Sunday, January 18, 2009

How We Obtain God's Power

This morning, we had 31 people in our services who made a solemn, public commitment to live lives that are fully surrendered to God. These commitments came as a result of the challenge issued by Pastor Brent in his message that the Unstoppable Force of God's Holy Spirit is fueled by an unstoppable resolve inside us, the understanding and the acceptance that we must do whatever it takes to be obedient to God, our Ruler and Lord.

Scripture shows us that God has willingly surrendered what is by nature his--the right to enforce his good and perfect will on this world--because of his desire that we would truly love him. After all, love that is demanded or forced is not love at all. So he lays out his plan, he unfolds his wisdom for us to see, he demonstrates his great goodness and love for us, he woos us and calls us to himself... and then he waits for us to respond.

But our response doesn't happen all at once, for what we find is that as we surrender to him, he then invites us to take another step toward him, and another, and another, and another. At every point along the way, he invites us, and then waits for us to respond. So a life of following him, a life of maturity and discipleship, is acquired by adopting a lifestyle of continually responding to God.

Instead of responding to God as a lifestyle, what most of us settle for is responding to him in a moment, or at several moments over our lives. And instead of God shaping us, coloring us, indwelling us, and empowering us throughout our whole lives, what we have is little islands of God's influence in a sea of self. This is ultimately not a very satisfying way to live, nor is it very attractive to a skeptical world. And Satan seems to be more than happy to allow people to claim the name of Christ as long as their lives are basically ineffective and still usurrendered. Perhaps it's because he knows he still owns them.

The other choice we have is not perfection, but rather response. To say, "Well, no one's perfect" is a rather lame protest. It's true that no one but Jesus is perfect, but it's also true that there is a profound difference between those who live in continual response to God's call and those who do not. There are occasions in which I fail God, and they are far more frequent than I would like. Nevertheless, the continual cry of my heart is that God would keep showing me where he wants me to go, that he would give me the courage to do it, and that glory and honor would come to him through my obedience.

This is what 31 people have signed on for: a lifestyle of response to God's invitations--no matter what. This matters, because we become what we commit to.

I am praying for those people. I am praying that:

  • They would experience new-found power in areas of their lives that have seemed to be insurmountable problems in the past;
  • They would find peace in surrendering, hope in trial, and joy in victory;
  • They would be ready for the reisistance that comes from following Jesus;
  • Both the victories and the resistance would open up opportunities for them to share with others about their relationship with God.

What is worth giving our lives to? A moon mission? Global warming? Wealth and power? I think it all pales in comparison to the cause in which Christ has already enlisted us--the spread of his rule on this earth, starting in my own heart and emanating out to the rest of the globe.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 NIV

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