I was looking through my journal kept of the last year and it is really neat to see how the year has unfolded and how many prayers have been answered. God is real! And I've never been more sure about that than over the last couple years as I've seen him work in my life. About a year ago I had written down a dream with the message being 'prepare for what was ahead'. A few days later that dream happened in real life!!! I was listening to a Sunday school sermon online when the same words that I had heard in my dream were said in the exact same scenario that occurred in my dream. I perked up immediately, rewinding to listen carefully to what the teacher and his student were talking about. They were speaking about faith in action. At the time 'preparing for what was ahead' seemed a bit mysterious- what was ahead that I had to prepare for? A year later, the past several months God has been sending me wave upon wave about the very same theme spoken about un the sermon that I heard ; Faith in action. Now, the answers are becoming more and more clear. God is calling his church to wake up! He's calling ME to wake up! To start living my belief, to start walking out my faith. It's time to move. Time to love. Time to share Jesus. Time to stand apart for Him and be his light. He has chosen us to be his vessels to show his love. God has an incredible life for us. We can live His adventure. We can know him MORE.
It's time for me to put my faith into action. I can memorize bible verses, be learned in theology and be inspired by the many amazing people who chose and choose to follow God but without actual application of any of these things, the knowledge remains just knowledge in my head. The life of a disciple of Jesus is not one of just memorization and acknowledgment, it is a life of action and more than that, action that is led and directed by the Holy Spirit.
'Be doers of the word, and not just hearers only, deceiving yourselves.' James 1:22.
In Luke 8, Jesus tells the parable of the sower and the seed. The seed that fell on the good soil and grew, well, those are the hearers who held onto the word tightly in their hearts. They kept it close and then used it and engaged with it. The seed that bore fruit did so because it was active.
In contrast, the Pharisees searched the scriptures that spoke about Jesus coming, knew them very well, and still they would not come to Jesus for life. (John 4:39,40) They wouldn't move and lay their lives down. They pushed the seed away. We too can read and read but never come to know Jesus personally. The first step to being active is to come to Jesus with your life.
I desire to be an active disciple. I want his word to take root in my life and grow and bear fruit. When we truly want to do what the Lord is asking of us and when we truly want to be doers of his word and not just hearers then be prepared for things to happen as God teaches you the real life application. The Psalm that says 'commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act' I've come to learn is entirely true. God will act when we say, 'Here I am Lord, send me'.
I recently had a prayer answered in a really, really exciting way, wanting to actually live out and apply what God has been teaching me through his word. I admit that when I prayed this prayer I was expecting a simple answer, something neat and tidy but instead it turned out to be quite messy and it is still stretching me to give up a life that I have lived vastly for my own interests. But the messiness has been wonderfully rewarding. Though this answered prayer hasn't been what I expected I am thankful because the experience and new relationship has brought a new and deeper understanding of how great God is and how deep his love is for each of us. And that he is in control completely! God also used this experience to teach- that to be an effective 'doer of the word' I must stay in the presence of Jesus. Any service to God that is done of myself, in my own strength will end up being feeling like a burden too heavy to bear and I will become resentful or frustrated and ultimately the fruit that was meant to grow from obedience and love won't be produced. Everyday and moment I need to look to Jesus, be in his presence so that his love, his patience, his wisdom, his strength can bear the weight for me. Attempting any work for God with my own understanding will quickly lead to burnout and discouragement and in fact can be quite damaging to any parties involved.
How do I stay in Jesus' presence? How to do I keep my eyes fixed on him in the midst of serving him in a challenging circumstance or even just every day life? Pray and listen! Worship him with praise and thanksgiving. Read his word. It is sustenance. How else do we remain in God's presence? Humility. Remembering that it is only Christ in me that enables me to be his hands and feet. I can do nothing apart from Him. Jesus is the branch and I need to abide. It is his life in me, not my own goodness at all. All this must be continuous. 'Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!' Psalm 105:4 says. Think about his wondrous work in our lives! He has sent his Word to heal us and save us from our destruction out of his steadfast love (Psalm 107:20-22) Filled with his love and Spirit we are able to pour out his love to others so they can know his love too but we have to take our eyes off ourselves and keep them fixed on Jesus. We are not the solution to any problem. Jesus is the solution to every problem.
I encourage you to seek the Lord, ask him to teach you and to make his word real in your life. He will act! And then, seek his presence daily. In his presence there is fullness of joy, there is rest and restoration, there is peace surpassing all understanding and this will be available as we battle, as we march through the darkness of this world carrying his light. Without his presence though, we will not be properly equipped for the grit of the war that is being fought. We must remain close to Him. Seeking his direction daily. Before we act and during, seek his presence. Before King David made decisions to go into battle he would ask the Lord if it was ‘good to go’, if God was with him in it. Seek his face. It won't always be simple and easy to do what he is calling us to do but in Christ there is victory.
'Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints...' Ephesians 6:10-18