Have you every wondered what God’s intentions are for your life? I often have questioned why many things happen that leave me asking God why? Sometimes I talk to people who have been serving the Lord for decades and they begin to question or doubt the truth in His Word. I wonder sometimes what He requires of us to stand in His provision and in His promises.
A couple of days ago, the air conditioner in my house went out. Since I rent the home from my parents, that catastrophe was one in which I was not financially responsible for. It was about eighty-five degrees in my house and I thought to myself, “How in the world am I supposed to sleep tonight?” I paused for a moment and said out loud, “I have to get up in the morning with little or no sleep because it’s so freaking hot in here!”
Over the next couple of days God began to speak to me and I allowed Him to chastise me because I was humbled by my lack of appreciation of all that I do have. I began to think of the soldiers who are fighting in a war that was pretty much started over greed and control. I began to think of the families who haven’t heard from loved ones in days or have lost those dear to them because of the wars throughout history.
I began to think of the Mexican family’s (legal) who live in our inner cities that we go minister to on Friday evenings. Many who live in efficiency apartments comfortable enough for one person yet there is a family living there, one with a new baby with no air at all with flies going in and out of the open windows.
I began to think of the homeless men, women and children who for various reasons, some probably self inflicted who would love the opportunity to sleep in a one year old queen size bed with a clean shower and full cupboards down the hall. I began to think of all the children in Africa who sing praises unto our Father, while their brothers and sisters die of malnutrition. All because our countries are more concerned with fueling their fighter jets than “taking care of people.” I began to wonder just as the Kutless song “perspective” says, “If your lens was changed for a moment, tell me would it really be that bad?”
Rob Bell is a man who creates 12 minutes extremely impacting Bible study videos that I love to watch. Last weekend I was watching one that is called “Rich” you can order any of them by visiting www.nooma.com. Anyway, he was giving some comparisons of how many people actually own vehicles, yet for those of us that drive our 96 Ford Contours with 163,000 miles we want something more dependable and newer. We get frustrated when we get a flat and have to spend 24 dollars to get our tire patched, cause that cuts into our “Caramel Macchiato” or “Caramel Smoothie” budget for the week. Then I have to ask myself, “What could one of those children in Africa do with 24 dollars a week?” It boggles my mind now each time I go to purchase a “Caramel Apple Smoothie” which costs 3.30. I drive around in my car, drinking it thinking to myself, “Could that money have just saved someone’s brother or sister?” I was writing my thoughts down earlier, as I sat on a rock by a creek out behind my Pastors house and revelation was hitting me in a powerful way. God was personally revealing to me how blessed I truly am in ways that I have never experienced before, ways that are truly humbling.
How blessed are we really? I see people riding around in eighty thousand dollar Cadillac’s while others ride around in a Yugo with bumper stickers that say, “God Bless Amercia” as we spend our money on material possessions and things that make us “feel good”. All the comforts that we could desire reside in arm length. Americans spend millions of dollars a year on entertainment and yet still in our own country we have thousands upon thousands of men, women and children who have not bathed in weeks. We pay “star athletes” millions of dollars to entertain us, yet we don’t support mission-oriented people who risk their lives to go to help others in serious need. Many people feel it is not America’s responsibility to help other countries but you know what God says about that?
I John 3:16-19
“Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”
Jesus laid down His life for us. Jesus gave His all so that we might offer our lives as a living sacrifice back to Him.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.”
Yet, I don’t even have the mentality to set aside those “caramel apple smoothies” to help others in need. However, I have the audacity to complain about not having air conditioning in my house, and having to pay 24.00 to patch my tire on my car, so I can drive to my job, and drive to winan’s and buy the dumb smoothie that I can’t seem to live without.
So, what do I mean when I say, “I am standing in the FOG”? I think many of us are in the FOG and we don’t even realize it. We can’t seem to see past our own circumstances, we can’t seem to see passed our own wants and desires, and that is where the devil wants us to be. However, you are probably thinking that is the point I am trying to make, cause right now you are focusing and thinking about all the prayers and requests you have been sending up and wondering why you aren’t getting any response from Heaven. But you see there is a twist to things.
When I say, “I am standing in the FOG”, I realize that I am standing in the Favor Of God. He has blessed me so much in this past year that when I truly begin to think about it, I almost become overwhelmed with emotion. You see, last August I was faced with a certain dilemma. God had been speaking to me to move to another church. To me it was almost like Abraham taking Isaac up to be the sacrificial lamb. You see where I was, was the only church I had gone to since I had been saved where I was delivered from many things. I had several close relationships with people there, though I never really felt “at home”. There was always a “distance” there for me. However I can imagine there were things that Isaac did that Abraham didn’t agree with and vice versa, but still they loved one another dearly.
Though Abraham had been blessed with a son, God required Abraham to offer him as a sacrifice. Many people question this instruction from God. However it demonstrates the scripture when Jesus instructed His disciples,
“If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”
“So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”
When Christ instructed these things He wasn’t saying we are to hate ourselves or those whom we love, but that we are to put God above all things. God comes first in our lives and if He doesn’t then our foundation is not built on Him therefore we are representing a trust in something other than God and we are not His disciples.
You see Abraham through faith believed God enough to lay down what meant the most to him. He trusted God enough to give everything, to lay his all out before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. When God saw the depth of Abraham’s trust and obedience, it was at that pivotal moment that God was able to trust Him enough with His divine provision and promise. He tested Abraham once in Genesis 12 when He instructed him to leave his country, his people and his father’s house to go to a land that God would show him. Abraham didn’t even know where he was going, but still he was willing and obedient to follow God. Abraham had to go through many trials and tests, all of them started when God called him in Genesis 12 and continued through Genesis 22. When God saw that Abraham was willing to give his only son, He called out to him and provided the sacrifice.
I believe this represents our lives before God as well. When we are truly willing to lay down our lives, that is when His “only Son, Jesus” becomes the propitiation of our sins as a sacrifice. The grace and mercy in the cross was not provided so that we can continue in sin and be covered by His grace, for we see in
I John 3:5-9
“And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”
We can read what God says about Abraham in Genesis 22:17-18
“That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which [is] upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
You see blessing comes through obedience. When I obeyed the voice of God and moved to the church that He showed me many areas of my life began to prosper. In the past year God has blessed me with the opportunity to meet and form relationships with a vast array of people who truly love Him. Not only that but I have had the opportunity to meet Jason Upton (my favorite worship singer), Jentzen Franklin (my favorite Preacher), Tommy Tenney (my favorite Evangelist), ApologetiX (one of the first Christian Bands I ever started listening to). I also got to see my two favorite Christian rock bands Newsboys and Kutless for the first time ever! I am on the worship team at church and I have recorded two songs in the studio. I recently had a request for someone wanted a copy of my “first original single”. My health has improved tremendously and the friendships that God has bestowed upon my life are immeasurable. You God will bless us when we heed his commandments and do as He desires and speaks to our hearts and in our spirit to do.
I John 3:22-24
“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”
Has it been all cakes and roses? Nope it sure hasn’t. Have I had some financial struggles according to the “American standard?” Yes I have. Have I had some health issues according to the “American standard?” You better believe it. Have their been some serious tests and trials? You better believe it, but God’s word tells us:
II Corinthians 4:5-10
“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. [We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”
You see all in all I would say that for the first time in my life I see things from a different perspective and I realize that I am truly standing in the Favor-Of-God! And when I stand in that FOG, faith believing all God says I believe He will begin to trust me. Walking in obedience to the will of the Father has never come without great sacrifice for anyone.
When the men came to my house to fix the air conditioning my dad had found them in the “Christian Blue Pages”. One of them could tell by my house that I was a Christian because of pictures and stuff I had up. He told me he was in a Christian band and I told him that I sing as well and have recorded a few songs. He said, “Yeah it’s all about the cross ya know?” I said, “Yeah, it is.” I told him I was reading a book by Matt Redman and in the book he says a lot of really truly heartfelt spiritual things that really touches my heart. One of them was, “God first seeks devotion to Him in the hidden place–worship when no one else is watching.” Another one was “We cannot even offer a simple song of praise without using the breath God first gave to us.”
We shall not take anything from this life with us when it is our time to reach our true destination. We are foreigners here in this journey. Remember when it comes to our lives as Christians our focus should be as
I John 3:1-2 says,
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
Do not boast that you have power over the enemy or that you might be driving a new Cadillac. Do not boast that your church costs 13 million dollars to build, or that you drive a Bentley. Do not boast when you purchase a house that costs you a half a million dollars or you own two jets for your ministry. Do not boast when your kids graduate from Yale or Harvard. Do not boast of the knowledge or the wisdom that God may have entrusted you with. He can take it away in an instant, because His Word says that pride comes before a great fall. However, rejoice in the fact that your name is written down in the lambs book of life and that my friend, is truly standing in the Favor Of God!