4:30 AM, Monday December 31, 2018. I awaken to a small electric hum that takes me a few seconds to identify. It is the battery backup on the recliner Linda sleeps in now because of her vertigo. Normally the backup makes no sound other than an occasional beep or squeak as some internal process plays out according to plan. But, when the power to the house is out and battery is being called upon for its emergency function, the unit hums. I think the humming indicates it is happy to be of service.
I turned over to check the digital clock on the bedside table. Dark. I got up to check the streetlight on the lower road about half a block away. We can see it through the bathroom window. Dark. The power was out in the neighborhood. I sent an instant message to the sheriff's office to report the power outage. Then went and sat in the living room to check my email on my phone. The power came on about twenty minutes later.
The events of the morning of the last day of the year became a gentle reminder that just as we cannot take for granted that we will have power in our homes in the new year, we cannot take for granted we will have power in our lives either. Jesus promised His disciples that they would receive power from God for their lives of witnessing. The power would come from when the Holy Spirit came (Acts 1:8). Later, the apostle Paul urged the Ephesian Christians to forego the drunkenness of the world and instead to continually be filled, to keep being filled, with the Holy Spirit.
A dear friend of mine likes to remind us that Christians "leak." As we live by faith and act in obedience to the word and will of God, we use spiritual power. That spiritual power needs to be replenished. It cannot simply be taken for granted. Paul points to the empowering work of corporate worship and personal encouragement as a means of personal, spiritual renewal. He urges the Ephesians (5:19-20) to
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is an assumption of intentionality in Paul's admonition. He expects the Ephesians to engage in personal spiritual renewal (empowerment) as a matter of choice as well as a matter of fact. He expects them to take his counsel seriously and act on it. Many Christians seem distracted by lesser things in our day, choosing to ignore the opportunities mutual encouragement and corporate worship offer for personal empowerment. Sadly, the deprioritization of personal involvement in worship may be a reason many are weak and worn out, losing their own joy as well as the effectiveness of their witness for the Lord.
In this new year, do you have a plan for spiritual renewal and empowerment? Do you have a plan for joining with other believers for mutual encouragement and corporate worship? Paul instructs the Corinthian believers teaching them they are members of one body in Christ, and Christ's body at that. A body is marked by integration rather than association. I'm wearing glasses as I type. The glasses are associated with my body, but my eyes are integral to my body. Do you have a plan to integrate more completely into the expression of the body of Christ in which God has placed you?
There are opportunities for prayer, Bible study, worship, fellowship, and service in every local congregation seeking to serve Jesus with their whole hearts. Every single one of those events provides an opportunity to recharge your spiritual batteries and retain spiritual empowerment in the new year. Plug in!