Our action, God’s power

I recently heard someone say that if you hear God speaking to you, if you feel that prompting from the Holy Spirit, then you must act immediately.  It doesn’t work to plan to respond, or resolve to do it.  Get up and do it.  Putting it off becomes habit, and in fact becomes disobedience, and disobedience becomes habit, and pretty soon we don’t even hear the prompting.

The fruit of the Spirit is his fruit.  We can’t get supernatural results from our own power.  On the other hand, God’s work through and in us is something he brings out through our obedient action.  If we don’t act, he does his work in some other way, through some other person perhaps, and we lose that opportunity.

This morning I came across John Piper’s message “I Act the Miracle” in which he talks about this idea in regard to dealing with sin in our lives.  If you have to choose between reading my post and listening to Piper’s message, go listen to him.  Piper’s point is that God has forgiven our sins, and we died with him and died to sin, and it is the power of God that frees us from sin and conquers it in our lives, but he does it through our will and action.  “Don’t wait for a miracle,” Piper tells us.  “Act the miracle!”  When we do that, then the power of God will do the miracle of completing our sanctification.

Piper’s message is an encouragement to me that helps in addressing the sin in my own life.  But it occurred to me while I was listening to him that the point of what he was saying doesn’t just apply to our response to sin.  It applies to all of our action, to the obedience that comes about in our lives, and to the fruit that the Spirit produces in us.  It ties directly to my point at the top of this post: when God speaks, get up and do it.

God’s power in our lives is rarely exhibited independently of our response.  That’s just not the way God usually works.  We act in obedience, as Piper put it we act the miracle, and God completes his promise in us and through us.  If you want to see the power of God in your life, if you want to see the power of the Gospel in action, if you want to see the completion of God’s promise in John 14:12 (Jesus said that he who believes in him will do greater things than these) then you must get up and act.

When Jesus healed the blind man and told him to wash in the pool of Siloam (John 9), Jesus healed him but the man who acted in obedience acted the miracle.  He worked out his faith, and Christ healed him.  When Peter told the man in the temple gate to get up and walk (Acts 3), Peter acted in saying “Get up!” and helped the man to his feet, and God healed him by God’s power.  He was healed immediately upon getting to his feet.  He didn’t wait for the miracle and then stand.  He stood and God healed him.

God moves through us when we act in obedience.  That requires a doing on our part.  As Paul said in Philippians 2:12-13: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  It is his fruit, his work, his results, which he brings about by his power miraculously through our obedient action.

I know that God has work for me and you today.  I know that because he said so.  We are created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).  If we listen to him, he prepares and guides us, prompts us to see the opportunity, calls us to make the most of it, and empowers us to action.  Then, when we obey, when we act the miracle, he works through his faithfulness and power to bring about his fruit.

If we don’t respond in obedience first, it doesn’t mean that God’s will to work is thwarted, it just means that God doesn’t act through us.  We stagnate.  We miss the opportunity to see God’s power in action through us.  God will still do his work, but we will never see John 14:12 come about in our lives unless we obey.  We must act the miracle if we want to be a part of what God is going to do.

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