Dependence On God

Living in the spirit means that I trust the Holy Spirit to do in me what I cannot do myself. This is completely different from the life I would naturally live of myself. Each time I am faced with a new demand from the Lord, I look to Him to do in me what He requires of me. It is not a case of trying, but of trusting; not of struggling, but of resting in him.” – Watchman Nee. 

We need to be dependent on God. But here is the catch: you and I don’t always like having to depend upon God. So instead of learning to depend on God, we spend our whole lives trying to supplement our dependence upon Him.  We try to put enough money in the bank so we don’t have to depend on Him for our daily bread. We try to control our decisions so we have some control over how much we need to depend on God. 

Dependence starts by acknowledging Almighty God as the owner of everything, and the controller of every circumstance. Nothing is impossible with God, and everything is within His reach. Your part is to trust and obey, and His part is to do the rest. Dependency depends on Him working in and through you. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Jesus said in John 15:5:” Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus wants us to stay “plugged in” to Him, and depend upon Him, to be able to do anything in the Christian life.

Jesus is not an add-on to a full and balanced life—He is our life. It is short-sighted to use the Lord as a last resort only after we have exhausted ourselves and our resources. That is not dependence on Him. “But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (Psalm 1:2-3).

The Beatitudes are character qualities of Jesus Himself. He lived them out perfectly. He demonstrated dependence on God the Father continually throughout His life on earth. In John 5:19, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” Jesus knew He had to depend upon His Father for everything He did here on earth.

In the same way, we can do nothing without Jesus. Just as Jesus could do nothing without the Father, so we can do nothing apart from Jesus. We will inevitably struggle in heart, body, mind, or community, and so our ultimate reliance on God is demonstrated through daily embracing His undeserved grace and never-failing love.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When do you tend to learn the most about God–when things are going well or when things are going poorly? Why do you think that is so?  
  2. How can you display dependence on God in times of pain and times of prosperity?

What Is Involved In Living The Christian Life?

“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Exodus 9:16 (NIV).

Our current sermon series is entitled Building a Better Future. It is difficult to build a better future without a sense of purpose and an understanding of the “why” as well as the “what.” What do we live for in the Christian life and why are we doing it?

We probably all have some ideas about how Christians should live in order to please God. We may think we need to try our best to do the right thing, do good works, or live up to some kind of moral or ethical standard.  The Bible tells us that Jesus encourages all believers to grow in relationship, commitment, and obedience to Him. This is the essence of how to live a Christian life. Our relationship, commitment, and obedience are done out of love. John 14:21 says, “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

Any discussion of how to live a Christian life should focus first and foremost on the teachings of Jesus Christ. The entire Bible is full of insight into who God is, our sinful predicament, God’s plan to redeem us, and how we should live in light of these realities. As 2 Timothy 3:16 says,  “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

Though Jesus taught about many topics, everything comes back to that ultimate goal of loving God and loving our neighbor. The best place to start when seeking to live the Christian life is to prioritize loving God above all else. If at the end of the day we can look back and feel like we loved God well, then we’ve accomplished the most important purpose for which we were created.

One practical thought in seeking to love God is to ask the question, “What does God find most loving?” That question can be a great driving force behind seeking to love God as best as we can every day.

If you want to follow the teachings of Jesus to live a Christian life, don’t overcomplicate things. Focus on loving God and loving others and let them guide the way you live each day.

God didn’t mean for us to live Christian lives in isolation. He calls us to community with other Christians. Together, we can help each other live grace-filled lives that bring glory to God. We need to help each other as we figure out what it means to live a Christian life in this crazy world.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the key to living a victorious Christian life?
  2. Read Philippians 1:18-26: Paul says, “living means living for Christ.” How does for me to live is Christ impact my daily activities.   

Planning For The Good Work

“So I arrived in Jerusalem. Three days later, I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem. We took no pack animals with us except the donkey I was riding. After dark I went out through the Valley Gate, past the Jackal’s Well, and over to the Dung Gate to inspect the broken walls and burned gates. Then I went to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but my donkey couldn’t get through the rubble. 15 So, though it was still dark, I went up the Kidron Valley instead, inspecting the wall before I turned back and entered again at the Valley Gate.” – Nehemiah 2:11-15.

Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king of Persia. For him to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls was not a step he would take randomly. For four months Nehemiah prayed and fasted about his plan before he approached the king for permission and help. His prayers paved the way for him to receive the king’s favor.

Nehemiah needed to fully understand all the circumstances of the project he was about to undertake. Initially, he was not physically in Jerusalem, so his early assessment was made from discussions he had with people who saw first-hand the destruction and were knowledgeable about the current state of the walls and gates. Once he arrived in the city, he spent three evenings personally examining the damage to the wall and the gates before rebuilding.

Can you almost picture Nehemiah secretly riding around the city three nights in a row? I imagine him and a couple of trusted men. They were quiet. He needed wisdom, and he needed to formulate a plan. None of which could be accomplished if he relied on other people to show him their version of the situation, or hearsay commentary from enemies inhabiting the city waiting for him to fail. He wanted to assess the situation, in the dark, without detection.

When he had gathered all of the information needed, he held a meeting with the officials and nobles. Nehemiah stated something these men already knew, they were in a bad situation. Desperate even. Jerusalem abandoned. The walls, crumbling and the gates burned. Yet, Nehemiah told leaders that God had been favorable to him. We don’t have his whole speech, but it must have been stirring because the response was . . . “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!”

Nehemiah taught us that vision is a divinely given picture of what could be and should be. Nehemiah heard that the walls of Jerusalem had been broken down. Right away, Nehemiah saw what could be and should be – that the defenses of the city could be restored, and the walls rebuilt. A vision is always a picture of what could and should be from God’s perspective.

There’s nothing more exciting than following God’s leading in our lives. There’s nothing more exciting than sensing and obeying God’s promptings in your life.

Discussion Questions: 

  1. What can we learn about the kind of person Nehemiah was by the way he sets out at night to personally inspect the entire wall?
  2. Read Nehemiah 2:17-20: How does Nehemiah describe the situation that the people have been used to for many decades? What are some troubling realities you have become accustomed to over the years?
  3. Think about the beautiful response of the people, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” and the words, “they began the good work.” What good work has God given you to do, and what was your response to it?