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Posts tagged ‘Listening for God’

Take the Divine Dare – Listening for God

listenThe Book of Joshua records how Israel conquered and occupied Canaan.

But entering the Promised Land across the Jordan River came first. It was spring, when this river barrier was at its highest, overflowing its banks.

Now a generation whose parents had crossed the Red Sea needed to exercise faith and experience God’s power for themselves.

Interact with God’s Word:  Joshua 3:5-16

  1. Why (v. 5) must you make sure your motives are pure and your sins dealt with before expecting God to demonstrate his power?
  2.   What (v. 9) did Joshua gather the people for on the day of the crossing?
  3.   Before rushing into your day to serve God, do you make time to hear what he is saying to you?
  4.   What would have happened (v. 13) if the priests had been afraid to take that first step into the water?
  5. Should you expect God to provide a solution to your problem before you trust him and move ahead with what you know you should do?
  6. How would the parting of the waters (v. 16) have impacted all those who crossed the riverbed?
  7.   What would have been the psychological impact on the Canaanites when the entire Israelite nation crossed the Jordan at flood stage?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to make clear to you what step of obedience he is asking you to take so that he can demonstrate his power in and through your life.

Joshua 3:5-1

5 Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.”

6 In the morning Joshua said to the priests, “Lift up the Ark of the Covenant and lead the people across the river.” And so they started out and went ahead of the people.

7 The Lord told Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites. They will know that I am with you, just as I was with Moses. 8 Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.'”

9 So Joshua told the Israelites, “Come and listen to what the Lord your God says. 10 Today you will know that the living God is among you. He will surely drive out the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites ahead of you. 11 Look, the Ark of the Covenant, which belongs to the Lord of the whole earth, will lead you across the Jordan River! 12 Now choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 The priests will carry the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall.”

14 So the people left their camp to cross the Jordan, and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. 15 It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, 16 the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho.

 

Prayer for the Week: I want to live for something bigger than myself, Lord. Give me courage to take the risks that go with the rush of having a significant impact for your kingdom.

 

 

Take the Divine Dare – A Field of Dreams Moment

listenKey Bible Verse: They went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the Word with signs following. Mark 16:20 21st Century KJV

Bonus Reading: Joshua 3:5-16

Most of us want God to part the river before we get our feet wet. Sometimes God does provide a sign that will give you just enough faith to take the first step in pursuit of your passion. But most often, in my experience, faith doesn’t follow signs; signs follow decisions.

You overcome spiritual inertia and produce spiritual momentum by making tough decisions. The tougher the decision, the more potential momentum. If you want to see God moving, you need to make a move!

I learned this lesson during our first year at [Washington DC’s] National Community Church. We’d been praying for a drummer to join our worship team for months. But I felt I needed to put some feet on my faith. So I went out and bought a $400 drum set. I bought it on a Thursday. Our first drummer showed up the next Sunday. And he was good! He was actually part of the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.

I can’t promise that signs will follow your step of faith in three minutes, three hours, or three days. But they will follow. God will sanctify your expectations, and you won’t be able to wait to see what God is going to do next.

—Mark Batterson in Wild Goose Chase

My Response: A way I’ll pray about putting feet to my faith is …

Thought to Apply: Attempt something so impossible that unless God is in it, it’s doomed to failure. —John Haggai

Adapted from Wild Goose Chase (Multnomah, 2008)

Prayer for the Week: I want to live for something bigger than myself, Lord. Give me courage to take the risks that go with the rush of having a significant impact for your kingdom.

 

 

Take the Divine Dare – Cleared for Takeoff

listenKey Bible Verse: Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat …  Matthew 14:28-29

Bonus Reading: Matthew 14:25-32

A house we rented in Los Angeles had a small window that opened from the second-story bathroom onto the roof. One evening Kim and I were in the front yard when we heard a voice from the roof calling, “Mom, Dad, look!” It was Aaron, our 8-year-old, on the ledge.

Kim ordered him back inside. But looking past his mom, he asked, “Dad, can I jump?”

I asked Aaron, “Are you going to jump sometime?”

He said, “Yeah, I think so.”

I said, “Okay, I’d rather have you jump now so if you jump and break your legs, we can take you to the hospital.”

He responded, “Dad, do you think I’ll make it?”

“I said, “You’ll make it. But try to clear the concrete and land on the grass. It’s softer.”

He stepped as far back as he could on the roof, yelled,  “Dad, catch me,” began running, and jumped.

We’ve been telling followers of Christ, “You climb back in that window. Stay in a safe place.” But we have a Father who invites us to follow him with reckless abandon. He knows when this is a jump you need to take.

—Erwin McManus in The Barbarian Way

My Response: A jump I sense the Spirit prompting me to take is …

Thought to Apply: if the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever. —Thomas Aquinas (Italian theologian & philosopher)

Adapted from The Barbarian Way (Nelson, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: I want to live for something bigger than myself, Lord. Give me courage to take the risks that go with the rush of having a significant impact for your kingdom.

 

 

Take the Divine Dare – The First Risk Was God’s

listenKey Bible Verse: Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”  – Matthew 16:24

Bonus Reading: Matt. 7:12; 10:37-39; John 15:12-13

My natural reaction to instructions like today’s Key Bible Verse and Bonus Readings is Whoa, now! That kind of faith requires one whopping big risk!

But I find the risks inherent in some of the Bible’s hardest teachings a lot more acceptable when I realize that my personal relationship with God came at great risk to him as well. God took the initial risk at creation by granting humankind free will to choose to believe and obey—or not. Then he took an even bigger risk in sending his own Son to earth to live and die to give us a clearer idea of how we could have a personal relationship with him and what that relationship could be like.

Whether I consider taking up my cross an acceptable risk is a matter of experience and perspective. Looking back over my life, I’m aware of some short-term costs. Have there been inconveniences? Of course. Have there been things I might have liked to do but didn’t because of my faith values? Absolutely. Did I wonder if I was missing out on some things? Sure. But I will tell you this: I honestly don’t regret a single time that I ever took a risk for my faith.

—Ben Carson in Take the Risk!

My Response: I can best express my gratitude for divine risk-taking by …

Thought to Apply: He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot loose. —Jim Elliot (slain missionary to Ecuador)

Adapted from Take the Risk! (Zondervan, 2007)

Prayer for the Week: I want to live for something bigger than myself, Lord. Give me courage to take the risks that go with the rush of having a significant impact for your kingdom.

 

 

Take the Divine Dare – Rediscover Amazement

listenKey Bible Verse: Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.  – Isaiah 40:26

Dig Deeper: Isaiah 40:26-31

We live in an art gallery of divine creativity and yet are content to gaze only at the carpet. Or what is pathetically worse, we demand more. More signs. More proof. More hat tricks. As if God were some vaudeville magician we could summon for a dollar.

How have we grown so deaf? How have we grown so immune to awesomeness? Why are we so reluctant to be staggered or thunder-struck?

Perhaps the frequency of the miracles blinds us to their beauty. After all, what [excitement] is there in springtime or a tree blossom? Don’t the seasons come every year? Aren’t there countless seashells just like this one?

Bored, we say ho hum and replace the remarkable with the regular, the unbelievable with the anticipated. Science and statistics wave their unmagic wand across the face of life, squelching the oohs and aahs and replacing them with formulas and figures.

Would you like to see Jesus? Do you dare be an eyewitness of His Majesty? Then rediscover amazement.

The next time you hear a baby laugh or see an ocean wave, take note. Pause and listen as His Majesty whispers ever so gently, “I’m here.”

—Max Lucado in The Lucado Inspirational Reader

My Response: I will listen carefully for ways God “whispers ever so gently, ‘I’m here.'”

Thought to Apply: You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own.—Paulo Coelho (Brazilian writer)

Adapted from The Lucado Inspirational Reader (Thomas Nelson, 2011)

Prayer for the Week: Dear Creator, I praise you for everyday miracles that proclaim your glory and reveal your majesty; awaken my soul to your presence that breaks through “in the most common of earth’s corners.”

 

 

Take the Divine Dare – Weird Dorm Dialogue

listenKey Bible Verse: He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life … will live for Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:15

Bonus Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:13-17

Transferring to Wheaton College as a junior made forming new friendships difficult. But one day I met a couple of students who lived on my floor and said they’d stop by my room that evening. I thought they might want to play some basketball or make an ice cream run. But when they knocked, one said, “Greg, we’re wondering what role God would have you play in what he’s doing in the world.”

 What kind of nuts are these? I thought. But I replied, “Well, uh, I haven’t really nailed that down.”

“What?” they said, with obvious astonishment. “Don’t you know that when we become followers of Jesus, we no longer live for ourselves but for him? So again, Greg, what role are you going to play in what he’s doing in the world?”

Their abrupt challenge proved a life-changing moment in my life. Those two young men took me to interview for the Student Missionary Project. And that led to short-term ministry in Japan.

In everything I’ve done with my life since—working at a recording ministry, pastoring a church, and now presiding over Trinity International University—I repeat their question: “What role would God have me play in what he’s doing in the world?”

—Gregory Waybright in College Faith

My Response: If asked this question, how would I answer?

Adapted from College Faith (Andrews Univ. Press, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: I want to live for something bigger than myself, Lord. Give me courage to take the risks that go with the rush of having a significant impact for your kingdom.

 

 

Take the Divine Dare – Too Risky?

listenWho Said It … Ben Carson

Ben Carson had a childhood dream of becoming a physician. Growing up in a single-parent home with dire poverty, poor grades, and low self-esteem appeared to rule out that dream. But his mother, with only a third-grade education, challenged her sons to strive for excellence.

As a brain surgeon, Dr. Carson has gained worldwide recognition for successfully separating several Siamese twins, and for refining techniques for radical brain surgery to stop intractable seizures.

What He Said … Too Risky?

We can’t remove all risk from faith. The idea of pursuing a personal relationship with a God we can’t see or touch, whose existence can’t be proven scientifically, seems a risky proposition in itself to many people.

Making that relationship the central motivation of your life, the foundation of your most basic values, and the inspiration of your life goals may seem an unreasonable, terrifying, even paralyzing risk.

Some people of faith pay a terribly high toll for taking a stand. Because I’m out in public doing a lot of speaking, I hear from other scientists who tell me they share my Christian beliefs but don’t feel they can be public about them. It’s just too risky to go against the politically correct conventions of the scientific community.

I can’t help wishing more of them would take heart and remember the rallying cry of the apostle Paul in the eighth chapter of Romans, “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Adapted from Take the Risk! (Zondervan, 2007)

Prayer for the Week: I want to live for something bigger than myself, Lord. Give me courage to take the risks that go with the rush of having a significant impact for your kingdom.