Responding When Jesus Moves

This post is based on a message from Pastor Todd Cosenza, given at Hope Church on Sunday, March 17, 2024. Click the link at the bottom of the page to watch the entire message.

In the coming season the Lord is going to be moving in people’s lives in powerful ways. The role of leadership in a church is not just to keep things moving along smoothly; a pastor’s role is primarily to equip God’s people to be ready to respond when God’s Spirit moves upon them. A move of God always requires a response, a cooperation from us. As a church we believe that God still moves in people’s lives. This move isn’t just for a few select people; whoever is hungry for a move of God will experience it. 

John 20 describes an important shift for Jesus’ disciples. Jesus had trained them and sent them out on numerous occasions to minister the Gospel, but after His resurrection it was time for Jesus to move on them in a new way.

“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”  (John 20:21-22 NIV)

In this new move, Jesus shared with the disciples the same commission He had received, as well as the power of the Holy Spirit. He was preparing them for greater service in the season to come. Let’s take note of how they responded to this move in John 21 and learn from them.

How should we respond when God moves on us? 

1. Don’t go back to the old way of doing things. 

“Afterward Jesus appeared again to His disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas . . . Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. ‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.”  (John 21:1-3 NIV)

After Jesus’ resurrection and before Jesus appeared to them, the disciples tried to go back to doing things as they had in the past. At least three of these men were professional fisherman so they decided to go fishing, but they caught nothing after a whole night of doing things the way they always had. It was the same boat, the same net, and the same techniques that had always brought success, but not anymore. If we try to go back to the old way of doing things after God moves upon us, the grace will not be there to do it that way anymore. The grace for doing things the old way is gone! When God speaks, you have to respond by being ready to do things differently. You have to trust Him and not go back to the old ways, even if the old ways were successful. There is no more grace on that. For example, maybe we give a consistent percentage of our income each week to the church and our needs are wonderfully met because of that giving. If God speaks to us to increase that percentage but we don’t respond and stay at the same level of giving, we’ll find that the grace is gone at that level. God will increase our financial blessings as we obediently increase our financial giving. We will find that the grace won’t be at the lesser level of giving anymore. He gives us grace to obey when He moves in a new way and we follow Him.

2. Be prepared to hear His voice in greater measure, which will bring greater fruitfulness. 

“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.”  (John 21:4-6 NIV)

These men had worked all night in the old way; they were probably tired and sore. But after one word from Jesus, they brought in a massive haul. It only took one small word of instruction from Jesus to go from no fish, to a net-breaking, boat-sinking haul of fish. When God moves in our lives, He does it to bring a greater fruitfulness but it requires listening more and being willing to obey in the small things. Take note — they were in the right spot; they just had to move the net to the other side of the boat. You may feel that God spoke something to you and you obeyed the best you could, yet you haven’t seen the answer or the fruitfulness come through. Ask Him — He may give you just one small adjustment that brings the change you need. Respond to His specific instruction in the moment. When we listen in, He gives us extra grace to hear Him, and to hear Him accurately. When we make the decision to obey, the shift happens. 

3. Know that your love for Him will increase in urgency and devotion. 

“Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.”  (John 21:7-8 NIV)

Just a few weeks prior when Peter was asked if he knew Jesus, he completely denied knowing Jesus multiple times (See John 18:15-18, 25-27.) When Jesus moved upon Peter’s life in John 20, something shifted in Peter’s heart. He’s no longer ashamed to be associated with Jesus; now he’s recklessly jumping in the water to get to Jesus as soon as he can. He was willing to jump in the lake with all his clothes on, not willing to wait around for the other guys in the boat to row the boat back to shore. Something had happened in his heart to make him love Jesus this way. When Jesus moves on us, the greatest effect will be in our own hearts. Love for Him will grow which will empower everything else, including our faith. Nothing is greater than having an increased love and devotion for Jesus. This increase in love will motivate us to obey Him in ways we ordinarily would not. The urgent need to obey is born out of love and passion (See John 14:15).  

If you want the Lord to move powerfully in your life, He will, but you will have to be willing to respond in the right way. Our passage today helps us to understand what a good response to the move of God looks like. God’s primary goal for us is not comfort, but growth.

Let’s be ready to respond when God moves!

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