Disclaimer: I was hesitant to even put this on my blog or even to speak on this due this: Many times, God tells me to do something. When he does something, I say it and speak it and in my mind I think I am doing it, but in reality, I am not walking it. My “obedience” stops at me speaking it. I don’t share this to get a pat on the back or anything else. My greatest fear is that PRIDE will creep back into my life and that is what I don’t need, so I ask you please pray for me through all of this)
Wednesday morning…….Last day of our Daniel Fast and I celebrate early with a…….donut! Yes, I said that correctly–a donut. I thought I deserved it after spending two weeks earnestly seeking God…..why not, so I ate a donut.
I then sat down with my coffee 🙂 Note: I really was doing the Daniel fast…seriously…ask my family! I opened up my One Year Bible and as I opened up my Bible, I received a text. It was from a friend who needed some help with gas and a prescription. To be honest, I didn’t want to reply. I didn’t have the money. I had already helped a lot. I just was not in the mood(probably because of the donut and coffee).
I ignored it.
I opened up my Bible and the Scripture for the day was Ezekiel 33 and here’s what it said:
“When I bring an army against a country, the people of that land choose a watchman. When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he blows the alarm to warn the people. Then if those who hear the alarm refuse to take action–well, it is their own fault if they die. They heard the warning but wouldn’t listen, so the responsibility is theirs. If they had listened to the warning, they could have saved their lives. But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their deaths. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman accountable. Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me. If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to warn them about changing their ways, then they will die in their sins, but I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent, they will die in their sins, but you will not be held responsible.”
(There is more meat to this passage as it continues but today will focus on this particular passage–there’s a word for me as an individual, pastor, and our church in the following passages I will share later)
I cannot describe the emotion that overcame me. There was a reason I got that text and read this message pretty much at the same time. My family and I have helped this individual a lot, but here’s the thing….I never shared the Gospel with this person. Sure, I threw nuggets of truth out there, but I had never shared the Gospel. Saying Jesus loves you is not sharing the Gospel. Sharing how a person is lost in sin and can get out of that through Christ is sharing the Gospel.
God was saying–Mike, you are the watchman. I put this guy in your life so you can tell him about me! You aren’t really there to give him money or to help him here or there. I placed you in this guys life to share the life-changing truth of the Gospel!. If he dies and you don’t share, you are responsible.
Now, I have taught this Scripture and it is one of my favorite Scriptures and I have always taught it pointing my finger at others, but this time God was pointing his finger at me. He was saying…Mike, you have no excuse!
A couple of months ago, I laid down my life and told God that I was willing to “deny myself daily, take up my cross and really follow Jesus.” He heard me loud and clear and if I can be honest, God has messed up my life! I was in the shower and having this mumbling conversation with God outloud–literally in my mind cussing! Sarah was very concerned and probably thought I was crazy.
Emotion swept over me. I’m like, “God what are you doing….I’ve already done enough already!” I listed off all of the things that I’ve given up in denying myself. I’ve given up time with family….we’ve helped the less fortunate…I’ve given up sleep. “What *$!&*; else do you want?”
God: “I want you! I want you to follow through with what you said! You really haven’t denied yourself yet. Sure you can play the part and do it every once in a while, but denying yourself isn’t just on Sunday/Wednesday or when you feel like it. Denying yourself isn’t going to be on your timetable nor is it going to be comfortable! It’s going to be difficult much like an addict trying kick a drug habit, you have to kick the you habit and I am going to continue to put you in situations that you have to deny yourself, so GET USED TO IT!”
Me: “Okay, I understand!” I will go. I was comfortable with just helping with physical things, but the Scripture that kept coming to my mind was “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” (Acts 3:6) The message God wanted me to give was, “I don’t have any money, but one thing I do have will satisfy you forever. You’re still going to run into financial hard times, but the one Person that will help you get through the tough times is Jesus!
So…..I set out in uncomfortable obedience and met my friend at Quik Trip. (God said, by the way pay for some gas and the prescription–did I have hundreds of dollars just lying around? No, but I did have some money that I wasn’t willing to give up and it came up to about $50). I shared the Gospel with my friend. Did he invite Christ into his life? No.
Are you kidding me? I was hoping this was going to be one of those movie type endings with the music playing in the background, emotionally hyped up, and a salvation experience like nothing else!
Lesson: My obedience doesn’t guarantee the results I want. My obedience guarantees what God wants. I believe this whole lesson wasn’t so much about my friend as it was for me. I had delayed my obedience for so long (which is sin) and I believe God was testing me and checking to see if I was all talk and no walk.
Lesson: Salvation most of the time takes place after journeying with a person for while. I have to get out of the mindset that leading someone to Christ is a “quickie”. Most of the time “quickie’s” are designed to bring us glory and satisfy our sinful nature…it’s what makes us feel good. I’ve cheapened the Gospel if I have condensed the whole Gospel and what Jesus did on the cross to a 10 minute conversation. (Note: it doesn’t meant not to have those 10 minute conversations with people about Jesus.) Jesus journeyed with me and continues to do so through the ups and downs. My first initial run-in with the Gospel was four years before I truly surrendered my life.
Lesson: A ruined life is an everyday life and sometimes it sucks(to be honest) because there are times I want to do what I want to do and for much of the semester I’ve done what I have wanted to do (even under the cover of pastor).
A ruined life is joyful, painful at times, but joyful! There is a feeling I can’t quite describe that I get from being ruined.
Lesson: 1. Nothing really belongs to me…my money, my family, my job, my possessions. They are all meant to further His kingdom. Yes, I have heard this all of my saved life, but it really made sense yesterday. I can say I don’t have money, but you know what? I do have money. I may not have hundreds of dollars, but I have a dollar or two or ten to help people–not so much to “help” them, but to provide an opportunity to share what God has done in my life. 2. I need to invite my family to join me as missionaries if I am the spiritual leader of my home. They don’t need to be by-standers of what God is doing. They don’t need to be looking outside of the tank watching a show–they need to be involved in the action. I need to lay my family on the altar and give them to Jesus and be intentional in as the spiritual leader of my home, provide God opportunities!
Lesson: God cannot move in my church if I am not willing to move. God cannot move in our church if you are not willing to move. I can point to how a program is not meeting my need or I am not getting fed(you name all of the excuses people give). Awakening, revival, and a movement of God begins with God in me! It doesn’t begin with a program(ie Lifegroups/Sunday School/Revolution). It starts with me–the power of the Gospel is not found in a program. It’s found in me through Jesus living in me! Church, it’s not about you. The point is not that Jesus came to make you comfortable, but He came to make you uncomfortable and be a part of an ARMY!
Lesson: Obedience doesn’t stop at the end of a fast. I can’t control God. There will be the temptation that we can turn off the God switch. (Maybe you have already done that since yesterday). I/We will be tempted to go back to normal, but can I say that this is normal. Seeking God the way I have and the way we have as a church is what God intended. We aren’t meant to go back to the ways of the world. We are meant to deprive ourselves so God can speak….we are meant to spend more than 5 minutes in God’s Word…..we are meant to truly love others–rejoice and weep with them…we are meant to weep for our church….we are meant to not be gluttons. Hopefully through the Daniel Fast, we have developed and learned what it means to slow down so that God has all of us!
My prayer for you is maybe God is telling you that you need to do something NOW! As my friend Walker Moore always says, delayed obedience is still disobedience! May what God is doing change us, challenge us, and MOVE us!
What is God saying to you?