the success we’re having. This reminds me of Uzziah, who became king of Judah when he was only sixteen years old. Listen to how he began:

2 Chronicles 26:5 He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success.

Remember – easy to start off humble and dependent – harder to stay that way.

2 Chronicles 26:15-16 In Jerusalem he made devices invented for use on the towers and on the corner defenses so that soldiers could shoot arrows and hurl large stones from the walls. His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful. But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.

Watch this cycle for Uzziah and just know it’s so easy for everyone of us to do the same: Seeks God. God helps him greatly. Uzziah becomes powerful. Pride leads to downfall. Unfaithful to the LORD.

I’m always wanting to pay attention to two things in my life – my level of humility and my level of confidence. We need both of these: humility because we don’t have the power on our own, but confidence because God has all the power. One commentator said this:

Much is not accomplished for the kingdom because we simply do not believe God will adequately empower us or else because we undertake various activities in our own strength rather than God’s.

Jesus wasn’t only seeking to build the faith of his disciples in this moment. He also wanted to grow the faith of this father. The father says, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus says, “If you can?” “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Jesus reserves some power for those who are willing to believe Him.

And we see this incredible response from this man – “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 

Most of us aren’t at 0 or 100…we’re somewhere in between. I do know this: Wherever we are, Jesus wants us moving towards having more belief. This man says I have faith, but I also have doubt. But Jesus loves his prayer – “Help me overcome my unbelief!” Jesus responds to the faith that is present in this man. Our faith doesn’t have to be perfect.

The presence of doubt does not have to equal the absence of faith.

What have you given up on because it seemed impossible?

What are you trying to make happen in your life without God’s help? Why?

Why do we insist on self-reliance when the power of God has been made available to us?

How do you know if you’re relying on yourself or God? It’s fairly simple. Tell me about your prayer life. Tell me what you’re believing God for that you know you can’t make happen on your own.

John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Do you want to bear much fruit or do nothing? Jesus is looking for a group of people who stay connected to Him and believe Him for things that would be impossible without Him.

Do you really think we can change the city of San Francisco on our own? 

“Think how whole cities and towns would be affected if Christian churches began praying for the wind of God to blow upon them.” Jim Cymbala, Fresh Power

Don’t allow what God has done through us in the past to take our eyes off of Him in the present. If I’m honest, it was easier for me to depend on God when we were starting this church. But I am reminding myself today that I need God even more than when we began Epic Church. And His power is available to us. He’s just wanting to know – will we trust Him?

What if we lived in such a way that Jesus began to say this about us, “YOU BELIEVING GENERATION!”

For some of you, the most encouraging thing you heard today was Jesus respond to this honest request – “I believe…help me overcome my unbelief!” You thought you had to have perfect faith to become a follower of Jesus. Nope, faith just has to be preset. Today, who wants to enter this relationship with this confession: “Jesus, I believe; help my unbelief!” Raise a hand. Fill out a card.

Christians – You need God’s power to do what He’s calling you to do. Every day let’s position ourselves to keep the power on – for our lives, our families, our church, and our city!

Communion: One way we continue to build our faith is by reminding ourselves of what Jesus has done for us. When he instituted the sacrament we call communion, he took the bread and said this – “ This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

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