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The lesson from the circumcision of joshua’s generation is equally important but a little more subtle: until you humble yourself and submit your heart to God’s process of renewal, you cant go forward into the next victory He has planned for your life.
Before God can bring His promises to pass in your life, He has to strip away all the stuff that keeps you from trusting Him wholeheartedly. And that stuff is on the inside. God’s invisible work in you prepares you for His visible works through you.
When God comes toward you with the flint knife remember that He’s not out to hurt you. He’s aligning your desires with his desires so that He can accomplish the impossible in your life.
I bring this up because I want you to live your best life. To achieve all you dream of. To live under the blessing and favour of God. To have all the doors that can be opened opened. Lets not be ignorant and stick our head in the sand and pretend we can live our lives our ways. Not realistic.
I know by experience that God will orchestrate experiences and circumstances to root out sin and change us. He is determined in His process and unrelenting in His love.
Hosea 6:1 Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.
Lamentations 1:5 The LORD has brought her grief because of her many sins. Her children have gone into exile, captive before the foe.
Following God does not guarantee a crisis-free life. These are opportunities to strengthen us and refine us. Sometimes they may be discipline orientated. Sometimes not. Regardless embrace hard times as times of strengthening. This process is the place where you lay down your pride and learn to rely totally on God. Most importantly, the process is the way we grow to know God. And that’s really the whole point.
When you really understand God’s work in your, your natural desire will be to surrender your life to Him. To obey Him unconditionally. That posture of surrender will result in radical steps of faith, and a confidence that flows from a heart that’s fully devoted to God’s plans.
Many of the people in the bible underwent major change between the promise and call and the outworking of that call.
Abraham called to be Father of the nations – barren and fatherless for a significant portion of his life.
Jacob the liar changed into Israel, leader of a nation.
Joseph was sold into slavery and jailed unjustly but became the saviour of a famine struck Israel.
David was called to be king but then spent his years hiding out in caves, running for his life.
Peter was called to be a disciple of Jesus but then in shame denied Him, but then rose to be one of the foundational apostles.
Lets look at a real graphic example: turn to Joshua 5
This chapter goes into the moments AFTER crossing the jordan and BEFORE attacking jerico. And it involves something I NEVER thought I’d write about.
The israelites crossed the jordan river under the leadership of joshua in the most miraculous way. They’re living out their divine destiny. They’re embarking on the adventure of taking the promised land. But there is that one vital thing that had to happen first…
Joshua 5:2 while israel was camped at Gilgal the Lord said “Joshua, make some flint knives and circumcise the rest of the Israelite men and boys”
In the NT the same ritual takes place on a different level. God is more interested in our internal, spiritual condition. So the apostle Paul talks about a “circumcision of the heart”, one that isn’t merely “outward and physical” (Romans 2:28-29). This circumcision involves God cutting away everything in our lives that doesn’t bring glory to him. Stripping away our pride and self reliance. Removing our rebellion and tendency to choose our own preferences over His ways. Teaching us to trust in Him alone.
Before we can claim the territory for God that He has promised us – before we can live out our call to the absolute fullest that God dreams, our hearts will have to be circumcised. We have to go under the knife. We have to choose to take some costly steps of obedience to really follow Christ in real living active authentic faith.
see I AM CONSECRATED #1 HERE
see I AM CONSECRATED #2 HERE
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 2 Timothy 2:20-21
If you’re wanting to serve God and be successful in living out our call – be it ministry or in the occupation God has called us to – then our life must be built on His will and His ways. It’s not good enough to want to be used or to have good intentions – it takes action, surrender and life change to build a life God’s way. The key words in 2 Timothy 2 is CLEANSE YOURSELF. YOU make the choice and the change.
The great things God will do through you are going to grow in the soil of persistence, prayer, obedience and sacrifice. That means there will be plenty of plowing and pruning. That’s the way living things grow, whether you’re talking about vegetables or vision. steven furtick
We have become a complacent generation who have sacrificed holiness for our own preferences.
When it is a matter of our preferences vs His Way and His will we often bow down to the altar of self. steven furtick
That has got to change and die to move forward. There are many examples in the bible where people didn’t progress and their lives and ministry stagnated because of sin and disobedience. While God is a God of grace and transformation and redemption He doesn’t ignore our sin or turn a blind eye. He will root it out and prune us. That is because He isn’t so much interested in our happiness but in our character and our eternity and His Kingdom.
When you’re ignoring God you’re not listening to Him. When you’re choosing self and flesh over God and His ways you’re putting yourself on the throne and chucking Him off. When you’re doing your own thing you’re shutting the door in His face.
You have to know you have a divine destiny – before you were born God formed you and called you. You have to know it doesn’t happen by accident – that life is intentional and the choice to say YES to God is up to you.
Vision defines the parameters of our life. Vision points our life in a direction and we build our lives upon that. The call of God isn’t so much about DOING things but it is about BEING the right person that God can use.
How do we become someone that God can use?
two keys are:
1. we have see God’s Word as the highest authority.
2. we have to see God’s purpose as the highest priority.
A challenge for our generation is to recognize that Jesus is LORD and that He calls us to take up our cross, follow Him and walk like Him.
We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2:3-6
see I AM CALLED SERIES here
see I AM CREATED SERIES here
see I AM IN CHRIST SERIES here
see I AM IN PROCESS SERIES here
Elisha’s process between the call and the living the call was to serve Elijah.
Joshua’s process between the promise of the Promised Land and the crossing over the Jordan River was to spend 40 years in the wilderness with a generation who had to die.
Even Jesus had process. He didn’t begin His public until He was 30.
Process can be hard.
In the process we have to press in and be faithful and motivated and growing.
There are lessons to be learned in the process. Lessons about ourselves, lessons about how to work with others, lessons about how to relate to God.
Sometimes, God uses the disasters around us to rebuild the heart within us. Jarrid Wilson ~ The Breakdown
Sometimes, God will use the events around you, to help mold the heart within you. Jarrid Wilson
Process isn’t just about skills its also about character.
Process is all part of it. Its not less important that the destination and the success.
God will open the right doors at the right time.
“Its not about knowing who holds the right keys but its about knowing the KEEPER of the keys” – Peter Robertson.
God can promote us at the right time. But I also believe He will also hold us back if we are not surrendered and transformed. God is full of grace but He is also holy. He uses flawed human beings but that doesn’t excuse compromise and a heart that isn’t fully leaning to God… God wants us to be intentionally following Him not intentionally following our own self and self desires.
see I AM IN PROCESS #1 here
see I AM IN PROCESS #2 here
Joseph is another man whose course looks crazy when you look back at the call and the living out of the call. As a young man he dreamed of leadership and destiny but first had to endure the rejection of his brothers, to the extreme – they sold him into slavery – where he was promoted and then falsely accused and sent to prison for many many years. Then when it looked like the light at the end of the tunnel he is forgotten for more years. Over 17 years pass in Egypt. And then SUDDENLY he is promoted again and is living his dream.
I read these interesting verses in psalm 105 the other week while thinking more about The Process….”He called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food; and he sent a man before them— Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the LORD proved him true.” Psalm 105:16-19
Until what he foretold came to pass, until the Word of the Lord, until his dreams of leadership and destiny, until the Lord proved him true… until the right time… until Joseph was ready and the times were ready. There was a bigger picture.
see I AM IN PROCESS #1 here
So the first part is hearing and recognizing the call… followed by the process… to get to the promise…
The second challenge we have is the time between the promise and the living it. The process. Sometimes great time can pass between the call and the living that call. During this time God is shaping us and forming us and dealing with the crud within us. He is renewing our mind and making us into a vessel of honour (2 Timothy 2:20-21)
Take for example Saul and David.
Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else. 1 Samuel 9:2
They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.” 1 Samuel 10:23-24
When Saul was chosen king he was the most handsome and stand out guy in the nation. He had all the gifts and talents and personality. Samuel anointed him and he immediately began ruling as king of all of Israel. Yet he ended up failing as king and turning away from God.
“While king saul was truly the best man Israel had to offer when they demanded a king, his heart had not been groomed through testing before he assumed the throne. As king, saul was entrusted with a measure of anointing to lead the armies of Israel to victory and shepherd the people. Yet without the strength of character that only comes by winning private battles, these public victories exposed the previously hidden weakness of saul’s heart towards God. That weakness, combined with his growing appetite for favour of man, led him to bring glory to himself and disobey the Lord.” Bill Johnson – Strengthen Yourself In The Lord
David however was anointed and then spent about 14 years in “training”. In those training years he endured more difficulty, persecution and rejection that many of us face in a lifetime. He probably didn’t expect it to take so long for him to be king. God didn’t want another king saul and so took His time to mold David into a king and man after His own heart.
God takes us through a process of character growth and learning and development. Refinement. Transformation. Change. = Process.
We are like jars of clay, shaped and moulded by God for His purposes and plans.
The third person, and my favourite call is Isaiah:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:1-8
Isaiah sees God. Isaiah responds to God. Here am I, SEND ME.
No questions. No self doubt. No self examination – apart from recognizing that he is sinful and broken and human – and recognizing that God is great and glorious and powerful. His humanity doesn’t hold him back from responding to God with HERE I AM SEND ME. He doesn’t question his gifts or his skills or his natural attributes. He doesn’t compare himself to anyone else. Isaiah had confidence in God. He had a clear and correct view of God, believing that God is actually who He says He is. and that He can do what He says He can do. His encounter with God and connection to Him gave Isaiah perspective and faith.
I want to be more like Isaiah. Unreserved in my response to God.
Don’t be put off by the challenges of ministry or your perception of limitation. God uses the broken and the flawed to shine His glory, power and love through us to the world. We are witnesses of what God can do – forgive, restore, love, use. Our life is a demonstration of His nature.
God doesn’t called the equipped… He equips the called.
Moses’ first encounter with God is recorded in exodus 3. The way their meeting goes down should be extremely encouraging for anyone who has ever felt super ordinary and insignificant.
The setting is the far side of the desert.
Moses is tending sheep.
The sheep belong to Moses’ father in law.
A bush catches on fire.
Moses walks over to look…
And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
So He said, “I will certainly be with you.
How many of us respond to the call of God like Moses? WHO AM I?
When God called Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1 he said the exact same thing WHO AM I? I am too young.
When God called Abraham and told him he was going to be father of nations Abraham said the samish thing WHO AM I? I am too old.
Who am I? That’s not really the question.
There are 3 people in the bible who I want to dissect and examine what happened when God called them. We can look at people’s stories in the bible – see how they responded to God and learn from it what to do and what not to do…
My name is Jeremiah. I am a priest, and my father Hilkiah and everyone else in my family are from Anathoth in the territory of the Benjamin tribe. This book contains the things that the Lord told me to say. v1
The Lord said: “Jeremiah, I am your Creator, and before you were born, I chose you to speak for me to the nations.” v 4-5
Hey – did you notice that Jeremiahs message is STILL going forth to the nations – in fact more nations than he was even aware of at the time he was alive! God anointed and appointed Jeremiah before he was even born for this task and calling.
I replied, “I’m not a good speaker, Lord, and I’m too young.” v6
oh Jeremiah – you’re so funny! Jeremiah is trying a Moses here BUT he should have taken notice and great hope that GOD CALLED HIM before he was born and thus knows all about him – his age, his abilities etc – in fact GOD CREATED Jeremiah to be the way he is. He is Creator God and formed him. Jeremiah had all the answers to his insecurities in what God said back in verse 5 “I am your creator and i call you to speak for me.” Likewise for each of us God has the answers! The fact that God created Jeremiah and knows him inside outside upside down should negate any worry and insecurities that Jeremiah has.
“Don’t say you’re too young,” the Lord answered. “If I tell you to go and speak to someone, then go! v7
Strong challenge we call all learn (and be challenged) from! What excuses are we saying and thinking? What restrictions are we placing upon ourselves and upon God! When God has all the answers and when he calls us to obey.
I promise to be with you and keep you safe, so don’t be afraid.” v8
Again another answer to all the questions in Jeremiahs heart. I AM WITH YOU says God. What a promise! With that promise Jeremiah can take on the world. Likewise Jesus said to us “Lo I am with you always”. Nothing should restrict us our limit us!
The Lord reached out his hand, then he touched my mouth and said, “I am giving you the words to say, 10 and I am sending you with authority to speak to the nations for me. You will tell them of doom and destruction and of rising and rebuilding again.” v9-10
Again God has a supernatural answer – he empowers Jeremiah for the mission.
The Lord showed me something in a vision. Then he asked, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” v11
God now begins to practically train Jeremiah for his mission. He calls, equips and trains us for His purpose. God is actively involved in partnering with us!
The big question: how is this relevant for our lives?