At one point, all of us took our first step…and it was not pretty. We pulled ourselves upright, supported by our chubby little legs, wobbled back and forth like we stepped off a carnival ride, and then took one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Some of us overachievers may have even taken two or three extra steps just to prove that we had arrived. One thing is for sure. None of our parents who witnessed our epic event said, “Come on kid! Pull it together! Walk straight! Stop wobbling!” Instead, there were cameras out and parents were acting like it was the Olympics, cheering us to the finish line. We had arrived. But we had only just taken one. Little. Step. But that step was a huge step, which set our lives on a course for thousands and millions more steps. Steps that would take us to places our baby minds never would have dreamed of.
There are some steps along our journey that are seemingly larger than others. There are decisions we make and steps we take in life that are very difficult to make because they come at a high cost. There are sacrifices you have made in your life that required much of you. Some of the biggest decisions in life are the most costly: moving your family to a different city, making big purchases, taking a new job, staying at the same job, having or adopting a child, dropping your child off at Kindergarten, taking care of an elderly parent. These are steps that tremendously impact and alter your life.
There is also the other side to this. Many of us try to avoid any life-altering decision or event that may cost us too much. We try not to rock the boat because life in the boat is just like we want it here and now. Yet when we look back, it is those bold and life-altering moves that literally changed our lives. When is the last time you did anything worthwhile that cost you nothing? Whether we realize it or not, when we intentionally choose the easy and comfortable path, we are simply trying to control everything around us in order to minimize adversity and difficulty. We often choose to take the escalator when maybe the stairs would be best for us.
This weekend we heard the story in Joshua 6 where Joshua was in a challenging spot as the walls of Jericho stood in his way. The big question was how they were going to conquer an armed city with giant walls around it? He was stuck in a challenging situation, which gave him an opportunity to step up. The challenges of life provide us the chance to step up. God is wise enough to design it this way. The chance to step up is a gift from Him. It is in the challenges that He grows us. Our muscles would never grow if they were not stretched and pushed.
We started talking this weekend about the Giving Journey. This week is simply a straightforward chance for us to answer the question, “Where do I begin?” All of us find ourselves at one of these steps on the journey. God is always calling us to intentional steps of obedience. What would it take for you to move forward one or two steps along the journey? You will find that the farther along you move, it will change your vantage point to see God at work in a completely different way.
God is working. Think about that phrase. Currently, ongoing, in the present tense, God is working. What is even more amazing is that He has invited us to watch Him work and take part in that work. We get to be involved in what He is currently doing to change the world. We have already talked a lot about what it looks like to surrender and trust God. The more He stretches you into places of trust, the more you become who He designed you to be. This is where God becomes less of a concept and more of a reality in your life.
God is far from finished working at the Journey. We have already seen His loving and masterful hands at work in our history, but simply imagine what He can and will do through the faithful obedience of each of us. Will you invest in playing your part and watching Him work right before your eyes? This step you are about to take is a huge one. You may wobble out of the gate and wonder if your legs will hold you. That is okay, for it is just the first step, leading to a life of many more just like it.
In college and newly married, God graciously and patiently began to prompt us concerning the discipline of tithing (giving 10% of our income back to God). Through our local church, we heard His design concerning finances for the first time. Tithing was a foreign discipline to us and on a meager $200 per week income; we wrestled with the idea of giving 10%. We hadn’t realized the money given to us was never ours, but as time past, we trusted God and stepped up by giving $20 each week. We began to experience the financial blessings of God in unlikely ways. Although it seems small now, He added $180 to our $800 income that month, increasing our faith tremendously. Within a few years, God spoke to us about relocating after college. We would have been safe staying where we were, but after struggling with the decision we committed to move trusting God would provide. Over the next few months, God unexpectedly gave us our first child, and with that blessing He placed a desire in Tricia’s heart to forego pursuing her career and become a stay-at-home mom. Though we thought this decision was financially impossible, we prayed, sought counsel from our pastor, and began to take steps to eliminate our college debt. Over the next four years, God blessed us financially again by allowing us to eliminate our student loan debt as He miraculously provided Tim an opportunity in the same field that nearly doubled his pay. What we thought was impossible, or at best a lofty dream, God gave to us. After several years of praying and allowing God to guide us, He granted the desire of our hearts as we prayerfully called out to Him. Although there have been difficult times over the years, because we have experienced God’s faithfulness, we trust Him even more today. We know He provides all we need and more. We continue to learn that God blesses us with more so we can give more. He continuously shows us it is far more blessed to give than to receive.
Tim & Tricia
1. Would you ask God what it would take to move one or two steps in the Giving Journey?
2. Look at the Giving Journey included in this booklet (p.2). What step do you see yourself aspiring to?
1. What was your big takeaway from this past week’s sermon? How about from this week’s devotional reading?
2. Would you be willing to share with the group how you answered #2 from the Personal Reflection questions?
3. What have been some of the most “costly” decisions you have made in life?
4. Would you call yourself an adventure seeker or does your foot hover over the brake? How has that shaped how you make decisions?
5. How have you already seen God shaping you during the last three weeks?
6. What does it mean to be a good steward of God’s money? How does it help and challenge you to know that all you have is already His?
Read – Joshua 6:1-20
Stepping Up by trusting God in all you do.
What Joshua learned about faith is that when it seems like our steps of faith are not working, God is still at work. Throughout our lives, God continually puts us in situations to trust Him. During Stepping Up, He is going to call some of us to give and sacrifice in ways that are going to scare us. Are you willing to trust Him? Those who see God do the most incredible things are those who step up by faith to trust what God says.
Pray – Lord, I know You are for me and that You want to use me for Your Kingdom. Though I may not see You at work in my life, I know You are calling me to step up and step out in faith like Joshua did. I pray You show me how to trust You even through situations where I cannot see Your presence. Remove my fear so that I will rest in You, and trust that You are doing incredible things through me for Your kingdom. I want to respond to Your call and step up by faith. Please lead me. In Jesus name, Amen.