Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Ways Of God

Hope you read the message entitled "Biblical Prosperity" on this website. If not, I would recommend you take a look at it first. It will give you a taste of what living the adventure is all about and will set some foundations in place.

Now, assuming you have read that article, let's do some heart searching ... Have you ever asked yourself; "Where is the abundant life that Jesus spoke of?" Or have you found yourself wondering "Where is the true fulfillment of being a radical follower of Jesus to be found?" Or more basically, "Why don't I live the adventure?"

What you are looking for, my friend, is to be found only one place: In Christ. God is not a respecter of persons. I am not special, by a long shot. So what is the real question here?

Inevitably the questions come: "Yea, but what does it look like?" "How does that happen?" "What can I do to begin living a life of adventure in Christ? True living, not just religious rhetoric."

Let's drop back for a moment. Let's look at the foundational scriptures we examined previously. You see, there is something very basic about our life in Christ that most overlook completely.

He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
Ephesians 1:3

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
Ephesians 1:16-23

Could it be that it's time to have your eyes enlightened. Have you ever considered it possible that you could be spiritually blind? Here the apostle Paul was writing to the Church. These were not unsaved people. They were followers of Jesus Christ. However he was praying that their eyes would be enlightened. You see, it is possible for believers in Christ ... simply not to "get it".

In fact, I want to challenge your thinking just a bit here. Could it be possible that the reason you are not living the adventure is because there are some significant things that you have missed, that you don't "get"?

I want to suggest there is a very basic tenet of Christian teaching that most people miss as a vital part of life in Christ. So very basic in fact, that without it, the adventure remains a mystery. Let's look at the following:

What man [is] he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way [that] he shall choose.
Psalm 25:12

Let's look at this scripture from a different angle ... The man who fears God will be led in God's ways.

We see two important principles from God's Word. The fear of the Lord and the ways of God. Let's look at these individually and then how they intersect.

The Fear of the Lord

In today's modern American culture, there is little to know of the fear of God. Even in the churches. However we find the following about the fear of the Lord in scripture:

That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it [is] mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.
Joshua 4:24

And I said unto you, I [am] the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice.
Judges 6:10

The fear of the LORD [is] clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD [are] true [and] righteous altogether.
Psalm 19:9

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Psalm 34:11

The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do [his commandments]: his praise endureth for ever.
Psalm 111:10

The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:7

By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD [men] depart from evil.
Proverbs 16:6

Now, that is just the tip of the iceburg. There are more scriptures about the fear of the Lord and the fear of God than you can imagine. There are so many it would take several pages just to list them here. However, it is something that is overlooked by so many people.

So what does the fear of the Lord look like? Let me ask you a question - is there anything in the way of circumstances, situations, or people that cause you to fear? Then you do not know the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord gives you great boldness to obey God, even stepping out on a limb to do so. The fear of the Lord led Daniel into the lion's den. The fear of the Lord led the three Hebrew children into the fiery furnace. Yes, the fear of the Lord led many early Christian's to martyr's deaths - on crosses, sawn in two, and more. In fact the fear of the Lord is what led Jesus to go to the cross for you and me. It is the foundation that keeps us true to do the will of God, even if the outcome looks horrible.

When you begin to look at the fear of the Lord, you will immediately discern that there is a battle involved in walking this out. It is a battle of the fear of God versus the fear of man.

Some great examples of people walking fully in the fear of the Lord are folks like: Moses, Jesus, Paul, Timothy, Peter, and the other apostles of the Lamb. To walk in the fear of the Lord is to walk in one of the elementary principles of the doctrine of Christ. It is not graduate study material, but in scripture we find that it is nursery tales. The kind of thing that is for children to walk in.

Why then is it such a foreign principle in the modern church? Perhaps this is one of the reasons that people do not walk in the adventure. You see, you must have the fear of the Lord before you can expect to walk in the ways of God. It is a preliminary step.

Some would say - why do I need to do all of this anyway? What good is it all? Let's see what God's Word has to say about that.

And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
Deuteronomy 10:12

What are God's requirements for living ... seems the fear of the Lord and to walk in His ways have something to do with it. If we don't do these things, how can we expect to live the adventure?

The Ways of God

Let's examine some scripture up front:

Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great [is] the glory of the LORD.
Psalm 138:5

Who [is] wise, and he shall understand these [things]? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD [are] right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.
Hosea 14:9

And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, [thou] child of the devil, [thou] enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
And now, behold, the hand of the Lord [is] upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.
Acts 13:10-11

Again, there are many scriptures concerning the ways of God. In fact, Jesus Himself is described as "the Way". In the scripture accounts we find that the ways of God reflect His nature and glory, how they are different from the ways of man, and how they are constant and consistent with His Word.

The ways of God are to bring His children into holiness in order to enter into a relationship with them.

We are to walk in his Ways - this is the adventure of truly living. The substance of genuine and authentic living. A life that lives to the glory and honor of God. Demonstrating, not just discussing, the Kingdom of God.

Remember that the man that fears God will be led in God's ways. You cannot have one without the other.

Let's talk about what the Ways of God look like.

The ways of God are love. The ways of God are Soverign. The ways of God are holy. The ways of God are true. The ways of God are eternal.

As you can see, without the fear of the Lord in operation in your life, it is impossible to walk in the ways of God. But let's talk about how this has to do with living the adventure. I want to point out some Old Testament examples for us to consider in all of this.

Do you remember Joshua? What did he do as he led the people of Israel in taking the promised land? There was a pattern that worked every time. And every time he failed to walk in that pattern, he found failure. Do you know what it is?

Let's look at it in three steps:

Humility - He asked God what to do.
Patience - He waited until God showed him what to do.
Obedience - He did what God said to do.

Now, that is a simple pattern isn't it? Or is it?

How did David find success? He did the same. Without fail he inquired of the Lord, seeking His counsel. Then he waited until God spoke to him. Then he followed what God had shown him.

How did others find success in living the adventure? What about Jesus? He said that He only did those things He saw the Father doing. He walked in the ways of God and became the Way for us to follow. Who are we to be like? Our denominational leaders? Our pastors? Our seminary teachers? No, we are to be like Jesus.

This may sound hard. This may sound crazy. But I can tell you from practical experience, living the adventure does not happen if you insist on living your own way. Whenever I find the Lord is doing something magnificent with those around me, I know it is because I have asked Him what to do, have been willing to wait until He shows me, and then I enter into what I see Him doing.

Humility. Patience. Obedience. These are some of the simplest things to explain, but some of the hardest to work through. What does it look like? Probably like nothing you have seen before.

I often find myself in different prayer groups praying for different things. It amazes me how differently people approach prayer. Most have a list of things to pray about and with their natural minds they reach out to God. Now, in His mercy, He often answers our prayers in this way. Not because we are doing anything right, but simply because He is merciful and decides to show us plenty of it day to day. However whenever we approach God in this way, we can't expect to live the adventure. There is no adventure to be lived. Can we envision an adventure and then convince God to endorse it? I have never found even one example of that: neither in scripture or in practical experience. God insists we walk in His ways, not our own. And when we do, He is glorified. In those situations, it is all about what He has revealed and what He has done. He receives all the glory and we have the opportunity to be witnesses to what He actually does in people's lives.

Some Testimony

How does this look for Jeanette and I? Let me explain some things. When the Lord first began to release me into ministry, it was rather untraditional. It has remained so ever since. I don't want to promote this as the only way of doing things, because then I would be promoting something I have done. Instead, I want to share what God has done in my life, so you could begin to ask the Lord how He wants to live through you!

It started with God. I was not looking to minister to folks. However one day God interrupted my life in a profound way, thoroughly breaking my heart to reach the lost. When He did that, He also put a tremendous drive within me to look to Him. I remember asking my pastor what to do. He told me to "wait on your ministering" from Romans 12:17. That was the greatest counsel I ever received. It drove me to my knees in prayer. Every time I went to prayer I saw people going to hell. I saw this time after time after time and it broke my heart even more. I finally was so broken that I had to have an answer from God. I tried a lot of things, but none of it worked. So I prayed and I prayed and I began listening, looking, observing and after about three years of this, God opened a door for me.

I was desperate. By that time I did not want to be like somebody else. In fact, I didn't want to be anything. I wanted God to minister through me and that is what He did. I wanted to hear what God had to say. And without fail He would show me what to do and it became simple to do what He wanted.

Since then I have had opportunity to show others these principles and they too have found God's willingness to lead them in adventures. Every adventure looks different. God deals differently with people, but in the end He desires us to practice humility, patience and obedience in following Him. After following Jesus in this way for over twenty years I find that I no longer have time to waste on the counterfeit of true living. I have only one life to live and I want to live it fully in Christ. Following Jesus does not look like what you have seen before. Most folks do not understand that. Some will even hate you for saying such things. Still, He truly does a new thing. After all, His mercies are new every morning.

Let me share one incident for you, to try to put this into practical application. A few weeks ago I traveled to Seattle on business. Every time I make plans to go on trips I sense God's desire to do something along the way. Therefore I always ask for the Lord's counsel concerning what is in store. This helps me then to listen attentively [put my antennae "up" so to speak] to how the Lord may speak to me. This comes often in a prophetic way, but sometimes it comes through circumstances I find myself.

On this particular trip, the Lord simply shared with me to pay attention closely and that He would bring someone along my path on this trip. Someone that was at a very critical stage in their life. I knew nothing more. But because of what the Lord had shown me, I was looking for an opportunity to share with those that I came in contact with.

I traveled to Seattle early in the morning and arrived for the business meeting in the afternoon. After the business meeting I was tired and went to rest in my hotel. At dinner time I went downstairs to the restaurant. It was literally packed out. When I got there I was told there would be a 20-30 minute wait. I had nowhere to go, so I sat down and waited. While I was waiting a young businessman sat down beside me, also waiting for a table. When he sat down I sensed the annointing of God rest upon me and I knew that this was the Lord saying to me ... "this is the one!".

We spoke about why we were in Seattle. Then things turned interesting. This fellow just opened up all of his life to me and began to share his disappointment in life in general. I shared with him that I had found something worth living for a long time ago myself - Jesus. He was genuinely interested and he then asked me a very pointed question: "What is the reason for living?".

At that point the Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance a testimony that I had heard several years ago. I told him there was a seminary student that asked an elderly professor the same question. The elderly professor told him that when he was a boy he was in a Nazi concentration camp. He was separated from his family and felt all alone, imprisoned in a dark dungeon cell that had only one small shaft of light that came in once a day. He was in there with a few other young boys.

After a while, whenever the shaft of light would shine into the cell, the boys would gather around, trying to warm their hands and their feet, since it was so very dark, damp and cold in that dungeon cell. One day when the light was hining in, the boy saw something over in a far corner of the cell. He went over and found it to be a broken mirror, shattered into many pieces. He picked up the largest piece he could find. It was kind of round and he rubbed it on the stone floor to smooth the sharp corners so he wouldn't be cut. Then he stuck it into his pocket for later.

After discovering this precious treasure, the young boy would take that small piece of a mirror out of his pocket, each day the light shone in. He would take that shaft of light, reflect it on that small mirror and shine it into all the dark corners of the cell.

The professor then looked intently at that young seminary student and told him this: We are like that little mirror. The reason for living is so we can shine brilliantly into the dark corners and reflect the light of Christ to those around us.

After telling the story, I shared with that young businessman that it was not an accident that we were sitting together that evening in a restaurant in Seattle Washington, waiting for our table. But it was a divine appointment, in which I had the opportunity to share the reason for living with him.

He told me that he beleived that and that he wanted to know how he could shine the light. I then told him to get a Bible, ask Jesus to reveal Himself to him and then follow Jesus all the days of his life. I told him that if he would do that, his life would never be the same.

He said that was the craziest thing he had ever heard, but he believed me and that he would do what I told him to do. I then prayed for him and right afterward the attendant came and took me to my table.

That's walking in God's ways. I can't cook up stuff like that. As I continue to practice the fear of the Lord, in turning to Him for assistance and help, listening to what He has to say and what He wants me to do, I'm then able to follow Him in His ways. Period.

What Does it Take

What's the bottom line? Complete and absolute surrender.

He is Lord and we are not. It's time to listen to what God has to say. If we are genuinely walking in the fear of the Lord, we will have no other choice. However if we walk in the fear of man, we will want to save our way of life. What did Jesus say about this?

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Matthew 16:25

That sounds kind of tough. It is. Are you ready to give up the way you have been praying? Are you ready to give up the way you have been ministering? Are you ready to give up getting the credit for doing things? Perhaps more importantly, are you ready to enter into transition: going from where God was to where God is? That is what it takes.

The old way of doing things was new at some point of time. It was a radical step forward. People had to step out of their comfort zone and step out onto the water so to speak. Nothing has changed in that regard. In order to live the adventure, you have to step away from the old and embrace the new. God is doing a new thing. Don't you know that?

Right now, if you are willing to enter into living the adventure, please pray this prayer of surrender:

Jesus; I need the fear of the Lord to direct my life instead of myself. I confess that I have led my life up to this point in time. I have listened to well intentioned people,some of them great scholars and ministers and yet somewhere along the line I got to listening to what they were doing instead of having my head upon Your chest, hearing what You have to say. Lord, would You forgive me for doing things my way instead of Your way? Lord, I confess this sin to you and ask that you forgive and cleanse me from every trace of this wickedness. Jesus I surrender to You. I want to live the adventure You have for me. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer, then I want to pray for you:

Father, I thank You that we are not only priests, but kings too. Priests intercede, pleading for mercy. Kings decree, causing change to occur. Father, I know Your Word declares we are kings and priests unto God. We have been given authority to speak in the Name of Jesus, our King. So right now, in the Name of Jesus, I decree: "Blind eyes see. Deaf ears open. Sound mind function. True obedience begin." Lord, I know that only You can cause these things, but in Your authority and with Your seal of approval, I have decreed these things over those that have happened upon this message. I thank You that You are more than capable of leading us on an adventure far beyond what we can even imagine. Your adventure far surpasses all the adventures we have ever considered. I thank You and praise You for the work of Your Holy Spirit in bringing this about, to Your glory and honor forever. Amen.

I would like to hear from any that have found this message bearing fruit in their lives. Let me know some of the adventures the Lord has led you on. It would be a great encouragement to me and would be a great testimony to what the Lord is doing in the earth, to His glory and fame.

Keep radically following Jesus!

cross posted by
Rich Elliot
Biblical Prosperity

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