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Archive for the tag “Life of Faith”

The Decision

When the Israelites were wandering in the desert, God provided guidance by a cloud in the day and fire at night. The cloud settled on the tabernacle when they were supposed to stay. They always knew where God wanted them at any moment in time because of His way of guidance. When the cloud lifted from the tabernacle, the Israelites packed up and moved with God leading the way. After crossing over to the Promised Land, God went before them and drove out the other nations. The Israelites had gained God’s favor from the first call of Abraham out of the country of his birth. God showed him the land that He would give His family. And God was faithful to fulfill the promise. The promise had nothing to do with the one who received the promise but the One who gave the promise. God’s goodness is the only reason that the Israelites had what they did. It was all about God’s glory being revealed.

Wouldn’t faith be easy if we could see God’s guidance so visibly? But faith is not about seeing, but believing in something that has yet come to pass. Some days I long for a cloud to guide me or see a burning bush to tell me the things I need to do. I know we have something better. We have the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. But sometimes, I don’t hear His voice or feel His presence guiding me. I was reading the passage this week from Numbers about God moving the camp of Israelites from one place to another with the cloud by day and the fire by night. The desire once again came over me to have that type of guidance.

In my quiet time yesterday morning, Psalm 25 was used to illustrate God’s timing and the importance of waiting for His guidance. We are told that God’s ways and timing are not ours. Charles Stanley wrote in his devotional the requirements of waiting are faith, humility, patience and courage. The courage comes when we have pressure to act we wait upon God instead of following the wrong advice. “You cannot charge ahead with your own plans and at the same time be fully surrendered to God.” When doors of opportunity come, we always have to see if the opportunity is from God. The opportunity may come from our enemy which keeps us from the path that God wants us to take upon His time. The enemy likes to keep us distracted and away from God’s plan. Psalm 25:2 is a prayer from David about keeping his enemies from triumphing over him. David humbles himself before God; knowing that he is totally dependent on God. There is nothing that David desires that doesn’t come from God.

We don’t know the future. Our plans will ultimately fail if they are not in alignment with God’s will. We come back to faith. Our faith requires stretching and taking a few risks even when it seems wrong in the short-term. Decisions about the future are very scary. And I am at that place right now. I keep asking God to show me His ways and I want to make sure the opportunity that is before me is from God and not a distraction keeping me from doing the things God has in mind. I want to align with God’s plan. But I also don’t want to stay when God is obviously saying to move. Decisions at cross roads are important to wait upon clear direction from God. It’s not always a choice between right or wrong. Sometimes the decision is between good and best. David knew the secret to a successful life. Humbleness. Prayer. And thankfulness for all God has done. Things we all need to learn on this side of heaven!

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:4-5

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Beginning Again

I thought it would be different. I thought I would be walking into a new ministry. For the last few months, I have been searching for the right position. The door of opportunity came through an insignificant encounter at a small group meeting. It was a small opportunity; not in a ministry of great significance. I thought it would be different. But God reminds me every time I question this opportunity: ministry happens wherever He places us. We are to be His light in whatever opportunity we’re given. I don’t know where this opportunity will lead. The position may only last a few months – it happened one other time in my career life – or it may last many years. I don’t know what will happen.

Whatever door He opens, we are to walk through it. It’s a matter of following Him. It always looks different from what we think. I guess the disciples were in the same boat (so to speak). They dropped their nets and decided to go where this new fellow was taking them. They had no idea where He was going or where they would end up. But they kept following – even when everyone else stopped. They were offered the opportunity to leave when the crowds did, but Peter said no “Who else has the words of eternal life?” (My paraphrase of John 6:67). They did desert Jesus on that last night. They thought it was the end, but it was only a new beginning. Once Jesus arose, the movement started with a few sparks through the Holy Spirit’s igniting in a large gathering. The sparks were spread as the gathering was disbursed throughout the world. And eventually the movement became a fire that has lasted through thousands of generations.

It always looks different when we are in the first steps of beginning again. We just don’t know what’s on the other side of the beginning. It could be a movement that needs a few sparks to ignite for a new generation. Our job is to make sure the sparks aren’t extinguished. Can you imagine if it’s our generation that lets that spark die? We need to fan the flame wherever God has placed us. I completely fail in this regard. I know I need to be better about sharing with others. It’s really the only job that counts these days. Nothing will be credited to my account except the good works that will be stored in heaven for that day when we have to give an account of how we have lived on this earth. Nothing else matters. The fire has to be fanned – if not us – then who? For those who are seeking, they have to see something in us to make them question what we have that they don’t. We have to be different. It’s not easy being different. But we are told to be light in the darkness. The world loves the dark. If our light is diminished or extinguished, the world continues in the darkness and will not find their way to the cross.

So I begin again. I take the mantle that is offered to me. I take the opportunities as they come. I follow Jesus. I stay true to His word. I watch God at work and join Him to fan the flames. Sounds easy enough, right? Let’s do this thing. I want to hear at the end of all this, “well done!” And I want it all to count for something greater than what I thought was possible. I don’t understand it or foresee it now. God’s ways are different and His thoughts are greater. I have to trust it all to Him: for His glory! Let it be as He says and let my ways be obedient to His.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

Safe or Faith

I am to live a life of faith not a life of safe. I had this thought not too long ago. I think for years I have heard “safe” instead of “faith.” I believe I am finally coming into the fullness of who I am to be. I am to be a person of great faith. I am tired of living in the comfortable. It’s actually quite boring to be honest. I want adventure. I want to get up every morning anticipating a day that can be a life-changer for someone, and I get to be involved in the process! Right now, I don’t have those thoughts. But I can change that. I can say “yes” to all God calls me to.

God has been at work at my church in a mighty way. He has called my pastor and the elders to start a new “School of Ministry” to begin equipping us to disciple others. They were challenged to help us to become the missionaries we are all meant to be. That doesn’t mean we are all called to go to other nations, although some of us will be. But we are all called to take the message of the Good News to our friends and neighbors. I don’t know exactly what that looks like for me, but it means that I am not to play it safe anymore. I am to live that life of great faith. It means I need to love and serve others as I am led to do. It may actually cost me something to do this thing. I may actually be called to the mission field at some point. But first I need the equipping. I need to be ready.

As I was contemplating this new path (whatever that is), Scripture was put on my heart. I don’t believe in coincidences. The Scripture was 1 Timothy 4:12-16 (I’ll include it below). I think this is a word to all. We are to be devoted to studying the Word and teaching others. We are to watch how we live and what we believe. Others are watching us. Others are paying attention to what we say and what we do. Others will see our progress. I believe this is true. I believe we are to live with integrity so that others understand our words and actions are the same. I don’t have it all figured out, but I am progressing in my walk of faith. That’s what this life is all about – progress. Success comes when we do what we are called to do – live a life of faith. Take the risks God asks us to take. He is the reason we are all alive today. I am excited to live in faith so that I may experience a greater life. I am tired of boring! It’s time to live it out LOUD! Who’s with me?

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:12-16

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