Take Initiative!

Ant-individual-Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.  How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest”–your poverty will come in like a vagabond and your need like an armed man.

Proverbs 6:6-11(NASB)

When I read these verses I usually think of their warning about laziness.  But what stands out to me in these verses this morning is more about taking initiative.  I believe we often sit back and wait for direction from a boss or pastor because we fear failure.  We want to be able to point to someone else when failure comes and say, “they told me to do it that way.”

This is not leadership in any form or fashion.  The ant doesn’t wait for a directive from a leader.  She knows what must be done, and she gets to it.  No delay. No hesitation.  Many times Christians will use the excuse of “waiting to hear from the Lord” for their complacency.  Certainly it is important for us to make space to wait on the Lord and hear from Him.  But when we leave our prayer closet each morning, it is impossible for us to say, “I’m not sure what God would have me do today.” God’s word is crystal clear:

LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE, MAKE DISCIPLES

Often it is our pride that keeps us sidelined.  Our pride says, “If I fail, people will think less of me.” What a lie!  Consider these perspectives on “failure.”

I haven’t failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Thomas Edison

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.

Henry Ford

To simply settle for the status quo way of doing things and waiting for someone to give you step-by-step instructions is not the way God wants you to live and lead.

Being used by God to change the world will never happen without risk.  But really, how risky is it to try valiantly and courageously to do something at the very center of the heart of God?  Our great God who has all the supply will never leave us.  Our great God who knows the path and will guide us in this pursuit if we are simply willing to step out in faith will accomplish things through us beyond what we could imagine (see Ephesians 3:20). What appears to be great risk in the eyes of the world is no risk at all when founded upon the will of God. But this will not happen through the life of someone who is unwilling to take initiative and lead.

So today, do not sit back.  Do not wait.  Get to the task at hand without wavering!

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Chronological Bible Reading – January 18 – The Gospel in Genesis 12

Today’s Reading: Genesis 11:27-15:21

Now the LORD said to Abram,
Go forth from you country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
Genesis 12:1-3 (NASB)

In Genesis 12, God makes a promise to Abraham.  He calls him away from everything he knows to the ultimate unknown.  He must leave family and land to follow God who has made this promise.  The last phrase of verse 3 is HUGE!  God promises to bless all the families of the earth through Abram.  How? Continue reading

Fully Convinced?

Romans 4:21 – He (Abraham) was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. (NLT)

This verse jumped off the page for me this morning.  It led me to some deep reflection and prayer.  I invite you into this consideration and conversation.  This verse led me to ask myself the following questions.  As you consider these questions, I pray the reality of being “fully convinced that God is able” will transform your life for the glory of God.

  1. Am I fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises?
  2. What proof can I see in my life that leads me to believe I am fully convinced?
  3. What areas of my life indicate a lack of faith?
  4. If I am willing to entrust my eternal soul to Jesus, wouldn’t it make sense that I would be willing to entrust the momentary life decisions and actions to His leading?

Prayer of Response: Oh gracious Father, thank you for your patience, grace, and mercy.  Forgive me for the areas of my life where I fail to demonstrate that I am fully convinced.  I desire to live a life that is fully convinced.  May this life of deeper faith lead to Kingdom action and obedience for your glory.  May the faith you give transform my marriage, family, ministry, relationships, and ultimately the nations!

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Advent Devotion 19 – The Purpose of Christmas

Today’s Reading – John 4-6

John 3:16-18 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Christmas is the ultimate display of the love of God for the world.  When we were lost in darkness and depravity, He saw fit to send His one and only Son to live, die, and rise from the dead so that we could be saved.  Christmas is about the gospel.  You and I were lost in sin and separated from God.  No amount of good works or attempts to earn God’s favor would ever be enough to bridge the gap between our sin and His holiness.  God would have been entirely justified to leave us in our condition and condemn us to hell.  Yet in His great love, grace, and mercy, He saw fit to send Jesus.  When He came and died upon the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for the sin of the world.  The penalty for all past, present, and future sin was placed upon Jesus as He hung on the cross.  It is this sacrifice that allows God to remain entirely just while forgiving us.  Our sin must be paid for, and the Gospel tells us that Jesus is willing to pay our debt.  To refuse the free gift of salvation means we are still obligated to pay the penalty ourselves.  To receive the gift of salvation through repentance and faith results in our debt being paid, and not only this, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ is then credited to our account so that as God looks at us, He no longer sees our sin, but the very righteousness of Christ.  This is the Gospel.  This is the reason Christmas is such a joyous time to celebrate.  Jesus’ birth set into motion the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan, and because of this we worship Him!

Have you received the free gift of salvation?  Maybe someone you know recommended you visit this site today.  Maybe you came across this blog entry by accident.  The truth is, the fact that you are here and reading these words is a display of the grace of God on your life.  Maybe you’ve heard the gospel before.  Maybe you’ve been in church your whole life. Maybe you’ve been running from God.  Wherever you find yourself today, if the truth of the Gospel is striking something deep within you, don’t turn a deaf ear.  If the Holy Spirit is stirring your heart, the correct response is to repent and believe.  Repent means to turn from your current way of life.  Turn from your rebellious and sinful ways, and allow the Spirit of God to transform you from the inside out.  Place your faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and the Bible says you will be saved.  You will go from death and separation from God to salvation, eternal life with God when this life ends, and abundant life today as you walk with Him.

If you have questions about the Gospel or how you can be saved, please feel free to contact me directly through e-mail at abeal@colonialheights.org or by calling our church office at (601)-956-5000.  Even if I am not available by phone, there will be someone here who can share with you the hope we have in Christ and why Christmas is such a joyous time of celebration for those who know Him in a saving way.

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Spiritual Hearing

John 5:24 – Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.  He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (ESV)

Romans 10:17 – So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (ESV)

What is your faith built upon? Your pastor’s preaching? What your parents taught you? BSU, FCA or some other Christian organization?  Certainly, all of these are great sources of truth, but none of these  serve as the ultimate source of your faith.  All of these have simply been the conduit through which the “word of Christ” was proclaimed to you.  For through the word of Christ comes faith. Continue reading

What Creates Child-like Faith?

Matthew 19:14 – but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (ESV)

This passage makes me think of my daughters.  The innocent faith of a child is beautiful.  Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.  How often we as adults complicate faith in Christ with our religious ritual and practice.  Over the centuries man has complicated the simple beauty of the gospel.

So, what is child-like faith?  I believe the foundation of child-like faith is trust.  It begins with an understanding of the love a child knows their father has for them.  My girls know I love them, and by knowing this, they trust me entirely.  By loving them, they in turn love me as their father.  Because I love them, they trust me.  As a human father, the reality is that I will let my daughters down because my love for them is not a perfect love.  God’s love, however, will never fail them, and therefore, their trust of Him is maintained by seeing the love He has for them. Continue reading

Peter: A Warning, A Confidence

Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.  And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. – Mark 14:29-31 (ESV)

This morning I read Mark 14-16 which gives the account of Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection.  Two things I want to point out from Peter’s life that serve as a warning and a great confidence. Continue reading

When Trials Come

Job 13:15 Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face. (ESV)

As I read this morning I came across this verse in Job that I have often heard quoted by those who have endured severe hardship. If you grew up around church, you have an idea of what Job has endured as he makes this statement. Job, who is a righteous man before God and has been greatly blessed, loses everything in a matter of days. All of his livestock, his servants, and his children are either stolen or killed (Job 1). Then, Job’s physical health is lost as sores break out on his body from head to toe (Job 2). It is so bad, that his wife tells him to forsake his integrity, curse God and die. However, Job is a faithful man toward God and refuses.  What can we learn from Job and this verse? Continue reading

The Faith of Abraham

Genesis 22 gives the account of Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son Isaac. After years of waiting for God to fulfill the promise to provide a son, Isaac is born to Abraham and Sarah. This child was the answer to so many prayers and a healing answer to broken hearts. Now, several years after the boy’s birth, God approaches Abraham with quite possibly, the most difficult request asked of any person in all of Scripture apart from Jesus Christ. Continue reading

A Protector of Glory

In Genesis 14 we find the account of Lot’s capture by foreign kings and Abram’s actions to rescue his relative. Abram’s mighty men defeated Chedorlaomer and his allies to rescue Lot and his family. Chedorlaomer had joined forces with three other kings and their armies. Abram defeated the armies of four kingdoms with 318 men. Clearly the hand of God was with Abram. Continue reading