This is a guest post from Chris Brown, Missions School Director with Coreluv.org. You can visit his site BrownsMission.com to follow his journey.
Hebrews 11:6 reads, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (NLT). In Chip Ingram’s book, Good to Great in God’s Eyes, he points out that the later half of the verse is as equally important as the first. When we step out in faith, to fulfill the work He called us to do, our lives must be marked with an active faith. It is the only way to truly know Him and have a genuine, intimate relationship with God. While his love is unconditional and unending, His pleasure in us is limited by our faith in Him.
We must seek Him first (Matt 6:33) and stop seeking the things, career, people, and possessions that only serve to ensnare. Yes, it goes against our very nature, but we must resist the urge to take a break from God, and instead, fan the flame of our love for Him and smother-out our love of self. Solitude with God is the fuel of longevity and success in the Kingdom. As we pour ourselves out in service to God, we must not give into the desire to take a break and escape – for fear of burnout. Instead, we must withdrawal only to “sincerely seek Him” and to receive the rewards of endurance, peace, faith, strength, restoration, and joy that He gives.
Live your life seeking Him above all things and never let anyone or any circumstance tell you that HE is not enough or able to be all you will ever need. Vacations and sabbaticals will come and serve to make us stop the busyness of life, regroup, and connect with friends and family. But they should never entail absence from God or our service to others. They should actually provide us the time and opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the biggest possible way! So GO – pursue God and find your rest in Him.
I always thought I was a person who had been faithful in the little things until I read the final chapter in “Good to Great in God’s Eyes” by Chip Ingram. The last chapter is about developing great habits and in it he lists six great habits to adopt. One of which is “Do your own dishes – The principle of responsibility”. He wrote about putting up your folded clothes instead of leaving them out, washing your dishes instead of putting them in the sink and putting your dirty clothes in the hamper instead of on the floor. Each one hit home because I’m guilty of all of them.
If that wasn’t enough, he then wrote, “We usually don’t make a conscious decision to expect others to clean up our messes. It’s a habit. But behind that habit is an assumption that it’s up to someone else to make our life work.” Subconsciously we leave things out, put dishes in the sink and throw our clothes on the floor in hopes that someone else will do it. When they don’t do it, we get exasperated and huff and puff while we have to do it. Am I the only one like this?
These small examples are part of a bigger problem. The attitude of expecting others to make our life work bleeds into our spiritual life too. We expect our pastor to be in charge of our spiritual growth. We expect them to read the scripture to us instead of looking it up ourselves. We get upset when we don’t get anything out of the service, yet we put nothing into it. All of these are “little” things, but they prove to God that He can’t trust us with the big things. We can’t grow because we don’t have any roots.
Zig Ziegler once said, “If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.” There are so many little things in our lives that we’ve left undone. When they become big things, we wonder where God is in our mess. We expect Him or someone else to come save us because we’ve come to expect others to clean up our messes. We are the ones who made them, yet we feel it is God’s responsibility to clean them up. Then, when it’s not cleaned up immediately, we get upset with God for not answering.
Our messes are our own responsibility. We create them because we haven’t learned to be faithful in the little things. Today, look at your life to see what little things need your attention. If you’re in a big mess, trace it back and you will see that it started with something little. Once we learn to do the menial tasks, God can trust us with more important tasks. I know I still have lots to work on in this area myself. I can’t expect God to do more through me than He’s doing right now until I learn to take care of the tasks I thought didn’t matter.
In our small group, we are reading through “Good to Great in God’s Eyes” by Chip Ingram. Last night we were discussing the chapter “Pray Great Prayers”. As we were talking about keeping a prayer journal, my wife mentioned that because of the digital age, that’s something our kids are missing out on. The vast majority aren’t keeping journals. Because they aren’t, they can’t flip through pages to see where they thought the world was going to come to an end and then it didn’t. They don’t have a record of the ways that God has moved in their life.
In the chapter we discussed, Chip mentioned that he keeps a prayer journal where he writes down things that are too big for him to handle. By writing them down, he is transferring them over to God. He said he also leaves a little space under each one so that when it gets answered, he can put a note in there. When his faith needs a boost, he goes back through that journal to remind himself of the times when he was faced with the impossible and then he reads the notes below it where God answered. It helps him when he faces other impossible situations.
As we discussed that, we began to talk about how we remember years ago when churches would have testimony time. It’s something that’s missing from our modern church. I believe it’s something that is still necessary. Scripture says that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. We need to hear the stories of what God is doing in people’s lives. We need to see His hand at work around us. It reminds us that He’s still listening and that whatever we are facing, isn’t too big for God.
We then went around the room and shared stories of a God answering prayers, big and small. Each person in our group could point to a time when God answered. That built my faith up. God knows your need and He hears your prayers. You don’t have to use your prayers to try to persuade God to move in your favor. You simply need to make your requests known to Him. Call out the promises He has made in His Word. Remind Him of what He’s done for others. Your heartfelt prayers touch the heart of God. Your need is not too big and it’s not too small. He’s not so concerned with everything else in the world that He doesn’t have time for you or your needs.
If you need your faith built today, ask someone what God has done for them. Ask them what prayers He has answered. If He’s answered something, then tell others. They need to hear what He has done for you. Your testimony will help them be an overcomer in their situation. If you don’t know who to tell, then use the comments below to share what God has done for you. People will read it and be blessed. God still moves today. God still answers prayers. Tell Him what you need, He’s listening right now.
It’s Free Friday! Today is the day you let go of the things in your life that keep you down or hold you back from all God has for you. To celebrate, I’m giving away an autographed copy of “Free To Live: The Utter Relief of Holiness” by John Eldredge. Keep reading to find out how to enter.
I read something from Chip Ingram earlier this week that still has me thinking. He was discussing a book he read where the basic premise was that everyone is insecure and our behavior is a reflection of those insecurities. He said he no longer looks at the boisterous know-it-all the same way. He no longer got upset with the person who has to pay for everything so others will see. Instead, he started to have compassion for them because of the deep struggle that was going on inside of them causing this behavior.
Each of us are insecure in some way. Each of us hide it in different ways. We try to mask those things deep inside us. I think of Nicodemus in John 3. He was worried about what others thought about him. His behavior was that he approached Jesus under the cover of night. He believed what Jesus taught, but was so afraid of what his peers thought about him that he couldn’t publicly profess that. He went to Jesus for one on one time because he wanted to know more, but he did it in secret.
The woman at the well was insecure about who she was. She was looking to find her identity in other people. She had been married 5 times before and was living with a man when she met Jesus. When Jesus spoke to her, he spoke into her. He spoke to the insecure voice inside her and changed who she was. She went back to the town and told the people, “Come and see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out.” Jesus knew her past and her insecurities. Instead of judging her, He had compassion on her.
I think it’s our own insecurities that cause us to judge or look down on someone who isn’t like us. The truth is that they are just as insecure as we are. They express it the only way the know how. Our response shouldn’t be rejection. It should be compassion. We shouldn’t dismiss others because of their behavior. We should accept them and love them. Ultimately that’s what we all need. That’s what we crave. We are all afraid on some level of what others think about us. We all want to be accepted by the crowd around us. Why not act like Jesus and love the person behind the behavior?
I have my own insecurities and my own behaviors that put people off. I reject people because of their behavior. I’m as guilty as anyone. The good news is that Jesus doesn’t leave us where we are. His love changes us from the inside out. We have to admit our insecurities to Him in order for Him to change us. As with any remedy, the change starts with admitting our own problem, our own insecurity, our own sin. When we confess them, Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us. As we are forgiven, we are to forgive others. Look beyond the behavior in the person you least want to see today. See the insecurity that’s causing it and love them through it. Be Jesus to them. They need that more than anything.
If you would like to win an autographed copy of “Free To Live” by John Eldredge, all you have to do is go to my Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (June 7, 2014) who has liked my page. If you have already liked my page and enjoy reading these daily devotionals, you are already entered. Please invite your friends to like my page so they can receive encouragement from God’s Word too
I’ve started to read “Good to Great In God’s Eyes” by Chip Ingram. The book is for people who don’t want to be ordinary Christians. In the book there are ten practices that we can adopt as believers to live extraordinary lives in God’s eyes. He uses a lot of the techniques that I’ve learned in selling and management. I believe the Bible is full of men and women who lived great lives that set them apart and that you and I can live a life that would be worthy of writing about.
The first thing he talks about in the book is thinking great thoughts. He mentions that he doesn’t start with a physical action or attitude because true change starts in the mind. From all of my learning, I have found this practice to be true. In order to change a behavior in our lives, we first have to change how we think about it. You and I are creatures of habit, but we are not creatures who are stuck in our ways unless we believe that with our mind. If you want to change for the better, you have to believe that you can change.
How you think about something is what determines your feelings about it. How you feel about it determines your attitude about it. Your attitude then determines your behavior towards it. If you want to change your behavior towards something, you have to change your attitude. If you want to change your attitude, you have to change how you feel about it. If you want to change how you feel about it, you have to change your thoughts. You and I have the capability of changing our thought pattern over time.
Think about Romans 12:2. It says, “Do not be conformed to this world this age, fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs, but be transformed (changed) by the entire renewal of your mind by its new ideals and its new attitude, so that you may prove for yourselves what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect in His sight for you (AMP). Our transformation, our changing comes from the renewing of our mind. We renew our mind by renewing our thoughts. We renew our thoughts by being intentional about the thoughts we think.
It also says that when we renew our mind, we get a new attitude. When we get the new attitude, we will be able to prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. The Message says then you’ll “readily recognize what He wants from you and quickly respond to it. Your attitude will determine your action. You will begin to do the things that God wants you to do. You will begin to live the life a God wants you to live. You will start moving from a good, Christian life to a great Christian life. It all starts with the thoughts you think. If you want to change your life, change your thoughts.