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Summer Reading Challenge. Chapter 11 Commentary.

As we bring our summer reading project to a close, I want to remind you that only the reading is over, the conversation and actualization of prayer at Grace Church will continue. Why? Because it is what God desires for us to do and we want to be right at the center of His will.

As we come to chapter 11 of Pastor Cymbala’s book, I am intrigued with his expression, “the merging of divine and human effort.” While I admire the courage and risks assumed by the people whose exploits are highlighted in this chapter, I cannot help but think that the idea of a partnership with God in any endeavor may seem a little presumptuous.

So I agree with the statement that “[God] works with us as we yield ourselves to work with him.” I guess that what I am trying to say here is that the way you feel about yourself is not a determining factor on whether God will use you to do His work or not. What matters is what God thinks of you.

Let me give you an example: God called Gideon a “mighty warrior” (yes, the same man who was hiding in a “bunker” because he was afraid of the Midianites, Israel’s fierce enemy). Gideon was by nature a weak man (see Judges 6:12), but God saw him as strong.

So if a perception about ourselves is not a determining factor in being used by God, what is? The answer is obedience. Gideon saw himself as weak but God imputed strength to him. He believed God and was able to root out Israel’s tyrants.

That, by the way, is the same way we are justified according to Scriptures. God imputes us righteousness. Something amazing happens to every person who doesn’t feel righteous even one ounce. Something shocking happens to someone who may have not done one act of good works.

When we rely on God’s grace to save us, His righteousness is imputed to us. Swoosh… Just like that. An act of obedience leads to redemption and a daily surrender to His will leads to sanctification. But it is all God’s doing. All of it. It’s not even 99.9% vs. 0.1%. It’s 100% His work. So our “joint project” with God, whether salvation, prayer or sharing our faith, whatever it is, needs to be seen in this context.

That, however, has nothing to do with the fact that from time to time God does raise up some ordinary people to do some extraordinary exploits for Him. David’s “mighty men” are an example of that. Make no mistake about it: These guys were not to be messed with to begin with. Before David became king, they were troublemakers, malcontents, as they were called. So it is a tribute to David’s leadership that these misfits got redirected for a higher purpose. And this is the story of my life too.

And the area which needs the greatest amount of exploits for God has always been the mission of the Church. “God’s plan for the local church has always centered in evangelism.” I agree with Pastor Cymbala. And my heart also yearns fervently for the Church to be reconnected with her mission. So, to take a line from this chapter, I also want to ask, “Where are the mighty men and women anointed by God to truly make a difference?”

As I have said before, I read this book every year. And every time the thing that gets to me more than any other is that I am still looking for that place of ministry that transcends the programs and becomes a “Holy Spirit center for divine activity.” Could it be here? Could it be now?

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

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