Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Daniel 1:8b-9 (Holman) “He asked permission from the chief official not to defile himself. God had granted Daniel favor and compassion from the chief official.”
The most powerful factor in Daniel’s life was not King Nebuchadnezzar, but God. God wrote Daniel’s name in His book of life long before the king changed his name. The Lord was in control of Daniel’s affairs. Needing a leader of influence to protect His people, God chose Daniel, and protected him.
To achieve His purposes in our lives, God protects us, and superintends our affairs. To help Daniel, God used officials in Nebuchadnezzar’s own court. When baby Moses was floating down the river, God used Pharaoh’s daughter to save him. To deliver Joseph, God used Pharaoh’s chief butler. When Paul and Silas needed their wounds nursed, God saved the jailer and had him do it.
God is Sovereign. He rules in the affairs of people, and watches over His children in love. His eye never leaves His people. “Anyone who touches you touches the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8).
God protects us. He also empowers us. We can accomplish nothing worthwhile without Him. God has to provide all the power we require to be successful in holiness. Jesus verified this when He commissioned the disciples.
John 20:21-22 Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” After saying this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus outwardly breathed on His disciples to picture His inwardly giving them the Holy Spirit to empower them. Knowing the disciples would fail alone, He gave to them power they would require. The mission is His. The power is His.
Unless we let Jesus breathe His power into us regularly, we cannot be effective servants for Him. But if we habitually become lungs into which God exhales, the oxygen of His power will routinely flow to every fiber of our being.
Jesus wants to regularly breathe into us the mightiest power people have ever known. It is a power which has proven its potency in many spheres.
The in-breathing power Jesus gives us is strong enough to spark physical life. “Breathed” is the same term used in the Septuagint for God’s original giving of life to man. God “breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7b). As my son took his first gasp of air at birth, our Christian doctor said, “Learn a lesson, Preacher. Your son’s breath did not come from inside himself. He took it from the atmosphere, from God’s air.” This is the power Jesus gives us to live in victory for Him.
The in-breathing power Jesus gives us is potent enough to trigger resurrection life. “Breathed” in our text is the same verb God used at the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:9). The Lord said, “Breath, come from the four winds, and breathe into these slain so that they may live!” The result of God’s in-breathing power was resurrection, life from death. “They came to life and stood on their feet.” This is the power Jesus gives us for holy living.
The in-breathing power Jesus gives us is strong enough to produce the only perfect book ever written, the Bible. “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16 NASB). This is the power Jesus gives us to live for Him.
The in-breathing power Jesus gives us is potent enough to bring people salvation. Jesus told Nicodemus he had to be born of the Spirit to enter the Kingdom (John 3:5). We are so depraved that, without the Holy Spirit wooing us, we would not want Jesus, we would perish in the very shadow of the cross.
But once God in-breathes, spiritual life is given to us. This life-giving power Jesus provides us at salvation is offered to us on an ongoing basis to make victorious Christian living possible.
This is the power we must regularly receive to live holy lives. We share Erwin Hatch’s prayer, which was inspired by the words of Jesus in our text:
Breathe on me, Breath of God, Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love, And do what Thou wouldst do.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, Till I am wholly thine,
Till all this earthly part of me glows with Thy fire divine.
God’s in-breathing power is the fire we need. Missionary Amy Carmichael asked God, “Give me . . . the passion that will burn like fire . . . Make my Thy fuel, Flame of God.” The Salvation Army motto, “Blood and Fire,” conveys the needed message. God’s in-breathing power, due to the blood of Christ, cleanses us. The same in-breathing power, dispensing to us the Holy Spirit, empowers us.
One biographer said Charles G. Finney’s preaching success was due to his being armed by the reality of regeneration (blood) and anointed with an accolade of fire. McCheyne said it this way, “Christ for us is all our righteousness before a holy God (blood); Christ in us is all our strength in an ungodly world (fire).”
Our desire for more power must never diminish. Jesus’ word, “receive,” literally means “take.” Taking is as conscious an act of the will as is giving.
A hand stretched out to give is frustrated unless another hand is stretched out to receive. If God’s power were automatic, we would take it for granted. By having to ask, to take, we are constantly reminded where the power comes from.
Our need is constant. Strangers in a pagan land, citizens of a foreign world, creatures of heaven’s land, we are forced to live out of our element, like a land animal having to delve into ocean depths. Before we try anything for God, be a wise “deep-sea-diver.” Before we try to worship, serve, or go, “take the breath” we need. We achieve little without repeatedly drawing from heaven’s air tank.
Our lungs never cease feeling the need to breathe earth’s air. May a corresponding desire for Heaven’s air never abate in our spirit. The first is no more essential to our physical well-being than the latter is to our spiritual good.
We believers consciously “took” Jesus at our conversion. May we constantly be doing the same with the Holy Spirit’s power every moment of life.
Dr. James Gray, former president of Moody Bible Institute, said we need to ponder to Whom our physical bodies are to be given for use. It’s not to the Father, who remains on the throne, nor to the Son, who has His own physical body, but to the Holy Spirit, who comes to labor on earth without a body. The Spirit could have donned a body, as Jesus did, but chose not to. We believers are granted the unspeakable privilege and indescribable honor of presenting our bodies to the Holy Spirit, to be His dwelling place, His instrument of activity on Earth.
We accomplish this successful embodiment for the Holy Spirit by staying focused on Jesus, the One who does the in-breathing. The Holy Spirit ever diverts attention from Himself, pointing us to Jesus. When we come to “take” Holy Spirit power, we come to Jesus to get it.
The deepest essence of our faith is romancing Jesus. Jesus three times quizzed Peter, “Do you love Me?” (John 21). This issue had to be settled. Our ultimate requirement is keeping our hearts focused on, and white hot for, Jesus.
Fifty days after our text, on the Day of Pentecost, “Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying” (Acts 2:2). When the wind began to blow, someone may have said, “Listen, I think I hear Jesus.” Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Peter preached later that day about Jesus. Amen! Keep everything focused on the Son who bled and died that we might be saved and live in victory.
Two years after I surrendered to preach and began to preach, God called me to preach. I was in Pastor Loren Robinson’s study at First Baptist Church, Chaffee MO, going over sermon notes for the evening message in a youth revival. While in prayer, I heard the organist, a cousin of my future wife, playing as a prelude, “Holy Spirit, Breathe On Me.” I began singing the song’s chorus as a prayer.
Breathe on me, breathe on me, Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
Take Thou my heart, cleanse ev’ry part, Holy Spirit, breathe on me.
While I was singing this prayer, God called me to preach. The call endured. I wish the spirit of contrition and surrender I experienced in the Pastor’s study had also remained constant.
Let’s learn to pray the prayer often, and ask God to make it stick. May a spirit of contrition and surrender never diminish within us.