Tag Archives: doing what god asks

Productive Preparation

I’m normally a person who goes above and beyond what’s asked of me. I like to say, “If it has my name on it, it has to be excellent because I represent more than myself.” However, sometimes i don’t give my best effort if I don’t understand the purpose of what’s being asked of me or feel like it’s not a productive use of my time. Several years ago my wife asked me to take the remote control to the cable company to exchange it. I had never noticed a problem with it, but i went anyway. When I arrived, I grabbed the remote to go in and it lit up. I thought, “What am i going to tell these people as to why i need a new one? It looks like it works.” So I took it back home. A few days later when it acted up on me, I had to admit I didn’t return it.

There are a lot of things we do in life that may feel pointless. There’s times when God puts in on our heart to do something for others that doesn’t make sense. In fact, a lot of what it takes to live out our faith daily can be exhausting or feel unproductive. We don’t always see the point. That should never stop us from being obedient to what God asks. In 2 Kings 3, the two kings of Israel and Judah decided to attack Moab. They took the desert road to remain undetected. The men were thirsty and about to die. They called on Elisha who told them to dig trenches all night. He then said, “For thus says the LORD, ‘You will not see wind or rain, yet that valley will be filled with water, so you and your cattle and your other animals may drink” (AMP). The next morning they woke up to water in the trenches and were victorious in battle.

They didn’t understand God’s reasons. They were exhausted, yet they did what was asked and God rewarded them. That principle holds true for us. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].” You may not understand why God wants you to do something, but do it anyway. You may feel exhausted and not up to it, but do it anyway. You may feel like it’s a waste of time, effort and energy, but do it anyway. Nothing you do for God is wasted or unproductive. God is working behind the scenes on your behalf and your blind obedience is often the preparation for a miracle.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Hard Problems. Simple Tasks.

Have you ever studied for a test, but the questions weren’t what you thought they’d be? You thought for sure the teacher would ask about all these other things, but they didn’t. It may not have been a difficult test, but what they asked didn’t make sense. I’ve had God test me like that. I hear Him ask me to do something that doesn’t make sense, and then I question whether it was from God. “Surely He would ask me to do something else,” I think. Sometimes what He asks of us isn’t difficult. It just doesn’t make sense. 

In the early part of II Kings, God spoke through Elisha and asked some people to do things that didn’t make sense. A widow owed her husband’s debts and the collectors were coming for her sons. Elisha told her to borrow bottles and fill them with what little oil she had. The Shunemite woman’s son died and Elisha told his servant to go put his staff on the boy’s face. There was also a pot of stew that had been made with poisoned gourds in it. Elisha threw a handful of flour in it and it was fine.

One of the most famous though was a man named Namaan in chapter 5. He had leprosy and went to see Elisha. Elisha sent his servant out to tell him to dip in the Jordan river seven times and he’d be healed. Namaan left angry. In verse 13 one of his servants asked, “If the prophet had told you to do something difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So shouldn’t you certainly obey him when he simply says, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” (NLT) Namaan went and washed and was healed. 

In each of these cases, it didn’t make sense. I think that God asks us to do things different than we expect to test our obedience. God simply wants simple obedience. If He asked us to do something that gave us the answer, we would begin to think it was what we did. When the instructions have nothing to do with it and we obey, it can only be God who answered. Whatever God is asking for you, it may not be about the problem. It could be about your heart. Simply obey and let God do His thing. 

Thanks to @mhdnohassi for making this photo available freely on @unsplash

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dreaming Too Small

Late last year, I had the opportunity to spend the weekend with some high capacity, driven men. We spent the weekend praying, dreaming, discussing and planning what God wanted to do through us as individuals in our families, churches, communities and businesses. After we would write down what we felt like we wanted to do in any of those areas, we would come together in small groups to discuss the direction and goal. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to mention a goal to their group and then be challenged about it. Someone might say, “Do you think that’s a big enough goal?” It wasn’t ever done out of spite. It was done to challenge us to see if we were limiting God in what He was dreaming for our lives.

I’m a firm believer that God has dreams, goals and plans for each of our lives. If only we had eyes to see what He sees in us. Too many times our vision or goals are minuscule in comparison to what He wants to do through us. We limit ourselves because we focus on our weaknesses and roadblocks. Those things in our lives are not meant to hold us back, but rather to get us to trust in God and His all sufficient grace. A life of faith is not about what we can accomplish on our own, but rather what can God accomplish through us as a willing vessel. If we could do it on our own, we wouldn’t need faith, and most of what God wants to do through each one of us requires faith.

So what is it you’re asking God to do for you or through you? Is that too small? Think of Ephesians 3:20 which says, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (NLT). God is able to do infinitely more through you than you can even ask or think! Any of the dreams or goals we set are small by those standards. One of the prayers I’ve started praying is, “God plant your goals and dreams in me, then help me to reach the potential you see in my life. Help me to accomplish the goals and dreams you have for my life.” If what He wants to do through me is infinitely greater, then I’ll willingly give up my dreams for His so I can live a life of purpose that completes His objectives for my life.

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Quit Panicking

One of the most common Christian myths many of us believe is that when I do what God asks me to, there won’t be any issues and things will go smoothly. For me, it seems like when I step out in faith and do what God asks, things often start going wrong. There are times it feels like I’ve jumped out of an airplane, but I’m not the one who gets to pull the cord on the parachute. The ground starts getting closer and I start to panic. I cry out, “God, where are you? Did you tell me to do this? Why haven’t you worked on my behalf yet? Don’t you care about my reputation? My family? I thought you were going to work out everything for my good.” At that point, it’s easy to start questioning if I really heard God or if I’m really in His will because I’m looking at external factors and I’m believing the myth that everything should be smooth sailing when I’m in His will through obedience.

In Mark 4, after a long day of teaching, night was falling and Jesus said, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake” (TPT). They all piled in a boat, and several people from the crowd got in boats to follow them across the lake. Being tired from teaching, Jesus decided to call it a night. He laid down and fell asleep. That’s when a ferocious storm came rolling in with violent winds that were rocking the boat and causing it to take on so much water that they were afraid of sinking. In verse 39, they had a similar prayer to mine. They woke Jesus up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re all about to die?” Jesus, once He was fully awake, steps out, rebukes the wind and calms the sea. I’m sure He gave them a disappointed look as He said, “Why are you so afraid? Haven’t you learned to trust yet?”

Those words are ringing in my ears today as I shift my focus from my circumstances to who He is. When things don’t go the way we thought they should after our obedience, fear creeps in. Fear of failure. Fear of being embarrassed. Fear of going broke. Fear of our own ship going down. The storm you’re in may be great, but He is greater. It may feel like He’s asleep, but He knows what you’re going through. Push through the fear and panic, and trust that if He’s called you to it, He’ll get you through it. A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor, and easy times never stretch our faith. Yes, it might have been a big leap you took, but your faith has so much more room to grow. Now is not the time for panic. It’s the time for prayer and faith. He hasn’t ever failed you, and He won’t start failing you today.

Photo by Lucas Sankey on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Complaining To God

I was recently at our men’s group breakfast. We had some discussion questions to spark conversation at the table. The last question on there had a verse in Exodus where Moses was complaining to God and letting Him have it for doing what He told him and how everything was still going wrong. It then asked, “Do you feel comfortable expressing your feelings to God?” I don’t think there’s a person alive who doesn’t get frustrated at God. The problem comes from our unmet expectation of Him when we do what we’re asked. Our expectation is that if we’re in His will doing what He asks of us that all will go perfectly smooth. He never promised that though. He simply tells us to obey Him no matter how bad things get.

Jeremiah was a prophet who had to tell the nation of Israel that God was going to scatter them and force them out of their land. All the other “prophets” were prophesying the opposite. No one listened to him as he did and said what God told him to. In fact, when they were besieged, instead of listening to him then, they put him in prison and then down a well. Can you imagine? God chose him, gave him the words to say and things didn’t go smoothly. In Jeremiah 15:18, he complained to God, “Why has my pain been perpetual and my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will you indeed be to me like a deceptive brook with water that is unreliable?” AMP) I’ve learned that God is not afraid of our complaints, nor is He afraid to answer us when we complain.

The next verse in Jeremiah, God responds, “If you repent [and give up this mistaken attitude of despair and self-pity], then I will restore you [to a state of inner peace] So that you may stand before Me [as My obedient representative]; And if you separate the precious from the worthless [examining yourself and cleansing your heart from unwarranted doubt concerning My faithfulness], You will become My spokesman.” How many times do we have a mistaken attitude when we complain to God? Is it usually birthed out of doubt about who He is and what He’s called you to? If it is, it’s time to repent. God is worthy of your trust and obedience no matter what your circumstances look like. He’s looking at your life from a big picture perspective. Don’t look at Him through a circumstantial perspective. Trust in His plan and keep obeying what He told you to do no matter what.

Photo by AZGAN MjESHTRI on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Your Journey

I remember as a senior in high school, my English teacher had us write a research paper on our chosen field of profession. We had to interview at least two people in that profession, discuss the educational requirements and career path. Even though I wrote it all out, I still found myself lost after high school. I felt like it was just going to happen without my putting in the work. I wanted to accomplish God’s plan for my life and to walk in His path for me, but I wasn’t moving in any direction. I found that it’s hard to follow a path and get direction if you’re standing still.

After David was anointed king, he didn’t get to go to the palace. He went back to the hills to watch the sheep. He took his brothers food while they were at war. He played the harp for the current king. Even though God didn’t take him to the palace right away, he continued moving and doing things that prepared him to be king. He understood that God had a plan, and for that plan to be executed, he couldn’t just sit around and wait for it to just happen. As he did things, God put him in situations that grew him and showed his strengths as a leader.

If you feel like you’re wandering or if you’re just waiting for God to move and place you in position, pray what David prayed in Psalm 25:4. He wrote, “Lord, direct me throughout my journey so I can experience your plans for my life. Reveal the life-paths that are pleasing to you” (TPT). God will direct you, but you have to be moving. I believe God has created you with a specific plan in mind, but it won’t just happen. You need to invest time, energy and money into the areas He’s directed you to, and you need to be ready to face any giant in your way. God’s not finished with your journey yet, nor has He given up on you. Start today down His path and He will direct you.

Photo by Michelle Spencer on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Just Get Started

My son loves the LEGO Architecture series. We’ve built several of them as a family. Normally they take a night or two for us to complete because we’ve purchased small ones. However, recently he wanted one that was about 1,700 pieces. When I opened the box and saw all those pieces, I wondered, “What were we thinking?” Then I saw the book. It was seriously a book of how to put it together. Do you know what the first step was? Putting two pieces together. When we put them together, I jokingly said, “Hey! Only 1,698 pieces to go.”

In Zechariah, God used the prophet to speak to Zerubbabel to begin rebuilding the Temple. It was about 90 feet long and 20 stories high. As he set the first stone in place, people walking by started making fun of him. He began to get discouraged because other people couldn’t see what God has called him to, and they didn’t believe it could be done. Then the Lord spoke to him in Zechariah 4:10, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand” (NLT).

It’s easy to look at large projects like that and get overwhelmed. It’s even easier to look at what God has called us to and want to never start. But just like the LEGO’s, it starts with a small step, and that is followed by another one. God enjoys seeing us begin to do the work He called us to because He loves obedience. He knows that if He can trust us to be faithful in the small steps of obedience, He can stretch us to take the larger ones. It just takes us to be willing to get past the size of the thing God has asked us to do, and to simply begin.

Photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

God Given Tasks

Recently I was flown to another city for work. When I arrived, they took me and several others who had flown in into a room. We were given the task of solving a problem for the business. As they were describing what they were expecting from us, they said, “To get your ticket home, you must complete these objectives. We don’t care how long you work, how many breaks you take or how long your lunches are. Just make sure you complete these tasks by the end of the week.” We posted the problem on a wall, then we posted our objectives right beside it and got to work.

I believe that God has tasks for each of us to do. We don’t usually get a PowerPoint presentation from Him with clearly defined goals though. He does, however, expect us to do the things He’s called us to do. Since each one of us are uni, that means there are tasks that we are uniquely qualified for. There are certain tasks that only you can do. It’s important for each of us to be sensitive to God’s Spirit so we can know what He wants us to do. When you feel a certain impression to do something for someone, that’s usually Him. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but the more we obey, the more He gives us to do.

Here are some verses on doing tasks God gives us.

1. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.

John 9:4 NLT

2. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG

3. Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men.

COLOSSIANS 3:23 AMP

4. Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 GNT

5. Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress.

1 Timothy 4:15 NLT

Photo by Daniel Chekalov on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Illogical Obedience

To me, one of the greatest acts of obedience in the Bible was done by Peter. He and his coworkers had fished all night and caught nothing. They were cleaning their nets when Jesus walked up and asked to use his boat for a pulpit to preach from. After the sermon, Jesus asked Peter to go further out to a deep spot and put his freshly cleaned nets back into the water. None of it made sense, but Luke 5:5 says, “‘Master,’ Simon answered, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I will let down the nets’” (GNT).

Peter was tired from fishing all night. He had then cleaned and prepared his nets for the next night, and he was ready to go home to sleep. Putting the nets back into the water meant he would have to clean them again. Also, it was proven that you catch more fish at night in shallow areas. Everything Jesus was asking was different than his lifetime had taught him. His way had not worked, but because of what He had seen Jesus do, He was willing to try it. The result was the catch of a lifetime.

If you’ve tried things your way and it’s gotten you nowhere, listen to what God is asking you to do. It probably won’t make sense in the natural, but obedience activates the supernatural. When you’ve tried everything on your own and come up empty handed, try it God’s way. It may not make sense, but if you do it, your miracle will be waiting on the other side of your obedience. You may be exhausted and emotionally spent from doing things your way. You may feel like you’re at the end of your rope. Despite all that, do what God asks anyway and you’ll see Him answer like never before.

Photo by Fred Ohlander on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Tough Choices

A couple of years ago, God asked us to move to a different church. It was one of the most difficult things to obey. I didn’t want to switch, but we felt Him speaking it to us over and over. We tested it by praying, “God, if this is you, and we’re hearing you right, then let these things happen.” After they happened, I reasoned those things could have “just happened”. We prayed again and asked for more signs, and He gave them. This went on for months because we didn’t want to move. Finally, I agreed to move, but told Him it was only going to be temporary.

It’s a difficult thing to follow God when it’s not when or where you want to go. People don’t understand why you’re picking up and moving. Others feel like you’re abandoning them because they don’t understand why either. We like to think going where God wants us to go is easy, but many times it isn’t. We like having roots planted, but if we are following where God leads, we have to be willing to be transplanted at any given moment.

After the children of Israel left Egypt, they followed God into the desert. Many times they questioned Him and wanted to return to where they came from. Over time, they learned to follow where He led. The Bible says, they followed God’s Shekinah glory wherever and whenever it lead. Numbers 9:22 says, “Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on” (NLT).

They learned what you and I have to learn. We need to follow where God leads us whether it’s for a short while or a long time. If we are surrendered to His plan and purposes, we must always be willing to move. It’s not easy at times, but following where He leads results in growth, blessings and expanded territory. If God is calling you away from where you’ve been, it’s time to break camp and move. You may not know why or where God is leading, but following Him is always the right choice.

Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized