Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Finding your Purpose

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

How many times have you been told that God has a plan for you?  That He made you special?  That He made you to do great things for His Kingdom?  
And how many times have you looked at your life and wondered whether you're missing it?
Jesus said "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark16:15 KJV).
And here you are, sitting in the exact same house you've been in for the past 20 years, seeing the same people day after day, most of whom are related to you.
Where is the great revelation?  Where is the voice from Heaven?  Where is the instruction book?
Now I know that all of you wonderful Christian people will quickly inform me that He HAS left an instruction book, and if I would only read His Word, I would find all of these answers.
Well, I have read it, and it seems rather general to me.  All except that one time when I was a kid and decided it would be more fun to read my Bible than clean my room, and my eyes fell on Proverbs 18:9 - "He who is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys" (RSV).  You never saw a kid clean her room so fast!

But What If...we have this purpose thing all wrong?  What if the Bible is not written for you to know YOUR purpose, but to know God's?  What if (gasp!) it is all about HIM?

One of our dogmas about purpose is that God has created a special mate for each of us.  A soulmate, if you please.  If you can only find this person who you are perfectly matched to, you will be eternally happy.
What if I told you this is not in the Bible?
What if I told you this is a Greek myth, perpetuated by Plato?
I have found nothing in the Bible that says God will pick a spouse for you.  There are some guidelines as to what kind of person to look for, but nothing saying that God has "created someone specially for you."

Do you know that God is about fulfilling HIS purpose, not YOURS?
Do you know that if you choose not to do God's will, He will find someone else who will?
In Isaiah chapter 6, we find Isaiah in the temple.  He is having a vision of God.  Verse 8 states:  "Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?"  Then I said, "Here am I.  Send me!""  This seems to be a situation of God looking for someone who was willing.  Do you suppose that if Isaiah had pretended not to hear, God would have said "Oh, well.  I guess no one is going."  I don't think so.  I think he would have found someone else.  His purpose would have been fulfilled.  Isaiah would have lost his blessing, perhaps, but it would not have stopped God from getting his message out.

John states in his gospel why he wrote it.  And it was not intended as an instruction book, but as a proof of who Jesus is.  John 20:31 says:  "but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.  Paul writes to Timothy:  "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Our instructions may not be specific.  We may never hear the voice of God.  We may never be given a "calling."  God's purpose for us is to believe in Jesus so that we may have life, and to be equipped for every good work.  

So we don't need to wait around for God to direct us.  If we have read His word, we will know who He is.  We will know His purpose.  We will be able to act in His will.  We will be able to deal with the ups and downs that this world throws at us.  Not because we know our purpose, but because we know God's.  

I'll leave you with one of my all-time favorite verses.  (Not the one about cleaning my room).  It is Micah 6:8 - 
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

So today, be blessed, and be a blessing.

Friday, June 23, 2017

My War Room

Have you seen the movie "War Room"?  We just watched it this week, and I only wish I had seen it sooner.  It's one of those movies that make you see your life just a little differently.

I have to admit that I was a little dejected at first after watching it.  You see, the "war room" in the movie is a clothes closet, made over into a prayer closet.  Now, I've heard people say "when you're in your prayer closet" before, but this really took that concept literally!  I was inspired to make my own war room.  The problem is, our house boasts a total of three small closets shared by four people for all of our clothes.  No chance of a war room there.

I read in a blog since then that you can take a spot in your bedroom, "not your bed," put down a pillow, a chair, a lamp, and make yourself a nice quiet place to sit and pray...  Ummm... not likely.

You see, I don't have a room of my own.  I share every room in the house with at least one other person and cannot count on any of them being available for my private use consistently.

So you can imagine my frustration.

Okay.  That's nothing but the devil talking, isn't it?  Is God concerned about where we pray?  Are we supposed to wait until we have the perfect spot fixed up?  I'm thinking not.  I'm also thinking it's a convenient excuse to not spend time with our Heavenly Father.

So I stepped a little outside the box.  Are you ready for the big reveal of my war room?  (Drum roll, please).  My War Room Is............

..............A book.

Yep.  A cheap lined journal.  Actually, a partially written in cheap lined journal.  It won't pass the Pinterest test, but it works.  Here's how.  First of all, it's portable,so I can use it in any room whether or not it already has another person in it.

Second of all, it's quiet.  Part of my problem is that I can't be praying out loud like in the movie.  Maybe I could, but sometimes I pray things that are meant to be private, just between me and God, you know?  As a result, my prayers tend to go on inside my head, but then I tend to get off track and think about what to have for dinner or whether the kids got their schoolwork done.  So I decided to write out my prayers.  No one else can hear what I'm writing, and it keeps me on track.

So far, I have spent time in my War Room on my bed (sorry, blog person),  on the couch, and at the kitchen table. And you know what?  Once I start praying, it doesn't matter where I am physically.  I am spiritually in the presence of God.

I write down Bible verses that come to me, write what they mean to me, and then write out my prayer.  I think it will be a great help actually to look back and see what I've prayed for, instead of forgetting almost instantly.  I'll be better able to see God's hand in my life.

If you haven't seen the movie, I would highly recommend it.  But don't take it too literally!  If God didn't give you a huge walk-in closet, it doesn't mean he doesn't want to spend time with you.  Use whatever God has given you.  It's worth it!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

2017: The Year of Love - Who should you Love?

I haven't posted in this series for a little while.  Partly because I've been through some unloving things, and partly because our country is in such an unloving state, and I really didn't know where to go. 

If you have been following, you will remember that the last post, "Step one - What is love?" focused on 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter.  Did you do your homework?  Did you find out what love is, and what it isn't?  If you haven't done that, take a minute to look at it now.  You will also remember that love is not a feeling, but an action.

Okay.  Now we are ready to find out who we need to apply this action to.  I admit, this is a tough one.  If you have ever been misunderstood, betrayed, abused, or treated badly by anyone, you know that it is hard to love them.

But Jesus didn't leave anyone out.  Look at what he says in Luke 6.
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 
28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  
35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  
36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Did you get all that?  Love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you.  Pray for those who mistreat you.  

Bottom line:  Your actions do not depend on who they are.  Your actions are a result of who you are.  You are children of the Most High God.  And He is merciful.  The prophet Daniel said in chapter 9 - 
 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets.
And James, in chapter 2 - 
12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Mercy triumphs over judgement.  To be loving is always better than to be right.

This is a hard lesson for these hard times.  We in the United States are feeling divided and fractured.  It seems that every group is against every other group.  Take your pick.  Political.  Racial.  Religious.  Everyone is judging everyone else based on who they think they are.  But that is not our job.  Our job is to show mercy to all.  Everyone.  Whether they agree with you or not.  Whether or not they are merciful to you.  

So here is your homework.  Make yourself a sign or a note or a memo or whatever you need to do so that you will see it often.  Write down these three verses:

Daniel 9:9
The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.

Luke 6:36
Be merciful,  just as your Father is merciful.
James 2:13b
Mercy triumphs over judgement.

Let these words sink into your heart and your mind.  And the next time you are tempted to lash out because of something that someone else does, remember who you are.   And be merciful.

Previous posts in this series:

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