If you have been born again - repented of your past sin, chosen to believe in the one and only Son of God for your salvation, and given your life from that day forward to following him - then something extraordinary is inside of you. The Holy Spirit. Did you know that this same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead LIVES IN YOU (Romans 8:11)? Think about that for a minute. The same power that took a dead human and resurrected him to life lives inside of you. Now with that in mind, consider Jesus’ words to his disciples:
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
And consider Paul’s praise to God in his letter to the church of Ephesus:
Glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Wow. I love those words. God’s spirit in us can accomplish more than we might ask or think! God can work through us. He invites us to take part in His work. Even in the most doubt-filled situations, even in the most worst-case-scenarios, even in the most uncomfortable and non-appealing places, God’s power in us can get 'er done. But as has been my own heart many times, I often say no when these opportunities come. I strain and scramble to stay in my comfort zone, even when I feel God leading me out. For example, a few weeks ago I received a text message from a youth group leader inviting me to share my faith testimony to a group of about 15-20 high school girls in our community. Well, if Facebook had a dislike button and a public speaking page, let’s just say I would hit dislike for public speaking about 50 million times. I mean really, who can get up and speak in front of others unless they have the gift of teaching, right? So, I decided not to text this youth leader back. I knew I couldn’t do it, but I felt bad in saying no, so I just didn’t respond. Then, about a week later I got the same text message again. This time however, that Romans 8:11 verse was part of the material we were studying in my women’s bible study on this particular week. And that’s when it hit me that if God’s spirit could raise Jesus from the dead, then that same spirit would certainly help me to speak clearly and share my testimony to a group of young girls. So that time I said yes, only because I knew I could rely on God to speak through me.
So why? Why do we tell God no when it seems He is giving us an opportunity to live by His Spirit in our actions? Francis Chan’s book, Forgotten God gives the answer. FEAR. He gives details about 3 different types of fears that can hold us back from allowing God to use us.
1) The fear of rejection ~ When we worry about how others will view us, how friends/family will respond, or how we will be labeled or even misunderstood.
2) The fear that God won’t come through ~ The fear of God failing us leads us to ‘cover for God’. We ask for less, expect less, and are satisfied with less because we are afraid to ask for or expect more.
3) The fear that God will show up ~ What if God does show up but then asks you to go somewhere or do something that’s uncomfortable? For many people, fearing that God will ask them to go in a difficult, undesirable direction outweighs the fear that God will ignore them.
In the spirit of Christmas-time let’s talk about the virgin Mary. She showcased the ultimate obedience and submission to God’s will in allowing God to use her to accomplish His purpose of bringing our Savior into the world as a human baby. Mary was young, poor, and female. Each of these characteristics made her an unlikely candidate of this time period to be used by God. And the biggest obstacle - Mary was only engaged to Joseph, not yet married. My Bible notes explain the implications of pregnancy for Mary’s situation in this way: A young unmarried girl who became pregnant risked disaster. Unless the father of the child agreed to marry her, she would probably remain unmarried for life. If her own father rejected her she could be forced into begging or prostitution in order to earn her living. And Mary, with her story about being made pregnant by the Holy Spirit, risked being considered crazy as well.
Joseph obviously had a huge decision to make in this too....would he stay or would he go....but that’s a whole other story. For now, picture yourself in Mary’s shoes. An angel just told you that you were going to be with child and eventually give birth to God’s son…and all of this through the work of the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine? Mary could have caved by any of the three fears above. They all applied. But she didn’t. After the angel’s explanation of the coming supernatural pregnancy and birth this was Mary’s immediate response:
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)
And I bet God was sitting up in heaven and saying “WHOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOO! SHE GETS IT!” Or something like that. :) God wants to use us! You and me! Let’s be like Mary and shake off our fears and say YES!
The truth is that the Spirit of the living God is guaranteed to ask you to go somewhere or do something you wouldn’t normally choose to do. The Spirit will lead you to the way of the cross, as He led Jesus to the cross, and that is definitely not a safe or pretty or comfortable place to be. But, the Holy Spirit of God will mold you into the person you were made to be... ~Francis Chan, Forgotten God~