As most of us know, these are some of the last words Jesus said on the cross. The cross was not optional. There was no plan B. Jesus Himself asked the Father if there was not some way to allow Him to avoid this bitter cup. But He surrendered Himself to the Father’s will at the greatest personal cost so that through His death there might be a resurrection. Praise God, what a Savior.
In Romans 8:28-29, the Apostle Paul tells us that God is working all things for our good. He does not say all things are good, but that God is working in everything that happens in our lives for a definite purpose: to mold us into the image of Jesus Christ. For this to happen it requires that my old life be broken down so that He can reshape us for His glory.
Discipleship is developed through a process of God-directed discipline. It is designed by the Holy Spirit to move us from a self-centered focus on life to seeing and dealing with life from His God-centered focus.
It is imperative that we must realize that God’s discipline is going to bring us to a point of distress. Our world is rocked, turned upside down, and nothing is working as it is supposed to. We keep telling God what needs to happen when, where, how, etc., because He is seemingly not doing what needs to be done to fix this. So apparently it is up to us.
Today, I want to look at the evidence of healthy soil. The foremost evidence is the presence of fruit of the Spirit in our lives. In Luke 8, healthy soil bears an ongoing harvest that increases its yield through persevering, thru pressing faithfully, diligently in to His presence. In John 15, Jesus tells His disciples that they will bear fruit as long as they abide in Him. Without abiding, we can do nothing that will result in healthy fruit. In verses 9-17, Jesus defines abiding as a love relationship with Christ that is lived out in obedience in which it is possible to live as the friend of God experiencing His love, His joy, His peace through intimacy with Him. But this will demand a life totally given over to the His agenda even if it means suffering for the present. Abiding is not a matter of passive possession but of active pursuit through which we deny ourselves, take up His cross daily and follow after Him.
We are living in a culture where so many Christian’s lives are in an anemic state. Somehow, we have allowed ourselves to be lulled into the mistruth that God’s grace requires nothing of us. The simple fact is relationship always demands responsibility. This has been an essential part of God’s design from the beginning. Those who come into relationship with Christ will always be called to join Him in His mission to impact the world. We can never truly experience the fullness of His Spirit until our lives are fully surrendered to His will.
Revival is a term that signifies that life that has been allowed to ebb away has once again returned to vibrancy. For God’s people it requires we take hold with fervency to the life Christ gives and intends for us. To take hold implies a letting go, a rejecting of anything that is keeping us from Him. Jesus said in Luke 9 that we must jettison our attachments to the life this world craves to experience the life He designed and desires for us.
It is not uncommon to get so caught up in the demands of living that my passion, my energy for life dries up. What started out as a simple diversion, to help relieve the pressures of the day, now has a stranglehold on me. My argument may be that these are “sinless” substitutes, but no matter, they have become weights on my soul that do not satisfy the ache of longing that is always there. The essential element of life, my relationship with God, has been neglected due to a maxed out schedule and a weariness of mind and body that desires to be entertained rather than invest in the time and energy that a walk with Christ requires. Attitudes have crept in that keep me hostage to my baser desires and emotions rather than those that glorify the Lord.