I was recently having a conversation with a friend of mine about pastors teaching, and he said, " so many pastors tell you why but never really teach you the how." I know I need to listen to God but how?
Today I want to share with you the HOW. How do you know that God is giving you a fresh vision for your life? In Acts we see a story of Peter and Cornelius and both had encounters. During Peters vision, he was told to kill an animal but he refused to because he was living under the pretext of old revelation. His words were, "not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean." Under the old way of doing things Peter never should have even spoken with Cornelius. During that vision God set the stage to change Peter's life.
Here is three things about How To Tell if God is communicating something fresh into you.
1. Supernatural Revelation. God expands Peter Horizons during his vision when he tells Peter that what God has cleansed is neither unclean or common. God gave a fresh revelation to Peter. God will give you a fresh revelation that will help to see outside the box. He will give you a new education that will lead you to new conviction. Peter became convicted and convinced to speak as a Jewish man to another man from another country. His conviction allowed him to redefine what is possible, as he was no longer constricted to the rules of the old way. When you receive a fresh revelation about what is possible in your life that is from God.
2. Supernatural Invitation. God sends associates of Cornelius to invite Peter to enter a new scope of ministry to the Gentiles. God will invite you to a new area of ministry by bringing new people into your life. When you begin feeling drawn or connected to the new it may be your supernatural invitation.God is looking to give you a new exposure, with new people, to create a new compassion.
3. Supernatural Conformation. God confirmed this enlarged vision he gave to Peter with a receptive Cornelius and signs following his conversion. God will confirm a new vision in your life by the new experiences that lead you to a new commitment.
When God wants to draw new obedience from His servants, He almost always communicates fresh vision. This is exactly what Peter got.
One of the craziest victories in the bible is the story of Joshua and Jericho. It is the only story where God's military strategy makes no sense! Think about how absurd God's military strategy must have seemed to the real men of war. March around Jericho 13 times in one week, blow some trumpets and that's it. No weapons...no fighting...no plan of attack. I can only imagine the residents of Jericho must have been laughing the entire time seeing Joshua's army marching around. The trumpets were blowing, the men were silent, not a word was spoken, and this went on for six straight days before God handed over Jericho.
Joshua was successful in light of God's rather unorthodox methods because he was willing to do whatever it took to gain the victory. If God said shout, the Joshua would discard his swords and spears and wholeheartedly go with the absurd. It was Joshua extreme obedience to God that led to the victory. Most of us in our own lives find it easy to follow the sane instructions of God, but then take over when God gives us an absurd instruction. We think that somehow God must be out of his mind.
About 15 years ago a friend of mine and her husband were cops in New York City. One night the husband came home to find his house empty. His first thought was that he had been robbed cleaned. He called his wife to break the news to her and to his surprise she already knew about it. Not only did she know about she was the one who gave everything in her house away to those in need. The husband naturally taken back by this asked her, "What were you thinking?" Her response, "God told to me too!"
If God told you to give everything you own to those in greater need than you would you? Or would think God was smoking some holy crack? Can I tell you that my friend today...impacts 10's of thousands of people in need every year. She is responsible for The Big Give in Fishersville, Va. Because of her act of obedience 15 years ago and continuously staying committed to listening to God's instruction, has seen thousands of people come to Christ. She started and run's a ministry that feeds hundreds of people every month on a regularly basis. Her life and her husband's life are radically different today then what they would have been had she not been obedient to God's instruction.
Here is 10 keys to help you with living victoriously.
1. Make obedience your first priority.
2. Never wait to see what the crowds in your life want you to do.
3. Make decisions from an eternal perspective not a temporary one.
4. Learn to act decisively. Delayed obedience is the same as disobedience.
5. You can appreciate the past but don't worship it. Your future will never live up to the standards by which you worship the past.
6. Value the results of your obedience more than you do your image or reputation. (This is a heart issue... you have to decide which reputation is more important to you. Your reputation with God or your friends.)
7. To truly impact others, you have to be willing to stand up and be counted. Even it means you are the only one standing.
8. Never waver from your understanding of what is right, no matter how loud the voice of the crowd is telling you are wrong.
9. Must trust God more than you do the gifts and abilities he has given you.
10. Make glorifying God your ultimate objection. Your personal glory should never outshine the glory of God.
Has anyone ever told you, "Just Trust In God?" Sometimes I just want to strangle that person. Don't tell me to just trust. When life is falling apart, do you know how hard it is to just Trust God. It can HARD. Sometimes it seems almost impossible. Key word ALMOST...
I believe most of us equate trusting as waiting. Our mindset is, "well I will just wait for God to fix the situation I am in right now. So I will just sit tight and move when he moves." This where the problems and frustrations arise. We become frozen waiting on God to move, believing that in our frozenness = trusting. Here is the reality...It DOESN'T! Being frozen just means your not moving. When you are not moving your are not trusting. You are waiting. And when you are waiting instead of moving you become frustrated at God which leads to not trust God.
Even Joshua had to march around the walls of Jericho before God delivered it to him. He had to keep moving. God didn't tell him to sit and wait, God told him to MOVE.
Here are four things to know about Trusting God.
1. Production. God will make a way for you to cross safely through the seas of life. But when you are in a storm and have to trust God the worst thing you can do is put the anchor down and let your ship get beaten to pieces. You have to keep moving trusting that God will move on your behalf. God made a way for his people to cross the Red Sea safely. Had they stayed frozen looking at the sea saying we can't possibly make it across, the surely would have died at the hands of the Egyptians.
2. Protection. God will protect you from what is attacking you. Staying frozen only makes you an easy target. God protected Moses and his people after they crossed the Red Sea. Notice in the story that God's protection didn't happen until they encountered the sea. God could have easily protected his people long before they ever started the journey...but he DIDN'T do that. He waited to protect them until there was no option but to trust God.
3. Provision. God will provide for you what you need, not what you want. We believe that trust God means getting what we want from God not what God wants for us. There is a huge difference. God provided Manna and Quail for as his people moved across the desert. God also only provided what they needed for that day. We look for God to provide long term for us, when wants to provide short term to teach us to trust him for daily for the long term.
4. Problem Solving. God will solve your problems for you but not without you trusting him and following his directions. God produced water from a rock but Moses had to first trust God and follow his unusual methods for solving the problem of water. God won't necessarily solve your problem the way you want them to be solved. You have to trust that he knows best for you and because of his love for you wants nothing but the best for you. His best for you and you your best for you may not be the same thing.
Over the past few days I have been reading the book of Job during my quiet time. One of the beautiful facets of the Book of Job is that it displays how a man can be very human, and yet very heavenly at the same time. I think this is something that we all wish to pursue, but often times fall short. Job feels all the emotions of a man who has endured great loss. He becomes angry, depressed, and anxious, and declares his feelings openly.
At the same time, he never drifts from his strong character, he remains consistent in everything. I think this is where we often fail. We become distressed by our emotions and our real character shows itself. The moment it appears Job will curse God and give up on HIM, he affirms his promise to be faithful even when he doesn't understand what is happening. Job pledges to maintain his integrity despite his circumstances.
For most, our circumstances dictate our character. The issue is...our character shifts because our belief shifts. When things are well for us, we believe God is for us. Our actions, which drives our character shows our belief about the goodness of God. We are more chipper, upbeat, happy, generous, faithful....and more. On the flip side...when things are going bad for us, we believe God is against us. Again our actions drives our character and so when we believe God is against us, we become against him. We are not happy, have no peace, we become less generous, less likely to attend church, we often seclude ourselves from the world as we wrestle with God. All of this reflects in our character. So when others look at who you are, your character is like a pancake....flip flopping
As I read Job, he had every reason to have bad character. The devil had taken everything from him except this own life. To make matters worse, God allowed it to happen. God's reason was to prove a much larger spiritual point to the devil, but to mere man, God still allowed it to happen. And lets be honest, when crap begins to happen in life, God's reasons for allowing it to happen simply don't matter. The point is...it's still happening and we want it to stop. But Job's character remained the same, because what was driving his character was his believe about God. His believe about God never changed, therefore his character never changed.
Here are few things that might help you maintaining a consistent believe about God.
1. Vision. You can't see everything in the future. God can. His vision for you will always be for your benefit. It might not seem like it at the time, but Job was not only restored but then blessed even more.
2. Stop pretending like your in control. You need to be a model under God's control. Others are seeing how you respond to your life and will make decisions about God for their life based off of you.
3. Let the anchor of your life be your character, not your emotions. Stop living from emotion to emotion. It's a roller coaster you can't control. All you can do is respond, which means you live your life being reactive not proactive. Living by your character is a choice which means you can be proactive and in control, not matter what life throws at you.
4. While you don't know what tomorrow holds, you do know WHO holds tomorrow. To have a consistent character you have a consistent belief. God will have your back and best interests at heart.
What is a miracle? As I reflect on this Christmas season I can't help but think about the miracle to man that was Jesus. I mean he did so much for man kind. He was 33 when he died. He was 30 when his ministry really took off and here we are 2000 years later still talking and celebrating him. We literally celebrate his birth every year for a month, and celebrate him and what he did every weekend.
As I sit here typing this...enjoying a cup of hot tea, and reflecting by the fireplace...I realized something about miracles. We all want miracles to happen in our lives. And sometimes we have an opportunity to experience one, while majority of the time we are praying for one.
As I look back at Jesus and all the miracles he performed, I noticed that all of the miracles performed never moved a person further ahead...all they ever did was catch a person up.
For example, when Jesus healed the lame, that was miracle...but in reality they shouldn't have been lame to begin with. As he healed the ear of the guard that was cut off, the ear was simply restored. It wasn't like the guard was given a 2nd new set of ears to be further ahead in hearing than others. Nope that didn't at all..he was simply restored to where he was to begin with.
As I reflected on this, I couldn't help but wonder about all the people that are praying for a miracle to happen for all the wrong reasons. I wan't a million dollars for this and for that...I want this and that....and iIf we are honest that is really the core of the request for a miracle. It's all about what we want. You want a million dollars, but can you really be trusted with a million? Can God really trust with excess when you aren't trustworthy with the little you have ? How can God give you more than you capacity? The excess would be nothing short of waste!
I believe a miracle is directly linked to two things.
The first is a NEED to be restored to where you should have been, it's not about what you want, it's about what is MISSING. The people didn't really want Jesus, because they killed him... however what was missing with the people was Jesus. And look at Jesus' life. He restored the people to where they should have been all the way back to the very beginning from the Garden. He didn't advance them at all, He simply restored what was theirs to begin with. He restored the promises of God, that had been missing in their lives. And heres the thing...it was wasn't what they wanted, it was what they needed!
The second is your capacity to accept the restoration. Too often we want the excess and look the restored portion in the mouth. Being restored simply is not good enough. The Jews looked the restoration in the mouth and took Jesus for granted and killed him. They were looking for the excess. They were looking for the King to come on white horse...not a donkey. They were looking for a king to wear a crown of gold and jewels...not thorns. To this day, Jews have a hard time accepting Jesus because they still are looking for the excess... because the restoration of what was, is simply not good enough. Being able to see again, isn't good enough, they wan't super x-ray vision...not just regular vision. They lacked the capacity to accept the miracle of restoration. Their lack of acceptance was what prevented the miracle to happen. The crazy thing was the miracle was right there...in front of them!
If you are looking for a miracle in your life, look at the areas where you need to be restored and not what you want...and above all else be willing to be accept the restoration. Don't let the desire for the excess to blind you to the miracle right in front you.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you feel torn between staying someplace... staying in a situtation that is familiar, possibly comfortable, safe, & financially secure...verses...stepping off the ledge and taking a leap of faith?
Have you ever been so torn where the idea of saftey, security and comfort is compromised by the idea of "PERHAPS" ?
There is a story I am reminded of in the bible about Jonathan and his young armor bearer. Jonathan gets a wild idea to attack the Philistines. On the surface the idea is not necessarily a radicial idea, expect for the fact that only Jonathan had a sword, and he wasn't attacking the Philistines with an army behind him. No his idea... was more radical than that.
"Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, "Come, let's go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows." 1 Samuel 14:6 NIV
Now here is a couple of points to realize about the radical nature of the situtation at hand.
First...only Jonathan had a sword.
Second...the armor bear was not bearing any arms. He didn't have a weapon.
Thrid and most importantly.....THERE WAS ONLY THE TWO OF THEM! He didn't have an entire army backing him up.
So the idea of two guys, and only one with a weapon attacking an entire army is nothing short of a death wish. To top it off, Jonathan was the son of the reigning King. So you have this prince with the crazy idea to risk it all, and by all, his life. He could have chosen to stay in the comforts of the royal luxury. He could have chosen to wait until he had an army behind. The bottom line is, there were a million and one logical reasons not to attack the army of the Philistines.
Expect...."PERHAPS THE LORD WILL WORK IN OUR BEHALF 1 Samuel 14:7
This is what Jonathan knew... If he followed what God called him to... no matter how crazy and irrational the calling seemed to him, PERHAPS...God would show his favor and bring him victory.
This is what we need to learn...
There is not one single great move of God because somebody planned it. It is all about PERHAPS. Perhaps...just maybe...God will move. It is perfectly normal to not know what is going to happen next when REACTING by faith. Jonathan had no way of knowing that God would PERHAPS move in a such a way that there would be no mistaking the glory of God.
If your "DOING" for God, the "con's" will always out weigh the "pro's." The con's however require no faith or obedience on your part. The pro's...which only come with PERHAPS requries you to make a life changing and possibly life threating choice.
If you find yourself wrestling with the choice of safety, security and comfort and that of taking a radical step of faith....ask yourself PERHAPS.
PERHAPS God will REACT.