Walk With God: Don’t Be a Jonah

I think it comes naturally to be a Jonah. To run from the call of God rather than towards it. To disagree with what we are being asked to do. To dare to believe we know better.

You cannot outrun God. You cannot outrun the call of God. 

Haven’t we all been there, wondering how we ended up where we did. We should have gone in one direction but we chose another. We find ourselves in a dead end or  simply in the wrong place and in trouble.

That’s Jonah.

So, let’s not do a Jonah.

He found himself inside a giant fish.

He never needed to wonder how he got there, he knew.

It’s a rough moment for Jonah. A 3-day rough moment until the fish threw him up but God has a myriad of ways to capture our attention. And more importantly, a second chance to be obedient.

Lesson learned, you would think.

Jonah continues to be frustrated by the way God behaves. God doesn’t do what we would do. Where we would call for judgement and punishment, God provides love and forgiveness. In our way of thinking this is not fair yet to God, it’s the perfect illustration of fairness.

We want fairness to be toward us but then to determine whether it should be given elsewhere. That is not fair.

God’s long arms of abounding love and slow anger is completely fair. Everyone can receive it, especially those who respond to the call to repent, who turn their heart back to God. It doesn’t seem fair but it is, and I am a thankful recipient of it.

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that He said He would do to them, and He did not do it [Jonah 3:10]

So, let’s not be a Jonah. Instead let’s be more God-like in our working out of fairness in the way He deems things to be fair.

Maybe we should check our hearts today. Is there something God asked to do which we have our done best to ignore, turn away or even run from. Repent, then go for it and get back on the job for God.

 

Advertisements

Build Church: Pray

It’s so simple we may actually forget to. Yet with all the very best of programmes, plans, and ideas, without spending time with God we create and build solely on our own strength and imagination. And that is never enough.

Three scriptures come to mind as a reminder of the power and importance of building through prayer, building with the Lord, seeking Him and leaning on His understanding.

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. [Psalm 127:1]

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God [Philippians 4:6]

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. [Proverbs 3:5-6]

Prayer acknowledges that earthly wisdom is sufficient only for limited purposes.

Prayer says I am not enough but God is more than enough.

Prayer causes me to lift my eyes heavenward, to look higher and to look to God.

Prayer is to be fulfilled in combination with all diligence on my part towards what I am looking to build.

Prayer is bringing heaven to earth into the building of my own home and into the building of Gods house.

Prayer is me making sure I hear Gods voice on how things should be done.

Prayer is the antidote to my worries.

Prayer is a demonstration of my trust in God and His ability to do what I cannot.

Prayer leads me as I enjoy conversation with my heavenly Father. 

Prayer works.

Let’s be a people who don’t just build what we would like to fashion but instead be the people who get God’s insight into how things should be. As we play our part in building church, let’s pray. Let’s invite God in. Let’s ask for His kingdom to come on earth, as it is in heaven. From my own experience, I know it will make all the difference.

What’s your experience with prayer?

 

Read, Look, Learn & Apply

For me walking with God involves regularly reading His word. This week I have shared thoughts and reflections as I read through the Psalms. Check them out…

Taste & See

God Has Our Back

Eat, Drink & Merry

Why not try it for yourself. Psalm 37 is amazing and jam-packed full of wisdom. I’ll share my thoughts tomorrow.

Read it.

Look at it. Reflect on what you’re reading.

Learn from it. What am I reading, what is God saying to me.

Apply it. Put the Word into action.

That may seem to simple but reading the Bible doesn’t need to be complicated. We don’t need to look for some deep hidden meaning in the verse when more often than not it’s actually really clear what God is trying to say to us.

Enjoy reading the Bible. Never see it as a chore that must be completed. Just start and be expectant for what might jump out from the page into your heart and allow it have an impact on your life.

Frustrated (& Distracted)

In a moment of quiet this evening, we waited on God. Music played. We were encouraged to just soak in the presence of God. 

Not the thing I find easy to do. As soon as I quieten down my mind fixated on all the ‘stuff’ that needs doing. 

Yet a moment of clarity came. Frustration. I’m frustrated. With myself and with God. I’m not as focused as I would like to be, I’m not making progress in things like I wanted. Then, He (God) seems to answer others yet I feel stuck, overwhelmed by things that just aren’t changing or have hold on me, on us. 

Then the still small voice. ‘You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Created out of love on purpose for a purpose.’ A timely reminder. Plus the words playing in the background ‘everything is gonna be alright, everything is coming together’. 

It was like the words were just mine, only heard by me, everyone else hearing something different. 

It only takes a minute with God to get your focus regained and know that even though you cannot always see it, God is still in it, still there. 

Hearing What God Says

The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) 19 Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced. 20 While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. 21 She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus – ‘God saves’ – because he will save his people from their sins.”

I imagine Joseph as a fairly typical bloke. He loves his woman and is excited about getting married and the future they will enjoy. Then, out of the blue, his world gets rocked. Some incredible ‘story’ about an angel, God and giving birth to a baby that’s not his.

Not sure how he did it but he responds with dignity, he responds respectfully. After all, he could have had Mary killed for such behaviour. Instead, he just wants to do what’s right, to do things in a correct and godly manner.

This was his defining moment. Get it wrong and the story changes. He could become bitter or he could become better. This moment demonstrates the fragility of God’s redemptive plan. Using humans with all of our emotions is the unstable element in the process, yet God knew Joseph was up to the task. There is no temptation that God cannot help you bear, overcome or make a way of escape from.

Perhaps you feel life is at one of those defining moments. The next step you take seems very significant to the future of your life and maybe those closest to you. What if I get it wrong? What if I make a mistake and head off in a different direction?

While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream.

From what I observe, the key to Joseph’s success was a willingness to hear what God was saying. No doubt his mind was racing through the options and I think that’s alright but he still made sure his ear was attentive to any leading from God, in whatever form it happened to come.

It might be a dream for you, it could be through reading the Word, it could the message on a Sunday, a prompting from the Holy Spirit in your time with God, it may even be through a trusted Christian friend.

The one thing I know is this: while you are trying to figure it, God will speak, so put yourself in a position to hear. Then like Joseph, don’t doubt it and respond according to what God has said.

This Christmas, in the busyness of it all, create some space for you & God and listen to what He wants to say to you about the next step in your life.

Is God On Your Case?

Are you ready for being in God’s house tomorrow?

Are you ready for God to whisper?

Are you ready for God to speak into your heart?

Is God on your case? I have been reading (for the second time) the book by Bill Hybels called ‘The Power of a Whisper’. I am definitely challenged to put myself in the position where I hear from God. He is on my case, and I love it. I need that. A nudge from God is worth more to me than anything else.

There is no clear given way that God will speak to me. Through His written word, through the preached word, through the Holy Spirit. I have learned to just keep myself alert to hearing what He wants to say. Then having heard, I need the courage to respond.

I feel an urgency towards a greater sense of holiness. I have no clue what that means for me but I am excited. My desire is to live a life that is wholly devoted to my God, to be led by Him, guided through each day and to know His presence more. As the Apostle Paul wrote, ‘ to be filled with the fullness of God’.

What is God saying to you? How is God prompting you ? Listen, hear and have a willingness to respond. I think it will be worth it.

The Journey I Am On

This year I have had two main focuses in the midst of all the daily posts – one was to do with my Bible reading and sharing some thoughts about walking with God. The other posts were more leadership focused with a particular emphasis on things that I have learned on the journey since my first leadership opportunity when I was 19.

I have written 29 thoughts on walking with God and 26 thoughts on leadership.

This is the journey I am on – to be a leader who walks well with God. I see this as an absolute necessity to my becoming the best person and leader I can be. Let me make something clear though, these are not two things to be balanced. It should all be in favour of God first. I say should because I am normal and very often I drift from God first to me first. From being led by God to just being the leader.

This is the journey I am on – to be a leader who walks well with God so others can walk well with God. I want to be honest and open. I am not perfect. Never have been, never will be. I am thankful to be made perfect through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. My heart is to learn and help others to learn. It is to know God better and help others to know God better.

This is the journey I am on – to be a leader who walks well with God so others can walk well with God is to be someone who is led well by God. I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit. If, as a Christian leader, I cannot allow myself to be led by the Holy Spirit then I am just leading in my own strength and although I can have influence I don’t believe it will have the same impact that being covered by the Spirit of God can bring. It’s that extra dimension that my leadership needs. Without it I flounder.

This is the journey I am on – to be a leader who walks well with God so others can walk well with God is to be someone who is led well by God and is willing to change. As we talk about grace in Xcel Church I am more aware than ever that it is such a precious gift but only really accomplishes anything in my life if I accept it and walk in it. That means I have to be willing to change. Grace is not my get-out-of-jail-free card. It is my way to a new life. So this week I recognised that I allowed some drift to occur. Too many distractions. Usual good disciplines have slackened.

Grace has nudged me this week and reminded me of the journey I want to be on.

Grace has been poured out again and had it’s rejuvenating effect on my spirit.

Grace is always the antidote to my natural lean towards laziness, unproductiveness and general lack of focus.

Let’s be honest, it happens to us all, it’s just that most of the time we don’t see it, acknowledge it, or want to respond to it.

However, if I want to be a leader who walks well with God, I cannot afford to ignore the promptings in my spirit, to ignore the niggling within that I know is from God. To do so would disqualify me from the journey I believe God has for me and I am determined to not allow that to happen.

How about you and your journey? Still on track?

Listen In.

We need to listen in.

We need to have an ear to hear what’s going on.

I’m not talking about eavesdropping. I’m thinking more about the development of a genuine interest in the conversations going on around us. Tonight, as I sit upstairs, I can hear the hubbub of the Connect Group happening in our front room. A bunch of young people discussing the recent series in Church. I can’t make out what they are saying yet it’s a beautiful sound to hear.

It’s full of the encouragement of friends. The sharing of thoughts and ideas. Prayers being spoken over one another. In the rush of my day I could easily miss this.

Listening is an art that many have lost. We talk too much. Some of us talk far too much. We have something to say and no time to listen. We want our questions answered and our opinions heard, yet I feel that maybe it there is a greater benefit if we would just listen more, listen to the sound of the hearts of the people around us. That maybe we should ask more questions about them and avoid just talking about ourselves, again.

Listening isn’t easy. In a world of non-stop noise it’s difficult to hear, so let’s pay better attention. Let’s celebrate the good things we hear but also be willing to be an ear for those who are troubled. Let’s listen to the stories, the journeys, the searching. Let’s close our own mouths and encourage others to open theirs.

Listen for what isn’t spoken. The cry of a heart is louder when you actually listen out for it. Unspoken words are often the most powerful words. That real meaning to what is being said. Let’s be people who ask the Holy Spirit to give them wisdom to hear what’s going on in the heart of our friends.

Listen to what God is saying. I think God can shout. However, a shout is still useless if we have already chosen not to listen. When we make time and pay attention, the whisper of God can sound more like a hurricane. I want to hear God’s voice. I need to hear God’s voice.

Listen in. God has something to say.

Listen in. The people around us are saying something and they need us to hear. We mustn’t be so busy about what we want that it gets missed.