Sunday, January 31, 2010

Small Group Discussion Guide Available

So how do you have a Message Discussion Guide when there was no Sunday message? Well, we did it. You can download your Small Group Discussion Guide at

The One Thing Better Than Certainty

Life. Interrupted. Week 3 Day 1

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. "

But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir."

Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. He also said to him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it."

But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?"
Genesis 15:1-8 (NIV)

One of the few constants in life is uncertainty. Let’s examine what we pray about. We pray for certainty that a job interview goes well. We pray for certainty about our family’s future. We pray that things will go well on our vacation. We pray that the prognosis will be good. We pray that life will be less difficult or that we could at least see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Don’t get me wrong. The Bible instructs us to pray about everything (Philippians 4:6-7). But, there is one thing better than certainty: God Himself. He doesn’t give us complete instructions. He might only give the next step. He doesn’t promise comfort and ease. He doesn’t offer to make us healthy and wealthy. He does promise that He will never leave us and never forsake us.

The issue rests on getting to the place where God’s presence with us is enough. It’s not an academic exercise. It’s not a willful decision. God becomes enough for us when we can surrender to Him in this current round of problems knowing that the next round might be right around the corner.

Abram wrestled with uncertainty. Think about this: Abram is having an actual conversation with God. We don’t know if Abram heard an audible voice, but Abram did understand that he was communicating with the Almighty. Many of us have longed to hear God speak so directly to us. If we could just hear God say it, then we would have clarity. Then, we would be certain.

Abram in direct conversation with God Himself confesses, “O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?" Seriously? How can you use the word Sovereign and ask “how can I know” in the same sentence? Abram isn’t so different from us.

God took Abram outside and asked him to look up. Abram looked at all of the stars, and then God reassured him.

When do you feel uncertain? When do you wonder if God will deliver on what He has promised? Tonight, step outside and look up at the stars. If God can take care of all of that, He certainly will be there for you.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

No Services at Brookwood Church on Jan 31

We have cancelled all services for Sunday, January 31 due to the winter storm. I have already scheduled the devotionals at starting on Sunday at 4 am if you'd like to get a head start.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Life. Interrupted. Week 2 Day 5

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV)

Abraham had faith based on God’s promises to him in Genesis 12:1-3. Abraham didn’t have “sight.” God gave the promise of making Abraham into a great nation, but at the time Abraham didn’t have any children. God gave Abraham a promise of making his name great and of being a blessing to all peoples. Abraham didn’t even have a square foot of land or a place to park his camel. Abraham started his journey with plenty of faith, but absolutely no “sight.”

Faith and Sight relate like light and darkness. When we enter a dark room and flip on the light, darkness is quickly overcome by light. When we have sight, whether we call it proof, evidence, miracle or fulfillment, we no longer need faith for that thing to happen. If we believe that God will provide for our needs (Philippians 4:19) and our needs are met, then we don’t need faith for that. We don’t need faith for something we can actually see.

We hear people talk about the great faith that produces miracles (sight). The reality is that “Sight” doesn’t come from great faith. When we gain “sight,” we no longer need faith. It’s when we lack sight, when we’re unsure, when we reach our wit’s end (or as John of the Cross calls it “the Wall”), that is when we need faith.

What is faith? Faith is not believing something so strongly that it comes into reality. I could work myself up into an emotional froth believing that my car was red, but at the end of the day, it will still be black.

Faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 12:9). Faith is assurance and certainty when we lack sight (Hebrews 11:1). Faith doesn’t make anything less real. Faith shows that God and all that He promises is real.

What do you need faith for today? Ask God. He will give you the faith you need (Romans 12:3).

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When the Truth Slept

Life. Interrupted. Week 2 Day 4

One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!"

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."
Luke 8:22-25 (NIV)

Why were the disciples in the middle of a storm? Their peril came as a result of following Jesus’ instructions. The disciples did exactly what Jesus said and found themselves in the middle of a storm. This wasn’t just any storm, but a squall that caused them to fear for their lives.

As Jesus pointed out, the disciples lacked faith. When we lack faith, fear quickly fills the void. We might not fear deadly peril, but we could certainly fall victim to fear’s cousin, worry.
The disciples’ fear was founded maybe in their experience on these waters or the deaths of other fishermen in this type of storm. Their fear arose from what they believed: “We’re going to drown.”

But, the disciples’ thinking was not based on the truth. The Truth, Jesus, was asleep in the back of the boat. Deception said that they would be lost at sea. Truth said that the all-powerful Creator of the universe had authority over nature. Jesus spoke to the wind and waters. Calm was produced.

The disciples’ fear didn’t subside, but was soon accompanied by amazement. Their next statement reveals the root of their fear: “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him." If the disciples had known Jesus like this before their boat set sail, then their reaction to the storm might have been very different.

What storm are you facing today? What are you worried or afraid about? It could be that you have a misunderstanding of who God is. Look to the Truth when your anxiety meter has hit red. You might not have the answer, but He does.

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Over ____ Billion Saved

Life. Interrupted. Week 2 Day 3

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. Genesis 12:3 (NIV)

It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. Romans 4:13, 16 (NIV)

The fatherless Abraham became the father of numberless offspring. According to Paul, Abraham is the genetic father of God’s people, but the exponential factor is that he is the spiritual father of all who live by faith. We can’t count the stars in the sky. (The Milky Way alone has over 400 billion stars). We can’t count the sand on the shore. We lost count of the hamburgers sold at McDonald’s. Abraham’s family is quite a brood, indeed.

God chose Abraham. Abraham didn’t particularly merit this choice. If there was a qualification to be chosen, then Abraham found favor based on upon the weakness of being childless more than anything else. Once the promise was given, Abraham’s faith was necessary to move forward.

God chose us. We were not particularly qualified. In fact, if the test is the Law, then we’ve all failed miserably. All of this must be accepted by faith. We can never earn something that we’ve been freely given.

We accept God’s call by faith. Our problem is that we’re easily distracted, and we don’t listen very well. As we connect to God through His Word and through prayer, He directs us to the next step of faith.

How do we know that we’re hearing from God? A quote by Ed Stetzer is a pretty good test: “Mission is the opposite of self.” How do you rate today?

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 25, 2010

When God’s Promises Might Seem Empty

Life. Interrupted. Week 2 Day 2

I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. Genesis 12:2 (NIV)

Abraham has 75 years old when he acted on this promise. Having children was really not an issue at this point. Abraham’s father, Terah, had his oldest son, Haran, at 70 years of age (Genesis 11:26). For Abraham, God’s promise was still full of possibilities.

God’s promise, however, went well beyond Abraham’s immediate family. While Abraham had some means, his world was being turned upside down. What he had relied on would be left behind. How do you form a great nation with land occupied by other peoples? How do you start a great nation when you haven’t even started your own family yet? The key is faithfulness.

My grandmother would have been 100 years old this year. She never had much materially. She did have twelve children to raise. My dad and his brothers and sisters eventually moved away from the boot heel of Missouri to become preachers and factory workers, truck drivers and teachers. They married and had children. Their children had children and grandchildren. When my grandmother passed in 2008, her twelve children had multiplied to 120 children, grandchildren, great-grands and some great, greats too. From one to 120 that’s quite a feat, and we didn’t even count spouses.

The remarkable thing about my grandmother’s children is that they also became God’s children. They are Abraham’s children as are all believers. The faithfulness of one person is significant.

The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Galatians 3:8-9 (NIV)

“Father Abraham” had many sons, indeed. You and I can be thankful for Abraham’s faithfulness. Through this one man, God developed a connection with humanity that extends to every believer.

Stop right now and thank God for that connection with you.

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chop Sticks, Sopwith Camels and Faith

Life. Interrupted. Week 2 Day 1

The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.” Genesis 12:1 (NIV)

When I was 19 years old, I packed my bags, hugged my parents at the Kansas City International Airport and traveled 36 hours to the other side of the world to serve as a short-term missionary in Hong Kong. Word of advice: a window seat is not that great. Blue sky and blue water look exactly the same. Choose an aisle seat close to the bathroom. Just sayin’.

While I was there, I had the chance to sit down with a veteran missionary, who was a legend in our church. He very quickly gave his opinion of my summer mission trip, “I don’t understand why you kids have to come check out the mission field to decide whether or not you want to become a missionary. If God has called you, then you should just come. You don’t need to see if you like it first.”

I left his office, hat in hand, ready to finish my “vacation.” Our team saw God do some pretty amazing things in the hearts of our Chinese friends that summer. Apparently, God has a much different opinion of short term missions.

That trip opened my eyes to a lot of things. Sitting here writing, I can’t believe that it was over 25 years ago. But the difference between my trip and Abraham’s was vast. I had a 747. He had a camel (and not even a Sopwith Camel). I had a place to stay, people to take care of me, food to eat, and a clear picture of what would happen. Abraham had little of that.

The biggest difference was that at the end of the summer, I knew that I would fly back home and return to college. Abraham was on a one-way trip.

Did my journey require less faith than Abraham’s? Not necessarily. God gives us the faith to accomplish the things that He puts before us.

What has God put before you? What is He challenging you with today? He will give you the faith and ability to proceed as He directs.

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Christ-follower or Connoisseur?

Life. Interrupted. Week 1 Day 5

Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?
Proverbs 20:6 (NIV)

Words can be very powerful. Words can also be empty and meaningless. If we say the right things, but refuse to do the right things, then we fall into the “clanging gong” category of 1 Corinthians 13.

We all want to give and experience unfailing love. We want true devotion to God and to others. We would like the same back from them. But, often the desire and the reality are miles apart.

The key is faithfulness. They say it takes seven years for a married couple to become compatible. But, then, there is also the seven year itch. Some are about to forfeit a great marriage five or ten years down the road, because it’s hard right now. While we would never expect someone to remain in an abusive situation, many just want to escape an uncomfortable situation. Faithfulness and a commitment to growth can take your marriage to a much better place.

What about church? We’ve become such consumers and connoisseurs of Christianity. Was the music to our liking? Was the sermon entertaining? Did it end on time? Did we feel good afterward? If things don’t suit us, then we look for something that we like better. Really?

It’s not about us. When we give ourselves fully to God, we give up our rights, our preferences, and our comforts. Christ gives us something far better. He gives us eternal life with God. He gives us a deep connection to our Creator. Christ leads us into a life of sacrifice, so we can reap far greater rewards. That doesn’t sound very popular, but if we can just get there, we would never turn back.

What are you tempted to give up on today? How would your faithfulness change things?

What things do you say, but can’t live up to? Maybe it’s time to stop talking and start doing.

These are hard things to think about today. I care about you too much to not say these things.

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Unexplainable Connection.

Life. Interrupted. Week 1 Day 4

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

From Unexplainable by Don Cousins:

“I cried out to God with a voice of exasperation: ‘God, what do You want me to do?’ His silence had been deafening, and I was running out of time.

“What I then heard was this: ‘I don’t really care what you do. I care about who you are – and who you are is failing.’ It wasn’t an audible voice, but it was unmistakably clear. I received these words not as condemnation, but as an expression of mercy.

“I returned to where I was staying and turned in my Bible to Galatians 5:22-23, verses I’d read countless times before. In fact, I had them memorized. This time, I read them more carefully and slowly than before.

“Then I did something I’d never done before with these words. I began to evaluate myself in light of those nine characteristics on the list.
“Love. How am I doing? I didn’t score well, so I moved on.

“Joy. How’s that going for me? I didn’t score well here, either, so I kept going…

“In reflection, I summed up my little self-evaluation with this thought: I’m two for nine. Though I had to admit that my two “hits” (faithfulness and self-control) had little to do with the influence of the Holy Spirit…It was the other seven characteristics that pleaded for the influence of the Holy Spirit. In those areas, I was failing. And I knew it.

“While the world cares almost exclusively about what you do and accomplish, God cares first and foremost about who you are. He wants His presence to so fill your life that you experience the blessings that come from being a loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled person” (excerpted from p. 113-117)

The fruit of the Spirit is not a measuring stick to judge our performance. It’s not an incentive to try harder. God’s fruit comes as we are connected to Him. Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me” (John 15:4, NLT).

As you read this list of characteristics: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, how do you score? The solution is not to “try harder.” The fix is to check your connection to God. The better the connection, the more plentiful the fruit.

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Promises. Promises.

Life. Interrupted. Week 1 Day 3

For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does. Psalm 145:13 (NLT)

Abraham was faithful because God is faithful. Abraham was able to step forward in faith, not hoping that God might do something, but trusting that God would keep His promises. God certainly did.

What has God promised you? Think about some of the promises from God’s Word:

God will supply our needs (Philippians 4:19).
God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Believers will not be overtaken by temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
God has promised victory over death (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
God has promised that all things will work together for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).
God has promised salvation (Acts 2:38; Ephesians 2:8-9).
God has promised eternal life (John 10:27-28).
God has promised that He will always be with us (Hebrews 13:5).

And, this is just a start. We can be faithful because God is faithful to us. Even when we are faithless, God is faithful (2 Timothy 2:11-13).

Our fear, apprehension, worry and doubt can be resolved as we point our minds back to God’s promises. As we continue to remind and assure ourselves of God’s faithfulness, we become more faithful in the process.

Which promise stands out to you today? Put the verse somewhere that you will see it over and over again. Carry it in your pocket. Every time you begin to worry or doubt, read the verse. Remind yourself that God is faithful.

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Seeing God’s Power

Life. Interrupted. Week 1 Day 2

It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them. Hebrews 11:11-12 (NLT)

Good as dead. That’s quite a title. Perry asked the staff the other day, “How would it feel if that’s what you were called in the Bible: Good as dead?” Faithful, obedient or blessed are much better adjectives to go alongside one’s name in Scripture. But, good as dead? Not so much.

Good as dead, however does not mean impossible. Nothing is impossible with God. God produced a nation with a countless number of people from a couple who couldn’t possibly have children. There is no question that this was a God thing. As God said to Paul, “My power works best in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT).

What seems impossible for you today? Where do you feel worthless, helpless or good as dead? This is a great place for God to demonstrate His power. There will be no doubt that He is at work.

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Drawing Closer to God

Life. Interrupted. Day 1 Week 1

This was Stephen’s reply: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to our ancestor Abraham in Mesopotamia before he settled in Haran. God told him, ‘Leave your native land and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’ So Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran until his father died. Then God brought him here to the land where you now live.

“But God gave him no inheritance here, not even one square foot of land. God did promise, however, that eventually the whole land would belong to Abraham and his descendants—even though he had no children yet. God also told him that his descendants would live in a foreign land, where they would be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. ‘But I will punish the nation that enslaves them,’ God said, ‘and in the end they will come out and worship me here in this place.’

“God also gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision at that time. So when Abraham became the father of Isaac, he circumcised him on the eighth day. And the practice was continued when Isaac became the father of Jacob, and when Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs of the Israelite nation.
Acts 7:2-8 (NLT)

In his very last sermon, Stephen gives us the Reader’s Digest version of Abraham’s story. God gave Abraham a remarkable calling accompanied by quite a list of roadblocks and detours. Just the initial move from Mesopotamia (modern day Ur, Iraq) to Canaan (modern day city just north of Betel, Israel) via Haran was over 1000 miles. In Abraham’s day, travel was by foot or by beast. The trip was daunting to say the least.

Now, one might set out on a journey if they were assured of a pot of gold at the end. Abraham was just direct to go, so he did. Add to that a future 400 years of oppression and, of course, circumcision.
The rest of the story is that God gave Abraham “not even one square foot of land” (Acts 7:5). And, you were frustrated this morning. Suddenly, those reading this are having a better day already.

God fulfilled His promise to Abraham, but it wasn’t a direct route. You would think that clear direction plus courageous willingness to follow would equal smooth saying. If you take a glance at those listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11, you find that no one living a life of faith has ever had smooth sailing. But, neither has anyone else.

In a recent message, Richard Blackaby made the statement, “Some people say that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. That actually can be a very dangerous place.”

So, here’s the good news. God fulfilled ALL of His promises to Abraham. Abraham’s children were blessed. The nations were blessed. You and I are blessed because of God’s promise to Abraham.

Here’s more good news: when you follow God and face setbacks, it’s normal. God keeps His promises. God loves you. God hasn’t forgotten you. Interruptions and setbacks can certainly discourage us. Let the hard times serve as your teachers. Let them drive you to your knees. We are far closer to God in trouble than we are in peace.

What is being interrupted in your life today? God is trying to get your attention. Stop what you’re doing right now (seriously, stop) and make a quick connection with Him.

To view the series videos for Life. Interrupted. by Perry Duggar:

To download the Message Discussion Guide:

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Please Don’t Send Me To Africa…

What is the Church? Day 5: What’s Your Purpose?

It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. Ephesians 1:11-12 (Msg)

God has a purpose for your life. Do you believe that? The purpose is not just to survive your days or to get the kids out of your house or to finally retire. God has a work for you to do, but you must be willing.

That doesn’t mean that you will necessarily be a missionary in Africa. Isn’t that what everyone is afraid of when they surrender themselves to God? If God hasn’t put it in your heart to be a missionary, then you won’t be. You might go on a weeklong trip to drill a water well or sing in a cafĂ© though.

How do you know what God’s purpose is for you?

Let me ask you a couple of questions:

1. What are you good at?
2. Who do you like to work with?
3. What do you get excited about?
4. What do you enjoy doing (that’s not sinful)?
5. What have you done before in ministry, at work, or as a hobby?
6. What needs do you see around you?
7. What in our community gets you fired up?

Is anything coming to mind? If so, what are you going to do about it? You might have just discovered your God-given purpose in life.

Scripture quotations taken from The Message. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Do you see people as a Thou or an It?

What is the Church? Day 4: Aiding Our Community

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:34-36 (NIV)

From Daily Office: Remembering God’s Presence Throughout the Day by Peter Scazzero:

“The great Jewish theologian Martin Buber described the most healthy or mature relationship possible between two human beings as an ‘I-Thou’ relationship. In such a relationship, I recognize that I am made in the image of God and so is every other person. This makes them a ‘Thou’ to me. They have dignity and worth, and are to be treated with respect. I affirm them as being a unique and separate human being apart from me.

“In most of our human relationships, however, we treat people as objects, as an ‘It’. In an ‘I-It’ relationship, I treat you as a means to an end—as we might use a toothbrush or car to take us somewhere. I talk to people to get something off my chest, not to be with them as separate individuals. I talk about people in authority or in the newspapers as if they were subhuman. I get frustrated when people don’t fit into my plans or see things the way I do.

“The connection between loving well and loving God is inseparable. Take a few moments and consider the people you will encounter today. What might it look like for you to slow down and treat them as a ‘Thou’ rather than an ‘It’?” (pages 124-125).

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Listening to God’s Spirit

Hearing from God Day 5: John 14:26

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (NIV)

It seems that anytime the Holy Spirit is brought up, one group gets a little anxious and another group gets a little excited. The extreme behaviors of the eager ones have contributed to the anxiety of the other group. So, here’s an interesting insight, Jesus introduced the Holy Spirit as a Counselor or a Comforter. Current thinking about the Holy Spirit almost seems ironic compared to the purpose that Jesus gave for the Spirit’s work and presence in the life of the believer. The Spirit is a Comforter.

John Ortberg refers to the Holy Spirit as a “non-anxious presence in our lives.” I like that. For some, the presence of the Holy Spirit should provide a measure of anxiety. Part of the Spirit’s role is to “convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8, NIV). The Spirit did much of the work to point us to Christ in the first place. But, now, those who belong to Christ don’t need to fear these things. We are no longer considered part of “the world.”
As we open our lives to the Spirit, Jesus said that He will teach us and remind us. The Spirit won’t turn us into rabid charismatics, but He will steadily turn us toward our purpose on this earth and toward the presence of God in our lives.

Jesus came as Immanuel, God with us. Then, Jesus told His disciples a remarkable thing, the Spirit that was currently with them would soon be in them (John 14:17). God’s Spirit has been given to us in the same way (Acts 5:32; Romans 5:5).

What are you anxious about today? How can the Holy Spirit be a non-anxious presence in your life today? As you ask God to be with you and to stay near you today, this is the Spirit’s work. Before you say something you might regret, ask Him what to say. Before you freak out over what you might face today, recognize that that power of God dwells in you through His Holy Spirit. He’s your Comforter.

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

God Calling. Please Continue to Hold?

Hearing from God Day 4: John 8:47 & 10:3-5

He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God. (John 8:47)

The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice. (John 10:3-5, NIV)

We recognize the voices of those we are close to. When we receive a call from our spouse, our children, our parents, or close friends, they don’t need to identify themselves. We know who it is, even without caller ID.

Jesus says that those who belong to God will recognize His voice. Now, I believe that I belong to God, yet I have never heard God speak in an audible voice. How does God speak to us? We can hear God through thoughts and impressions. We can hear God through ideas and insights. But, how do we know that it’s God speaking and not wishful thinking or indigestion?

Here’s a simple test: When I compare what I think God is saying to God’s Word, the Bible, how does it stand up? God will not lead in a way that contradicts His Word.

When I consult with mature believers, what do they have to say? Does it resonate with them or do they think I’m out to lunch?

How do my circumstances measure up to what I feel is God’s leading? What is my God-given common sense telling me?

Many people are afraid to listen to God. They’re too afraid that they will make a mistake or sound foolish. God does speak to us, but it takes skill and experience to hear His voice. Start listening. Do a lot of checking with the Word and with others. Then, use plenty of common sense.

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

God’s Workmanship or His Scrap Heap?

Hearing from God Day 3: Ephesians 2:10

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV)

Do you truly feel like God’s workmanship? There are days when it might be easy to feel more like God’s scrap heap than His workmanship. But, think about this: God has never created anything that He wasn’t pleased with. As God created the universe, the same thought was repeated over and over, “And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). To say it plainly, “God don’t make junk.”

You are God’s workmanship. Go ahead and say that out loud to yourself, “I am God’s workmanship.” The purpose of God’s workmanship is to do good works. How do you know what God wants you to do? Well, the Greek for “good works” actually means to “work at something good.” What needs do you see around you? Who do you have a heart for? Who do you enjoy working with? Our natural passions and desires point us to the things that God “prepared in advance for us to do.”

Now, there are a lot of good causes, so don’t get overcommitted or a good thing will become a bad thing very quickly. God has a good work for you to do. Open your eyes to the people around you and ask Him what you should do. You will be surprised by how God can use you.

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sometimes Others See Things More Clearly

Hearing From God Day 2: Ephesians 3:10

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, (NIV)

One of the more embarrassing moments of my life occurred on the morning of my interview for ministerial credentials about 25 years ago. I was awakened by a phone call. It was our church secretary wondering where I was. My interview was scheduled for two hours earlier. Panic.

Going to bed the night before, I was nervous about the interview and had a very sleepless night. I finally did get to sleep, but I didn’t hear the alarm in the morning.

When I finally arrived at the interview with hat in hand, I profusely apologized for my mistake. All the while I imagined years of theological training evaporating away. They were gracious. We had a good laugh.

Weeks later when official word came, the committee had turned me down. They didn’t feel that I had had enough ministry experience (read “preaching”) at that point, so they put me off. Obviously, I did the hard work to gain the qualifications and was ordained a couple of years later.

For most of you reading this, you will never have to sit through a stressful interview of your qualifications for ministry. You can thank God for that. But, on the other hand, it’s not always easy to recognize your gifts or discern your ministry calling by yourself. Self-examination is a challenge. You have trouble seeing yourself objectively because it’s too personal. It’s too close. This is where the church comes in.

Your fellow believers help you recognize what God has gifted and called you to do. Things that come very naturally to you may in fact be the result of your unique giftedness.

As the Body of Christ, we owe it to each other to point out where we excel and notice the fruit that God is producing in each other’s lives. We’re not all good at everything. But, we’re all good at something. As Bil Cornelius says, “Give your attention to the areas in your life that bear the most fruit.” If you’re not sure what those areas are, why not ask a member of your small group or take the Developing Yourself to Serve class?

Often it takes other believers to help us hear clearly from God. While we should always depend on the Bible as the first source of clarification, God uses mature believers as additional confirmation.

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Devotional Blog Update

Dear Subscribers,

I am thrilled that so many of you have signed up for the daily devotionals. If you receive two devotionals on Monday, January 4, my apologies. I just changed when the devotionals will be posted to the blog and when they will be sent.

Starting Monday, the blog will be updated at 2 am Eastern time, then sent to through Feedburner to your email between 3-5 am on the same day. If for some reason this doesn't work, please contact me directly at

Thanks for following. I hope you are blessed.

Allen White

What is Your Heart Set On?

Hearing from God Day 1: Psalm 119:106-112

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. I have suffered much; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word. Accept, O LORD, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws. Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law. The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts. Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end. (NIV)

Much of this psalm sings the praises of following God’s word. Each of the 22 verses (one verse for each of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet) has 8 lines describing the significance of following God’s commands, precepts, law, statutes, etc.

Why does the psalmist have such confidence in God’s word? God’s word is certain. It’s proven. Regardless of the circumstance, whether we experience suffering, fear, injustice or anything else, God’s word remains constant. We can trust the word to be the light to our path.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with fear or pain. Sometimes suffering and uncertainty seem to speak much louder than the Word at times. What do we do then? The last verse says that we can set our hearts on keeping God’s decrees. No matter what we feel. No matter what we are experiencing. We can still remain obedient to God. The whole world may seem to be jumping over a cliff, but we can remain on solid ground.

What are our hearts set on? We could set our hearts on a promise or a bonus, on a plum job or a retirement fund. Like the Psalmist, if we set our hearts on God’s Word, we have placed our trust in something that is more certain than the ground we stand on. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

The first place to hear from God is in His Word. What do you need to hear from God about today? Take a look at His word first. It’s the best place to start.

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Thanks for tracking along with my blog posts. Now, that the 2010 is upon us, we will look at hearing from God next week. Then, for the next 10 weeks (yes, ten!) after that, we will follow Perry's series on Abraham.

I hope this is a great new year for you.

God bless,
Allen White