A little girl came home from school and said to her mother, “Mommy, today in school I was punished for something I didn’t do.” The mother exclaimed, “That’s terrible! I’m going to have a talk with your teacher about this. By the way, what was it that you didn’t do?”
“My homework,” she replied
We all have things, jobs, to do. But sometimes we don’t rise to the occasion. We don’t believe we fit the bill. The job’s too big or it’s something we’re not comfortable doing. But we also know there is more in us than we have shown so far. Scripture says, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Ti 1:7
The Lord wants something of real value from you. Your life needs to account for more than what can be done by mere human power. God is willing to invest his own strength and might in you to accomplish things that bring glory to the Lord.
Don’t keep standing in God’s way. Put aside the negative thoughts that keep you chained to returning to only what you already can do. Your days of blessing the Lord with something more than what you’ve done and been are here and now.
We all want to be successful in our lives but the Lord seeks you to accomplish something with your life.
It’s easy to get trapped in urgent matters. We lack confidence to go beyond what we know we can get done. Getting to a place of comfort in life has its advantages.
But these are the way people live who don’t live with a deeper commitment to God. It’s okay faith that says I believe so and so two thousand years ago did something extraordinary. Biblical faith however says I believe I can do something today or tomorrow that is out of the ordinary for me here and now.
The Bible tells you to “(t)rust in the LORD with all your heart…. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” There’s nothing here about believing that so-and-so was someone God used in a special way. Trusting God is about where you’re going and what you’re doing. This is what Zacchaeus understood. When Jesus came to Jericho, Zacchaeus, a very successful tax collector, left his office in order to see Jesus and listen to him. But because the crowds were too thick and he was too
short he had to run ahead of the direction Jesus was going and find his own spot. He found it in a tree he climbed.
That’s where Jesus saw him. You got to know Jesus could recognize in an instant someone whose heart was ready for more, whose life as lived so far was not enough. A rich man up in a tree is a sure indication of a person who still wants to accomplish something for the Lord.
Some people might have faith in God, but what they’re lacking is faith in themselves. That day, Zacchaeus realized he was the one who could make the difference.
Someone thinks, “Sure, God wants people who can accomplish things for the kingdom but I’m not that person.” Or, “I used to be that kind of person but after all the stuff I’ve done bad there’s not much good left in me.” Or, “I’d like to be but time has passed me by.”
Excuses are so difficult to see. It’s hard to know when we’re making them. But they all have the same result: We stay right where we’ve been for too long. We don’t reach the blessing we’re seeking; we don’t overcome what’s defeating us; we don’t fulfill what other people and the Lord see in us.
Be honest with yourself. Stop making excuses. Agree with someone who is calling on you to take responsibility for something that’s yours.
Even a little bit more honesty and a little bit less of excuses is all God needs to put his power at work within us. Give the Lord an inch of room and you will get a mile of results. Let God have the first step and he will guide you for the thousand mile journey.
You don’t have to be extraordinary already. The Lord will fit the job for you. You provide the body and mind, the time or talent, prayers or treasure, you provide the ten minutes a day or an hour or so a week, and the Lord will accomplish something extraordinary with you and something that brings glory to God.
I like the story that happened in a cathedral that was being built. A man stopped to watch some stonemasons do some speciality work. One was chiseling a triangular piece of rock. The observer couldn’t see where that particular piece was going to go so he asked the stonemason where he was going to put it. The workman said, “Do you see that little opening up there near the spire? Well, I’m shaping this stone down here so that it will fit in up there.”
When God works on us and within us we will always fit in and belong up high and in close to the Lord.
Paul knows this is true. This is why he didn’t give just a little bit of himself. He gave God his whole life. He wrote in Romans, “…present your bodies as a living sacrifice,” the body here meaning 100% commitment to God’s will and work.
But what he’s really after in our scripture passage is teaching us that God’s power can be at work within us. God’s power is at work not just in certain people who meet certain criteria. There are no limits or only certain groups here. God’s working knows no limitation because of people.
This is the Gospel Paul’s talking about, the good news for everyone, no matter where they are on life’s journey, or where they’ve been before. It’s for everyone.
He also says this is God’s power at work in us. In other words, there is more to us than our own strength and labor. Some people have shown this in remarkable, physical ways. In 1982, in Lawrenceville, Georgia, Tony Cavallo was repairing a 1964 Chevrolet Impala automobile from underneath. The vehicle was propped up with jacks, but it fell. Cavallo’s mother lifted the car high enough and long enough for two neighbors to replace the jacks and pull Tony from beneath the car. In 2009, in Ottawa, Kansas, 5 ft 7 in, 185 lb Nick Harris lifted a Mercury sedan to help a 6-year-old girl pinned beneath.
In 2012, 22-year-old Lauren Kornacki rescued her father after the jack used to prop up his BMW slipped, pinning him under it. Lauren lifted the car, then performed CPR on her father, saving his life.
We have the holy power of God in us to do amazing things. Believe it. Find it. Accomplish something for God with it.
I don’t know about you but I’m not a big fan of squeezing oranges for orange juice. I like the orange to be all together. I mean it’s alright if I don’t see the oranges after they’ve been worked over. I drink fresh squeezed oj just fine.
But when I see a squeezed out orange sitting on a counter, all its juice removed from it, I get a little sad. I know it sounds strange. But I don’t think orange pulp and orange juice should be separated. They belong together. When we squeeze out the juice, oranges look all beaten up and dried out and good for nothing.
And that’s us without the power of God within us.
We squeeze and squeeze ourselves. Sure, life starts to beat the power of God and the grace of the Spirit out of our lives. But then we take over and finish the job. We decide the safest route is to take control of every aspect of our lives. The effect is to drain so much of God’s power and might.
Living dried up, tired, with only a tiny drop or two of faith in the Lord and love of God is not the Lord’s work. Lift your hand off the juicer. Stop pushing down on yourself, grinding your spirit, squishing your faith, drying out the grace of God. The Lord wants to fill you up with power from on high. God seeks to refresh you by pouring his spirit in you.
Let go of your fears that fail you and doubts that drain you. God is mighty within you to accomplish something for his glory because of you.
The truth is God refuses to do anything but keep trying. The Lord can work in all situations and circumstances, in all people. The power at work within all of us is mighty and unceasing.
Sometimes it takes something special to break through for us to realize this however.
A woman remembers the day her brother, Keith, died at the age of 20. Both he and his best friend were killed in a motorcycle accident on a foggy night when the driver of a car didn’t see them.
She says, “I have never forgiven myself because that evening I phoned my Mom and Dad’s house, Keith answered and I just said, ‘Hi Keith, can I speak to Mom please?’ Not, ‘how was your day’ or ‘I love you.’ How was I to know that I was never going to speak to him or see him again?”
She says she and her husband Bryan decided to celebrate their 25th anniversary in Mauritius and renew their wedding vows. One day she came across a story of a mom whose son had died in a motorcycle accident one day. The woman couldn’t come to terms with the fact that she hadn’t kissed him as he left or wished him a good day. She had just said, “Bye, see you later.”
She says, “I started to cry. My husband tried to comfort me. He said Keith knew I loved him, but that didn’t help. I said I wanted proof. Within seconds of saying that a dove landed between Bryan’s and my feet. It was the most amazing experience. I knew then that I was forgiven.”
She finishes by encouraging others not to let a day go by without telling your nearest and dearest you love them.
God’s will is not for you to do something amazing and huge in other people’s estimation. God seeks for you accomplish what fits you and your life. The small things first. This is what brings glory to God.
It’s easy to get trapped by everyday matters, to squeeze ourselves into what’s pressing at the moment. But Scripture tells us if necessary go climb a tree. Find a way to set your sights on the Lord. Let God know again and again you’re available for a job that fits you.
Because it’s true. God’s mighty power is working within us. We are meant to accomplish beyond what we even ask for and imagine. To God be the glory now and forever.
Can the church say Amen?