I like the “easy button” and easy for me includes: washing dishes, ironing, international travel, languages, grocery shopping, simple cooking and reading my Bible. In contrast, I don’t like to do stuff that’s hard, which includes: getting in shape, seeing suffering babies, recovering from jet lag and being gracious rather than snarky.
No doubt, you have your own lists of things that are easy and hard. But just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done or we shouldn’t try to do it. I say this because of my morning Bible reading in Philippians 2:7, where Paul says about Jesus, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” This verse speaks to Jesus entering the human race, from start to finish, and experiencing human existence. From my perspective, I would think that might have been difficult for Jesus to do – but He did it nonetheless.
If God asks you to do hard stuff, ask for divine Help and try! Whethere something is hard or easy, let’s pre-decide to remain obedient and faithful to God!
Last night, I got to play on the softball team w my church & it was LOTS of fun!!However, I felt not just a little awkward because I was the pitcher & I’ve never pitched before. So it was a vertical learning curve for me & some parts were just flat out ugly.
And sometimes following God doesn’t feel smooth or suave.Indeed, a lot of times when I follow God, I feel uncomfortable & awkward. But I’d prefer to follow God & feel awkward rather than not follow God & feel suave. And maybe that’s the whole point:following God isn’t about our feelings but rather about obedience, full stop. Following God will likely make your flesh feel awkward & uncomfortable, but follow God nonetheless. I’d rather follow God & have my flesh be uncomfortable rather than not follow God & have my flesh be comfortable 🙂
A lot of times, we think of being obedient to God on the pre-condition of guaranteed outcomes. We link our obedience to required outcomes we want from God. And unfortunately, too many times we withhold or change our obedience when we don’t see the outcomes we want. But conditional obedience leaves us immature, shallow & unfruitful. For example, if Paul had obeyed Jesus proportionate to his safety, comfort & health, then likely the early church would have severely faltered & been significantly less effective.
Let’s base our obedience to God on His unchanging, faithful & loving character. Faith in God facilitates internal security for external obedience 🙂
No doubt that heaven rejoices to welcome Billy Graham & earth looses a longstanding hero. The reasons that Billy Graham is such a hero are innumerable, but some of the standouts include: moral integrity, consistency & letting Jesus be the rallying cry of his life.
The things that Billy Graham accomplished across the span of his life, will be accentuated & applauded for quite awhile. And his epitaph is extremely powerful!
Let’s live each day as if we’re writing our epitaph so that when we die, the world around us has been improved & Jesus is exalted!
“Go to the land that I will show you.” This is what God said to Abram after his dad died at the end of Genesis 11. This was kind of like a fresh beginning for Abram, in Genesis 12. I find it interesting that God didn’t give Abram a boatload of information: where to go, when to leave, length of the journey to note the needed provisions, etc.
For many of us, we like to have lots of details in place & resolved before we get moving. For example, when I travel, I have my travel size liquids in the quart size ziplock, I check into my flight 24hours in advance so I can get my seat preference & I start thinking about how I’ll get myself to the airport to catch my flight. I don’t usually follow the “go & show” strategy.
But this is exactly what God said to Abram & he did it. Let’s be careful not to qualify our obedience to God based on having everything ironed out before we make a step. Be sure to pick up my new book In Step to help you walk with the Holy Spirit!
There are times & situations when I don’t know what to do. There are also obstacles that seem to be unmovable. I can see where I want to be & what needs to be done, but I don’t always know how to get there or how to do what needs to be done.
These kinds of struggles can be experienced in our jobs, personal disciplines, education, relationships, finances, health, etc. So what to do?
Here are some things I’ve found to be helpful:
Pray more, worry less: ask for God’s intervention / interruption to do what seems to be impossible
God’s direction: what would God have you say or do in these struggles?
Active decisions: make intentional decisions to trust God, to speak faith filled words & to choose the high road.
I’m not a planner. Indeed, spontaneity is fun for me & I enjoy being agile for various adventures, mostly. But I’ve come to appreciate that planning can often make things better & so I’ve learned to value the process.
With that said, I’m learning that God is both the Perfect Planner & Playful Partner. I can see the strategic hand of God when I look back at various seasons & experiences. But let’s also be willing to follow God moment by moment in nimble obedience & undisputed trust!
I changed my plans for today at the last minute. I was going to go snowboarding, but decided that there are more pressing needs at home than my snowboarding interests.
In 1Samuel 13, Saul changed his plans as well. He & Samuel made a plan to make a sacrifice together but he got scared & offered the sacrifice without Samuel. This was a major downfall for Saul & Samuel explained shortly after Saul’s fearful decision, that God had sought out a different leader for Israel, a man after His heart (1San 13:14).
Saul changed the plan he had made with Samuel because he was afraid of his enemy, the Philistines, & saw the Israelite’ support of his leadership rapidly eroding.
While I’m a massive advocate of flexible planning, I’m growing to appreciate the importance of keeping God’s goals as unchanging piers to anchor my soul, regardless of my environs, feelings or selfish preferences.
God’s goals always related to genuine love & connecting humanity to God’s heart in deep intimacy. Let’s be sure that we keep God’s plans more central to our choices rather than our selfish interests, including my snowboarding plans 🙂
Anchors help keep a boat steady & locked down. They’re helpful when there’s a need for stability & immobility. On the flip side, anchors don’t let a boat do what it’s designed to do – float & move. There are times & places for anchors but not if there’s a need for freedom & movement.
Sometimes we might have anchors in our lives that restrict us from flowing & staying in synch with the Holy Spirit. Some of these impeding anchors might include:
fear: maybe we’re scared of what might happen or afraid of failing or making a mistake
routine: if our routines become ruts, then were merely living in a grave with the ends kicked out! May our routines facilitate walking with the Holy Spirit 🙂
unbelief: sometimes we can have a very serious problem if our intellect undermines rather than supports faith
people: I’m a firm believer that people are important & let’s be keenly aware of the influences we let people have in our lives
Let’s keep ourselves anchored into a tandem lifestyle with the Holy Spirit 🙂
Let’s GO!!!! Let’s go do something amazing! Let’s join God’s redemptive plan for humanity! Let’s join a divine revolution & JUMP!
Sometimes we can get stuck in our routines, responsibilities & even ruts. But sometimes, God wants to upset the apple cart & is merely waiting for us to give a small nod, “yes” & that’s when the adventure starts! To be sure, following Jesus has its fair share of thrills, disappointments & shockers. But in my experience, nothing satisfies the core of who I am more than walking with Jesus, whenever He leads, be that in brothels, slums, palaces, prisons, churches, crosswalks & carpools. So when Jesus beckons, may our default answer always me, “Let’s GO!!”
This sounds like a rhetorical question to which we automatically reply, “No!” But if we look at our actions & how we treat God, maybe we treat God like a vending machine: please answer my prayers, make my life comfy, give me the money & significance that I want, fix everything & I’ll pay You for Your services with possibly church attendance, tithing or at least a tip for good service – OUCH!!
This morning I read Jer 7:27 & God told Jeremiah to speak to the Israelites even though they wouldn’t listen. So here’s something to consider: do we obey God for the results or from being faithful to our relationship? Let’s not treat God like a vending machine 🙂
I’ve been thinking lately about Abraham & how God told him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, in Genesis 22 – what an absolutely horrible thing to ask from Abraham! And yet Abraham obeyed God, set out early in the morning, complete with supplies, servants & his son (I would have conveniently forgotten something, like my son, oops!). Abraham’s journey to the place where he was to sacrifice Isaac was a 3day journey & I am quite positive that every step he took closer to the place of sacrifice became increasingly dreadful in anticipation of such an overwhelming sacrifice. When we read this chapter, we learn that God is our Provider, with the ram in the bush provision / substitute for Isaac.
Nevertheless, the longer & more that Abraham was obedient to do what God had required, the more he became aware that he needed God.
The greater our obedience to God, the more we become aware of our need for God, full stop.
One of my favorite people in the Bible is Jacob, Isaac’s son & Abraham’s grandson. I like Jacob for lots of reasons:
he’s very human: his mistakes, flaws, shortcomings aren’t hidden nor minimized
he’s God conscientious, even when it’s hindsight
he learns and grows: working for Laban was a long & vertical learning curve, moves to Egypt at the end of his life, etc
he’s wise in how he handles Esau when he returns from serving Laban – a very touchy situation
Jacob was certainly a schemer and manipulator, but he was also repaid for his deceptions (Laban & the Rachel / Leah fiasco; Jacob’s sons trick him about Joseph). But Jacob was also attentive to God – at Bethel he built an altar, he paid attention to the God-given dream about Laban’s flocks as well as the dream to move to Egypt. And possibly one of my absolute favorites of all times, Jacob wrestled with God’s angel after he left Laban & before he crossed into his homeland, acquiring a new name from that wrestling match. While Jacob certainly didn’t do it all right, he learned, grew, changed and honored God 🙂
Sometimes I think that we mistakenly wait to do something until we understand it better. There can be good wisdom with understanding stuff, but if we aren’t careful, our efforts to understand can undermine our obedience to God. For example, in Genesis 12 God told Abram to go to a land that God would show him & Abram set out. I’m not entirely sure that Abram knew the destination that God had in mind, but he was obedient to get moving, nonetheless. We don’t always have to understand to obey 🙂
Happy post Labor Day! Nike says, “Just do it” and I like to think of this tagline when it comes to obeying Jesus, “just do it!” and say, “YES!!!”
But consider this, when we say “yes” to Jesus, let’s also consider that our agreement with Jesus will also mean disagreement with other things. Saying “yes” to Jesus also means saying “no” to unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred, selfishness, apathy and lots more.
Ever feel like there’s more month than money or more stress than supply? If you’ve decided to follow Jesus, there’s a good chance that you might have some seasons that seem sparse, challenging & even stressful. I was reading about Elijah this morning in 1 Kings & how there was a drought in Israel. During the drought, God spoke to Elijah to go into the wilderness by a specific brook & God would make a provision for Elijah. The provision was the brook & ravens bringing him breakfast & dinner. After the brook dried up, God instructed Elijah to go to a particular town & that a widow was there who would take care of Elijah. When Elijah obeyed, he learned that the widow was preparing to fix the last meal for herself & her son.
I find that both of these provisions (ravens & starving widows) were highly unconventional. In our world, let’s not limit our obedience to God to conventional provisions. Perhaps Elijah’s unconventional provisions were directly linked to his unconventional obedience to God – just something to think about ,)
I was reading a few days about in Exodus about God’s instructions to Moses for the Passover. What stood out to me was how God was very clear that this meal was to be eaten quickly and in a state of readiness. They were supposed to have their traveling clothes on, bags packed, the bread was unleavened (so no rising time was necessary), all with the intent of getting out of Egypt quickly. Indeed, the very purpose of the meal was to give them fuel for their journey.
This was interesting to me because I tend to like to linger and chat over meals. I like that a meal can be a means through which relationships can deepen. But in the case of the Passover meal, it wasn’t for relationship purposes. There are times that God wants us to get moving, stop stalling & quit lingering. Some seasons are for relationship development and some seasons are for moving forward. Many times, we don’t know beyond one step at a time, what God has down the road. But we must be careful to be obedient to the next step. 🙂
I’ve been thinking about the Holy Spirit & Who the Holy Spirit is of late. Of course I don’t fully understand the Holy Spirit, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I always want to say “yes” to the Holy Spirit. I want to say “yes” to the Holy Spirit when:
I don’t understand what’s happening.
I don’t feel like it.
something isn’t in my normal comfort zone.
I’m confronted with a behavior that is contrary to His truth.
He wants to use me for His purposes
I’m offered love, grace & comfort and I haven’t earned it nor do I deserve it.
I’ve been noticing some things w my kids that are somewhat eye opening. When I ask them to do something, like the pick up the things they were playing with or clean their rooms, etc, they can sometimes tend to have 1 of 2 reactions: complain or argue. Both of these reactions are becoming very annoying & probably reflect some bad parenting shortcomings on my part. With that being said, the whole complain or argue strategy has started me thinking about how I react to God’s directives in my life.
There are times that I know that God is asking me to do something & I have some “creative answers” that include: I don’t have time, I don’t want to do that, why do I have to do this? that’s a really big sacrifice, I’m not smart enough to do that, I’m too busy doing the other things You told me to do, . . . . .
Some of the ways that my kids respond to me have really started me thinking about how I respond to my heavenly Father. I always want my kids to respond with respect, honor, hard work, no complaining or arguing, etc. I think my heavenly Father would like me to treat His requests in the same way – what great opportunities to grow! 🙂