I’d never led a prayer meeting before – let alone in my bathing suit. However, God does not want my experience; He wants my obedience.
At a women’s conference, I learned what this truly meant. I was asked to lead the morning swim and prayer. Generally, I only use my pool at home to play in with the kids. Although I formerly led aerobics classes, I had never been an aqua aerobics leader. And actually I remember attending only one water aerobics class. I definitely did not have the experience. But God did not ask me for experience; He only wanted my obedience. And when I responded, “Yes, I’ll do it” He honoured my obedience.
That morning, I prayed before the class even started. I was not anxious as I felt the Holy Spirit guiding me in what to do. I started with a quiet prayer, “What would You like me to start with Lord?” And He would provide me with an idea. I would share this with the group and we would do it. Then I would ask, “What do I do now?” And He would give me another idea. We did this for 45 minutes. It was powerful.
After the swim, I joined the ladies in the locker room and was encouraged by their comments. God had given each woman what she needed that morning and He used me to do it.
I had learned a motto at a small business seminar over ten years ago that I still live by today. It was, “Get the deal, then panic.” The instructor was referring to a business deal. He advised us to say yes to any request clients or customers brought forward and then later worry about the details. I adopted that motto for my business and enjoyed some very interesting experiences because of it.
However, there is one significant difference between, “get the deal, then panic” and “obedience, not experience” – it’s the panic. I know that when God asks me to do something, He will also equip me to do it. There is no need for panic. God will not ask me to do anything for which I am not ready. I can move forward and say “yes” trusting that I will have the help I need.
In business, I am a sole proprietor. In faith, I am a partner. And what a partner I have. I know that whatever God asks me to do, He will honour my obedience and help me to do it.
Is there anything God is asking you to do that you have said “no” to just because you lack experience?
If they obey and serve Him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment (Job 36:11 NIV).
It was a gorgeous-looking day outside. Fresh snow covered the landscape and trees were heavy with a blanket of white. The sun reflected off the field in a splash of sparkles – it appeared to be another beautiful winter day. But it was frigid. The thermometer stood at minus 20 in the sunshine. I cancelled my walk (yet again) because of the cold.
For months, my routine was to get my children ready in the morning, walk them to the bus stop and then walk around the neighbourhood by myself. However, my routine was interrupted when I started a new work schedule. Instead of walking to the bus stop, I drove the children. Then other days in the week seemed to become busier and I found myself itching to get to my office to clear away the things of the day. Instead of starting my day with a walk around the block, I started to weigh it up against other conflicting priorities. Now, the act of walking had to convince me that it was worth it. Each day it was a battle – walk or not walk?
What I learned is that when I didn’t give myself the choice, I went for a walk regardless of temperature or mood. However, when I made walking an option, I had to think each day, Am I up to it? Do I have time for it? Is it warm enough or cool enough or dry enough? Each day I put myself through a dance of questions, instead of just doing it. “Just do it” (the saying made famous by Nike) has tremendous impact. If I would just walk in the morning instead of giving myself the option, I would not have to worry about what is more important on my list of things to do. I would return from my walk refreshed and ready to face the day.
This reminds me of time spent in prayer and Bible study. When I make it a regular part of my routine then there is no question that I will do it. For months, I had dedicated thirty minutes from 4:00-4:30 p.m. to quiet time with God. The kids were home from school; I reviewed their homework and fed them a snack. Then while they had free time to play – before chores, supper and evening extracurricular activities – I would steal away to read my Bible. The kids knew that this was “Mommy’s time with God.” And so they left me alone for thirty minutes.
However, now my job requires that on some days I am not home until after 4:30. My routine has changed. So on days that I am home I am no longer disciplined to take the time in prayer. Instead I wonder about what to make for supper. I tidy up the house and finish up details on the computer. My quiet time with God is now competing against my to-do list. Whereas before I would “just do it” now each day becomes a battle of what I feel is more important at the moment.
My lesson? Just do it! I need to plan out my week in advance knowing my work schedule and my “to do” list; make contingencies for those days that my regular walking and devotion time gets interrupted, and then do it without further thought.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline (Proverbs 1:7 NIV).
I began smoking at age fifteen. I had continued the habit for over ten years before I decided to quit because I was pregnant with my first-born. It was not a difficult choice – I wanted to be as healthy as possible for my child. However, it was difficult to follow through on this decision.
The habit was ingrained; I smoked on the way to work, on my breaks, lunchtime and on my drive home again. Many of my friends and co-workers also smoked. My lifestyle revolved around this habit.
The decision to quit had to involve changes. I had to change my habits – I took walks on my break and at lunchtime and chewed on a sucker on my drives. I no longer joined friends for a coffee and a cigarette. I ate sunflower seeds when the cravings became intense.
I resolved to quit for the health of my baby and myself and I was determined to do so. With my new habits in place I felt confident. However, shortly after my decision I was reminded of tickets I had purchased to go to a concert with six other friends. We had bought them months in advance and I was excited that I was going to see this group for the first time. I thought I could handle this. At the concert, the music was loud, the crowd cheering and I was enjoying the whole scene. It was great fun – I was happy that I had agreed to join them. But once outside, my friends all lit up and the smell of a freshly lit cigarette was too much to ignore. I begged a friend for a drag. She argued with me, but after a few moments of pleading she eventually handed over the cigarette and I took a long haul. I had an immediate reaction; it was a mixture of satisfaction, yearning for more, and complete disgust. My conflict was painful. Although I desperately wanted a cigarette, I could not bear the repulsion I felt giving in to my craving. The guilt was heavy. I wished I had not gone to the concert. I wished I had not gone with my friends who still smoked. I wished I had not put myself into such a position of temptation.
When tempted, I lost. I thought I could handle the situation, but I couldn’t. I thought I was strong enough, but I wasn’t. I decided not to put myself into such a place of temptation again.
This is what it must mean in the Bible when it says to flee from temptation. Instead of thinking we can fight against it, we shouldn’t even put ourselves in that position. We should run from it. First Timothy 6:11 tells us to flee from all this.
Temptation itself is not a sin. We are all exposed to temptation – even Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1). However, yielding to temptation is a sin. The easiest way to not yield to temptation is to resist it and run from it.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you
(James 4:7 NIV).
The Sinner’s Prayer; I never liked the title of this prayer. It was hard to admit that I had done wrong, let alone that I was a sinner. I was nice to my neighbours, friendly to my co-workers. I didn’t murder. I led an upstanding life. Yeah, sure — I might have told a little white lie or thought something nasty about a person I didn’t like, but that doesn’t make me a sinner. Or does it?
God does not use a scale to measure one sin against another. In His eyes, the fact that I might be envious of a rich person’s mansion is as bad as when I stole a pair of earrings as a child. The fact that I might have lustful thoughts for a movie star is as bad as when I lied to my mom about smoking in her car. All of these sins are considered equal.
This is similar to a law in the health field that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. It doesn’t matter whether the calorie came from a protein or a fat or a carbohydrate. 3500 calories equals one pound, no matter how we consume the calories. Whether you eat an egg, smear butter on your toast, or eat a bowl of iceberg lettuce, each calorie is created equal. It is a law in nature.
So is the law of sin. A murder is no worse in God’s eyes than stealing. In our society, we measure sin on a scale and we strive to find a punishment to fit the crime. This is our legal system. However, I am not talking about human law but rather the way in which God views sin.
This realization that a sin is a sin is a sin can seem harsh. The fact is that we are all stained with a sinful nature and our sin keeps us from heaven. However, God does not leave us here. He realizes that the fruit of our sinful nature are our actual sins. Therefore, God gave us His only son to die on the cross in our place for our past sins and our future sins. This gives us reason to rejoice. Although we are sinners in God’s eyes, He has made a way for us to be clean and to enter into heaven. All we need to do is say and believe the sinner’s prayer:
“Lord Jesus Christ, I am sorry for the things I have done wrong in my life. Please forgive me. I now turn from everything that I know is wrong. Thank You that You died on the cross for me so that I could be forgiven and set free. Thank You that You offer me forgiveness and the gift of Your Spirit. I now receive that gift. Please come into my life by Your Holy Spirit to be with me forever. Thank You, Lord Jesus. Amen.”
If you say and believe this prayer you can rest on the hope of salvation and God’s promise of redemption.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 NIV).