I love that my church prays! We have prayed often over the last two years. We’ve prayed about many things. We are seeking to be led by the Spirit of God in all areas. So that means we are called to pray about all areas.
Each year we receive a special offering for needs or improvements to our church facility. In my short time at City Point, we’ve used this to recarpet the sanctuary, modernize the appearance of the sanctuary, and even purchase media equipment. Those things have been wonderful additions to our church.
Yet, when I heard about this year’s mission and began to pray about it I became so stirred in my spirit: Paying off a second mortgage and reducing debt. Usually paying off debt doesn’t make a lot of people shout. You might think I’ve lost my mind or that I’m just crazy. (Wouldn’t be the first time! Lol!). That mission may not sound that exciting to you but while in prayer my spirit began to leap inside of me.
WOW! My faith was being stirred towards all the amazing things God could do at City Point by paying off a mortgage, removing debts and releasing more resources into direct ministry. I thought of the souls that would be saved. I thought of missionaries that would be sent from here to the nations. I thought about families restored and lives transformed. I thought about living in a prayed for city. I thought about the awakening coming to my region. My heart got so happy as I thought of all the things we would get to do as a church. Faith was rising!
And then another thought dropped into my spirit. It was a little more sobering. In reality, a LOT more sobering. God wasn’t dropping the money from the sky. It would take great personal cost and sacrifice from all of us at City Point to see this come to pass.
Personally, God was calling me to put my money where my mouth and my faith was. He was calling me up higher. Was I willing to obey Him in it and simply do my part? Would I do what He was speaking to me? Following that prayer time for a week I wrestled with God. “God, I want to be obedient. I believe it is You speaking to me. But how do I do what You are asking of me?”
Many times in moments like these I’ve talked myself right out of God’s plan and blessings by listening to the “but”s. “But I’ve never done that before? But I can’t do that? But I only have _______? But what about Sally or Sam – they are so much better prepared for this?”
I can quickly move from faith to flatlined in a moment of unbelief. Delayed obedience in my life usually leads to my disobedience. Sometimes you just have to jump in before you let the unbelief kick in. The hesitation to obey opens the door for doubts, fear and worry to climb into my mind and take over. Quickly shutting down the voice of the Spirit.
As I prayed, I didn’t ask, “Is that You, God?” I knew it was Him. It wasn’t my thought and it definitely wouldn’t be the enemy’s plan for my church. So I asked for how I was to do what He was asking of me and God gave me a strategy. A game plan you might say. It involved simple acts of obedience – over an extended period of time. If I would just obey as He prompted – and when He prompted – He would take care of the rest.
It seemed so simple…..and yet not! The walk of faith isn’t a one time battle. It is a war with many skirmishes. God doesn’t test us so He can find out where we are at. It is to reveal our heart to us so we can fully see and choose to follow Him. He is always seeking deeper communion with us.
As I look back over my life it hasn’t been the monumental mountaintop moments that were so pivotal. It was all the little, seemingly insignificant acts of obedience to gentle nudgings that turned the course of my life. This faith journey is founded on the bedrock of hearing, trusting and obeying.
There is always a cost to being obedient. But there is a far greater cost to our disobedience. If you know to do something and you don’t do it, the Bible calls that sin. Sin separates us from God. Our fellowship with Him is broken or strained leading to a lack of intimacy in our relationship with Him.
There is always a blessing in obedience. While there is conversely always a curse in our disobedience. God’s word is just as true today as it was to the Israelites 4000 years ago. Check out Deuteronomy 28.
As my week went on, the message continued to burn and grow in me. I realized this wasn’t just a word for me. And it was so much broader than just my giving. It was about living free. It was a word for anyone who would grab hold of it and believe God this year.
God has so much freedom He wants to bring us into this year. He wants us to walk in financial freedom, emotional freedom and spiritual freedom. He wants us to be set free from the bondages and traps of the past. While many of us have walked out of our “Egypts” with mighty deliverances, we have not allowed the “Eypgt” mentality to be removed from our mind, our will and our emotions. THIS IS THE YEAR to walk in wholeness and freedom.
There is only one catch – the pathway to our freedom is our obedience. Step by step, simply obey. Obey those little nudgings. Heed those strong promptings. Refuse to back away in the face of those seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The answer to all of it is to simply HEAR and OBEY the voice of God.
Jesus never said that our love would be found in our words. Talk is cheap. Our love is demonstrated in our obedience. If we are not obeying Him, we are not walking fully in love.
This seems so harsh to me. Yet, I know He is pleading for our love. He is calling us to a greater love relationship with Him. It isn’t to punish us. It’s so we can have greater fellowship, greater union with Him. He longs to pour out His blessings in our lives but He only blesses obedience, not sin.
This obedience isn’t just over our finances. It is in every area of our lives that He wants to bring freedom and wholeness. In our emotions. In our relationships. In marriages. In families. In our secret struggles. In our relationship with Him.
I don’t want anything between He and I. It’s so easy to put other things before Him. Rich Mullins in his song “If I Stand” wrote that “the stuff of earth competes for the allegience I owe only to the Giver of all good things.” Jobs. Bills. Pleasure. Food. Relationships. Service for God without time with God. All of these things, and many more, can push God to second place. Exodus warns in the 10 Commandments that there are to be no other gods in our lives before Him.
This is a journey of learning to love Him above all else and grow in our obedience to Him. Is He asking something of you this year? Just hear, trust and obey! Watch the freedom and joy that will be released as you step into your victory with each act of obedience.
Step into your freedom! This is the year! Hear. Trust. Obey.