The chapter starts off with a simple question:
“Tell me about the most amazing God-moment you’ve ever experienced. What story has inspired you to faith more than any other?”
Then the story that continues as a response to this question is one from a man named James who travels to Africa to minister to some missionaries who have been emotionally depleted by their position. As James tells his story of the plane arriving in Africa and the missionaries there to greet him…one says “can you feel the darkness and oppression in this land?” And this is how James replies to the missionary…”You listen here. I have the living, powerful God of heaven alive in my soul. When I step foot on this land, that oppression feels me.”
Just reading these words gave me chills. How many times I have been the missionary that has felt depleted, ready to toss in the towel, concede defeat. Then I read those words …I have the living, powerful God on my side…that oppression feels me. Just the thought of it has me falling to my knees.
So many times I say I believe His promises, but do my actions show it?
What Susie says on the bottom of page 160 is this…”Uncommon woman, when you keep Jesus on the throne of your life every single day, and when you determine to be done with attitudes and activities that are beneath you, you will be positioned to march into your next place of promise.” When I keep Him on the throne and not my fears, what other people say, or any number of other things that sway my focus, I am able to confidently say and feel…”You listen here…I have the powerful God of heaven alive in my soul. When I step foot in this room, the oppression feels me.” Not one of you reading out there can’t say that this statement just makes you stand a little taller.
But still we as earthly people have the tendency to grumble and lose sight of our calling. In pages 161 & 162 Susie draws the comparison between us and the Israelites when it comes to losing sight of God’s promises. On 162 she wraps it up like this “We live in captivity when we lose sight of our destiny. We won’t take hold of God’s promises if we don’t believe they are true for us. The enemy’s greatest desire is to get us to doubt the goodness and the honor of God, because then we will let go of expectancy and faith and hope and love.” “What you do matters. What you say matters. If you pray, it matters. And if you choose to live a life without faith, it matters very much.”
The Israelites spent their greatest years wandering around in a wilderness spending 40 years on what should have been a days journey. How many times do we spend our greatest years wandering around without the faith to believe what God says is true.
Consider this on page 163…”If we don’t believe God’s promises are true for us in this day, we will pay little attention to our bad attitudes and behaviors. Our feet will be crusted with dirt, but that won’t bother us so much because everyone else, at least that we can see, has more dirt on their feet than we do on ours. Our heart’s soil might be a bit hardened, but for good reason, right? If we don’t believe God’s promises are true, we will give the enemy’s lies free rein in our brain as if those lies are just little irritants and not some kind of deadly poison. If we don’t believe God’s promises are true for us today, we will think nothing of taking care of our problems in the way we always have: with our own understanding and the thirty-two bucks we have in our wallet. We will live earthbound lives with little hope, small faith, and conditional love.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m just not willing to settle for this kind of faith. There’s nothing about this that is appealing to my sense of adventure…and yes I do believe that God equips us with a wonderful sense of adventure to go out and claim our reward.
There is a reason we’re called “believers” and that’s because we believe. We believe all the time, not just when it’s convenient. We believe even when we don’t feel like it. On page 165 Susie talks more about how to make this true for you…”As believers we are called to progressively grow in our capacity to believe. This requires a continual willingness to seek.” The more we know Him, the more we will love Him and the more we will trust Him and the more we will believe Him. It all keeps coming back to a relationship. You can try and try and try to do the set of “rules” and you’ll never succeed. It’s in the relationship that you’ll find your success.
“Don’t put more faith in your obstacles than you do the promises of God. Don’t give more credence to your limitations than you do to God’s unlimited capacity to intervene.” Page 167
What About You?
Here are some practical questions I’ll walk through with my class. (As always…when you join me live you get the goofy stories from my everyday life.)
1. Read Matthew 7:7 and write down these three things.
- What things are you asking the Lord for today?
- In what ways are you seeking after intimacy with God?
- In what ways are you knocking, or inquiring of the Lord (in other words, what are you searching out that you might understand Him more?)
2. Read Matthew 7:9-11
Ask yourself these questions?
- Describe the type of Father you believe that God is toward you?
- Is there any discrepancy between what the Word says about Him and what you think of Him?
3. Read Matthew 7:12
- In what ways are you affecting the world around you?
We’ll end our classes with this prayer from your book.
You’ve been so good to me. Forgive me for the times I’ve chosen fear and unbelief over faith and hope. You are my richest treasure, and I possess all in You. Help me to live above and not beneath my circumstances. Help me to function from a place of overflow and not emptiness. Open my eyes to really see who I am in You, and who You are to me. I know this isn’t about doing more, but rather “being more” with You. When I abide closely to the Vine, I bear much fruit. Keep me close enough to feel Your heartbeat and to hear Your voice. I am Yours and You are mine. Your promises are true and You will make a way for me. I believe this with my whole heart. Amen. ”
Next week is our last time together and we’ll be covering the final two chapters of the book….where I stay in the stronghold of God and live what I believe.
If you’d like to join this study in real time…I’m teaching it at HopePark Wednesday Mornings & Thursday Nights. If you’re a Nashville local, the door is always open. We’re at 8001 Hwy. 70 South, just off I-40. Online at http://hopepark.com and on twitter @hopepark.
Me…well you can find me twittering @jodytodd.
Have a great week!
Questions and assigned quotes from the study by Susie Larson entitled The Uncommon Woman.