Power of Attorney
POWER OF ATTORNEY
By Mark E. Hardgrove, D.Min.
Text: Mark 13:32-37, NKJV
32 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming - in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning - 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"
If you were going to be away from your home and your business for several months or even years, who would you trust your home, your pets, your plants, and finances to? This past week I visited my father and because of his fading eyesight he isn't able to manage his finances so he gave me Power of Attorney. He handed over his credit cards, debit card, and he gave me the authority to manage all of his financial and medical affairs. I consider this to be an act of absolute trust on his part, and it is a responsibility that I take on with the utmost seriousness and diligence.
I told my dad that he can call me any time and I will give him an accounting of all expenditures, all his income, the balance, and I'll answer any and all questions he has about any of his money. I told him that all I want to do is to help him save and keep more of his own money, rather than simply giving it away to people who are all too willing to take from him anything that he is willing to give.
Now look at our text for this morning. Jesus is telling us that we are living in this age with the Power of Attorney for the Heavenly Father. Look at verse 34. Jesus said: "It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work." We will come back to this verse, but look at how Jesus sets up this statement.
I) THE IMMINENT RETURN
After a series of passages in which Jesus tells us that He is going to return, and He warns us all to be sober, to be diligent, to be watching and waiting for His return, Jesus concludes with our text. He said that no one except the Father knows the day or the hour when the Son of God will return, but in the meantime, in the time between Jesus' ascension and Jesus' return, we are told in verse 33 to, "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is."
This means that the return of Christ is imminent, it is "about to happen, forthcoming, looming, or impending." It means that Jesus could return at any moment and we the church are to be ready at all times. We are to live in a state of readiness, always prepared. We are to be like the five wise virgins with oil in our lamps, because we will not have time to go out and buy oil if we have not already prepared when the midnight call goes out that the Bridegroom is coming. We need to be prayed up, paid up and ready to go up when the Lord shows up.
I used to hear the old saints say, "I've got my bags packed and my ticket in my hand." I remember as a kid that the preaching and the teaching was always a powerful reminder that Jesus could come back today, and we would sing, "Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon, many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound. All of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the skies, going where no one dies, heavenward bound."
Jesus says to get ready because He could come at any moment and in light of His imminent return Jesus gives us three instructions. First, He said, "take heed." In the Greek that is one word (blepo), which means "to look at." In other words, Jesus says, "Be looking." In another place Jesus said, "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near" (Luke 21:28, NKJV).
As a child growing up in the hills of West Virginia, it was always an exciting day when one of my cousins would come in from Ohio, Illinois, or Arkansas for a visit. We never knew the hour when they would get there, we only knew the day. So on that day I'd walk out the dirt lane to my grandmother's house, sit on her big porch swing, and wait there looking down the road for my cousins to come in for a visit. I'd sit and swing and sing, and look, and wait, and look, and sometimes go out to the road and look upon and down the road for signs of a car. I didn't care if it took all day; I was going to be sitting on the porch waiting for them when they got there. What was I doing? I was doing what Jesus tells us to do in our text; I was "taking heed." We don't know the day or the hour, so we should always take heed, we should always be looking and listening for His return.
The second thing Jesus tells us is to "watch." This word is from the Greek word a-groop-neh-o, which literally means "to be awake." It means to be "sleepless." Now of course Jesus didn't mean this literally, but figuratively it means that we must stay alert, we must remain spiritually awake, we must not grow weary in well doing, we must stand our post and stay on guard. It's easy to get lax, to let down our guard, to go with the flow and to just spiritually fall asleep. What does that look like? It looks like someone who is no longer faithful to God's church, to God's Word, or to prayer or fasting.
Finally, Jesus said to pray. A person who is spiritually asleep is no longer praying like they used to. Oh, they may say a "now I lay me down to sleep" kind of prayer, but they no longer tarry before the Lord, they no longer pray until they pray through, and they no longer allow the Holy Spirit to pray through them. They just sort slide an obligatory prayer out of the side of their mouth from time to time, but they know and God knows that they no longer have a dynamic prayer life where they commune with God and enter into His presence in the secret places so that the Heavenly Father may bless them in the public places. Jesus said, take heed, watch and pray. He is saying, "Be looking, stay alert, and keep on praying, for you do not know when the time of My return is."
II) THE IMPORTANT MISSION
Then in verse 34 Jesus said of this age, "It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch." Jesus often uses the illustration of this age as that of servants caring for the Master's vineyard, or being stewards over the Master's money, to describe the role of the church in the world today.
The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, and we are His servants who were created to tend the Garden and to be about our Master's business. Like Joseph, we will always find God's favor when we are faithful in our service. It may be in Potiphar's house, or it may be in the prison, or it may be in the palace, but wherever we are, if we are faithful, we will find God's favor.
Look what Jesus said, "It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants." Jesus tells us that we don't know when He's coming back, but it could be any day. He said we are to be looking, to be awake, and to be praying, but in the meantime, while the Master is away, we have been given authority. The Greek word for authority is exousia.
In Luke chapter 10, verse 19, Jesus said, "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you." Until Jesus returns for the church, we have been given exousia (or authority) over all the dunamis (or power) of the enemy. Make no mistake, the enemy has power. He has power over anyone and everyone who cowers when he roars. He has power over those who refuse to follow Christ. He has power over the kingdom of darkness and the demonic forces that serve him there, but thank God, as a child of God, I have authority over all the power of the enemy.
My puppy is German Shepherd. She's a big puppy and she'll be an even bigger dog, but I have authority. When I say sit down, she sits. When I say go to your cage, she goes into her cage and lies down. When I take her out on a leash, I decide where she goes, and how far and how fast she goes. If she tries to go too far, I jerk her back by her leash. She has power, but I have authority.
You need to remember who you are in the kingdom of God. You are the head and not the tail. You have authority over ALL the power of the enemy. You simply need to exercise your God given authority and jerk the leash back on the devil when he tries to drag you into temptation. You need to tell him to go lie down, to leave you alone, to crawl back into his hole and get his hands off of you, off of your finances, off of your family, and off of your health. Before Jesus ascended to the Father He gave us authority and we need to use it.
Not only have we been given authority over the power of the enemy, we have been given authority by the Master to handle His business until He comes. In the parable of the pounds (a pound is worth about $20), Jesus tells us: "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come."
In the New International Version it is translated, "Put this money to work until I return." He was giving the servants the authority to make investments for him until he returned. He didn't give them a lot, but what he gave them, he expected them to use for his benefit.
The point is that Jesus is telling us that we are to watch and pray for Jesus to return, but in the meantime, we have been given authority. God has given us Power of Attorney to conduct His business until Jesus returns to set up His kingdom upon this earth. As I said earlier, I have been given Power of Attorney by my father. On the form that my father signed it says:
The Agent is authorized to act for me under this Power of Attorney and shall exercise all the powers in my best interest and for my welfare.
The Agent shall have the full power and authority to manage and conduct all of my affairs, and to exercise my legal rights and powers, including those rights and powers that I may acquire in the future, including:
Collect and manage Transfers in trust
Buy and sell Delegation of authority
Borrow Business and banking
Proxy rights Safe deposit boxes
The point is that when a person is granted power of attorney, that agent acts in the place of the person he or she represents. I can even sign checks if I put POA after my name and it is on file with the bank. The Power of Attorney has all the resources, all the authority, and all the power to act on behalf of the person granting the power of attorney.
I think this is the point that gets some people in trouble. I am not given Power of Attorney to use my father's resources for my own gain. It's not about me, it's all about him. It's about him trusting me enough to use and invest his money in a manner that will be a benefit to him. The Bible says, "We have not because we ask not. We ask and receive not because we ask amiss that we may consume it upon our own desires." We are servants of the Master. This is our Father's world and He has given us the Power of Attorney to act in His interest, to advance His kingdom, to glorify His name, to use His resources to do His business. It was the Prodigal Son who used his inheritance for his own interests and who ultimately ended up destitute. It was the unprofitable servant who failed to invest his master's money. We have been given authority to work on behalf of the Master, to use His resources to achieve His objectives and to be of benefit to His kingdom. And if we will do that, we will experience God's favor, and we will be rewarded in eternity.
The reward is not in enriching ourselves here and now on the Master's money. The reward comes after we have proven that we can be faithful here and now with the resources He gives us so that one day when we stand before Him we will hear Him say, "Well, done good servant: because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities."
Not only did Jesus say that the Master gave the servants authority, but Jesus also said that the Master gave "to each his work." That simply means that we all have a role to play. We all have a gift, a talent, a place in the body of Christ where we are needed and where we become an integral part of the building up of the body of Christ. As I read the words of Jesus here, it seems that He is saying that we will not be ready for the Master's return if we are not finding and fulfilling the work that we've been given.
Let me ask you. Are you ready? Are you looking? Are you alert? Are you praying? Are you exercising your God given authority to do the work that He has given you to do in the kingdom? Are you ready for His return? In a time when there are earthquakes in diverse place, are you ready? In a time when the headline on news was, "Nature Has Gone Mad," are you ready?
This week I was reading an internet article that said the 8.8 Richter Scale earthquake in Chile was so powerful that it moved the earth on its axis and as a result each day has been shortened by 1.26 microseconds (a microsecond is a millionth of a second). I know that doesn't sound like much, but when I read that in the news, I immediately thought of the words of Jesus in our reading for today. In verse 20 Jesus said, "And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days." I also know, exegetically, that this is not what Jesus is talking about, but I just couldn't help but to be reminded that Jesus is coming soon. And light of this fact, Jesus says
35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming - in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning - 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" (Mark 13:35-37, NKJV)
If I didn't know, that I know, that I'm ready to go, I wouldn't leave here today until I settled that question in my heart. Are you ready? If you are sure that you are ready to meet the Master when He calls, let me ask you: Are you currently operating as God's Power of Attorney for the benefit of the kingdom of God? Are you engaged in your work, using His resources to accomplish His will? If you aren't then you will not find God's favor in your life, and even though you are a believer, you will struggle and falter and fail to live the life that God wants to give you here and now.