According to Matt. 16:24 Following God seems more like a dangerous walk than a stroll in the park, despite what some may lead you to believe.
Many of us tell God we will go anywhere or do anything for Him.
And no doubt after 14 years of trusting in Jesus there have been many opportunities to go places and do some neat things.
But have you ever felt like Jesus has placed on hold the adventure and wants you to stay where you are?
Look at this verse:
38The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:38-39 NIV)
Is it possible that the man was a little disappointed?
The following three truths will be helpful in deciding when and where to go:
1. Submit To Authority.
The man begged to go with Jesus but He told him to go home.
Of course we should submit to Jesus but also to those who are in authority in our life.
2. Be Obedient.
The man did just what Jesus told him to do which leads us to the next point.
3. Examine The Fruit
Are you producing fruit where you are? If so, it could be a good indication that you should stay there.
So, how does God help you to keep a fresh perspective on “home”, wherever that might be?
A few years ago I was a maintenance man at a hotel. The housekeepers would complete work orders and then I was responsible to fix what was listed on the work order. The only problem was ALL of the housekeepers only spoke Spanish, which also meant the work orders were in Spanish, I only spoke and read English. Needless to say, there were a few communication breakdowns. But, over time as we worked together the job was able to get done because we both desired to understand each other.
Communication is a transfer of information. Two parties are responsible for effective communication to take place: 1) the person sharing information must do so in a way that is understandable and 2) the person on the receiving end must desire to comprehend what is being shared.
God’s desire to communicate with us, and He does. God is an effective communicator. BUT, do we desire to understand what He is saying?
Regardless of what language you communicate in, God is speaking one language to mankind; GOD.
When God speaks, in all the varying ways that He does He is communicating one thing: He is God and we need Him.
When God speaks to us He is communication spiritual truth through human words (languages) and understanding. He has done this all throughout history:
A. God Spoke Through Prophets
Consider Daniel’s influence while serving under King Belshazzar. Once, while the king was throwing a wild party God used a hand to write a message to the king on a wall in his palace. No one in the king’s house could read or interpret the writing until they called for Daniel to do so.
5Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. 6His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way.
25 “This is the inscription that was written: mene, mene, tekel, parsin
26 “This is what these words mean:
Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
27 Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
28 Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
Think about this, why was Daniel able to read the writing and interpret its meaning? Was it because he was fluent in the unknown language that was written on the wall or because He DESIRED to understand God?
The king and his men had no desire to know or understand God and therefore could not interpret what God was communicating to them.
Not only did God speak through prophets but He also spoke through His Son, Jesus:
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
B. God Spoke Through Jesus
Jesus only shared what the Father revealed to Him:
49For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.
But how did the people respond?
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”
This is an amazing statement! If you have ever read the chapters prior to this verse then you know that they are filled with signs, wonders, and miraculous events.
Up to this point the following events have taken place:
*John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus.
*At Jesus’ baptism God confirmed His authority by descending like a dove upon Him and even spoke favorably from heaven about Him.
*Disease and sicknesses were healed.
*The demon-possessed were set free.
*He preached the Sermon on the Mount (the most radical, and applicable sermon ever preached).
*A dead girl was raised to life.
*The blind and mute were healed.
The Pharisees demanding a sign at this point would be like a reporter who has followed the career of a superstar athlete in the NFL. For years the reporter has recorded all of the plays and accomplishments, conducted interviews, and has even seen his trophies. Imagine the reporter asking the player after the final game of his career for proof of why he should be considered for the Hall of Fame. It would be ridiculous! The reporter has witnessed the events and has all the proof he needs as to why the player deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
Are we any different with God?
Do we demand proof from Him that He’s speaking to us, despite all that we have witnessed, read, and heard from Him?
God is speaking to us in a way that we can understand and will use any means necessary to communicate to us. But if we do not believe our understanding will be hindered.
1 Corinthians 2:14
14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Your understanding of God and His ways may only be at a very surface level. All you may know is that He wants you to follow Him. Until you do your understanding of Him and the plan He has for you will be limited.
What questions do you have? Do you carry insecurities, doubts, or fears? God is ok with you approaching Him with these things.
God is ok with your questions but He is concerned with how you respond to His answers.
Ultimately, no matter how much we know or how strong we think we are both are no match for what God has to offer.
1 Corinthians 1:25
25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
Taken from sermon:
Everyone knows how to play hide and seek. One person counts to fifty while everyone else runs and hides. If you were like me you would hide hoping to never be found and to only reveal your hiding place once everyone had given up looking for you.
A misunderstanding of the following verses could lead us to a discouraging game that God never intended to play:
Matthew 7:7-8 7“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Jeremiah 29:13 13And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Why if God wants us to know Him would we have to seek Him?
God does not play hide-n-seek.
When God desires for us to seek Him it is not because He is hiding from us. Notice in both Jeremiah and Matthew scripture tells us we will find Him.
God is not hiding. I think the more appropriate question is; are we seeking?
God has revealed Himself in creation, His body of believers, and within His Word; He can easily be found.
God does not hide from us it is we who attempt to hide from God…
Genesis 3:6-8 6When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
After knowingly doing wrong Adam and Eve hid. As much as we would like to think that God cannot find us in our sin He can.
If you think God is hiding from you ask yourself these three questions:
#1 Do you want to see Him?
Is there sin in your life? Is there something in your life that you do not want God to see or know?
Are you willing to allow God to see you as you are, no matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been?
He wants to cover you.
#2 Do you want to hear what He has to say?
Although sometimes we would like to blame God for not speaking to us we may be the ones who are not ready to listen. God does not waste His words.
If God seems to be silent maybe it’s time to evaluate our readiness to receive what He may want to say, whatever it may be.
#3 Have you waited long enough for Him to show up?
As a person living in America with busy calendars and time crunches we become very accustomed to sticking to our schedule.
God is not on Eastern Standard Time. But He does keep His Word. God is not obligated to abide to our deadlines but He is obligated to keep His promises.
God does not lie.
If God has not yet completely answered your need, just wait. He will. Don’t leave early because you think God is late. He’s faithful.
Hope is the blueprint by which we build our life. It literally gives us a picture of what we do not see in the physical, but can clearly visualize within our hearts and minds. Our faith is the tool that we use to construct that which we hope for.
Hope is vital to life. Regardless of what a person believes about God, there is a hope within for something that is greater than what they know or have experienced.
However, without placing hope in the right place disappointment is inevitable; hope in anything of this earth cannot sustain due to the nature of this earth… it’s dying, it contains sin.
Consider the words of Job’s friend:
Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh? Can reeds thrive without water? While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass. Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What he trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spider’s web. He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it, but it does not hold.
To hope in the things of this earth, whatever it may be, is as unstable and weak as a human leaning into a spider’s web for rest or support.
How then do we balance between believing for the best yet knowing that ultimately “it’s” best will still fail us?
Above all hope must be securely settled in God.
Secure hope is hope that is an eternal, all-knowing God. Anything else ultimately is hopeless. Nothing and no-one else can produce the results we need for a satisfying, purposeful, meaningful life.
Don’t think so…? Has a person you trust ever hurt you? Have you ever told a lie? Is the earth progressing or decaying? The point is, hope cannot ultimately be fulfilled without it being anchored in God.
HOPE IN GOD ALLOWS…
1. Him To Come Through!
As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed– the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead– since he was about a hundred years old– and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
Hope is not in what we can see but in who God is.
Abraham constructed his life with the tool of faith and produced exactly that which he hoped for.
Hope in this text means to anticipate, ususally with pleasure; to have expectation (abstractly or concretely; and to have confidence. Even when it was “Against all hope”, when there seemed to be nothing to logically expect or put his confidence in, Abraham still decided to.
He anticipated, expected, and confidently believed that what God said He would do would take place. Or in other words, God would come through. (Having confidence in what God has said is vital to hope being fulfilled… His Word is truth.)
Abraham did not hope in his ability to have a child, his faith was not in being known as the father of many nations, his hope was in God. He trusted that God would do exactly what He promised to do.
2. Us To Be A Witness!
1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
When a person believes in God It is reasonable to expect others to ask what they are so hopeful about.
It is possible that what we are most hopeful about will appear to other’s as hopeless. What a witness it will be and is when God is proven to be our true source and provider in all situations, even eternally.
God is only glorified as a person chooses to trust in what He has said. Hope in His Word causes a person to live opposite of the current thus causing others to notice a difference. When others notice it is opportune to explain why.
I John 3:2
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Godly hope drives and motivates a person to be like Jesus, to live like a disciple. A person becomes more like whatever they put the most emphasis on in their life. In the disciples case they are being transformed into the likeness of Christ.
I John 3:3
Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
When we live without motivation we are actually living without hope. Motivation propels a person forward as they believe that what they hope for can actually take place and become a reality.
No one wants to be let down. Considering the source of our hope(s) is the first step to our hope actually being fulfilled. Does the hope(s) you have stand the chance of letting you down. Be in anchored in Christ. He’s trustworthy.
Seasons change and so does life. Whatever the circumstance, we can be sure that it will change one way or the other. Wherever we may be will not always be where we are.
Right now may be or difficult or maybe incredible. Either way it is important to understand how to successfully make it through each season that we find ourselves in.
A. HOW TO LIVE IN THE SEASON
1. REALIZE SEASONS CHANGE BUT GOD NEVER DOES
8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Your circumstance does not determine the outcome. God does. God will move on our behalf, according to His perfect will. We do not have to live life bound to our circumstance or what the world throws at us. As Christians we should not be bound to our circumstance but to the promises of God.
God’s Word is a whole entire book filled with His promises. It is vital to understand what His Word says regardless of what life says. Why? Because His Word calls things that are not as though they were and brings what is dead to life.
2. WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER
Each season will require different work to be done. Farmers know when to plant and when to harvest in order to have to best possible fruit of their labor.
4A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.
Follow the voice of the Lord and His specific directions so that you may complete the work successfully.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7
6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
3. RELEASE FAITH
We must understand what is really happening when we are truly putting our faith into action.
Acts 3:11-12 & 16
11And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering. 12And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?
16And his name (through) (faith) in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith (which is by) him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
To understand what actually is taking place when we release our faith we are going to disect three specific words taken from verse sixteen. It will be somewhat of a play by play of faith in action.
First, what is Faith? (faith)
4102 pistis (pis’-tis);
from 3982; persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly, constancy in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself:
Faith is being persuaded and convicted that Jesus is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. Our persuasion can only be in the name of Jesus and His promises.
Second, how is faith released? (through)
1909 epi (ep-ee’);
a primary preposition; properly, meaning superimposition (of time, place, order, etc.), as a relation of distribution [with the genitive case], i.e. over, upon, etc.; of rest (with the det.) at, on, etc.; of direction (with the accusative case) towards, upon, etc.:
Our faith (what we are persuaded of and morally convicted about) must be distributed. To distribute means to spread out so as to cover something.
Our faith in the name of Jesus must completely cover over our situations and impossibilities.
In other words we cover over what we believe for with the promises of God. It absolutely does not matter what it may appear to be. We are to cover over what it is with what God says it can be.
Third, how does Jesus’ power interrupt our circumstances? (which is by)
1223 dia (dee-ah’);
a primary preposition denoting the channel of an act; through (in very wide applications, local, causal, or occasional):
When we distribute faith it literally creates a channel for Jesus’ power to flow into our lives.
Faith provides a roadway for the power of God to flow directly into our lives.
Much like we construct roadways to travel from point A to point B. Faith is the roadway that Jesus will use to meet us directly where we are located.
In life, it does not matter how remote or deserted an area may be, if there is a roadway people can travel to those destinations.
In our spiritual life, if we distribute faith it literally provides the means for Jesus to meet us, no matter how remote, deserted, or desperate our location may appear to be.
FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT FAITH
16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
AVOID THE FOLLOWING SEASON “KILLERS”
Discontentment is a joy stealer. You will always feel that you never have enough when you are discontent.
12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Lack of faith will leave you feeling hopeless. Lack of faith makes you feel alone.
6But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
A life of doubt is governed by circumstances. Circumstance change from one minute to the next.
No matter how great life may be, if there is pride destruction is sure to come.
Pride robs God of His Glory.
18Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. 19Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.