Sermon for Jericho Road Church on June 26th, 2016. Notes below:
Note: This message was a part of a topical sermon series based on a book by Richard Rohr titled “Breathing Under Water” modeled after the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. My strong preference would be to preach expository messages straight through books of the Bible. In addition, I would not recommend either Richard Rohr or the book “Breathing Under Water” and the teaching within it. This was an attempt to create a faithful message out of a poor preaching direction and schedule.
Step 3 of the Twelve Steps:
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.
James chapter 4, verses 1 to 10:
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (1-3)
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (4-6)
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (7-10)
Excerpt from: Rohr, Richard. “Breathing Under Water.”
We have been graced for a truly sweet surrender, if we can radically accept being radically accepted-for nothing! “Or grace would not be grace at all”! (Romans 11:6). As my father, St. Francis, put it, when the heart is pure, “Love responds to Love alone” and has little to do with duty, obligation, requirement, or heroic anything. It is easy to surrender when you know that nothing but Love and Mercy is on the other side.
The problem: passions
There is a war within us between the flesh and the Spirit. Our passions lead sin which leads to death. We’re friends of the world and enemies of God. We don’t believe God is who he says he is, so we look elsewhere.
The solution: humility
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. When we submit to God we show our humility in our dependence. When we resist the devil he flees from us. When we humbly draw near to God he draws near to us.
The result: grace
God yearns for us. He’s jealous for us. That should floor us. God doesn’t want anyone and anything else to have our hearts, because he wants our hearts. He gives more grace to those who humble themselves. He exalts the humble.
Our hope in Jesus
This is only possible because Jesus bought a way for us. Because Jesus lived the life of perfect humility in our place, we’re freed up to submit to God as well, by the Holy Spirit. The sweet surrender is in knowing we can’t do this ourselves.