Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King

B. Childress
Apr 28 2013

If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever wants to
save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it.
 (Luke 9:23-24)

Many of us want God to speak and lead us in His will.  We want the excitement of God working through us, but we are
loath to make any major adjustments so He will.  The Bible reveals that every time God speaks to people about
something He wants to do, they have to realign their lives in some way.  When God’s people are willing to take the
necessary actions, God accomplishes His purposes through those He calls.


As we discussed in the last chapter, the first turning point in knowing and doing the will of God is the crisis of belief – you
must believe God is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do.  Without faith in God, you will make
the wrong decision at this critical point.

The second critical turning point is adjusting your life to God.  If you choose to make the necessary adjustments, you
can go on to obedience.  If you refuse, you could miss what God has in store for your life.

Obedience begins in the heart as a willingness to do whatever God says.  Obedience is expressed through action, by
words and deeds.  Our obedience can be costly – to you and to those around you.  Let me give you an example.


In Saskatoon, a need arose in one of our missions forty miles away.  I asked the church to pray God would call someone
to move to that community to be a lay pastor of the mission.  A young couple responded and said they were willing to
move there.  Yet the husband was attending the university, and they had very limited finances.

If they took up residence in the mission community, he would have to commute eighty miles a day to and from school.  I
knew they couldn’t afford that.  Moreover, winter road conditions in our area could be extremely hazardous, so I said,
“No, I can’t let you do that.”  I went through all the reasons why they should not consider such a venture.

In response, the young man looked at me and said, “Pastor, don’t deny me the opportunity to sacrifice for my Lord.”  His
statement crushed me.  How could I refuse?  Yet I knew that this couple would have to pay a high price for our church’s
obedience in starting new missions.

We had prayed for God to call a lay pastor, and I should have been open to God’s answering in an unexpected way.  
When this couple responded with such a deep commitment and willingness to sacrifice, the body (our church) affirmed
their sense of call – and God provided for their needs!


When God speaks, revealing what He is about to do, that revelation is your invitation to adjust your life to Him.  As you
adjust your heart and mind to Him, His purposes, and His ways, you are in a position to obey.  You can’t continue
business as usual or stay where you are and go with God at the same time.  This truth is clearly evident in the Scriptures.

  • Noah could not continue life as usual and build an ark at the same time.  (see Genesis 6)
  • Abram could not stay in Ur or Haran and father a nation in Canaan. (see Genesis 12:1-8)
  • Moses could not stay on the back side of the desert herding sheep and stand before Pharaoh at the same time.
    (see Exodus 3)
  • Rahab could not obey the king and save the lives of the Israelite spies. (see Joshua 2:1-24)
  • Ruth could not remain with her relatives and join the people of God in Israel. (see Ruth 1:16-18)
  • David had to leave his sheep to become king. (see I Samuel 16:1-13)
  • Amos had to leave his sycamore orchard to preach in Israel. (see Amos 7:14-15)
  • Jonah had to leave his home and go against what he had been taught in order to preach in Nineveh. (see Jonah 1:
    1-2; 3:1-2; 4:1-11)
  • Esther could not remain silent before the king and save her people. (see Esther 4:14)
  • Peter, Andrew, James, and John had to leave their fishing businesses in order to follow Jesus. (see Matthew 4:18-
  • Matthew had to leave his lucrative tax collecting job to follow Jesus. (see Matthew 9:9)
  • Saul had to completely change direction in order for God to use him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. (see
    Acts 9:1-19)

Enormous changes and adjustments were required whenever God’s people determined to obey His calling.  Some had
to leave family and country.  Others had to abandon long held prejudices and reorient their thinking.  Men and women
were willing to leave behind life goals, ideals, and desires.  Everything had to be yielded to God and their entire life
adjusted to Him.  The moment the necessary adjustments were made, however, God began to accomplish His purposes
through them.  Each one learned that adjusting one’s life to God is always well worth the cost.

You may be thinking: But God will not ask me to make major adjustments.  If you look to Scripture for your understanding
of God, you will see that God most certainly does require changes of His people.  His own Son gave up more than
anyone: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: although He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that
by His poverty you might become rich” (II Corinthians 8:9).  Jesus emptied Himself of position and glory in heaven to join
the Father in providing salvation through His death on the cross.  Jesus couldn’t stay where He was in heaven and be a
part of the Father’s plan to redeem humanity on earth.

If you want to be a disciple of Jesus, you have no choice.  You will have to make significant alterations in your life.  
Following your Master means going where He goes.  Until you are ready to make any change necessary to follow and
obey what God has said, you will be of little use to God.  Your greatest difficulty in following God may come at this point.

Our tendency is to want God to adjust to us and our plans.  We want to obey God but only on our terms!  His ways are
different from ours, though.  God says, “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and
My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).  The only way to follow Him is to align our thinking and our actions with
His ways.  Before we can follow Jesus, we must be willing to make whatever adjustment is necessary.


The rich ruler wanted eternal life, but he could not bring himself to pay the price Jesus asked (see Luke 18:18-27).  
Wealth stood in the way of his following the Lord, but Jesus knew this man could not wholly serve God and cling to his
money at the same time (see Matthew 6:24).  So He asked the young aristocrat to put away the thing that had become
god to him – his wealth.  The man refused to do as Jesus asked, and he went no further with God.

The Lord knows what it is in each of our hearts that hinders us from fully giving ourselves over to following Him.  
Ephesians 5:5 says greed is a form of idolatry.  Prosperity and the love of worldly things may tempt some of us away
from following God.  Jesus said, “You cannot be slaves of God and of money” (Matthew 6:24).  Ephesians 5:5 also cites
immorality as a stumbling block to eternal life.

Doubt and fear of the future are behind the reluctance of many to whole heartedly accept and follow God’s invitation to
join Him.  For many Christians, the thought of moving from home and leaving extended family keeps them from following
Christ.  Adjusting our lives to God means dealing with financial, physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational barriers that
prevent us from absolute obedience to Him.


Read I Kings 19:15-21.  God told Elijah to select Elisha to be his successor as a prophet to God’s people.  Elijah found
Elisha in a field plowing with twelve yoke of oxen.  When Elisha heard God’s call through Elijah, he immediately made
major adjustments.  He left his family and farming career to follow God’s call.  Elisha burned his farm equipment and
killed his twenty-four oxen.  Then he cooked the meat and fed the people of the community.  He was giving tangible
evidence of the permanence of his decision!

When Elisha made the necessary adjustments, he was in a position to obey God and serve Him as a prophet.  As a
result, God worked through Elisha to perform some of the greatest signs and miracles recorded in the Old Testament
(see II Kings 2-13).  Elisha proved from the outset that he was serious about obeying God.  But not until he had made
the adjustments did God accomplish miracles through him.

No one can sum up all God is able to accomplish through one life, completely yielded, adjusted, and obedient to Him.  
Do you want to be that person?  You can’t go on to obedience without first making the adjustments in your heart and life
that God requires.

Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself (adjustment), and take up his cross
(adjustment), and follow Me (obedience).”  Those who attempt to follow Jesus without making the adjustments will always
find it impossible.


What kind of adjustments does God require?  Trying to answer that question is like attempting to list all the things God
might ask you to do.  The list could be endless.  Here are a few examples of general categories where adjustments may
be required of you:

  • your circumstances (job, home, finances),

  • your relationships (family, friends, business associates),

  • your thinking (prejudices, methodology, planning),

  • your commitments (to family, church, job, plans, tradition),

  • your actions (how you pray, give, serve),

  • your beliefs (about God, His purposes, His ways, your relationship to Him).

A major adjustment will come at the point of acting on your faith.  Your intellectual decision may be the easy part.  The
hard part is adjusting your life to God and acting in a manner that demonstrates your faith.  You may be called upon to
attempt things only God can do, whereas formerly you may have done only that which you knew you could accomplish.

Sometimes an adjustment involves several of the above areas at once.  For instance, Peter was a faithful Jewish man
who ate only kosher food.  He had no dealings with “unclean” Gentiles, but one day while Peter was praying, God gave
him a life-changing vision.  He wanted to convince Peter that anything He had created was not unclean.  He told Peter to
go with some Gentiles to preach to Cornelius and his household.

The experience with Cornelius required adjustments in Peter’s thinking and beliefs about what is clean and unclean, his
commitments to traditions of the Jewish people, and his habits about associating with Gentiles (see Acts 10:1-20).  Peter
made the necessary changes and obeyed God.  When he did, God worked through him to bring Cornelius’s whole
household to faith in Christ.

Being able to identify an adjustment is not as important as making it.  Once you understand what change God wants you
to make, He will help you know how to do it.  Your part is to obey.


One of the great privileges Marilynn and I have had is to travel around the world encouraging some of God’s finest
missionaries.  On one trip to Russia, a few years after the Cold War had ended, we spent an afternoon with a delightful
couple.  After the husband had retired from his job in the United States, they felt the Lord placing His heart for the world
on them.  As they looked to see where God was working, they were drawn to the former Soviet Union where evangelism
and preaching the gospel had long been prohibited.

They ultimately sensed God leading them to serve in a bitterly cold region of northern Russia.  But they had to count the
cost.  They had retired and now were in a position to enjoy their sunset years traveling and attending events at their
church.  They had a lovely home and grandchildren to think of.  Russia was on the other side of the world.  Yet God was
clearly leading.  So they left everything and took up residence in a Russian city where they did not speak the language.

As the two began ministering, they found themselves in the midst of a bitter conflict among the churches in the area.  
When the couple refused to take sides in the dispute, both groups took offense and ostracized them.  Both sides
discouraged their people from having anything to do with the missionaries.

At the time we met them, they were extremely discouraged.  They had sacrificed all the comforts of their former lifestyle.  
They were living in a small apartment a fraction of the size of their beautiful home in America.  Worst of all, the people
they had traveled so far to help would have nothing to do with them!  They were planning to return home shortly.

We empathized with their pain, but I sensed they had not made all the adjustments necessary for God to use them in this
extremely difficult assignment.  They had changed their lifestyle, their living conditions, and their geographical location.  
But they still were holding the belief that they deserved to be treated in a certain way.  They felt their sacrifice and effort
ought to be appreciated by those they had come to serve, and because they were not being shown gratitude and
acceptance, they were going home.

Now, that is a very human response when we are misunderstood or mistreated, but I challenged them with some tough
questions.  I asked them to describe how Jesus was treated and when He left the comforts of heaven and came to
people who desperately needed Him.  I asked how many people truly appreciated His sacrifice.  Finally, I asked, “If Jesus
had taken the same approach you’re taking, what would that have cost others? “  Jesus – who was despised, rejected,
and murdered by the very people He came to save – had come wanting sweet fellowship with them.

Having shared tangibly in Christ’s sufferings, these missionaries could glimpse the love of Christ in a way many could
not.  I reminded them that Christianity is not about serving where we are appreciated or where we enjoy success but
about enjoying a relationship with our Savior who gave up everything so we could experience salvation.

Their response was genuine humility.  The Lord enveloped this dear couple in His loving arms at that moment.  They
smiled through their tears and said they would continue to serve their Lord right where He had placed them.  God had
given them an arduous assignment, and it required them to make extensive and deep adjustments in their actions and
attitudes.  Without those adjustments, they could not serve the Lord as He had invited them to.


God frequently requires adjustments in areas you have never considered before.  Peter couldn’t have dreamed God
would ask him to enter the home of a Gentile, but that was exactly what the Lord did.  Just because you have never seen
yourself as a Bible teacher, author, or missionary does not mean God will never ask you to teach or write or go on a
mission trip.  God is looking for absolute surrender.  We must have a willing heart to do whatever He asks, and then trust
Him to enable us to do it.  God does not delight in making us do things we don’t like.  But He does love us enough to
involve us in His work, and He refuses to leave us where we are when He knows we could be experiencing much more of
Him.  Any adjustment God expects you to make is for your good and for the welfare of those He intends to bless through
your life.

The adjustments required are in direct response to God’s leadership.  Sometimes we make decisions to please our
church or our friends or our parents, and these may or may not be good decisions.  To truly follow and experience God,
we must reorient our lives to Him.  We change our viewpoints to align with His.  We amend our ways to be like His.  After
we make the necessary alterations, He tells us what to do next.  Pleasing God is more important than satisfying friends,
pastors, or even our families.

Some have questioned whether major adjustments are always necessary in order to follow God.  Anytime you go from
where you are to where God is working, or from your way of thinking to God’s way of thinking, or from your ways to God’s
ways, or from your purposes to His purposes, a major adjustment will be involved.  That is because God’s ways and His
plans are much better than our own best plans and thinking.


Absolute surrender involves giving up our desires, goals, and preferences to God and accepting God’s will, regardless
of how difficult it may be.  Another adjustment we must make to do God’s will is reaching a place of total dependence on
God.  Jesus said, “You can do nothing without Me” (John 15:5).  As God’s servants, we must be in that intimate
relationship so He will complete His work through us.  We must depend on God alone.  When we surrender our lives
completely, we become totally dependent on Him.  Then we understand that, apart from Him, we can do nothing.  We
must learn to live in constant awareness of our absolute reliance on God if He is to accomplish His purposes through us.

This adjustment requires a shift from doing work for God according to our abilities, gifts, goals, likes, and dislikes to
being totally dependent on God, His working, and His resources.  It requires courage and faith.

Read the following Scriptures, and notice why we must depend on God to carry out His purposes:

  • “I am the vine; you are the branches.   The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you
    can do nothing without Me.” (John 15:5)
  • By God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective.  However, I worked more than any of
    them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me. (I Corinthians 15:10)
  • I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the flesh, I live by
    faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
  • The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, “As I have planned, so it will be; as I have purposed it, so it will happen.”
    (Isaiah 14:24)
  • “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold
    on to you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
  • “I am God, and there is no other…My plan will take place, and I will do all My will…Yes, I have spoken; so I will also
    bring it about.  I have planned it; I will also do it.” (Isaiah 46:9-11)

If God is not at work in you, you can do nothing to bear spiritual fruit.  As you are crucified with Christ, He lives through
you to accomplish His purposes by His grace.  When God sets out to do something, He guarantees that it will come to
pass.  He is the One who will accomplish what He intends to do.  If you depend on anything other than God, you are
asking for failure.


Sometimes as you adjust your life to God, He requires that you wait on Him.  Learning to wait on God is one of the
hardest but most important aspects of the Christian life.  God seeks a love relationship with you, and waiting develops
your absolute dependence on Him.  It assures that you will act in His timing, not your own.  The Scriptures frequently
commend waiting on the Lord:

  • “Stop your fighting – and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

  • We wait for the LORD; He is our help and shield. (Psalm 33:20)

  • Wait for the LORD and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land. (Psalm 37:34)

  • I put my hope in You, LORD; You will answer, Lord my God. (Psalm 38:15)

  • Those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not
    grow weary; they will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

You may think of waiting as passive, but waiting on the Lord is anything but inactive.  While you wait on Him, you will be
praying with a passion to know Him, His purposes, and His ways.  You will be evaluating your circumstances and asking
God to reveal His perspective on them.  You will share with other believers to find out what God is saying to them.  As
you wait on the Lord, you will actively ask, seek, and knock: “Keep asking, and it will be given to you.  Keep searching,
and you will find.  Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one
who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).

While you wait, continue doing the last thing God told you to do.  In waiting, you are shifting the responsibility of the
outcome to God – where it belongs.  Then, when God gives you specific guidance, He will do more through you in days
and weeks than you could ever accomplish in years of labor.  Waiting on Him is always worth it.  His timing and His ways
are always right.  You must depend on Him to guide you to accomplish His will.


EXPERIENCING GOD, by Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King, Copyright 2008, B&H Publishing Group.