From Surviving to Thriving in the Wilderness Pt. 2

From Surviving to Thriving in the Wilderness Pt. 2

We’ve seen so far over the past few months the path which David’s life took as it progressed through the “4 A’s” of Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation and Announcement. Despite our desire for God to take us straight from the place of Anointing to the place of Announcement where we are recognized as being in the fullness of our calling, we must first survive the wilderness.

It’s in the wilderness as we have seen in Part 1 where you are faced with the realities of your heart and you’re given the opportunity to test your character, preparedness and devotion to God before you are given the full measure of your life’s calling. In part one we addressed the “Why” of having to go through the wilderness and now we must look at the “How” of not just surviving the wilderness season but thriving in it as well.

Faithfulness Brings Activation

For David the wilderness was not a time of quiet reflection, it was a time of adventure, risk, action, and leadership. David was on the run from king Saul who was proverbially frothing at the mouth to kill David and secure his kingdom. This meant that David was constantly on the move and living in the less desirable areas of the Judahite wilderness. David had to be constantly on the move but he wasn’t alone. Over time he attracted others from the kingdom who were outsiders and misfits but at the same time they recognized something special about David.

Those people followed him and abandoned their comforts, security and the quietness of their mundane lives to follow this shepherd/general/musician into the desert with the hope that he would succeed Saul, the king God no longer endorsed. But for those people to follow him David first had to go out and live out a small measure of his calling. He led the people, delivered the oppressed from the Philistines (1 Samuel 23) and he forged what would later become the inner circle of the kingdom of Israel. David’s advisors, generals and mighty men came out of this season of the wilderness, and they didn’t suddenly appear after David became king,

Those people only found David because he was already acting with the wisdom, leadership, and devotion of a king, even through the crown wasn’t on his head yet. I feel that this is similar to the process we go through when we try to fulfill our calling or find our own place in ministry. You don’t automatically wake up one day and get handed the keys to a church of 5,000 people when you’ve never done any kind of ministry or received any training. That is a recipe for disaster, and it highlights the reason for the wilderness training and waiting we have to go through.

Yet at the same time just because you don’t have a 5,000 person church or a fancy title, or a paid position doesn’t mean that you don’t go about and do many of the things you would be doing with those opportunities, titles, and positions. It is the process of progressive faithfulness where you are faithful with small and seemingly insignificant matter and you are rewarded with the chance to do something greater next time (Luke 16:10). It is like the parable where those who were faithful with financial responsibilities were rewarded with the ability to oversee entire cities (Luke 19:17).

It is the process of progressive faithfulness where you are faithful with small and seemingly insignificant matter and you are rewarded with the chance to do something greater next time

How can you dream of being a great evangelist like Reinhard Bonnke or Daniel Kolenda if you refuse to go about your own community and preach the gospel? How can you dream of being a great pastor if you don’t have a heart for the people in your present church? How can you desire to be a mighty teacher if you don’t take any opportunities to teach even one or two people? All of the great things we want find their roots of their fulfillment in the little things we do today.

I’ve had to go through this as well, I’ve had times and seasons where I taught small groups but I didn’t see it as a burden or a waste of my time. It was an opportunity to learn how to teach, write and communicate with people so I could develop the skills I felt God was trying to refine in me so I could do greater things. There are times when you will feel like it’s not worth the extra effort, but it always is.

At one church I was a member of I taught mid-week “adult Sunday school” for a couple of years. It was a curriculum that I had put together and the first year I taught it I had nine people attend. I was happy with that and the 20 lessons that came out of that course I still use today and they have shown up in my articles and books. I still benefit from the work I did back then because I was faithful with the process, I treated those notes as something which could become greater later in life and I didn’t see that small class as being beneath my calling.

I was really challenged with this in the second year I ran the course, I had seven people sign up and only one showed up to the first night. That is a real challenge to not only your desire to be faithful but also your pride as well. The one person that showed up wanted to learn and that was all that I needed to know, so for the next four months we met ever Tuesday and I taught that material with the same zeal and quality I would if there was fifty people in that room.

In that moment I could of bailed on the class using the excuse that it wasn’t worth my time, or I could of thought about the times I spoke in front of hundreds of people and feeling like God had demoted me some how. Instead I saw it as a moment of testing where God wanted to see if I wanted to be a success rather than a servant. It’s not easy going through those times, I’ve taught in rooms full of people and I’ve had days where no one showed up, but I feel that it’s in the times when no one shows up that God is examining our hearts the most.

Instead I saw it as a moment of testing where God wanted to see if I wanted to be a success rather than a servant.

Impurities in gold only rise up when it’s in the furnace, and that’s what the seasons of training and wilderness does. It takes the proverbial gold of our life and calling and heats it to the point where all of the dirt, flaws, and imperfections rise to the top so they can be scrapped off. But we resist going through this process because we fear what we could lose in the process, or we fear what might be lurking inside of us so we avoid the process and remain content with being less than what we could be.

People Will Eventually Recognize Your Calling and Support You

Often what you will find is that when you have a legitimate calling on your life and you demonstrate consistent character and faithfulness people will begin to recognize those things in your life and help you take the next step. We see this idea play out between David and Jonathan where the calling of God and the faithfulness of David forced Jonathan to embrace what God was bringing into reality.


1 Samuel 23:17–18 “17 And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that.” 18 So the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. And David stayed in the woods, and Jonathan went to his own house.” (NKJV)


We can’t be demanding about this, it has to come naturally and through the leading of the Holy Spirit. I strongly believe that God wants to use other people to help establish you so you can maintain a covering and protecting offered by the church community. Even with myself the majority of “opportunities” I’ve received in the church have come by a pastor or leader taking me aside and saying that God spoke to them or impressed upon them to bring me in to help in a project or a ministry. This has happened repeatedly in my life, I haven’t had to advertise my gifts or callings because I was always faithful with whatever was placed before me and I had a lifestyle which matched up with my calling.

It is that faithfulness and devotion to loving God that opens up doors in your life and not begging and petitioning anyone and everyone to give you an opportunity.

It is that faithfulness and devotion to loving God that opens up doors in your life and not begging and petitioning anyone and everyone to give you an opportunity. Really if you want to be in ministry and get opportunities all you have to do is A) show up B) be faithful and C) don’t sin. At one church I was made the “volunteer” youth pastor because I showed up to the launch of the new youth ministry and wasn’t discouraged when barely anyone showed up and all of the other volunteers ran off. I was asked to create curriculum for one church because my pastor at the time got an impression from God to reach out to me about that program. Although with that example I had already served for over two years teaching and helping out with the youth program (ages 10-12), again faithfulness brings promotion and opportunity.

This is all the personification of what it says in Proverbs 18:16, “A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.” We can see this idea also play out in the relationship Barnabas vouching and supporting Paul (Acts 9:26-27) or even to a lesser extent Baruch’s support of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36:4, 10).

It is through the people God leads into your life which helps you fulfill His purpose in the world, as long as your life and character lives up to that calling. Because having people supporting isn’t always about them promoting you it can also be about correcting you and protecting you. We see this play out in 1 Samuel 25 with the story of Abigail and Nabal as David was (justly) prepared to retaliate against Nabal for denying him the commission soldiers would receive for protecting a shepherd’s flock. But in that moment Abigail who saw something greater in David than just being a mercenary for local shepherds intervened and saved David from making an impulsive decision and preventing God from intervening in the situation (1 Samuel 25:32-33).

Not All Opportunities Bring God’s Favor

Something else I believe must be addressed whenever we talk about thriving in the wilderness season is that not all opportunities are from God, or even bring more of his favor into our lives. This is a critical revelation that we must face head on if we’re to survive the wilderness. Because there is no guarantee that you make it out of the wilderness morally, spiritually or naturally alive. You could go in the bar of gold and come out being nothing more than dross (or the sludge which floats to the top).

Where many people go wrong is that they see an opportunity to take a shortcut out of the season of apprenticeship or activation and go directly to being announced (or made king in David’s case). It could be through unethical means, or through something completely innocent but either way it is an attempt to bypass God’s plan and hurry the intended results. We all know how this mentality worked out with Abraham and Hagar, but we tend to think that we are immune from such mistakes.

It could be through unethical means, or through something completely innocent but either way it is an attempt to bypass God’s plan and hurry the intended results.

Not once but twice David was offered one of these shortcuts to his destiny, in 1 Samuel chapters 24 and 26 David has an opening to kill Saul and take the crown. David’s followers tried to convince him to strike (1 Samuel 24:4) but each time David refused because of the legacy of God’s anointing on Saul (1 Samuel 24:10, 1 Samuel 26:9). Even when David only cut off and took a chunk of Saul’s robe while he was going to the bathroom in the cave there was apprehension and regret for doing that (1 Samuel 24:5).

Most other people, including David’s top lieutenants wouldn’t have hesitated to kill Saul in that moment, but David’s honorable actions forced even Saul to publicly profess David’s future as the king of Israel. Although this didn’t stop Saul from trying to kill David again later.


1 Samuel 24:17-22 “Then he said to David: “You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil. 18 And you have shown this day how you have dealt well with me; for when the Lord delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me. 19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him get away safely? Therefore may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. 20 And now I know indeed that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. 21 Therefore swear now to me by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not destroy my name from my father’s house.” 22 So David swore to Saul. And Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.” (NKJV)


I know today we don’t have to worry about killing Saul (or our pastor) to advance our calling or ministry in the wrong way. There are still many things we can do to compromise our walk with God in exchange for a Fast-Pass to our calling. Some people use manipulation, others teach corrupted doctrines, others play politics, but the most common seems to be the desire to abandon their current church and move to greener pastures. Now I’m not saying that you have to remain at one church for the entirely of your Christian life, rather I am talking about stepping outside of God’s plan and taking matters into your own hands.

Yes, there are times when God may call you to move from one congregation to the other but that is according to his will and not your own. Often people get frustrated and imagine that everything would be better somewhere else at a place where their gifts and abilities will be recognizes, praised and put to work. But the reality is that those kinds of advancements come from faithfulness and following God’s guidance in your life. At times he will leave you were you are and at other times He will call you to another place, much like how a soldier gets transferred from one base to another.

Often you will know that it is God calling you to move if your initial reaction is pain or loss, if its relief or joy then it may be your own mind trying to lead you astray. I’m speaking from personal experience here and I’m basing this on the many people I have known who have transferred churches with and without God’s guidance. Those who did do it with God’s leading were blessed and took the next step in their calling, while those who rushed into “greener pastures” faltered and remained in the wilderness.

Thriving Today and Tomorrow

Like David we will all face challenges to bypass God’s plan for our life, or we end up like Eve who questioned God’s goodness and nature in exchange what she had for something else. The wilderness is that place where we can face these challenges with the least amount of collateral damage to ourselves and to the church at large. It’s the place where God can correct us and strengthen us before we have the pressures of the world, ministry, or the full weight of our calling placed upon us. This is done out of love because God wants not just the church to thrive but the people who make it up as well, because when one succeeds the other does also. However, God’s measure of succeeding is often much different than our definitions.

How to go from just surviving in the wilderness to thriving and developing in you calling? It’s done through faithfulness, integrity, character, hard work, devotion and the heart of a servant. You begin to thrive in the season of the wilderness when you accept that you are in that season and you use every opportunity to prepare your heart and spirit for the future. The seeds you sow in this season will become the fruit you eat when you are placed in the fullness of your calling, it isn’t the other way around.

How to go from just surviving in the wilderness to thriving and developing in you calling? It’s done through faithfulness, integrity, character, hard work, devotion and the heart of a servant.

You will thrive in this place when you begin to see mountains as opportunities, and you learn how to walk out your calling by living in part as if you have already “arrived” at the place God has called you to be. You can’t be lazy or dormant in this place because if you are you will never leave the wilderness, and you may even become stumbling blocks for those who come through the wilderness after you.

In this entire process of the “4 A’s” of Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation and Announcement there’s no guarantee that you’ll make it through all four stages. At any point you can get derailed or lost on the journey. Matters such as work, faithfulness, and relationship with God are mandatory or you will find yourself endlessly repeating the same stage over and over again just as the Israelites continued in the same cycle of blessing, idolatry, judgment, and deliverance for hundreds of years.

You can’t just rely on pleasantries between you and God to carry you through this season, this is the time where you develop your relationship with Him. Otherwise if you fail to learn these lessons, you neglect your relationship with God, or you take a shortcut out of this season you’ll just end up launching a ministry where the only god you serve is yourself.

“If only I had ________, my life would be better.” We idealize the perfect life and attribute our own unhappiness to our failure to possess it.” Click HERE for more information.
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From Surviving to Thriving in the Wilderness Pt. 1

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No one wants to be in the wilderness season of their life or calling in ministry. It’s a place where the crowds don’t see you, it’s a place where your weaknesses are exposed, and it’s in the wilderness that the motivations of your heart are tested and brought to light. The wilderness is the time in your life when your roots are tested to see if God can build upon your life in the way He wants without destroying you or those around you. God didn’t lead you into this place just so you could barley make it out alive, no He brought you there to thrive. Because if your life and relationship with God can thrive in the wilderness then it will be able to survive the chaos and demands of your everyday life and ministry.

Many people don’t make it out of the wilderness. This is a truth we must come to grips with, as it is easy to assume that your life is just on autopilot and you will end up where God wants you to be no matter how you live or react to your situations. But this couldn’t be further from the truth, the wilderness is the place of refinement and while some make it out to the other side there are many who simply die spiritually (or morally) in that place.

Many people don’t make it out of the wilderness.

Or there are others who become overly comfortable in the wilderness, where no one can see them, and they can do as they please. Some misinterpret the wilderness as the fulfilment of their callings where they go and “suffer for Jesus” for the betterment of unnamed “others.” Then there are the few who perceive the wilderness as being a deserved judgment on their life that they must embrace indefinitely.

We can look to stories about the wilderness such as Jesus’s temptations, Elijah’s refuge, Moses’s escape or the migration of the children of Israel from Egypt. In all of these examples we see a pattern emerge: God calls a person or group and manifests in their life, then they end up outside of the comforts of home and into a place where they have to either prove their dependence upon God or prove that their hearts are in line with God’s.

Jesus resisted the temptation of Satan, Elijah learned the secret of hearing God’s voice, Moses became humble and encountered God in the burning bush while tending Jethro’s sheep and the people of Israel were refined into a nation which could enter the Promised Land. Jesus left the wilderness in power and authority, Elijah had his strength and faith restored, and Moses understood his role in God’s plan. These three men left the wilderness forever changed, they were changed in a deep and profound way and it is because of that change that they were able to leave the wilderness intact.

These three examples not only survived but thrived, unlike many nameless faces who have gone into the wilderness and never returned. We see this with the children of Israel as the majority of them died in their season of wilderness, as only those under the age of twenty along with Joshua and Caleb survived. They rejected their wilderness journey, they rejected God’s goodness, they refused to trust God and they resisted God’s attempts to take Egypt out of their hearts. Who knows how many others have fallen victim to these same failings when they went into their own wilderness experiences? This is what I mean by saying that entering the wilderness is a guarantee, but leaving it is not.

But we have another example of someone with a calling from God on their life who had to enter the wilderness, David.

The Wilderness Is Not To Be Feared

As we’ve seen over the past few months the story of David is one which is rich examples of how someone who is called by God is to live and fulfill that calling. We’ve seen so far the path of David’s life which followed the 4 A’s of Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation and Announcement. Normally we want God to take us straight from the place of Anointing and initial calling and carry us directly into the place of Announcement where we are recognized as being in the fullness of our calling, just as when David was formally made king of Judah and later Israel.

Normally we want God to take us straight from the place of Anointing and initial calling and carry us directly into the place of Announcement

However, in reality to get to the places of activation and announcement we (and David) must go through the wilderness. In the previous article I spoke of how David entered the wilderness because of Saul’s obsession with killing him. I spoke of the need for the wilderness in our lives but now I want to take you to the next level where we actually thrive and see the true purpose that we were brought into this place.

In some ways the wilderness is like finally arriving at your dream amusement park (be it Disney, Universal, Six Flags or even Walley World) only to find out that it was closed, indefinitely, without warning. What would you do in that situation? How would you react to reaching what you though was the pinnacle of your perceived calling and life purpose only to find the gates shut, the lights off and a bumbling security guard keeping you from your dream?

I know the wilderness of life isn’t a fun place, I’ve been there, more than once, I know what it’s like to go into that season kicking and screaming and finally when I was exhausted from all of that, I saw the wilderness for what it really was. I saw it as the place where my personal failings were brought to the surface, not publicly but privately so they wouldn’t be (or not as much) an issue later on in life. I’ve had three such seasons in my life, with one of them lasting almost a decade, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without that time of hiding and refinement.

Much of what I write about, be it in the articles or my books found their beginnings in those seasons of darkness and wilderness. I can honestly look back at several of those times in my life and say that they were worth it. They were painful, I was gripped by hopelessness, I stood face to face with my own expectation, and I lost my sense of purpose. I grappled with the ideas of God’s goodness, faithfulness and love in not just my own life but the world in general. In that place I was forced to ask the real questions most people in church don’t dare to ask or think about (at least out loud). The questions that go beyond a normal motivational message, the questions that determine ones life.

Much of what I write about, be it in the articles or my books found their beginnings in those seasons of darkness and wilderness.

Despite all that I experienced, lost, learned, forgot, relearned, suffered, tolerated or enjoyed I always saw that distant shimmering light at the edge of the horizon and did all I could to follow it.

At the tail end of my last wilderness season God spoke to me through a picture. One day in prayer after reading A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller, I finally saw what was going on in my life from God’s perspective. I saw myself walking through a desert with rolling dunes which saw their sand being carried off by the wind. It was not long before dawn when the sky was dark but there was enough light to see where you were going.

Among the stars was one which sat right along the horizon which was brighter that the rest and pulsed its inviting light. I watched myself march endlessly over each dune. At times briskly other times I struggled and dragged myself over them with my arms. At one point I gave up from the exhaustion, it tried to reach that light but my body gave out and slowly the winds and sand began to bury me. All I saw around myself was lifeless desert and sand and emptiness.

At that point my perspective shifted as if I was lifted up by as if by a crane and I could see beyond the horizon behind me. I couldn’t recognize it because I didn’t see a barren desert but lush trees and an oasis the size of a forest. The new life was creeping along the sands behind me but just beyond my ability to see it, and when I stopped it stopped as well. Then I saw myself again buried in the sand and I lifted myself out of the dune and continued the march towards the light.

Even in your season of wilderness you can have an effect on people, you can grow, develop and achieve great things when you work with God.

Even in your season of wilderness you can have an effect on people, you can grow, develop and achieve great things when you work with God. That was the lesson I learned that day, the lesson of not needing to see the fulfillment of each of my steps but to trust the God would honor my faithfulness in following Him no matter how much my mind or body begged me to stop and submit to the wilderness, with its darkness and cool breeze. God is always watching and God is always working, even when we think our lives or experiences don’t’ matter or that we have been forgotten the refining process continues. Then when you emerge from that process your heart is ready to be who God called you to be. This is the truth you can’t have a testimony without a test and you can’t be in ministry without a refined heart.

But enough about me let’s look back at David and how he navigated this season in the wilderness.

Now Is The Time Of Activation

After fleeing from Saul we see that David didn’t just go hide off in a cave and wait for Saul to die. Nor did David just stay out of the way of the world during this time of testing and preparation. What we see here is that the season of the wilderness not only helped to refine David but also gave him the opportunity to see his gifts and traits needed to be a good king begin to blossom.


1 Samuel 22:2 And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.


Even though David was not the king of Israel he was still a leader and a person God had singled out for great things, and many people took notice of that. In the wilderness David began to lead a group of people of his own, unlike the soldiers who had previously been obligated to follow his orders. From all over the wilderness of southern Judah people began to flock to David to be led by him even despite Saul’s persecution.

David began to see what it would be like to be the king, but before David was king over a nation he had to prove to himself, to others and to God that he could lead this small band of followers. Because the same lessons apply to leadership no matter the size of the congregation, if you fail in certain areas with a small group you will surly fail in the same ways with a larger group.

David began to see what it would be like to be the king, but before David was king over a nation he had to prove to himself, to others and to God that he could lead this small band of followers.

This idea even applies to ministry, often when people feel a calling to be in some form of ministry, they automatically desire to have the biggest platform, the grandest reach and the most influence possible. Many people don’t value the baby steps it actually takes to get to those levels, and they think that they can automatically succeed if they are given the grandest platform first. In reality this is like teaching a teenager to drive by handing them the keys to a racecar instead of something they can handle. It seems that less and less people appreciate the process of incremental promotion and success. Before you can succeed with a congregation you must succeed with at group, and before you can succeed with at group you first have to succeed with an individual.

Even my own life I have been a youth pastor, a Christian wrestling promoter, a home church pastor, a home group leader, a blogger, a teacher, a coffee maker, a chair stacker and a curriculum writer. I didn’t just start with the platform I have, I worked my way through all of these assignments and opportunities and learned along the way so I could handle the greater opportunities which came later. This is the same lesson we see here with David, though he was not the official king he learned how to lead people so that when his kingship manifested he knew what to do and how to do it.

We see this idea play out in places such as 1 Samuel 23:1-13 where David and his 600 men delivered the town of Keliah from the Philistines. David wasn’t a king, he wasn’t apart of Israel’s army, he had no official status but he did what a king would do in that situation, he saved his people from an attack. He didn’t let the city fall because it wasn’t “his turn” to lead Israel or to officially protect the people. In that moment David didn’t tell himself that someone else more qualified would eventually show up, no he acted out the fullness of his calling right then and there and the city was spared.

Did that victory make David king, no, and even that victory wasn’t the end of the story. even after that accomplishment life and troubles continued, soon Saul found out about the battle and send his army to Keliah. It was only through the guidance of God which was revealed through Abiathar and the ephod (Uruim and Thummim possibly) that David fled the city he just saved and went back into the wilderness.

This Is Just The Beginning Of This Story

For David the wilderness was the time of the Activation of his calling, but not the full manifestation of it. It was the time when his gifts and abilities began to mature and strengthen so he was ready for the inevitable day when Saul passed, and the crown would be placed on his head. Next time we will go even deeper into David’s time of activation and see how it carried him out of the wilderness and into the place of Announcement when it was proclaimed it the nation that David was now king.

But before I close I have this question to ask: where are you in this journey? Are you at the beginning where the call on your life has begun to stir? Are you in the place where that fire is being kindled? Are you where David is in this part of the story where God through the wilderness is doing His work of activation and refinement? Understanding where you are in this process will help you succeed in what God has called you to be. You must be honest with yourself and God about what’s happening in your heart and life so that you can survive the place you are in and be effective in not just ministry but you entire life.

For David the wilderness was the time of the Activation of his calling, but not the full manifestation of it.

“If only I had ________, my life would be better.” We idealize the perfect life and attribute our own unhappiness to our failure to possess it.” Click HERE for more information.
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To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Six Minutes of Grace: They Key To Happiness and Purpose. Get your copy today and discover how you can radically change your life through the power of GRACE.

Also available as an eBook here from Kindle, Kobo, Nook and other retailers.

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Creative Commons LicenseFrom Surviving to Thriving in the Wilderness Pt. 1 Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
 

When The Wilderness Calls

When The Wilderness Calls

Everyone wants to remain in their own proverbial Eden and wait for God to bring them blessings on a silver platter. It’s no wonder why we look down upon seasons of difficulties or even the idea of having to go through a wilderness to arrive at the place God has called us to. At times people go into the wilderness by choice, such as with Jesus and Moses. But there are other times when people like David were forced to run into it, because their life depended on it.

As we’ve seen over the past few weeks David really hasn’t done anything wrong, he served Saul faithfully, he protected the people from the Philistines and was generally admired by many. The shepherd boy who killed Goliath and lulled Saul to sleep at night stood as a paragon of virtue and the favor of God. But not everyone appreciated what David was becoming. Saul was becoming increasingly paranoid and his rage was replacing the place in his heart which used to be filled with God’s anointing.

Repeatedly Saul lost his temper and tried to impale David with his spear (1 Samuel 19:1-7), only to apologize later on after Jonathan or another calmed him down. Saul reacted in this way because he knew something was up, David was loved by the people, he was a mighty warrior and now he had not only married his daughter Michal but made a covenant with his son Jonathan, the heir-apparent to the throne of Israel. As far as Saul was concerned David was fast becoming enemy number one and posed a threat to his family, his kingship and his life.

Dark to Light

What does this have to do with us today? Not everyone has a Saul in their lives who is watching and plotting against them with a murderous paranoia. Yet at times it may feel that way, and even spiritually we have someone even more broken than Saul who is working against us so that no one can take his throne and replace his royal family.

Saul had fallen from God’s graces and was destined to be replaced by God’s new anointed choice, David. We today can see ourselves playing the role of David, as we look forward to the day when the wicked king is fully dethroned and God allows us to walk into the fullness of our calling.

As I said we don’t always face a physical Saul in our life but there is a spiritual one, one who is active and paranoid that at any moment one of God’s anointed ones will rush into the castle and dethrone him. Satan and his forces are like Saul, they have been entrenched and see themselves as still having a legal right over their territory despite their falling away and the stripping of God’s anointing from their lives. So, they go about and like Saul they hurl their spears in an attempt to kill, discredit, or convert anyone who poses a threat to their continued rule.

We don’t always face a physical Saul in our life but there is a spiritual one, one who is active and paranoid that at any moment one of God’s anointed ones will rush into the castle and dethrone him.

Like David we can’t just barge into that throne room after we “kill Goliath,” no, to achieve real and lasting victory in our hearts we need to go through the process of refinement that comes from entering and abiding in the wilderness. Otherwise we end up being worse than those that we replaced or ridiculed. Imagine if David had gone against his heart and just straight up murdered Saul the first chance he got, would he still be a man after God’s own heart, or would he have become worse than Saul. We can even look at the lives of David’s descendants and see the answer to the question. People like Absalom, Rehoboam, or Manasseh who allowed their hearts to be corrupted and ended up as even more broken and wicked kings than Saul ever was.

This is why the wilderness is a necessity in our relationships with God, it refines our heart and takes us out from the place of Apprenticeship and brings us into Activation. Some people like David won’t have a choice in the matter, if they want to remain spiritually (or even naturally) alive long enough to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives.

Running Into the Wilderness

In the opening of 1 Samuel 19 we don’t see a scared and cowardly David looking to abandon His divine purpose in life because things got “too hard.” This was a last resort to preserve his life and the calling God had placed upon him. We see this play out in David’s request to Jonathan to find out exactly what was going on in Saul’s heart. At first Saul once again relented in 1 Samuel 19:6 but not long after Saul once again tried to turn David into an unwilling wall ornament in 1 Samuel 19:9-10.

Now was the time to run, not out of cowardice, or an abandoning of his calling but because God was orchestrating events to lure David outside the comforts of the castle and his royal position and into the place where his heart would be refined even further. It’s easy to get comfortable, it’s happened to me and I know it has happened to you as well. Comfort leads to contentment, and contentment leads to inactivity. This place of comfort is something we all want to enjoy at some point but at the same time that comfort has to power to smother the fire God has placed inside of us.

Comfort leads to contentment, and contentment leads to inactivity.

No one, or should I say very few, people want to abandon those comforts and go out into the wilderness. In the castle David had food brought to him, but in the wilderness he had to seek out his own food or rely on others for help. The wilderness is one of the spiritual antidotes to our pride and self-sufficiency. It’s the place that forces us to hold up our priorities and relationship with God up against the realities of our hearts desires. Those seasons of wilderness that we dread are really God’s method of pruning our hearts and minds like one prunes a tree of fruit vine. In the wilderness the dead branches of our heart, mind and desires are exposed and allowed to be removed so the source of life can flow freely through us.

We’re not the only ones that must face these seasons of wilderness refinement. As we’ve already seen Jesus and Moses both had seasons like this, but so did Elijah, Paul, Jeremiah and a host of others who were used mightily by God. The wilderness can be painful, stressful and full of vanities but God uses that time to draw us closer to Him and to ensure that we don’t place our trust in the wrong things. No longer do we rely on the royal chefs to bring our meals each day but now we rely on God’s provisions (Matthew 6:25-27).

Our Spiritual Testing Grounds

Not only is the wilderness a season of dependency but it also prepares us for what God has called us to become. With David his time in the wilderness was not one of isolation or contemplation. Rather this season gave him the opportunity to experience many of the responsibilities he would face when he became king. He learned how to lead and manage and defend his people. Many of the lessons David needed to learn in how to be a good king came during this season where he lead his band of misfits and evaded the murderous rage of Saul.

The wilderness can then be seen as a microcosm or a testing ground for our divine callings where we can learn, grow and apply what God is calling us to be outside of the public eye. It also allows us the opportunity to fail without being discredited before we master our callings. Or we can be like the Apostle Paul who used his decade long post-Damascus wilderness to relearn the scriptures through the light of Christ.

The wilderness can then be seen as a microcosm or a testing ground for our divine callings where we can learn, grow and apply what God is calling us to be outside of the public eye.

I know that everyone wants to go from the poor shepherd directly to being the king with nothing in-between. But it is in that in-between time that our heart, mind and character are supposed to be prepared to be a king after God’s own heart. Otherwise we run the risk of ending up like the fallen and wicked kings of Judah and Israel.

Even I’ve had my own wilderness experiences I’ve had several seasons in my life where as I was trying to fulfill. my calling and become who God created me to be I suddenly found myself outside of the proverbial promised land and alone in the dark, barren wilderness. I can honestly say that while I was in those seasons of wilderness that I was less than pleased to be in them. I grumbled and complained like ancient Israelite who left Egypt and I would regularly question God’s goodness.

But eventually I got to the point where I recognized where I was and what God was trying to do in those seasons and my perspective began to change. I reached a point in the wilderness where I saw what God was trying to do with my heart, character or motivations and began to allow Him to do his work. I allowed this because I began to see how the things God was addressing in my life would end up crippling my calling and would lead to others being affected as well. Looking back at those seasons I still don’t enjoy the pain, discomfort or struggles I endured but I to enjoy the place that I am in now because of it.

This whole concept of the wilderness can be compared to breaking your leg. After the injury you can either go through frustration of depending on a crutch and having to endure the pain of having the bone heal, and even become stronger in some aspects. Or you can take the easy way out and avoid all of that pain and discomfort by just cutting of your leg instead. I feel that many believers prefer to cut off their broken legs than allow God to take them through the wilderness. Then afterwards they go about brag about their piety for enduring life without a leg to stand on when all God wanted to do was to strengthen them and make them more grounded in Him.

Welcome to the Wilderness

Despite Saul’s murderous temper tantrums David was still in his season of apprenticeship, he was one of the leaders of the army and was the one bringing victories to Israel while Saul remained at home wallowing in his misery. David was earning the love and respect of the people simply by being faithful to the tasks set before him. He didn’t try to outmaneuver Saul politically but simply did his duty for the people and the kingdom as God gave him the needed support.

Even though Saul was trying to kill David, David did not relent from doing what he knew he needed to do at that time. He didn’t refuse to fight the Philistines or plot to kill Saul, however once the danger became too great then and only then did he flee. But David did not flee to an enemy to seek vengeance on Saul, no in that moment David fled to where the prophet Samuel was staying. David fled to the only real place he could go to as an anointed servant of God. He went to the place where other anointed people were, the place where God was speaking so he could find shelter and insight into what to do next.

Don’t fear the wilderness because that’s the place of activation.

This time of apprenticeship in the wilderness David the experience he needed to learn how to lead the people and it gave him a platform for the others to recognize themselves what God has placed upon him. The wilderness was not a demotion but a staircase to the next level of David’s life, but like a natural staircase it takes effort and intent to reach the top. Our hearts want an escalator to carry us to our dreams and promises but in reality God wants to walk hand in hand with us up those stairs so we always remain dependent on Him for our promotion and success. Don’t fear the wilderness because that’s the place of activation.


Psalm 55:6-7 “So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, And remain in the wilderness.”


To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

 
Creative Commons LicenseWhen The Wilderness Calls Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
 

Jealousy Follows Favor

Jealousy Follows Favor

No matter what God has called you to be it in ministry, business, government, education etc., you will notice that jealousy inevitably follows after favor. It doesn’t just follow but it hunts and runs after it because others see something in you they either want, need or used to have. Many people who have been called and anointed by God have faced this challenge and those who successfully pass this test are allowed to take the next step in their callings. While those who fail typically become the next generation of the jealous who go about hunting those called by God to achieve something in this world.

When God begins to move in your life people start paying attention to you wherever you go. At times this can be good attention like the kind which helps you find those that can aid you in your journey, or you find others needed help as well. This is the place of favor where God begins to connect you with others so that your callings and dreams can manifest in this world. Even David had these people in his life with the likes of Samuel, Jonathan, this mighty men, Joab and others.

However, there’s a second category of attention that you will receive. People who are anointed typically encounter where those who either hate, resent or covet what God has placed upon their life. As you progress in you calling and relationship with God these people will emerge and try to either silence you, cripple you or convert you into one of them.

People who are anointed typically encounter where those who either hate, resent or covet what God has placed upon their life.

How you deal with these people will determine how you progress along the path of the 4 A’s of Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation and Announcement. No matter what you’re called to become you’ll encounter this resistance in some way, shape or form. This resistance can come in the form of a person, group, organization, friend, family member or online stranger. It feels as if there is a natural attraction that the darkness has when it sees the light of God in someone. Not that they want to encounter the light of God but rather they are attracted to it because they want to snuff it out, so their darkness isn’t disturbed.

Thousands vs. Ten Thousands

Once God began to bring close supporters into David’s life then it was only a matter of time that the crowds at large began to recognize what was happening in his life. Between the defeat of Goliath and David’ blossoming military career he was being moved closer into the national spotlight right next to Saul. With each task placed before him David was found to be faithful and wise and victories against Israel’s primary enemy the Philistines were happening at a pace not seen since Joshua’s invasion.

What happened here is that God provided David an opportunity to enter into his season of apprenticeship in his anointing and David took that opportunity and did something with it. He didn’t talk about it, or dream of what he could do with those opportunities, no he went to work, and out worked those around him. We don’t just get David boasting about himself about all of this, rather we witness the praises of the people who were beginning to see David as the new great warrior of Israel. A title that used to be Saul’s up until he was abandoned by God and he no longer fought as he used to, we see with his unwillingness to answer Goliath’s challenge and by him remaining often in his capital of Gibeah while David went out and fought.


1 Samuel 18:6-7 “Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said: “Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.”


While this was good news for David it was interpreted in a completely different way by Saul, who took these words as being the manifestation of his greatest fear. Since he was rejected as king by God (1 Samuel 15:26-28) Saul has been on the lookout for the “neighbor of yours, who is better than you” who would take the kingdom away from him. God had already taken the kingdom away from Saul spiritually but the day was not yet for it to be taken away in the natural realm.

This reaction from Saul is common in those who have lost their anointing, calling, hope or living relationship with God. They can’t stand seeing someone else enjoying the benefits they used to have but lost for some reason or another. Some lost them through sin, others from a lack of faith, greed, the pressures of the world and still others because they were “re-educated” into thinking what they had or had been called to was wrong, evil, undesirable or “not God’s will.”

This reaction from Saul is common in those who have lost their anointing, calling, hope or living relationship with God. They can’t stand seeing someone else enjoying the benefits they used to have but lost for some reason or another.

Saul failed because of his sin, but there are others such as Samson who gave into his wife’s pressure or Jeroboam’s descent into idolatry following the division of the kingdom and Gideon who later built a false ephod (a counterfeit to the true tabernacle) in his home town (Judges 8:27-29). Everyone in these examples began strong and accomplished great things for God but life, circumstances and even their own hearts broke them down and they ended up in darkness, despite the great things God had done for them.

Jeroboam went from heeding a prophets words to trying to kill them, Gideon fought against God’s enemies but later created his own priesthood and lead Israel away from God and the ark, Sampson despite his great power squandered his giftings and only acted out his calling when he was mad or inconvenienced. The same pattern exists today as being called and anointed by God is not a guarantee that you’ll never encounter troubles or that you’ll never fly off of the rails and end up in a ditch or in a disaster.

A Broken Crown Is Twice As Sharp

With Saul his paranoia drove him over the edge as he continually heard the people’s praises about David, and he began to fear that a coup could be soon underway. Often those with a call on their lives will encounter their own version of a Saul in their life, be it a person, group or so on. These are the people who see everyone else that has a touch of God’s favor and presence upon their lives as a threat to their position, purpose and livelihood.


1 Samuel 18:8 “And Saul was very angry, for the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed only thousands. What more can he have but the kingdom?” (AMPC)

1 Samuel 18:15 “When Saul saw how capable and successful David was, he stood in awe of him.” (AMPC)


For those who are like Saul in this situation they are not interested int building up the next generation of the church (or in what ever arena you are called to) but are only focused on keeping their backsides in their own chairs and not allowing anything to change. They resist anything that causes growth that wasn’t their own idea and often they are more focused on managing everything than on causing it to grow and develop. Because growth requires more hands to help in administrating and each one of those new hands is a threat to their coveted seat.

Saul feared that this nobody shepherd from the backwoods of Judah who had killed the giant he should’ve fought was now garnering the praised of the people who used to adore him. Saul stood head and shoulders above everyone’s else (1 Samuel 9:2) but that wasn’t enough any longer to inspire the people. Deep down within Saul the idea that there was no one was bigger, better or more anointed than him in Israel began to crumble, and in his already fractured state that realization drove him over the edge.

David had what he used to possess, even if he didn’t know about David and Samuel’s encounter, Saul must have recognized the moving of God’s spirit on David. Saul recognized what David had because it’s what he used to possess and he knew what was possible when that power and anointing was upon a person. Saul knew this and that’s why he was jealous of David and that is why he began to fear him. He wanted back what he had lost and since he could never get it back he decided that no one else should be able to have God’s anointing upon them either.


Proverbs 28:16 A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor, But he who hates covetousness will prolong his days. (NKJV0

Job 5:2 For wrath kills a foolish man, And envy slays a simple one. (NKJV)


At its core jealousy is just a pathway that leads to a crossroads, inevitably you’ll have to make a decision when you reach this juncture. You can either repent and turn around or you have one of two choices you can either turn one way down the path of lust and covetousness or you can turn down the other path which leads to destruction. One path will make you devote your life to acquiring something you don’t have (or used to have) no matter the cost. The other path will make you devote your life to destroying what another person has because if you can’t have it then no one can.

What Can You Do

Next week I’ll talk about how Saul’s jealousy transformed into fear and hatred but for now I want you to be aware that these types of situations still happened not just in the world but also in the church. It can happen between pastors and staff, between members and volunteers, between strangers and the pastor and so on. So it should be no surprise that behaviors and risks like this happen but what should you do to model your life after what David did?

What we need to first realize is that our own lives are not about proving those jealous people wrong it’s about witnessing God being right about what he has cultivated in your heart and life while witnessing the fruits of that manifest in the world around you. The first and best thing you can do is to remain faithful and committed to what God is leading you to/through. As we’ll see in the coming weeks David had literal spears thrown at him but he still refused to murder Saul, or to take a shortcut in this journey to becoming king.

What we need to first realize is that our own lives are not about proving those jealous people wrong it’s about witnessing God being right about what he has cultivated in your heart and life.

Before I continue I feel that I must make this statement: David’s example with Saul doesn’t mean that you cannot “turn over” a fallen leader who has engaged in criminal or unethical activities. Saul received his judgment before David was anointed and David didn’t invent stories to try and take down Saul. However, you must not feel obligated to insulate or protect a fallen leader when they have committed a crime, had a breach of ethics or have engaged in improper sexual activities.

You are not in the wrong to turn that leader over to the authorities, just as long as the accusations are more than just gossip and hearsay that weren’t fabricated. I feel many people take this interchange between David and Saul and use it as justification to allow a leader to continue in their sins and issues, or this story is used to intimidate victims or witnesses from coming forward. That is not the situation that happened here with David and Saul and I feel it this needs to be mentioned here.

If you want a biblical example of how this should take place look at the example of Nathan confronting David about Bathsheba, or Paul confronting Peter about his treatment of the Gentile believers. Those examples provide a healthy biblical example of how to deal with a person in leadership who has failed in their duties and ethics.

Back on track now. Really your best course of action when you encounter these people is to let them “yell at the clouds” so to say and for you to continue being faithful in what God is leading you through. That’s what David did, he was found more wise and successful than the other military commanders (1 Samuel 18:30). It’s also how someone like Paul was able to go from the great persecutor to the great Apostle, he was humble, faithful and determined to do all he could for God that picked him up from his mess and made him a herald of the great King.

If God sees it necessary he may even will remove those people eventually from your life or he could also will use them to drive you into the next phase of your calling. Either way those proverbial Saul’s aren’t always to be seen as mighty adversaries but rather as either speedbumps or detour signs along the road between where God called you from and where God is calling you to.

First understanding that there are people out there that won’t appreciate God’s calling and purpose on your life is the first step in learning how to best navigate those situations. Yet at the same time you need to be open and humble enough to recognize when a person is jealous or envious of you and when they are actually hearing from God and are trying to correct and refine you. You can’t respond to every word or person that doesn’t tickle your ear by calling them a Saul, you need to be sensitive to the spirit so that you can also recognize those who come to you like Nathan to keep you on the path God has placed you on.

You’re job is to serve, love and follow God and to do it in a Christlike manner so that the majority of people recognize what God is doing, just like the crowds did with David. So don’t fear the Saul’s of your life, don’t allow those who are broken and jealous to convert you into one of them. Just seek God and continue to be faithful with what God has given to you so that you can discover your true purpose, so you can build the kingdom and then support the next generation of anointed sons and daughters.

Favor Follows Faithfulness

Favor Follows Faithfulness

Did you know that favor follows after faithfulness? It’s an odd concept but it carries with it a crucial truth which has the potential to radically change our lives. But first let me ask you this, have you ever noticed that many people want a great and powerful testimony but they are unwilling to go through a time of testing to receive one. We want the glory without a battle, and we want to enjoy the riches of work we’ve never done. This conflicting idea can apply to our natural lives but also (and more importantly) to our spiritual lives as well.

We need to understand that God is always watching and nothing is hidden from his sight (Mark 4:22) be it our actions, attitudes, beliefs or anything else for that matter. God is observing us and is looking not to strike us down in fury but He is looking to take us to the next level of our calling and relationship with Him. As I’ve talked about previously for the believer God’s judgment has less to do with vengeance and smiting and more to do with refinement, correction and launching us into our destinies.

Have you ever noticed that many people want a great and powerful testimony but they are unwilling to go through a time of testing to receive one.

Throughout the scriptures we see pictures of how the faithful few took God’s words seriously and lived accordingly. Those such as Abraham and Moses who took their revelation of their part in God’s plan and lived faithfully while expecting God to do great and impossible things. They lived out their beliefs and in turn god brought about the manifestation of the things which were promised to them.

Where we also see this truth play out is in the life of David who despite being the next anointed king of Israel still endured difficult times. He went through trials and encounters that many people would of either ran from or would of fallen of the rails and did things their own way. I spoke last week about how after David killed Goliath he didn’t rush over and deal with Saul at the same time. No David was faithful, and he recognized God’s plan amidst the chaos that the nation was in at that moment. A decision that many not just in the world but also in the church wouldn’t of made, because they serve the God’s of advancement and self more than their Creator.

David in the months after Goliath’s defeat demonstrated a lifestyle of faithfulness, a lifestyle directed towards, God, Saul, his friends and the people he would one day lead. But before David could lead the people he had to go through his own season of Apprenticeship. Which is the second step in the process of the 4 A’s which takes us from Anointing to Apprenticeship to Activation to Announcement which is our full entry into our callings and destiny.

Now begins David’s Season of Apprenticeship

Following the defeat of Goliath David was appointed as one of Saul’s military commanders and depending on the translation this either speaks of a battalion of 1,000 soldiers or he was the commander over all of the soldiers from a particular clan from one of the twelve tribes. Either way it was a significant promotion from royal minstrel and shepherd and it allowed David to become a recognizable face in the nation (or a the very least in the capital of Gibeah).

However this promotion alone isn’t enough, being promoted is only part of the process in order for favor and the next step in our lives to materialize we need to learn how to be faithful with the opportunities that are presented to us.


1 Samuel 18:5 “So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.” (NKJV, see also 1 Samuel 18:30)


David learned in this season how to lead people in battle and how to inspire people to the point of them respecting him rather than fearing him. David would of learned the ins and outs of the kingdom as he witnessed Saul at work daily dealing with the matters of kingship and justice in the nation. David couldn’t jump directly from being a shepherd to a king because the infrastructure of his heart and mind couldn’t of handled it without this season of preparation and hands on training.

David couldn’t jump directly from being a shepherd to a king because the infrastructure of his heart and mind couldn’t of handled it without this season of preparation and hands on training.

It is during these years that David built up loyalty with many of the people who would accompany and support him during his darkest days. It is during this season of training and apprenticeship that many of the key relationships that would define David’s life going forward were established. It wasn’t just about the singular issues of learning information, or demonstrating good servant-hood abilities but it was a combination of all of these matters.

We Need Others For Help

Once we begin to combine anointing with opportunity inevitably God will begin to bring people into our lives to help us through the stages of Apprenticeship and Activation. God brings people into your life to help see your anointing transform into something tangible, this applies not just to ministry but to what ever arena of live God has called you to. We see this with David as two of Saul’s children become close and very supportive of David rather early in this process.

God brings people into your life to help see your anointing transform into something tangible.

The first is Jonathan, Saul’s oldest son and the assumed next king of Israel, what is astonishing is that right at the beginning of this new season of David’s the two of them enter into a covenant with each other (1 Samuel 18:3-4). A covenant in the eyes of David and Jonathan is an unbreakable agreement sealed in blood which offers blessings and curses upon those who enter into it. The only way out is death and to break a covenant legally allowed the one who broke it to be killed by the other party with no consequences.

This wasn’t just a handshake agreement but a life long blood oath to protect eachother and it effectively made them brothers in a legal sense (Proverbs 18:24). God knew that David couldn’t succeed in what was coming down the road for him alone so He brought people into his life who could love, support and protect him along the way.

David also received support and protection from this first wife Michal who was Saul’s second oldest daughter. She protected David from her father (more on this next week) despite the risk and ensured that David could one day become king.

We need to get beyond the image that every believer is a mountain unto themselves with no real connection to those around them. It is this idea that “I can do all things myself” which is crippling not just your destiny but the callings of entire congregations. God wired us for community and being faithful will only get us so far in life. Notice that David was a leader in the army, he wasn’t a one-man army but lead others whom he depended on to win the battles. David had his soldiers and later his might men to help him through this whole process.

Faithfulness brought to David favor in the eyes of people and that same favor inspired others to come alongside David to help him. Later in David’s story we see helpers and supporters with him in the wilderness, in the capturing of Jerusalem and in many other places. The places where we don’t see people helping and supporting David can be seen in some of his greatest mistakes, such as with Bathsheba when he stayed home from the battle or when he called on a census against God’s will.

When we have supporters and fellow-workers we can achieve so much more than we ever could alone. As I said our faithfulness will only take us so far in our journey and eventually we will need to partner with others to see God’s purpose for our lives manifest in this world, and not just manifest but thrive, grow and reproduce.

It’s No Different in the New Testament

This idea of needing help and support is not just found in the life of David but we see the same process in the life of Paul. After Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus he went about and began testifying about what he had encountered and how he had gone from persecutor of Jesus to a follower of him. Not long after the church’s leadership in Jerusalem sent Paul away where he spent over a decade in his own personal “wilderness.”

Eventually when the gospel had begun to take route in Antioch in Syria and opportunity for Paul to minister arose. But Paul was not alone he was sent along with Barnabas who was respected by the church and who could act as a teacher/supervisor for the former persecuting Pharisee. Despite Paul’s encounter he still needed support, oversight and help along the way to becoming the great Apostle to the Gentiles. What began with a teacher and student relationship with Barnabas and Paul eventually blossomed into Paul being able to “graduate” so to speak and go off without his friend.

Yet Paul didn’t go alone after he and Barnabas split up over John Mark but everywhere Paul went he had others with him as well. He had the likes of Luke, Timothy, Pricilla, Aquila and others who helped him in his ministry. He had help from Tyrannus, various officials, common people and the like who all supported Paul in his mission. Paul even had scribes and couriers to help spread his message around the Roman Empire. Paul couldn’t of done everything alone, he couldn’t be an apostle, tent maker, scribe, courier, ship captain, carpenter and so on all at once.

Is it any different with us, do we not need the support of others to ensure that we can become who God created us to be? Our personal faithfulness will only take us so far because God designed it that way to ensure that his body would operate as body where one part is dependent (but not subservient to) all of the other parts.

Where Does Faithfulness Come To Life?

Faithfulness comes alive when we live out the life we know God expects of us to live. This is a life which lines up with our covenant responsibilities, it reflects the nature of Christ and it acts as a testimony to the promises from God we are holding onto. Those promises include the over aching promises from the Bible but also the personal promises and revelations which God has communicated to us individually.

Faithfulness comes alive when we live out the life we know God expects of us to live.

A life of faithfulness doesn’t come all at once as it is better compared to a town which is covered in snow. Each flake is an act of service, obedience, humility, and faith which was carried out while only God was paying attention to you. Eventually these flakes add up and for those who were sleeping or oblivious of your life will eventually look out the window and suddenly see the streets and yards covered in snow and assume that it all happened at once, or perhaps it was some sort of miracle.

The reality is that these snowflakes built up upon one another over time and for the most part they were ignored until the moment the snowdrifts were several feet high and the streets needed to be plowed. Then did the other people take notice of what was happening, or perhaps that is when they woke up and looked outside for the first time.

When we pass the tests of faithfulness in the small things which are hidden from the crowds and influential people then and only then will God reveal those insignificant victories to the world.


Luke 16:10-12 10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?

Revelation 3:10-11 10 Because you (Philadelphia) have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.


Our personal trials will always determine the quality and severity of our public trials and when we cultivate faithfulness, and dependency on God when we are alone then we will be prepared for the greater public battles which will rise up against us, just as Goliath rose up against Israel and David was already prepared to face that challenge.

The Double-Edged Sword of Favor

A lifestyle of faithfulness eventually leads to a life full of favor, that is favor from God and favor in the eyes of the right people around us. It has to go in that order because if we are striving to attain favor in the eyes of people we will inevitably compromise or even sacrifice our relationship with God to attain that prize. That was the sin Saul committed when he compromised his position so that the people around him would be satisfied by being able to take the plunder from the Amalekites rather than obeying the prophet Samuel.

Having favor with God is about more than just making Him happy it has to do with our faith and how we reciprocates our faith with his own faithfulness in our lives. As we see in these verses from Psalms and Proverbs the favor God shows us in response to our faith, love, obedience and relationship can have a tangible effect on our lives.


Psalms 5:12 For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield. (NKJV)

Proverbs 3:3-6 “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (NKJV)


Despite all of the great things God’s favor brings into our lives next week we will look at the dark side of having receiving favor from God and having people rise up to support us. This isn’t a topic to be feared but it is one which will prepare us to enter the third stage of the progression from Anointing to Apprenticeship to Activation and finally to Announcement.

For now though take time to pray and seek God so that you can recognize those small hidden battles and opportunities for faithfulness. That eventually those victories and testimonies will bring open up new opportunities in your life and to connect you with people that you can partner with so that the callings and destines of all of you can come to pass in this world.

To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

 
Creative Commons LicenseFavor Follows Faithfulness Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.