This is a piece of Old Gold that I had sent out awhile back before heading off a mission trip to Rwanda. I was extremely young in my faith and had no idea what to expect or how God would use me. Learning this lesson helped a ton with this trip, putting serving and planting seed in a clearer perspective. This lesson is bigger than just opportunities like that, it’s an everyday lesson we can use in any area of our life. I’m excited to share it with you and I pray it can be an encouragement to you today!
Ecclesiastes 11:5-8/ “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good. Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun. So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.”
Coming up on a mission trip in two days, my thoughts have been nothing but how can I serve these people the best, how can I bring a lot of people to Christ, how can I feel proud about what I’m doing? Those questions are just questions and in all reality, I will never know the answers. God works in such a mysterious way through the Holy Spirit and it’s not some game-plan or math problem we can figure out the answer to. All we can do is read and apply His Word, stay in strong prayer, and have faith that everything will work out according to His will which is basically sow your seed. What I tend to forget is when sowing seed and expect immediate growth. That’s like a farmer putting out seed then sitting in a lawn chair saying “okay I did my part now I better see a plant soon!” When the spirit is at work there’s no telling what is going to happen. Instead of only seeing a field yielding tons of crops, look back when that field was just a bunch of dirt, living in darkness. I used to be just dirt and I know I’m going to have a lot more days ahead of being just dirt no matter how much I want stuff to grow. If we are going to expect all the seeds we plant to grow we are going to be so disappointed because it’s up to God to allow the harvest. All we can do on our end is plant, rejoicing His name in the dirt and in the harvest. Don’t expect things of yourselves whether you are in the mission field, in the church, or just in your everyday life because we will never be satisfied in what we can produce. Continue having all your faith in what God produces, even when the field looks like just dirt, God is working through it with the power of the Holy Spirit for the most random and biggest harvest you’ve ever seen, and for the glory of His Kingdom.
“Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him. Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.“/John 4:27-35
These verses from John 4 come from the story about Jesus meeting the Woman at the Well. It’s a story that I have went back to time and time again in my short Christian life because there is so much to take away from it. Today, I was thinking about a situation that I’m going through where God was teaching me some awesome lessons then this example of Jesus hit me!!! I’m so excited to share this awesome Word with you today and I also highly recommend going back to read John 4 it it’s entirety, you won’t be disappointed.
The context of this story is that Jesus and His disciples are in the middle of His earthly ministry that only lasted a few years. They are on the road traveling to Galilee, I’m sure you can imagine, Jesus was a busy man. He had many people to see, miracles to preform, and down the road saving the world. It’s odd though because in verse 4 it says, “Now he had to go through Samaria.” So you’re probably thinking Samaria was on the way to Galilee and He had to cross through there to get to His destination but nope. Samaria was actually out of Jesus’ way, if He used a GPS it would tell Him this was a detour from His journey. If Jesus is in the middle of what was the most world changing ministry ever known, why would He take a detour. Notice in the verse that it says, “Now He had to go,” why did He have to go through Samaria? In verse 34 Jesus answers why He goes where He goes, the secret to why He does everything He does. “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” Jesus gets fed not from physical food but He lives and is fully filled by doing God’s Will.
Jesus’ example here is so so awesome! So often in my life I get caught up wanting to do what I want to do or dreaming about doing great things for God in the future. There’s nothing wrong with being a dreamer, having vision for your future, but when I looked at his part of the story I was stunned that with what Jesus had ahead of Him and the short time He had to minister, why would He take detours to talk to a woman at the well. Not only that but the Samaritans were seen as the lowest of the low in Jews eyes. Jesus wasn’t operating out of anything but God’s will so instead of getting caught up in the awesome things God was going to use Him for down the road, Jesus was focused on following God’s will right then, each moment every second. Dreams and having vision for what’s to come is awesome, it helps us strive for more but sometimes it can be easy for us to get caught up in the future to the point we forget about what God wants to use us for in the present.
I have made this mistake more lately than ever so seeing Jesus’ example here is so convicting but also perspective shifting. I want to look to a better tomorrow where I’m doing all these awesome things and am this greater version of Jordan but in the meantime I lose focus on the right now. Jesus stops to talk to this woman at the well which turned out to be Him witnessing to her. A woman that had many husbands so she was basically a prostitute in this time, there’s so many things about why Jesus stopped to do this that doesn’t make any sense in our human eyes. It says the disciples came back from town where they were gathering food and supplies to find Jesus talking to this woman. They were “surprised” and probably thinking the same thing we are. Why? They ask Jesus if He wants some food which He probably needed but God’s will was too great to even stop to eat. God’s will filled Jesus like nothing of this earth could and God’s will was being played out right in front of them.
Remember Jesus stopped to talk to this Samaritan woman who was a prostitute and an enemy to the Jews. Jesus took this detour to Samaria when He didn’t have to but “he had to.” We sit here surprised thinking, “Jesus why? This makes no sense?” Although God’s will may not make sense to us horizontal thinking and seeing humans. Look at this. Jesus witnessed to this woman at the well telling her of the “living water” that she can have with Him, a water that never runs out but last eternally. The woman was so thrown off at first, when feeling convicted about who she was tried to change the direction of the conversation but Jesus kept speaking truth to her and her eyes were opened to see the beautiful message of the Gospel, to see the Savior right before her eyes. So she took off to town telling everyone! “I know this may sound crazy but you’ve got to see this man who knows everything about me, I know that sounds crazy too but He may be the Messiah.” So as crazy as Jesus’ actions have sounded, as crazy as they seemed to this woman at the well, and as crazy as it probably sounded to the people in the town, we begin to see the purpose God had behind it all. All these people come out of the town to see Jesus and looked what happens in verses 39-41,
“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.”
What looked so crazy was actually God’s will being fulfilled by Jesus. The disciples asked Him to eat because that actually makes sense but with the people coming Jesus tells them of what matters much more than filling ourselves with our hunger for things of this world. Doing the Will of God, that’s it. I sit here so much and try to make sense of God’s will, try to figure it out but God’s Will is simple. It may not make a lick of sense but just keep moving with Him through life and you will step into situations and opportunities that you could’ve never dreamed up on your own. It’s great to have great intentions for the future of what you’re going to do and who you are going to be but to live in God’s will, it’s not a “one day” thing, it’s attacking everything that God has placed in front of you with all you’ve got. Go to Samaria and take some detours from what makes sense, talk to the woman at the well, who cares if she’s looked down upon by everybody else or maybe a prostitute, tell her of why you’re there and the Living Water that she can have access to through Jesus Christ. Just don’t waste these precious opportunities that God has given you right now in front of you, there’s a reason you are where you are and no matter how bad you want to be that 5 years down the road version you’re dreaming of or doing some awesome work for God then. The path to get there to the person God wants you to be starts right now, attacking each moment with God right now. That’s how you get to what happens down the road, it’s doing the work of God and living in His will that makes dreams become reality. Good intentions are great but they won’t get the work done. They will just hold you back from the wild, awesome work God has set right in front of you. “Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”/ John 4:35
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”/ James 1:22-25
Ran across these verses a couple of days ago and I felt convicted when I started typing out a message to you about not just hearing God’s Word but hearing then applying it. I applied this truth and MAN!!! I’m telling you, God’s Word has never been more real to me!! The reason I’m so excited is because there has been so many days where I send these messages and I am just plugging in verses that fit my experiences that day or verses that I know I can type a lot about. I bet you think since I send these everyday that I don’t have this problem but you’re definitely wrong. I struggle with this just as much as the next person. I just want to be honest here with you so that if this is something you struggle with then that’s okay but let’s dig into this awesome Word and see if we can move past glancing or hearing God’s Word. Let’s read it, chew on it, think about it intensely and try to squeeze every ounce of truth that God has for us out of it.
So does anyone do a daily devotion or set out some time in your day to, let’s say read your Bible for 10 minutes? I’m sure a lot of us do something along those lines but let’s ask this question and be honest with yourself. If someone came up to you at the end of the day and asked, “what did you read this morning?” Honestly, I know there’s a lot of days I answer that as a big fat IDK! Maybe you can remember exactly what you read, so this same person comes back to you and asks, “how did you apply it to your life?” UH OH!! Once again be honest with yourself and once again I sit here convicted because I have went so many days reading and picking up knowledge but that’s all it is. Just stuff swimming around in my brain. It’s convicting to think about all the time we waste in our precious lives, living in struggle mode and feeling defeated when God has given us His Word as instruction to help us on this journey. His Word helps us see Him in a bigger light and when we are walking in His light, things are much different than a life depended on what we have.
It’s so easy to glance right over Bible verses and speed through our “quiet times” everyday. We do it more to check off our Christian checklist than actually applying the lessons God gives us to learn through applying it. I’m preaching to myself on this so if your toes hurt from getting stepped on then good! That means we’re both learning something here that will really help us. With the easy thing to do being just reading the Word, then going about our day like nothing happened. We tell ourselves we’re good because we spent that time reading our Bibles and we can tell you all about it but does anything change in your life? Probably not. We walk through everyday with this checklist mentality and James says when we do this we are only fooling ourselves and honestly hurting ourselves. I thought about the days I used to have conditioning for basketball before basketball season started. The purpose of all this running was to get in shape and prepare ourselves for all the running we’d do when the actual games started. I also remember when one of our coaches had us do drills, he wasn’t too good at paying attention to everybody so we’d take any chance we could to not do the drill all the way. We’d get by with it without him ever knowing but do you think we were as ready as we could’ve been when the season came around? Nope! We thought we were helping ourselves by not having to run as much but in all honesty we were hurting ourselves.
It’s the same way with reading God’s Word. Knowledge is all good and well but knowledge without action is just knowledge. Sure you can recite some verses or answer some Bible trivia questions but how does that help prepare you for the season of life you’re living? It doesn’t. James is telling us here to not just glance at God’s Word but look deeply into it. It’s not just reading and closing the book or your Bible app, it’s looking intensely into what God is speaking to you. I prayed over these verses asking God to open my heart and mind to help me see what message He wanted me to see and how can it be applied to my life? I can’t remember the last time I did that and guess what! I saw this Word deeper than I’ve seen God’s Word speak to me in a long long time. I’ve spent so long trying to look the part and sneaking by doing the minimum, it was crazy the difference.
Just like basketball conditioning God gives us His Word to help us, to make us better, stronger and more equipped for anything life throws at us. How awesome is that? God gave us His Word on paper to help us? When you think about it like that in the truth of it it makes you wonder why we don’t strive for the maximum out of His Word. When we look deeply into God’s Word seeking desperately to find the message He has for us in each word and JUST DO IT! That’s where true knowledge comes from. True knowledge is tied to experience. To see God’s Word the in the biggest ways, JUST DO IT, and you’ll be amazed at what you see God do in your life. Then we begin to see why God left these scriptures for us, going out and applying God’s Word in your life, deeply believing it and acting on it, that’s where you see God’s Word is life that He breathes into us. Instead of being deceived by our “do enough” attitude, God shows us where we need to get better, and through that gives us the Word to grow, learn, and move forward in our lives past our struggles and whatever else comes our way. It’s God’s perfect Word that sets the believer free from all of the self-imposed limitations we put on ourselves by being only knowledgeable hearers.
That last part of verse 25, where it says “if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” It’s easy to look at that and think well if I just do enough then God will rain down some blessings on me. I guess that’s the religious checklist mentality coming back. It’s not do enough and God will bless you. The blessings that God brings to someone who hears and applies His truth to their lives is from what happens when applied. That freedom and life that God breathes into us when we deeply meditate on His Word and JUST DO IT mentioned in the last paragraph that’s the blessing to be had. Living out God’s Word is the biggest blessing because you’ll begin to see and know God more deeper than ever before. His Word opens up your heart and mind to see His truth, you’ll no longer look at your circumstances as tough or impossible. With God’s vision those circumstances are just opportunities to get better, learn, and get stronger than you were before they arrived. Seeing God so intimately and clearly shines His powerful and consuming light to every situation, when you think you usually would feel defeated and hopeless. God’s light shines on that old darkness showing you He has made you victorious even before the victory is in sight. Those lies the devil likes to throw in your mind to hold you back, God’s truth squashes every lie and shows you with Him, you are free from all that stuff that used to get you down. The Holy Spirit that dwells within you speaks God’s truth above those lies, reminding you of what God’s Word says.
When we deeply seek God the message God has for you in His Word, and then hold tight to it, living under His truth, everything changes. The blessing from God comes from not just hearing, but hearing and living. He’s given us no excuse to stay in the same place tomorrow that we were in today. His Word is an aid to push us forward in life, to grow us and strengthen us, and it’s sitting right in front you. Let’s not hold ourselves back anymore from the powerful life-changing truth that God has given us access to. No excuses, JUST DO IT!!!!!!
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. “/Hebrews 11:1
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,”/ Hebrews 12:28
Hope you enjoy this little video about faith! I was at work today and had my own run-in with faith. I was working as a cashier and a lady came through my line. I said, “hey, how are you doing today?” You know, you usually get the same responses, “good, how are you?” Maybe every once in awhile you’ll get an older person that goes on and on about the weather and the occasional crazy conversation when somebody walks through with some personality to em. This lady just cut it to me straight. She responded, “well, it could be better, found out today that the job I’m working is going to end next month.” I noticed something immediately, she wasn’t complaining when she said that, her confident tone was sounding like it was no big deal. I got to talking to her more and I told her, “I hate to hear that, hope everything works out.” I didn’t really know what to say to be honest but she told me that she was buying those groceries getting ahead on the upcoming situation in her life. She said she had mouths to feed so she had to make it work. Then she said something that stuck with me when I was trying to be nice and offer my condolences to her, “the Lord is going to take care of us, He always does, just gotta keep going and trusting in Him.” Living in the Bible belt of the South it’s not unusual to hear someone say the Lord is in control or just got to keep having faith in the Lord. This woman wasn’t just casually throwing around her faith though, I could tell by her confident tone, the way she was handling things preparing for her kids to make sure they had food to eat, and the fact that she kept saying it.
That random encounter with her today put everything in a whole new world of perspective. She had probably some of the worst possible news and she wasn’t sitting around pouting about it, she was moving in her faith, she was speaking her faith. I can’t say if I got that news with not even kids that depend on me that I would’ve reacted that way. Most likely I would’ve been freaking out. This lady was so confident in what God was going to do that she wasn’t moved or shaken when resistance came in her life. She stood firm in the Lord, she wasn’t sulking or acting like a victim. She was still getting the job done and even though she couldn’t see the Lord’s provision in future employment, her finances, or how she would feed her kids, she had faith. She had faith in God’s loving and faithful provision that she was literally using what God had blessed her with and preparing for the next blessings God was going to send her way. She was living like a sponsor for the Christian Nike brand, “JUST HAVE FAITH.” There’snot one but if there was you know what I’m saying. I literally looked at the next guy in line and he had on Nike pants that said “Just do it” in huge letters. So it hit me, “Just do it, JUST HAVE FAITH.”
This woman gave me a stronger faith by just being and hearing her example. Instead of giving up, living defeated and sitting and sulking in her misfortune. She JUST HAD FAITH, and she continued to live and walk in what she knew God was going to do in her life. It’s amazing to me that an encounter that simple can be such a lesson for us all but that’s how God works. As simple as God works, that’s as simple as we are called to live. Just keep moving and battling no matter how hard the hits may seem at the current moment because each and every trial we face we can look to God who will give us plenty to get through it. We just keep stepping and walking through the storm knowing the Lord has us and by the time we get out He has an even bigger blessing awaiting us. Maybe it’s an answered prayer, a breakthrough, or you just learn so much through the battle you faced in the storm, now God has made you stronger, wiser and ready for the next time you get some bad news. Faith doesn’t enable but it points our eyes to the One who is able showing us that with God, we’re unshakable.
“A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.”/ Proverbs 16:9
Heard this verse in the sermon this morning and the Lord shed so much light to so much of my life through this powerful truth. I pray that God can use this message to reach you and move you closer to Him. I write about “being stuck” a lot because it’s something that can so easily happen to us in our lives. It happens to me all the time to be completely honest but who wants to be stuck? Not me! Then how come so often we find ourselves stuck, stuck in our problems, stuck in our addictions, sins, at the end of the day just stuck in ourselves? It can happen to any of us and the scary part is sometimes we become so stuck that we are completely blinded to how stuck we really are, the effects we have on people around us, and even though we tell ourselves little comfortable lies to justify and rationalize our current standing in life and it’s problems. We can fool ourselves all day long but we’re still right where we started, stuck.
The preacher this past Sunday morning mentioned the fear of failure and how it can effect us. The biggest effect this fear of failing causes is in our faith. So now we’re stuck, stuck in our itty bitty faith. I find myself sometimes so scared to do something at the thought that I might fail that I decide not to do it. Or I tell myself, “well I’ll just do it later.” The biggest thing I struggle with in this procrastination to move in my faith is planning. I’ll build this perfect, huge, really awesome plan, I’ll spend a ton of time on it (procrastinating), and when it’s time to execute the plan, I make excuses like, “it’s not perfect enough, it needs to be just right before I test it out.” We can plan, hype it up like we’re doing something really awesome but you have to ask yourself, am I really moving anywhere?
One of the biggest excuses I make for sitting still in the areas of my life that it’s obvious God wants to change, He wants me to move forward past them, He wants me to trust in His guidance and strength to conquer the areas of my life that is holding me back from being better and living a life that gives Him all the glory! Sometimes I say, “well what if God doesn’t want me to go that way or do this thing?” Don’t get me wrong, we are supposed to seek God’s guidance and discernment in every situation but we aren’t supposed to use God’s will as a crutch to our lack of faith. The freedom that God gives us as believers comes in knowing that even if we go the wrong way, if we make the wrong decision and fail, God is always there. The powerful creator of everything has His hand in every part of our lives and He is in full control all the time. God doesn’t tell us to sit back waiting on the Heaven’s to open up with a deep voice coming down saying, “Jordan, my son, go this way, do this.” God says to move in your hearts, seek His will and guidance the whole way through but just move. Fear of failing and not being good enough can have a crippling effect on our lives. The good thing is when we do fail, when we do go a way we’re not supposed to go God is like bumper cars. You’re driving one direction chasing after another car to bump and a car comes out of nowhere bumping you, so you were going straight ahead now your knocked facing another direction. God has a way of working through our mistakes and struggles showing up outta nowhere like a bumper car. We think we’re going the right direction and BOOM! God redirects you sending you east instead of west.
What excuses do we have to stay still and stuck in our lives when God says just move in the plans and passions your heart takes you and if it’s not where He wants us He will redirect us to the right direction. That truth gave so much freedom to me and the parts of my life I’m stuck in. I’m scared I may fail, more importantly fail God but we see God the biggest when we take those steps of faith out of our struggle into the unknown, those are the moments where we learn to lean on God, we learn to depend on Him and the faithful provision He provides in our lives. God didn’t give us this life to spend it sitting stuck in fear at the thought of messing up. God promises us that He will direct our steps, He will lead us to victory even if we do take a few steps our way and fail, we can trust that God will redirect us into His ways, into His victory, and into the freedom He has given us no matter how many times we’ve messed up in the past. It’s God’s faithfulness that will set us on this adventure of life in the most awesome ways, our faithfulness is only to step and trust. Here are some promises from God that show us even more why being stuck in our fear of failure is so daggum crazy;
“But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.”/2 Corinthians 2:14
You see what God does!!! Lead us captives in the victory of Christ!!! And when we move and live in this promise, the people around us get to see and smell the sweetness, freedom, and victory of Christ!!!! This thought convicted me a lot, “is my fear of failing and moving forward with God in my life worth holding me back from experiencing the fullness and victory of Christ? Am I that selfish that I would rather sit comfortably in my fear, scared to mess up and move forward knowing that when I give up my fears and my life to trust God on this journey that others around me who are even more stuck and chained up by their fear by not having God to lean on, when they see God moving in my life they will see another way, they will see freedom and life in the fullest?” Think about that the next time you decide to sit still, others lives and eternities are stake and that makes moving that much more important!!!! If you fall down, God will pick you up and set you in the right direction. If you go the wrong way, BOOM!!! God redirects you to His path and His ways!!! So what are we waiting for?????