One of today’s greatest challenges is for individuals to see beyond their present circumstances in order to achieve and realize greater situations and circumstances. In the same way, the church has an ongoing challenge to see beyond its four walls in the growth and expansion of its ministries, all while operating in God’s will for the church. In examining our visions for the future, we must always be cautious that we are looking at God’s will and purpose in what we are attempting to accomplish, and that our desires are not born out of selfishness or for personal gain.
There will always be conflict in our lifetime. This is especially true within the church. “What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure” (James 4:1-3). We need to clearly understand that we will not realize our dreams or desires if we move outside of God’s will and obedience to Him. Jesus spoke of persons who made the choice to not follow Him (Matthew 13:11-16). To realize our greatest potential, we need to be able to see God operating through His will and go beyond what is visible to us. This will help us to reach beyond our present circumstances, and realize God’s desire for you in your life (Proverbs 3:5-6). God is able to hear you and will respond to you in His time. Our challenge, in our response, is to remain patient, in spite of what you may see as time moves along, for He is faithful (Psalm 37:3-7).
God, through salvation by trusting in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, has given you authority as a child of God. In our authority, our responsibility is to remain true to Christ and to be truthful–true to yourself and true to others (Matthew 5:33-37). In our truth, for example, when a woman accepts a man’s proposal in marriage, there is much that follows her “yes,” which may include a fruitful, abundant life of marriage with children and grandchildren. Without her positive response, those future events are not possible in that relationship. In a similar manner, in your obedience to God, know that your “yes” to his obedience comes with great authority. Your positive response to God’s will and His way allows for God to operate in your life. As we are free in Christ, you can also say “no” to obedience to Him, as well. In your “yes” or “no” response, you should realize that, either way, God will allow events in our life that are beyond our control. Our response, however, can have a significant impact in how those events will shape our future growth and potential in Christ. We have power in our authority as we are obedient to Christ, and God desires to work in your life through your obedience. In this, there will be consequences that we cannot control, but “we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). In our following of Christ and living in truth, we are acting in freedom (John 8:36), but in the freedom God gives us, He gives us the choice to serve Him (Galatians 5:13). In contrast, Satan does not give us that choice (hence the term “slave to sin” (John 8:34). You are given authority by God to choose who you wish to serve…either God or Satan. “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Jesus Christ is the One who gives us the authority to do what is right (“But to all who receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God” –John 1:12), and brings us out of darkness and into understanding through our obedience to Him (“He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” –Colossians 1:13).
All of this comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ when we acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior. The word “right” in John 1:12 (see above) comes from the Greek word exousia, which means “authority.” To have authority is to be granted or bestowed something. With God’s authority that He gives to you (Romans 13:1-2; Titus 3:1-3), it is the Holy Spirit that gives you the power to succeed within Satan’s domain. In our obedience and with God’s granting of authority to us, we are to follow the existing authorities in place, whether it is amongst ourselves or with governmental authorities (Colossians 3:18-24), which is in stark contrast to the rebellious nature of men and women of the world. While rebellion is ever-present and runs rampant, “…Peter and the apostles replied, ‘We must obey God rather than men‘” (Acts 5:29). With obedience to God also comes responsibility. “But each person should examine his own work, and then he will have a reason for boasting in himself alone, and not in respect to someone else. For each person will have to carry his own load. The one who is taught the message must share his goods with the teacher. Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith” (Galatians 6:4-10). “Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works.” —Martin Luther.
Our greatest struggles will continue to be how we overcome the temptations of this world, which will keep us from truly growing in Christ. “Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything that belongs to the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle–is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever” (1 John 2:15-17). To realize what God wants in your life, listen to wise counsel from God, through the Holy Spirit, and through others. God will provide you with discernment and make it clear who is speaking to you (Proverbs 1:23-33). You have His authority and power in your life when you choose to use it.