When “No, God” Becomes “No God”

In what may have been the best writing I read all year, Ann Voskamp writes:

No, God.
No God.

Is this the toxic air of the world, this atmosphere we inhale, burning into our lungs, this No, God? No, God, we won’t take what You give. No, God, Your plans are a gutted, bleeding mess and I didn’t sign up for this and You really thought I’d go for this? No, God, this is ugly and this is a mess and can’t You get anything right and just haul all this pain out of here and I’ll take it from here, thanks. And God? Thanks for nothing.

-One Thousand Gifts

Those first two lines have bounced around in my mind and in my spirit from the time I first read them. I have thought an awful lot about how often we say, “No, God.” I have thought of the times, specifically, that I have said, “No, God.”

Photo by fotogail

Or maybe I didn’t say “No.” I just didn’t listen. I didn’t obey when I knew exactly what it was that God was wanting me to do. I felt His leading. I walked past a way of escape. I made excuses for my “No, God” but that is exactly what I was saying to Him, “No.”

We are all guilty. We have all done it at one time or another.

“No, God. That’s not what I had in mind.”

“No, God. I like my way better.”

“No, God. I really don’t think that is necessary.”

“No, God. What would people say?”

And eventually we become used to the wounds of our poor decisions and wrong desires. The skin grows thick and the calluses form hard. And if we aren’t careful our, “No, God” becomes a “No God.”

Isn’t it amazing how one simple comma takes us from a conversation, refusing to obey God and accept what He offers, to denying His very existence!

Say “Yes” today!

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In Spite Of The Donkey Chase

The following is a guest post written by a good friend of mine, Jonathan King.  He is also a contributing writer for the www.theonenessbridge.com.

1 Samuel 9:2-3 (From the Amplified Bible)

2 Kish had a son named Saul, a choice young man and handsome; among all the Israelites there was not a man more handsome than he. He was a head taller than any of the people. 3 The donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. Kish said to Saul, Take a servant with you and go, look for the donkeys.

The Bible tells us about the day that the donkeys of Saul’s father were lost.  In those times, much like today, donkeys were among the least desirable animals to have. Lets be honest… Donkeys are a pain! They never seem to want to go where you want them to go, and they rarely will do what you want them to do. And yet when they were lost, Saul is sent to find them.

Saul, as described here in 1st Samuel, is a man wrapped in an incredible heritage. Seven generations of Saul’s family is traced out and history would tell us that success surrounded his lineage. Not only did he have the heritage, but the Bible says that he was the most handsome man in all of Israel! Saul had it going on! But today, he is sent to find some lost DONKEYS!

 
 

Photo by h.koppdelaney

 

If we were to be honest, most of us become slightly irritated when we are sent on donkey chases. You know what I’m talking about… Its those tasks from the Lord that even though I may not say it, I am definitely thinking “Seriously Lord? Don’t you have somebody else to do this?” I’m sure that Saul wasn’t thrilled about going to hunt down those donkeys. He would never have said it to his father, but you better believe when he got out of hearing distance, that servant heard his frustration!

Donkey chases have so much in common with my life it seems. How?

  • Did you know that most donkeys are sterile? They are incapable of producing ANYTHING! Have you ever been given a task that didn’t seem as though was capable of producing any thing of value?
  • A donkey is almost always associated with being a pain and hard to be around. Have you ever been given a task from God to love someone who maybe was a little difficult to be around?

I think you get the picture. The reality is that any of the servants of Saul’s’ household could have easily been sent to find these ignorant donkeys, but daddy sent Saul. And so Saul departed on his donkey chase.

Have you ever realized that it was while Saul was in the middle of a job that someone else SHOULD have been doing that he met the Prophet who anointed him as King of Israel? You see, God is able to do AMAZING things in spite of the Donkey Chase!

I encourage you to never be discouraged about the tasks that you find yourself performing. Who knows what the Lord is trying to show you. You very well could find the greatest calling of your life… In Spite of the Donkey Chase!

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

You can’t run from the will of God.

Well…you can run but you can’t hide.  Just ask Jonah.

The will of God can be frightening at times.  We wonder how we will get from where we are to where God wants us to be.  We question our ability to fight the battles that will be required.  We question our desire to make the sacrifices that will be required.  And we struggle with the command to take up our cross.

Here is a great example; the small remnant of Israelites that were left in the promised land after Babylon’s conquest (Jer. 42).  The people asked the prophet, Jeremiah, to pray and find God’s will.  After ten days, the prophet returns with God’s answer.

“If you stay here (in the promised land and under the rule of the Babylonians) I will build you and not pull you down.  I will plant you and not pluck you up.”

But…

“If you decide to go to Egypt because you think that there you will be safe from war or famine, then you will find in Egypt the sword and the famine which you were afraid of and there you will die.”

In other words, your greatest fears will be realized in the place you run to escape the will of God.

You can run, but you can’t hide.

God is calling an army of people to dig their heels into the land of promise, the inheritance that He has given us, this wonderful Truth.  There is a battle to be fought, sacrifices to be made, and a cross to bear.  If we stay, He will build and plant us.  If we run, we run from the place of safety and into our greatest fears.

Stop running, there is nowhere to hide.

He Makes Up The Difference

When someone is saved, we say they came to Christ.  But we know that He is the one who seeks.

He makes up the difference.

When salvation results in a radical change we say, “look how far they’ve come.”  But He is the one who traveled as far as the east  is from the west.

He makes up the difference.

All throughout the Word of God we find man making a move toward God, and God making up the difference.

I could name many examples but let’s consider the instance of Peter’s imprisonment (Acts 12).  Herod had killed James and now he was keeping Peter until after Easter when he would bring him before the people.  The night before Peter was to brought out, he was heavily guarded, tightly bound, and fast asleep between two guards.

Did you catch that?  Peter’s life was going to end soon and here he is fast asleep!  How was Peter sleeping at a time like this?  He knew that God makes up the difference.

And God did. 

Sometime before daybreak, the angel of the Lord broke onto the scene, woke Peter up, and told him to put on his clothes and his shoes.  Peter didn’t say, “What about the chains?”  He knew that God makes up the difference.

“Put on your coat” was the angels next command.

Peter didn’t say, “What about the guards?  What about the bars?  What about the city gate?  He knew that God makes up the difference.  All Peter had to do was all he could and God would do the rest.

God, you have asked me to do something much bigger than I can do.  I will do everything I can.

You will make up the difference.

Pulling Revival From My Hat

I am currently reading John Maxwell’s latest book Everyone Communicates Few Connect.  I will be giving a review of the book for Booksneeze this weekend or early next week, but I want to take a moment now to share a brief story that Mr. Maxwell tells and some thoughts that I had.  This what Mr. Maxwell had to say…

“A few years ago, I was being interviewed on a television talk show.  The host held up a couple of my books and said, “John, I’ve read several of your books, and they are all so simple.”  His tone of voice, body language, and mannerisms made it clear to me and the audience that he did not mean it as a compliment!

My response was straightforward: “That’s true.  The principles in my books are simple to understand.  But they are not always simple to apply.”

First of, all I must admit (sorry Mr. Maxwell) that I have been that television talk show host.  I read a lot of Mr. Maxwell’s books  in my teen years and skipped several of his books because I thought they were too simple.  But he is exactly right, it is the application of those principles that is important, and having the discipline to apply the principles is not always easy!

Second, let me apply this to the Church and our desire for revival, victory over sin, and lost souls to be saved.  I think that sometimes, perhaps without realizing it, we look for some magical formula that will bring the results that we are looking for; some complex mashup of the right programs, the right atmosphere, the right charisma, the right social issues, etc.  Instead, the answer is right in front of us in the simple principles taught in the Word of God.

Read & Study your Bible.

Pray.

Fast.

Serve Others.

Worship.

Share the Gospel.

Fairly simple principles to understand.  Not always easy to put into practice.

ABRACADABRA!  Hmm…didn’t work.  I better go pray!

The Changing Question of Obedience

I have been thinking lately about this idea of obedience to the Lord and how it relates to our lifestyle.  Why do we live the way that we live?  Why do we abstain from certain things even though they are culturally acceptable?  Why holiness?  Why standards? And mostly, why do we disagree and fight and complain over these issues within the Church like we do?

I think a lot of it has to do with the changing question of obedience.  At least it should be a changing question.  The problem is that sometimes, and for some people, it never changes.  Let me explain what I mean by “changing question.”

When someone first believes, the question of obedience is, “What must I do.” (Acts 2:37)

And that is a wonderful question.  It is a question we all must ask if we are to be saved.  It is impossible to really ask this question unless you have realized the great sacrifice and love of Jesus Christ.

However, once this question has been answered in our life (we have repented, been baptized in Jesus’ name, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost according to Acts 2:38), then the question should change.  The question of a Holy Ghost filled child of God should no longer be, “What must I do?” It should be, “What can I do for Him?”

Which question have you been asking?

If our relationship with the Lord begins to stagnate, the question tends to change back to the original, “What must I do?”  And this time, it is not asked out of a spirit of conviction, but out of a sense of drudgery.  Any relationship that is driven by a sense of duty and obligation is no relationship at all.

Do you need to change your question?

Led To The Land Of Trouble

Let me ask you, when was the last time you read Joshua 7?  This chapter is loaded with important lessons needed to win the war against sin and evil in our world.  Joshua and the Israelites are fresh off of an amazing victory over the seemingly impenetrable Jericho.  Led by the hand of the Lord, the people had fought by unconventional methods to gain an unlikely victory.  However, crushing defeat lurked in the shadows of this unlikely victory.

This is where we find ourselves in Joshua 7.  Up until this point, every move the Israelites had made had been directed by God.  This time, we don’t have any record of God giving the marching orders.  Israel’s warriors were drunk on the high of victory and as a result had misplaced their confidence, relying on their own might rather the  Almighty.

On top of this, there had been a direct act of disobedience against the orders of God which had been given to the people through Joshua.  Achan had decided to keep some of the valuables that he had found in the battle of Jericho.  This disobedience is the reason given for Israel’s defeat in a battle that they should have easily won.  As a result, Achan and all his household were stoned and burned.  The place was called the Valley of Achor.  Achor means trouble.  Disobedience will always lead you to the valley of trouble.

A few lessons we can learn from Joshua 7.

1. Our greatest defeats can come on the wings of our greatest victories. 

2. We must not misplace our confidence.  Anything we do, we do through Him.

3. We will win battles that we shouldn’t be able to win through obedience and we will lose battles that we shouldn’t lose through disobedience.

Take Note.  Don’t allow yourself to be led to the land of trouble.