Tag Archives: depend on god

What depending on God is really like and how to do it

17 Jul

Image result for tree with strong rootsDo you know how to depend on God?

I think it is very easy to say, “Oh, sure, I depend on God.”

What is much harder is to answer the question: “How do you show that you depend on God?”

I would like to submit that you show you depend on God by the choices in your life.   You cannot depend on God only in your mind.

So how are you showing, by the choices you’ve made, that you depend on God?  I’ve been preaching all summer on the various spiritual disciplines, and I’ve included “How to Depend on God” as a spiritual discipline for this reason.  We must choose to make a habit of it.

I have heard many people reactively depend on God.  Often when we go through difficult times, we find ourselves praying more, reaching out for God more, depending on him more because all of our other options for dealing with life have been exhausted.  And during those tough times, we grow close to God.

But what about proactively depending on God?  What can we actually do or practice to show that we are regularly depending on him?

Jesus once taught that depending on him is not just an option, but a necessity, for his disciples.  Take a look at John 15:1-8, and you’ll see what I mean.  He calls it “remaining” in him, or “abiding” in him.

The beautiful thing about remaining, depending on him, Jesus says in John 15, is that when we depend on him we will bear much fruit.

So let’s look at some practical ways we can depend on God.  As you hear these ideas, remember that Jesus said in John 15 that we have to choose to depend on him or we will not have his power flowing through us.

What if every month you purposefully choose something to do that will require God to come through for you?

It could be practicing a new spiritual discipline such as fasting, or spending half a day in prayer.  Maybe start the day by practicing a spiritual discipline of prayer and Bible study.  You could end the day with the practice of a spiritual discipline, in place of TV Time.  In sermon discussion last month, two people each talked about how they spend a lot of time watching TV at night, and they expressed a desire to spend more time in prayer or reading the Bible.  So we talked about how they could possibly meet up one night per week for an hour, skip TV, and pray together, study the Bible together.

Another way to make a choice to depend on God is to give him a radical gift.  Years ago, before I started at Faith Church, a previous pastor challenged the congregation to attempt a really interesting, proactive way to depend on God.  It was called Give-A-Day, in which people would give the equivalency of one day’s salary for the needs of the church.  It was totally voluntary.  Those who wanted to participate would calculate what one day (8 hours) of salary would be, and give it to the church. Then they would prayerfully watch God work.  Is anyone adventurous enough to stick your neck out and depend on God to get you through?

Reflecting on Give-A-Day, one person told me the story of what happened when they chose to participate.  They calculated what one day’s equivalency of their salary would be, knowing that it was a sacrifice.  A scary one.  At the time they lived paycheck to paycheck, and they needed that money to pay the bills and put food on the table.  But they accepted the challenge, and with nervous joy gave the money to God.  That next week they were surprisingly offered overtime, which never happened, and the overtime income replaced all the income they gave for Give-A-Day.  As they recalled their thoughts and feelings, they said “it was exciting to watch God provide.”  They depended on God.

Another great way to show that you are depending on God is to go on a mission trip.  Get out of your own culture.  Maybe sign up for a week-long mission trip which will mean you have to give up one week of vacation.  Watch what happens as you depend on God.

Or you could serve in a ministry in the church that is asking for volunteers.  Even if it is not your favorite way to serve.  Maybe you’d go so far as to say that you can’t stand serving that way.  Would you be willing to depend on God and go for it?

At Faith Church, we are seeking more instrumental musicians for the musical component of our Sunday worship.  Maybe depending on God could mean refreshing your ability to play that musical instrument that is gathering dust in the attic.  I admit that this idea sticks with me personally.   I have been spending too much time playing games on my phone.  There is very little value to those games.  Time wasters.  What if I pulled out our guitar and practiced it, to get to the point of playing in worship?

Here’s another great idea.  What about just simply trying something new to the glory of God?  I listen to a podcast called Invisibilia.  A recent episode featured a guy, Max, who loved his life.  He enjoyed creative work, was paid well, had wonderful friends, and delicious food.  But he began to realize that even though it was all good, he was in a rut: get up, go to work, come home, go out with friends, get up, go to work, come home, go out with friends.

So he created a Facebook app which picked out random events for him to attend.  He went to whatever event the app randomly selected.  It forced himself out of his comfort zone.

It was scary and felt a bit risky.  But it added a new dynamic to his life.  One Christmas Day he used the app. He and a friend showed up at a random people’s house for Christmas dinner.  Max says that he and his friend were nervous as they rang the doorbell.  The host opened the door and welcomed them in. They ended up having a great time.

Depending on God is like that.  Scary, risky, getting us out of our comfort zone, but so vital.  Get out of your comfort zone specifically to depend on God.

The very act of our dependence forces us to give up a little bit of our lives over to him.  Depending on him becomes more and more of a joy, more and more of a delight.

How will you show that you depend on God?

A Christian phrase that needs to be turned action – Luke 9:1-10

26 Aug

Last week I introduced Sunday’s sermon by talking about Christian phrases that need to go.  But there is one that we should keep, if and only if, it is more than a phrase.  You know that phrase “actions speak louder than words”?  It is true for so much of life, and definitely so when it comes to being a disciples of Jesus.  We live out our faith.

In Luke 9:1-10, among other things, Jesus wanted his disciples to learn dependence on him.

The phrase we need to turn into action is “Depend of God.”  It might not be on a mission trip, though those are good, but what does it mean it to depend on Jesus?  When we say “Depend on God” it should be so much more than a phrase that sounds righteous.  “Depend on God” should matter in really life.  In other words, we should be able to do actions that show we are depending on God.

How do we put ourselves in a place where God has to come through in order for us to make it, be cared for?

Is this only a reactionary, depending on God in the situations that happen to us?

Could it also be proactive? Could we do things that show that we are dependent on God? There will be times in life when we have no choice but to cry out to God, or when God must step in and rescue us. But what about when things are good?

Jesus once taught about depending on him.  To teach this he used a parable called the Vine and the Branches in John 15:1-8.  It is simple really.  A branch broken off from a tree will die because it is no longer connected to the life-giving trunk.  In our culture, an electric device will stop if disconnected from its power source.  Jesus was saying that this is a reality for his Kingdom people as well.  We must somehow be connected to his life-giving power, or we can do nothing, he said.

So what is the difference between a person who depends on his power and one who doesn’t?  I have a few thoughts:

  1. Does: Ample time spent in prayer, peaceful emotion during difficult life situations, unattached to material possessions and very generous.
  2. Doesn’t: Weak or non-existent time in prayer. Freaks-out during difficulties, focused on acquisition and ownership of material possessions, and not generous.

Which are you most like?

Luke, at verses 7-9, changes the scene and takes us into Herod’s palace. We’ve met Herod before. And in this section Luke tells us more about him including the sad fate of John the Baptist.

Herod has beheaded John. And Herod is confused because he is hearing more and more reports that a man like John has appeared on the scene. Has John come back to life? Has an old prophet come back to life?

Herod asks a question we’ve heard before. “Who is this?”

Remember the disciples on the boat when Jesus calmed the storm? “Who is this?”

It seems more people are asking the same question about Jesus. “Who is this?”

We saw over the last month that he is the one who commands the storm, who commands demons, and who even has power to raise the dead. Now today he is the one who transfers that power to others, to multiply his ministry, to raise up leaders. He doesn’t have to have all the power in his own hands. He is humble and willing to invest in others. But he wants his people do depend on him.

So this phrase we throw around: Depend on God. It is pretty important. Vital, in fact. It is imperative that we learn to depend on God. And there are some very practical things we can do to grow our dependence on God.

Go on a mission trip! Step out of your comfort zone. Give more generously, sacrificially. Spend more time in prayer.

Instead of saying it, show that you depend on God.

If you want to listen to the whole sermon, find it here.

Christian phrases that need to go, and one to keep

21 Aug

We Christians have lingo, goobledy-gook.  Christianese, some have called it.  Phrases we spout off to sound righteous, but often don’t really mean.  Most of them need to go.  Check out this video for some egregious (and hilarious) examples:

Another one of those phrases we thrown around a lot is “Just depend on God.”   In the middle of a difficult situation, “Depend on God.” When you need wisdom about a choice in life, “Depend on God.” When a relationship is experiencing brokenness, “Depend on God.” Lose a job, get in an auto accident, have to face a tough test at school, “Depend on God.” Is this Christianese, just another Christian phrase that sounds good, but really doesn’t mean a whole lot?

Like “Depend on God”, we’re also quick to say the opposite, “Don’t depend on your own strength.” A famous verse we quote is Proverbs 3:5-6 “Lean not on your own understanding”. It sounds good. When we say these phrases, we give the impression that we are really faithful people, that we are actually depending on God. It sounds like we understand that God is greater, that God has power, and that we do not have the power. That we are literally trusting in him.  But are we?

So, the concept of “Depend on God” is good. The thing is this: We throw that phrase around really easily, but what in the world do we mean? If you say you want to depend on God, which is good, how, then, do you actually depend on God? Can you tell the difference between what depending on God looks like and what depending on yourself looks like? How do you know?

What do we actually do to show that we depend on God?

This Sunday as we continue our study through the Gospel of Luke, a new phase begins in Jesus’ ministry, and it will involve this very question.  If you want to get a head start, read Luke 9:1-10, and then join us at Faith Church on Sunday at 9:30am as we’ll look into this further.