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Are You Running on Empty?

In my sophomore year at Central Baptist College in Conway, AR I was leading the singing in revival services about 100 miles to the south of our campus.  Money was very tight and as I was driving down for the services one evening my gas gauge began to stare back at me reaching “empty.”  It was so low that I began praying for God to stretch out what little fuel I had.  Then I covered up the gauge on the dash with a piece of paper so I could not see it any longer.  Fortunately, I made the services, on fumes, and a member filled up my tank after the services.  

Some of you are going full steam ahead while running on empty right now and you are trying to not look at your dashboard that is showing empty.  You cannot give what you do not have and you will come to a screeching halt at some point. Your focus on ministry, mobilizing your team, and planning your next steps has caused you to begin running on spiritual fumes.  Those times of joy, being full of His presence, along with His daily freshness and vitality in your spiritual walk are only a memory.  What you do is very important but who you are is even more important.  

The danger is real because it is very easy to become so focused on the external issues of getting your ministry where you believe God desires it to be, that you ignore the crucial internal issues of spiritual transformation and health.  In Leading on Empty Wayne Cordeiro says, “We don’t forget that we are Christians. We forget that we are human, and that one oversight alone can debilitate the potential of our future.”  We all have limits (spiritual, emotional, physical, time, gifts, etc.) and we need to see them as a blessing from the Lord and not a curse.

II Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’  Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.”  You may not like admitting your weaknesses or your inabilities but it is wisdom to understand you definitely have limitations and God shows up when we embrace that reality. Your nature may be that you want to go around your limits, conquer limits, deny, and break through them.  Actually, they are a gift from God to protect you!

God gave us limits to serve as guardrails placed in our lives tokeep us from straying outside His will and to continue trusting in Him.  This is actually counterintuitive to us as itgoes against our culture that teaches us that we can handle it ourselves and we don’t need anyone’s help.  Be a self-made leader and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps may be how you were raised.  Don’t depend on anyone else because you can do anything you put your mind to.  You have to reconcile that with what Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing!”  

One of the greatest dangers of leadership is the temptation to rely to heavily on our charisma and competencies while paying too little attention to our character and core identity through our personal walk with Christ.  It is easy to lead without Jesus short term but you will end up paying a very steep price long term.  Pete Scazzero says, “The reality is that it is easy to live as a Christian doing religious acts and doing Christian things without necessarily being in loving union with Jesus.”  Sometimes we live out the old adage, “fake until you make it!”

  1. Learn to slow down and abide in Christ. Abiding means you remain in Him and you are able to relax in Him.  You cannot live at warp speed without warping your soul!  Think of Mary and Martha.  You may be a Martha who is a doer and what you do is important but who you are is of even greater importance.  Sometimes our doing exceeds our being in Christ and before you know it you are running on empty and getting close to shutting down.
  2. Practice silence and solitude so you can hear God’s voice in your life.  Dallas Willard referred to silence and solitude as the two most radical disciplines of the Christian life. Solitude is finding that quiet space where you intentionally remove yourself from people and things in order to focus 100% on God. Silence is striving to quiet every inner and outer voice to be attentive to the Lord’s direction and presence.  Silence is the Christians number one need while being the hardest to develop.  It is very challenging in this busy and noisy world.  
  3. Wait on the Lord.  King David stressed its importance by saying it twice in Psalm 27:14. Do not wait on the Lord only for what He will do for you or for the results you desire but simply to spend time with Him.  David reminds us of this in Psalm 27:4, “I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple.”  You must actually limit what you are doing by focusing on being with Him realizing that He can accomplish so much more than you can! 

Without slowing down, being silent and in solitude, and waiting on the Lord it will be almost impossible to live a healthy spiritual life. Are you running on empty?

“Your doing for God is fed and sustained by your being with God!”

Daniel Chapters 7-10

Daniel 7 – (v. 9, 14)

         *The Ancient of Days!

         *He is the sovereign one of the universe.

         *He not only is the creator but the sustainer of all things!

                   *Thought: One day His kingdom will be established and implemented here on earth and nothing or no one will be able to stop it.

Daniel 8 – (v. 15-17, 27)

         *Sometimes your words are hard and difficult.

         *We will not always understand because you are God.

         *Your ways are not my ways!  Thank goodness!

                   *Thought:  Your ways are just and righteous and we never have to be afraid of your directions because you are trustworthy!

Daniel 9 – (Daniel’s Prayer)

         *It began with confession!

         *He confesses the public shame that belongs to Israel.

         *Yet, Daniel says in v. 9, “Compassion and forgiveness belong to the        Lord our God, though we have rebelled against Him.”

                   *Thought: We need to cry out for God’s forgiveness and mercy not only for our sins but for the sins of our nation!

Daniel 10 – (v.12)

         *We do not need to fear when we approach You humbly.

         *“You prayed and I am here!”

         *His presence is of far greater value then the answer!

                   *Thought:  When we are in your presence that is enough and we trust you for the details.

Daniel Chapters 4 – 6

Daniel 4 – (v. 3, 30, & 37)

            *Were the king’s proclamations real and from the heart?

            *Verse 30 is all about his glory and who he was; not God!

            *Nebuchanezzar had to be humbled to truly declare God as God!

*Thought:  They honor me with their lips but their heart is far from me!                                                

Daniel 5 – (v. 22-23)

            *Don’t fool yourself that you judgment is not real!

            *God is longsuffering and gracious but we should push that too far!

            *Be sure that your sin will find you out!

*Thought:  Always be prepared to meet God!

Daniel 6 – (v. 3-4, 8)

            *Think of the wonderful testimony had with unbelievers.

            *They could not find any charge against his spirit or his character.

            *The power of Daniel’s godly example is undeniable.

*Thought: Some people will use our relationship and walk with God against us when they can find nothing else!

S.O.A.P. Journaling / Daniel

Here are some observations that God impressed on my heart as I SOAPed through this challenging and inspiring book:

Chapter 1:

v. 8 You must determine, decide, resolve, make the decision to remain faithful to Him no matter what everyone else is doing!

v. 20 God’s ways are always 10 times better!!!

Chapter 2:

v. 28 God will give you what you need to know when you need to know it!!!

Chapter 3:

v. 16-18 God’s got this! He can handle any challenge, any obstacle and any difficulty that comes our way!

What are you learning and what are your observations?

S.O.A.P. Journaling

S.O.A.P.ing the scriptures is one of our discipleship engines here at Cornerstone.  It is a Bible reading schedule we follow as a church.

SOAP is our first tool to stay CENTERED ON GOD!  It keeps us on target for our daily quiet time with the Lord! 

It stands for:

  • Scripture
  • Observation
  • Application
  • Prayer

This reaffirms our faith in the power of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit speaking into our lives and hearts.

This is a simple grid to help you think through what you are going to do during your study/quiet time always asking 2 questions:

  • What is God saying?
  • What does He want me to do about it?

S.O.A.P. Journaling is an excellent way to both record and process what God has spoken to us. It’s also a useful tool to use at a later time, to reflect on and review some of the ‘gems’ that you have received. Without writing them down, you may forget those blessings and some very important lessons! And while journaling is a very personal time with the Lord, you may want to share some of your daily journaling with your small group or mentors. Through discussion, you may be able to look deeper into what God is speaking to you, gain new insight and even encourage others. 

S = Scripture 

This is where you open your Bible to the reading found under today’s date in our monthly schedule. Take time reading and allow God to speak to you. When you are done, look for a verse that particularly spoke to you that day, and write it in your journal.

O = Observation 

What do you think God is saying to you in this scripture? Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and reveal Jesus to you. Paraphrase and write this scripture down in your own words, in your journal. 

A = Application 

Personalize what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now. Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, revelation of a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life. Write how this Scripture can apply to you today. 

P = Prayer 

This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Remember, prayer is a two way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say! Now, write it out. 

Some have added and S. on the end making it:    S.O.A.P.S.

The last S. stands for Share:

  • Who do you need to share this truth with?
  • Who do you need to encourage?

Our Cornerstone SOAP schedule is posted on our website thestone3.com

Start looking here for some observations God is showing me out of the the book of Daniel!!! Dig in and allow His word to speak to you!