Intentional Progress in 2022: Life Lessons From Jesus (Part 12)

by Rick

This morning we continue our journey into this new year with a focus on making “Intentional Progress.”  I shared with you six steps to intentional progress and I will walk through them over the next few weeks.  As a reminder, here are the six steps.

Here are the steps again:

1.  Pray/Discern

2.  Plan/Prepare

3.  Wait/Discern God’s Timing

4.  Execute/Measure Progress

5.  Wait/Faith & Patience

6.  Receive When Harvest Time Comes

Last week we closed out the week looking at John 14:13.  Today we will go back to John 14 and work our way to verse 16.  Before we do, allow me to set the stage.

After studying our way through passages in John chapters 5, 6, 8, and 12, we have seemingly parked in chapter 14 for a while.  In this chapter, we learned that Jesus, who only said and did what He received from the Father, said that we would be able to do what He did.  We also learned that for us to do what He did, we must live the way He lived.  As a quick recap, let’s discuss how Jesus lived:

— Jesus never attempted to do anything without the Father, nor did He ever attempt to make a name for Himself.  

— Jesus submitted to the Father in all things.

— His only desire was to bring glory to the Father’s name, not His name.

— Jesus never stressed over anything.  He lived in complete and total peace.  This peace helped Him do things on His timeline, which was God’s timeline.

— Jesus was not moved by people or circumstances.  He was only moved by the Father.  

— As the Father led Jesus concerning what to say, He said it.  As the Father led Jesus concerning what to do, He did it.

— Jesus was not living life on His own agenda, He never pursued selfish desires, and since He was only doing what the Father empowered Him to do, He never took on any pressure to perform.

This is the context where Jesus said, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.  Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!  If you love me, obey my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.” (John 14:13-16).

So what does this mean for you today?  A few things.

1.  God will work a work IN you before He works THROUGH you

— God starts by working a work IN you.  Sadly, some believers never get past this stage.  Those who do become human conduits of the divine.

— God starts off with doing a work IN you before He works through you.  The work IN you is to prepare you to be used.  The goal of the work IN you is simply to get you OUT OF THE WAY!

— Some people think that God does a work IN you in order to make you worthy of His use.  The problem with this logic is that you will never be worthy in and of yourself.  The goal is not to make you worthy because Jesus was worthy for you.  The goal is to get you to the point where you die self.

— When you accept Jesus as your Lord, you are Born-Again.  The moment you are Born-again, you are filled with God’s Spirit.  God’s Spirit takes up residence INSIDE of you making you BORN FROM ABOVE!

— At this point, you are a new man.  All things are new for you.  But you don’t know how to walk in the reality of the newness Christ Jesus died to provide you.  You are filled with the Holy Spirit, but you don’t know Him, nor do you know His voice.  So you have a new reality, but you don’t know how to walk in it.

— The day you were Born-Again, your spirit was recreated and made new, but your soul (the way you think, feel and make decisions) was NOT!  So a baby Christian is a new man, living in an old body, desperately in need of a new mind.  

— The first work God does IN you is to change the way you think, feel and make decisions.  He cannot do this without your cooperation.  He does this through the Holy Spirit and by His Word.  The Holy Spirit will lead you to get God’s Word down in your heart.  If you are sensitive to the Holy Spirit, you will create a hunger for God’s Word that is insatiable.  When I was first Born-Again, I devoured the Word.  I was in the Word of God for hours every day.  What was the Holy Spirit leading me to do?  He was giving me a new mind.  I was being transformed by the renewing of my mind, by God’s Word and His Spirit (Romans 12:1,2).

— Religious people think that the goal of this transformation is to make you worthy to be used by God.  But I already told you that you will never be worthy without Jesus.  The good news is that you don’t have to be.  Jesus was worthy FOR you.  So the goal of this transformation is NOT to make you worthy (because Jesus made you worthy).  The goal of renewing your mind is to get you accustomed to yielding to the Holy Spirit in all things.  This is why God works with you so much to work a work IN you.  God is not looking for you to earn, deserve, or work for anything.  What He is looking for is a yielded heart.  When you go through the process of mind renewal through the Word of God, and you align the way you think, feel, and make decisions with God, you are then more apt to discern and obey the divine impulses of the Holy Spirit.

— Once again, God is not looking for you to earn anything.  He is simply looking for you to die to sin, self, and selfish desires, so He is free to live through you!  

2.  After God works IN you, His desire is to work THROUGH you.  

— The point I am making here is that after God works IN you, He desires to work THROUGH you.  Notice how all the emphasis is on God and not you.  God made plans for you before the world began.  He sent you to this planet at just the right time to do what He desires to get done through you.  The spotlight is on Him.  When you understand this, your life becomes All About Him and not about you!

— Jesus said, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.  Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”  Did you notice the pattern?  Jesus was saying, “You do the asking, and I will provide the doing.”  Twice Jesus said, “I will do it.”  So don’t be afraid to allow God to use you supernaturally.  God will provide the words, and God will perform the work.  All you have to do is provide a willing vessel!

— The Law requires, grace provides.  The Law is works-based.  Grace is supply-based (meaning that God has already provided).

— Christians who are Law-based (and there are many of them) are people who focus on their works.  They strive to obtain whatever they claim to be believing God for, and since their life is works-based, many of them wind up being very judgmental.  They criticize people who they believe are not performing on their level.  Grace-based Christians are people who focus on God’s supply.  They know God is their source, they open their hearts to be used of God, and when God uses them, they acknowledge that it is only because of His goodness and not their own.  These people are not judgmental, because they have this mindset, “How can I look down on someone else, when I know how flawed I am, and God chooses to use me anyway?

— Law-based believers are striving to obtain.  They think God responds to their faith as if God has to do something based on what they have done.  Grace-based believers are not striving to obtain anything.  They know God is not responding to them.  They know God’s work is already done.  They know God already made plans for their lives.  So they seek to discover God’s will.  Like Jesus, they only seek to do what God leads them to do.  As they discover God’s will, they release their faith to receive what God has already provided.  SO their lives are not needs-based.  Their lives are supply-based.  They know God’s provision is already done.  They just need to discern and discover what God has already provided and release faith to tap into God’s grace.  

Both of the people I describe are Christians.  However, their lifestyles are very different.  One is reliant on their flesh.  The other is reliant on the Holy Spirit.  The Law-based believer is susceptible to stress because he/she is trying to make things happen.  If you notice, Jesus never stressed because He was not doing His own thing or living life on His own terms.  The Grace-based believer lives like Jesus.  They simply receive what God has already provided.  As a result, they don’t take on any pressure to perform, they are not trying to MAKE anything happen, and they simply yield their heart to the Holy Spirit so He can lead them in the way they should go!

— Everything I taught today comes down to this: Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.”  The word “another” in this verse is a specific Greek word that means, “another of the exact same kind.”  Early in the chapter, Jesus told His disciples that He was going to leave them.  They were concerned about it because Jesus had been their leader for over three years.  Jesus told them where to go, how to get there, and what to do when they arrived.  Jesus had all the answers.  Life for the disciples was easy.  They did not always know where they were going, but they knew who they were following.  The thought of Jesus leaving them was frightening.  But Jesus promised to provide another advocate (of the exact same kind).  Jesus went on to tell them that while He was WITH them, the Holy Spirit would be IN themThe Holy Spirit would do for disciples, INTERNALLY, what Jesus was doing for them EXTERNALLY.  Guess what?  The Holy Spirit lives IN you to do the very same thing!

Declaration of Faith

Father, I thank You for Your amazing and undeserved grace.  You saved me by grace, even when I was clearly not worthy.  You have stuck with me by grace, even though I have made more mistakes than I want to remember.  And even now, Father, You choose to use me by grace, even though I am not perfect.  While perfection eludes me, I do acknowledge the fact that You have performed, and You continue to perform a mighty work in my life.  I am not the same person I was when I came to You.  You have helped change the way I think, feel and make decisions.  You did this with Your Word and by Your Spirit.  Every day I am getting closer and closer to the very image of Your Son Jesus.  You work IN me because You want to work THROUGH me.  So I freely give myself over to You, to be used of You for Your glory.  I decrease that You may increase in me.  I die to ME so that You can freely live through me.  You gave me Your precious Holy Spirit, and He lives in me.  The Holy Spirit speaks to me, leads me, and uses me supernaturally every day.  Your power has come TO me, and I am ready to allow it to flow THROUGH me.  As it does, I know GREATER IS COMING FOR ME because my life is not about me!  I declare this by faith!  In Jesus’ name, Amen!

This is Today’s Word.  Apply it and prosper!

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