Week 8 is an extremely important week in the study Experiencing God. It is where the rubber begins to meet the road. The title of Unit 8 is “Adjusting Your Life to God.”
Blackaby begins this unit with this statement: “Many of us want God to speak to us and give us an assignment. However, we are not interested in making major adjustments in our lives.” I personally understand what Blackaby is saying. Perhaps you do as well. I’ve shared with you many times how I began to sense the Lord calling me into the ministry when I was eighteen years old. Yet I was thirty before I finally surrendered. Why was there a twelve year delay? I can give you four reasons:
- I was not willing to change my lifestyle. (Dress, music, friends, etc)
- I was afraid that others might look down upon me for my decision.
- I allowed my family and others to persuade me to stay where I was instead of going with God.
- I was afraid of the unknown.
As I look at those four reasons, I realize that I’ve had those same struggles over and over again.
As I think back to my 12 year struggle, here’s what’s so crazy about all of it – I kept asking others to help me know what was God’s will for my life. Now I believe that there is safety in the multitude of counselors, however, we must be very careful that we don’t put the counsel of others ahead of the leading of God, especially when it comes to a GOD-SIZED ASSIGNMENT. I don’t read in scripture where any of the other eleven disciples cheered Peter on as he got out of the boat and walked on the water. I do read in the book of Acts where some God-fearing people tried to discourage Paul from doing God’s will. “Don’t you know that there’s great danger in going to Jerusalem? God has revealed to us that you will be arrested.” How would you respond to such advice? Paul didn’t say, “God will protect me from all danger.” Instead he said, “I’m ready to lay down my life for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Many of us don’t like change. We want everything to always be the way it has always been. It’s comfortable and it’s safe; at least it seems that way. The problem with that kind of Christianity is that it requires no faith. Who needs faith when you already know how everything is going to turn out? But the Bible says – “the just shall live by faith” and “without faith it is impossible to please God.” If there’s anything we can learn from Scripture it’s this - God will put us in predicaments that will require us to put our faith in Him and not in our own resources. That scares some of us to death. But it shouldn’t. If we can’t trust God to do what is best for our lives, who can we trust?
Unit 8 is about the need to make major adjustments in our lives once God begins to reveal His will to us. First comes the intimate relationship with God, through which He reveals to us what it is that He is doing. That revelation is our invitation to join Him. However, that invitation also causes what Blackaby calls the ‘Crisis of Belief.’ Don’t focus just on the word crisis. The crisis is not the situation or predicament. The crisis is whether or not you and I will trust God and obey Him. From God’s viewpoint, there is no crisis. He’s God and He knows what is best and He has the power to get it done. The crisis in from our viewpoint that is often influenced by the world. If we choose to trust God and be obedient to what He is calling us to do, it will often require us to make a major adjustment in some part of our life. Blackaby lists some of the things that might happen: (pg 160)
- In your circumstances – job, home, finances
- In your relationships – family, friends, business associates
- In your thinking – prejudices, methods, your potential, your past
- In your commitments – to family, church, job, plans, traditions
- In your actions – how you pray, give, and serve
- In your beliefs – about God, His purposes, His ways, your relationship with Him
One of the things that Blackaby refers to in this unit is not only how obeying God may affect us personally, but also those around us. This unit’s memory verse pretty much says it all –
Luke 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14 contains some very difficult words spoken by the Lord Jesus.
25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
There are very few Christians who do not struggle with those words. I know that I have many times. Does Christ really want us to hate our friends and family? That can’t be the full meaning of what He was saying or else He was contradicting a lot of other portions of scripture. So that must mean that there’s something else here. As I read this chapter over and over again, I saw a verse that I believe helps to unlock the door to what Christ was saying. It’s vs. 18 –
18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse.
I’m sure there’s more in Luke 14 than I will ever understand, but let me call to your attention two things that I believe Christ was trying to point out:
- Beware of the temptation to make excuses for not obeying God
- Beware of boasting about what we will do without being committed to do it
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Blackaby lists several people in the Bible that had to make a major adjustment in order to do God’s will:
- Abram – leaving home and moving to a strange land
- Moses – leaving the desert and returning to Egypt
- David – leaving the sheep, fighting Goliath and living in Saul’s palace
- Jonah – leaving prejudices and ministering to a different group of people
- Disciples – leaving occupations
To me, one of the greatest examples of all of this is found in the Old Testament, 1 Kings 19. It has to do with a young man by the name of Elisha.
1 Kings 19
19 So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.
20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?
When Elijah found Elisha, the young man was with others who were plowing a large field. Without any explanation, Elijah walks up to Elisha and flings his mantle over the shoulders of Elisha and then continues to walk on. Elisha calls out, “Wait a minute and let me go home and tell mom and dad what’s happened and that I will be leaving.” In a rather nonchalant kind of way, Elijah replies, “Go ahead. Who’s stopping you? What’s the big deal?” Elijah did that because he knew that only God can call us to do certain things and if indeed God was in this, He had already begun to work in the young prophet’s life. It was now a matter between Elisha and God.
I love reading what happened next –
21 And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.
He took his team of oxen, slaughtered them and then cooked them with a fire made from the wood of their yokes and gave himself a going away party. What was Elisha doing? He was revealing that he was completely committed to do God’s will and that there was no turning back. Elisha did what Jesus talked about in Luke 14. To tie the two stories together, Elisha burned the plow of the past and put his hand to plow of the future and Jesus said, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:62)
Has God, is God, showing you what He wants to do through your life? Let me re-read a quote from Blackaby that is found in Unit 7, pg 134.
“When God invites you to join Him in His work, He has a God-sized assignment for you. You will quickly realize you cannot do what He is asking on your own. If God doesn’t help you, you will fail. This is the crisis of belief when you must decide whether to believe God for what He wants to do through you.
At this point many people decide not to follow what they sense God is leading them to do. Then they wonder why they do not experience God’s presence and activity the way other Christians do.”
“The way you respond at this turning point will determine whether you become involved with God in something God-sized that only He can do or whether you will continue to go your own way and miss what He has purposed for your life.”