The Attributes Of God – God Knows Everything

What are God’s attributes? When we talk about the attributes of God, we are trying to answer questions like, Who is God, What is God like, and What kind of God is He? It is important to study and know God’s attributes so we can grow closer to Him. How we view God impacts everything. So when we understand and embrace who God is, it gives us a firm foundation for our faith. Each Friday we will look at the attributes of God. This week, God knows everything. 

“Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are His wisdom and knowledge and riches! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His methods! For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be His counselor and guide?” (Romans 11:33-34 TLB)

Today’s smartphones are extraordinary in many ways. There is nothing you can’t ask it. It will have answers to most of your questions. You can ask for movie times, driving directions—even a recipe—and up pops the information on the high-resolution screen. Your phone has more computing power than the mainframes of just a few years ago.  But you wouldn’t ask this technological marvel for advice or guidance for living. It provides you with information but really doesn’t know you. Artificial intelligence, no matter how sophisticated, lacks wisdom. As Romans 11:33 tells us: “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!”  

The fact that God knows everything is another one of His attributes. Psalm 139 celebrates this aspect of God’s nature. God doesn’t just know all things; He knows everything about each of us. We have no secrets from Him. He is the one who created us—“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. He knows our lives from start to finish; our days were written in His book long before we existed.  King David writes, “O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!” (Psalm 139:1-6) 

God knows everything—much more than we could ever imagine. Our Creator knows everything and is the source of all true knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. His knowledge is undefiled by any distortions or wrong perspectives. It is totally true and accurate. God knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Unlike us, God is never surprised or bewildered, because He is always completely aware of all events past, present, and future. He also knows everything about you — your desires, motives, and thoughts. God knows more about you than you will ever know about yourself. 

We can never escape God’s attention, so how should we respond? Do we fear? Do we quit?

Just as David did, we ask God to search us, to know our hearts, test us, and lead us (Psalm 139:23-24). We respond with praise and gratitude knowing that God who knows everything is guiding us through life.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does it make you feel to know that God knows every detail of your life and still loves you?
  2. How does the fact that God knows everything changes the way you live your life?

The Attributes Of God – God Is Just And Merciful

What are God’s attributes? When we talk about the attributes of God, we are trying to answer questions like, Who is God, What is God like, and What kind of God is He? An attribute of God is something true about Him. Each Friday we will look at the attributes of God. This week, God is just.

“Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” – Isaiah 30:18 (ESV). 

We have been talking each Friday about the attributes of God. The problem is there are not enough Fridays in our lifetimes to talk about the attributes of God, the glories of God, and the perfections of God. “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 146:3) Try as we will, we will never unwrap the glories of God as revealed in Scripture.

In Isaiah 30:18 we see two characteristics of God: His mercy and His justice. God is powerful and just. This verse reveals so much about God’s character and how good He is. This verse gives us direction in how we are to live and reveals that God waits. He waits to be gracious. Let that sink in for a moment. The Lord waits to be gracious to you. He longs to pour out His favor and show you mercy. Isaiah 30:15 reveals why He waits, “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength…”

But God is a God of justice. He is absolutely just. God cannot be fooled. Because He is all-knowing and ever-present, He has all the facts at His disposal. He knows the circumstances and motives, so His decisions are always based on absolute truth. God is also a perfect judge. “Everything He does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright He is!” (Deuteronomy 32:4)  

Justice is one of the pillars of society, but there are times when justice is compromised by people seeking personal gain. But while it is possible to manipulate justice in our courts, we cannot manipulate God’s justice. Because He is a just God, His verdict will always be right. King David said, “For the righteous Lord loves justice…” (Psalm 11:7)

Because God is just, He will always treat you fairly. However, as the holy and righteous creator and sovereign of the universe, God cannot ignore any act of sin. The psalmist writes, “You spread out our sins before You — our secret sins — and You see them all… Who can comprehend the power of Your anger? Your wrath is as awesome as the fear You deserve.” (Psalm 90:8,11)  

“God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

Discussion Questions:

  1. Has there ever been a time when your idea of justice and God’s idea of justice were different? How did you reconcile those feelings? 
  2. Does justice mean forgive and forget? Why is it important that God confronts evil and sin and holds people accountable?

The Power of Prayer

When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. Then I said, “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.”– Nehemiah 1:4-7.

The power of prayer isn’t in the person praying. It’s not a magic formula. It isn’t keywords. It is an open heart, humble and filled with awe of who our mighty God is. Rather, the power resides in the God who is being prayed to.

Nehemiah had a burden for his people and for the city of Jerusalem. He had a vision of what could be, but he didn’t immediately pack up and race off to Jerusalem and try to get things fixed. He didn’t start developing a strategy or plan. He didn’t communicate with the populace in an attempt to get them on board. Instead, he went to the Person who knew the problem and had the power to fix it. Nehemiah went to the Lord and prayed. Nehemiah understood that he needed God to be successful.

We all have dreams just as we have have a purpose in this life. Every day each of us is faced with numerous choices. Decision-making can be difficult. There is often a lot at stake. So the question is: How do we choose wisely? What criteria do we use to evaluate, to discern the best course of action? Gathering all information necessary to make a wise decision is essential. We need the kind of wisdom that comes from above and that wisdom begins with prayer.

We know that God is sovereign. God is above all things and before all things. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He is present everywhere so that everyone can know Him. God created all things and holds all things together, both in heaven and on earth. That being the case, God can help us with our decisions about our dreams and purpose if we ask Him in prayer. In His timeless plan, God has conceived all possible scenarios and has thought of every possible contingency. There has never been an event that took God by surprise, and there never will be.

That should be comforting to every follower of Jesus faced with a decision. Pray and tell God that you are worried about a decision. Pray that God would give you a heart of wisdom. Pray that you will make wise choices; and when two paths seem to be equal, pray God will help you to trust even as you make the decision. Pray if the decision is the right one that God would open the door wide. And if it’s not what God has for you, that God would close the door tightly.  And at the end of this decision, pray for continued guidance.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you believe every decision should begin with prayer? Why or why not?
  2. What can we do to make prayer an integral part of the decision-making process?   

Nehemiah And The Wall

“But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king. They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work.” – Nehemiah 2:17-18 

The city of Berlin will be forever famous for its infamous Wall. It was a wall that separated East from West Germany. The Berlin Wall has gained fame as a wall that divides, but the city of Jerusalem is also famous for its walls. In Nehemiah’s time, it was a wall that united the people together.

Nehemiah had a burden for his people and for the city of Jerusalem. He had a vision of what could be, but he didn’t immediately pack up and race off to Jerusalem and try to get things fixed. He didn’t start developing a strategy or plan. He didn’t communicate with the populace in an attempt to get them on board. Instead, he went to the Lord and prayed. Nehemiah understood that he needed God to be successful.

“When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:4) He begins his prayer after days of fasting and mourning. He mourned how his people had turned their backs on God. He mourned how nothing was right. He mourned the lack of dignity God’s people had. He mourned his sins. All the while he was talking to God. He was pouring out his heart and soul to God. Nehemiah’s relationship with God teaches us we ought to walk and talk with God not just in the little things, but the big things too. God wants us to bring our worries, anxiety, dreams and hopes to Him. That is when God will direct us. That is when God will set us on our purpose. Prayer helps us to find strength for today and hope for our future.

Nehemiah needed to get the consent of the king to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall.  You can imagine him, standing there, rehearsing what he was going to say to the king. As a servant of the king, he was not supposed to serve the king and he was about to present a request to the king on behalf of God’s people. You can see him standing there silently praying to God for the right words, for strength or wisdom. It makes me see the importance of giving my anxieties over to God in the midst of adversity.  Saying, “God you got this, help me, Father”.  What an amazing gift we have that our Almighty God hears us when we talk to him.  He comforts us and strengthens us in times of need.

As we read on down through Nehemiah 2, we see that king Artaxerxes was pleased to send Nehemiah to Judah. He sent him along with the letters to grant him safe passage and letters to the managers in charge of the royal forest. These letters telling him to provide the materials needed to rebuild the walls. The goal of the wall was to make the city of Jerusalem defensible.

God uses all kinds of people in all kinds of places to change the culture, revive hearts, and build His Kingdom. God has placed you where you are for a purpose.  God wants us to remember: “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17).

Discussion Questions:

  1. If God were to answer all of our prayers from just last week, how would our lives and the lives of those around us look different? Would it make any difference?
  2. What steps can we take to become people who are marked by big, bold, and faith-filled prayers?

How Do You Make Good Decisions

“Self-leadership begins with this discouraging realization: you have participated in every bad decision you have made.” – Andy Stanley. 

Have you ever thought about the process of making decisions, specifically what ultimately makes the decision? Is it your knowledge? Intuition? Your experience? Is it important people in your life?  Is it contemporary culture? Is it a church, or a popular spiritual leader?

There’s no doubt about it. Today we’re faced with more decisions than ever before. We live in a multiple-choice culture. Some decisions have life-or-death consequences, while others, like choosing a toothpaste, are not really all that important. There are people who are good at making decisions. But even those people make bad decisions here and there. How can we as Christians make fewer bad decisions and more good decisions?

The Bible gives perfect principles we need to know in order to make the best decisions–those that are pleasing to God. We need to ask ourselves two questions.

The first question is this: Will this decision draw me closer to God or further away from Him? As you think and pray through a major decision, evaluate how it will impact your relationship with God. Will this decision draw you closer to Him? Is there a different decision that will draw you even closer? Or will this decision move you away from God? You probably will not make the decision that draws you closer to Him every time. I won’t tell you that you always have to pick the choice that draws you the nearest to Him. When you make a bad decision remember that God is still sovereign. 

The second question is this: Will this choice make me more dependent on God or less?  We all desire to be self-sufficient. This is especially true for business leaders and business owners.  This quality is what makes them successful in business. That concept is inverted when it comes to spiritual matters: last is first and first is last. What works for us in the business world can work against us in our Christian journey. Our independence is exactly what God does not want from us in our relationship with Him. As we are making decisions in life, we need to be mindful of whether we are seeking independence from God or dependence on Him. Decision-making is a huge part of dependent living. God the Father wants you to use your mind and heart to evaluate the options and then remove the decisions that are not lined up with His way of doing life. Once you have done that, ask Him to show you which good option to choose. 

Trusting God in making decisions always leads to the best outcome. “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God!” (Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG)

Discussion Questions: 

  1. What seemingly insignificant decision in your life has ended up being like a small hinge that swung open a giant door?
  2. Think of one particular decision you need to make. Spend some time looking through God’s Word and see what He has to say about it.

As The Spirit Moves You

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” – Romans 8:26-27.

Just like you need physical food for physical strength, your spirit must be fed the things it needs and removal of the things that limit or hurt the spirit.  If somebody asked you whether your spirit is is being fed, what would your answer be?  But here’s the thing: just as the body needs food so does our spirit. We rarely think about the diet our spirit is getting. Taking a close look at what you have been feeding your spirit will likely reveal why you are not living the life God intended you to live.

Are we sensitive to the influence and suggestion of the Spirit of God? Do we ever think, yes, I should do this or that—and ignore that? Do we display an unwillingness to yield to the Spirit as it leads us? So what determines whether God is able to perform His work in us? For all practical purposes it boils down to how well we are being led by the spirit. Your effectiveness as a Christian is determined by how well you are led by the Spirit. And how effectively we are led by the spirit is determined by what we feed and starve it.

In many ways, this is where the rubber meets the road in our daily Christian lives. Certainly God leads us by educating us through His Word and through His ministry. But for God to be able to guide and direct our lives as a Father, He also must be able to lead us directly through His Spirit. Although I covered several things we need to feed the spirit for this devotional, I would like to concentrate on God’s word.

God tells us in His word what will fill the craving in your soul like nothing else can. Listen to what it says in 1 Peter 2:2: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation…”: That deep craving is for God’s Word. 

Take one week and pay close attention to God’s Word. Read it, think about it, write out a verse or two that stands out to you. Make an appointment to spend time with God just as you would make any other appointment. Pray, read and listen. Let God’s Word penetrate your heart. It will feed your spirit and fill you in ways you have forgotten. 

Note this profound statement Paul made to God’s people in Rome: “ For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14). We are only sons of God when we are led by God through His Spirit.

As powerful as the Holy Spirit is, it never forces, impels, commands or controls us. It leads us. It influences our thinking—it suggests. We must be willing to yield to that influence, to follow, to obey those suggestions. And it begins with how well we remove the toxins in our spirit.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What am I feeding my spirit? What do I need to starve?
  2. Is my entertainment feeding me things that actually rob my spirit?
  3. Do I spend enough time in the Word each week?
  4. What steps can I take this week to remove any toxins in my spirit?

Assembly Required

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:1-3 (NKJV).

You buy something and drive it home with high expectations. But there on the box are those three dreaded words “some assembly required.” Uh oh.

Well, maybe, just maybe, this time the instructions will be thorough. You open the box and let out a sigh. They are not. Just a few sketches that look nothing like the final product. OK, maybe I don’t need instructions.  I can figure this out. Four hours and five bottles of Gatorade later, you realize that you did it all wrong?  You sigh, sigh again and find the instructions to begin again.

Most of us have done this in our spiritual life as well. We try to do things our way, only to realize it doesn’t work all that well. We need to do things God’s way. Fortunately God has given us instructions on how to do things God’s way. We can start with the word of Jesus. “…for apart from me you can do nothing..” (John 15:5) But, Paul gives us the positive side of that coin. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

There are people who believe everyone’s way is equally valid. So why would I abandon my way of doing things and hand it over to God? Let me give you two reasons.

First of all, God’s way is better—“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). As Proverbs 14:12 tells us “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” But God’s way is life. God’s way is better than ours. As hard as it is to let go of what is natural and comfortable to us, we really need to because there is a better way.

Second of all, God’s way works. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). God’s Word accomplishes what God sends it out to accomplish. We  have fallen on our face more often than not when we do things our way.  We thought what we were doing was going to provide lasting happiness, long-term fulfillment, or significant meaning to our lives. Instead, we had a moment of escape and pleasure followed by an empty feeling. Then we look for the next things to add meaning to our lives. This is not God’s way.

God’s way works. When we pursue His way, we will find peace and joy regardless of our circumstances. Even though we have experienced trials in our lives, His way is the best way.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you believe God’s way is always better than our way? Why or why not?
  2. What can you do to grow more in your knowledge of God’s Word?
  3. How does the knowledge that God’s way is better shape our expectations of God? Our generosity?
  4. How easy is it for you to be generous when confronted with a specific need? Why?
  5. What can we do this week to make God’s way our way?

Working Out On The Inside

“Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you – if you find my beloved, what will you tell him? Tell him I am faint with love.” – Song of Solomon 5:8.

More and more people have issues with photoshopped images to eliminate flaws. Digital altering of the body has no limits. Wrinkles and pounds can disappear. Flaws are masked. It does make people look more attractive. But it is not real and more importantly it can be harmful. Our desire to be attractive and to match up to unrealistic body types has led to eating disorders and other emotional problems. And it has led to surgeries. More than 11 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed by board-certified plastic surgeons, and other doctors in the United States, totaling more than 12 billion dollars.   

The Bible has a different perspective. Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”  We are created in the image of God, and God doesn’t make inferior things. Like a snowflake, every person is unique. No two are the same. God sees you as a masterpiece; the question is why don’t we. When you look in the mirror and sigh and wonder why (name) couldn’t be different or better or thinner, take a second and remember Psalm 139:14. 

1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” The world focuses on the outside appearance. But God focuses on what people look like on the inside. So the question is if we are going to work on being attractive, do we spend more time and effort on the outside or the inside? There’s nothing wrong with selecting a nice outfit, or doing our hair, or even exercising to look good. We need to find a balance. We need to spend more time working out to become more attractive on the inside. 

In a letter to his young assistant Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote: “ …train yourself to be godly.” (1 Timothy 4:7). The Apostle compared physical fitness with spiritual fitness. “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8).  For spiritual growth, nothing can take the place of prayer–simply spending time with God, thanking him for his gifts to you, praising him, asking for guidance, admitting your sins and asking forgiveness and help.

1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”  1 Timothy 4:16 adds, “…Keep a close watch on yourself.” From time to time, ask yourself how you are doing spiritually, and –take the steps necessary to continue growing.

Try this. Schedule your spiritual training just as you would an appointment at work or a date night with your spouse or an outing with the kids. If you don’t feel you are getting the results you desire, you may need to work a little harder on your spiritual training. Remember that prayer is a very important part of staying “spiritually fit”.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Are you happy with the amount of spiritual growth in your life? Why or why not?
  2. What person has most encouraged you in your spiritual growth?
  3. What event/activity/season of life caused your spiritual life to grow the most?
  4. At what period of your life would you describe as the time when you were closest to God?
  5. What changes would you have to make in your life now in order to grow more spiritually?
  6. Pray and ask God for His help in making you attractive on the inside.

Living Life To The Fullest

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. — John 10:10

When Elsa was a young girl, she used her magical powers for fun.  She and Anna would build snowmen, play, laugh…..but when fear crept in and she saw that she had hurt Anna, her powers began to cause her to freeze things. 

From that point forward, she lived in fear and she let the negative rule her life. At some point in each of our lives, we search for a way to live life to its fullest. For some, this search takes them to the heights of successful business careers, or sports contracts. For others, it takes them to the nursery of their children, or the classroom in middle school. Yet, for many, the surface of a rich and full life is only ever barely scratched. Sure, physical needs are met. There’s a roof over our heads and a car in the driveway and there’s food on the table. But, those things are a small part of life lived to the fullest.

In his new book, Life With A Capital L: Embracing Your God Given Humanity, Matt Heard, presents us with an alternative to an unfulfilled life.  In the book Matt reminds us that Jesus is not only interested in our spirituality but our humanity as well. Many have tried, but it is very difficult to cultivate a spiritual journey that’s irrelevant to the rest of our lives. 

Jesus comes that we might live full of life. That we will enjoy our lives, and not let one facet of our lives ruin the total as Elsa did. Jesus tells us that He came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly. But in the minds of a lot of Christians today, that life is is in Heaven. In other words, salvation represents a glorious hope for those whose lives are drawing to a close, but has little to do with our day-to-day existence. But what if the abundant life Jesus came to bring us doesn’t begin after we die? What if it begins at the moment of conversion and grows stronger with each passing day? What if the full life begins now?

Matt talks about brokenness and heaven in the last few chapters in his book. Here is a summary: Life is hard. It’s messy. People hurt us. We hurt people. We are all broken in some way or another. Yet, Jesus comes to mend this brokenness. Not to airlift us out of it all, but to walk through it with us. To walk through it as one who understands it. And nothing will be left on the editing room floor of our journey. He’ll ultimately redeem it all, raising beauty from the ashes for our good and His glory. There is no need to run or to let one part of life derail the ability to live a full life. 

Salvation doesn’t fix all of the hurt and pain and brokenness upfront. It’s a process.

Life is lived out one step at a time. Slowly by slowly. Until that blessed day when all is redeemed and all is made new and all is filled to the fullness. In Christ, we’re free to live the life God intended us to enjoy. And this is truly good news. We simply need to pause and resist running like Elsa did.

Discussion Question:

  1. What are you running from? Who are you running with?
  2. Is there something keeping you from being bold or courageous?
  3. What is your definition of a full life? What do you need to do to increase the fullness in your life?
  4. How can you grow this week in your relationship with Jesus?
  5. Do you have a dream for the future of your life? Does the idea of God having a dream for your life mean anything to you? Could the two dreams coincide?

God Of Change

Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” – Acts 27:23-26

There are several takeaways from the movie We Bought a Zoo.  One of them is that change is hard. Familiarity is so much more comfortable, even if what we are experiencing is unpleasant. God, however, is all about change.   

It is not that we are against change. In fact, we believe we can change. But it still seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. So is real change possible? Is change that lasts – change that really matters – really achievable? You may be saying, “I can change.” You reference our new technology, our ingenuity and our inventions. Finally, you point out that we can manipulate or change any facet of our life if we want to. 

Change that’s real and that lasts comes from God. God is our change agent. Things can change beginning with our relationship with God. It starts with changing our behavior. Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” Verse 7 says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”

But breakthrough change requires courage and also often requires taking a step of faith. We can’t achieve breakthrough change the way we normally handle problems. It requires us to trust God. As I looked back over my years leading up to today, I can see a clear pattern. God had been at work for as long as I could remember to bring me to Himself, guiding choices I made, friendships I developed. His hand had been on me. He never imposed nor compelled, but waited patiently for me to see my need and respond. Even though I had no idea how my life would be different, that step of faith – when I released myself to God and to his care – was a turning point in my life. 

All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. I love that line from We Bought a Zoo, however, if taking a step of faith, the “what” truly does not matter. We can step forward with enthusiasm and confidence not because of thorough analysis or favorable probabilities but because God has promised, over and over again, that He himself will go before us, and will never leave us nor forsake us.  Because we know God and His character, we know He loves unfathomably and unconditionally. For that reason, and that reason alone, we can step into the future and what God has promised without fear. 

Therefore, don’t always ask God to change your circumstances. Instead, view each as an opportunity for God to change you, making you “mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

God can change impossible situations. He sometimes moves mysteriously, but will provide what you need in miraculous ways. And it is going to be far better than you can ever imagine.

Discussion Questions:

  1. If you are honest with yourself, what area in you is very hard to give to God?
  2. Do you retain “veto rights” in case God asks you to do something unreasonable?
  3. Do you believe God makes unreasonable demands from you? Does God force you to do something that will make you unhappy. Will God take everything in your life that you enjoy? Is God demanding, and it feels like such an obligation to surrender?
  4. Often it feels like we surrender to God and then months later realize that we’ve retaken ownership of that area of our lives. Is that true?
  5. How do we fulfill the command in Romans 12:1 where we continuously present our lives and everything in them as an ongoing sacrifice to the Lord?