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An old Indian chief one day purchased a red Cadillac. He proudly drove it around town, displaying it to all his friends. But instead of focusing on the road, he would lean out of the window and wave to the people on his right, and chat with friends on his left.
Sometimes he would even stand on the seat and greet those behind him. But no one felt threatened by his driving. People would just smile and wave back to the chief in his shiny car—which was drawn by two horses he had hitched to the front.
Many Christians live their lives as if drawn by two horses, when all along they have 1 million horse-power under the hood. If you’re a Christian, you already have the power of God living inside you. When you trusted in Jesus as savior, the Holy Spirit took up permanent residence in your heart. The Bible calls this the baptism—the immersion—of the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit of God is tirelessly working to move you forward—to transform you into the image of Jesus Christ. But many Christians don’t experience the power of the Spirit in their life. They chug along, struggling to have a regular prayer life, or to break a bad habit, or to know the joy that is theirs in Christ.
Why is this? In Ephesians 5:18 Paul commands Christians, “Be filled with the Spirit.” The Bible tells us there are four ways to rev the engine—to unleash the Spirit’s power in our lives.
1. The Word of God
We must regularly spend time in the Bible. This is how God primarily speaks to us. Remember: The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to unleash the power of God to transform us into the image of God. God’s Word affects us in many ways: it leads us to salvation in Christ; it directs us to make wise choices; it exposes the wrong thoughts and intentions of our hearts; and it cleanses us in preparation for Christ’s return.
2. Conversations with God
Just as God primarily talks to us through the Bible, we communicate to Him primarily through prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God. The Holy Spirit unleashes His power into our lives through prayer. God doesn’t need us for anything. But God almost always chooses to work through the prayers of His children—you and me. Sometimes prayer is a struggle. Satan doesn’t want us to pray, and our flesh would rather do anything but pray. But the Holy Spirit transforms us—and the world—through our prayers.
3. The People of God
We experience the power of the Holy Spirit by fellowshipping with God’s people, the Church. Despite its flaws, the Church is a conduit through which the Spirit pours His power into us. But be sure to look for a church that W.I.N.S.:
Worships—Worship expresses praise and admiration to God for who He is and for all He has done for us. We need to regularly, and actively, worship with other Christians.
Instructs—While we do study the Bible on our own, we also need God-ordained pastors and teachers to instruct us corporately in God’s word—to equip us for ministry.
Nourishes—We need to show unconditional devotion to other believers—to mutually bless them with the spiritual gifts God has given each of us.
Shares—We must share the gospel with others, and bring them to church. God made us fishers of men. As Max Lucado said, “When those who are called to fish don’t fish, they fight.”1 We, the Church, are God’s plan for reaching the lost.
4. Obedience to God
We pray for God to unleash a fire in our life. We long for it. We need it. And yet, when God does, we often throw a bucket of cold water on it through our own disobedience.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Do not quench the Holy Spirit of God.” We should avoid these four Spirit-quenchers:
1. Immorality—Sexual sins quench the Spirit’s presence in our life. When we sin sexually, we sin against our own body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We cannot lose our salvation, but the Holy Spirit cannot abide with impurity. We will experience none of His power. We need to repent, and flee from sexual immorality.
2. Bitterness—Un-forgiveness quenches the Spirit’s power to heal in our life. God gives us grace to forgive. Remember, God has forgiven us of everything we have ever done against Him, so we must forgive others. Forgiving does not mean forgetting; it means relinquishing our right to hurt our offenders. Turn them over to God and let Him work.
3. Greed—An obsession with money quenches the Spirit’s purpose in our life. We sometimes use money as an excuse—holding onto it rather than obeying what the Spirit is leading us to do. We need to plan and live wisely, but we will never have enough money to “safely” follow God. Trust Him and obey His leading.
4. Worry—Being overwhelmed by fear quenches the Spirit’s peace in our life. The most common command in the Bible is “fear not.” Discern where your fear is coming from. Fear can be a prompting from God for us to take action, or fear can come from fatigue, or fear can come from the lies of Satan, who whispers “what-ifs” in our ear. Once we determine the cause of our fear, we must confront it. If it is legitimate, take action. Don’t put it off, and don’t obsess about it. But sometimes, even after we confront a fear, Satan keeps attacking our minds. In that case, we must turn our fears over to God. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “[Cast] all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” God’s shoulders are broad enough to handle all our concerns—the big as well as the small.
To unleash the power of God’s Spirit under the hood of our lives we must be in His Word, talk to Him in prayer, fellowship with His people, and refrain from quenching His fire. God desires and commands us to become like His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit is waiting. Let’s do our part to unleash His power.
1. Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 31–33.

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