Digging In

At the beginning of 2016 our pastor talked about his prayer for our church. It was one simple word: breakthrough.breakthrough

As he broke it down it was as though every cell in my body stood up and screamed, “Yes!”

God wants breakthrough for me. He wants it for my church.

He wants it for you.

What does breakthrough look like? Quite simply, our pastor explained, breakthrough occurs when the Kingdom of Heaven breaks through on earth. Breakthrough is when God breaks into your awareness, breaks you out of the old, and into the new.

As a student at Dallas Theological Seminary, I was challenged to memorize Romans 12. I took the challenge, using my thirty-five-minute morning commute to speak the Scripture out loud (my preferred mnemonic device). As I spoke verses one and two, God broke through.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

—Romans 12:1 NIV

The first thing Paul calls us to do is to remember God’s mercy. He wants us to remember that God sacrificed His One and Only Son so that you and I could know freedom and eternal life through Christ. Paul wants to remind us that when God looks at us, it is through the eyes of compassion and mercy.

In view of this, he encourages us to offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. What does this look like?

Obedience.

Sigh.

If you are a grace-addict like myself, that’s not the sermon you want to hear or the blog you want to read, but there it is. Paul also goes on to tell us that “this is your true and proper worship.”

Not fog machines.

Not lights and drums and a worship team that can crush it.

The worship that is holy and pleasing to God is seeking His way and walking in it.

Breakthrough.

Don’t get me wrong—I love a powerful worship experience, and God is pleased to hear voices lifted in praise. But He desires more.

The next thing Paul encourages is a stubborn refusal to conform. This is not a new concept. The entire book of Leviticus is a description of how the Israelites were to look, speak, eat, worship, and live differently. Israel was YAHWEH’S chosen people to bring the truth to all the nations of the world. Their instructions were simple: Do not assimilate.

You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices.

—Leviticus 18:3

Our instructions are the same. Do not go with the flow. Do not try to blend in. Be relatable, be loving, be compassionate, be merciful, but do not conform to the pattern of this world.

This statement is a cause and effect clause. The next thing Paul says is “Then (here comes the effect of not conforming and letting God transform your mind) you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Breakthrough.

Don’t miss this. We can’t even begin to understand His will until we lay down that which He calls us to give up. Why is this so important? Because we need to be able to distinguish that which is right in our own eyes from that which is right in His.

What is God asking you to lay down? What does He beckon you to trust Him with?

Where does God want to give you breakthrough?

Scripture tells us that His will is good, pleasing and perfect. That means, no matter what He wants to break you free from, it is for His glory, your growth, your good, and your joy.

That’s breakthrough, and that is what I want for myself, my church, and you.

~Rebecca Ashbrook Carrell~

Would you like to go deeper into your study of God’s Word? Right now, Dallas Theological Seminary is offering a FREE ONLINE CLASS. Click HERE for more information. DTS is also giving a one-year scholarship to all students applying for the ThM program. Click HERE to find out how to have your last year paid for.