God saves us for His name’s sake, which means despite our sins and rebellions. His purpose is to reveal His power in a people set apart for Him. This means our day to day lives, not only those dramatic moments of miraculous intervention we call signs and wonders. The power of God is the extraodinary revealed in the ordinary for all to see.
Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake, That He might make His mighty power known. (Psalm 106:8)
The parting of the Red Sea is perhaps one of the most dramatic stories of the Old Testament. It’s one in which the power of God is very evident and culminates with the equally dramatic defeat and sweeping away of Pharaoh’s armies. It sits way up there on the ‘power list’ alongside signs, wonders, and miracles. It’s the kind of thing we expect from a God who is ‘all-powerful’ and for whom nothing is impossible. Yet, in looking for the large manifestations of power we so easily overlook the little. Today’s verse is a gentle reminder to relook our attitude to salvation as well as our expectations of His mighty power. It’s a reminder that, first and foremost, it’s not about us. But it also encourages us to rethink our expectations of the power of God and our understanding of what it entails.
Salvation and the power of God.
Today’s verse occurs in the context of the Exodus and touches repeatedly on disobedience and wrong attitudes of the Israelites. The word nevertheless basically tells us that in spite of their sins and rebellion, He saved them. There really is no difference between them and every believer today. We are saved despite our weaknesses, disobedience, and obstinate attitudes. We then read on to see why – it’s for the sake of His name. This is a sobering truth. Salvation is, first and foremost, about God’s name, not about us. Remember, as His people we bear His name. This is absolute identification with Him and Him with us and it’s an awesome privilege. But He didn’t save us because we needed saving. He saved us so that we could be a people through which He reveals His power. Our purpose has always been to reveal the glory and power of God.
It is His incredible grace that releases the blessings, promises, and immeasurable benefits of being children of God. But we weren’t saved to receive them. We’re saved to be vessels through which He reveals His power. That’s His eternal purpose. We belonged to God anyway, even before salvation. He created us and held full right of ownership over us. Salvation is simply us exercising our free will to return to right relationship with God, i.e. to freely yield to being vessels of His glory and power. God’s power is manifest in our salvation, but also as He continues to save us as we walk with Him and learn His ways. The drama and power of the cross is easy to accept. But we can miss the daily evidence of His power because we look for the signs and wonders we interpret as being what His power is all about.
Vessels for the power of God.
It’s a common complaint that we see very little of the power of God, especially in comparison to the Acts church. The reason for this, I believe, is that we don’t fully comprehend what His power is truly about. We look to the healings, deliverances, and miraculous interventions to define God’s power – as they do in bold and dramatic ways. There’s nothing wrong with this expectation because the Bible reveals it over and over. But there is another side to the power of God working in our lives, and that is the daily release in every situation to accomplish what is right and which is impossible in our own ability. The Holy Spirit – the Spirit of power – is in us to empower us in all we do, not only in the big things. It comes down to what it means to be set apart for God.
Perhaps the greatest testimony we can ever offer is to live our lives according to His will. That’s because we live in a world where compromise is expected. To take a stand in the name of God and not follow the crowd takes courage. But it takes the power of God at work in us as well. His power is what enables us to not conform to popular opinion, to reject what is not of God, and to love with His love. To carry the name of God is no small privilege or responsibility. It means we have a lot to live up to, not the least of which is full obedience and yieldedness to God’s will in all things. His power at work in us empowers us to do what is impossible in the natural – to live the example of Jesus.
Living in the power of God.
A lot of the time, we’re distracted by the demands and pressures of life and tend to fall back into compartmentalising life. There’s God-stuff and me-stuff, and we’re expected to get on with the me-stuff and depend on Him for the rest. Sadly, while we mean well, this effectively excludes God from a good chunk of our lives. The reality is that the power of God is available to us in every area. It is His power at work within us constantly that sets us apart for His glory. A wonderful example of this is Stephen, a simple waiter on tables whose life was completely surrendered to the Spirit. He displayed the full power of God at every level, and this was what defined him as a man of God. He didn’t ‘do’ God’s power, he lived it completely. It was an everyday way of life in everything he did.
The simple fact is that we need the power of God to live His will and purpose in everything. We need it to curb the tongue and still the impatience. A critical response or angry retort can be prevented by relying on His power. It can lead us into right decisions, however small. Avoiding gossip is another weakness that we need His power for. When it comes down to it, there is nothing in life that we don’t need the power of God to overcome. The flesh is headstrong and easily persuaded. Little compromises add up to large errors. God’s power within us starts with the little things of life, gradually transforming us into the image of Jesus so that the dramatic outworkings of His power can be released through us. A life surrendered in the small things will be the life that manifests the great things.
The power of God is to set apart.
We need to remember that God’s name is above all names. We cannot bear His name and continue as we were before. There has to be separation, a definite difference between God’s people and the world. The power of God working in and through us is what enables this. Signs and wonders and miracles have their place and are part of the purpose of God. But He is as concerned that we be set apart in the ordinary things of life by His extraordinary empowerment to do what we cannot. We are intended to live supernaturally in a natural world as examples of what His power is able to accomplish. Our purpose is to live in the power on a daily basis, not as a rare exception. Consistency in right living is as bold a testimony as a single miracle because it speaks of faithfulness and commitment.
Power to live each moment of every day is what sets us apart. In looking only to the bold and dramatic revelations of the power of God, we miss out on His fundamental purpose. He wants to reveal His power and glory in us in even the ordinary things. It’s up to us to yield all to His purposes.
Lord, forgive us if we’ve held back the ordinary things and so limited the extraordinary things You desire to work in our lives. Help us to yield each moment of every day to Your purposes and to see Your power in transforming each choice and decision to a manifestation of You. Set us apart, Lord, as vessels for Your glory.