I’m a man of many words, but am I man of action? Do my words deliver the passionate lifestyle that my passionate speech and writing would encourage and inspire in others? That’s a loaded question, isn’t it? Have you cross-examined yourself in such a manner recently? It’s hard.
We do not usually enjoy having our motives questioned, nor do we quite appreciate being critiqued. Hasn’t it always been said that “we are our harshest critics”? I think it’s true. But, I also think that many times I’ll critique the living Hell out of myself and then just sit there, in my own personal Hell. “Yep, I’m overweight. And yes, I’ve been a bit too lazy and undisciplined.” And then what? I sulk. I sit there in my own disgust. And I feel sorry for myself.
Problem solved, right? Obviously not. The problem still exists and I’ve done absolutely nothing to confront it, other than admit it’s there and then let self-inflicted wounds immobilize me, while satan takes advantage of a man down for the count, due to his own blows.
As a society, we tend to have a way of bringing problems to the surface through cynicism, humor, and other means. We may order one drink too many and then comment, “Guess I’m an alcoholic,” looking for a few laughs, rather than thinking for a moment, and realizing that we may actually be on our way down that path. Someone laughed, so it can’t be that bad, right? I can put off fixing that issue for a while, then, right? Once again, “obviously not”. It should be addressed, whether it is a spiraling-out-of-control physical relationship, an unquenchable desire for alcohol, substance-abuse, or any other concoction of demise.
Faith takes action. I can sing, “Let Your name be lifted higher”, all day long, but ultimately, if my actions do not lift Him higher, do I really mean that? If His name is lifted Higher and if He is a God of hope and healing, then shouldn’t I have hope and shouldn’t I seek healing? The pastor last night said, “If God is not a God of hope and healing, then what are we all doing here?” Think about that for a moment. If He does not have the power to heal, to redeem, to restore, then why do we gather?
So let’s say for a moment that you’re teenager that has recently become addicted to pornography. Your beliefs dictate that you believe in a God of restoration and so do your social-media updates, as you post the latest Bible study notes, and tweet things like, “God is good.” But do your actions dictate that He can restore you? Have you sought healing and restoration? Have you brought that sinful hindrance into the light and asked for the breaking of chains, so that you may be free? Do you walk in freedom, or do you walk in shame? I pray, today, that you would walk in freedom.
Are you seeing my point?
If you speak of freedom, do you walk freely?
If you speak of hope, are you hopeful?
If you speak of submission to God, do you live under spiritual-authority, or avoid it at all costs?
If fellowship is necessary, have you dived into community, or remained in isolation?
Our actions reveal our truest intentions. Think about that for a moment. You and I could say all day long that we want to be the best basketball player, but if we’re kickin’ it on the sofa all night, eating potato-chips, and avoiding exercise, do we really intend to become the best basketball player? In the same way, we can say, “I want to honor God in this relationship (or in this job, friendship, ‘season of life’)”, but our actions will reveal our true intentions. Are we following God, or following the lure of the satisfaction of our desires? If we wanted to be the basketball player, we’d train harder than anyone out there. If we want to surrender our [everything] to God, then we’d seek Him continually, for [everything].
At this point, I will assume that you are all on-board. “Justin, yes, let’s take action! Let’s back up our encouraging words with encouraging actions and lifestyles.”
Now, what do we expect? Do we expect God to actually work all things out for our betterment?
If you study the Old Testament church and the church in Acts, you will find at least one thing in common with them. They BELIEVED. They prayed for provision and then wrote checks they could not cash, based upon their belief that God would come through. Men were threatened with a fiery-furnace, being torn limb-by-limb by the mouth of a lion, and the entire Egyptian army, yet they did not falter, as they BELIEVED God would save them. People gathered in homes, praying and believing, despite the potential for secret-police to discover their meetings and bring them before a ‘court’, that could ultimately lead to their hanging. Why? Because they were expectant of God’s deliverance and wanted to see the Holy Spirit move themselves and others to faith. They were desperate for His glory to be revealed. They believed.
Do we believe? Are we expectant?
The prayers of an expectant church would change the world. Sure, there’d still be opposition. But, think of your church, right now. It’s already doing great things: praying with strangers, meeting the needs of the poor, healing broken hearts through counseling, and the like. But, is your current church expectant? Take your church, then multiply its’ effectiveness by infinity, as God’s resources and reach are in incomprehensible–that would be the result of the prayers of an expectant church–a church that takes actions, then expects God-sized results.
In conclusion, faith takes action and is expectant. It does not live in defeat; it does not profess truth and then live in lies. If our churches, bible-studies, life-groups, and personal lives reflected God-sized faith, Christ-like character, and the prayers of disciples that believed–revival and times of refreshing would uncontrollably break out–the enemy would be dismantled and dismayed. I want that. Do you?