being available.

My best friend recently bought me a book she had been trying to get me to read for a while now.  It’s called “Kisses from Katie” and it’s the story of an 18 year old girl that graduated high school, moved to Uganda, and adopted 14 kids.  All by herself.  All because God told her to.

We agreed on reading a chapter a day and then discussing it over Voxer.  I read the first chapter, cried my eyes out, and decided I had to share my reactions here.  So for the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about this book, one chapter at a time.

Chapter 4: Saying Yes

Quick Summary: Katie details the beginnings of her nonprofit organization.  She wasn’t qualified to start any sort of organization – she merely made herself available to God.  Within 3 months, her dream had become a full-fledged nonprofit organization that was sending over a 100 children to school, feeding them, offering medical assistance, and telling them of Christ’s love for them.

My reaction:

“I was in no way qualified, but I was available.  I have learned that something happens when one makes herself available to God: He starts moving in ways no one could imagine.  God began doing things in me, around me, and through me as I offered myself to Him.  I began each day saying ‘Okay, Lord, what would you have me do today?  Whom would you have me help today?’  And then I would allow Him to show me.  I would like to say that I had all kinds of great ideas about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it.  I would like to say my ministry was born out of a carefully thought-out plan.  These things simply aren’t true, though.  I was walking through life one moment at a time, blown away by what God could do through me if I simply said yes.  My heart was on fire with a passion to say yes to God’s every request – to do more to help the people around me.”

I am a reticent person.  I will offer a million reasons why it is safer to not reach out, or to merely donate money to people who are more “trained” to reach out to others.  I am Moses, bargaining with God to send someone else.  I am Jonah, running away from the mission God entrusts me with.  My sister however, is none of these people.  She has always been brave – fearless really.  And with a capacity to love and interact strangers that amazes and scares me in equal measures.  I remember her coming home to tell me how she met a young boy in the city park and upon starting a conversation with him realized he was a runaway who had been “recruited” into prostitution.  She helped him go home to his mother.  My sister is my secret hero.  But I don’t have to wish to be like her – I CAN be like her.  I can be the person that says yes and is available to God.  I can be fearless because I’m beginning to understand it’s not about how hard I try.  All I need to be is willing.

“God had promised Sarah and Abraham that they would be the parents of a great nation, yet at the age of sixty-five Sarah was still childless.  She was beginning to doubt.  Leaving behind her homeland, she and her husband moved hundreds of miles south to the land of Canaan, the place where god had told them He would fulfil His promise.  The land was full of God’s promises but barren of all things cherished and familiar.  Finally tired of waiting, Sarah tried to take matters into her own hands by letting her husband sleep with her servant, and though the outcome was a child, this was not the perfect child God had promised, the one who would make her the mother of a nation.  Years later, at the age of ninety, Sarah finally gave birth to her promised child. She called him Isaac, meaning ‘The Lord has filled me with laughter.’  Despite her frailties, little faith, and self-reliance, God accomplished His purpose – and Sarah was filled with joy.

I will doubt.  This is not a call to not doubting – let’s be honest, we will all doubt.  But thank God He is faithful when we are faithless.  Despite our frailties, our doubts, our lack of faith, our desire to control our own destinies and rely on our own strength, despite our humanness – God will accomplish His purpose.  I just don’t want to fight Him along the way.

2 Timothy 2:13 (NIV)

To learn more about Katie and her ministry you can check out Katie’s blog here.

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Of faith.

17 As it is written, I have made you the father of many nations. [He was appointed our father] in the sight of God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed.

18 [For Abraham, human reason for] hope being gone, hoped in faith that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been promised, So [numberless] shall your descendants be.

19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered the [utter] impotence of his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or [when he considered] the barrenness of Sarah’s [deadened] womb.

20 No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God,

21 Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised.

-Romans 4: 17-21 (AMP)

I’ve been going through the Ray Stedman devotionals on Romans lately and today’s reading/devotions really blew me away.  Basically he was discussing the topic of faith.  Specifically using the example of Abraham to define what faith actually is, and what the obstacles to faith are.  (Please note, I will be lifting copy directly from his devotionals so if it sounds like I have suddenly become an amazing writer – those are most likely his words and not mine 🙂 )

What is faith?

Verse 17: “As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed

The key here is not the AMOUNT of faith you have but rather the OBJECT of your faith, which is, drumroll…God.  Again – the amount of your faith has nothing to do with it – Jesus himself said “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt 17:20).  Rather the quality of your faith depends on the object in which that faith has placed its trust.  It’s not about your faith but it is about GOD, in whom your faith is fixed.

So – what kind of God is He?  What is it about God that will allow you to fix your faith in Him?

 Verse 17: “As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

He is the God who (1.) gives life to the dead.  He takes things that were once alive & vibrant but have died and become hopeless and brings them to life again.  He also (2.) “speaks of the non-existent things that [He has foretold & promised] as if they [already] existed” (AMP).  He calls into existence things that do not exist.

What are the obstacles to faith? 

1) Hopeless Circumstances – In this particular example the hopeless circumstances are Abraham & Sarah’s barrenness.  They were promised that they would have numerous descendants, and that out of their descendants, the Seed (Christ) would come, He who would make possible the gift of righteousness.  Basically, everything hung on the birth of a baby – to a couple for whom this would be impossible.  So what did Abraham do?  He faced the facts.

Verse 19: “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.

Faith is not escapism!  It is NOT about evading facts. 

Verse 18: “[For Abraham, human reason for] hope being gone, hoped in faith that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been promised, So [numberless] shall your descendants be” (AMP).

YET, Abraham had hope!  Why?  Even faced with the facts, he remembered he had a God who raises the dead & calls into existence the things that do not exist!  Against all hope, he believed in hope – because of the God in whom his faith was fixed.

Now here is the 2nd obstacle to faith – the one I wasn’t expecting that really blew me away.

2) Staggering Possibilites – the promise given to Abraham, was in itself an obstacle to faith.  Why on earth would God’s promise to him be an obstacle to his faith??

Verse 20: “yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God”

The promise to be an heir of all the world and to have righteousness (undeserved standing with God) was beyond belief.  It was too good to be true – until Abraham remembered what kind of God he had – and so he believed.

How many times do we lose faith because of hopeless circumstances?  What about because of the staggering possibilities?  Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too hard or too wonderful for the Lord?” (AMP)

I will be the first to admit I’m only human.  I look at my circumstances and sometimes I am overwhelmed and worry overtakes me.  Doubt assails me.  I pray for miracles, I pray for mountains to be moved.  But when God actually gives me fantastic, amazing promises in response to my prayers do I believe?  No.  I look at that promise and pronounce it too good to be true.  I minimize God and trivialize His promise to one my mind can comprehend – a promise I can get behind because it does not require the exercising of my faith.

Ray Stedman talks about this –saying:

“If you have faith like a tiny little grain of mustard seed, but the object of your faith is trustworthy and has promised to do something, then exercise your faith & it will grow.  OBEY.”

Verse 21; “Fully satisfied and assured [persuaded] that God was able and mighty [had the power] to keep His word & to do what He had promised.” (AMP, NIV)

“You will never know when a thing that is dead & dull & lifeless may be touched by the grace of God & brought to life again.  When something that you cannot possibly hope for – something which does not now exist, but which will be called into existence by the God who calls into existence the things that do not exist – when such a thing is promised by a God like this, life is an adventure.”

“Trust against the circumstances that surround us, when we have a promise to oppose against it, the promise & a God who says He will do something & who cannot fail”.

Link to the original article/devotional/sermon transcript here.