What If I Gave All?

What are you thankful for?

It’s a frequently heard question during the Thanksgiving holiday.

When we reach heaven and look back on our earthly lives, we will be thankful or saddened by the final answer to one question:

Did I give all?

Did I give my all to Jesus as I served my family, co-workers, brothers and sisters in Christ, those less fortunate, and those who did not yet know Jesus?

Did I obey the promptings the Holy Spirit laid on my heart?

Did I listen when Jesus asked me to participate with Him in situations that were:

  • Impossible
  • Risky
  • Challenging
  • Unpopular
  • Requiring great sacrifice

One song that strikes my heart with this question:

[tentblogger-youtube pimVLk15iqQ]

One verse that strikes my heart when I’m tempted to give less than my all:

With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort. – 1 Cor 15:58 (MSG)

One quote that strikes my heart when I begin to think that giving my all is too difficult:

“The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.” D.L. Moody

This Thanksgiving, answer this question:

What if I gave all?

Photo on Flickr by mathewingram

 

Difficulty in Verifying (5 Pitfalls Series)

While waiting on His promises, we must guard against crossing that line of testing everything (1 Thess 5:21) to verifying to the point that we are leaning on our own understanding.

Let’s take a look at how Proverbs 3:5-6 is stated in different versions.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. – NIV

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.  – AMP

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. – NLT

Lean not, do not rely, do not depend on your own understanding.

RATHER

Lean, rely, and depend on Father’s all-knowing understanding of you and His omniscient understanding of all of history and His place for you in it.

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! – Mt 7:9-11

Bread and Fish versus Stones and Snakes. . .

When you’re seeking to test and verify what you sense Father has spoken into your life, use the principle spoken of in Mt 7:9-11.  Father gives good gifts to His children.  We wouldn’t need to read a blog post on how to decipher the difference between bread and fish versus stones and snakes.

Step #1: Test that what you sense Father has spoken into your life is confirmed through your reading of the Word, listening to Him in prayer, your circumstances, and the counsel of other believers (read more in Discord:  Voices of Confusion)

Step #2: Verify that what you sense Father has spoken into your life falls into the category of bread and fish (wholesome, beneficial, life-giving) rather than the category of stones and snakes (harmful, destructive, not life-giving).

Step #3: Step out in faith, trusting that if you need redirection, Father will be faithful in providing you with it.

Leaning, relying, and depending on your own understanding would mean creating more steps to verify Father’s words to you, thus leaning on your own understanding which often becomes dangerous ground for delays, doubting, and disobedience.

Test, verify, and then STEP OUT IN FAITH.


Photos on Flickr by Nick Treby & Erik N

 




Dangers of What is Seen (5 Pitfalls Series)

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Cor 4:18

These mountains are temporary.

We rely so much on what we can see.  And yet the tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and fires of late have been poignantly painful reminders that what we see is temporary and can be destroyed at a moment’s notice.

While waiting on Father’s promises, we must watch out for the temptation to base eternal decisions on what we see.

When Father gives us a directive or a prompting, He always has the end result in mind.  He has ALWAYS has thought of EVERYTHING:

  • Every detail
  • Everything necessary for us to complete the task
  • Every aspect of provision:  social, emotional, physical, and spiritual
  • Every step needed to get us from here to there

. . . and yet He will not tell us everything.  He calls us to step out in faith and obey him one step at a time.

We live by faith, not by sight. – 2 Cor 5:7

It is tempting to base eternal decisions on what we see when:

  1. We have to have it all spelled out in order for us to obey and move forward in faith.
  2. Our longing and desire to “play it safe” outweighs our longing and desire to abandon ourselves to the Lord’s will and ways for our lives whatever it costs and whatever it takes.
  3. We aren’t willing to risk our possessions, reputation, or present circumstances without a guarantee from Father of a “better trade-in.”

We base eternal decisions on what is unseen when we remember along with those who have gone before us:

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. – Heb 11:13

May your epitaph of earthly faith not read:

________ played it safe.  ________ only embarked on adventures of faith that were all spelled out.  ________ wasn’t willing to risk their  possessions, reputation, or present circumstances to obey Father’s calling on their lives.  ________ wasn’t willing to obey no matter what it cost and no matter what it took. ________ missed out.


Our choices of faith are eternal

Photos on flickr by Zach Dischner & len4ita

Discord: Voices of Confusion (5 Pitfalls Series)

While waiting on His promises, it’s easy to allow voices of confusion to create discord in our hearts and minds.

In their Experiencing God study, Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King give the principle, “God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.” If you haven’t gone through this study, I would highly recommend that you do so.  It has been one of the most impactful resources in my own walk of faith.

Father is certainly faithful in speaking and confirming His words and promises to us through those four means:
1)  The Bible

2)  Prayer

3)  Circumstances

4)  The church — other believers

When you’re seeking to discern Father’s words and promises to you, see if the above four things are in agreement in bringing confirmation.  At the same time, keep in mind that Father will never reveal something to you through prayer, circumstances, or the church that goes against what He says in His Word.

Father is faithful in speaking with clarity to His children as a loving Shepherd would to his sheep. (Jn 10:4, 10:27; Is 50:4-5; Is 30:21, 48:17)

At the same time, we can’t underestimate the voices of confusion that will most certainly come our way, creating discord in our hearts and minds.

Remember, one of Satan’s ultimate aims is to:

STEAL . . . KILL . . . DESTROY – Jn 10:10

Satan will seek to counterfeit and/or use the very methods Father is seeking to confirm His words and promises to us to create discord in our hearts and minds and to throw us headlong into confusion.  Sometimes we even aid Satan in this effort.

When you’re becoming confused as to what God is saying and seeking confirmation, watch out for the following:

1)  The Bible — Be committed to seeking to understand and embrace what Father is speaking to you . . . rather than what YOU WANT Him to say to you.

2)  Prayer — Take time to pray and LISTEN!  Write down and date the things you sense Father is speaking to your heart.  Compare these over a period of time and look for agreement and confirmation of what you sensed Father originally spoke to you.

3)  Circumstances — “The Holy Spirit will not bypass the receptors of our past experiences.”  — source unknown

Is 44:20, “He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, ‘Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?’”

Understand that the filters of undealt-with fears, pain, trauma, or emotional hurts that you’ve experienced can often stand in the way of accurately hearing Father’s voice.  These need to be brought to light, dealt with, and touched with Jesus’ healing touch (Ps 146:7-8, 147:3).

4)  The church — other believers

Seeking counsel from mature believers is a sound and biblical practice.  But rest assured, that if you’re seeking to find someone to tell you want to hear, you’ll find them.  You need to test everything (1 Thess 5:19-21) regardless of how spiritually mature the person you’re seeking counsel from is.

Father’s will for your life is different than what it is for someone elses.  Watch out for those, who are relying on their own life wisdom to provide you with counsel rather than on the Spirit.

Two great quotes from Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere:

“. . . too much of the church today has more confidence in Satan’s ability to deceive us than in God’s ability to speak to us and lead us.”

“Humble people put their confidence in the Holy Spirit’s ability to speak, not in their ability to hear and in Christ’s ability to lead, not in their ability to follow.”

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. – Jn 10:27

Photo on flickr by Christian Kurz

 


 

 

 

Dilly-Dallying in Faith (5 Pitfalls Series)

Dilly-dallying . . . it’s a fun word to say and in the moment it’s even fun to do. The Free Dictionary defines it as — to waste time, especially in indecision; dawdle or vacillate.

When we think back to the Israelites, a word that could aptly describe them is dilly-dallying.  First, they dilly-dallied in entering the Promise Land.  Then for 40 years, they dilly-dallied in the desert.  As a consequence of their unbelief they had no choice but to live and wander in the desert those 40 years (Num 14:20-23).  Yet, they did have a choice to not continue to dilly-dally in their faith, obedience and belief during the next 40 years.  And yet, they did.

As we wait on His promises, may our epitaph not be as the Israelites — that we too dilly-dallied in our faith, obedience and belief.

King Saul has an epitaph of dilly-dallying in his faith.  God gave him a simple order through the prophet Samuel to TOTALLY DESTROY EVERYTHING in their attack of the Amalekites (1 Sam 15:3).

Saul’s follow-through on this crystal clear command:

But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed. – 1 Sam 15:9

Saul’s explanation to the prophet Samuel of his dilly-dallying obedience:

“But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king.  The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.” – 1 Sam 15:20-21

God’s response to Saul’s dilly-dallying obedience through Samuel:

But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. – 1 Sam 15:22

The Israelites dilly-dallying obedience first cost them 40 years in the desert and not being able to experience the Promised Land.  Then as they continued to dilly-dally in the desert, it cost them heartaches, losses and grief.

King Saul’s dilly-dallying obedience cost him his kingdom.

What has your own dilly-dallying obedience cost you?

OR

What will your dilly-dallying obedience cost you in the future?

Author and pastor, Steven Furtick, poignantly speaks to this reality in his article,  A 13:13 Moment.

In his song Alrightokuhhuhamen,  Rich Mullins also aptly speaks to this struggle as well as a great remedy for it . . . learning to consistently say four words to acts of obedience Father impresses upon our hearts and minds.

ALRIGHT

OK

UH-HUH

AMEN

The Israelites, King Saul, and we would do well to practice those words on a daily basis.

As Rich sings, “You can argue with your Maker or know the joy of saying yes to, to Him . . . Alrightokuhhuhamen”

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Doubting His Trustworthiness (5 Pitfalls Series)

Waiting is probably one of the most difficult things that we do in our walk of faith.  We have an intense desire to have things resolved, to have the outcome settled, to know the process in getting there, to tangibly see steps in the process before we take them.

While waiting on His promises, we often encounter the pitfall of doubting His trustworthiness:

1)  Is He really trustworthy?

This question one of Satan’s most common tactics that he’s used against Father’s children since the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:1-13)

2)  I’ve been waiting so long! He’s forgotten.

According to our human perspective, the wait can be lengthy between Father’s promise being a reality He’s impressed on our hearts and/or spoken to our minds as being true  in the spiritual realm to the time it becomes a reality that plays out in the physical realm.

3)  He’ll be able to carry out His promise to me  if I can help Him out.

We become convinced that Father needs “our help” to carry out His promises.  Abraham and Sarah fell into this trap and so Sarah told Abraham to sleep with her servant Hagar (Gen 16:1-6) to produce the offspring Father had promised (Gen 15:5).  And yet, Hagar’s son Ishmael was not Father’s provision to Abraham and Sarah . . . Isaac was.  Genesis 21:1 reads:

Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised.

4)  It’s hard for me to imagine anything that good happening to me.

We feel unworthy or inadequate of receiving such a reality and reason that there are too many human obstacles that Father would have to overcome to carry out His promise.

We ask, “But who am I?” . . . “God do you have the right person” . . . “Do you remember that I ___________?”

We forget that He is God:  He can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, however He wants, and through whoever He wants.

5) Logically, it’s not possible.

The physical realities of our circumstances surrounding us don’t seem to add up to being conducive to  Father’s promise playing out.

Jer 32:27, “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”

Father is perfectly faithful (Is 25:1, 9).  What He says, He brings about.  What He plans, He does (Is 46:11)

And when He does we believe His promises and we sing His praise. Ps 106:12

photo on flickr by Gueorgui

5 Pitfalls While Waiting on His Promises

Father’s children give up far too easily and way too early.  We are called to walk by faith not by sight.  We are called to wait with confidence not doubt.

Abraham (formerly Abram) is heralded as a man of great faith.  Father promised him a son . . . 25 years passed between the pronouncement of the reality of that promise in the spiritual realm (Gen 15:5) and that promise playing out in the physical realm (Gen 21:2).

Father told Abraham (Gen 12:1) to go to another land that He would show him.  Father did not detail where it was, what the living conditions were, or how long he and his family would reside there.  He simply commanded His dearly Beloved son to go and then as Abraham obeyed, Father revealed the next step of his journey of faith.

We live in a world of quick information.  A trademark phrase we hear and say when there is an unknown is:  “Let’s Google it.”

We’re so used to being able to do a web search for almost every unknown in our life, so much to the point that we want our walk of faith to operate the same way.

Even when Jesus walked on this earth, embodying the very answers to any unknowns the people who surrounded Him had, He still demanded that they walk by faith.  Mt 13:58 tells us of the result of people’s thirst for Him to spell out the unknowns before they were willing to proceed in belief:

And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

People missed out on miracles, His gifts, because their thirst “to play it safe” and to know the unknowns overrode their willingness to believe and walk  by faith.

In this series, we’ll look at 5 pitfalls we can all fall into while waiting on His promises:

  1. Doubting His Trustworthiness
  2. Dilly-Dallying in Faith
  3. Discord:  Voices of Confusion
  4. Dangers of Relying on What is Seen
  5. Difficulty in Verifying

Join me as we explore these further.

What pitfalls do you need to watch for in your own walk of faith today?

Photo on flickr by CmdrFire

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