Chapter 8 begins by saying that we must be bold and faithful to God’s Word. Pastor Jim Cymbala says boldness can’t be taught but it can only be “imparted by the Holy Spirit.” (pg. 123) So how can we receive this boldness from Holy Spirit? If we are passionate about God’s word and faithful to deliver His message, God can impart His boldness through the holy spirit.
God is faithful to His word and He NEVER changes. To the same degree, HUMAN NATURE does not change. We are all prone to sin! Our situations can change, our methods and structure can change, our audiences can change, culture and social mores can change but, HUMAN NATURE does not change. All humans are alike in that they share a common sinful nature (Romans 3:23). For this reason, the Gospel message we deliver must NEVER change. “The apostles weren’t trying to finesse people. Their communication was not supposed to be ‘COOL’ or soothing. They aimed for a piercing of the heart, for conviction of sin.” (pg. 124) “We must faithfully and boldly proclaim that sin is real but Jesus forgives those who confess.” (pg. 125) We can only have HOPE to CHANGE because of Jesus' Great EXCHANGE for our lives on the Cross. (John 3:16, Romans 8:3, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 2:8-9)
There are so many amazing nuggets in both Chapter 8 and 9. One thing that pastor Cymbala talks about is doctrine without power. The true power of the Holy Spirit is what is missing for a lot of us. We have great doctrine, but our lives do not reflect the power of the God we know. We may know the written word but often times we aren't familiar with the living word. (pg. 151) Paul says in Philippians 3:10 that he desperately “wants to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” Like Paul, if we asked God for His outstretched hands to freely move in us and allowed the Holy Spirit to fill us with His power, what would that look like? Do we fear a revival breaking out? What would it look like if our church and community was fired up and lives actually changed, starting with you and me? But here is the disclaimer, “God will manifest himself in direct proportion to our passion for Him.” (pg. 153) So, how passionate are we? How hungry are we that we would cry out for open heavens to come over our lives, our families, and our cities? We say we want this but, we aren’t willing to ask and wait like we want it! So then if we are brutally honest with ourselves, maybe we don’t really want it as bad as we say we do? What are the other things that take precedence over our lives?
According to pastor Cymbala, “what we really lack is the passion to call upon the Lord until he opens the heavens and shows himself powerful.” (pg. 150) Intimacy with God is the key to open heavens. We absolutely possess the potential for earth-shaking revival, yet at the same time, we are the biggest obstacles to it.
Cymbala says that the Issue is not length of our service, but it’s our appetite for serving and wanting Him (Pg. 133) The depth of our hunger for God becomes the length of our reach to God.
So how do we obtain passion? It starts by realizing we are nothing without God and desperately crying out to Him. Each of us must first ask God to fill our hearts with the passion and power of His Spirit. If we don’t ask, why should we expect to receive?! When we are in a constant posture of praise and worship, we draw closer into His presence. We won’t care about the style or level of sound of the music we hear but instead, we would just tune into the tone of His voice. The messages that are being preached would be so convicting that it would motivate us to go into the world and actually share Jesus with others, no matter the cost, because He would be worth it all! It wouldn’t even matter who is actually preaching or, how long the service goes on because we would be content in flowing with the holy spirit until He completed the work that needed to be finished. The needs of the church would be met without a struggle because serving would be the result of our passionate obedience and not our preferences. This all starts with our heart and soul understanding the saving grace we've been granted from the Lord, when we deserved death, and believing that His power to move and change lives is FOR REAL. Could we be a church that shows the world that our God lives and is alive?! “People must not only hear but feel, see, and experience the grace of God we speak about.” (Cymbala, pg. 147)
So, it’s not enough to pray for a change, but to actually turn away (Repentance) from our sins and allow God to truly change us. It’s not only enough to change, but to encourage others to change as they witness our change. Our lives should be a testimony to how God can bring upon radical change!
Lord~ bend the church to our knees so we would be passionately consumed by you and be a catalyst for change; to faithfully proclaim your gospel message boldly through the power of the Holy Spirit.