The Next Step

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This is a picture of my new friends, Latoya & Michael, on their wedding day. I had the incredible honor of photographing their wedding for them this past weekend. I wish I could put into words how inspired I am by this couple and their willingness to follow God wholeheartedly.

Latoya & Michael are high school sweethearts. They’ve been together for ten years and have two beautiful kids with one more on the way. They had always talked about getting married but it just never happened. One day, the kids started asking questions about Jesus and L&M felt like their questions would be best answered at church. God used the love and faithfulness of the church my friends chose to attend to bring them into unity with His will for their lives, individually and as a family.

Latoya & Michael surrendered their lives to God. They were baptized together a week and a half ago. And they were married this past Saturday. To God be the glory.

I’m telling you their story today because I am so inspired by their obedience to God. Obedience is an area I struggle in quite a bit, as I’m sure most people do. I like to make my own rules and do my own thing. I’ve always had a desire to buck the system, so to speak. It probably has something to do with that independent/leader part of my personality that I talked about last week.

When God gives me instructions either for my day to day or for that “next step” in my life, I’m always like, “Awww, do I gotta???” I say that even if I’m on board with whatever He’s called me to do. Gut reaction. Can’t explain it.

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You may not be completely familiar with what I’m talking about today so allow me to explain. As Christians, we are called to be obedient to God. My pastor said the other day that God’s will is not some cosmic Easter egg that He hides in the sky for us to find by using a “You’re getting colder/warmer” system. I think that’s the perfect to describe it. We discover His will through daily communication (i.e. prayer), studying the bible, and repenting of our sins.

The first step of obedience for a Christian is to submit their life to Christ by repenting of their sin and accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as the only means by which they can be saved. The next step is to be baptized in water as a public profession of faith and acknowledgment of the individual’s surrender to God. Outside of those “first steps”, a Christian is to depend upon Christ daily to make him/herself more like Christ (also known as sanctification.)  The Ten Commandments is a great place to start to discover God’s commands for His people. All throughout the bible, you will find various instructions that will help you be fully aligned to God’s holy purposes. Reading the entire bible can seem daunting but you can get one year bibles that will get you through the entire bible in one year. I prefer the chronological one year bible because it is more cohesive as a story than reading the books in the bible individually.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

So, for Latoya & Michael, the next step for them was to get married and unite their family as one with God at the center. I’m a sucker for weddings. I absolutely love them. But I’m an even bigger sucker for people following God’s will for their lives no matter what it costs them. Seeing two people who had faced so much adversity together, even in their choice to wed, persevere through everything, trusting God wholeheartedly to protect and provide, and still wearing smiles on their faces… that fired me up.

And it raised some questions in my heart. In what areas am I holding back on God? What is He asking me to do that I’m not doing? Maybe you can ask yourself those same questions or the following ones. Do you have a calling or a gift that you’re ignoring because of fear or insecurity? Do you need to be more involved in your church? Do you need to start attending church? Are you ignoring a call to serve in a ministry that is in great need simply because it’s not your calling? Do you need to be obedient in the area of fulfilling your family’s needs? Are you spending time with God daily in prayer and bible reading? Is God asking you to forgive someone that hurt you beyond belief? Do you need to seek forgiveness from someone that you’ve hurt? Are you engaging in unrepentant sin? Maybe you wouldn’t even call it that but if it’s keeping you from living a holy life devoted to God then that’s what it is, plain & simple.

“Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine.” Exodus 19:5

Obedience is not easy or comfortable. It’s difficult but you reap so many rewards in the end. For example, it’s hard to serve in children’s ministry when you’re called to women’s ministry. It’s hard to leave your family and your home to share the gospel in another state or even another country. It’s scary to commit yourself to a church family especially if you’ve been severely hurt by a different one in the past. It’s hard to give up your free time to lead a bible study in your community. It’s hard to give up a shopping trip or take out so that you can give that money to people in need.

It takes gumption to follow God. It takes bravery to be the light in a world of darkness. But isn’t it worth it to see people saved living a life of freedom for God?

God often calls us to be outside of the little box we like to put ourselves in. So if you find yourself serving in a ministry or working a job that seems like the exact opposite of what you believe you’ve been called to do, hold on and have faith. God wants you to be devoted to Him, not the calling He gave you. Be faithful in the little things and God will give you more. Read the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 if you don’t believe me.

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden, nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Have a good day friends. I’m praying for you.

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