Devotionals For Leaders: Certainly Uncertainty

TRAVEL

Where did we ever get the idea that following Jesus was safe? Definitely not from reading the scripture! Person after person in the Bible not only had their faith tested but many of them lost their lives because of that very faith. No, following Jesus is not safe and that’s for certain.

Nor is following Jesus predictable. We can try to figure out God’s next move but to our own chagrin. We try to guesstimate based on our previous experiences and God does something new and completely different. God will not be boxed in, nor will He be predictable. Our God is really edgy and on the wild side to be honest. You can be certain about that.

When it comes down to it, if you want a safe predictable life, then Jesus is not the God you want to choose. With Jesus, the one thing you can be certain of is uncertainty. God will not disclose to you everything He knows but that which you need to know at the right time. He may not even disclose anything for that matter. His point? That you would know Him and trust Him, not what else you know.

People want a common sense kind of life, one that makes sense to them and others. But God doesn’t promise a life that makes sense…just ask Job! What God does promise us is a life that makes us trust, love, forgive, believe, hope, and give Him glory. Oswald Chambers said:

The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled. But when we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy.

As leaders it’s important to realize that you don’t know it all and to be ok with that. Leading doesn’t mean you have to know how it all plays out. It means that you are the first one to step out into the glorious uncertainty. God doesn’t call us to safety first or common sense living. He calls us to the life of uncertainty where we are completely certain of Him.

John the Baptist even had to grapple with this, being locked in jail for preaching against the king’s immorality. From prison, John sends his disciples to Jesus wondering if He was the One or if they should look for another. Jesus sent them back telling that He was the One that scriptures said would come. But what Jesus didn’t say was that He was the One who would deliver John from prison. Jesus didn’t do what others may have thought He would have/should have done. Jesus and John were cousins, sharing in the same line of work. Joh even baptized Jesus for goodness sake! Yet in that certain uncertainty, John knew from the beginning of his ministry that following Jesus would be dangerous. He knew that it could eventually cost him his life. And it did.

Jesus doesn’t promise you an easy path. He doesn’t promise to be a God you can box in or act in the ways you want Him too. He DOES promise to never leave you. He DOES promise to always take the bad or ugly or difficult or hard and transform it into something beautiful. He’s asking you to trust Him with the certain uncertainty because He’s not once ever failed and He’s certainly not gonna start now.

Final thought: following Jesus is certainly not always easy but it’s certainly an adventure you will not ever regret. If you want a safe, easy, predictable life, choose another god. If you want an abundant life, follow on.

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Devotionals For Leaders: Ever More, Never Enough

ever more

It’s not that stuff is bad. But when loving stuff outweighs our love for God, then there’s trouble with a capital “T”. We live in a society where more is never enough. Regardless of how wealthy, well-off, or worshipped one may be, more is the mantra of the age. Is that true for you? How content are you with what you have, who God made you and what God gave you?

We tend to value material things much more than we value character. The intangibles like virtue and integrity have been lost in a quest for more. Character has been compromised for the sake of more “likes” on Facebook, Instagram, Vine or whatever social app you want to name. I wouldn’t even be able to guess where “holiness” rates on the more “like” scale. The fact is that “more” affects us more than we think it does. Whether it’s more stuff or more “likes” or “favorites” or “follows” or “retweets” or money or success or sex or popularity or freedom or…you fill in the blank, it will never be enough.

John D. Rockefeller, the great philanthropist and oil tycoon was once asked: “how much money is enough money?” His reply? “Just a little bit more”. Isn’t it true of everything in life? We think what we want is what we want until we get it and then we want more. Getting more often creates a vacuum, an insatiable hunger and desire within us, that is nearly untamable. How can we slake our craving for more?

Pray First.

It seems silly to even say it but we often minimize prayer. When the “more monster” begins to growl, spend a few moments in prayer. Ask God if the more you are desiring is from Him and for Him or is it just for you to consume and enjoy? Is it to satisfy your selfish desires or is it to use for His glory? Often “more” is the very thing that drives a wedge between us and everyone else in our lives, especially God.

Practice Patience.

Living in a credit based society, we can take “more” to a whole different level. All we have to do is put it on a credit card. Many are regretting this way of life now as they suffer under a load of debt for which they can barely make minimum payments.  Taking some time and not buying immediately allows the opportunity for prayer, the overview of “need versus want” and an objective look at cash flow to be evaluated. Being patient with seeking “more” teaches us valuable lessons in using what we have, appreciating the cost and work in obtaining “more”. Being patient can also save us costly interest down the road.

Look For The Void.

Whatever the “more” in your life is, it is there because of some void within. The quest for “more” is often punctuated by the emptiness inside. Sadly, that’s something that “more” will never satisfy. Take some time when the “more monster” begins to raise his head and look for the void. Ask yourself why you feel compelled to have more/need more? What is it that “more” makes you feel or think about yourself? How does “more” affect your relationships with others?

Latch Onto Less.

As leaders, the “more monster” can be power, or a larger congregation or bigger ministry. Remember the words of John The Baptist? John said: He must increase and I must decrease. John learned what it meant to latch onto “less”, even as his own disciples were abandoning him for Jesus. The thrust of John’s message was “more of Christ” less of “me”. Paul was also one that learned to latch onto less and here’s what he said about it:

 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. Philippians 4:11

The secret that Paul is talking about is contentment. When it all comes down, we are not happy with our lives, with ourselves, or with God and therefore we want “more”. Paul would have us understand that “more” is not going to make us content. But contentment will make us joyful.

Look At What You Got.

Failure to truly take time to see and appreciate what we have is another issue that creates the “more monster”. Taking daily time to be thankful for all we have will go a long way in killing that monster that craves more. People who want “more” seldom realize all they have in the first place. Their focus is not on what they have but rather what they don’t have.

Don’t Compare.

Finally I would suggest that people who struggle with “more” do so most because they are comparing themselves with so many others. Again living in the kind of world we live in makes this very easy to do. Fifty years ago we only had to keep up with the Jones’ down the street but now we have to keep up with the Jones’, Smiths, and a host of others from around the world. Comparing our lives with others will always leave us with angst.

What we must realize is that true joy and satisfaction comes not by getting “more” but allowing Christ to have “more” of us.  As we hold onto little by little until there’s nothing “more” we find true peace. Living in this truth helps us grasp that “never more” is “always enough” in Christ.

Final thought: letting go of “more” is not getting less but actually getting it all.