1 Corinthians 2:4-5 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
I believe that I serve a God of power. Not just 2,000 years ago, but now. Here. Somewhere along the way the church has forgotten this and has lost the faith to believe for it. And so now all our preaching has to be eloquent and clever. The skill of the preacher energizes an otherwise average message. The power of personality is displayed instead of the power of God. And so, men and women trust in the cleverly worded sermons and the artful turn of a phrase and never see a glorious Christ with the power to save.
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But where is the power of God? Where is the radical transformation of a life that has been touched by fire from heaven? Where are disciples ablaze with an otherworldly love and passion?
These cannot be produced by the thrashings of our fleshly attempts at ministry. We need a move of God. The world is waiting.
The final portrait is your own and it remains unfinished. Each day it is being painted, moment by moment and choice by choice. With each rising of the sun you are given another opportunity to pour your life out for Jesus, to forsake all to follow Him, to count your life as not dear to yourself and to live boldly for the glory of Jesus alone. As His purchased possession, do we dare live unto ourselves? As His bride, why would we even want to?
So now… what will we do? Will we be satisfied with the safe and comfortable life, with church attendance, with a good work here and there? Can that possibly be enough? Or perhaps we will hear through these portraits from the past, the call to a passionate pursuit of Jesus – a pursuit that disregards the opinion of man, religious tradition and our own reputation. A pursuit that will no doubt lead us to the foot of the cross again and again and to a very real forsaking of all to follow Him. Oh that we might hear the call to run after Him with all our hearts and let our lives be poured out at His feet. Listen carefully… do you hear it now?
The apostle Paul was a man selected by Jesus to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Incredible miracles were performed through this man. He wrote two thirds of the New Testament, had visions of heaven and made disciples of Jesus everywhere he went. He threw away a respectable future in religion for the sake of a gospel that was hated by those whose favor he had once courted. And he never looked back. He was a man that walked with God. Yet as intimately as Paul knew the Lord, as he approached the end of his life his cry was “that I may know him.” His life had become a constant pursuit. His gaze was fixed upon One infinitely more glorious, more desirable, then anything he had known before and a glimpse of His glory had ignited a hunger and thirst within his soul that could not be quenched. And for the remainder of his life he was willing to suffer the greatest of hardships for the name of Jesus Christ and for the sake of His gospel.
The sinful woman was a well-known character in her town. The people whispered about her when she passed by. She tried to ignore them but mostly attempted to avoid them. There were a thousand reasons she could justify her lifestyle. Until that one day… and that one Man. She heard His words and they pierced her heart. Confronted with a God whose mercy was extended even to her, all the years of coldness and hardness of heart began to melt away. And in a moment, a glorious moment, she became a different woman. A forgiven woman. Her life was so transformed and her heart so full, that she searched Him out and found Him… at dinner with the religious folks. Certainly she knew the ridicule, the rejection she risked by approaching Him in such a setting, but she was compelled by love and a heart overflowing with gratitude to do it. And as they sneered and scorned, she wept at His feet the tears of the redeemed. The religious crowd hated her for her emotional display, but to Jesus it was precious and He memorialized her forever for it.
King David was a man elevated from shepherd boy to king. Not elevated by man, but hand chosen by God Himself. He experienced victory over all his enemies, fame throughout the nations, amassed great wealth, and enjoyed the goodwill of his people. Yet none of that satisfied him. Hear the longing of his heart:
”One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.“ Psalm 27:4
If the temple had been in existence at that time David’s longing to dwell in the house of the Lord would have been more understandable. Who wouldn’t enjoy meeting with God amidst the ornate carving and abundance of gold in Solomon’s temple? But during the life of David there was no temple. The ark of God remained in a tabernacle of skins and curtains as it had done since the days of Moses. King David had built for himself a house of cedar, certainly something grand and palatial – suitable for a king. Yet his heart longed more intensely for the tent where God was than the comfort of his own dwelling.
Kings belong in palaces, not tents. Yet Almighty God dwelt in a tent, and that made it a palace to David.
Zacchaeus was a tax collector, a despised man, considered a traitor to his country. Among a thronging crowd of religious followers he would have been an unlikely and unwelcomed character. While he may not have had the good opinion of his fellow Jews, he certainly had everything else. Everything that money could buy anyway. But that was no longer enough Zacchaeus and maybe it hadn’t been for some time. One wonders if, at night when all was quiet, the emptiness of his soul was exposed. Desperate to see this Jesus he had heard of, he ignored the hateful glaring stares that were surely cast his way as he attempted to push through the crowd. Unable to get through, he went up. Up into a tree, undignified but determined. What a spectacle he made of himself that day. The little man in the tree! How the crowd must have laughed at him. But only for a moment, for when Jesus passed by He called him by name and came to his house for lunch and Zacchaeus had a feast of grace. Zacchaeus ended that day owning much less than when it began, yet now he possessed everything.
I recently took some time off from work to be alone with God. I went away to a place near the water and spent a lot of time outside, reading my Bible, praying, loving Jesus.
In the evenings I would eat supper outside, watching the beautiful colors of the sunset. Each evening a group of about five birds would appear and they would fly above the tree tops. They would flap their wings a few times and then catch a current of air and be lifted and soar. There didn’t seem to be any purpose to their flight. They weren’t going anywhere, but seemed to just circle around and around, as though they were enjoying the ride.
And as I watched them I thought “They were made for this and look how great a delight they take in it.” And I imagined that this brought God much pleasure.
There are things that God gives me opportunity to do, and in the doing I realize “I was made for this.” In these things my heart is lifted and I feel as though I could soar there forever. And my delight in God nearly explodes in my soul and I sense His pleasure in it.