I received an email this morning via Christine Caine's email devotional subscription, First Things First. I was immediately inspired, convicted, and curious about what I read. Short and sweet, it struck a cord within me.
"Extraordinary results in the Kingdom of God are rarely happenstance; they're a direct result of the daily choices we make and actions we take. This is why we must determine to stay ... focused on the task God has given to us. Today, follow through on what God has called you to do!" (1) -Chris Caine
How true are those words? Often, we seek God out and request to know His will for our lives. We want some glimpse into our calling, some vision of our destiny. God, being the faithful God that He is (Matthew 7:7) often does reveal parts of His plans for our lives to us. While we don't always need to know every detail of the journeys we have ahead of us (because really, how boring would that be!?), he will always reveal to us at least what we need for TODAY (even if that's just the literal NEXT STEP you need to take.)
The problem is, oh how we are a generation SO easily distracted. I mean, who can blame us, really? There are ALWAYS texts to respond to, calls to be made, bills to be paid, meals to be prepped, children to care for, work to be done, meetings to attend, to do lists to be checked off. Not only this, but there are also often shows to be watched, games to be played, dates to go on, shoes to be purchased, etc etc. We are a generation of people living in a very FULL FULL world.
So... how do we stay focused? I LOVE what Christine says about this. She says that Extraordinary results (you know, the ones that make you say WOW! The really extraordinary ministries like Proverbs 31 and Harvest Crusades and The A21 Campagin) don't just HAPPEN. Instead, they are RESULTS- the direct effects of SOMEONE's dedication, hard work, and daily actions.
How simple is this concept, yet so taxing to remember? No matter what you feel that God has called you to do, that's just it! You have to just DO IT (Thanks, Nike). That means put your distractions (ahem, smart phones) aside and do WHATEVER God has asked you to do.
I don't know about you, but for me, that often means unplugging from social media, forgetting about my fashion choices for a moment, and taking my eyes off of potential suitors (lol) and FIXING THEM ON JESUS.
Because, really, that's what it's all about. Fixing our eyes on JESUS, soaking up His word, seeking His will, and then obediently acting upon whatever it is He asks us to do. Maybe, for you, that means to invest more into your family or loved ones. Maybe it means getting planted in a church. Maybe it means volunteering with that ministry. Writing those God inspired words? Using your voice to glorify God? Taking care of your body? Reading that book he's been nudging you to open? Visiting with a lonely neighbor? Sharing the gospel with a coworker? Changing your own attitudes and perspectives?
Whatever dreams God has given you, know that you won't just wake up one day to the life that you are dreaming of. You have to set goals, break those goals down into action steps, and then set out on the road to achieving them! If it is God's will, He will ALWAYS make a way. You just have to do your part in obedience, all distractions aside.
"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:14 KJV
1. Caine, Christine. "Follow Through." First Things First. Christine Caine, 24 May 2016. Web. 24 May 2016.
I have to start this by saying how THANKFUL I am for God's presence and the abundant guidance of the Holy Spirit [The Helper, the Spirit of Truth (John 16:7,13) ] in my life lately. I know that He is always working FOR me, I can see how He has been working IN me, and now, I want to talk about how God is working THROUGH me.
"You should ask her if you can pray for her father."
"You should leave her a little note to say that she is appreciated."
"You should let him know that you're proud of who he is becoming."
"You should go out of your way to make them feel welcome."
"You should tell her about the peace you've found through me."
These are just some of the little whispers of the Spirit that have been guiding me lately.
For the longest time, I prayed and begged God to "use me." At the same time, I subtly gave God a very extensive list of the circumstances I thought were necessary in my life before I could actually serve Him. I always cried out, "God, use me! Give me purpose! I want to live for you!" while also saying, "One day..." and "When my life looks like THIS, I'll be able to serve God."
In my small mind, I convinced myself that I could only really be living for God IF I was a wife to a Holy man, a published author, a traveling speaker, a full time missionary, a radio/Television ministry spokesperson, etc, etc. I wanted God to use me, but I also had all of these ideas of HOW I wanted Him to use me. I was meshing my own personal desires, goals, dreams, and ambitions into my willingness to serve Christ. If I'm to be honest, I'm not sure the motives of my heart were entirely pure. Did I love God? YES! Did I live wholeheartedly surrendered to the will of God? NO.
I THANK GOD that He is changing my heart, changing my desires, and showing me what it truly means to live for Him.
To serve God is to serve others. To serve others, you look for the needs that are all around you, and do what you can to meet those needs.
Mark 12:30-31 "And you should love the Lord your God with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."
I am so grateful that God has been teaching me how to serve Him RIGHT HERE- in this city and in this season. I am thankful that He is showing me how to make a difference in the lives of those who are ALREADY in my life, as well as in reaching out to those neighbors all around me of whom I don't yet know their names.
I have to tell you, brothers and sisters, don't wait for that perfect "someday" to come before you let God use you. He is a God who says that if we are faithful in the little, we will be entrusted with much (Luke 16:10). Sometimes, we get caught up in thinking that serving God has to be some grand endeavor... but I'm telling you, you are serving God in what may seem like the smallest of deeds, because we serve a God who looks at the intentions of the heart (Proverbs 16:12).
Pray that God will begin to reveal to you the needs that are already around you. Believe me, THERE ARE NEEDS AROUND YOU. And the beauty of our place in God's Kingdom is that He has already equipped each and every one of us to meet those needs, because that is exactly what you were created for. Pray that He reveals to you exactly how you can meet them (Matthew 7:8).
God has positioned you EXACTLY where He wants you, and He has prepared you so that you may accomplish everything that He has already planned for you in His good will for your life (Jeremiah 29:11). And it starts RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE.
"When your worries come shooting in like arrows in the night, say, 'God, I give each one of these to you.'" -Greg Laurie
Too often we try to figure it all out. We desire to KNOW the future. We want to have a plan. We want everything to go according to our plan. We try to control our lives, and then we worry that we won't be able to. That's because we aren't meant to. Worry happens when we are trying to do something we were never created to do. We aren't responsible for controlling the future; WE are responsible for recognizing and trusting that God IS.
The next time a worry enters your mind, instead of turning it over and over, analyzing the problem, and trying to brainstorm a solution, just take it to God in prayer. Present the problem to Him, thank Him for being the good and sovereign God that He is, and then let it go. Remind yourself that HE is always working in your life for His purposes.We can't always understand WHY things happen the way that they do or when they do, but we can rest assured that God is always weaving together the pieces of our lives as part of His masterpiece.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
It has been several years since I first gave my life to God, received salvation through Christ, and began a lifelong spiritual walk with the Holy Spirit. Over these years, I have had moments when it felt like God was all that I had, and other moments, when I wondered if God was even there. Even still, seasons and phases came to pass in which my life was so full of STUFF that I felt like I could barely balance having a MEANINGFUL relationship with God in the midst of it all. Sure, I would say a quick daily prayer, but in my spirit, I always thirsted for something deeper. Something in me has always craved more. The threads of my unraveling heart have met again and again with a throbbing, all-consuming deep desire to know God more.
In the past year or two, I have found myself trying to fill those cravings with all the wrong things. It isn't that the things I've pursued were bad- it's just that they are all things that were never meant to fulfill me. Love, relationships, fashion, beauty, physique... all of these things are good and gifts from God, but when our personal pursuits and selfish desires fill our minds, use most of our resources, and take up the majority of our time, we aren't leaving enough room for all that God has for us.
Suddenly, I realized that I had been gripping so tightly to the things that I wanted in this life that I wasn't allowing God to move in and through me the way He willed. I had been asking God for things, but my own relentless grip of certain areas of my life had been hindering me from receiving them.
We cannot receive from God when our hands and our hearts are still holding on to other things. We must let go and come to God with open palms, laying down before Him our lives and EVERYTHING that fills them, not just the things that are easy to let go of. It's only then that we can receive the fullness of blessing and goodness He has in store for us.
"What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived-
the things God has prepared for those who love him"
1 Corinthians 2:14
When we choose to LET GO of whatever it is we are holding on to, let God invade ALL ASPECTS of our lives, and truly put our trust FULLY in God, we free up our hands to receive every good thing that He has planned for us.
It's hard to let go of the desires of our hearts. It is hard to rise up against the temptations of this world. Surrendering our own will to God's can ONLY be done because WITH GOD, all things ARE POSSIBLE.
Since I have recognized and let go of the things that I've been trying to keep from God's sovereignty, I have been washed over with an overwhelming since of JOY, contentment, peace, and FREEDOM.
What have you been holding on to?
What has God been quietly nudging you to let go of?
Does your life reflect the gospel? Do you live like you truly believe that God knows and has what is best for you?
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
Answer these questions and then, with a prayer of surrender to God, ask Him to take away the things that are keeping you from fully living for Him. Ask Him to reveal to you any schemes the enemy may be using to plot against the good things God has for your future. Ask Him to align your desires with His will. He is a good, faithful, and loyal God. His promises are always true.
"Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."