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Not by Brawn by J. Vernon McGee


Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of Jehovah unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts.                                                                                                                                Zec 4:6 

You could characterize the greatest national force the world has ever seen with one word: power! Rome was the greatest power machine the world has ever seen. The legions of Rome marched on every frontier. They were invincible and victorious. But one day they took into custody a Man who seemed to be very weak. Pilate said to Him, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” The Lord Jesus answered, “You would have not power over me if it were not given to you from above.”

Today we have a perspective on that. The legions of Rom have marched into oblivion. As Kipling said, “The tumult and the shouting die, the captains and the kings depart.” They are all gone. But the gospel of that Man who died on the cross is still being carried by weak men to the ends of the earth… by men who are as weak as you and I. This death was a victory.

God is not impressed by brawn and a display of muscle. The church goes forward today like a little Samson shorn of its locks of power. It parades up and down, boasting of its accomplishments, and, like Samson, it does not know that the Spirit of God has departed from it. The thing that makes this so tragic is that the church could go forward like a little David with a simple slingshot of the Holy Spirit, to meet the enemy with all of his stratagems, and come away with a victory!

Oh how we need the power of the Holy Spirit! God’s work in the world is not done by brawn. It is accomplished only by His Spirit.

For I will not dare to speak of any things save those which Christ wrought through me, for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Holy Spirit; so that from Jerusalem, and round about even unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.                               Rom 15:18-19 

Oh, if we only recognized that we can do nothing in our own strength for God! It would cause us to cast ourselves upon Him and get connected with the real powerhouse, the Holy Spirit. God’s will and God’s work is instigated, promoted, and carried through to a successful accomplishment by the Holy Spirit, apart from man’s ability and help.

God utterly and entirely repudiates the work of the flesh. He will have nothing of it. The day in which we live is impressed by brawn, that which reveals muscle. Well, the dinosaurs were big, but they are not here today. But the lowly, little flea is still with us! Powerful nations flex their muscles. So what? The time will come when God will put them down.

More on this subject? Read this book.
It is man who made the din of the city with its nerve-shattering noises. It is man who made the horn and the siren, the gaudy and garish lights that illuminate the brick and cement canyons of our cities. In contrast, God made the silent depths of the forest with its pleasant shadows.

It is the spring of the year as I write this, traveling through Illinois… oh, what a carpet of green has been laid down! And in Missouri the trees are beginning to leaf out. In Kansas the grain is coming up. Then out on the desert the flowers are unfolding. It is beautiful. Today, my friend, the nitrogen is silently crawling up the stalks and up the limbs, making leaves and flowers. There is enough power being released to blow this little earth to smithereens! God is doing it without any show, without any display. It is not by might; it is not by brawn. “It is by my Spirit,” says the Lord.
J. Vernon McGee


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