God’s voice is always an invitation into greater things. In this talk, Jeshua shares how the inviting voice of God changed his life forever. This teaching was recorded at Harvest Church, in Durban, South Africa.
I’m excited to be here with you guys. If you guys can just open to John 15, we’re gonna be reading from John 15, which is an amazing chapter. I apologize in advance for the length of the scripture that we’re gonna read. While you’re turning there, a couple weeks ago, Katia…I don’t know if you guys know Katia Adams who sometimes teaches here on Sunday mornings. I worked for her in a ministry called Frequentsee. And what we do is we travel together around the world and throughout South Africa and just bring kingdom ministry to people. So, praying for people, prophetic teaching. It’s been amazing, I’ve been with them for about a year now, and luckily we get to be based here at a Harvest Church, which is amazing.
But a couple weeks ago Katia came to me and she’s like, “Hey, I want you to write down your life’s message, what is your life’s message?” And if you know Katia she is one of the best preachers in the world, so I was terrified to even open my mouth and try to tell anything to her because I’m terrified to preach in front of her. But she was like, “No, I wanna sit down with you, let’s figure out this. Let’s figure out your life’s message.” And so it got me thinking for the next couple weeks about what that actually is, what is my life message. And I don’t know if this is my life’s message yet because I’m only 23, but this is a mindset shift that God placed in me a few years back that has shifted everything about my life, every single thing about my life. I would not be here in front of you guys if I hadn’t had this mindset shift.
So, I want to encourage you guys there are little small things, little small mindset shifts that can come into our lives that change absolutely everything, so don’t think anything is small. They’re amazing, amazing shifts in our minds, and I hope tonight that this mindset shift that I had is going to impact you guys too. So, I’m just gonna read John 15, we’re gonna start at verse 1 and then go pretty far. I’ll tell you when to stop.
“I am the true vine and my Father is the vine dresser, every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, every branch in me that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” So already this is an incredible Scripture, most of the things in here you’ll notice is God acting on behalf of us. He’s doing the acting, all we’re doing is abiding in Him, resting in Him.
“Abide in me and I in you as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine you are the branches, whomever abides in me and I in Him, he is it that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like the branch and withers. And the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you, by this my Father is glorified that you bear much fruit. And so prove to be my disciples as the father has loved me so I have loved you, abide in my love. If you keep my Commandments you will abide in my love just as I have kept the Father’s Commandments and abide in His love.”
“These things I’ve spoken to you that my joy may be full in you and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you, greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you, no longer do I call you servants for the servant does not know what his master is doing but I have called you friends for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
Isn’t that amazing, already. I love, I love that verse…or that chapter so much, it’s changed my life. So, this mindset shift that I was talking to you guys about before is what I call God’s kind invitation, God’s kind invitation. So, that’s, kind of, what I’ve titled the message tonight, but it started a few years back and I’m gonna tell you a little story. If you guys don’t know me you may not know that I grew up in the United States and spent a few years at a ministry school called Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding, California. And as you guys can probably tell by the title they emphasize the supernatural. The supernatural is a huge part of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. And what they mean by the supernatural is signs, and wonders, and miracles, and people getting delivered, set free. All the amazing supernatural miraculous things that had happened in the Bible and are meant for us still today.
And so one of their emphases is going out on the streets and praying for people wherever you are and just laying hands on them and seeing miracles break out on the streets. And I grew up in a church where evangelism meant a couple weeks before Christmas, grabbing a business card from your church, going to work and giving it to someone and saying, “Hey, I hope you show up to church on Christmas Day, this is my church, here’s the address.” And then really hoping they don’t show up to church on Christmas because then you have to introduce them to people and awkwardly invite them over after. That’s what evangelism meant to me, it was as long as I give someone a card, and I, kind of, share the gospel then maybe they’ll get saved someday after years of prayer.
So that was evangelism to me. I wasn’t used to stepping out, going on the streets, and actually praying for people right there. And so when I got to Bethel I started the school and was like, “Cool, supernatural that’s awesome but I’m just gonna worship. I’m here for the worship. It’s amazing. I’m gonna sit. I’m gonna read my Bible. I’m gonna have a great relationship with Jesus. I’m gonna take all the classes but I’m not gonna go out on the streets and I’m not gonna pray for anybody to get healed, that’s just not my style.” I’m an introvert so I just thought it wasn’t me, and that’s what I told everybody, that’s just not me.
So, I actually miraculously…this was the big miracle in my first year, made it through the first year without praying for anyone. It really was a miracle, if you’ve been to Bethel you know that, like, you’re going out on the streets but I didn’t go. Every time I found an excuse and I somehow made it through and I felt pretty accomplished. And so then I go, I get into the second year. I’m like, “Sweet, another school year, this is going to be awesome.” And I had every intention of not getting involved in any sort of street evangelism or anything like that, until someone comes up to me and they say, “Hey, we really need your help. There’s this team that we’re taking down to Reno,” which is my hometown, three hours away from Redding, I love this town. They’re like, “We’re taking a team down there and we’re gonna hit the streets and we’re gonna lead people to Jesus, and we’re gonna pray for the sick. And we’re gonna see people healed. It’s gonna be amazing.” And I’m like, “Oh no, I don’t wanna do this.” But then I heard the voice of God say, “Yes, this is your chance, you got this. You’re gonna have to do it someday might as well do it now.” And so I said yes. I’m like, “Let’s do this, I’ll go, I’m nervous but I’ll go.”
The problem was that everyone there was expecting me to be a professional because I had already done a whole school year in the school. So, they put me…a part of the second year as leadership, they put you with teams of first year students and you teach them how to do the stuff, or walk them out on the streets and lead them. And so I got given this team of four little first-year students and they had never prayed for anyone on the streets before, and they’re looking up to me like, “He’s gonna lead us. He’s going to show us the way we…” Yeah. And I was very nervous on the inside. I’m like, “They’re gonna find out I’m a fraud. This is terrible. Why did I agree to this? This is not a good idea.” But I had to do what I had to do.
So, they released the teams, they send me out on the streets and we start walking out onto the streets of Reno. We’re in the area where there’s lots of prostitution, and homelessness, and the soup kitchens, and things are there. So there’s a chance we’re gonna run into someone who needs prayer. And I start walking down the street, they’re following me, and I see a man start coming down the sidewalk. And he’s limping, and he’s clearly in pain with every step, and he’s got a cane. And the voices enter my brain of, “Okay, this is your chance, you got this.”
And I get nervous and I look back at the first years, and they’re all looking at the man limping and they know that they’re gonna have to pray for him too so they’re nervous too. And on the inside I’m trying to keep it together, and then I hear these other voices in my head that say, “You better do this, don’t mess up, this is your chance.” And then the voices start saying, “Don’t be a failure, you have to do this.” And I think this is God in my head telling me to do this. He’s like, “This person needs you, this person needs your prayer, you better not mess up, you better not miss this chance.”
The man keeps walking closer and closer and closer until he passes us completely. And then I look back at the students, they’re relieved, I’m relieved but then also these voices in my head, “You’re a failure, why didn’t you pray for that man. He may never get to see the love of Jesus because of you. These students they were looking up to you but they may never learn how to pray for the sick because of you.” And so these voices of condemnation kept popping into my head, and so I turned to the students and I say, “I have to go to the bathroom.” And I run into the nearest building and I get into the restroom and I just close my eyes.
I’m like, “Oh, Jesus, where’s your voice?” And then he says this to me, he goes, “You’re not a disappointment, and that voice that you were hearing in your head that’s not me, that’s the voice of condemnation, that’s the voice of fear in your brain. That is not me, my voice does not sound like this.” He said, “My voice will always be an invitation, it’s always gonna be an invitation into great things.” And I didn’t know fully what that meant yet so I started thinking about, I’m like, “What is an invitation, what does that really mean?” And I started thinking about my friends and how when my friends invite me over for a meal, they’re not like, “You don’t want to be a failure, you better come to this braai.” That’s not my friends at all. They don’t say, “Oh, if you don’t come you’re gonna disappoint me, you’re gonna disappoint your family, you must come.” They don’t say, “We’ll stop being friends if you don’t come hang out with me,” that’s not friendship. When George asked me to preach he wasn’t like, “You better do this or else you’re kicked out, you must preach.” No, he invited me, it’s an invitation. And if you have friends who speak to you like that, you need new friends, just saying.
Yeah, no, my friends when they want to hang out with me they say, “Hey, Joshua, this is gonna be super fun, we’re gonna have a great time, we’re gonna have a meal together, we’re gonna share good stories, we’re gonna play some games and we really want you to be there because it would be so fun if you were a part of it. We’ll still do it without you if you don’t come but we really want you there, it’s gonna be super fun.” That’s what invitation means to me, it means it’s kind, loving friendship that says, “Hey, you’re worth it no matter what but I really, really want you to be a part of this.”
And so I thought about that and then God sent me back out on the streets, I have to go out. But this time I’ve got that in my brain, I know God’s voice when it’s an invitation, when it’s an invitation. And so this time when I’d go out and we’d see people limping, or laying down on the street, or looking in pain, instead of rushing to the first person I saw and instead of running away. I close my eyes and just think, “Okay, where is that invitation from God, where is invitation?” And I’d wait until I’d hear God say, excuse me, He’d say, “Joshua, I love you, and see that person over there who’s laying down, I love them too so much, you’re my son and she’s my daughter. How cool would it be if you made her day? How cool would it be if she got to see the love of Jesus today through you? I would love it if you would come with me and love on this woman with me. I would love it if you would pray for them, I would love it if they got healed, why don’t you come? It’s gonna be super fun.”
And so when I’d hear that voice I’d know it was time to pray for someone and it would be so much easier to say yes to an invitation than a, “You better do this, you must do this.” That’s not the way God speaks to me. And so it became easier to step out at the sound of God’s voice and I spent that year learning how to step out at the sound of God’s invitation so much so that it became my favorite thing in the world to do. I would look for opportunities to pray for people on the streets. And I would go into shops and think, “Oh, who can I pray for today?” That was the mentality that I had just because I knew that God was always inviting me into something amazing.
You can think about this in the same way as the life of Jesus, Jesus did everything from His sonship with God, He did everything from sonship. So, God never said to Him, “Jesus, you better prove your worth and go see that person healed.” No, Jesus…it says in the Bible He was moved with compassion for people that He prayed for, He was moved with compassion. So it was a father-son thing, it was His heart, it wasn’t an obligation. And Andrew pointed this out to me a couple weeks ago. The moved with compassion thing, and so something we’ve been doing is going to Gateway and sitting at Starbucks and then waiting till God highlights someone in the room with compassion in our hearts, and then we go and pray for them. And it’s amazing because oftentimes we are drawn to the same person because we have the same Dad who’s speaking the same things over us but it’s a beautiful way to go pray for people when your heart is moved with compassion not a forceful, “Do this or else?” It’s an invitation.
So, let’s go to verse 14 of this chapter, John chapter 15. “You are my friends if you do what I command you, no longer do I call you servants for the servant does not know what his master is doing but I have called you friends.” So it’s that same thing, a friend has an inviting, kind voice, a master has a forceful commanding voice, and so let’s see God as our friend. The beautiful thing about the commands of Jesus is that every time He commands something the power is released to see that thing fulfilled. So for example when Jesus goes and he sees someone who’s blind, and he puts his hands on them and says, “Be healed.” Their eyes open up and they’re healed right there. And so, it’s the same way when he commands anything. When his voice speaks it has the power to do that.
So for example the woman who was caught in adultery, Jesus catches this woman in adultery and after shooing the Pharisees who are stoning her away, he says to her, “Go and sin no more.” And this isn’t Jesus saying, “Okay. I saved you this one time but don’t forget you’re a sinner, you better not mess up again.” It wasn’t him condemning her. It wasn’t him forcing anything on her. No, it was him saying, “Go, sin no more. I have the power in my voice.” Jesus had that power to say that and now she can go and sin no more, it set her free from that day on.
And it’s the same way when God speaks to us about anything, about anything when he’s convicting us, when he’s speaking to us about our sins, it’s always a, “You can do this. That’s why I’m saying it. I’m saying it because you can do it, I’m not trying to hold anything over you, I’m not trying to punish you.” No, He’s saying, “You can do this.” And so, we have to remember that when we’re listening for the voice of God. God’s commands are not a way for Him to have this unrelenting authority over us, His commands are invitations for us to agree with that power that He’s releasing and do the very thing that He’s asking us to do.
And so back to this passage in John 15:4, it says, “Abide in me and I in you.” So when God says that He’s saying you have the power, I’m giving you this, abide in me and I in you, that’s what He’s commanding. And verse 5 it says, “My command is this…” Sorry, not verse 5, where is this? Yeah 12, sorry, “This is my commandment that you love one another as I loved you, greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends.” So, that’s another command of Jesus, He’s commanding us that we love one another as I have loved you, but the beautiful thing is that command carries with it the very power to do it, you guys have the power within you to love your brother, you have the power within you to lay your life down for one another.
So, this whole mindset shifts, the invitation of God, it wasn’t just for me to go out and see people healed on the streets. That wasn’t the only thing it set me free from, it actually did so much more in me. And so I’m gonna go in to a bit more of the lies that, kind of, were broken because of the invitation of God. When I was a kid growing up, like I said, I grew up in the church. And so there was this pastor at my church who would oftentimes get up and preach this message where he would start with, “Be careful what you pray because God might just do it, or worse, God might just do the opposite of that.” And so what he’s saying is don’t say, “God I don’t want to go to Africa,” because you know God’s gonna send you to Africa if you say that.
How many of you guys have heard this stuff in your church? I’ve heard this so many times, “Be careful, be careful what you pray.” He’d say, “Don’t ever pray this prayer. God use me,” because then God might use you and he’s going to turn your life upside down and he’s gonna put you in full-time ministry, and you’re gonna be underpaid for the rest of your life. And I’m gonna like it. That’s what I was afraid of and he told that very story, he told us of how God made him uproot his dreams and go into the full-time ministry. And knowing this guy, I know that his heart was pure and that he actually really did love ministry. He just wasn’t representing the Father’s voice in those moments.
If it was an invitation from God, if this voice, if this God that he’s describing here was an invitation that isn’t an invitation I was going to say yes to. And so there were three lies that, kind of, came into my life because of that very message that I had been preached. The first lie is this, that Christianity is only about sacrifice. Somehow this belief that Christianity was only about sacrifice became one of the central themes of my faith as a Christian when I was younger, simply because of these teachings that I had grown up with. And so, yes, sacrifice is super crucial to the Christian faith. In fact, sacrifice is one of the things that differentiates us from so many other phases. That Jesus came and he died, he sacrificed himself for us.
It’s a beautiful thing, sacrifice is this beautiful, beautiful thing. And obviously in this scripture it says, God’s desire is for us to lay down our lives for our friends. And so, sacrifice is important but if we believe that sacrifice is the only purpose of our faith then we go through life with this really sad faith, it doesn’t lead us onto anything, it’s just sacrifice, it’s this fear-based religion. Jesus sacrificed for us and our sacrifice for others is not the end-all and be-all of the Christian faith, it’s just not. If Jesus voice is an invitation into greater things, if it’s always that kind invitation, then our lives get to be so much more than sacrifice, they get to be so much more.
So, I’m gonna share with you some of the things that are the more, the more of Christianity, the more of our faith. And they’re all right here in this chapter, John 15, if you look at verse 7 again. “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” That’s one of the things that we’re invited into in this Christian faith is actually seeing our dreams come true. God has every desire to give us what’s in our hearts. And looking at verse 11, “These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full,” the joy of the Lord. We get to walk through this life with the joy, if you haven’t felt the joy of the Lord before it’s so much more beautiful than this happiness or circumstantial goodness. It’s this deep belly laughter, this joy that’s deep, deep, deep inside even in the midst of terrible circumstances, it’s this beautiful gift. That’s what God’s inviting us into.
Verse 16, “You did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.” That we should be fruitful, God wants us to be fruitful, that’s what He’s inviting us into, abundance, life. In the following chapter of this book of John 16:15, it says, “All that the Father has is mine…” This is Jesus speaking. “All that the Father has is mine, therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you.” And that sonship we get to partake of the same intimacy with God that Jesus did, we get the same inheritance that Jesus did, we get to see the same miracles that Jesus did, we’re sons just like Jesus was the son of God. We are sons, that’s what God’s inviting us into and He’s inviting us into so much more. He’s inviting us into friendship like I said before. And He’s so much better than a worldly friend, He’s so much better than a friend here on earth. It’s this deep, deep friendship. He’s inviting us into abundant life like John 10:10says. He’s inviting us into life and life more abundantly. In freedom He’s inviting us to see chains break over our lives, addictions break, freedom. He’s inviting us into the supernatural to see signs and wonders, miracles, deliverances, and He’s inviting us into meaning.
This one’s something God’s been speaking to me about for a long time is the meaning that my life now has because of Him, every area of my life has this richness, this meaning. And that’s something that the world is really searching for right now. They wanna know what is the meaning of life? Why are we here on this earth? And we get to partake of this beautiful meaning.
A few years ago I was finishing my second year of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, so I had been going on this journey with God of hearing His invitation, and He said something to me. I was getting ready to go home for the summer and go live with my family, and just enjoy the summer. And He said, “Hey, what if you go and live with your grandparents for the summer?” And he just said that. He’s like, “I’m inviting you, why don’t you come live with your grandparents in the summer?” And I’m like, “Really? Why?” And I just had this thought because my grandparents live in this town, it’s about an hour and a half from where I grew up, and it’s called Carson City, Nevada, which is…think like ghost town in the movies, tumbleweeds everywhere.
There’s not really much to be seen in Carson City, Nevada, and particularly not much going on in my grandparents’ house except maybe golf on TV, and I don’t know what else, gardening. And so, when I heard God’s voice say that, I’m like, “Okay, that doesn’t sound right.” But I was learning to go with this invitation, so I’m like, “Okay. I’ll put that on a hold, I’ll think about it. I’ll think about it God.” And then a couple days later someone offered me a job in that very town that my grandparents were living in and I had already been working at this job, and they said that they could transfer me over there for the summer and make a little bit of extra money. And so I’m like, “Okay, yes. That’s enough for me God, I’ll do it. I don’t know why, I don’t know what your purpose is but I’m gonna go live with my grandparents for summer.” And when I told my family everyone was, like, “Why would you do that? That’s so boring, you can visit them on the weekends. You don’t have to go live with them, that’s terrible,” honestly.
I really didn’t know what the purpose of it was, and obviously that wasn’t a particularly exciting summer. I didn’t make a ton of friends. I didn’t do anything super fun, or go on any holidays. I just sat in my grandparents’ house and I would come home from work and sit down at the dinner table, and I’d ask my grandpa to tell me a story. I’ll just say, “Grandpa tell me a story.” And so my old Italian grandpa would tell me some story which was probably half made up but he had some amazing stories. He was not in the Mafia but I can tell you his three brothers definitely were in the Mafia, at least that’s what he told me.
And so I actually hit the record button on my phone and just recorded his stories because I felt like I wanted to keep those. And then I had to ask my grandma to show me pictures, I’d say, “Hey, can you pull out the memory book?” And she’d pull out all these old, old photos and tell me about her father and her grandfather, and the history of their lives. And there’s some actually amazing stories of history in my family. And then that summer ended and I went back to Redding and did my third year of Bethel. And I didn’t really think too much about that until I ended up moving to South Africa. Excuse me.
And so a little over a year ago I was getting ready to come out here, and I knew it was gonna be a long trip out here. I knew it was gonna be at least 10 months, didn’t realize it’d be way longer than that. And I had this thought as I was leaving, I’m like, “Oh, I really hope that I don’t lose one of my grandparents while I’m gone, that would be so heartbreaking if I did that.” And then October of last year rolls around and I get a call from my mom, and it’s early in the morning, which is late in the evening for them, so I knew something was up. And she says, “Grandpa’s not well.” And at the time he had been in perfect health so it was super unexpected. But she says, “Grandpa’s not well, he’s probably not going to make it more than a couple days.”
And in that moment I was obviously sad but then I just remembered that time that I had had with my grandparents, sitting in their room, listening to stories. And I was never able to say goodbye to my grandpa but there was this beauty in that moment because I knew that God had given me those memories with them, he had given me treasures. And so, that seemingly unimportant summer of just sitting around watching golf on TV actually is one of the most treasured seasons of my life now, I’m so grateful for it.
So, if you guys are in a season where you don’t know what’s going on or you don’t know why God’s called you where you are, there is meaning, look for the meaning. Ask Him, “What is the meaning of this? Why?” Because He doesn’t want to leave us out in the dark, that’s not His heart. He has meaning behind what He’s doing and that’s something other people they just don’t get, they don’t get those moments. So, that’s the first lie that God broke, that Christianity is only about sacrifice.
The second lie is that God’s heart is in authority and not partnership. It is hardest to be an authority figure over us and not a partner with us. John 15:4, again, “Abide in me and I in you.” This whole chapter of the Bible is partnerships, it’s a give-and-take with God, “Abide in me and I’ll abide in you.” As we do what He commands He gives us the desires of our hearts, as we lay our lives down He lays His life down. There’s this give-and-take, there’s this partnership, He’s not asking us to do anything He wouldn’t do Himself. It’s this friendship. It’s this relationship we get to partake of that.
The scripture says, “Apart from me you can do nothing,” it’s verse 5, “For apart from me you can do nothing,” partnership. And so a part of this partnership with God and the invitation of God is that sometimes God invites us into something and then sometimes we actually get to invite God into something.
I’m gonna tell you guys another story. Two years ago, I was…no sorry, three years ago now I was finishing my third year of Bethel so we’ve done year-one, we’ve done year-two, now we’re in year-three. My third year of Bethel and I’m getting ready to go home forever, and I’m excited, I’m gonna enroll in University. I’m so excited to get back to my family. But God says, “Hey Josh, can you lay that down. I have something better for you, just put that on hold for now.” It was painful but I knew that he was calling me into something good and so I painfully let that go. I said, “I’m not gonna move home I’m just gonna wait for the next best thing.”
So, two weeks later I meet this amazing couple named Julian and Katia Adams who are incredible. They were visiting Redding for a couple weeks, and so we had a dinner party. They had some mutual friends of mine and they were invited over, and we sat down. And they just shared stories of what God’s doing in their lives and what God’s doing around the world, because they do all this travel. They were sharing about South Africa and what God’s doing here. And they were fun and they were cocky, and they were just amazing people. And I thought, “Wow, these people are so cool. I would love to be around them more.”
And so I remember going home that night after that dinner and looking up, and praying, and just thinking, “Oh God, how cool would it be if I went to South Africa?” And he’s like, “Hmm.” And I’m like, “God would you open that door if I asked you to do that?” He’s like, “Yeah, of course.” I’m like, “Cool, let’s go to South Africa.” And He’s like, “Yeah, let’s go to South Africa. That sounds awesome.” And I woke up the next day fully convinced I was moving to South Africa. I hadn’t talked to Julian and I hadn’t talked to Katia, I was going around telling everyone, “Next year I’m going to South Africa. I can’t wait to go to South.” And people are like, “So do they have an internship or something for you?” I’m like, “I don’t know, I just know I’m going.” Because God in that moment He was like, “Yes, let’s do this.” He wanted to partner with my idea.
And so I’m convinced to this day that me being here is my idea, it wasn’t God’s idea. Obviously He knew from the foundations of earth what I was going to be doing, He had the plan and purposes for me but He wanted this one to be mine. And so He let me have it and I’m so excited to be here and it’s been amazing.
It’s the same in the life of David, Julian pointed out to me recently that God actually never asked David to build a temple, it wasn’t God’s idea, it was David’s idea. David loved God so much and he thought, “Oh, I love this God so much, what can I do to please him? What if I build this massive temple and just worship Him.” And God was like, “Yeah, why don’t you do that, that’s a great idea.” David’s like, “Cool, God will you make the plans?” And God makes the plans. And it became this central theme to the entire story of God’s people was this temple, this amazing temple, but it was David’s idea. That’s how much God wants to partner with our dreams and our visions for this world.
He would be willing to let the whole world change because of our ideas, and he wants to partner with us. He wants to breathe life into those things. He wants to help us make the plans. That’s how much he wants to partner with us, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” So this means…and I know at Harvest we talk about this a lot, that whatever sphere of life you’re in, whatever realm of the world you’re in, you’re not less than. Just because you’re not in full-time ministry, God wants to be with us in everything, He wants to partner with us in our dreams. And so this is something that I had to learn.
I was always resistant to going into ministry but then God revealed to me that whatever I do He’s going to bless it. And so I’ve gone after art, I love going after worship, and I have dreams for bigger things. I happen to be doing a bit of ministry too but God wants to breathe on everything, every single thing in our lives. How cool is that that we get friendship with him, we get to be invited by him into great things, and we also get to invite Him into our everything.
I’ve been challenging myself to invite God into every moment of my life. So in the mornings I wake up and I go to work, and I sit there. And I think, “Jesus, how can you be a part of this day, what do you want to be a part of? I invite the Holy Spirit and Father God into the room.” And then sometimes there are areas where I’m like, “Okay God, you might wanna look away.” Or, “Okay God, I’m about to say something you don’t want to hear,” so I’m not going to invite Him into this part. But I’ve realized that when I’m a bit resistant to inviting God into an area of my life it’s probably because I’m living in sin.
And so if there are areas in your life that you’re a bit afraid to invite God into just think about those and ask God how you can invite him into those, because God actually does want to be invited into our sin because He’s the solution to our sin. He’s the solution to everything. So if we’re about to gossip, if I’m about to say something I know I’m not supposed to say, I should say, “Okay God, this is a moment I get to invite you into my life.” So I’m challenging myself with that, it’s not always easy to invite him into everything but I wanna do that, I wanna live that life. So, that was lie number two that God’s heart is Authority and not a partnership.
And this is the last lie that God, kind of, dispelled to do with that memory, and this is the lie that I’m gonna finish on. But the last one is a really big one, it’s that I should be afraid of God’s voice. So, for years and years of my life I remember walking around afraid of God’s voice. And I loved God and I had a heart for Him, and it wasn’t this anger towards Him or this resentment, I was just afraid He was going to tell me something I didn’t want to hear because that’s what I got preached on Sunday mornings. That be careful what you hear from God because He might tell you to do something you don’t want to do, and I didn’t want that. I wasn’t ready to pick up and move to Africa, I wasn’t ready to do that…I mean, ironically, I’ve done that now but I was afraid. I remember even finishing high school and being afraid to ask God which university I should go to, or where I should go just because I thought he was gonna send me the place lowest on my list. And that’s not who He is. He’s always going to call me to greater things. And that doesn’t mean it’s not gonna come with surprises, that sometimes He might point you in a direction that you’re confused about at first but ends up being life changing.
It genuinely means that he’s calling you into greater things, every step of your life. If you’re hearing His voice you can trust that He’s calling you somewhere that’s going to be greater than where you were before. And I remember walking into stores and shops and thinking, “I hope I don’t see someone on crutches,” because God was going to force me into praying for them. Stuff like that, it was this constant fear. And because I had this fear of hearing God’s voice telling me to do anything I kind of just shut His voice out completely, because if I don’t trust Him I don’t want to hear His voice. All of this was rooted in this mistrust of God, he kept me from hearing the truth and the love that He wanted to speak over me. I wasn’t convinced of His love for me. I wasn’t convinced always that I was unpunishable, that I was seated next to Christ because I couldn’t hear His voice speaking those things to me because I didn’t trust Him.
So when you need to hear from God, I’m gonna challenge you guys, rather than to jumping to conclusions, to wait for that inviting voice, wait for the invitation of God. Close your eyes and just wait on that. If He’s asking you to give something up or to throw something away, wait for his inviting voice saying, “This is gonna be good for you, it’s something greater.” If He’s asking you to speak to someone, or to pray for someone on the streets, or to go pray for that person who’s limping over there, He’s inviting you into something great.
If He’s asking you to take this massive step of faith, close your eyes and wait for His invitation into that thing, wait for His power in your life to actually see that thing through. If He’s calling you to repent for something, you don’t need to position yourself as a lost son you actually get to say, “Okay, there’s an invitation here into something great. Jesus where is your inviting voice?” And then He gives you the power again to see that through. If He’s calling you into freedom from a mindset, or a behavior, or a harmful relationship there’s an inviting voice there that’s calling you to greater things.
I wanna live this lifestyle of taking every single invitation God has to offer and I don’t always do it, and I don’t always do it right away. But that’s the lifestyle I wanna live because if He’s calling me into something amazing every time He speaks, then why wouldn’t I want to be a part of that life.
A few weeks ago, me and Julian were in Holland on a trip and Julian was speaking to a bunch of ministry students similar to the ministry school I went to. And he’s like, “Oh, you should share on this, or this, or this.” And I’m like, “Okay.” And he asked me, he’s like, “Do you want to?” And previously that year I had had this conversation with God where I just said, “Hey God, I want to say yes to every ministry opportunity that you have in front of me,” because I knew that I had this a little bit of a fear of ministry because I grew up as a pastor’s kid, and there’s something in me, maybe still that just doesn’t want to be in ministry. It scares me but in that I knew that God had something great for me.
So I said, “God if you invite me into speaking or if there’s a ministry opportunity to pray for someone or to lead something, I’m just gonna say yes to everything you have in front of me.” And he’s like, “Cool, that’s awesome.” But then this trip to Holland, like I was saying, in that day when Julian invited me up, he’s like, “Do you want to?” And I’m like, “No, I’m gonna pass on this one.” And so he gets up to share and those voices in my head, the invitations of God came again and He’s like, “Joshua, are you sure you don’t want to share?” This is God speaking, “Are you sure you don’t want to share? It’s gonna be so fun, you’re gonna change these people’s lives. And even if you don’t we’ll laugh about it later, it’s gonna be amazing. You should totally do this.” And I just chose to say no, I’m like, “Okay, no, I’m good God, not today, feeling a bit tired.”
And I woke up the next day feeling disappointed in myself. I’m like, “Oh God, I made that promise to you that I was gonna say yes to everything this year and I declined your invitation. I’m so sorry.” And he’s like, “Yeah, I know you did that yesterday but today there’s something cooler, there’s something really awesome that’s gonna happen. There’s more ministry opportunities.” And I was able to pray for people that day and do some ministry that day. And so like I said before, God isn’t this…He’s not like our earthly friends, he’s not like our earthly father, whenever we decline an invitation from God He’s always gonna have another invitation, He’s always gonna speak to us again. Still though, why wouldn’t you want to say yes? Why wouldn’t you want to step out? Why wouldn’t you want to say yes to this invitation, this party that God has set up for us? And so that’s the life I want to live, I want to live saying yes to His invitations every single time He speaks.