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Archive for October 14th, 2013

Just do it

from JO’s sermon tonight:

sometimes, God asks us to do things that don’t make sense.  it doesn’t seem logical.  it doesn’t fit into our budget, line up with our schedule.  “God, you want me to go back to college?  I’m 40 years old.”  “God, you want me to give them a gift?  I was saving those funds for my own dreams.”  too often, we over-analyze it, debate it, look at it in only in the natural.  we end up making excuses, talking ourselves out of it;  “that couldn’t be God.”  but if you’re going to reach your highest potential, you have to have bold obedience;  that means you obey even when you don’t understand it.  you just do it, even when it doesn’t make sense.  that’s what faith is all about.  If you can understand everything, you have the time, $, it’s all lined up, that doesn’t really take any faith.  God will ask you to do things that seem far out, unusual, not practical;  with every act of obedience, there is  blessing attached to it.  when you do what you know down in here God wants you to do, a blessing will follow;  God rewards obedience.

John 9:1-6 (NIV)

9 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.  “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

Jesus could have just as easily healed the blind man on the spot, but obedience activates God’s power.  he put the ball back in the blind man’s court;  he said, in effect, “if you want to be healed, you’re going to have to do something that doesn’t make sense, that’s not logical.  you’re going to have to show that you trust me, and go wash this off in the pool.”  the blind man could have wiped the mud off with his own hands and thought, “‘I’m not gonna do that, that doesn’t make sense, that’s gonna be a waste of time.”  he could have thought, “I’m blind, I can’t make it down to the pool.”  but instead of making excuses, talking himself out of it, he decided to just do it.  the healing wasn’t in the water, it was in the obedience.  when you obey, dreams come to pass, health is restored, problems turn around.  how many miracles would we see if we would simply do what we know we should do?  are you talking yourself out of something because it’s not practical, doesn’t make sense?  “I know I should volunteer, but I’m too busy.  I know I shouldn’t hang around these friends, but I don’t want to be lonely.”  no, quit putting it off and just do it.  if you’ll have bold obedience, you’ll see God’s favor in a new way.

Joshua 3:7-17 (NIV)

And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”…

13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”…

15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

 they could have sat back and thought, “as soon as God opens it, then we’ll walk toward it;  it doesn’t make sense to go now, the river’s still flowing.”  no, they took a step of faith and started walking toward the water.  what is that?  bold obedience.  the river supernaturally parted, and they walked into their promised land.  in the same way, if you’re going to make it to your promised land, it’s going to take this bold obedience.  you’re not always going to understand what God is doing;  God is not always logical.

Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

sometimes you have to turn your mind off.  if you over-analyze it, look at it only in the natural, you’ll never get off of dead center.  faith is not in your head,  it is in your heart.  down in here, you’ll know the right thing to do;  up here, you’ll have 1000 excuses, reasons why it’s not going to work out.  you’ve gotta turn your mind off and listen to your heart.  some of you are waiting for the waters to part, then you’re gonna take a step of faith, but your obedience is what causes the water to part.  you’re waiting on God, but God’s waiting on you.  if you’ll do what you know God is asking you to do, your obedience will activate the favor, increase, blessing.  much of what happens along the way are simply tests.  God is seeing, “do you trust me?  will you obey even when you don’t understand it?  will you take a step of faith, even when it doesn’t make  sense?”  you can’t out-give God.  when God asks you to do something, just do it.  if you talk yourself out of it, not only is the other person not being blessed, but you’re missing the blessing God has for you.  when you obey, a blessing is always attached to it.

when you have bold obedience, you don’t know where God is going to take you.  you don’t argue with God, reason it out, make excuses;  you just do it.  you can’t imagine the doors God is gonna open, not only for you, but for your children.  we can all obey when it’s easy, makes sense, is logical, doesn’t take any extra effort:  “I’ll go to church, tithe my income, be kind to people, have a good attitude.”  that doesn’t really take much faith.  but what about when it’s out of the ordinary, and God asks you to not only go to church, but swing by and pick up that couple that’s struggling and bring them to church with you each week?  “God, wait a minute, I’ve got a full-time job, I’m raising these children, I’m very busy.  God, they live 20 minutes out of the way.  I’m going to have to get up earlier, that’s going to take extra gas $.  God, they may want to come eat lunch with me afterwards.”  no, when God asks you to do something that takes sacrifice, is out of the ordinary, it’s because God wants to release blessings in your life that are out of the ordinary.  when you radically obey, you will be radically blessed.  God told Isaac to take a step of faith:

Genesis 26:1-3 (NIV)

26 Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you

that didn’t make sense;  there was no way to water the crops.  it looked like it would be a waste of time.  Isaac could have looked at it just in the natural, logical way and talked himself out of it, but Isaac had this bold obedience:

Genesis 26:12 (NIV)

12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him.

he didn’t talk himself out of it, get discouraged, he just kept planting.  what was he doing? sowing a radical seed.  what happened?  he reaped a radical harvest;  he received a 100-fold return.  he could have held onto those seeds for years, waiting for the conditions to be perfect;  nothing would have happened.  Isaac understood this principle;  the power was not in the seed, it was in the obedience.  that’s when miracles happen.  the conditions don’t have to be perfect;  the economy doesn’t have to be booming for you to be blessed.  you don’t have to have the most education, most talent, live in a certain neighborhood.  all the odds can be against you, but when God asks you to do something, and you don’t argue, make excuses, you just do it;  “God, I don’t understand it, but I’m going to sow a seed anyway,” that’s when you’ll see a harvest in the midst of the famine.  you’ll be blessed, even though others are struggling.  you’ll be promoted even though you weren’t the most qualified.  you’ll see dreams come to pass, even though the odds were against you.

God is looking for people who will have this bold obedience.  if God has to talk you into it, send you 7 signs before you decide to believe, no, make a decision to just do it.  “what if it’s not right and I miss God?”  then God will find you.  God would rather you take steps of faith and miss it every once in a while than play it safe your whole life and never get off dead center.  the only way you’re ever going to really know is by taking a step of faith.  God knows what He’s doing, has information you don’t have, can see what you can’t see, knows the end from the beginning.  don’t argue with God;  you’ll never win.  God knows how to get His way.  trust Him;  even when it seems far out, dare to have radical obedience.  instead of reasoning it out, making excuses, talking yourself out of it, make a decision to just do it.  the quicker you obey, the quicker God can release what He has for you.

Saul was the greatest enemy of the church;  he hated believers, and he was passionate about it:

Acts 9:1 (KJV)

9 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples…

Acts 9:1-14 (NIV)

Saul’s Conversion

9 … He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision,“Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,” he answered.

11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

you can imagine what Anonias must have thought;  “God, you want me to go pray for the man who’s actively trying to kill us, hunting us down?  that’s too dangerous, I’m not going to go!!”

Acts 9:15-18 (NIV)

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized

Saul became the apostle Paul, who went on to write over half of the New Testament.  none of this would have happened if Anonias had not had this bold obedience.  sometimes, God will ask you to do things that don’t make sense;  “God, you want me to do them a favor when they left me out on purpose, help them when they wouldn’t help me?”  your first thought may be, “no way, I’m not gonna do that”;  but if you listen again, you’ll hear God saying, “just do it.”  sow a radical seed.  take a step of faith.  when you do, God will do something radical in your life.  we can all make excuses, “it’s too hard, too big a sacrifice, too inconvenient.”  but if you keep putting it off, that’s causing God to put off what He has in store for you.  when you obey, a blessing is attached.  you may not understand it, it may not make sense;  that’s ok, just do it.  God’s plan is better than our plan.  when you have bold obedience, God will take you into the fullness of your destiny.

Genesis 22:1-2 (NIV)

22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”…

Abraham didn’t understand it, it didn’t makes sense, but he had this bold obedience:

Genesis 22:9-13 (NIV)

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

the blessing is not the 1st call;  the first call is obedience.  if you’ll obey, there will be a 2nd call:

Genesis 22:15-17 (NIV)

15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

notice, when you radically obey, God promises He will radically bless.  here’s the key:  the 1st call is not the blessing;  the first call is the test;  “will you obey Me?”  if you obey, you’ll pass the test;  then, you’ll hear the 2nd call.  that’s when God will say, “now I’m going to bless you more than you can imagine.”  some of you today, there’s something you know down deep you’re supposed to do.  you’re debating it, analyzing, making excuses;  God is saying, “just do it.”  sow a radical seed.  answer the first call;  be obedient, and you’ll come into the 2nd call, the blessing.  you may not understand it, it may not make sense;  that’s alright, just turn your mind off and listen to your heart.  God knows what He’s doing.  if you’ll make a decision to just do it, because you radically obey, you’re about to come into radical blessings.  because you have bold obedience, God’s going to do something amazing in your life.  the seeds you’ve sown are going to be multiplied back to you.  God’s going to thrust you into the fullness of your destiny, taking you further than you ever even dreamed of.

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