The Normal Christian Life

What is the normal Christian life? In Acts 3, people were astonished by the power and godliness of Peter and John as they performed miracles and carried hope in the name of Jesus. But why were the people surprised? In this message, Pastor John Stickl teaches us that when we surrender our will to Jesus, power and godliness are the result. That is the normal Christian life! When we obey God, we get to experience more of Him. When Peter and John healed in Jesus’ name, they obeyed and surrendered their wills to allow God to move in and through them, and as a result, they gained access to what was beyond them. They were willing to surrender because they trusted that God is good! What if the kingdom coming to earth is more dependent on our obedience than on God’s willingness?

Alright, everybody. Welcome to Valley Creek. We are so glad you are here with us today. Come on, whatever campus you’re at today, whether you’re in Denton, Flower Mound, Gainesville, Lewisville, The Venue, or watching online somewhere in the world, can we just welcome each other together? We are so glad that you are here with us. If this is your first time here or you’re newer with us on the journey, you picked a great time to be a part of Valley Creek because God is moving. God is doing a new thing in a new way. The kingdom of God is being stirred up around us, among us, in us, through us, and I’m loving this series. You might be like, “It’s meh…” I’m really enjoying the series because God’s moving. God’s at work and there are so many stories that are bubbling up all around us. I mean, at our last all staff meeting, our staff was literally fighting over getting the microphone because they wanted to tell the story that they were excited about. About how they’ve been seeing God move in our church.

I could tell you about a businessman who’s lived as a hope carrier for years. Just in the last few weeks, he’s had multiple incredibly successful businessmen come to him, and say, “Teach me how to be a hope carrier in business.” I could tell you about a student who woke up one morning and felt like God was just saying in the last couple weeks, “Hey, I want you to sit at a different table for lunch.” He didn’t know why, but went to school, went to lunch, saw all their friends sitting at that table, but knew they weren’t supposed to sit there so they kept walking, found an empty seat, sat down, and the other students who they didn’t know looked at them, and said, “What’s that.” He said, “That’s my Bible. They said, “We’ve never heard anything from the Bible, why don’t you read some of it to us.” That student got to open up and read the very words of life over lost, lonely, and broken students.

I could tell you about a woman who’s been taking her field journal to work with her and one day her boss noticed it, and said, “Hey what’s that?” She got to explain hope carriers and what we’re doing, and she opened it up to the section that talks about business. Turned around and handed it to him, and said, “Here, read this.” He read it, looked back at her, and she said, “That’s what I would like to do here. Would you be okay with that?” He said, “I would love that.” I could tell you about a fireman who God is stirring something deep in his soul and when he goes to the fire station and he has his 48 hours on, he’s thinking differently about his time there. He’s just started to watch church online, in the public setting, around all the other firefighters. It’s starting to stir things up in the firehouse. I could tell you about a police officer who wanted to take a vacation day to come to the last Tuesday Night Prayer. He was filling out his vacation form, and it asks why you want to take the time off, and he was just going to write down “personal reasons.”

As he got there, he felt like God said, I want you to write specifically why you want to take the time off – “to go to a prayer gathering at my church.” And handed it to his overseeing supervisor. The supervisor looked at it, “Why don’t you sit down there, son.” And sat down and had an hour conversation with him about Jesus and hope and church and he got to invite his supervisor to his Circle. I could tell you about a young adult who goes to the gym every single day and just has so much joy in her life that the trainer said, “Hey, there is something so different about you than anybody else I see. What is that?” And got to explain what was going on in their life and invited the trainer to come and be a part of her Circle with her. One more. I could tell you about a businessman who is so successful and has this opportunity to incredibly scale his business, but in the last few weeks he’s realized that the kingdom of God is not in his home.

He has decided to press pause on scaling his business so he can focus on being a hope carrier to his wife and to his children in the here and the now. God is moving, and all they’re doing is practicing their faith. They’re just taking the next steps. They’re just applying what we’re talking about. They just have a sense of risk and boldness, like, if God’s in it, I want to be a part of it and I want to move forward. This is the normal Christian Life. My question for you in this season is, what’s your story? If we gave you a mic, and said, stand up and just tell us a story – don’t worry, we won’t do that – about how God is moving in you or through you, what would you say? Because that’s the normal Christian life, is to have stories of what God is doing and what He’s teaching us and how He’s shaping us.

I mean, do you remember the story in Acts Chapter 3 and 4 of Peter and John? They’re on their way to the temple to pray. Just going about their normal life, and at the gate there is a paralyzed man, a beggar. He’s sitting on the mat, and when Peter and John get there, they stop and they look at the man. He’s reaching out for a handout. He’s excited because they stop and look at him. Peter looks right at him, and says, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you in the name of Jesus Christ stand up and walk.” In that moment, the man is supernaturally and miraculously healed. The kingdom of God just came into his life. He’s healed. He stands up and everybody freaks out in amazement. I love that story for a number of reasons. The first thing I love is that just they’re just going about their daily life. Peter and John didn’t wake up that morning, and say, “Hey, how are we going to be a hope carrier today?”

No. They were just going about their normal life, but they weren’t so busy that they couldn’t stop and be aware of what God was doing. You see, busyness blinds us from what God is doing. You have to be present if you want to see God’s divine purposes all around you. It’s activity that keeps us from the opportunities that are right there in front of us. In fact, our activity, our busyness, makes us see opportunities as really interruptions, and we get frustrated with it. If we’re honest, if that’s our story, we’re walking along and the guy cries out for help, we’d be like, “Shh, be quiet man! I’m busy being a hope carrier. I ain’t got time for this!” And we would have missed the whole thing. I love that they say, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I give you I have.” In other words, they didn’t give the man what they had in their hands. They gave them what was in their heart. The man didn’t need silver or gold, what did he need?

The kingdom of God. Now, if we’re honest, we would have run off and found some silver — “Stay right here, I’ll be – stay right here – like, I’ll be right back. I’m going to go find some silver or gold and I’m going to come back and bring it.” But that’s not what the man needed. He needed the kingdom that was within Peter and John. See, remember, we keep saying the kingdom starts inside out. The kingdom within you will become the kingdom around you. Your internal world will shape your external world. The kingdom is meant to come to you so that it can flow through you. Peter and John understood this because they had been trained by Jesus this way. I mean, Jesus, before this, it all happened, He said to them, “As you go,” like in your normal daily life. When you’re going to the grocery store, in school and work, in the gym and all the places you go, every single day, preach this message: “Declare, ‘The kingdom of Heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons, freely you have received, freely give.”

I love it. Here’s our thing again – declare and demonstrate. Demonstrate and declare. Through words and actions, release the kingdom of God around you. Freely you have received, freely give. But you have to understand, you can only give that which you have first received. You cannot release that which you do not possess. You are only empowered to the level you are surrendered. If the kingdom flows through a surrendered will, then the level that I am surrendered, receiving from God, is my ability to give or release into the world around me. Peter understood this. The man gets healed. Everybody starts freaking out, “All the people were astonished and came running… when Peter saw this, he said to them, ‘Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?… By faith in the name of Jesus this man whom you see and know was made strong.”

Everyone’s astonished and Peter is astonished that they’re astonished. He’s like, “Why does this surprise you?” He goes, “This is the normal Christian life. This is what life looks like for those who follow Jesus.” In a sense, he’s like, “Think about it. We live under an open heaven. The kingdom of Heaven is within us. The spirit of the living God is within us. We’ve been given power and authority by Jesus. This is the normal Christian life, why are you surprised that there is a power and godliness flowing through our life?” This verse is really sad, because I think it’s still true today. If we see power and godliness in someone’s life, we’re astonished.

Shouldn’t we be astonished that there isn’t a power and godliness in their life? If someone proclaims to know Jesus and live in His kingdom and say they’re a believer, and say they’re just a disciple, and there is no power in godliness; that should astonish us. That should be shocking to us. It’s what the Bible talks about when it says, “They have a form of godliness but denying its power.” They look really good on the outside. They talk a big game, but there’s no kingdom inside; so there’s no kingdom that can be released into the world around them. You with me on this? When are we going to become astonished when there isn’t power and godliness? Because that’s what the kingdom offers you. I love it. As it goes on, it says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

In other words, Peter and John didn’t have a specific education. They didn’t have a unique experience. They didn’t have a talent or gifts or abilities. They were just unschooled, ordinary men, but they had been with Jesus. Remember, you become like whoever you hang around. Because they had been with Jesus, they went from being ordinary and unschooled to extraordinary and full of divine wisdom. Why? Because Jesus is the extraordinary one full of divine wisdom and He filled them with courage. See, you hang out with the world, you become like the world, and you’ll become hopeless. You hang out with Jesus, you’ll become like Jesus, and you’ll become a hope carrier. In fact, this is what Jesus prays for you at the end of His life. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world I have sent them into the world.”

Jesus prays that you’d be a hope carrier. That you’d be in the world, but not of it. Jesus doesn’t pray to take you out of the world and remove you. No. He prays to send you right into the belly of the beast, if you will; into the darkest, most broken, lost, lonely, and broken places to be in it, but not of it. Of it – having a different origin, a different nature, a different reality. We’re supposed to be in the world, but of the kingdom – a different set of values and culture, and life, and perspective. He says, “sanctify,” set apart for the very purposes of God. But if we’re honest, too often we remove ourselves from the world, but we’re still of it. We’re afraid to be in the dark, lost, lonely, and broken places. We judge it. We condemn it. We criticize it, so we remove ourselves and we’re out of the world, but we’re still of it. We still think like it, talk like it, and act like it, and live like it.

We’re supposed to be in the world and of the kingdom, why? Because the moment you become a follower of Jesus, you go from this world to the kingdom of God. It’s a little bit of recap from last week, “From that time on Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.'” From that time on, Jesus only had one message – “Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” You see it all over the scriptures. The moment you start becoming aware of the kingdom, you start seeing it everywhere. We just finished reading Matthew together. I mean, it’s like, it’s literally on every single page, because why? Because this is His message – “Repent.” Change your mind. Think differently. Look at your life and evaluate it. Are you really going in the right direction? “For the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Within reach. It’s available and accessible to anyone and everyone who wants it.

Repentance is how we get in the kingdom, but it’s also how we live in the kingdom. Repentance is how we grab a hold of more of God’s kingdom and bring it into our life. A lot of us repent enough to get in the kingdom, but not enough to live in the kingdom. We repent enough for the forgiveness of our sins, but not to actually experience a kingdom life. That’s why we’re surprised and astonished when someone has power and godliness in their life, why? Because we’ve repented enough to get in, but not enough to experience that power and that godliness in and of ourselves. He says, “Repent!” Think long and hard about your life, because the kingdom of God is now an option that’s available to you, and there is so much more than religion and good church and worldly success. Have you made the right choice? We said that if Jesus’ main message was preaching about the kingdom, then we have to understand the kingdom.

I asked you last week, I said, what’s the kingdom? If it’s the thing He invites us in and it’s His main message, we really should know a lot about the kingdom. But it’s the thing, we don’t know how to answer. If I asked you, “What’s the church?” We’d have lots of answers. Most of them would be wrong, but, at least, you’d have an answer. We talk about the kingdom, we’re not really sure, so what is the kingdom of God? The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God. It’s where things are submitted and surrendered to the lordship of Jesus. It’s the range of God’s effective will. It’s what God is doing. It’s the very life of God itself. Maybe the simplest way to understand the kingdom is the kingdom of God is where God’s will is done. The kingdom of God is where God’s will is done. It’s where what He wants done is done. “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

So, for God’s kingdom to come, His will has to be done. Wherever God’s will is done, His kingdom has just come. Which means, wherever God’s will isn’t done, His kingdom has yet to come. See, a kingdom is the king’s domain. A king has a domain, an area, a place that he rules and reigns over through his words and his actions. He has a will, a desire, wants, that start in his heart and come through his words and his actions. Every place that submits and surrenders to his words and to his actions is part of his domain. If something does not submit and surrender to a king’s word or actions, we would say that’s outside of his kingdom because it’s not submitting and surrendering to him. When we say, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven,” well, why does it need to come on earth as it is in Heaven? Because everything God wants done in Heaven is done, but not everything God wants done on the earth is done, why?

Because there are kings and kingdoms and queens and queendoms that have their own will. They have their own desire and they resist and rebel against God. Remember, we were made in the image and likeness of God. To be made like God means you were made with a will, a desire, a want; the ability to choose, to have choice. We get mad at God sometimes by things happening in the world. We’re like, “God, why would you let that happen?” It’s just free will of that person making a decision in their domain and it might hurt them and it might hurt you. See, there is the kingdom bell, right there. The king’s domain has come. You have a domain – it might just be your body, it might be your bedroom, it might be your house, it might be your finances, it might be a business, it might be a whole school, it might be a city.

You have a place that God has empowered you to rule and reign. The question is, are you submitting and surrendering your will to his or are you doing your own will? The question you have to ask is, what’s the greatest barrier to God’s kingdom coming? It’s not the world, it’s your will and my will. It’s your will and my will. Sin is when I choose my will, even when it’s contrary to God’s will. Obedience is when I choose God’s will, even when it’s contrary to my will. If we’re honest, a lot of us live most of our lives like a bratty toddler. Can we just say it like that? We have our opinions and our desires and our wants and our will, and when we don’t get it we freak out and we let everyone clearly know it and we get angry. Anger is most often the result of your will being challenged or crossed.

You have a domain, someone came into it, and did something different than you willed, and so now you get angry. You believe that your domain was challenged. Now, that’s a conversation for another day, what actually is your domain; but we get angry on that. Here’s my question for you, did you get angry this week? Come on. Did you get angry in any way this week? Okay. Now, think about when you got angry, why did you get angry? You got angry because your will was violated, challenged, or crossed. Even though, in that moment, your will wasn’t able to be done, His will can still be done by how you choose to respond. Your will wasn’t done in that moment, with your mom, your spouse, your boss, your friend, whatever; that person on the road who cut you off. They clearly got in your domain.

But how you respond, His will can still come. “Not my will, but Yours be done,” so I can still respond with grace and kindness and self-control and joy and peace. Are you with me on this? See, Jesus says, “If a person really loves Me, He will keep My word, obey My teaching, and My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home our abode, a special dwelling place with him.” Jesus says if you love Him, you’ll obey His teaching. In other words, it’s our love for God that allows us to obey or surrender our will to His. He goes on, later, to say, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” If we love God and we’re His friends, we will be able to submit and surrender our will to His or obey Him. You can just think of obedience as surrendering my will to His.

We know this is true because the people we love and that we’re friends with will submit and surrender our will to them because we love them. We’re in relationship with them. It’s okay to be like, “Yeah, I don’t want that for dinner, but it’s okay. I’ll surrender my will to yours because I love you and we’re friends.” It’s our love for God that leads us to surrender our will. Isn’t it interesting that it’s God’s love for us that creates our love for Him. “We love because He first loved us.” It’s God’s love for us that creates our love for Him that allows us to surrender our will. It’s God’s love for us that allows us to surrender our will to Him. What happens, He then comes to us, a special dwelling place. In other words, I’m just trying to show you a different way of saying, if we will surrender our will, His kingdom will come. If we will obey God, we get to experience more of Him. Obeying what’s in front of you is how you get access to what’s beyond you.

If you’ll just obey the little that’s in front of you, you can get access to what’s beyond you. If I’ll surrender my will in the here and now, I get access to the kingdom that’s then and there, it’s what I’m trying to tell you. Come on, are you with me on this? I know this requires a little bit of thinking, but you’ve got to piece it together and start to understand it. It’s like, if I really want more of God’s kingdom to come, then I have to obey in the here and now because He tells me that’s how His kingdom will come. He’ll come. He’ll come to me in a special dwelling place. There’ll be more of Him and His life that I will get to experience in the here and the now. But, catch it, it’s really hard to lead other people to obedience when you are currently living in rebellion. It’s really hard to lead other people to surrender when you’re in resistance. It’s hard to lead other people into the kingdom when you’re living like the world, and you say, why are you telling us this? Because this is the point of being a hope carrier.

You can’t go tell everyone else to obey and surrender their will while you’re living in rebellion and resistance. This is that whole thing where we say, “Don’t do what I do, do what I say.” Aren’t you glad that Jesus says, “Do what I say and what I do because they’re the same thing.” I think this is so important for us. It’s like, do we really want to see God’s kingdom come? I think we’re often waiting on God to move, and He’s just waiting for us to obey. This is what we do. We’re like, “God, I want Your kingdom to come,” but then we just kind of do what we want. “God, I really want Your kingdom to come in my family,”but then we live with bitterness and resentment and harsh words towards our spouse or dishonor our parents and don’t do what they ask. “God, I really want Your kingdom to come in my classroom,” but then we spend the entire break time gossiping and grumbling about this generation.

“God, I really want Your kingdom to come in my business,” but then we don’t do things with integrity, we don’t let our yes be yes, and our no be no; we treat people harshly and we don’t have character. “God, I really want to see Your kingdom come in my art, in my music, and my media,” but then I fill my mind with a bunch of dark, worldly things. “God, I really want Your kingdom to come in my sports,” but then I just don’t do it with all my heart. “God, I really want Your kingdom to come in our church,” but then I complain and I criticize and I gossip and I grumble. Maybe the kingdom coming is more on us than it is on God. “God, I want Your kingdom to come. … Move over, you’re too close!” “God, I need Your kingdom to come. … Stop bothering me!” “God, would Your kingdom come? … Please just do what I say already!”

“God, I need your kingdom to come. … How can I bless you and serve you and help you?” His kingdom just came. Can you catch that? You see, we think God’s will is all these big things – who am I going to marry and what job should I take and where should I live? I think it’s the little things like, forgive and apologize, and let it go, and put it down, and just trust me over here. I think we think God’s will is so hard to find. It’s this mysterious thing. God’s will is so clear through his words and his actions it can be discovered, and then we can choose to align our words and our actions with it, and then His kingdom comes. The question is, where do you need to surrender your will to God in the here and now? Don’t get lost in the big — like right now, where do you know you are – just straight up call it this word – where am I in disobedience to God?

That would be surrendering your will to Him and His kingdom will come. In fact, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” In other words, the life you long for is found in His kingdom. If His kingdom is His will, what’s His righteousness? If kingdom is the will of God, what’s His righteousness? His righteousness is His goodness. It’s His love and it’s His character. If you can catch it, you will submit to God’s will to the level you believe He is good. His kingdom is His will, His righteousness is His goodness. I will then surrender to God’s will to the level I believe He’s good. If you want to know what you really believe about God, all you need to do is look at where are you living in resistance to what God’s will is?

That’s a place that you question His goodness. You don’t believe He’s good to you there. If this is goodness and this is will, if you can catch it, God has goodwill towards you. Ever hear that old time term, we say, “It’s the goodwill.” God’s desire is to be good to you. Learn to surrender yourself, this verse says, to God’s desire to be good to you. He wants to take care of everything. That will unlock this verse for you, if you will catch it. Above all things, seek first. More than anything else, surrender yourself to God’s desire to be good to you because He wants to take care of everything. Oh, come on people. That’s good. Wherever I don’t surrender, I don’t believe in His goodness.

We’re big talk, “God is good!” You know where you believe God is not good based on what you choose to do in your life when you go your way instead of His way. See, this verse is cool and we like it and we’ll quote it, but here’s the thing. You get to this certain point, and you’re like, “But I really want to be my own king.” It’s great being your own king. You get to do what you want, when you want, how you want. “God gave me a free will, baby. He wants me to use that.” It’s great being your own king, but just make sure that you understand, yes, you get to do what you want, when you want, how you want, but if you’re your own king, that also means you have to fight your own battles. You have to protect your own boundaries. You have to provide for all your needs. You have to make it happen and hold it all together. You still want to be your own king?

Here’s what I think we think: I want to be my own king to do what I want, when I want, how I want, but then I want God to come and fight the battles, I want God to come and expand my boundaries, and I want God to come to provide everything and hold it all together. Okay, if that’s what happens, then guess what? You would be king and He would be your servant. I’m the king. I get to do what I want, when I want, how I want. God, come fight the battle. I’m the king. I’m doing what I want. God, my will right now is for You to come to expand these boundaries. I’m the king. I get to do it how I want, but God, I need You to come and provide, because we ain’t got enough in this kingdom to feed everybody right now. Who’s king? Who’s king? We get a choice. You see, everybody wants a king as good as Jesus. Everybody needs a king as good as Jesus.

A king with grace and compassion and love and kindness and humility and honor. This is why the Bible says, “Jesus is the desire of all the nations.” He’s the desire of every people group, of every area of life, of every person, why? Because everybody wants a king that’s as good as Him, who has goodwill. Who has a desire to be good to them and take care of everything that they might live free. What does it all come to? Surrendering our will. This is why the gospel is good news. “Jesus went about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom” – the gospel of the kingdom, the good news of the kingdom – “and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” Jesus didn’t go around preaching religion or church life or worldly success or do a bunch of things.

He came to bring the gospel, which means good news of the kingdom. News, not advice; not suggestions, not a good idea, news. What is news? News is something that has happened and because of that thing that happened, it now changes everything. It’s past-tense. News is done. It’s already happened. There is a good news that’s taken place and because of it, it changes everything. What is the news? The news is that the kingdom has come and through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus; anyone and everyone from all the cities and all the villages, no matter how lost, lonely, and broken they are, has an availability and an access to now step into the kingdom, become a part of the kingdom, and live in the freedom of the kingdom. The gospel of the good news is not getting to Heaven when you die. If you haven’t figured that out in the last couple of weeks, let me say it again.

It is not getting to Heaven when you die. That’s a sad, sorry gospel. It’s not about getting to Heaven someday. It’s about living in the reality of the kingdom of Heaven today. In the here and now, not just the then and the there. I get to discover it, and live in it, and find it, and enjoy it, by surrendering my will, by choosing to obey Him in the little things that are right there in front of me. He preaches it, declares it to you. He teaches it. He will teach you how to live in it and He demonstrates it for you. He doesn’t just say it, He actually shows it to you. All the cities and all the villages have the opportunity for Jesus to become king.

You have the opportunity for Jesus to become king. Let me let you in on a little something. When we plan a series, we seek God, and we put together all the weeks that we feel God has for us; what He wants to say; what we feel like He wants to do. Then, there are realities of time constraints and special weekends and calendar stuff. We try to make it all work and then we go into it and we watch what God does. Usually, we’re pretty close. I’m not even remotely close in this series. Because what you don’t know is that, if you were here last week, I left off, basically, a half a message on the end.

That, then, I built into this week’s message, and Thursday when we do our walkthrough and go through all these slides, because they don’t just appear, just so you know. It’s not just like you touch it and it just goes poof. We walk through it all and then we looked at it and I walked away and I was like, there’s no way I can do this again, because I know I’m preaching long. You guys are being gracious, and so I already cut the message in half from what I was going to preach today to what I was — from what I was going to preach to what I was going to preach. Okay. I didn’t even get through half of what I was going to preach of what I was going to preach, and we’re out of time. Here’s what’s okay with that. Here’s where I want you to — here’s what I want to let you in on that. Because, normally, you’d be like, “Why do I care bro, like it’s not — it’s your gig, not mine.” I know. Here is what I’m trying to let you in on that, is because I really think that God is trying to do – He is and He is trying to do something in us.

The interesting thing about when God moves is He becomes uncontrollable. The question we all have to ask – you have no idea how many times I sit up here while we’re doing this and wrestling with, like, “I’m not going to get there. We’re not going to make it. Oh no. Oh no. Okay, the Holy Spirit. Okay, right. Okay.” If you really want God to move, you have to let go of control. I’m saying all this to you, not to be like, “Oh, just prepare better man.” Trust me, you have no idea how much. It’s more angst for me than it is for anybody else. But I think God didn’t want us to move on from this concept of just surrendering our will, of not, because here’s my fear is that we hear the word kingdom, and we’re like, “Oh, yeah, we taught it last week. I know it,” and then I want to move on. When you understand the kingdom, power and godliness become the normal reality of your life. You become astonished at yourself in the moments that you don’t see it.

Don’t worry about being astonished at anyone or anything else. Worry about being astonished in your own reality. “Hey, I just blew up at my wife. I’m astonished that there wasn’t more power in godliness because I now live in the kingdom of God. Yet, in that kingdom there is so much grace that right now He is forgiving and healing and restoring. He is teaching me a new way to live. He is healing my sicknesses and my diseases – body, mind, soul, spirit.” There is a good news that’s available. The good news is the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It’s within reach. It’s here and now, available for you. If you so desire, you can step into it by faith. What I love about Jesus is He’s the only king that doesn’t conquer by force. He invites you to surrender by faith.

He’s not going to come and take your free will. Some of you are sitting here, and you’re like, “Take my will then and make me do it.” He made you with a will. He made you with the ability to choose, and when He says, “Repent,” He’s saying, “Think again about your life. Is it really the best direction? Think again, because there’s a better choice right here!” He’s not going to come in by force and take your will. No, no, no. He’s going to keep inviting you. Kindness leads to repentance – kindness, and grace, and drawing, and goodness. He’s saying, “Hey, think again. Hey, evaluate it one more time. Hey, I know you think you’ve already got the church thing and the spiritual thing figured out, but just think about it one more time because I’m not sure that you totally got it.” In fact, let me just give you… See, lots. “From that time on,” when did that time stop?

“From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.'” When did that time stop? That’s what He’s still preaching to you today. “Think again, because My rule and reign is at hand and I have a goodwill for you. My desire is to be good to you and take care of everything else. I’m a better king. Let Me rule and reign so that you might be free.” So you close your eyes with me. What’s the Holy Spirit want to say to you today? What’s God’s stirring in your soul? What’s God doing in your heart?

Because He’s here and He’s moving and His desire is to be good to you. Maybe today is your day of salvation. There’s just — something is just bubbling up inside of you. You can’t even stop it. It’s the kingdom of God, and Jesus saying, “By faith, step in. Let me be Lord. Let me be king. Let’s go learn how to live in the kingdom of God in the midst of this world.” For some of you, I just sense this word of courage and boldness and faith. You’ve got to risk a little bit. For some of you, it’s, I need to think differently about what I think life is because maybe there’s something better.

Holy Spirit, let me just say to you, we take everything that we believe about church, Christianity, following Jesus, religion, and we submit that and surrender it to You. We say, “Lord, renew our minds. Teach us what life in the kingdom really looks like.” Holy Spirit, stir it up in our hearts, in our lives. May power and godliness become the normal reality as we walk with You. I pray for every one of us this week that when You invite us to surrender our will, we would trust in Your goodness in that moment and we would believe that You desire to be good to us.

Holy Spirit, thank You that teaching us how to be a hope carrier is really about learning to be a disciple of Jesus who lives in the kingdom of God. Holy Spirit, even though this wasn’t the message we thought or we didn’t get to where we thought, just come and do only that which You can do in our hearts and our lives. We release control and we receive Your grace. Jesus, You are the king, the desire of all nations. We thank You that we don’t have to just desire You, we get to delight in You because You are in the here and now, not the then and there. We love You Jesus. In Your name we pray. Amen.