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Summer Reading Challenge. Chapter 9 Commentary.

Over the years, as I have read the book of Acts, I have often considered why our churches look so different today. God has not changed; His Word has not changed; so why does the church look dead compared to the early church? I believe it is illustrated in the following story: A few years ago a good friend of mine went to a conference. He heard a speaker tell a story about a pivotal moment in his life when he woke up one day and was faced with the reality that he was 12 inches from death. He went on to share how he was convicted that his head and his heart were not connected. He had lots of knowledge about God but no passion or excitement for Him. He was a mere 12 inches from death. I believe that this is very true for many of us. We have been raised with or have sat under great Biblical teaching for a large portion of our lives and yet we are mostly dead.

In chapter 9, Jim Cymbala talks about doctrine without power. The power of the Holy Spirit is what is missing in many of us. We have great doctrine, but our lives do not reflect the power of the God we know.  I, like Paul, “want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” (Philippians 3:10)  If we allowed the Holy Spirit to fill us with this power and asked God to stretch out His hand to move among us; WOW!, this church and community would be buzzing with revival and lives being changed, starting with you and me. But here is the kicker, “God will manifest himself in direct proportion to our passion for Him.” (pg153) So, how passionate am I? How passionate are you?

According to Cymbala, “what we really lack is the passion to call upon the Lord until he opens the heavens and shows himself powerful.” (pg 150) I agree. It starts with each of us crying out to God. Each of us must first ask God to fill us with the passion and power of His Spirit. When this happens, worship will sound better and will draw us into His presence, no matter the style or level of sound. The messages that are preached will be convicting and will motivate us to go into the world and share Jesus with others, no matter who is doing the preaching or how long the service goes. The needs throughout the church will be met without a struggle because serving is about passionate obedience not preferences. It starts with our heart and soul being passionate about the saving grace of God and believing that His power to move and change lives is real. This will then translate into a church that is proving to the world that our God lives. “People must not only hear but feel, see, and experience the grace of God we speak about.”  (Cymbala, pg 147)

Dear God, may we be a church that is not content to just know the Word of God but help us to passionately pursue the Living Word.

– Heidi Christner