Trust and Obedience: The path to God’s plan for your life.

I am currently 19 days into a 21 day fast. To be honest, this is only one of a few times that I have “fasted” and truly pursued the heart of the Father. Yes, I wanted to eat healthy anyway. Who doesn’t want to lose a few pounds and use a fast as an excuse to abstain from certain food and drink? However, this time around I wanted to see if I could get some true revelation when it comes to the plans that God has for me (Jeremiah 29:11).

I’m not one to get caught up in the legalism that wants to marry itself to any good Christian intention so to follow the “rules” was never a real concern of mine. What I wanted was to remove things from my life that were more valuable to me than my time with God. I don’t think any of us intentionally put things before God but what I’ve learned is that if I’m not intentionally putting God first then I am, by default, intentionally not putting Him first. By joining a fast, that was called by my pastor, my hope was that as I replaced these “desires of the flesh” with intentional time with God that I would grow closer to Him and have a better understanding of His intentions for how I am to partner with Him to do His good work (Ephesians 2:10).

Over the past 19 days the revelations have been real. There is so much I could share with you but honestly I think the most important thing I have learned during this time of intentionally pursuing God is that He is looking for two things from me: Trust and Obedience. During the two and a half weeks I have listened to a lot of sermons (part of my fast was to replace media with only reading my Bible or listening to sermons). Early on during the fast I heard a preacher say, “Trust is God’s love language.” I liked this so I spent some time meditating on that idea and exactly what it looked like. Trusting God looks like Peter stepping out of the boat onto the raging sea. Trusting God looks like my friend losing his job and starting a business because he felt the Lord was leading him to do so. Trusting God looks like another friend of mine leaving his job and waiting on the Lord to provide. I have found that when the Lord asks us to trust Him it is usually followed by an opportunity to obey. In Matthew 14:22-33, Jesus was out on the sea in the storm. The disciples weren’t sure if it was Jesus so Jesus did one of the things that he loves to do; he calmed their fears by saying, “Take courage! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” Peter must have been thinking about going out to join Jesus but if he was anything like me he wasn’t sure if that was the Lord calling him or his own excitement wanting him to jump. So he responds to Jesus and says, “Lord if it’s you tell me to come to you on the water.” What stands out to me here is that Peter didn’t say, “Jesus if it’s you tell me to jump in the water.” He says, “tell me to come to you ON the water”. He trusted that if it was Jesus there was going to be a miracle. So Jesus said, “Come.” Of course you know the rest of the story. Peter steps out onto the water, walks on water for a second, sees the waves and starts to sink but Jesus grabs him. Peter trusted and obeyed.

What is Jesus calling me to do? With what is he asking me to trust Him? Where is He asking me to obey Him? I know that some things are hard for me to let go. I know that with each victory I wake up to another day of challenges, but I also know that he has made it clear that He wants to take me to the place He always planned for me. The path to that place is through trust and obedience in Him.

Over the past month I have learned that 1% obedience is 100% disobedience. I pray that I trust him with my life. I pray that when He calls me to “come” I will walk out to him even if it looks like a storm that I may be walking into. I want to trust Him in the storm. I want to obey His call to come.

Only you know what trust and obey means in your life. Only you know where Jesus may be calling you to come. I pray that as we pursue Him we trust Him to do his work through us. I pray that we obey His call to come.

Meaning in the mundane

For the past two months or so I have woke up about an hour before my alarm goes off. As this happened I knew that this was God wanting time with me. He knows me and he knows that as soon as my alarm goes off I immediately will jump into “work mode”. I grab my coffee, fire up the computer and start sifting through work emails. About an hour later my house is lit up and the entire family is up and getting ready for the day. Once this begins I never look back. I never stop to have my devotional time. I never stop to listen for his still small voice. So as a response to this he has began to wake me up an hour before my alarm goes off. Since this “waking up early thing” has become the norm and has turned into my “one on one time” with Jesus I now just automatically respond, “Good morning, God. What do you want to talk about?” and then we have our time of conversation whether it be just his impressions to me or time reading the Bible; I try to give him my undivided attention.

This morning my eyes “popped open”, just like every morning, and I looked over at the alarm clock and it was TWO hours before it was set to go off. I immediately knew that God was wanting time with me. (Side note: He desires relationship with you. He is looking for partners and friends to do his good work). I asked, “What’s on your heart?” He then said,

“I am interested in the little things. I care about the mundane”.

I thought to myself. I know that he cares about us but he cares about the boring little things in our lives? He cares about the mundane? At this point I hopped out of the bed and got my coffee going. (I have come to love my early morning coffee time with Jesus.) I felt impressed to look up the meaning of “mundane”; I wanted to see if maybe there was more to it than my understanding of what this word meant. This is what I found:

mun·dane

ˌmənˈdān

adjective

1.

lacking interest or excitement; dull.

2.

of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one.

His cares about things “of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one”? It all immediately made sense; he is concerned with us where we are. My whole life in “the church” it has seemed that our focus is “escaping” this place to get to heaven, but I feel like God was saying “I am concerned for you where you are. I want to be involved in your every day occurrences on earth.”

As I process what he is saying to me I feel like there are two messages here:

1. God wants to be involved in your life. He is interested in your joy AND your pain. He wants to walk with you through whatever you are going through: Everything. He knows the little things that bother you. He knows the little things that excite you and he wants you to to share these things with him. He doesn’t want to be an outsider when it comes to anything in your life.

2. God desires to use you to touch other peoples lives. He is interested in loving his creation even while we are here on earth. He desires for you to have his heart. He desires for you to have his ears. He desires for you to have his eyes. He desires to use your voice to express his love and concern for ALL of the big AND little things. As I said earlier, he is looking for friends to partner with him.

God wants to use you. You have purpose and ultimately it always goes back to engaging everyone on his behalf. No matter where you work, no matter where you play he is interested in the people there and he wants you to share his love, joy and concern for them.

I actually believe that God wakes us all up early to see if we will “hang out”. I want to encourage you that the next time your eyes “pop open” before your alarm is set to go off just take a second to respond, “Good morning, God. What do you want to talk about?”

1 Peter 5:7 – Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. – NLT

Be encouraged.

YOU are the light of the world.

I recently had the opportunity to teach a class at my local church. The class was an equipping class that helped myself and other believers realize our role when it comes to hearing and doing what The Father says. God taught me so many things while I was teaching the class. Whether it was the realization that He IS interested in the small details of our lives or that he wants to use all of us to do his good works in our everyday lives, I was overwhelmed with all the Lord wanted to reveal in that season of my life. I came to many realizations one of which was that no matter how many times I have heard or read a scripture the Lord will speak a fresh understanding into my heart and mind when I allow myself to mediate on his word. We are encouraged to not only read the Bible but to also meditate on what we have read. I have definitely found that God’s revelation exists in the reading what his word says and meditating on what the Holy Spirit is wanting to reveal to me through the word.

I was recently meditating on a very familiar scripture, Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all those in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”

This scripture always fills my mind with images. Images of lamps, with and without a lampshade over it. I often see a dark room with a flashlight breaking the darkness. Sometimes I’ve even envisioned myself leading a group of people through a dark place with my flashlight. All of these images reflect some sort of interpretation of this scripture but in my most recent meditation on this scripture something different stood out to me; the word “city”. We are the light of the world…a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden. I immediately had the image of a night time scene of a city as seen from an airplane window. Many of us have seen that picture. That is such a beautiful scene. The bigger the city the broader the reach of the lights. As I began to consider that scene I began to have a new revelation on the meaning of the scripture, we aren’t only a lamp that lights a room we are a city that cannot be hidden.

As each of us shine the light of God’s love we become more than a single lamp we become that city scene. We, the body of Christ, are that beautiful city scene.

Be encouraged to be the light, to be the city that cannot be hidden. You were created with all you need to be a representative of God’s kingdom on this planet.

YOU are the light of the World. A city that is set on a hill and cannot be hidden.

You Will See Greater Things

Recently I have been waking up earlier than I normally choose to. I try to be in the habit of considering that when I wake up that early God is wanting some time with me.  You know he longs for time with us just like any of our friends?  Anyway, a week ago I woke up at 1:50 am. I had a very long day of work ahead of me and even a longer week but I couldn’t get back to sleep.  I couldn’t get my mind to rest so I got up.  Usually I will make note of what time I wake up and I will begin to search “the scriptures” (Bible) based on the time I woke up. (Crazy?  Not really.  You might be surprised to find how often Holy Spirit will use numbers to speak to you.  Honestly, Holy Spirit will use just about everything to get time with you.)  Anyway, I start “Googling” “1:50 bible” just to see what came up.  There are a few options but if you try “Googling” you will see that John 1:50 comes up first and most often, so I went to John 1 and read the entire chapter.  First of all, WOW  JOHN 1.  I love that chapter for so many reasons and honestly I could write about a lot parts that stand out BUT we are gonna focus on 1:50 because that is when I woke up. 🙂 Basically this chapter tells us who Jesus is and tells the story of Jesus calling his disciples and that leads us to John 1:50.  In this section, of the chapter Phillip is bringing his friend, Nathaniel, to meet Jesus, the Messiah.  At first Nathaniel asked that famous question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  Phillips responds, “Come and see for yourself”. Here, I’ll let you read if for yourself:

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” 44 Philip was from Bethesda, Andrew and Peter’s hometown.
45 Philip went to look for Nathaniel and told him, “We have found the very person Moses[o] and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathaniel. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”“Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.47 As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.”48 “How do you know about me?” Nathaniel asked.Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.”49 Then Nathaniel exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”50 Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.”51 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.[p]”

So Jesus meets Nathaniel and first makes a point of prophesying who Nathaniel is.  I love that in verse 47 Jesus had a moment to give a “word of knowledge” and chose to see him through the “Father’s eyes”.  He could have said, “Now, here is the guy who insulted my home town” or “Now here’s the guy who doubted that I was really the Messiah” but instead he said “Now here is a genuine son of Israel  – a man of complete integrity.” That is such the heart of the Father to see who he made us to be and not who we were just a few minutes before. (side note: God doesn’t see you for your failures, He sees you as the fulfillment of who He made you to be).  So of course, Nathaniel is like, “How do you even know who I am?”  Jesus then tells him that he saw him sitting by the fig tree before Phillip came to get him. (another word of knowledge).  (side note:  I love that Jesus saw Nathaniel before Phillip even got to him.  Jesus sees you.  Even if at this point of your life you don’t see him, he sees you.)  As soon as Jesus tells Nathaniel that he “saw him by the fig tree” Nathaniel becomes a believer. He has heard the heart of the father about him.  He has now learned that Jesus saw him before he even knew about Jesus and he instantly responds, “YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD!”. and then verse 50:

Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.

Once I read 1:50 I knew why Holy Spirit woke me up.  He has greater things for you.  I’m not prophesying any specific thing but He’s saying “You will see greater things”.  You believed because he got you through that family battle, but you will see greater things.  You believed because somehow that bill got paid, but you will see greater things.  You believed because that sickness you had is gone, but you will see greater things. You believed because of the “little thing” but you will see greater things.

I love that John 1 starts off telling us who Jesus is and ends with showing us who he is.

He sees you where you are.  He sees you like you like he intended not how you see yourself.  Believe?  You will see greater things. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for seeing us where we are right now.  No matter what “fig tree” we are sitting under you see us.  Thank you for not only seeing us where we are but seeing who we are with you.  You were intentional when you created us and you see through the doubt into the being you created us to be.  You call us “people of integrity” when we act in every way

other than with integrity.  You do not define us by what we’ve done but what you did.  We believe in you because of what you have done this far but we believe that we will see greater things.  Speak to us.  Speak through us.  Let us love with your heart. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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HEAR THEN DO

A few years back I decided that I really wanted to love like Jesus loves.  I would walk around and whisper under my breath, “God, I want to see like you see.  I want to hear like you hear.  I want to love like you love.”  This became my heart’s prayer. I guess I wasn’t really thinking about what that would even look like or what changes would have to take place in me and with my current state.  I suppose I just thought I’d start being more like Jesus.  Well that wasn’t the case.

I’m sure if you are reading this and you are a follower of Jesus that you want to be more like him.  That’s kind of the point of being a disciple.  We are the student and Jesus is the teacher.  As we pray to be more like him he doesn’t just change us.  He begins to show us things in our life that doesn’t look like him.  He begins to show us how we say things compared to how he says them.  He shows us things we hear and how we choose to interpret those things. He shows us how we view things compared to how he views them.  I think the biggest thing he taught me at the beginning of this process was just how far my heart was from his.  Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t condemning me.  He was gently showing me that if I truly wanted to see what he see’s and hear what he hears to ultimately love like he loves I had to first have his heart.  So the first thing he did was to begin to show me my heart.

I’ll never forget that afternoon at the grocery store.  I was wondering around the store with my list and filling my cart as I weaved in and out of the aisles.  It was a pretty busy day a the store so there were a lot of other people wondering around.  I was kind of getting irritated with all of the folks moving slow and in my way.  As I maneuvered around I would smile and politely say, “Excuse me”, and then once I was passed them I would mutter something rude under my breath. I have done this hundreds of time.  I Just couldn’t understand how someone could not know they were in my way.  How dare they leave their cart in the middle of MY aisle while I’M trying to get passed.  I’m sure I have muttered many cursings as I smiled politely, said “excuse me” and went around them.  On this particular day I was just doing what was normal and cursing everyone in the produce aisle when something different happened.  I heard that “still small voice” smile and whisper, “That doesn’t sound like me”. I immediately stopped and realized what I had been doing for probably my entire life of going to the grocery store.  I immediately realized that my heart was so far from his.  I also felt overwhelmed with gratitude that the God revealed himself to me but horrified at the idea of all of the people I had cursed over the years.  I received this teaching and began to search my heart for the areas that didn’t look like him.  I began to search my mind for areas and thoughts that didn’t sound like him.  A change in my actions weren’t overnight but the beginning of the aligning my heart started that day.

Even though he is willing to teach us, when we sincerely want to know his way, we still have to follow and act upon the things he reveals to us.  In James 1:22 (NLT) it instructs us, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” If we truly want to “be Jesus” to the world then we have to be “doers” not just “hearers”.

I had spent a good chunk of my life thinking I was a pretty good “hearer” and “doer” and it wasn’t until I began to ask the Lord to let me love, see and hear like him that I realized just how far my heart, eyes and ears were from looking like his.  As you sincerely begin to seek the Lord he is more than happy to begin leading you in his way.  I asked to be like him and he began to show me areas that needed attention if I wanted to represent him in the way he should be represented.

I am convinced that God wants us to be like him with more passion than we could ever want to be like him.  He is looking for relationship and partners to do his good work.  I had a friend of mine tell me once, “Jesus is looking for friends.”.  Jesus is looking for people who want to be true disciples and in a real relationship.  Consider the kinds of friends that you are looking for.  We all have people in our lives that only call when they need something or friends who act one way with certain people and different with others.  Jesus is looking for true followers and true friends.  Just like us, Jesus is looking for good friends. He desires friends that will call him all hours of the day and night.  Friends that don’t need to put on “Sunday’s best” to be in his presence.  Friends that are okay just hanging even when it doesn’t feel like anyone has anything to say.  God doesn’t have “awkward silences”.  For that matter God doesn’t have awkward moments.  He is comfortable just being with you.

I encountered Jesus that day at the grocery store and it not only changed the way I saw myself but it changed the way I saw and interacted with others.  I can say that it has been almost two years since that experience in the grocery store and though at times I want to get frustrated with others I’m always reminded of how God sees, hears and loves and that always brings me a calm and a peace as I politely maneuver my way around the store.

Just like anyone who encountered Jesus, in the Bible, I left changed.  As we begin to spend quality time with him he begins to show us areas where we can be more like him. I want to encourage you on your journey to be more like him.  It’s kind of like of heard it said, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future”. I want to be so close to him that it affects my future.

I’ll leave you with this quote which is actually from the movie, Evan Almighty.  There is a seen where Morgan Freeman, the God character in the movie, says to Evan’s wife,

If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”

If you truly are ready to hear like God hears, see like God sees and love like God loves then you need to prepare yourself for an adventure that will lead you down paths of self-realization and deeper relationships with God and his people.  As the Holy Spirit begins to reveal and lead I want to encourage you to be more than a “hearer”, be a “doer”.