15 Sep 9-15-2012 – Don’t Fear The Fully Surrendered Life – Pastor Shane Idleman
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
In today’s culture, there are countless enticements that pull us away from a fully surrendered life. It is my firm belief, that, second only to salvation, the fully surrendered life is the most important aspect of the Christian life…to truly know God: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Sadly, very few of us ever experience this close relationship with God. This isn’t meant to discourage, but to convict. Conviction is a wonderful gift from God used to turn the heart back to Him.
The puritans used the phrase, “The same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay.” In the same way, we can allow the word of God to soften our hearts, or we can resist and become hard as stone.
How many can truly say like Jeremiah, “His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (20:9). How many have truly experienced Jesus’ words in John 7:38, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’.” How many can truly relate to “times of refreshing” found in Acts 3:19, “Repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” How many really understand what John the Baptist was referring to when he cried, “After me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize (overwhelm) you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).
Those who hold Christian beliefs often embrace one of two extremes when it comes to the power of the Holy Spirit. At one extreme are those who embrace pure emotionalism and hysteria—“if it’s odd it’s God”…all weird behavior is excused.
The other extreme resembles a cemetery. There’s no living, vibrant spiritual life taking place. The church is dead, cold, and lifeless. Talk of the Spirit’s power is either dismissed or ridiculed. Both extremes are wrong and offer a false impression of genuine Christianity.
Sadly, many of us embrace a “pre-recorded” type of Christianity. We know what to say and when to say it. Our prayers are lifeless and designed to impress rather than break the heart. We know when to say “Amen”, when to clap, and when to stand. We know the cliches’ and the jargon. We have everyone fooled but God. In the words of Isaiah, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me…” (29:13).
We leave church week after week, yet nothing has changed. Destructive friendships continue, anger is directed toward our spouse and children, filth pours from our lips, and ungodly entertainment fills our minds. Its begs the question, “Where did the passion go…Why is my life so cold and lifeless?”
God’s word has the answer: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Deuteronomy 4:29 says that “if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. 2 Chronicles 7:14 reminds us that “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” This is the fully surrendered life.
I mentioned in a recent article that while I was praying for revival for our nation, my thought suddenly shifted to revival for our church. I found myself saying with passion, “Lord, bring revival to our church.” But I was not ready for the response that followed. I felt as if God was saying loudly, and clearly, “You don’t want revival—it will ruin your schedule, your dignity, your image, and your reputation as a person who is ‘well balanced.’ Men will weep throughout the congregation. Women will wail because of the travail of their own souls. Young adults will cry like children at the magnitude of their sin. My presence will be so strong that the worship team will cease playing. Time will seem to stand still.”
“You won’t be able to preach because of the flood of emotions entering your own soul. You’ll struggle to find words, but only find tears. Even the most dignified and reserved among you will be broken and humbled as little children. The proud and self righteous will not be able to stand in My presence. The doubter and unbeliever will either run for fear, or fall on their knees and worship Me—there can be no middle ground. The church will never be the same again. You don’t want revival!”
The very thing we need is the very thing we’re afraid of: the rivers of living water that Christ spoke of. “The Church must first repent; then the world will break! The Church must first weep; then our altars will be filled with weeping penitents” (Leonard Ravenhill).
VIEW THE ACCOMPANYING SERMON ENTITLED, PROVERBS 2, AT WWW.WCFAV.ORG. IT WILL BE POSTED AFTER 9-22-12.