I recently had the opportunity to travel with our student ministry to Myrtle Beach, SC, for Student Life Camp: Five days of worship with nearly 3000 teenagers and an intense focus on the importance of the Word of God. It was an incredible experience to say the least, and I walked away from the week feeling spiritually revitalized.
Out of the many note-worthy “meals” served up from Scripture in the week, one in particular stood out and has continued to provide spiritual nourishment for my faith journey. J.D. Greear, using Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus (see Eph. 3: 15-21), admonished us to remember that growth in Christ is not growth beyond the gospel but rather growth into the gospel. Paul prays, not that the believers would go beyond the Messiah’s love but instead they would realize the Messiah’s love surpasses all which we can know and experience. In other words we do not need the gospel PLUS something else, but rather we need to be “rooted and firmly established” in the gospel alone.
Greear used the analogy of a balloon to illustrate this point. There are two ways to keep a balloon in the air. You can blow it up with your own breath and continuously bat it up above yourself OR you can fill it with helium and allow that completely other gas inside the balloon to provide the necessary lift. The first way is exhausting and requires constant external action, whereas the second way relies upon no efforts of our own and uses internal change to bring about the desired result. So often we approach Christianity as though we are batting a balloon and it all depends upon us, when what we should do is rely more and more upon the Spirit of God and His love abiding in us to bring about true change.
Relying on the Spirit doesn’t come naturally to us, however, and we need something to keep us from drifting back to a “works-driven” mentality. This is where the following four statements from what Greear calls “The Gospel Prayer” become useful.
1. "In Christ, there is nothing I could do that would make you love me more and nothing I have done that would make you love me less.”
--This statement goes to war against our propensity towards works righteousness.It rewires our minds from “If I obey I will be accepted” to “I’m accepted so I will obey.”
2. “God, you are ALL I need for everlasting joy.”
--This statement attacks our tendencies toward idolatry. Those things which we give “weight” in our hearts, which we seek after every day, they are our idols.Money, romance, and human acceptance cannot provide the joy we crave. Only God can satisfactorily fill those holes.
3. “God, as you have been to me so I will be to others.”
--This statement moves our heart towards generosity. True generosity cannot be motivated by guilt or greed.It must be driven by grace. If we are not naturally generous to others it is probably because we do not fully understand the meaning of God’s generosity towards us.
4. “When I pray, I will measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection.”
--This statement can guide the way in which we approach our Heavenly Father with our requests.God is generous and powerful enough to answer our prayers, but it doesn’t mean He will give us everything we ask of Him.When He doesn’t grant our requests it is not because of a lack of compassion or power (both of those are demonstrated in the cross and the resurrection). Sometimes God gives us in prayer what we would have asked for if we knew what He knew.
Praying these four statements every day can help us to re-discover the “the length and width, height and depth of God’s love” and can aid us in living the fulfilled lives God intended for each of us.
NEWS AND NOTES:
Rose of Sharon will host “Kingdom Celebration” in our worship center on Sunday evening July 30th at 5:00pm. This special multi-ethnic worship service will give us an opportunity to worship with our brothers and sisters from African-American, Burmese, Filipino, Korean, Hispanic, and Anglo congregations in the Durham community. We will have the privilege of hearing testimonies of faith and stories of cooperation, and we will celebrate the way in which God is working among all ethnic groups in our city. In addition we will use this opportunity to come together and pray for those in and around our community. Make plans to come and invite someone to join you!
Don’t forget our annual ROS Got Talent show has been postponed until August 20th, but we will begin to accept entries for the show at the end of this month. If you have a talent that you would like to showcase (music, dance, acrobatics, comedy, etc.) then make sure and sign up to participate.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support for our worship team here at ROS. We count it a privilege to serve you all.
In His Service,