Monthly Archives: February 2012

Stop Being a Jonah – Answer God’s Call Willingly

Stop Running Away

If we are not impressed by our gifts, abilities, and talents (because we know everything we have is from God and by the grace of God), then we should not be depressed by our weaknesses (because our weaknesses keep us humble and reliant on the saving power of Christ).

God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). If any of us think that we have conquered all our weaknesses and have arrived at our destination in life, then we have become puffed up and are on our way to a downfall. Paul puts it this way:

“For though I desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth…” – 2 Corinthians 12:6

When we truly realize how much we need God and how nothing we accomplish is by our own strength, we become maximally useful to carry out His will. See, God foreknew all of us before we were born and called each one of us to achieve a particular purpose (good work).

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10

Shying away from God’s purpose is disobedience so we should not do it since it displeases Him. Furthermore, its a fool’s game! But why?

Here is why. As children of God, the Spirit yearns jealously for us (see James 4:5). We can run around in the wilderness for years trying to dodge the purpose to which He has called us –using every excuse in the book – but He will use people, situations, and circumstances to break us down and get our attention. No matter how hard we try, we find that His purpose cannot be withheld from Him and that what He has ordained will get done, for no word that He has spoken can ever return back to Him void (see Isaiah 55:11).

“I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” – Job 42:2

A good example of someone that tried not to do what God called him to do was Jonah. When he was given his orders, the first thing He did was head in the opposite direction.  Being self-righteous and disobedient, he almost caused a boat to sink and had to spend time in the belly of a whale before he finally headed to Nineveh to deliver God’s message. As hard-headed as he was, God’s purpose was accomplished through him – not because of Him, but despite of Him. Jonah endured unnecessary hardship because of his disobedience. In the end, it was all for naught.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Running away from God’s purpose in our life is pointless and is life’s biggest time waster. If He has chosen us, His desires will be fulfilled through us no matter how much of a Jonah we become.

And just like Jonah, we become miserable if we do not align our hearts with the purpose of God, for even after Jonah delivered the message to the people of Nineveh and they repented, he wanted God to take him out. Seriously Jonah!

For those of us that answer God’s call, we can be assured that If He has chosen us, He will strengthen us. Just as He strengthened Moses and gave him the words to speak to the Pharaoh and made him a great leader, He will do the same for us as long as we walk in obedience – so we need not fear. His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

The story of Gideon highlights the strength of God working in human weakness. Gideon was a man who started out with little faith. In fact, he did not really believe in what God promised and thus became the first “fleece-thrower” (see Judges 6:36 – 40).  Yet, God called him a mighty man of valor and persevered with Him – showing Gideon that He is a mighty God. It was this same Gideon that did not question God when He trimmed his army from 34,000 to 300 before granting him victory over the Midianites. Now that took some faith!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: If stubborness and lack of faith could not stop God from achieving his purpose through Jonah and Gideon, respectively, it will not stop Him from using you.

Food for Thought: You signed up to be used by God for His purpose when you signed up with Jesus, so stop fighting it! He will have His way anyway.

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Wilderness Experience – Are you missing God’s oasis by remaining a victim?

Are you missing God's oasis

It is impossible to go through life without hurting someone or being hurt by another person….even if it is unintended. Regardless of whether we are the “hurter” and the “hurtee”, as believers, it is likely we go through a rough patch – experience some wilderness – until we are restored.

This wilderness experience is not simply reserved for the victim but also for the perpetrator of the hurt. While the victim may land in the wilderness as a result of anger, resentment, bitterness and so forth, the perpetrator may experience their own wilderness because of perpetual self- condemnation and an inability to grant self-forgiveness. Here is the thing, whether we are the hurter or the hurtee, our ability to escape the jaws of the wilderness depends on how determined we are to fully surrender our hurt to Christ.

  Lightbulb Moment  Light-bulb moment: Irrespective of what befalls us, we choose whether we are victor’s in Christ or victims of life. We prolong our wilderness experience by choosing to remain victims.

Just as it is important to know what to do when in the wilderness to survive, we must know what to do to move past our hurts.

When I got hurt, I chose to remain a victim. Instead of surrendering my hurts to Christ, I took matters into my own hands and purposed in my heart and mind that I was never going to put myself in a position to be hurt again – so I guarded my heart and built a fortress around my mind. I ensured that nothing moved me deeply and so segregated emotions, feelings, and sensitivity from all things. Nothing was going to penetrate my shield…….not even God! In effect, I told God, “You can control everything else, but I control my heart, so shoo…go away”. I was at the wheel and I almost drove my life right off a cliff by making decisions based on my hurts. As a result of choosing to be a perpetual victim of my past hurts rather than surrender it to Him, I ended up victimizing the people I came into contact with.

Lightbulb Moment     Light-bulb moment: I should not be driven by my life experiences or emotions, but only by Christ!

Whilst the natural tendency after being hurt is to take control and guard our own hearts out of fear, the bible shows us a better way for our hearts to be guarded.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6 – 7

Thus it is the peace of God which comes through prayer  and supplication that guards our hearts and keeps us alive until we escape the wilderness and are restored to our oasis.

Upon learning how to survive, we must become action minded and start to look for a way out. We pick up the trail back to our oasis when we stop our self-pity, self-righteousness, and self-focus but instead focus our attention on our guide, Jesus. When we pay attention to what He tells us though His word, we get jolted with the  reality that all have hurt and all have been hurt. That no one has been hurt more than God (through our sin and disobedience) and no man more than Jesus when he lived. But then we also get jolted with the truth that He has paid the price for all we could ever do, say or feel. That through Him, we are restored and are the head and not the tail. When we focus on Jesus, we start to trust Him and allow Him to lead us out of our wilderness.

This is exactly what Jesus did as a man when experiencing His own wilderness. What if Jesus had not trusted God but allowed His experience and emotions to lead Him? What if He had focused on all the wrongs that were done to Him – the insult, the ridicule, the scourging, and the betrayal – none of which He deserved? What if He had not surrendered fully to God? He would not have been glorified and would not be sitting at the right-hand side of God now, and we may still be living under the law.

But He did fully surrender to God and won victory for all the hurt that could ever come our way!

The trust we build in Jesus is what allows us to lay all our hurts and burdens on Him in humility and prayer while taking all the necessary steps to find closure as He leads us – perhaps through counseling. In time, we find that our ashes are turned into beauty and have been made into new beings – with the muck of the past and its impact on our lives washed away. Truly, the old passes away and everything becomes new.

“If only my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

So, why surrender our hurts to God? He alone can heal us and will refine us. No one else can.

Food for Thought: I find my oasis when I choose to focus on God rather than on my hurts

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