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Awaken

So then, let us not be like others, 
who are asleep, but let us be awake 
and sober.  
1 Thessalonians 5:6

I just finished a study on the book of Numbers.  It finds Israel wandering about the desert grumbling, complaining and disobeying God at every turn.  And God gives mercy over and over at Moses’ pleading.  Until He doesn’t.  There’s so much death in this book because of the unfaithfulness.  Some because God allows the Israelites to try their own path, leading to deaths during wars.  And some because God rains down His punishment with plagues.

It’s so easy for us to read what happened thousands of years ago and judge the Israelites.  They were asleep to God’s ways and character.  

At the end of one of my commentaries was the statement that from God’s point of view there are only three locations in the Israelite journey and only three locations in our own journey.

  1. Egypt: the land of bondage
  2. The Wilderness: the land of unbelief, doubt and falling short
  3. Canaan: the land of inheritance

The question for us is, which location do we currently find ourselves in?

Throughout the Bible we find an underlying message about growing in our faith.  The sooner we recognize where we are and why we are there, the sooner we can move along on our journey.  

For I know that good itself does not 
dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. 
For I have the desire to do what is good, 
but I cannot carry it out. 
Romans 7:18

This statement by Peter is so self-reflective.  He has one foot in the wilderness while reaching with the other into the land of inheritance.  He actively searches his heart and soul, asking God to reveal the blemishes and the blind spots.

We can spend a lot of time, like the Israelites seeing what God is and does.  We can hear the good work He does in others.  But do we, like Moses, truly understand God’s actions?  Do we still ask “why” and wishing we could go back to Egypt?  Or do we ask God to do even more work in us so that we are constantly changing, stripping away our old selves for His glory?

We want to be awake, vivacious, alive in our faith journey.  We need to not just know “of” God but truly know Him – His character, how He works and how much He loves to see us grow.

You either obey, ignore or resist.  

Warren Wiersbe on the will of God

We humans like to blame the outside world for being stuck.  For not reaching our full potential.  We blame our church for not inspiring us.  We blame our circumstances for not having time for God.  We blame fellow Christians who have hurt us.   But the Holy Spirit resides in us.  It is a personal journey lived out for all to see.  King David, in Psalm 51 does some deep reflection on where he is in his faith journey.

For I know my transgressions, and my 
sin is always before me. Against you, 
you only, have I sinned and done what 
is evil in your sight; 
Psalm 51:3-4

The Israelites blamed Moses and God for not quickly and without hardship reaching the Promised Land.  They lacked David’s self-reflection.  They sat for so many years in the Land of the Wilderness.  It took me almost 20 years of wandering to finally wake up and begin understanding God.  So, I have no place to judge them. 

If you are stuck it’s time to look inward.  It’s time to shake off your sleepiness and do a deep dive with God into your own heart.  Only then can He lead you to the Land of Inheritance.

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A Tiny Message #7

"Tell the priests who carry 
the ark of the covenant: "When 
you reach the edge of the Jordan's 
waters, go and stand in it." 
Joshua 3:8

I was once asked by God to take on a year-long project. It wasn’t my idea. I hadn’t even been thinking about it. I recognized His request immediately as a test of my growth of faithfulness. What I have found is so many of us worry that we will look/sound silly, weird, or even crazy if we obey God’s directives.

Think about Joshua leading millions of Israelites into the promised land. He gets told by God to stand in the Jordan river with the ark of the covenant — which at that time of the year was at flood stage. The ark was their most valuable commodity and here was this “lunatic” telling the priests to go stand in the water with it.

What I have also found is that when, not only myself, but others obey God and set aside our pride, we don’t look foolish. We look victorious. We are victorious.

When I finally set aside my pride when it came to my relationship with my younger daughter, God smiled on us and created something I could have only imagined. We were victorious.

"But on Mount Zion will be 
deliverance; it will be holy, 
and Jacob will possess his 
inheritance." 
Obadiah 1:17

I want that victory for you. God wants to share in victory WITH you. So listen to His Word, hear His voice and step forward ready to win your battles.

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Send Me!

Now if you obey me fully 
and keep my covenant, then 
out of all nations you will 
be my treasured possession. 
Exodus 19:5

A prayer to act when directed by God

Dear God, I used to think that my faith was solely a personal, spiritual pursuit.  But I keep hearing the word “obey.”  I admit that obeying isn’t a comfortable word for me.  It implies me giving up something for someone else.  In your covenant world however, “obey” just means holding up my end of the bargain.  You are always faithful, LORD, and I need to be faithful as well.  James said it best when he admonished us to be “doers of the Word, not just hearers.”  Sometimes I allow the world to drown out your Holy Spirit who speaks your will to me.  Or I worry that I’m not worthy or ready to do your work. But I’m tuning in to you and listening, watching, and anticipating for your direction.  Give me opportunities to be your hands, your feet and your heart.  I will obey.  In your Son’s name I pray this.  Amen


One of my BSGs shared with us the other day how she was one of those Christians who claimed to never hear God direct her.  That isn’t the case any longer.  He’s been nudging her so hard she may almost have a bruise on her back!  She shared how she bought 10- $5 coffee gift cards from a locally owned coffee shop.  At random she is handing them out telling people, “God has blessed me so much this year and I want to share in the blessing.”  She told us of approaching a policeman and giving him a card.  He looked surprised.  When she walked away, she heard him on his radio exclaiming, “You won’t believe what just happened.”

Isn’t that awesome!  I want some of that God-goodness!  He speaks to us through His Word, Jesus’ teachings, and the Holy Spirit.  He tells us how to treat the poor, the downtrodden, the sick, our neighbor, our loved ones, and the stranger.  When we feel that nudge and the nudge feels like God, it can never be wrong.

I love the story of Isaiah and his vision amongst the angels.  He first sees himself unworthy of being in the presence of heavenly beings.  So, what does he do?  He cries out, “For I am a man of unclean lips.”  In other words, he prays for help with his unworthiness.  And an angel touches his lips with burning coal (ouch) to take away his guilt and sin.  And then the real action takes place.

Then I heard the voice of 
the Lord saying, “Whom shall 
I send? And who will go for us?” 
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8

He “hears to voice of the Lord” make an urgent request.  God needs volunteers to spread His message of love and hope.  And when we Christians accepted the covenant promise of Jesus, that left us a spot to sign on the dotted line to volunteer for that service.  

When others step to the back of the line we need to learn to step forward.  Not hang out waiting for thunder and lightning to give us a loud message.  We need to be ready to jump at a moment’s notice – not only that, but be so excited to say, “Here am I.  Send me!”

I want to wake up every day in anticipation of the work He wants done through me.  And I want to go to bed looking forward to another chance tomorrow.  I’m listening LORD.  Send me.

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

A Tug-o-War

“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
    they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
    you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
    you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Isaiah 1:18-20

Sometimes I feel like I’m in a bit of a tug-o-war with God.  He’s trying to get me over that line and I keep resisting – pulling back to my way of doing things.  Like a two-year old saying, “I can do it myself,” I resist the pull of God because I think I know better.  

Have you ever been in a tug-o-war and the other side decides to completely let go?  Your side is pulling so hard you all tumble to the ground.  Even though the other side knows they’ll lose they think it’s hilarious to see the results.  It’s a dirty trick.  Thankfully God promises to never let go of His end.  His grace and forgiveness keep me upright even when I pull on that opposite end with all my might.

When I am weak and give in to my earthly ways God gives me grace and forgiveness.  I want to resist and rebel.  He works in so many ways to pull me back toward Him.

But he said to me, “My grace is 
sufficient for you, for my power 
is made perfect in weakness.”   
Therefore, I will boast all the 
more gladly about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

The context of that verse is Paul writing to the people of Corinth and sharing a constant pain he endured.  He pleaded with God three times to remove the thorn in his side (we don’t know exactly what the thorn was).  And God replied that His grace is sufficient.  How many times have we complained, maybe just today alone, to God to remove something from our lives?  That’s not to say that He won’t.  But He reminds us that sometimes we must be weak to truly rely on Him.

Sometimes God does meet the need by substitution (ie health instead of sickness); but other times He meets the need by transformation.  He gives us His grace so that the affliction works for us and not against us.

Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Commentary, New Testament 

At times when we pray for God to remove something awful in our lives and He doesn’t perform the way we expect, we then enter into that tug-o-war game.  Pulling into our own ways of “fixing things” ourselves, complaining, or even turning our backs on God by letting go of our end of the rope.  We give in to our idols, our wants and needs.

We should remember the saying that God, through grace, gives us what we do not deserve, and in His mercy, He does not give us what we do deserve.  So, when situations do not turn out as we have directed God, we need to pray to God to help us see what He wants us to see.  To help us understand what He wants us to understand.

God does not require us to understand His will, just obey it, even if it seems unreasonable. Life Principle # 5

Dr. Charles Stanley, 30 Life Principles

When we allow God to pull us back toward Him, He showers us with His mercy and forgiveness.  He cleanses our crimson souls to be white as snow.  And another covenant agreement is balanced at both ends of the rope.

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Amazing Directives

Saul’s Conversion

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

 The men traveling with Saul stood there amazed; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.

Acts 9:1-6


These last 11 months my BSGs have completed four different Bible studies. We have to laugh now after every question that asks something along the line of, “What does God expect of us?”  The answer is always to obey.  If only we humans could figure that part out.  Yes, at times Jesus’ teachings seem a bit fuzzy.  In fact, during His last few hours His disciples were very confused.

At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”

John 16:17

And as Jesus continues in John 16: 28 with, “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father,” the disciples reply with “Ah, now you are speaking plainly!”  So often we may think that Jesus is only the figurative speaker.  And we need to pray on and discern what He may truly want from us.  But by studying the Word and therefore the character of Jesus we find His is more the plain speaker than not.

When Jesus told Saul, “Now get up and go into the city” there were no ifs, ands, or buts.  Do it.  Obey.  Yes, Saul had the choice to do it or not.  Thankfully, he listened and obeyed Jesus’ amazing directive.   Twice I have had God speak to me in very loud, definitive terms. Once in hearing His actual voice convicting me to true action in my spiritual life.  And once in a vision directing me to do His works.  And I obeyed.  And yet there are many, many other times when I have heard His quieter voice directing me and I questioned or even ignored Him.

How many times has He clearly told you to stop and speak to someone and you refused?  How many times has you told you exactly what you need to do to lose weight, stop smoking, stop hating, stop doing something destructive and start living out His Word?  In one of my Bible studies this week a friend told me of a vision she once had.  Her relationship with Jesus has been tumultuous because of family issues.  She leans a lot on Eastern religions.  In this vision she was being loved as a baby and coddled by the Dali Lama.  And then Jesus approached and the Dali Lama handed her over to Jesus.  She screamed “NO!”  What I found so fascinating about this and all the times I, myself, have refused to obey, is how we humans so easily place ourselves above the Divine.  You realize that is exactly what we do when we ignore the amazing directives of Jesus?  We think we know better.  But we can never see the whole story of our lives.  We can never fully understand how interconnected all our actions or inactions are and the impact they may make.

About three months ago my friend Caroline was asked to obey an amazing Jesus directive.  While walking through the patio at church she saw a young woman sitting by herself.  Jesus said, “Go talk to her.”  Now, my friend is not some uber, outgoing person so this made her feel a little uncomfortable.  But because of the Bible study we were doing at the time she said, “ok” and sat down with the young woman.  During the conversation she found out that this young woman, who recently moved from out of town to go to college nearby, was in fact a college classmate of her own daughter.  She passed along her daughter’s phone number.  The tasks being obeyed, the young woman and my friend went about their lives.  Fast forward to yesterday.  This is the text my friend received from that young woman:

“Hi!! I know this seems so random but I’m actually heading back to Hawaii for Thanksgiving until January and I’ve just been doing a lot of reflecting on all the amazing people I met here in the last 3 months and feeling so grateful! I just wanted to say thanks for reaching out to me that one night, I remember feeling kind of uncomfortable but it was so special and such a gift from God that I was able to chat with you and see that we had so many connections already!! Anyways, just wanted to say thank you again and I’m so appreciative of that time that you took to chat with me!”

My friend obeyed Jesus’ directive of a simple act of hospitality and a life was changed.

Trusting God means looking beyond what we can see to what God sees.

Life Principle 9, Charles F. Stanley

Jesus says to, “Follow me.”  It’s an opportunity for us to obey.  And as my faith journey this year has evolved, I realized my growth spurts have come each time I have listened to an amazing directive and obeyed.  Each time my trust grows is each time His trust in me grows.  Yes, His trust in me.  Because until we can be trusted to obey His small directives, like helping the person in the grocery store parking lot, He won’t entrust with something bigger.  And I don’t know about you but I want Jesus to trust me enough that I will do His amazing works till the end of my days.

Today when you hear that whispered directive from Jesus, obey.  You know His voice.  You know His character.  He and satan are clearly differentiated.  So stop questioning Him.  Obey.

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10 Bold Bible Verses To Read Today

What lies are you fighting right now? Bold faith, trust in God, and knowing His love for you are the weapons against satan’s ever present lies.

1. “The One born of God keeps me safe — the evil one cannot harm me” 1 John 5:18

You are a child of God. A raging battle is going on in the spiritual world for your soul. Knowing that your father is fighting for you and trusting that all things are done for your good gives us strength. Many Christians have issues with the idea of satan. But as I discussed with a fellow Christian, the Bible does not shy away from satan. Jesus had a number of conversations with him. If you are going to accept the blessings from God you need to accept that satan is at work trying to keep those blessings from you.

2. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jer 31:3

The only love that will never fade is the love God has for us. It never wavers, it never decreases. Even if your physical world is not filled with love, we can draw on God’s love to persevere. This is not an easy task. A mom in a struggling marriage, with children who always seem disappointed in her said, “I remember that God loves me but sometimes I just need someone to physically hold me.” Run to the arms of the father. Fully surrender that need to God. He will light the way.

3. “He has rescued me from the darkness and I have redemption and forgiveness of sins.” Col 1:13-14

When we accept Jesus as our savior we throw up the lifeline to rescue us. Notice the word is rescue. If someone doesn’t want to be rescued they can make sure they aren’t. Throw up your hand and grasp His. You will be pulled out of your darkness. I have a Christian friend who had been a drug addict and alcoholic for many years tell me she had a dream of being a fish and a hook dropped down from out of the blue. She bit at it and it hooked her mouth and yanked her out of the sea. The next day she knew she never wanted another drink again in her life. God speaks in so many ways to us, just reach out.

4. “We are God’s handiwork.” Eph 2:10

When women sit around talking you’ll frequently hear us complaining about one body part or another. “I’m too chubby.” “Ugh, my hair.” “I wish my lips were plumper.” But think about it — you are uniquely you. You were created out of tiny DNA pieces that became you! It pains me to see satan’s forces at work taking our little complaints and elevating them to destroying our self-esteem. And worse, convincing people they are a mistake and must chop off body parts or take dangerous drugs to limit natural growth. No matter your height, your hips, your lips, your tomboy nature, your kinky hair, you are you and you are God’s creation. We’d save a lot of money and angst if we accepted that every time we looked in the mirror.

5. “I call you friend.” John 15:15

Boy do I wish I had known this when I was younger. An intimate relationship with Jesus and the Father not only brings us so many blessings but brings joy to the Almighty. He longs for that friendship. He will never stab you in the back. He will never forsake you. He is with you at 7:00 a.m. when your feet hit the floor and at 2:00 p.m. when you find out you were laid off. He’s even with you at 3:00 a.m. when your bills are swirling in your head. Pick up your spiritual cell phone and give Him a call.

6. “And I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” Rom 8:28

I once heard a funny twist on “why do bad things happen to good people?” Instead, how about “why do good things happen to us bad people?” When we say “bad people” I’d bet most people think, “well, it’s not like I’ve killed someone or stolen a million dollars.” But a pastor asked, “Have you stolen anything at all? Have you ever taken God’s name in vain? Have you not been able to forgive someone? Have you ever coveted something?” In fact, there’s only one truly good person that something bad happened to — Jesus. And Jesus suffered on the cross so that our sins are forgiven. So with that in mind we must be thankful for the good stuff God sends our way and trust that any bad that we encounter God is working out a blessing for us somehow, someway in the end.

7. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs.” Eph 4:29

Yes, yes, we know not to gossip and to be kind to others. But are you gossiping about yourself? Are you unkind to yourself? When we talk to our friends, family and strangers how much do we tear ourselves down with “I’m not good at xy or z.” Or again with the physical degradation of ourselves? That’s not to say we should be boasting. But remember, we ARE God’s creation. So speak in positives. Don’t give the devil a hand up on tearing yourself or other’s down.

8. “As God’s co-worker (fill in the blank).” 2Cor 6:1

We are in this together. The entire story of the planet is built on covenants WITH God. He could’ve just made the animals and plants and wiped his hands on his robes and said, “Looks pretty darn good. Time for a nap.” But no, He made us. He made everything else FOR us. So He expects us to work with Him to tend to the needs of this glorious place. That includes sharing with others His love for His creation.

9. “We have the mind of Christ.” 1Cor 2:16

How often have you finished a prayer with “In Jesus’ name, Amen”? Do you know what it means? It means that Jesus is standing beside you, writing shorthand as you pray. He then takes that prayer to the Father and speaks for you. But the responsibility of a mature Christian is to discern the mind of Christ while speaking that prayer. We know His values and have His desires for us in mind. When we have the mind of Christ we can pray boldly and act boldly because we know that we are aligned with the spirit of God.

10. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22

We can say we know God. We can know God loves us. We can see the blessings and be thankful. We can know the right things to do. But if we don’t go boldly and actually DO the Word of God can we really say we truly know God? We need to obey His Word and leave the consequences to Him. Surrender, trust and receive full blessings.

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Listen, Obey, Receive

What has God asked you to do that, well to be honest, sounds a bit uncomfortable, odd, or just downright crazy?
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The Bible is a testament to ordinary people doing extraordinary acts in God’s name. Take Joshua for example. He had to tell his entire army to march around Jericho once a day for six days not speaking a word. On the last day at the sound of a trumpet they were all to shout. And then all the walls would fall down. Think of the work God had to do, not just in Joshua, but in all his priests, his army, and support staff. Without God, most people would’ve revolted. And then think what the Jericho army was witnessing. You would imagine by the second day they would’ve just killed all the Israelites as they marched around. But God was in control.
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I once heard a member of a Bible study group ask, “Why doesn’t God speak like that anymore?” My response was, “Maybe we just aren’t listening. More importantly we aren’t obeying.”
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What have you pulled back from on your Boldness List? You’re too (fill in the blank). Could it be that God has asked you to obey and you aren’t listening? Or you heard but just haven’t obeyed? Let’s take those steps of trust today and obey. Only then will we receive God’s full complement of gifts.

#obey #obeygod #god #godisincontrol #trust #trustgod #listen #hespeaks #christian #psalms #joshua #faith #faithoverfear
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