Most of you know I am training for a personal walk-a-thon which that will take me over 60 miles across Putnam County. I will do between 15 and 17 miles per day on a four-day walk as part of my commitment to raise funds for our Capital Campaign. Starting tomorrow, my five miles a day gets converted to 7 miles a day to help me prepare. I am not an athlete and have never been an athlete. The only time I could possibly be mistaken for an athlete would be when I have a ping pong paddle in my hand. (Bring it! You name the time, and I will bring my paddle!)
So, since I’m not into sweating or intense physical activity, I get up early to walk before my brain has time to think about what I am about to do. But when I get going I have lots of time to think, pray, and listen to God’s Word. I started thinking about the words, “walk,” “feet,” and “steps” and began to relate several Bible verses to them. “Oh great, Pastor Melissa, it is National Back to Church Sunday, and you are going to talk about feet?” Yep. Some of you are creeped out already, I know! I have to preach authentically from where God has me and what He is speaking to me about, and feet happen to be the current topic!
I purchased new shoes to start wearing this past week so that I could break them in well before the first week in October when I will do the walk. Making sure my feet are comfortable is super important. Stretching my feet appropriately is also important. I need to make sure I have callouses on my feet for the walk, so there will be no pedicures in my near future. I have prayed over my feet and have had people praying for my feet as well. No joke. If I am going to succeed, my feet are going to have to cooperate! My feet are key to my success.
I was astounded this week by the number of Bible verses that dealt with feet, walking, or steps. Here’s one I found that I am seriously going to heed for the walk-a-thon: Jeremiah 2:25 “Do not run until your feet are bare and your throat is dry.” Good advice! See, you marathon walkers and runners didn’t know the Bible even offered free training advice!
Several of you have asked what my routes are. I will be walking 60+ miles from the Lincoln County Line to the Kanawha County line on day 1, from the Culloden/Cabell Line to the Kanawha Line on day 2, from the Mason Line to Eleanor on day 3, and from Nitro to the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce on day 4!
My walk had to be carefully mapped out. I want to hit as many communities in Putnam County as possible. I need to find the most direct routes. I need to be as safe as possible. I need to make sure that my desire to demonstrate my commitment to this community and my commitment to our church’s capital campaign is thorough. As my husband, my cartographer (that’s map maker!) drove across the county, he took into consideration what I was trying to accomplish. What I was trying to accomplish, then, determined the route I needed to take.
Let me share a Scripture to frame our time together: 1 Peter 2:21-“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” How can we make sure our feet stay on the right path, take the right route, and represent Christ in the right way? How can we follow Him with the steps we take?
While this verse is set in the midst of other verses about submission and suffering, I want to suggest to you that while following Christ will take you down the path of submission at all times and down a road of suffering sometimes, that there is much more to following Christ, more to walking in His footprints than submission and suffering. Christ has charted a general course for all believers, and a specific course for how each one of us is to live out that general course. I want to attempt to outline the general course with the hopes that each of you will embrace it and seek God for yourselves on the specifics He desires for your lives.
- God wants you to WALK IN OBEDIENCE. Jesus walked in obedience to God the Father.
- Listening for His voice
- Seeking to know His commands
- Living out what God reveals to us.
- God wants you to walk with anticipation.
- Walk with Determination. While you need to anticipate God will do something
special for you, you also need to make up your mind that you will do something significant for God!
“Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.” 1 Kings 2:3
You cannot move on to spiritual maturity, to deeper things of God if you don’t settle the issue of who is in charge and who sets the agenda for your life. Wanting God to be in control means actively:
How are you positioning yourselves daily and all throughout the week in order to hear God more clearly? Do you take time to ask God to speak to you? Are you connected to the teaching ministry of the church? Are you reading the Word of God? If ever there was a time when we needed to know what we believe, that we needed to know what God’s truth is, it is now.
I know life is busy. It can be hard to get the Word of God time in every day. Before I started training for this walk-a-thon, I thought, “How in the world can I do more than my thirty minutes of walking four days a week? I just don’t have time.” I’ll tell you how. I set the alarm clock earlier, and I do it first thing in the morning. It takes far more than thirty minutes, and I haven’t missed a day of training in two weeks, and I am inching towards five miles a day. I have made it a priority. You can do anything you want to do if you will make it a priority. Listening to God has to be just that, a priority!
So, while I am walking, I am also listening to Bible teachers online or to the daily audio Bible. Then, when I am getting ready for the day (and we all know this takes more than a minute) I listen to the Bible on CD in my bathroom. I am seeking to hear a Word from God every day.
When I hear God speak, then, the goal is to adjust my life to what He asks of me. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
It’s not a one-time obedience. It’s not a one-time trip to the altar. It is obedience as a lifestyle. It is to be ongoing. Listen to James 1:23-25: 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does. We are to continue in obedience as a lifestyle.
Why walk in obedience? What did I Kings 2:3 say? “Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.” You see, it’s not what you do once in a while or once a month that will lead you to spiritual success, but it is what you do every day, step by step, as you obey God, that will lead you to prosper spiritually and therefore, it is what will enable you to prosper in a multitude of ways in life.
Follow Jesus. Walk in obedience.
This leads me to my second point:
Listen to what God told to Joshua in Joshua 1:3 “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.”
Listen, as a Christian, you have the presence of God to go with you, the power of God to work in and through you, and the authority of God to claim victory. If you have studied, you aren’t supposed to go into the test at school thinking, “I’m going to get a bad grade.” You aren’t supposed to go into the job interview with the mindset, “They won’t want me.” You aren’t supposed to go through life assuming a position of defeat, but you are to live with a spirit of anticipation that God wants to bless you. He wants to make conquerors out of every one of us in this room. In fact, He has given you and me a nickname. Here it is: “MORE THAN CONQUERER!” It might not fit on the back of a t-shirt very easily, but it is what you are in Christ! (Romans 8:37)
1 Corinthians 2:9 say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”–
I love how the Living Bible puts it: “No mere man has ever seen, heard, or even imagined what wonderful things God has ready for those who love the Lord.”
You need to wake up every day anticipating the good things God has in store for you every day. Before you put your feet on the floor ask, “God, what wonderful things do you have ready for me today? Bring it, Lord! I can’t wait to see.” We need to believe God is for us. We need to walk as if we believe God is clearing the way and opening doors for us that no man can shut (Rev. 3:8). We need to live as if we expect good things, gifts from God, to come our way. It might come in the form of a casserole just when you need some comfort food. It might be an unexpected check in the mail. It might be a card from a friend. It might be a Bible verse that applies to what you are going through. It might be a promotion or a new car. It might be good news from your doctor. It might be special hand-delivered grace or strength to get through the day!
You don’t have to walk around claiming specifics all the time about what you think you want, but you can walk around every day claiming that God has your best interest at heart and that you just know He loves to spoil His children and that since you are one of His, you know He will deliver something special just for you!
Act like, live like, and walk and talk like you are the child of a King who can only bless those who love and are obedient to Him! Quit walking around waiting for the “other shoe to fall” (whatever that means!) Quit walking around anticipating bad things, and start anticipating God-things! God has so much going on every day in the lives of all of His people that every day can be exciting for every one of us. Listen to these Scriptures:
Jeremiah 33:3-“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
Ephesians 3:20-“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”
Jeremiah 29:11-“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Psalm 23:6-“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Those are the thoughts we need to walk around with. Those are the promises we need to proclaim. I’ll tell you, I have sent a gazillion and one letters out asking friends, family and community people to support me in my walk-a-thon, and by Friday of this past week, I knew enough time had passed for people to get my letter, think about sponsoring me, and get a letter back to me in the mail. So, on Friday, I was anticipating some mail. I believed God was going to send me sponsors! And I walked to my box with a spirit of anticipation! And guess what? There were three letters all with money inside!
Every morning when I get on the scale, I expect that number to be better than the day before because of all the training I am doing. It hasn’t happened yet, but baby, I’m expecting it!
I am living in a state of expectancy. I believe God has a million dollar giver out there for our project! I believe that at least two people in our congregation will give $100,000.00 to the campaign over the next three years above their tithes. I believe several more will give 25, 50, and 75 thousand dollars. Why? Because God is leading this campaign, and He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and we don’t need anywhere near all of the cattle! This 1.3 million dollar campaign is a drop in the bucket for God! Amen?
This campaign has done great things for my expectation levels! I’m ramped up. I’m full of faith. I like how that feels and how that empowers me for life’s challenges and opens my eyes to the details, the “little blessings” which God is bringing my way every day!
Listen to this Scriptural nugget I found this week: Leviticus 26:13 says, I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.
Get your head up, Christian! Walk with your head high! Christ has redeemed you! He is for you! He has good things to give you! Walk with anticipation! Anticipate God will do something special for you.
Often when Jesus prayed, He looked up as He did or after He did because He was expecting God to do something about the request He had just made, and God the Father never disappointed Him! Follow Jesus, walk with anticipation.
If you are listening to God, He will ask you to do things that are unusual and often difficult. God told me a year ago August that I was to walk across Putnam County. I told two people and tried to put it out of my thoughts! This summer it came back to me clearly. “Walk across Putnam County.” It wasn’t “Would you like to walk across Putnam County?” or “What do you think about walking across Putnam County?” It was, walk across the County and do at least 60 miles.
I am not an athlete. I know my fit appearance is super deceiving, but this is beyond any muscle I currently possess. I have had to make up my mind to get out every day and do what I need to do to train and to continue to ramp it up towards the first week in October. I am determined I am going to do it. I know it won’t be easy. I know I will question what I have signed up for. I know people will think I am crazy. (Well, that will only be people who don’t know me because people who know me already know I am crazy!) All of the reasons why I am doing this haven’t even been revealed to me. I may never know all of the why’s for this command, but I am determined to do whatever it takes to be obedient.
Obedience won’t always make sense. It won’t always look possible, but you have to make up your mind to take a step towards the command and call of God. I love the story of Joshua and nation of Israel in Joshua 3:9-16.
Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God. This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD–the Lord of all the earth–set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.” So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
So, here the Israelites were, facing another body of water. God had parted the Red Sea in front of them as they were escaping from Egypt and now they were face to face with the Jordan, and they hear that the priests are to go first, carrying the presence of God and that when they get their feet wet its waters would part and stand up in a heap so the nation of Israel could cross.
Perhaps the leaders thought, “Why can’t you just part the Jordan like you parted the Red Sea, God?” Listen, sometimes God will just open the door. Sometimes He will just part the waters, but sometimes He wants your feet wet. Sometimes He wants you to invest some effort. Sometimes He wants you to take a step or two. Sometimes He calls you to walk forward into the middle of a stream in faith. The priests had to conclude that if it took them getting their robes wet and going first, then so be it. They were willing to do whatever it took.
No one has ever been called great who didn’t display determination, and no one has ever made a significant contribution to the Kingdom of God without making up his or her mind to do so.
Jesus would never have died on a cross to pay the price for the sins of humanity if He hadn’t been determined to do so. No. His mind was made up. His resolve was unflinching, and Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross and despised its shame (Hebrews 12:2).
We need to walk with determination to take this community for the Kingdom of God. We need to walk with determination to do whatever it takes to see this ministry and community center built. We need to be committed for the long haul to make sacrifices, to pray the price, and to stay the course. Will you determine with me that it will come to pass? My grandmother used to say, “Work as if success depends on you and pray as if it depends on God!”
Determine to join us this Saturday as we seek God in prayer together from 6-7:30. Yes, I know that is an extra hour and a half we are asking for and it’s on a weekend to boot! We need every member of this church to determine to seek God in prayer with us. Determine to attend the capital campaign dinner on Saturday, October 5th at 5:00 p.m. at Hurricane First Baptist Church. Determine to ask God what YOU should give and how you can invite others to be involved. Make up your mind to help make Mission Possible a great success!
Determine to have a Christian family and raise kids who know and love Jesus. Determine to use your spiritual gifts to serve the Lord. Determine to be a witness to your friends. Determine to tithe and give your money God’s way. Determine to walk away from sin and habits that are robbing your health and taking your money. Determine to make an impact on the world around you. You may have to get your feet wet. You may have to row out in deep waters. You might even have to walk on water, but if God calls, you can do it. Make up your mind that you will. Follow Jesus! Walk with determination!
What way are we to walk? Let’s walk in obedience. Remember, the Psalmist said, “Your Word is a lamp unto my FEET and a light unto my path.” You will never regret obedience to God.
Let’s walk with anticipation. God is going to bless us. It is inevitable. He can’t help Himself. It is part of His nature, and He is crazy about you.
Let’s walk with determination. We can do something incredible, something life-changing, something earth-shaking and kingdom building. “Greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world.” So, walk with purpose and swagger.
What way will you walk? I challenge it to be God’s way, the way of Christ and the way of those who will follow Him!