Have you ever bought something and tried to put it together without the instructions?
A few years ago, we bought a file cabinet, and I ventured to put this together all by myself. I got the whole thing put together, and the time came to put the drawers in. They wouldn't fit all the way in. As I evaluated the situation and my ability was questioned by my helpmeet, I had to go back to the instructions to see what I did wrong. I eventually got the drawers in, after noticing my extreme ignorance, and now have a beautiful file cabinet.
What is the moral of the story? Many of us go through life without regarding the instructions. We feel like we can do it all on our own and never look at the guidelines. In our walk with God, He has given us a magnificent set of instructions. They are very clear, precise, and up to date. As a matter of fact, they are infallible and without error.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3:16-17)
Going through life without ever looking at the instruction book, the Bible, will cause us to go through life with ignorance. You see, there are things written, that if abided by, would save us a lot of heartache. The Bible clearly gives us a map of the things that should be done and shouldn't be done. It also gives us examples of men and women who tried it the right way and those who chose to do it the wrong way.
The old saying goes, "A dumb man never learns from his mistakes, a smart man will learn from his mistakes and an extremely brilliant and wise man will learn from others mistakes." Why is it that people choose to do it their own way without following the instructions? PRIDE. It is manly to be able to put together a file cabinet without the instructions, right? Wrong! I challenge you to indulge in the instruction manual; learn it, study it and know it. You will never regret having learned the greatest book of all, The Word of God.
For months, this thought has been on my mind. How are we living our life? Are we living to make a difference? We are all born and one day we will all die, so how do we live life in the in-between? Compared to eternity, our lives are short. 70-80 years is a good long life but compared to eons, our life is like mere seconds. So why do we not take more time to think about how we are living? Why do so many tend to waste their lives on vain pursuits?
My challenge to every person is to evaluate your life and determine if you are living your dash well. Are you making an impact on other's lives? Are your pursuits truly God's Will for your life? When you stand before God will He be pleased with the way you lived your dash?
Last night, we started a new Bible Study called the Fasted Life. It has been something on my heart for a couple years now. I believe God is calling believers to a life of fasting and prayer. What power could we walk in if we took serious the Scripture's mandate to fast and pray. In the message last night, I shared a writing from about 20 years ago that I wrote after my first full fast from food. Below you will find the full article, written some years ago, describing that fast.
From the book Thoughts For The Journey:
What is it like when you try to fast?
As the death angel loomed over my bed, I could sense the end of my short life drawing near. My head wracked with pain and feeling nauseated, I pled with God to take me home. I then drifted off to sleep and awoke in the morning, to my surprise. What happened to me? Why was the death angel at my door? It is called fasting. Though I exaggerated a great deal, I did experience a great deal of hardship. After all, crucifying the flesh is not easy.
For all of you super spirituals out there who can fast without it even affecting you, you might not want to read this. For those of us that it does affect, take cheer; it is natural. Fasting is helping to subject your flesh in order to give God more control. Do not get this confused with punishment.
A fast is where you decide you are going to give up food, in order to draw closer to God and seek Him. It is not an easy doing. It was always easy for me to fast two meals, but to go for three, it was like pulling teeth with no anesthetic. I LOVE TO EAT and so does my body, however, by fasting you show God you mean business. Now I don't suggest to anyone fasting a whole day until you can fast a meal. Likewise don't go on a forty day fast unless directed by God Almighty. This is serious business. As I awoke that morning somewhat refreshed but weak, I wondered why did it affect me like this?
My conclusion is that we are so used to food and all the preservatives, caffeine, and much more, that our body has withdrawals. The more you fast the more your body will become adapted to doing without those things. It should never become easy lest it lose its meaning. It should get to the place that it can be more spiritual. It is tough for me to pray with a migraine and hunger pains. I pray better when I have eaten. We should never fast out of ritual but always with a goal of what we want to see accomplished. Do not fast just to fast. Fast for a deeper knowledge of God. For all of you who can sympathize with these same traits of fasting, can I get an AMEN?
Here is the video from the Fasted Life Intro Message.
Watch more messages here.
Seated around a conference table in a dimly lit room, were gather several men. All of them were there for the same purpose. The leader of the meeting was assessing each person’s worth. On the table in front of each man was an application and a spreadsheet with many calculations. Each paper was different. Each man flipped through his paperwork as the “boss” discussed an all-important subject: Worth. What was each man worth?
The thing I noticed about each man was that they were all about my age. They were in the same age bracket I was. As each of us looked at our spreadsheets and figures calculating our worth I noticed that most of us had the same figures. Basically the same worth. Yet, among our group, was one man who stood out. When I noticed His paperwork, it far over-shadowed each of the other men. One’s worth recorded 92,000, while another was 111,000. I wasn’t allowed to see my own figures but I noticed the other man’s. The boss was looking at his figures. 17,000,000.
I thought to myself, “He’s the same age as I am. How could he have built up such a figure in his short life? What investments did he make? What did he do that I didn’t and what could I do to be where he is?” Then I noticed his spreadsheets. Where most of ours had a few pages of investments made, his read like a book. Page after page of investments.
It was then I noticed the heading above our figures. It wasn’t how much money we were worth. The heading read simply, “Spiritual Life”. This man was rich spiritually and we were lagging way behind. As soon as I noticed the heading on each of the papers, I awoke from my dream.
Instantly, the Scripture came to mind, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2
I asked myself the question as I awoke, “If I prospered as much as my soul did, how much would I be worth?” I believe it was intentional that I was not able to see the figures of my “spiritual life” chart. Perhaps it was the mercy of God saving me from the shock of deficiency. Or maybe God was just speaking to me about the pursuit my life should be taking. If this text of Scripture is interpreted correctly, prosperity is linked to my soul’s prosperity. You can be wealthy financially and be spiritually bankrupt. You can have a nice home with all the amenities while your spiritual house is crumbling.
What matters at the end of the day is not how much we have in the bank but rather what spiritual investments we have made. So often, we are adamant to make investments that will ensure us financial security, but forget about the investments that will help our soul to prosper. I am stirred that my life must have investments of prayer, God’s Word, sharing Christ and serving Him fully. Yielding in obedience. When the “boss” looks over my spreadsheet of investments, I want it to read like a book.
One last note: the fact that everyone in the dream was my same age, reveals that spiritual life is not reserved for those who are older in the faith. It all has to do with how we invest in God’s Kingdom. No matter our age, our soul can be as prosperous as a saint who has walked with God for 50 years. It is all about the investment.
What are you worth spiritually?
An excerpt from Danny's Book, Thoughts For The Journey.
In Don Ross' book, Turnaround Pastor, he had a chapter that spoke of the power of prayer in the life of, not only the pastor but of the church as well. For years, I have been on a journey to have a dynamic prayer life and have always desired to help our church discover the same for their lives. In Ross' book, he gives a pattern for prayer. Not a formula but a plan that will help people keep focused on the different aspects of prayer.
I have noticed through my 20 years of pastoring that people have a difficult time praying at length. Not because of a lack of desire, as much as it is from a lack of know how. How do I pray for an hour, thirty minutes or even ten minutes?
This 10 minute prayer plan is broken down to go through these 10 points and spend a minute each on them. Once you have prayed for 10 minutes, if you want to increase, spend two minutes a point. By increasing the amount of time per point, you have increased your over all prayer time.
We should never be afraid of using a plan when we pray, however, we should also allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. If He wants us to spend more time on one part or even skip another, there is freedom to do so.
Here is Don Ross' plan for prayer:
This weekend was Back to Church Sunday and a great deal of preparation went into getting things ready. As we were picking up supplies at Sam's, we ran into a gentleman who struck up a conversation with us. Apparently, people take notice when you have nearly 400 hamburger and hot dog buns. He asked if we were running the concession stand at the University of Arkansas Game and we shared with him what we were doing.
I love how God opens doors for us to share about what He is doing in the Kingdom of God. This gave us an intro to talk about church. We let him know that we were hosting a church service and car show and would be feeding everyone for free. Sometimes people don't associate free with church. Too often, the church asks the community for things but the church doesn't always give back. We invited him to church and to the car show. We talked a few more moments and parted ways.
About 5 minutes later, this same gentleman tracked us down and found us. He said, "I can't make it to your event because I have other things at that time, but I would like to give you this to help with your costs. I like what you are doing." He handed me $40.00. I was blown away by His generosity. I was left thinking, "Here is a complete stranger that is giving money to a church and a person that he knows nothing about."
For me, I left that encounter with a couple of things running through my mind.
1.) I believe God was smiling on our event. This man's gift was a validation that God is paying attention to what His church is doing.
2.) It challenged me to be more generous. To think that a total stranger sowed into God's kingdom stirs me to give more.
How often do we overlook needs? Worse yet, how many times do we fail to heed God's nudging to bless someone else or their ministry? I believe this gentleman in Sam's was just following the leading of the Holy Spirit, even though he may not have realized it. What blessed me more than anything was the fact that this man had received a huge blessing from being generous. The look on his face told the story of a heart that was touched by God because of his giving.
When we learn to be generous, we will find a greater joy, a more permanent happiness. I have rarely seen I generous person who is miserable. But Misers? Well let's just say they are MISERable. I leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul who wrote about having the attitude of generosity. "You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT
Thanks for stopping by. I am looking forward to sharing with you what God has laid on my heart and what He is doing not only in my life but also in the life of His church. For many years, I have wanted to redirect my blogging to focus, not only on those in my church family, but also to reach out to those in ministry. Especially, those who pastor smaller churches, like mine. Keep checking back for things that might interest you. Whether you are a pastor, church attender or someone who is interested in the topics on this blog. Also, feel free to comment. I would love to here from you.