God does have a plan for you and he is ready to develop that plan for your life. But are you ready to be invested in? In order to discover God’s plan for your life you will need to make yourself right with God. Until you are ready, God will wait to make sure that the good work he puts in you will be received and utilized. Here are some things to think about as you enter step 3 of discovering God’s plan for your life.
GOD WILL INVEST IN YOU WHEN YOU ARE READY
God is ready and willing to invest in you… but when you are ready. Why would God set you out on a plan if you are not ready? We wouldn’t dare send a child off into the forest to go camping if they were not equipped. We wouldn’t even drop a child off the mall if they were not ready. God is not going to set your plan in motion until you’re ready to move on it.
This can be frustrating. You may know the plan God has for you but it’s not coming together like you think it should. That may be because you’re not ready for it.
Who is God going to invest in…the person who does not take the time to talk with God and listen, or the person who acknowledges that God is the one with the plan and is willing to listen and follow?
WHEN YOU ARE NOT RIGHT WITH GOD, YOU ARE NOT RIGHT WITH YOURSELF
John Calvin, the founder of the Presbyterian movement said, “Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God,” and “Without knowledge of God, there is no knowledge of self.”
Calvin is saying, as we examine our own lives we see the need for God. And we can never truly know ourselves unless we begin to know God.
When we examine our lives, we’ll see that we are not perfect. God is the standard by which we measure ourselves. We don’t measure ourselves against each other. (God doesn’t grade on a curve.) We need God’s forgiveness. When we seek and receive God’s forgiveness, we’ll become right with God and right with ourselves.
God desires first a relationship with you. With that relationship in place, he will begin to develop it and you along with it.
IF YOU ARE RIGHT WITH GOD, YOU WILL BE RIGHT WITH OTHERS
Your plan includes more than yourself. Just like Nehemiah needed others to build the wall (See the story of Nehemiah here) you will need others to build your plans. Need a degree, you will need teachers. Want to build a company, you will need employees.
If you are not getting along with your spouse or significant other examine your relationship with God. You will find that when you work on your relationship with God, you will ultimately be repairing and building your relationship with others.
When you have healthy relationships, you will have the people and resources available to you to build your plan. Be right with God so you can be right with others. Let God help you build those relationships so you can work on his plan for you.
GOD WILL ACTIVATE YOUR PLAN WHEN YOU ARE PREPARED TO BEGIN IT
You will never be perfect. And you can’t wait until you’re perfect or feel completely ready before you try to carry out God’s plan for your life. But at the same time, you will not be able to pursue God’s plan for your life if you are not right with God.
Take some time to examine your relationship with God. Has he been speaking to you and you’re just not listening to him? Does he have a message that you need to hear? How do you feel about your own life? Are you down because you just can’t seem to get your plan in motion? Remember it’s not just your plan… it’s God’s plan for you. Work on your relationship with the One who has a plan for you. Your plan includes other people in your life. Do you know who they are? And if you do, is your relationship with them strong enough for them to invest in you?
God has a plan for you. It is for your good. It is because God is good. Go and get it.
If you want to discover the plan God has for your life, pray for it before you look for it. Today we’ll take a look at four benefits of prayer. These four benefits come from the book, Hand Me Another Brick by Charles Swindoll.
PRAYER MAKES YOU WAIT
You have to stop what you’re doing in order to pray. (This is especially important if you’re driving.) Nehemiah prayed for four months after hearing the wall around Jerusalem needed to be rebuilt. It was obvious what needed to be done. But he still took the time to pray and seek wisdom in how to proceed.
Of course we can say a quick prayer in our head as we are completing a task. Nehemiah did as much when the king asked him what was on his heart. I’m talking about the type of prayer where we empty our minds of all things except for the voice of God. This kind of prayer keeps us from making quick decisions. It forces us to slow down and wait for God’s wisdom.
Waiting before acting does not represent a lack of faith. It is a sign of mature faith. Children don’t like to wait. They cry and act out if they don’t get what they want immediately. We teach children patience in order to help them mature. We need to be the same in our adult spiritual lives.
Don’t regret making a decision without prayer. Take the time. Wait. Pray.
PRAYER CLEARS YOUR VISION
Praying for God’s plan for you will make you think about God’s plan for you. You can’t move forward with a plan for your life if you don’t know what that plan is. It would be like a carpenter building furniture without knowing what their making. You need to have a clear vision of what you want to build before you can build it.
When you start praying to God to reveal his plan for you, you will begin to be more focused. You will start to discover ideas and ways to carry them out. When Nehemiah was asked by the King what he needed, he was able to do more than share his concern. Nehemiah had a clear vision for the solution. He requested letters for safe travel, permission for timber to build gates, and even had a timeline in mind for when he would return. It’s a good thing Nehemiah waited before going to the king. His plan was so well thought out he was able to make specific requests when asked what he needed.
PRAYER QUIETS YOUR HEART
In a true conversation, there is as much listening as there is speaking. In fact, listening is often more important. As the saying goes, the good Lord gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. Prayer requires that we listen to what God is saying to us. The more we listen, the more our hearts will calm down.
Oftentimes when we go to God in prayer our hearts are filled with the noises of the world; fear, anger, worry, anxiety…It’s hard to hear God when there is so much noise in our hearts. But as we pray and focus on God, those things lose our attention. As the sounds of the world fade away, the voice of God begins to become more audible. It’s not that God’s voice wasn’t there. We just need to let those things go away. We need our hearts to be quiet so we can hear the message of God.
PRAYER ACTIVATES YOUR FAITH
One of the first things Nehemiah did confronted with the status of the wall was pray. He prayed continually. If Nehemiah had not prayed, he may have not thought the task was possible. Building a wall around a city? Needing permission from a king from another city to do it? Why would King Artexerxes, the king for whom Nehemiah worked want to make another city more fortified? It would take a lot of faith on Nehemiah’s part to seek permission to rebuild.
What do you want to build in your life? You need to have the faith to do it. Praying activates that faith. It can be like the pep talk a coach gives their team before the big game. You can’t open yourself up to God and not be changed.
EVERY JOURNEY MUST BEGIN WITH PRAYER
A journey of a thousand miles may begin with a single step. But a successful plan begins with prayer. As you journey toward your destination, don’t forget to stop and pray. Wait. You can’t move forward if you’re kneeling. Pray to clear your mind and receive God’s vision. Listen. You won’t hear God speaking if you’re doing all the talking or paying attention to the world’s bullying. Do this, and your faith will be activated so you will have the courage to do what you may previously thought was not possible.
The Biblical character Nehemiah is known for rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem after it had been destroyed. You would think that building a wall to protect a city would not be a complicated task. But the challenges that Nehemiah faced seemed disproportional to the goal he set.
The wall not only served as protection, but as a boundary. And boundaries provide us with several things.
BOUNDARIES GIVE A SENSE OF SELF
When Nehemiah heard the walls were down he knew that Israel was without boundaries I don’t just mean boundaries made of brick and mortar Israel had lost a sense of self. Because Israel’s wall was down, it was hard to tell if they were really serious about; Their safety, Their relationship with God, How they identified themselves as Israelites.
When we don’t have boundaries, it’s hard to tell where we begin and end. Boundaries remind us of where we draw the line when it comes to our actions, our finances, our values. Occasionally our worldview or our sense of identity is tested and our boundaries shift. That’s when we realize we are redefining ourselves.
BOUNDARIES CAN BRING CRITICISM
Once we begin to set our boundaries, there will always be some kind of attack in the form of criticism.
Nehemiah and his workers were verbally attacked the entire time they rebuilt the wall. They were mocked. They were ridiculed. They were told if a fox jumped on the wall, the whole thing would come crashing down. Nehemiah 4:3
It doesn’t matter what you believe in. There will be someone who does not share your values. There will also those who will mock you for your values. I don’t know why some people criticize others. I do know that if you know your boundaries, you can handle the criticism.
BOUNDARIES BRING BULLIES
When making fun of the work didn’t slow down the construction, those who didn’t want the wall began to threaten an attack. Nehemiah 4:11
In other words, Nehemiah and his crew were bullied. Threats are more threatening when our boundaries are weak. Boundaries may bring bullies, but strong boundaries protect us from attack.
BOUNDARIES BRING TEMPTATION
Once we know our boundaries we know what we can or cannot do. And as humans, once we know what we shouldn’t do, we’re always tempted to do it. It’s natural to think that the grass is greener on the other side
When Nehemiah was at work rebuilding the wall he faced constant temptation to walk away from it
While he was in the process of establishing boundaries, Nehemiah’s enemies constantly tempted him to go outside of them. Nehemiah 6:1-4 Nehemiah knew this was a trap. He kept working and said he was too busy to walk away from such an important task. It’s kind of a funny conversation: “Leave your work!” “I can’t, I’m too busy working on it!”
Take a look at the symbolism here. Nehemiah is establishing boundaries and he’s being tempted to step outside of them.
It’s not safe outside the boundary. It’s safe inside the boundary.
FIRM BOUNDARIES PROVIDE CLARITY
Throughout his experiences, Nehemiah remained focused on building that wall… setting that boundary. Because that wall, that boundary, gave clarity to whom the Israelites were.
They were not one to be mocked by others.
They were not to give in to the temptation of others.
When that wall was completed it symbolized the tenacity of the Israelites.
When that wall was going up Nehemiah was focused on the wall and the boundaries it represented. He was not focused on the attacks, the criticisms, the temptations
Nehemiah was focused on what the boundaries represented. The boundary for Nehemiah brought clarity: To Nehemiah’s identity as an Israelite, His purpose for God’s plan, Who was against it and who he needed to avoid.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR BOUNDARIES?
Take some time to think about your boundaries. Do you know what they are? They help define you. Knowing your boundaries will help you know yourself. They will bring clarity to what you value. And when they are challenged, you will know where you stand.
We're not inclined to make a change in our life if we are complacent. Often times, real change comes when we are dissatisfied with the way things are. Have you ever seen a group of picketers with signs that say, "Our pay is adequate”? Of course not! People go on strike when they have become so dissatisfied with some level of employment that they join the picket line.
Sometimes we have to reach a point of dissatisfaction that makes us ready for change. Dissatisfaction leads to change. Complacency on the other hand is dangerous. It keeps us places that are not safe.
Dictionary.com defines complacency as: a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger.
Do you ever think of becoming more? Or are you just satisfied enough to stay where you are? That is the danger of complacency. It robs us of vision… for a better future, for a better life. While the life that awaits us passes by, a life that deprives us of memories swallows us up.
This may sound crazy but if you want to be happier you need to start being dissatisfied with where you are. Acknowledge that good enough is no longer good enough. Turn your good enough into great.
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Is a pastor cheating when he/she starts looking at other churches?
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When a pastor makes the decision to quit, they immediately quit being the pastor that they were, and they become a new kind of pastor.
I’m a talker. I can stretch a one minute topic into an hour long subject. Call it a gift. What can I say? I enjoy a good long chat.
Sometimes I’m so good at talking, that I’m not so good at carrying on a conversation. I talk and talk and talk while some unlucky person listens and listens and listens. Pretty soon they hear me talking so much that they aren’t listening anymore. Oh they hear me, but they’re not listening.
That’s the thing with conversations. They require listening. If you’re not listening, you’re not communicating.
The other day I was having problems with my website so I called my host provider’s help line. Everything started out pretty well. The gentleman said, “Hi,” I said, “Hello.” He said, “How can I help you?” It all went downhill from there.
I tried to explain my problem but he kept cutting me off. He would interrupt me with trivial things. When he tried to say my problem back to me he had it all wrong. So I repeated my problem and he kept not listening. This went on for over 30 minutes. I wasn’t able to communicate the problem I was having because this guy wasn’t listening.
After 34 minutes (I remember looking at the timer on my phone) I started to lose it. At one point I remember raising my voice and asking him (that’s putting it nicely) to be quiet. When that didn’t work, I demanded to talk to someone else. The young man insisted on helping. So I started from square one and began to tell him my problem. For 15 more minutes this guy interrupted me and offered solutions for problems I didn’t have. I had to end the frustration. I told him I was sorry but I had to end the phone call. He was still talking when I hung up.
I believe this guy could have helped me if he was just quiet and listened.
I once had a friend tell me in college, “The good Lord gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.” He probably said that because I was talking too much. But it’s a good saying nonetheless.
How good are you at communicating? It depends on how good you are at listening.
God is a good listener. He hears every single prayer we send His way. We talk. He listens. But are you communicating with God? How often do you listen to what God is saying to you? Or do you not hear God talking to you because you’re too busy not listening? If you’re doing all the talking, there’s really no communication taking place.
Is God trying to tell you something? How will you know unless you listen?
Send God a prayer tonight. Then spend some time listening to what God is saying to you. You might be surprised.
By the way. The problem I was having? I was getting two Facebook and Twitter buttons for each new post because my html code was getting duplicated. (Or so I thought.) Turns out Weebly, the design tool I use, offers to add those buttons for you if you click this nifty little radio button they offer. Apparently, the button was clicked so I never needed to add the html code in the first place. Now, how long did that take for me to explain? Thanks for listening.
Two girls college teams are playing softball against each other; Central Washington and Western Oregon. They are competing for the conference championship. So what do you do when a player for the other team injures herself? That was the dilemma these two teams faced.
Sarah Tucholski of Western Oregon hit her first home run of her career. In her excitement, she missed touching first base so she turned to go back. But her leg didn’t. She tore her acl. She crawled back and hugged that first base. Covering the distance all the way to home didn’t seem a possibility. If a teammate substituted, the hit over the fence would count as a two run single. If her teammates helped her she would have been called out. Great news for the other team.
But the girls of Central Washington were interested in more than just winning. They were focused on playing with integrity. Mallory Holtman from Central asked the umpire if she and another teammate, Liz Wallace, could carry her. The umpire said yes. So three girls rounded the bases together; Sarah, who hit the home run, and two of her opponents, Mallory and Liz, who lifted Sarah in their arms. Together they walked the diamond, stopping at the right time so Sarah could touch her left foot to each base.
Sarah hit her first home run and, because her opponents carried her, she was able to make it all the way around the bases.
Life is more about winning. It’s about playing the game with integrity. It’s about doing what is right even though it may cost you. Central lost the game by 2 runs. Who knows, if they hadn’t carried Sarah, they may have won the game. Call me mad, but losing this way is far better than winning by using the rules as an excuse to keep from doing the right thing. I don’t think the girls from either school would have wanted it any other way.
As a preacher myself I like to listen to other sermons. Get a load of this one.
I think it’s safe to say I’m a little less animated than this gentleman. Am I mad, or is the Gospel the same whether we whisper it or shout it?
Is this kind of preaching effective? What would you do if you were invited by a friend to church and this was the message? Share a serious reaction and a funny one.
Peter and John, two of Jesus' disciples healed a man who was crippled from birth. The religious rulers got really excited. But not in a good way. Kind of in a way when you come home and you discover your dog thought your favorite pillow was his latest chew toy. And you shout out, "What are you doing?"
The religious leaders got in Peter and John's face and shouted "What are you doing?" That's kind of a paraphrase but I'm pretty sure they didn't sit down with them at the local Star of David Bucks and calmly say, "So tell us more about these miracles you're performing. Would you like a scone before continuing?"
What gets to me is these "leaders" don't seem to care that a man crippled from birth was healed. Now Peter starts talking. And when Peter talks, you'd better get comfortable because he usually has a lot to say. He says, "Are we being questioned because we've done a good deed for a crippled man?" (That there is not a paraphrase, it's Acts 4:9)
Peter and John performed a miracle. The whole community saw this young crippled boy grow into a crippled man. Now Peter and John heal him and they have a message about the Power that actually did the healing. Wouldn't you want to know more? The religious leaders didn't. They saw a challenge to their authority.
How many times have we ignored something good because it challenges our "authority"?
I may be crazy, but if I met someone who could heal the lame with a touch and a prayer, I'd want to know how they did it!
What do you think?