NEXT Blog

Week 6: November 22nd

“God, remind me once again, You are in control and the battle belongs to You.”


What I wouldn’t give to have been there when the walls of Jericho came down. The account of this amazing story in documented in Joshua 5:13 - 6:27. Take a few minutes now and read through these verses. Even if you’ve read it before, read it again. What an amazing account of God going before His people and bringing them the victory through His amazing power. 


Throughout scripture God has always wanted His people to recognize that it is Him that fights for us. It is only through Him that we can achieve any degree of victory in our lives. Whether it’s taking a city like Jericho, or achieving victory over a sin in our lives that we just can’t seem to overcome. Always remember it is God who fights for us. It’s His battle, it’s His work, it’s His glory. He will bring the victory in every situation we face. 


I knew a man who suffered terribly from fear, anxiety, and depression. Over time his emotional state completely took over his life. He became withdrawn and unable to work. Eventually he lost his job, and was forced onto disability at the age of 26. For years after that he went from doctor to doctor seeking help. Desperate to get his life back he tried everything. He had been in the care of psychiatrists and psychologists, tried various forms of therapy, and an arsenal of antidepressant and mood stabilizing drugs. Modern medicine had done all it could do but to no avail. Admittedly he had experienced brief periods of moderate relief, but his depression and anxiety always returned.  


Fast forward 7 years. This man was at the end of his rope. Still single and unable to maintain a stable relationship he felt that life was just passing him by. A friend invited him to church and although he never really believed in God, he agreed to go.  


To make a long story short, God made Himself real to that man and did something doctors and modern medicine could not do. He set that man free. After accepting Jesus and several months of Christian mentoring he confounded his doctors and was able to stop all the medications he was prescribed. He returned to work, got married and today has 3 beautiful children. This is not a made up story. I know this man. As a teenager God allowed him to become one of my mentors and a powerful influence in my life. One thing that I learned from him was that as remarkable as modern psychology is, it is not a substitute for the power of God in our lives. Psychology can teach you strategies to help you manage your condition. Doctors can help you recognize and deal with your problems. They can instruct you and give you medication to help control and mitigate your symptoms, but only Jesus can make you whole. As hard as man tries, we will never be able to do what only God can do.  


Please understand I am am not suggesting that ANYONE under the care of a physician or therapist stop their treatment. I thank God for Doctors and others who dedicate their lives to help those of us that suffer from emotional and psychological issues, and I have seen God work through those professions to bring healing and restoration to countless people. What I am saying is that as Christians, it is ultimately God that makes us whole and only God who deserves the glory for it. Just like the story of the walls of Jericho, God is the one who did it, and God is the one who deserves the glory. God is bigger.


God is so much bigger than we give Him credit for. He wants us to know Him and what he can do. He delights in doing the impossible. He wants to do things in our lives that we cannot even imagine. Look at I Corinthians 2:9:


That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
 and no mind has imagined
 what

God has prepared
 for those who love him.”


What an awesome truth. God has things in store for us that are impossible for us to even conceive of. My friend certainly could not imagine the kind of life God had in store for him. In his condition he never imagined that God would use him to minister to others. But God knew all along. These verses are awesome but they get better. Keep reading.


But it was to US that God revealed these things by his Spirit. 

For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. (v. 10)


What things has God revealed to us? Those things Paul talked mentioned in verse 9. Those impossible, unimaginable, too incredible for our comprehension things. But how can he show these things to us if we are too limited to see hear and understand them? Keep reading!


No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. I Corinthians 2:9-12


Did you read that? Because we have the Holy Spirit living in us we can “know the wonderful things God has freely given us.” If that wasn’t enough verse 10 declares that the Holy Spirit searches God’s heart and “shows us God’s deep secrets.”


I don’t know about you but that blows my mind! God wants the kind of relationship with us that will allow Him to show us the deep secrets and mysteries of His heart. He wants us to know Him. I mean really intimately know Him. Because we have the Holy Spirit living inside us we can understand the impossible, awesome, wonderful, deep things of God that others can’t imagine in their wildest dreams. GOD IS BIGGER! We will always be able to say that. Regardless of how well we come to know God, He will always be bigger. As He allows us to comprehend more and more of Him, He is still bigger. When we face the impossible situations in life...God is bigger! When it seems like our marriage is beyond repair...God is bigger. When the doctor gives us devastating news...God is bigger! When our hearts burn for greater intimacy with God...God is bigger!


If God desires that kind of relationship with us, why does it seem so hard sometimes. It’s been my experience that the problem is usually us. One problem that gets in the way comes about if we don’t understand how God engineered us. God designed us, He wired us for worship. Look at these verses in Psalm 34. I like the way it sounds in the King James. 


I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 

My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. 

Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. 

I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. 

They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. 

This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. 

The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,


And delivers them. (Psalm 34)


Look at verse 3. “Oh, magnify the Lord with me...” There is a truth in that verse I want us to think about. As I just said, we were created to worship. Scripture teaches us that whatever we look at with the eyes of our heart, we magnify. We were designed to magnify, exhault, and glorify God. When we do that He becomes bigger in our lives. But in the absence of God whatever we focus our eyes on, we magnify and ultimately worship. You see, we are going to worship something. We were created for that purpose and we can’t escape it. Without even knowing it some people magnify money, careers, power, possessions, even people in their lives. Some people rob God of the praise and worship he deserves and direct it toward a celebrity. Sometimes it’s directed at their children, or spouse, or themselves. We can also magnify the problems in our life. We can make them so big it’s hard to even see God for them.    


But how our lives change when we magnify Him. He wants us to focus the eyes of our heart on Him so He can become bigger and show us the deep secrets of His heart. When we do we can echo the words of this Psalm, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me and delivered me from all of my fears.” 


God is the one who fights for us. He wants to be the one we call out to. He so desperately wants us to know Him on a level we can’t conceive of yet. It’s a process but His promises are clear. There is so much God has planned for us if we will only humble ourselves and acknowledge that it is Him doing the work in our lives. It is Him that holds our future, and it is Him that wants to show us the secrets of His heart.


As we wrap up this part of the NEXT campaign let us all magnify the Lord and acknowledge that He is the one that will ultimately make this campaign successful. What ever way God has showed you to get involved with this campaign, you can get excited as we take these next steps together confident that God is in control. And you can get excited that God wants to show you His heart.  


Just like the men who marched around the walls of Jericho, the battle is the Lord’s. Let us be obedient to do what He has asked of us, and He will do what He promised.


GOD IS BIGGER!



WEEK 5: November 15th

“God, remind me all that You’ve done to give me courage for what You’ll do.”


One of the most important things we can do in our relationship with God is to remember the awesome things He has done. You see, our assurance of what God will do in the future is what He has already done in the past. 


In the Old Testament it seems like God was constantly telling His people to remember Him and what He had done. They were to pass on these events in history to their children and from generation to generation never forgetting the mighty works of God. That tradition continues today. One of the first things we read to our children were a collection of Bible stories. We taught them about Noah, and Moses, and Daniel in the lion’s den. We read about Jesus and Joshua and David. For a lot of people these may just be children’s stories. For the nation of Israel however, understanding their history with God was so important because it allowed them to see the consistency of His character. In other words it made God predictable.  


Yep, I said it. I’ll say it again. God is utterly predictable. Now I know that sounds really wrong... even bordering on the blasphemous, but please let me explain. I’m talking about the predictability of God’s character. If His character (and actions) were not so consistent then the Bible’s historical record of the things God has done would have little meaning. This is the reason why Israel’s history played such an important role in their faith. As a people they could look back to what God had done in the past and were either encouraged or warned because they knew what God had done before He would certainly do again. They learned that God’s character is such that His actions are always consistent. The Israelites would return in their minds to the great moments of their history when God moved with exceptional, awesome, saving power. They would recall those moments, reciting the stories over and over again until it became part of them.   


It’s no different for us. As followers of Jesus it is absolutely important that we remember and meditate on the things God has done. This will enable us to come to that place where we too begin to see the predictability of God’s character. You see it’s an acknowledgement of God’s consistency that allows us to see the amazing connections that exist in the word of God.  


Look at what Jesus said about participating in communion?  


The Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 

I Corinthians 11:24, 25


In other words, we are to remember Him and all the things that He has done every time we participate in communion. We are to remember His ministry and the way hHe touched people. We are to remember the things He taught His disciples and how He sent them out. We are to remember all of it.


Over the past 40 years of being a Christian I can tell you I’ve found Him predictable.    


He’s predictable in His love. It doesn’t change, EVER!


He’s predictable in his response to those that cry out to Him. He always answers.


He’s predictable in His response to sin. He hates it.


He’s predictable in His view of us. He always sees us through the lens of Jesus redemptive work, washed clean of sin and in right standing with God.   


He’s predictable in His truth. It’s always found in His unchanging Word. He says what He means and means what He says.


There are so many other predictable aspects of God’s character that are ours to discover.   


Can you see why it’s so important for us, just like it was for Israel, to remember the things God has done in the past? But the opposite is also true. When Israel forgot what the Lord had done, when they lived as those events had never happened, when the mighty woks of God faded from their minds, they ceased to be God centered. They ceased to be God’s people in their minds and in their ways. They ceased to be the people God called them to be. The same is true for us.


That’s why it is fitting for us to remember the predictable character of God when things seem to get out of hand. When it seems as if the world doesn’t make sense and the enemy is screaming in our ear, “God doesn’t care about you.” It’s precisely at those times we need to take refuge and rest in the beauty of serving a predictable God. If He delivered Israel, He will deliver us. That’s who He is. We can know that He always has good in store for us, He’s predictable. We can know that He never changes. He’s predictable. What He has done in the past He will still do. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We can rely on the consistency of God.


It’s part of our fallen nature to so easily forget what God has done, but what He has done gives us rock solid assurance of what He will do. He is faithful. We can trust Him. A fresh understanding of the predictable character of God is a sure cure for our fear of the future. It is a sure cure for shallow theology that teaches us it’s impossible for us to ever really know what God is going to do. God is predictable because He made himself that way and like the nation of Israel, He calls us to remember what He has done so we can be confident of what He will do. We serve a predictable God.



Week 4: November 8th

“God, please help each of us to take that simple step of faith You’re calling us to”


Do you remember the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?” I’m thinking of the scene near the end of the movie where Indiana has to complete three challenges in order to get to the holy Grail and save his father. For the last challenge Indiana finds himself at the edge of a sheer cliff. Across from him is the cave where the Holy Grail is hidden, but the expanse is impossible to breach. The book Indiana has to guide him through this challenge tells him that he must take the step of faith to get to the other side. WHAT? Stepping off the edge of this cliff means certain death. Finally however Indiana closes his eyes, takes a deep breath and steps off... thump! Instead of falling hundreds of feet to his death Indiana’s foot lands on an ingeniously camouflaged bridge that was invisible until he stepped off the edge of that cliff. Once he took that first step however, from his new perspective he could clearly see the bridge that was before him.


Have you ever had a time in your life when you felt like Indiana Jones? You just know God is challenging you to do something that looks absolutely impossible. It was no different for people of Israel. Look at this verse in Joshua chapter 3.


 "The priests will carry the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall.” 

Joshua 3:13


What God had told them to do seems impossible. How could they possibly cross this raging river? And even if they could swim across by some miracle, they would never be able to carry the ark of the covenant to the other side. Yet God had given them a command and a promise. He told them to walk across the Jordan river and promised them He would stop the flow of water once they took their first step. Often times God doesn’t part the waters that are in front of us until we take a step. We can’t see how it’s going to work until we are willing to take a step of faith. That one step can ignite a movement.


It’s one thing to say we have faith. It’s another thing entirely to show it. It’s easy to say we trust God but much harder to put everything on the line in obedience to Him. Yet as Christians that is what we are called to do. Look at what James 2:18 says.


But someone may say, “You [claim to] have faith and I have [good] works; show me your [alleged] faith without the works [if you can], and I will show you my faith by my works [that is, by what I do].

James 2:18 (AMP)


James is making an interesting argument here. In essence he is saying that real genuine faith always produces some type of corresponding action. Although faith exists on the inside of us where it can’t be seen, it produces a response, an action that is evident to all. Look what James writes just a few verses later in chapter 2:


For just as the [human] body without the spirit is dead, 

so faith without works [of obedience] is also dead. 

James 2:26 (AMP)


So real faith requires obedience [corresponding action]. It insists that we take that first step even though in extreme circumstances it might look like it will be our last. It must have seemed that way to the people of Israel. God was telling them to do the impossible but intervened and made it possible once they took that first step. The circumstances in our life are certainly not that severe yet the scriptural principle remains. Real genuine faith requires obedience through action.  


Before we continue take a few minutes to read James chapter 2. It’s only 26 verses long but it will really emphasize this point.  


The problem is, many times when God tells us to do something it goes against our common sense and good judgment. We think to ourselves, “That’s crazy. That can’t be God.” Yet God intentionally calls us to do things that seem to be impossible for us. He pulls us out of our comfort zones and insists that we trust Him and obey. Like the nation of Israel He gives us the blessings, benefits, and promises of His Word if we will only obey. We are called to something beyond belief. God is calling us to put our belief to the test through obedient action, even when we can’t see how it will work out.



Look at this verse in II Corinthians 5: 


For we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent

with our confident belief in God’s promises] 

II Corinthians 5:7 (AMP)


We walk by faith not by sight. That sure was true in Indiana’s case. The next step he was asked to take “looked” like certain death. All he had to rely on were the words in his fathers journal “Take the step of faith.” Sometimes that’s the way it is with us. As we follow Jesus sometimes His ways seem contrary to common sense. Yet He insists that we trust His “Word” instead of doing what seems to make sense to us. He calls us to close our eyes and take the step of faith.


No story in scripture better illustrates this for me than the story of Peter walking on the water. Remember that this incident takes place right after Jesus fed the multitudes with only 5 loaves and 2 fish. Jesus sends His disciples across the lake while He stays behind to see that the crowds get home. They were far away from land and caught up in a terrible storm at 3 o’clock in the morning. It’s dark, it’s dangerous and they are terrified. Lets pick up the story in verse 25 of Matthew 14:


25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” 28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong[d] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. 31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.


Wow can I identify with Peter. He’s on the boat and he hears the voice of Jesus. He instantly recognizes this voice of course, and on top of that he has just experienced one of the most incredible miracles Jesus ever performed. Yet he calls back to Jesus and says “If it’s really you...” What!? After all he’s seen and experienced since he’s been following Jesus. But the Lord doesn’t get angry, instead he beckons Peter to come out on the water. At first everything is going great. Peter has his eyes on Jesus and because of the faith and love he has in Jesus he steps onto the water. He continues to look to Jesus and he actually walks on the water toward him. But then like all of us he makes the mistake of turning his eyes away from Jesus and onto the “reality” of the situation. He looks at the rain, the wind, the waves that surround him and instantly he begins to sink. He cries out and Jesus immediately rescues him and puts him back on the ship. We all know the story. Peter was doing just fine while he was walking in “faith” but as soon as he took his eyes off Jesus and looked the circumstances around him he began to sink. 


Isn’t that just the way it is with us. We’ve been praying for something that needs to change in our lives and finally God shows us what we need to do. We’re excited and full of faith we begin to “walk toward Him” without as much as a second thought. But then we get our eyes back on our circumstances and that familiar little voice inside us says, “Did God really say that?” Before we know it we’re sinking. We look at the storm raging around us and we cry out to Jesus for help.  


But this story should give us a lot of hope. As we follow Him, Jesus is always there to rescue us even when we blow it. We are just like Peter, and in spite of all our doubts and fears, Jesus will get us where He wants us to be.  


In our faith walk that first step is always the hardest. And even when we have the courage to take that step we can still get overwhelmed in spite of all He’s done for us and all He has promised to do. Yet He continues to call us to take that step, and He continues to be there as we do, ready to catch us if we fall.  


During this NEXT campaign, listen to what God is telling you. If you will be obedient to what He is asking you to do, God will do amazing things. Don’t let fear stop you from taking that first step.     



WEEK 3: November 1st

“God, please show me what I need to change to get ready for what You have next.”


I know it may sound cliche, but God really does have specific plans for each of us just like He had plans for the nation of Israel. One of my favorite scriptures is Jeremiah 29:11.


 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, 

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

Jeremiah 29:11


There it is. God has plans for us. Plans that we don’t see and can’t anticipate. Unfortunately however, for many of us those plans go undiscovered and unfulfilled. Sometimes the problem that keeps us from fulfilling God’s plan comes down to us not being prepared. In week one we talked about how God needs our cooperation to bring about change in our lives. Many times God brings about these changes to get us ready for the next thing He wants to do in our lives.  


When you look at the nation of Israel getting ready to enter the promised land in the book of Joshua, you will see a lot of things that had to be done beforehand. God just didn’t walk them into that land unprepared. The people, the men of war were being prepared for battle. God would ultimately give them the victory but they had to get ready to engage the enemy that stood in their way.


We too have an enemy that tries to stand in our way. An enemy that tries to stop us from seeing and fulfilling God’s plan for our lives. Just like the nation of Israel, God calls us to be in place and ready for what’s next in our lives. Are you in position? Are you ready to move on to what God has next for you?

 

So what does “getting ready” look like. How can we possibly anticipate what God is going to do next and prepare for that? Look at Joshua 3:5:


“And Joshua said to the people, Make yourselves holy, 

for tomorrow the Lord will do works of wonder among you.” 

Joshua 3:5


For the people of Israel Holiness was part of their preparation as it is for us. Look at these words in I John 3: 1-3.


1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God [right now], and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies themselves, just as he is pure. I John 3:1-3

The moment we surrendered our lives to Jesus we became children of God. One of the wonderful truths of these verses is the fact that even though we are God’s children right now here on earth, one day we are going to be supernaturally changed and made to be like Jesus. Seeing Him face to face will be such a powerful experience we will literally transformed in ways we can’t even imagine. What an awesome time we have to look forward to. But look at verse 3.  “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies themselves, just as he [Jesus] is pure.”

If one day we are going to be made just like Jesus then why go through the effort of “purifying” ourselves? Doesn’t that seem a little redundant? 

We know that the moment we accept Jesus we are forgiven and our sins are washed away through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We become righteous not because of anything we do but because of Him. Yet God calls all of us to live Holy lives unto Him. He calls all of us to “purify” ourselves as we anticipate Jesus return.  

We accomplish this as we let the Holy Spirit point out the things in our lives that we have to work on. God insists that we turn away from those habits, attitudes, and secret sins that he brings to our attention. Doing that isn’t always easy. We don’t want to admit those things are there. But if we will listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and repent from those things in our lives that displease God, we prepare ourselves for what’s next.  

  


Look at this passage of scripture in Hebrews 12.  

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2.


 “The race marked out for us.” Or in other words, the plan God has for our lives. What runner weighs himself down in a race? What athlete doesn’t prepare and train and sacrifice in order to win? God is our life coach. He can see the things that we need to do, the preparations we need to make to move on to the next thing He has planned for us. Remember that the tests and challenges we face in life are not to show God what we are capable of. He already knows that. They are for our benefit because they let us know where we really are and what we need to work on.  

One final thought. As you continue to surrender yourself to God and ask Him to show you what things need to change in your life, don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that you are not good enough. It’s so easy to start thinking that God can’t use us the way we are. He wants to use us during the journey too.  Realize that as the Holy Spirit prepares you for what’s next, He has already prepared you for the place you are right now. You are good enough because Jesus made you good enough and it’s His desire to work through you as you are. When He uses us in spite of our faults and problems, He gets glorified. That being said though; Who wants to stay stuck in the now when God has such glorious plans for our future?  


Next Steps:


Ask God to show you the things you can work on right now to get you ready for what’s next.  




WEEKS 1 & 2: October 18th & 25th


Prayer Emphasis


“God prepare our hearts for what You have for us next.”

&

“God, give us a heart of faith to go where You call us to go.”


It’s been said that the Christian life is a journey and our relationship with God is dynamic, continually moving forward. But why? When we decided to follow Jesus, God could have just forgave our sins and stopped there. But He didn’t. Perhaps the most obvious result of our relationship with Jesus is the way our lives are constantly being transformed. As we continue to follow Jesus, studying His word and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us, the more we become like Jesus. Look at this verse in II Corinthians.  


“As all of us reflect the Lord’s glory...we are being changed into His image with ever increasing glory...” 

II Corinthians 3:18


Notice it says we are “BEING CHANGED.” This verse describes a process. The Christian life begins the moment we surrender our lives to God and receive his forgiveness, but it doesn’t stop there. God wants to do so much more in and through us, both as individuals and also together as His church. This process is continual and it requires our cooperation.  


The thought that God needs anything from us to accomplish His will may seem strange, yet it’s absolutely true. He can only work in our lives and cause us to bear fruit to the extent that we allow him to. For example, If we never came out to church, read the bible, or prayed, we would experience very little spiritual growth. The more obedient we are to do the things that He tells to do, the more God is able to do in and through us. In fact God wants to do more through us than we can conceive of. Just look at the following verse in Ephesians.    


“Glory belongs to God, whose power is at work in us. 

By this power He can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” 

Ephesians 3:20


Perhaps the most fundamental way we cooperate with God is through faith. One of the best definitions of faith I’ve come across is this:


“Faith is an unshakeable confidence that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do.”


This simple definition finds it’s origin in the book of Hebrews.


“No one can please God without faith. 

Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that He rewards those that seek Him.” 

Hebrews 11:6


In other words God wants us to believe not just in Him, but also in the things that He says. Not only does God want us to experience an incredibly powerful and intimate relationship with Him, but He also wants us to know and experience in full the incredible promises and rewards that come as a result of knowing Him. (We will look at this in more detail next week.)


For now, suffice it to say that God wants us to have the highest level of faith (confidence) in His Word, Person and Character as He prepares us for what’s next and as we continue to grow and move forward in Him.  


The biggest enemy of faith is fear. Now fear in nothing more than faith (an unshakeable confidence) in that which is opposed to the Word, Person, and Character of God. You might call it misdirected faith. Whereas God wants us to put our confidence in Him and move forward, fear wants to convince us that any move we make might be the wrong one. Fear tells us that the safest thing for us to do is to do nothing. Fear might remind us of traumatic things that have happened to us in our past, or it might try and convince us of an unavoidable future catastrophe. Whatever the strategy the goal of fear is the same. It wants us to freeze in place, afraid to obey God because something bad might happen.    


Thank God that we don’t have to listen to fear. We don’t have to be robbed of the opportunities God sends our way because of fear. We can obey God fully confident that He will don exactly what he said he promised he would do. It’s that confidence that allows us to obey God without fear.  


As you start asking God to show you what He wants you to do during this NEXT campaign, don’t be surprised at His answer. Just like a good coach God knows what we are capable of even when we might not. God might want to use this opportunity to stretch your faith a little bit and force you to really rely on him to meet your needs in the future. Our faith will never grow if we continue to listen to fear and be afraid to step out. God wants to continue to make us more and more like Jesus and this is how he does it.  


PRACTICAL STEPS:


Today you learned about the NEXT CAMPAIGN and you should have received a pledge card. Before you start to fill it out or even contemplate an amount please ask yourself the questions found at the top of that card.


• Have I prayed about this until I received an amount from God?

Let God be the one to challenge you in this area. Get alone with God and ask Him (and keep asking) to clearly show you the amount He wants you to give. If you are married, pray together with your spouse and continue to pray consistently until you receive your answer.        


• Will this gift be truly sacrificial for me?

Giving on a sacrificial level will require us to make a change in our lives to meet our goal. The level at which we give will be different for everyone. The fact that all of us are making sacrifices to give at that level is what matters.     


Am I willing to be obedient to the known will of God as He revealed it to me in this matter?

If God has showed you what to give you can have confidence (faith) that He will make it possible for you to complete your commitment. Furthermore it is our obedience that truly allows God to change us and reveal Himself to us.

  

Does my heart respond with joy to my giving sacrificially at this level?

It’s not necessarily the amount we give as much as it is our obedience to God’s will that causes our heart to respond with such joy. Remember God rewards those that seek Him.