But without faith it is impossible to please him…
— Hebrews 11:6
I am so glad Denise and I chose to obey God when He called our family to move from a comfortable life in the United States into the unknown challenges of ministering in the former Soviet Union. I vividly remember that difficult time when I struggled with the growing awareness of that divine call. However, I ultimately came to the place where I knew there was no way around it. If we were going to obey God and walk in divine alignment with His plan and purpose for our lives, we’d have to obey His leading and move halfway around the world to the former USSR.
A verse that really helped me back in those days — and that still helps me today — is Hebrews 11:6. It says, “But without faith, it is impossible to please Him [God]…” The word “without” is the Greek word choris, a word that means to be outside of something — like outside the city limits or outside the house, as opposed to inside the city or inside the house. It should actually be translated, “But outside of faith…”
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
This word describes faith as a location — a place where you can live “in” or live “out” of. The Greek literally means, “But outside of the place of faith, it is impossible to please Him…”
Furthermore, the word “please” is the Greek word euarestesai, a compound of the words eu and arestos. The word eu means well, as in something that is well — and the word arestos means enjoyable or pleasing. Together they describe the pleasure one feels from seeing something that is especially excellent or delightful.
So when you take all these different meanings into account, Hebrews 11:6 can be translated: “Outside of the realm of faith, it is impossible to bring delight and pleasure to God…” The flip side to this statement is that when you are living “in” a place of faith — that is, if you are where God has called you and doing what God has asked you to do — you bring pleasure to the Lord.
For Denise and I to live in a place of faith, it required us to be where God was calling us — and that was the former USSR. In the years that we have lived in this part of the world, God has asked us to do many things that required us to have “faith.” Each time, we had to decide to stay “in” the place of faith until the assignment was accomplished. Regardless of how difficult the task was or how long it took us to do it, we knew we had to be committed to stay “in” the place of faith until the job was done. According to Hebrews 11:6, God has been observing us — and as long as we’ve stayed “in faith,” it has brought delight and pleasure to His heart. That has been our great motivation to stay “in” faith!
If you want to fully follow God’s plan for your life, you must find out where God wants you to be. Then you must get in alignment with God’s call and stay there until the task is fulfilled. It is only from this position of solid, unequivocal alignment with God’s will that you can know you are pleasing God!
But you have to get started! So in today’s Sparkling Gem, I want to help you know how to start moving toward that all-important goal of being “in” faith with the tasks and assignments God gives to you. It may be that you don’t know where to begin your tasks of faith, so I want to help you learn how to get started and to discover where you’ll find God’s will for your life.
I want to offer six suggestions that can help you get moving in the right direction. If you don’t already have concrete direction, I’ve discovered that it’s best for you to first find a place to serve; then as you serve, God will start giving you a vision for your own life. So here are my simple six suggestions:
1. Decide to start.
Look around you and assess the various needs you see. Decide which needs you may be able to help meet. Prayerfully determine how your talents, gifts, and money can best reach souls and bring them into God’s Kingdom.
Then go for it “full throttle”! Actively set your faith on fulfilling the task. Believe for blessing to come upon it. Make it a priority in your prayer life, praying and serving as if the entire project depended on you.
2. Decide how you are going to start serving.
Seek guidance from the Lord regarding how you’re supposed to move forward. What is God specifically telling you to do? Is it something at church, with a ministry, or on your own? Are you supposed to start by giving financially to the work of the Lord? It takes fuel to run any ship, so your finances provide a powerful means of serving. Giving is one of the most effective ways to help promote and advance the cause of the Gospel.
3. Decide where you are going to serve.
Don’t take just any opportunity that comes along. Instead, ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you are supposed to serve. Once the Lord shows you, go for it with all your heart. Don’t be a low-level performer at anything God calls you to do. Give your best to the assigned task and remember that there’s a reward awaiting you in the future.
4. Decide what level of commitment you are willing to make.
Don’t overcommit yourself by promising to do something that isn’t possible for you to do. Even if your heart wants to say, “Yes, yes, I’ll do that,” step back and ask, “Is this realistic? Will I be able to do what I’m committing to?”
Evaluate how this level of commitment fits in with all the other commitments you’ve already made. When you commit to do something, people think they can depend on you. So if you back out of your commitment later because it’s too much for you to handle, you mess up the plan for everyone else involved. It’s better to move slower in the beginning so you can make sure you’re making the right decision.
Before you make a financial commitment to a church or ministry, make sure it’s a commitment you can really keep. If your heart is crying out to give financially, act on that desire.
However, first analyze what amount you can actually give. If you have the ability to give large amounts, go for it! But if you need to start by giving smaller amounts because your financial resources are limited, that’s all right too. It’s better to commit to an amount that is actually achievable than to make a financial commitment that is larger than your current ability to fulfill.
5. Decide to make a habit of sowing seed — and start immediately.
Galatians 6:7 says, “…whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” This law of sowing and reaping works for everyone in the world. What you sow is exactly what you are going to reap. It may take awhile, but harvest day is coming if you’ve been planting seeds along the way. So decide to become a sower immediately — and start sowing those seeds today!
You also need to decide what you are going to sow. Since Galatians 6:7 says, “…whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,” it’s very important to know what you want to reap. Determining what you want your harvest to be is the best way to determine what you should sow.
For instance, if you need time, you should sow time. If you need love, you should sow love. If you need friendship, you should sow friendship. If you need money, you should sow money. This is a law of God that always works. So look at what you need to reap, and then start sowing your seed accordingly.
You need to decide where you’re going to start sowing seed. As you make that decision, I urge you to make sure that you sow your seed into good ground. By that I mean you should sow seed into a church, ministry, or Christian organization that is truly accomplishing something profitable and good. Don’t throw your seed into ground that doesn’t produce excellent fruit. Look for fruit-producers. Once you find them, you’ll know where you should plant your seed.
I also strongly recommend that you sow your seed into what you want to become. I plant my seeds into ministries I believe in and into ministries from which I want a particular harvest. The Bible promises that we become “partakers of the grace” that rests on any ministry we sow into (see Philippians 1:7). Therefore, I carefully choose where I sow my seed. I sow into ministries that have something I desire for myself. In other words, the grace that is on that ministry is the grace that will flow back into my life.
6. Decide that you will not stop for any reason.
Galatians 6:9 continues, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Keep your eyes on the prize, and don’t allow weariness to knock you out of the game! The Bible promises that your due season is coming. Even if it looks like it’s taking too long for your harvest to come back to you, hang on tight and keep doing what you know God wants you to do. Your “due season” is on its way.
In the process of receiving that expected end, keep your level of expectancy high. God promises that your “due season” will come if you don’t faint and give up. So don’t let the devil or discouraging circumstances maneuver you out of the manifestation you’ve been waiting for. The moment you’re on the brink of your “due season” of God’s plan for your life, that’s usually the time the devil tries the hardest to get you to quit!
These six principles of God’s Word always work — in every country, in every culture, and for every person. If you will follow these principles, they will work for you to get you on the path that leads to your divine destination.
I urge you not to waste any time just sitting around and waiting for something to happen. It’s time for you to jump into action and expend whatever level of energy is necessary to move forward in fulfilling what God has put in your heart to do. And if you don’t know how to get your own dream moving yet, take this time to sow your time, talent, and money into someone else’s God-given dream. Remember, the law of sowing and reaping is always in operation. What you do for someone else is exactly what will come back to you!
So if you don’t know where to start in your own journey of faith, I pray that these six suggestions are helpful to you. Once you start moving, serving, and giving, I am sure that the Holy Spirit will begin talking to you about your own faith assignment — which may be entirely to help someone else. Whatever your divine assignment entails, God will make it very clear to you as He observes you staying faithful. These six suggestions are very simple, but if you put them into practice, it won’t be long until you begin to hear God speak some concrete direction to you. Then you’ll begin to understand where you need to be and what you should be doing to stay “in” the place of God that makes Him smile when He looks at you!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You for this practical help on knowing how to get started on finding my place of faith. I want to know Your will; I want to follow it; and I want to stay “in” that place of faith until I hear You tell me that I’ve faithfully finished the task You’ve assigned to me. Help me know where to start, where to serve, what to sow, and where to sow my seed. I know that the six suggestions outlined in today’s Sparkling Gem will help me get started, so Holy Spirit, let’s do it — I am ready to get started today!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am not a person who just sits around, wondering about God’s will for my life. Until He speaks to me, I will implement these six suggestions in my life. I will start; I will know how and where to serve; I will determine the level of commitment I can make right now; I will sow my seed; and I will not stop. I fully expect to see harvests coming back to me from every direction. I refuse to sit idly and wonder what I should do. I will find a place to serve and sow, and I will get started. As I take these steps of faith, I’ll begin to hear God’s voice speak to me specifically about my own place of faith — and when I hear it, I’ll obey and stick with it until I hear the Lord say the job is done.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you know what God has told you to do with your life? If not, have you considered serving someone else or somewhere else until your vision becomes clear to you? Are you serving somewhere now? Where are you serving?
- Have you ever been “in” faith, and then slowly moved “out” of faith to the degree that you had to repent and get back in faith again? When was that experience? Is it something you are going through right now? How do you plan to get back “in” faith again?
- Of the six suggestions you read about today, which of them are you already doing? Which ones do you need to implement?