Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Will Of God: Make A Decision

How many of us search the scriptures, seek wise counsel, pray and then, when it's time to act, want to go back to our Bibles some more, seek out more advise, want more confirmation, and pray some more?  Jesus spent time in prayer but then He went out and did His Father's will among the people who so desperately needed Him. Why are we so reluctant to do likewise?


Does scripture not tell us that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and a sound mind?

Not to mention that we are constantly reminded that God will be with us.

Are we afraid to leave our comfortable lives? We can either seek the comforts of this world or we can seek the Truth. Truth will never let you be comfortable. Many may turn away because of this fact. Like the rich young ruler, we will cling to our things and fear that following Christ means we will go without them. As David Platt wrote in his book Radical, "Radical obedience to Christ is not easy . . . It's not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in the world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But, in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us."

Do we live our lives as if we truly believe that?

As a girl, Katie Davis read her Bible and, even at the young age of 12, gave her life to God for whatever purpose He had for her. At the age of 17, she went on her first missions trip to Uganda. It was there that she felt God's purpose for her life, so that after she graduated high school, Katie returned and became a kindergarten teacher. As she walked to school each day, she saw so many children that were too impoverished to get an education because, in Uganda, they are charged a fee.  Seeing a need, Katie started an Education Sponsorship Outreach that now sponsors over 700 children. Not long after that, she started Amazima Ministries to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the Ugandan people. While working with the Karimojong people of Masese, who live in dire poverty, she went on to start the Masese Feeding Outreach. They provide meals Monday through Friday to over 1,000 children. To help the women, Katie started a self-sustaining vocational program to help them generate income by making their unique beaded necklaces and selling them on the Amazima website. As if, by our standards, this weren't enough, she has adopted 13 girls of various ages.  

"I am not really very brave; I am not really strong; and I am not doing anything spectacular," Katie Davis said, "I am simply doing what God has called me to do as a person who follows Him. Feed His sheep, do unto the least of these."

Katie, like the great figures of faith in the Bible, are not any different from you and me. The only difference is that when God called them, they were obedient and moved forward in faith that no matter what happened to them, God was with them. We are all called to be Paul, Mother Teresa, Gary Haugen, Dru and Asher Collie, and Katie Davis because we are all called to do unto the least of these. The only thing that separates us is our excuses. 

Too many of us want a content, cozy, and comfortable Christianity, but that's not the Christianity of Christ. He calls us to "deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."  This is not something we see on bumper-stickers. This is not what most of American churches talk about because we often want a God to serve us, instead of us serving Him. But when one looks closely at those who are strong examples of the faith, we will see that they did not have this false idea of God. They knew that to stand for Christ was to stand even when others didn't.

Just look at the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who would go on to write a book entitled The Cost of Discipleship.  Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor during the rise of Hitler. While others in the church were caving in to the world around them, Bonhoeffer stood firm against Nazism and continued to proclaim the truth that he saw in the scriptures. Later, he would be imprisoned and died at the gallows. As he wrote in The Cost of Discipleship, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." Now, he was referring to dying to self, but he also meant that standing for one's faith can often cost a person their life. So why would he be willing to literally die for his beliefs?  It lies in this:

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: 'Ye were bought at a price,' and what has cost God cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of Christ.

God love us so much that he withheld nothing from us, but gave up His only Son.  So why do we hold back from Him?

Do you know where most of the art in many museums, like the Louvre, are?

In the basement. Away from sight.  Unseen. Beautiful, priceless works of art that cannot be appreciated which is their very purpose of existing. Those artists did not create to have their work hidden away.

How many of us do that with parts of our lives from God?

How many of us only give God part of ourselves?  "You can have this God, but not this over here."  Waht are we withholding from Him? Our families? Our jobs? Our finances? Our talents?  Our security? Our priorities?

How many of us will be like the one in the parable of the hidden talents who will stand before Christ and say, "I was afraid . . ."?

Or will we give all to Him, for His glory, and hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant"?

According to Hebrews 11:6, ". . . without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

Do we, like Esther to Naomi, tells God, "Wheresoever you go, I will go also"?

Is it self or Savior that we are focused on?

Remember we are not called in this life to build monuments, we are called to leave markers. What will yours be pointing others who come after you to? Christ? Or the things of this world that you chased after?

We can either retreat or risk? Obedience is risk. Always. Paul knew this. Yet he said, "Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, sword separate us from the love of Christ?" He goes on to answer his own question, "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35 - 39).

God will not impose His will on us. It requires our active participation. We have to follow Jesus. He may lead us through strange and unfamiliar territory, but we know that despite the ever changing circumstances, God never changes and He will never leave us nor forsake us. How many of us sing the lyrics to Hillsong United's "Oceans" without even thinking about what they really mean?  The chorus goes:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters 
Wherever you would call me.

Many of us sing this, but how many of us mean that?  

Isaiah 1:19 tells us, "If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the Lord. . ."

We can choose obedience or independence. We can either go after our own wants and the things of this world or we can go fervently, single-heartedly after the things of God. 

When the Lord divided Canaan among the tribes of Israel, Levi received no share of the land. Instead, the Lord told him, "I am thy part and thine inheritance." How many of us would be happy to hear that? How many of us prefer the land to the Lord that created it?  

As the wife of the missionary Jim Elliot, Elizabeth, said, "The will of God is not something you add to your life. It's a course you choose. You either line yourself up with the Son of God or you capitulate to the principle which governs the rest of the world."

When we have lined ourselves to the things of God we are willing to risk it all and take that first step. When we trust God wholeheartedly and without reservation, we may not be able to see where He is leading us, but we know that we don't have to because He does. Like Peter, we take that first step. He knew that, no matter what, Jesus would not let him drown. And He won't let us, either. 

Saint Francis said, "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

That is exactly what Katie Davis did. That's what Gary Haugen did. That's what Dietrich Bonhoeffer did. That's what Dru and Asher Collie did. They saw a need, took that first step, and saw God work in their lives and the lives of others. They understood that by us being faithful to God's call, He would be glorified and others would be drawn to Him. 

What will you say, "Yes" to?  What are you willing to risk? Where do you need to take that first step?  

When we do, we will learn what the late Rich Mullins did when he said, "A faith that moves mountains is a faith that expands horizons, it does not bring us into a smaller world full of easy answers, but into a larger one where there is room to wonder."

Please say, "Yes." Please take that risk. Please take that first step. If you do, it won't be just your life that will be transformed.

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