Purposely Belonging

“Minds are like parachutes, they work best when they are open.” (Rick Warren) 

Our ministry and our walk with Christ are like a marathon; it’s not how you start, but how you finish.  Our vision is our ability to see the opportunities within our current circumstances and the knowledge of how to act upon them while believing that wherever God guides, He provides.  It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners.  People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care, so taking the time to listen is the first step in meeting a need.  The fruit of a believer should be another believer.  Christ doesn’t expect us to produce more than we can, but He does expect us to produce all that we can by and through His power.  Our faithfulness is accomplishing as much as possible with the resources and talents God has given us.   “Many are the plans in a man’s hearts, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)  When I was a child, sure I thought like a child and acted like a child, but the passions I had when I was younger have not gone away.  I can’t believe that God didn’t have our childhood in mind when He was planning our destiny.   Think back to the things you loved to do when you were a child and visualize how those same things have not departed.  I loved adventure and creating things and to this day, when I am doing either of those, I am happy.  Now take those interests and apply them to how you can better the kingdom of God.  Our heavenly Father wants us to do the things that we are good at and when we do them to better His kingdom, we bring glory to God.

                Are we more worried about how much something will cost or is our main concern how many could be saved?  A clear purpose not only defines what we do, it defines what we don’t do.  “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)  Jesus gave us two key directives: the Great Commandment & the Great Commission.  Any vision should have these directives at their core.  When we love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind and when we love our neighbor as ourselves, people see Jesus in us.  When people see Jesus in us, we earn the right to go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  By example, we are then able to teach them how to obey everything that the Lord has commanded us to do.  The Holy Spirit leads and empowers us and when it is the spiritual compass in our lives, we will have peace and joy.  That is not to say conflict won’t arise because unity without conflict is nothing more that artificial harmony.  When we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind and when we love our neighbor as ourselves, we come to an amazing place.  I love what Mother Teresa said, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” 

Our circumstances have a profound impact on our outlook on life and our actions during the tough times are our testament.  Paul writes, “We are hard pressed, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  We are all given a chance to rise up and show our resiliency and as long as we take control of our lives, we will be able to rebound from whatever life brings.  It is scary to think about all the things that we put our trust in that betray us or let us down, but God can even use those times as He is preparing each one of us for exactly what He has called us to do.  The more we immerse ourselves in God’s grace, the more likely we are to give grace.  Where the grace of God is missed, bitterness is born, but where the grace of God is embraced, love, acceptance, and forgiveness flourishes.  Though grace is available to all, it is only accepted by few.  And even those that accept God’s grace don’t always live graciously.  How can we who died to sin still live in it and can we be in this world, but not of it?  We must understand that being in the world, but not of it, is necessary if we are to be a light to those who are in spiritual darkness.  We must also understand that God’s power is made perfect in our time of weakness and that His grace is more than sufficient.  Would we love God the same if His only gift to us was His grace to save us and would we still praise His name if we don’t get our way?  These are tough questions to ask especially when we know He has our best interests in mind, but some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.  We all have our thorns, burdens, and afflictions and we have all been stuck in the mud.  Getting dirty is part of being a Christian, but so is being made clean and made whole.  When we know the way out; it is our intrinsic duty to help others out.  You don’t have to be a physician or therapist to come along side someone and help bear their burdens.   You don’t have to have a special degree or pedigree to speak words of encouragement into someone’s life.  Even Paul battled the flesh, “I want to do the things that are good, but I do not do them.  I do not do the good things I want to do, but I do the bad things I do not want to do.” (Romans 7:18-19)  The moment we decide to do good, sin is there to trip us up.  Our immorality is nothing more than a shortcut to pleasure.  We who have been amazed by God’s grace have been equally amazed by our own sin.  If Satan can’t seduce us with our sin, he will let us sink in our guilt.  When we face battles, God has not abandoned us because we are a child and our Lord promised us He would neither leave nor forsake us and He swears by His own name because there is no name higher.  When we come to Christ, nothing can separate us from His love.  If our sin, past or present, were too great for His grace; He never would have saved us in the first place.  The very fact that we face battles and are under attack means that we are on the right side.  It could even mean that we are under attack, not because we are weak, but because of something great God has destined for us to become.

                We desire to do what we are not allowed to do and what we see as shortcuts, God sees as disasters.  God’s law isn’t for our pleasure, it is for our protection.  Thank God we are saved not because of what we do, but because of what Christ did.  We are special not because of what we do, but because of whose we are.  We need to ask ourselves what task or area of service God created us for.  We aren’t called to a life of leisure; we are called to a life of service.  Even though we are all created different; we are all the same in the body of Christ.  Each of us is given something to do that shows who our God is. Our life makes so much more sense when we find purpose.  Our abilities unveil our destiny because God endows us with gifts so we can make Him known.  Everything comes from God alone and everything lives by His power and everything is for His glory.  In life, we are constantly looking for the easiest way to do something, yet when we find God, we don’t believe it can be that easy.  Walking God’s path in our own lives is the only shortcut that will lead us to the land of blessings.  We don’t have to go through life guessing what we should do; we have a helper who lives on the inside of every believer.  He is there to lead us, guide us, and empower us.  If we are going to fulfill our destiny, we have to be sensitive to what God is saying to us.  The spirit prompts us and the Lord speaks to us, but if we aren’t sensitive to those birthing of ideas or those promptings, we will miss what the Lord is saying.  When we listen to what He is saying, He will not only protect us from danger, He will even tell us what our enemies are planning.  The Spirit of the most high God is alive and He is on our side and if He is for us, who can be against us?  The Spirit can give us unrest about something or it can quicken us so we can receive insight and wisdom into things that we could not have otherwise known.  He will give us discernment to show us right from wrong and He will show us what is true.  People are not always who they say they are, but if we listen to God, He will give us discernment.  God wants to lead us, but He is not going to drag us so when we have a check in our spirit, we must be obedient and listen to it.  When we feel unrest about something, it is not God trying to keep or take something from us; it is Him trying to tell us He has something better.  If we let God lead us, He will take us into the land of blessing.  It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.  God is working in us to help us want to do and be able to do what pleases Him.  Thank God that before we knew we had a Savior, we had one.

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