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Being Led By Obedience

Recently I attended the commencement ceremonies for my alma matter and a friend of mine had been asked to be the keynote speaker. He talked to them about how the Bible says they should dress for success in life. In one of his points, he made the comment, “Be led by obedience to God, not by opportunity.” I stopped and wondered how many times I had confused opportunity with the will of God. It’s natural to think when a great opportunity presents itself that it’s from God. More often than not, those times are tests of our faith to see if we are going to be obedient to what God wants or to do what’s expedient for ourselves.

If you know anything about the story of David in the Bible, you know that after he was anointed King, Saul began to hunt him down to kill him in order to preserve his royal lineage. In I Samuel 24, Saul was hunting David and went into a cave to relieve himself. What he didn’t know was that David and his men were hiding in that very cave. The opportunity presented itself to David to be able to take Saul’s life and assume the throne. It appeared that God had given him the opportunity to fulfill the promise He had made to him.

David’s men saw it as such and spoke to him about it in verse 4. They said, “Now’s your opportunity! Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do as you wish.” His men were led by opportunity instead of obedience and they gave him bad advice. I’m sure they were tired of living in caves and were ready to live in palaces. They saw this as their opportunity to get out of poverty. They knew David had been anointed the next King so this must have been God’s way of making it happen.

David took their suggestion that this was God’s will instead of seeking it out himself. He made a split decision that he regretted. He snuck up next to Saul and couldn’t kill him. Instead, he cut off a piece of his robe. He heard the quiet voice of God in his spirit over the overwhelming voices of his advisors. He chose to obey God instead by not killing him. His conscious bothered him for even cutting Saul’s robe. In verse 6 he said, “I shouldn’t attack the Lords anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.” He knew the scriptures had said, “Don’t touch God’s anointed.” 

The Word of God should overrule any opportunity that presents itself. God will not ask you to do something that is contrary to the Bible. He may allow opportunities to arise in your life, but He will not ask you to chose them over obedience to what He’s already said. It takes wisdom, patience and courage to do what God says even if opportunities present themselves as God’s will for you. Always take time to seek out God’s voice over man’s when opportunity knocks. Don’t just assume it is God giving you what you want. Be led by obedience not by opportunity.
 

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Faith That Climbs Mountains: Haiti Days 4 & 5

On Wednesday, we got to the orphanage early because the kids at school have chapel first thing. As we got there, the kids were all lined up outside. They sang a song together that they had sung in church. After that, they sang the National Anthem of Haiti as they raised the flag over the school. They then prayed and went into the main room for chapel. Each class walked in one by one in an orderly fashion in their bright red shirts and blue bottoms.

 

 

Once inside, we sang several songs and prayed. One of our students had volunteered to teach chapel that morning. He told them the story of a father who had a son (me) and a daughter (my wife) (This created many jokes from the Haitians all day!). The father gave each of them a mango seed. One of us threw it away and were mad because all they got was a seed. The other was great fun and buried the seed. They watered it and cared for the tree as it grew. When it was old, the tree produced more mangos that people from all over could enjoy.

  

He then shared how what God gives each of us may not seem like a lot. What matters is what we do with what God gives us. Many people throw away the little things God gives them because they seem insignificant. But if we are willing to plant it, cultivate it and feed it, God can use it to plant seeds in the lives of so many others. He pointed out that each person who took a mango from the tree not only walked away with food, they walked away with a seed they could plant. The replication of the growing process is endless as long as we use the seed for its intended purpose. 

After chapel service, the kids went back to class and we went back to work. We were able to finish all of the projects we were assigned to do. The pirate ship was now painted with weatherproof paint and the ground behind the school was level. We gathered out front, cleaned up our messes and the kids came out for recess. We played with them, loved on them and many were coved up by them. They love to pile on top of people. It seems the more they can get on you the better. 

  

After lunch, we held a service for the orphans. Our students reenacted the story of David and Goliath. It helped that we had a boy who was fairly short and one who was 6’9″. The kids watched in amazement as he fell. They were told that they can defeat the things in their lives that they’re afraid of. We then sang, “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing that He cannot do for you!” After singing. We handed each kid a paper and crayons. We asked them to draw the thing they were most afraid of. After they showed others what they were afraid of, they ripped the paper and declared that with God, they don’t have to be afraid. 

  

On Thursday morning, several of us got up early to climb the mountain across from our guest house. For me, it’s always a spiritual journey. As we go up, there are Haitians crying out to God, praying and signing. It’s a very reverent thing for me to walk by as they pour out their hearts to Him. I often pray for them as I walk past. The path is very steep and rocky. There are many times people on the team want to give up. I tell them to quit looking at the summit and find a place about a hundred yards away. I ask, “Can you make it to there? Then let’s go there and rest again.” We inch up the mountain at times, but in the end, when you reach the summit, the view is all worth it. You almost forget how difficult it was to get there.

  

In our Christian lives, it’s very much the same. The path is narrow and often rocky. There are plenty of opportunities to give up. If we are willing to walk along side of each other, we can help motivate and encourage each other through those times. God did not intend for us to stay in the valley. He wants us to climb to the top of the mountain like Moses did and spend time with Him. When we finally get to Heaven, I don’t think we will complain about the climb. We will rejoice that we made it and celebrate together.  

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Showing His Love: Haiti Day 1

 

 On our first full day in Haiti on this trip, we started off going to a church service with the orphans and the local community. As they sang songs of worship, it was incredible to watch young children raise their hands and sing. During times of prayer, many children would get down on their knees and face the benches they were sitting on. It was moving to see so many of them engaged in the service knowing that very few of them had probably ever been to church before coming to the orphanage. 

After church, the kids changed clothes and we got to play with them. One of the incredible experiences of coming on a journey like this is that you get chosen by the kids. They run through the crowd of the team looking up at each face and determine who their “blanc” is. For the rest of the trip, the children who chose you will find you each time you’re there and climb in your lap, hold your hands and love you. Watching it happen reminds me of how God seeks us out like the one lamb who got away. Once He finds us, He holds us and gives us unconditional, undeserved love.

As we were playing, a bell started ringing from the cafeteria and the kids immediately ran to go eat lunch. While they were eating, we took a walk into Maya to visit with some of the locals. On every other trip, they have come to us, but this time, we went to them. On our first stop, we encountered a man who was proud to show us his two bedroom home made of rock and mortar. It had a tin roof, dirt floors and no electricity. His face beamed as he showed us his handiwork. He then walked us over to a 3′ by 3′ house looking structure. He proudly proclaimed that is son built it. You could see from wall to wall how much his son improved each time. This father had now passed down the ability for his son to survive. 

After visiting a few more houses, we returned to the orphanage. We played with the kids some more and then went to the covered porch during the heat of the day. Several kids layer down on our team members to rest. As I looked on, I thought of how my own son loves to lay up against me or my wife. Doing so provides them with a sense of security and love. These orphans don’t have parents to give them that. It was a blessing to watch our time provide those emotional necessities to these children.

After playing some more, we then returned to our guest house in the city of Gonaives. The team cleaned up, ate dinner and then met for our own service. We shared stories of things that we had seen that touched our lives and how we saw Jesus in those things. We were reminded that Jesus shows up every day in our lives all around us. We will see Him if we take the time to look. We also have the opportunity to be His hands and feet to others if we will be available when the opportunity arises. 

God’s desire is to use each one of us daily to show His love to someone. There are hurting people that sit next to us, walk by us on the street and post on our social media feeds. It’s up to us as believers to reach out to them and show them the love of Christ. If you don’t, who will? Jesus said in John 13:35, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. (NLT)” How will you show love today to prove to the world that you are His disciple? 

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Changed Through Serving

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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 a copy of “No Longer A Slumdog: Bringing Hope To Children In Crisis” by K. P. Yohannan. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

On our last full day in Haiti, we started off by climbing the mountain in front of the guest house. It was as much a spiritual journey as it was physical. We walked through a poor neighborhood on the side of the mountain and then followed the rocky path up. We had to stop several times to catch our breath. It was good to see how far we had gone and then be able to look at the top to know where we were going. It reminded me how we often grow weary doing good. We get tired in our walk with Christ. We hit plateaus at times, and at others, we have steep climbs to make in a short amount of time.

When we got to the top, there was a spot where a church was being built. There were two ladies and a man who were up there singing and praying over the community below. When we walked back down the mountain, there were more people along the path who were also singing and praying. It challenged me to pray for my community, city, work place and wherever else God has me. The sound of prayer was inspiration on such a tough journey. It reminded me that prayer gives us strength where ours runs out.

After we arrived back at the guest house, we loaded up the team and headed for Roboto. It’s the poorest part of Gonaives. The students got out of the truck and immediately started filling plates with the rice we brought. We then went class to class giving these students the only meal they will receive for the day. It was incredible to watch these students serve the poorest of the poor in the Western Hemisphere. They truly were the hands and feet of Jesus and brought light into such a dark place.

After we finished feeding and playing with the children, we went to the Gonaives orphanage to pick up the children there. For the first time the children were going to visit the Myan orphanage. They climbed the trucks like they were jungle gyms. As we drove over the mountain to Myan, the kids were smiling ear to ear. There was laughter and excitement. When we pulled into the gates, they jumped out and immediately began playing with each other. It was beautiful to watch orphans from both our orphanages playing together for the first time.

Before we left, we went out of the gates to where we were breaking ground for a school building. While the construction team was digging up the ground for the foundation, they came across another foundation that was a part of a nearby wall. The contractor researched the history and found that there was a French fortress that had been built on that spot in 1802 that enslaved Haitians. Over 200 years later, an orphanage and school are being built on that very spot and is setting Haitians free! Our God new 200 years ago that we would hear the call to defend the orphan and would build in that spot.

God moved in our hearts on this trip. He called several to be missionaries and others into ministry. I watched as God took kids who were timid and opened them up to share what He has done in their lives. This experience has wrecked their lives because they’ve done what James 1:27 calls true and undefiled religion. They have cared for orphans and widows. They have helped push back the darkness in Haiti with the light of Jesus. Not only have we been changed because we were here, Haiti is different too. We now have a 14 hour journey home where each one will tell their story and others will catch the vision.

If you would like to win “No Longer A Slumdog” by K. P. Yohannon, all you have to do is go to my Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (March 29, 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.

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