Victory Through Surrender #3 Interdependence

 

Victory Through Surrender #3  Interdependence

 In our introduction to spiritual growth, we’ve examined how we mature from dependence to independence, a child-like faith to an adolescent-like faith.  Instead of fully reviewing these teachings in this session you can find both on our website www.hbcc.org and our YouTube channel hbcc life.  In this session, we will examine interdependence, what we will call adult-like faith.  

 The only way to spiritual victory is through surrender.  In our culture, we associate defeat with surrender, but in the Kingdom of God, surrender secures us the victory. The victory entails knowing God, living your life to the full, conquering the challenges of life. 

 The first surrender occurs when you choose to believe the gospel.  You renounce the old ways you lived your life and put on the ways of Christ.

 Ephesians 4:17-24 (MSG)

And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. …

 20 But that's no life for you. … everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

The second surrender occurs when you see the futility of trying to do God’s will in your own way and present yourself as a living sacrifice to God.  Doing God’s will in your own way has resulted in a rollercoaster-like relationship with your faith.  Sometimes you nail it, sometimes you hit your thumb.  You realize your way isn’t working and you renounce it, you want to do life God’s way.  In contrition and consecration, you surrender yourself to God.

Romans 12:1

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering” (MSG).  “…in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship” (NIV).

 Spiritually arrested development or SAD happens when you don’t make these two surrenders: the surrender of your old way and the surrender of your new self.  SAD leaves you in a state of neediness and incompetency, in a rollercoaster ride of little victories and defeats.  You are spiritually going around in circles, stumbling over the same things, falling, and getting up only to fall again.  SAD prevents you from living your life to the full.  “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves…” (2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV).  If the Holy Spirit reveals you are suffering from SAD, He will also present to you the spiritual therapy to overcome SAD.  Most likely that therapy will involve surrendering to obedience; giving consent and cooperation to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

 By overcoming SAD you grow spiritually.  You’ve moved through the dependence of child-like faith when you looked to Jesus to do everything; through the independence of an adolescent-like faith, when you tried to live the Christian life under your own terms; into interdependence or an adult-like faith; which we will now consider. 

 Recall that we grow from adolescent-like faith to adult life faith when we can freely surrender ourselves to God. We have given our all, now God gives His all; we have given ourselves, now God gives Himself (E.S. Jones, Mastery p 45).  “The most sovereign act of an independent person is to give the one thing {he or she} owns—[themselves]. Then God gives the most precious thing He owns, Himself.  Then we are filled with the Spirit” (ibid.).

 We’ve been looking at the behavior of the Apostles as they grew spiritually.  The time in which Jesus was with them was the time of dependence.  Between the Resurrection and the Ascension was the time of independence.  “Before Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was with them, after Pentecost now the Holy Spirit was in them…Before Pentecost, they possessed the Holy Spirit, now the Holy Spirit possessed them.  Before they were using God, calling Him in to help them out, now God was using them. All possible by their surrender” (paraphrasing of quote, ibid.).  After Pentecost, when they were filled with the Holy Spirit their behavior decidedly changed again.  They entered into a relationship of interdependence in which they partnered with God to accomplish His will.  Now they were empowered to do God’s will, God’s way.  Because of this partnership, the world changed.

 In partnership with God, you are His ambassador.  God always looks for people that He can use to bless others.  Those adult in faith are the ones God uses to bring heaven to earth.  The adult in faith “are those who, having been on the receiving end of God’s gracious love…put out this same embracing love to others in ways that mend broken relationships, heal inner wounds, and offer practical care for the helpless and hurting”  (Bruxey Cavey, The End of Religion, p 82).  Are you representing the Kingdom?

The adult in faith work.  Before the Fall, God gave Adam the task of caring for and protecting the Garden in Eden.  That’s was a great and glorious job.  To every believer, the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual gifts that are to be used for promoting the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 12:7).  A spiritual gift is a job description, it entails a calling for God, and God through you changes the world.  Are you working? 

 The adult in faith desires holiness.  Holiness means you stand out from the dis-believing crowd because you live differently, you seek to live like Jesus.  “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us”     (1 Peter 2:12 (NIV).  You actively purge yourself of any behaviors that do not demonstrate to the world your love for God and love for others, filling the empty spots such a purging leave with deeds of love.  Are you living a holy life?

 The adult in faith reproduce.  They tell others the good news of the gospel.  You love people into the Kingdom.  There is a quality about you that is attractive.  You have a ready response when asked about your faith, and that response is full of respect and gentleness (1 Peter 3:15).  You know how to invite someone to meet Jesus.  Are you reproducing the faith God has given to you in others? 

 The adult in faith protect.  Jesus told us that He is the good shepherd; He told us that “A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf” (John 10:12 (MSG).  Evil triumphs when Christians do nothing but wring their hands and complain, or bury their heads in that proverbial sand, or convince themselves that they can do nothing to change things.  The adult in faith are advocates of justice, mercy, and love, they stand up against the forces of this world that oppress and ravage the weak and disenfranchised.  Are you taking a stand for righteousness amongst your tribe?

 The adult in faith encourage (1 Thessalonians 5:11). When you see someone doing well, call it out.  When you see something that needs to get done, go ahead and do it.  When you see someone struggling, lend a hand up.  Affirm others, cheer them on with their dreams, let them know you believe they are capable.  Simply greeting someone is an encouragement.  Listening to someone is an encouragement.  Praying with someone on the spot is an encouragement.  Is encouraging others a priority in your life?

 The adult in faith set an example (Philippians 4:9) “…Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity…” (1 Tim 4:12

 (MSG).  Adults demonstrate how to live life to the full.  They are real in revealing the victories and the difficulties of living the Christian life.  You’re known for your love for God and love for others.  You “rightly handle the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).  The adult in faith “live radical lives of active peacemaking, courageous nonviolence, limitless forgiveness, and other-centered love” (Cavey, p 57—Matthew 5:38-47; Luke 6:27-26). Are you a model others want to emulate?

 The adult in faith can answer yes to those questions.  The “YES” is demonstrated through an interdependent relationship with God (Matthew 19:26).  It is only possible as you experience an interdependent relationship with God.  You’re keeping in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17).  You’re doing life as directed, fueled with the hope that stokes a fire and passion within you, using your gifts, graces, and wisdom to the benefit of others (2 Timothy 1:6).  This doesn’t mean your life has suddenly become problem-free (Philippians 3:13).  But now you have the power to be an overcomer (1 John 5:4-5).  You can overcome habits, attachments, and addictions from the old way of life that still infect your thinking and behavior (Ephesians 4:22).  There are adult-sized challenges and you are partnering with God to deal with them.  In place of the hang-ups love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control are becoming your character qualities (Galatians 5:22-23).  You’re daily being transformed into a representation of Jesus’ love and concern, His compassion, and empathy.  You are involved in His mission to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth. 

 You become adult in faith by your desire and request to put childish things behind you (1 Corinthians 13:11).  The desire is demonstrated in all your efforts to renounce the old way of egoism (Ephesians 4:22) and doing the things that draw you closer to God deepening your personal intimate relationship (Galatians 5:16).  Contrition is Godly sorrow, Consent is your desire, Consecration is your action those three “c’s” form your request.  The request is made when you want to God’s way more than your own (Jeremiah 29:13) presenting yourself as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) to be set apart as a slave to Jesus (1 Peter 2:16 NIV).  Ask God to do this work within you, to overcome SAD and become an adult in your faith, living in an interdependent relationship with Him.  If that is the kind of relationship you would like to enjoy with God, let me know, I want to encourage you in your decision.

 2 Timothy 2:21 (NCV)

All who make themselves clean from evil will be used for special purposes. They will be made holy, useful to the Master, ready to do any good work.

 

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