Walk With God: According to His Word

Then Mary said…. ‘Let it be to me according to your word’. [Luke 1:38]

Isn’t this the battleground we so often find ourselves in with God. My word versus His word. My desire to have control versus giving God permission to have control.

Walking with God well is possibly only about one thing, centred around adopting the same attitude and heart Mary so easily demonstrates. In fact, there are 3 things Mary does so well…

She has a willingness to serve. Let’s be honest the Bible reads so calm sometimes. Surely she was a little freaked out when an angel appears and tells her what’s about to happen. Or maybe she really was that calm. Ready to serve, ready to hear God’s word, ready to respond.

She accepts God’s Word. Let it be to me, just as you have said. Amazing. Mary is amazing. This is not your average request God is making here, this is a world-changing moment. Ready to trust God, ready to let Him bring to pass what He has spoken, ready to respond with a yes, no questions asked.

She remembers to magnify the Lord. There is no panic shown by Mary, just thankfulness and rejoicing. God has moved miraculously in her life and in the life of her relative Elizabeth. She was able to notice that God was most definitely up to something. Ready to praise, ready to see what God was doing in her own life, ready to see the difference He was about to make in the world.

I desire this kind of walk with God. There is great power in the simple faith Mary shows us. It wasn’t complicated to her that God would ask something of her. This was not about looking only for great things from God. This was about being willing and obedient. You get the feeling whatever the request had been it would have received the same response ‘Let it be to me according to your word’.

Let’s take a moment today to reflect on our own walk with God and how well these three things Mary did are demonstrated in our lives.

Advertisements

Walk With God: Impossible Made Possible

A few years ago Honda had an advertising campaign all about making the impossible possible. It was innovative, creative and definitely caught your attention.

Dare I suggest that such a strap line could be used by God. He is all about ‘the impossible being made possible’. He is innovative, creative and definitely good at catching our attention.

For nothing will be impossible with God [Luke 1:37]

When those who can’t have children start having children, the impossible is being made possible. When God uses a young woman to bring the Saviour of the world into existence, the impossible is being made possible. And that was just the start.

Read through the Gospels and you discover moment after moment of impossibles being made possibles. Water into wine. Lame start to walk. Blind get their sight. Dead people being raised. People healed and in put in their right mind. Walking on water. Storms calmed. Multiples fed with a kids lunch. The worst of sinners forgiven. Religion put in its place.

Jesus laying down His life for us. His death for our new life. Transformational moments. Impossible made possible.

Then you examine your own walk with God and see His handprints all over it. God making moves behind the scenes. Creating opportunities. Bringing about His providential plan.

When I reflect I can see where He has moved the pieces. If certain things which I could not make happen had not happened I would not be where I am today. Don’t get me wrong, I was complicit in some of the actions but not in the final outcomes. God working out things from my indiscretions, for my good. Impossible made possible.

That is the God I walk with every day. So I should not be surprised when surprises occur. Maybe in my head I see the pleasure He takes in doing some stuff, a little glint in His eye as He speaks to me saying, ‘You didn’t see that coming, did you?’

Where have you seen the impossible made possible by God in your life?

Build Church: 5 Ways Failing Can Actually Benefit Us

It could be argued that we live in a world driven by the need to succeed and to do so at any cost (sometimes). The danger comes for us in building church when such a culture begins to influence our attitude towards what we are doing.

We may become more task focused and less people focused.
We may become all about ‘what’ and forget the ‘why’ behind all we are doing.
We may become overly critical of the small stuff losing sight of the bigger picture.

Such behaviours can change the culture from one faith to one of fear, especially one where people become fearful of not attaining to the right level of success and therefore they withdraw from what it is God is calling them  to do.

Failure is important when it comes to building church for the following reasons:

We learn what works and what doesn’t work. It’s pretty obvious but it means we can then make any necessary changes.

We are actually trying something new or different. The easiest way to not fail is to not do anything new or different.

Shows us as inclusive not exclusive. If the drive for excellence makes people feel like they can only be part of the church by getting everything right every time, we have by default created a very exclusive culture.

Helps encourage creative thinking. Once we know the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ the ‘how’ can be imagined in so many different ways. Especially when we know failing at the idea isn’t the end.

Reminds us how much we need to be asking God for some help. God doesn’t think like us. We may have the plan and the dreams but we have to allow God to ordain the steps. Without failing we often don’t learn.

What is the best thing you have learned when you have failed at something?

Walk With God: 7 Words to Help You Discover True Rest

Rest is not about doing nothing.

When the Israelites were instructed by God to take a Sabbath year for the land every seven years, it didn’t mean a year off, becoming lazy and just sitting with their feet up.

They were aligning themselves with a God-created rhythm which would bring blessing into their lives. As they rested the soil it would gain strength and ensure its future fruitfulness. In the meantime they would continue to build their home, look after their flocks, care for each other and take some intentional time to draw close to God.

For us then to rest has to work the same way. It is a rhythm of grace we are invited to walk and work with Jesus. It is a true rest which brings blessing to our lives.

As we rest our souls we gain strength and ensure our future fruitfulness.

As I withdraw from the day to draw close to God I have found these words helpful.

PAUSE: We can be so busy doing that the hardest thing to do to withdraw is to actually stop and make time just to be with God. We have to remember that however driven we may our true identity is never found in what we have accomplished but found only in knowing whose we are.

THINK: Meditate on God, thank Him for the journey so far. Like the Israelites were being reminded about their past, we were once slaves to sin but now we have been set free. Think about all the good things God has done for and thank Him for them all.

REFLECT: Take a scripture, read your word, worship and reflect on what God is doing  and saying right now in your life. Don’t over think it but all the Word of God to speak to you.

LISTEN: This goes with the reflect. Having tuned out the noise and removed the distractions, we will be better able to hear what God is saying. We can be very quick to bring all our requests to God, yet make no time simply to listen and hear His voice.

CAPTURE: When you hear something, feel something, see something, then capture it. I use a notebook on my phone and the Evernote app for noting down particular scriptures and thoughts that go with them.

RESPOND: We have to be willing to be obedient to what God is saying to us. Through obedience is where the blessing comes. That was key for the Israelites and the rhythm of the Sabbath. In keeping it, God would bless them, prosper them and provide for them.

TRUST: Ultimately, acting on the word of God requires faith, which is simply us choosing to trust God is more than able to do what He has said He will do. Having paused, taken time to think on God, reflect on all He has done in our lives so far, listened to His voice, captured what He is saying and then responded, trusting Him should begin to come much more easily.

What do you think? How might this help you when taking time to truly rest with God?

Walking With God: By Faith, Not Sight

Determine this week to not be driven by circumstances, by emotions or even by well-meaning people. What we see is undoubtedly real, painful and difficult at times or it can be prosperous, exciting and easy too.

Relying though on our either set of these to determine how we approach the day can be unhelpful. Perhaps we can become confused about Gods whereabouts in the midst of all that is happening or we as things are going well, we drift towards being  more self-sufficient than we should.

Sight is important but as believers we are encouraged to not walk by sight but by faith [2 Corinthians 7:7]. This doesn’t mean we ignore all which is happening around us hoping it will go away or walk around with our eyes shut.

It means we learn to see beyond our current position. To see not only with natural eyes but with spiritual eyes. The eyes of faith. Trusting confidently in our God who said He would never leave us. In our God who promised He could work out all things for the good of those who loved Him and were called according to His purpose.

Learn to walk by faith.

Learn to walk by faith in all things.

Learn to walk by faith in all things, good or bad.

Learn to walk by faith in all things, good or bad, to maintain a strong healthy walk with God.

How do we learn to walk by faith? Practice. This week, be deliberate in choosing the path of faith and keep on walking, one step at a time. When you feel like giving up, instruct yourself to stay in faith. Remember, God is faithful and He is with you, whatever is going on right now.

What do you need to walk by faith in right now? Pray for a confidence in God, to keep walking and to stay close to Him.

Walking With God: Befriend Faithfulness

untitled-001

Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. [Psalm 37:3]

Of course we know to trust in the Lord and to do good. We might even acknowledge the need to dwell in the land, in the context of being in the place where God wants us to be and to be set about living for Him.

However, it’s these last two words that struck me today when I read them…

BEFRIEND FAITHFULNESS

Such a simple phrase yet one which could change the world we live in. What if everyone was a friend of faithfulness? Imagine the difference.

A world of people demonstrating the characteristics of faithfulness and being loyal, constant, steadfast, resolute in their commitment to something or someone. Surely it would change a culture drawn more easily to unfaithfulness, and begin to help in growing bigger people who are reliable, trustworthy, honest and unfailing.

All that without even focusing on how faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit, something Christians should already be demonstrating but often do not. It’s easy to get caught up in the way everyone else behaves and show no distinguishing marks as a believer.

Then there is the faithfulness of God toward us. The richness of His favour, providence, promise, grace, and a diligent care available to us. This are the things we should ‘feed on’.  Why? Because He is our confidence, the one we can always rely upon, and the one who is our safety and security.

I wonder how is our faithfulness quotient? Am I feeding on the faithfulness of God so I can be a person of faithfulness in my every day? Or is my impatient quotient higher, leading to unnecessary frustration and distraction, with people and maybe even with God too.

Help me Lord to feed of your faithfulness. Help me to befriend faithfulness, to make a difference in the world on Your behalf.

17 Ways to Be BIGGER in 2017

big-001-001

Towards the end of 2016 I wrote a two posts about how BIGGER was going to be my word for 2017. Check them out: Am I BIG Enough? and Jesus was the BIGGER Person.

I meant to follow that post with some thoughts as to where we could be BIGGER in 2017, so here goes.  Are we BIG enough in 2017 to…?

  1. Try something new
  2. Break with traditions
  3. Acknowledge you are not big enough & keep growing
  4. Be a carrier of the vision (of church, work, your life)
  5. Serve others
  6. Love the less loveable. Love your enemies
  7. Rely more on God than on my self
  8. Make new friends
  9. Ask every day for the Holy Spirit
  10. Remain humble
  11. Make room for God by letting go of other things
  12. Keep asking God to ‘change me’
  13. Forgive
  14. Repent
  15. Stop complaining about what I don’t have and be thankful for so much that I do have
  16. Be passionate
  17. Live ‘as if’ this is all true

17 things for 2017 where I know I could definitely grow, become the BIGGER person, make more room for all that God can do with all of these in my life.

What do you think? Would you add anything else?

Continue reading “17 Ways to Be BIGGER in 2017”

God First

Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me [Matthew 10:37]

Hang on a minute Jesus, this is a bit full on, this seems a bit harsh. Surely you didn’t get that right. Or maybe He did.

This can be a struggle. God first, family after. I think sometimes I get this the wrong way round. Maybe we all have. At times we let the kids rule us. At time we have allowed family to lead our life.

Yet here it is – God first, others next. It’s not that we don’t care for our family. It’s not that we don’t spend time with them. It’s not that we don’t love them.

Perhaps it’s more about not letting anything or anyone else for that matter get in the way of our relationship with God.

Perhaps it’s more about intentionally not making it about ourselves and putting our needs first and then trying to convince God that our way is best.

Perhaps it’s more about making difficult choices in regard to the importance of our faith even when those closest to us don’t always understand it.

Perhaps it’s more about trusting God that when we live like this, when we carry our cross, when it seems like we may be losing some of life, we see that really we are gaining it. To echo the words of Jesus after He said that first challenging sentence…

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. [Matthew 10:39]

It definitely tough but here’s to finding life, and apologies family but for me, it’s Jesus first, everything else second. Just my thoughts and my daily choice as I walk with God to put Him first.