What Does it Mean to Walk by Faith? ~Guest Post by Dena Johnson

[This article first appeared on crosswalk.com here: http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/what-does-it-mean-to-walk-by-faith.html August 14, 2014. Guest Post by Dena Johnson.]
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For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Those words seem simple enough.

However, I am learning that fleshing out those words, that simple concept, can be a much tougher assignment. It requires tremendous courage and strength. You must be willing to be misunderstood and even abandoned. You must be willing to give up any semblance of control of your life that you thought you might have. You must be willing to look like a complete fool.

But, it is a journey of tremendous blessing and reward. It is a journey that is exciting, life-altering, and mind-boggling. It is a journey that will allow you to see and experience God as he was meant to be: in all his fullness and grace.

Walking by faith and not by sight requires you to go to a place you do not know, one that God will reveal as you walk in obedience. Just look to Abraham as an example (Genesis 12:1).

Walking by faith means that you continue to cling to the dreams God has planted in your heart, even when you’ve been thrown away, taken to prison for crimes you didn’t commit. Just look at all Joseph endured (Genesis 37-50).

Walking by faith requires a strong determination to follow God’s plan regardless what life throws your way. Look to Daniel to discover how to have the resolve not to sin (Daniel 1:8).

Walking by faith means you have the courage to stand up for the hurting, broken, and down-trodden, to face death yourself for the good of others. Look at Esther and how she risked the death penalty to save the Jews (Esther).

You just may have to play the part of a fool. Think about Noah building an ark for a flood when it had never even rained on earth. Think about Abraham clinging to the promise that he would be the father of many nations even though he was childless at the age of 100. Think about Moses standing before the Israelites in the wilderness telling them they would eat meat until it disgusted them but having no idea where that meat would come from. Think about Joshua marching around the walls of Jericho as God had told him to and wondering what good it was going to do.

If you choose this path, you must be willing to get out of your comfort zone, to run from the Americanized brand of Christianity that so many of us have known our entire lives. You must be willing to let God take your world and turn it upside down, shake it up, and start all over again. You must be willing to let God out of the neat little box that you have put him in, to let him show up as he sees fit.

Maybe it will be a calling to do something you never dreamed before: foster or adopt children, leave your job and become a missionary, trade in the worldly comforts for heavenly treasures.

Maybe it won’t be that clean and neat and socially acceptable. Maybe, like me, your world will be turned upside down by the pain of adultery and divorce. Or, maybe you will be faced with infertility or addiction. Maybe you will have a prodigal child that completely changes the direction of your life. Or, maybe you’ve experienced the loss of a child—a hurt like no other.

I don’t know what your shake up might look like, but I know that if you will give it to God—throw up your arms in surrender and ask him to use it to change your life—he will honor your request. He will take you on a journey, teach you to walk by faith, entrust you with some of life’s most treasured moments.

He will build a faith in you—faith that moves mountains and moves God’s hands. He will teach you to live this life with abandonment, giving you a freedom to walk in all his fullness and grace. He will prepare you to be used mightily in this life for his glory.

Perhaps you’ve already experienced your life being turned upside down, toppled without any control. Perhaps, like me, you’ve found yourself wandering in the wilderness, watching his fire direct your every step by night, a cloud lead you by day. Perhaps you sense you are on the edge of the Promised Land, just waiting for him to give the command to take possession.

And yet, you are tired and weary. You’ve lost friends who don’t understand how you can continue to cling to a promise that is so obviously dead and gone. You are so close and yet feel so far away. You are struggling with temptations to just settle, even though you know it is less than God’s best. You simply don’t know how much longer you can stand.

You are not alone. I see God raising up a remnant of believers, those he knows will be obedient. He is looking for those with clean hands and a pure heart, those who will choose obedience even if it costs them everything this world has to offer. He is looking for those who will throw caution to the wind, believe that he has an abundant life (John 10:10) waiting if we will follow his ways. He is looking for those whose hearts have been purified, whose faith has been strengthened by the trials of this life (James 1:2). He is looking for those who will cling to his promises even when it seems there is no hope.

Be strong and courageous, my friends!

God has specifically chosen you to be a part of this remnant, those who will allow him to take their lives and mold them into what he wants. He has chosen you to have your faith tested and tried, and he promises that the fire will only purify you—not burn you. He has promised that he will be with you every single step, walking with you, carrying you, supporting you. He promises that he is still in control even when life seems to be spiraling wildly out of control.

He is teaching you to trust him so he can do something bigger and better than you ever dreamed possible (Ephesians 3:20-22). He is teaching you to let go and trust him with your heart, your soul, your life (Proverbs 3:5-6). He is teaching you to walk every single day in the spirit so that he can do even greater works in you and through you (John 14:12). He is preparing you to be a beacon of light and hope to a world which desperately needs to see Jesus.

I don’t know where you are on this journey of walking by faith, but I encourage you—beg you, plead with you—to wave the white flag of surrender. Let God take your life, your pain, your loss and use it for his glory. Ask him to do an amazing work in you so he can do an amazing work through you.

Get out of that boat and step onto the water…and never take your eyes off him. It is a decision you will never regret!

Thank you, Dena Johnson, for these incredible and powerful words.  Thank you for your permission to share this encouragement.  You know I needed it.  May this bless thousands of lives!
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More Than Bathroom Signs

Just because something feels right or good doesn’t always mean we should follow it or do it. It may be good to ask for more direction or read the signs before moving forward.

For example:

When you walk down the hallway where the bathrooms are at the nearest Chili’s, which I’ve done a hundred times over the years, the women’s restroom is on the left and the men’s is straight ahead.

But when you walk down the hallway marked “Restrooms” at Jason’s Deli, the one on the left is NOT – I repeat – NOT where they keep the women’s restroom.

It may be best not to ask me how I know this. Let’s just say I pay more attention to signs than I used to. (I may – or may not – have been in the restroom when I witnessed, through the crack in the stall door, a man washing his hands in what I thought was the women’s bathroom.)

If you’ve read this blog before then you know I’m talking about more than bathroom signs.

One time, about 3 or so years ago, I sat in my house and shared a fear with a teacher from church that I felt God was leading me to speak on stage one day and I was kind of afraid and didn’t really want to do this. (Give me a room full of 2 or 3 year olds and SURE I’m great and love teaching but a room full of adults; Yikes!)

Without hesitation he said, “Yeeaahh, but if He’s not…”

And I quietly repeated that I really feel He’s showing me (and He has been tugging on my heart for some time) this is something He’s doing with my life.  “But I think God’s doing this with me.”

Again, ALL he said was, “Yeahh, but if He’s not…”

That doesn’t seem like a very wise response when someone tells you that she feels God is leading her to something (whether she’s afraid or not.)

You’re probably already thinking there are at least 20 better pieces of advice or responses that could follow that.

~~> I believe the very best advice may be this encouragement when people open up and share with you what they believe God is doing in their lives; “That sounds amazing. Ask for more confirmation. I’ll be praying, too.” <~~

The problem I had with this experience was that I listened to a man (and someone I respected at the time) over what I kinda already knew to be true. And I believed that I probably “heard” God wrong for a few more years.

The only reason I can see to tell people they’re wrong about God Calling them is jealousy or maybe ignorance about the truth that the Holy Spirit actually does what God says He does in the Bible and that He actually DOES live in us and He actually DOES guide us every day. He actually interprets for us when we talk to God and aren’t even sure what to pray.

If you feel God is leading you to something, please pray for more confirmation and ask other believers to pray with you, too. I believe many of us miss out on Supernatural and Divine work that God’s got for us simply because we are listening to other people tell us it’s not possible that God actually works in ways He says He does.

God can take things we think are impossible and make them completely 100% possible and real. And He does this with everyday people like you and me. Believe His Promises.

Think about this:

If people tell you God only uses teachers, preachers, and Bible scholars, then maybe they’re missing the fact that Jesus chose regular people to walk with Him and perform miracles. He could have chosen anyone, right?

God’s got a plan for your life no matter who you are or what you’ve done.

Ask Him for more confirmation. And I’ll be praying, too.

 

Mustard Seeds, His Money, and a Question

A church we went to for a short time taught me a couple things that other churches my whole life had never taught me but should have.

And I made ONE simple life change.

HIS MONEY.

Give. Start with 10% and also go from there any time God moves your heart to give… NOT just when you feel like it as many churches excuse… NOT from your leftovers IF you have some after all the bills and going out to eat.

GIVE.

You give simply because God says to.

It is all about being obedient to God.

God spoke and created the entire world. He does not need YOUR money to do anything. You give because He said to give. You give out of your first money. You give because you’re made in HIS image. He loves us so much THAT HE GAVE His only Son.

WHERE do you think the money came from?
WHERE do you think your job came from?
WHERE do you think the talents to DO your job came from?

God.

MUSTARD SEEDS.

The other thing this church did that we’d never seen before was something they called a Mustard Seed Offering. In this service they handed out an envelope with several mustard seeds in them.

The front of the envelope had this on it:

{SEEDS OF FAITH

Jesus said, “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

THESE SEEDS REPRESENT MY FAITH FOR A MIRACLE.

“For whatsoever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7}

And on the back we were told to write everything we are asking of God.

I filled up the entire back of that envelope with lots of prayers and some are small and some are big. Some are prayers that ONLY God could answer.

And I believed it right then (almost 1 year ago) and I still believe it now because this is still happening every day.

A QUESTION.

The ONE simple life change I made is every morning before I get out of bed I ask God, “God, what do YOU want me to do today?”

See? Simple.

Think about this. It’s not like God’s going to FORCE you to ask Him. He’s not going to FORCE you to do what He wants. We have free choice.

If you liked a person and decided to marry him or her, you wouldn’t just one day suddenly be married, right? You ASK for that person to marry you.

If your child finally comes to you and says, “Hey, Dad, what do YOU want me to do today?” The possibilities are endless. See what I’m saying? Our Father owns the cattle AND the hills!

This sounds simple. And it is. And the giant ways God will move and work in your life is something amazing! The ways He’s been working in mine sometimes leaves me speechless and constantly in awe of His power and how true it is that He keeps His promises.

I challenge you to do this.

GIVE.
Give 10% of your FIRST money (and also any time God leads you to give.

How can you receive MORE money and blessings
if you’re fists are so tightly holding on to the little bit of money you have now?
Open your hands.)

ASK.

Ask God every day,

“God, what do YOU want me to do today?”

Just One More

Just one more hug. Just one more book tonight. Just one more kiss. Just one more.

Why not? We are not promised tomorrow and if time on earth was up, as a human mommy, I’d sure want that one more hug from my daughters right now.

We try not to get upset when the kids come downstairs, after bedtime, to talk to us at night. (When it happens more often, of course, we’re not so happy about it. We’re human.)

But, isn’t it nice that when we want to talk to God just one more time today, He doesn’t ground us. He doesn’t say, “I’ve had a rough day, Kerri, and I’m done for today. Maybe we can talk about it tomorrow.” He doesn’t say to me, “Go to bed. Daddy needs a break. I love you, and I need time to myself.” He JUST loves me. He JUST listens to me.

Just WHO AM I to be able to have just one more talk with Him?