I was recently having a conversation with a friend of mine about pastors teaching, and he said, " so many pastors tell you why but never really teach you the how." I know I need to listen to God but how?
Today I want to share with you the HOW. How do you know that God is giving you a fresh vision for your life? In Acts we see a story of Peter and Cornelius and both had encounters. During Peters vision, he was told to kill an animal but he refused to because he was living under the pretext of old revelation. His words were, "not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean." Under the old way of doing things Peter never should have even spoken with Cornelius. During that vision God set the stage to change Peter's life.
Here is three things about How To Tell if God is communicating something fresh into you.
1. Supernatural Revelation. God expands Peter Horizons during his vision when he tells Peter that what God has cleansed is neither unclean or common. God gave a fresh revelation to Peter. God will give you a fresh revelation that will help to see outside the box. He will give you a new education that will lead you to new conviction. Peter became convicted and convinced to speak as a Jewish man to another man from another country. His conviction allowed him to redefine what is possible, as he was no longer constricted to the rules of the old way. When you receive a fresh revelation about what is possible in your life that is from God.
2. Supernatural Invitation. God sends associates of Cornelius to invite Peter to enter a new scope of ministry to the Gentiles. God will invite you to a new area of ministry by bringing new people into your life. When you begin feeling drawn or connected to the new it may be your supernatural invitation.God is looking to give you a new exposure, with new people, to create a new compassion.
3. Supernatural Conformation. God confirmed this enlarged vision he gave to Peter with a receptive Cornelius and signs following his conversion. God will confirm a new vision in your life by the new experiences that lead you to a new commitment.
When God wants to draw new obedience from His servants, He almost always communicates fresh vision. This is exactly what Peter got.
Have you ever felt like you didn't know what God's vision was for your life? For many years I felt lost this way. I also believe the reason why so many christians never really move forward in their walk with God is because they don't understand how to discern what God's vision is for their life. They basically go fishing every sunday hoping that maybe...just maybe a message will speak so sharply to their core that they will catch the will of God for their life. I believe this in my core that God named our church Reaction Church specifically to speak to this very issue.
I have spent the last year pastoring a group of radical individuals who are catching God's vision for their life. I love the awakening that is birthed when a person has that "ah ha" moment regarding Gods vision and purpose for their life. With just a few days away from our one year mark I have spent a lot of time in prayer seeking God and really wanted to use this blog as a way of hopefully reaching and impacting a broader base than I could on just Sundays. Today I want to share with you six steps to help you finally catch the vision, will, purpose and plan God has for your life.
1. Look within you. What do you feel? A better way of asking this question is what is it that pains you the most when you look around at the world? For some it's the homeless, the hungry, the poor, the widowed...what is it that causes your heart the most pain? Your pain very well could be your assignment.
2. Look behind you. What have you learned? You know why what pains you the most pains you. You may not be willing to share the why behind the pain but I would be willing to bet that your pain is because what you have experienced in your life up to this point.
3. Look around you. What is happening to others? Have you ever bought a car that you never really seemed to notice before and then once you got it you saw it everywhere? God will always place you right in the middle of your assignment. It's just matter of you recognizing it. Sometimes to open your eyes you have to open your heart. To open your heart you may have to open your past.
4. Look ahead of you. What is the big picture? Can you see how if you were willing to be used you could make a difference? Most often when someone identifies what pains them the most, they begin to see it play out in others around them, but they never step out in faith because they can't see how they play into the picture. So often I hear statements like, "I could never." or "I don't have the right education" or "I don't know where to start" or "I don't have the time." Notice how all of these are lack statements. You may even already know what it is that causes your heart the most pain but can't see yourself being used in the bigger picture. Your lack mentality causes you to disqualify what God has already qualified in you.
5. Look above you. What does God expect of you? Do you really believe that you are living all there is to your faith right now? If Jesus were to stand beside you...would you be mistaken for his twin because you are walking in and living in all the fullness that God has for you? I serious doubt it!!!! Realize that God's expectation of your capacity will always exceed your expectation of your capacity. He numbered the hairs on your head. If he cared that much about your hair how much more do you think he cares your about purpose. You were born for the purpose of impacting.
6. Look beside you. What resources are available to you? I hear so often I can't because I don't have. I don't have the time, the talent, or the money. I would love to but.... Can I tell you that when I started Reaction Church we had NOTHING!!! We didn't have a core team. We didn't have any money at all. We didn't have anything other than a vision that my wife and I were willing to be obedient to. Sometimes your vision is the resource. We broke every "church planting " rule in the book. Almost every church we approached told us we would fail and that is why they would not help support us. For a year we held onto the vision and prayed that if it was God's will then it was God's bill. With a couple of friends and family we launched...a year later we are still alive and well. Still no church is supporting us. I tell you this not to impress you but to impress upon you that God has the resources because he is the source. What you do have is passion, desire, capacity, & time (you control you time)...There is no such thing as I don't have the time. The widowed woman used her passion, desire, capacity and time to fill the jars with oil until she ran out of jars. God has already given you the initial resources to get started living out the vision and purpose he has for your life.
My prayer is that you read this God begins to stir in your heart some tough questions that you have to answer. I also pray that as you catch God's vision for your life you make the decision to act on that vision. Never again allow yourself to disqualify what God has qualified.
The one thing about leadership that most leaders fail to learn and which explains why so many leaders fail is this...Leadership demands constant sacrifice. Leadership is an ongoing process, not a one-time I made it to the top. The circumstances change from person to person, but the principle doesn't: The true meaning of leadership is sacrifice.
We are all called to leadership in some capacity. For men, we are called to lead our families and love our wives as God loved the church. For women, you called to lead your house. But how effective are you really? Most men struggle leading their families and the divorce rate proves the lack of loving your wife as God loves the church. Most women strive to be a virtuous woman but like men fall short. So what is it that causes to fail in this area of effective leadership? I think we get so busy pursuing life that we never stop to evaluate what price we are willing to pay to become more effective. I know in my own life I went years pursuing a goal at work and although I desired to have a better family life, my family life suffered because I never stopped to consider that the price for a better family would mean sacrificing time from my work goals. I loved my family, but found myself growing bitter and resentful towards my family because in my mind I was leading...providing for my family by the fruit of my work.
Like most of you I found myself in a tug-of-war contest between my job and my family. My wife wanted more time, my kids wanted more stuff (because that is what they were used to in replace of my time) and I wanted to be the best provider I could be. And this battle of between family and work caused a lot of heated arguments. You may be in this exact situation in your life. The good news is there is an answer...
A quick look at Moses' life shows how God molded him into an effective leader. Consider how Moses was able to give up so much and make such great sacrifices without growing bitter at God. Yes, without growing bitter at God. God is always the last you grow bitter at. First it's your spouse, then your family, then your employer, then yourself for allowing yourself to get into the situation, which ultimately leads to being bitter at God. What made Moses willing to return to Egypt as God's servant after he had enjoyed the best the country had to offer? His understanding of the law of sacrifice. Moses understood A Leader Must Give Up To Go Up.
Here is four things about Moses understanding of the Law of Sacrifice.
1. Moses understood as a leader he was not alone with God. Moses had an opportunity to spend 40 years of his life alone with God when he was exiled in Midian. Moses' time of reflection had enhanced his ability to hear and recognize God's voice. So when God appeared to him at the burning bush, he knew it was him. As a leader you have to take some alone time. You will never clearly hear God's voice if you are too busy listening to all the other voices crying for your attention. Don't force God to send you to the desert to get your attention.
2. Moses was honest with God. By the time Moses met God at the burning bush, no trace of his cockiness remained. He knew his weaknesses and humbled himself before the Lord. It's easy to fall in to the arrogance of leadership...The look at me I am in charge attitude. It's this attitude that drives a wedge in the our ability to lead and creating an impact. Who wants to be follow arrogance? A clear understanding of your weaknesses and being humble is the only you can increase in your leadership. It is impossible to sacrifice without humility.
3. Moses was hungry for God. God has to be first in our life. You will never effectively lead anybody if you are not first being led yourself. It took Moses four decades in the wilderness to desire knowing God. It is impossible to be self-reliant and hungry for God at the same time.
4. Moses was broken by God. God does not force his will on anybody. He didn't force his will on Moses and he won't with you. Like Moses God is waiting on your willingness to come to him. Brokenness involves two things. 1) Removing inappropriate pride and self-reliance and 2) building a healthy God-relaince. God taunted Moses's self reliance in the desert, but to create trust God had to break Moses's fears. God is trying to the same thing with you.
You may be feeling like your in wilderness right now and it may be that God is trying to break of you fear.
-Fears concerning Yourself. Doubting your value.
-Fears concerning God. Fearing who God might be.
-Fears concerning Others. Fearing how others will respond to you.
-Fears concerning Ability. Doubting yourself.
It wasn't until Moses willfulness was broken, his fears overcome, and his purpose reaffirmed that Moses finally placed himself in the hands of God. Moses learned that life is filled with trade-offs - but you can trade up only if you have some to sacrifice. If you desire to lead your family better... if you desire to lead yourself better...if you hope to find and fulfill the purpose for which God created you, then you must have to give.
You Can Sieze Only What You Can See...
I think the most of us...if we are honest with ourselves...are wearing spiritual beer gogles. We aren't seeing our life clearly. The bible even tells that us that without vision the people cast off restraint, and I really believe that this is what is happening in America today. So many people go thru the processes of daily life...trying to look good on the outside to others while feeling empty on the inside. The feeling is there has got to be more to life than just this. And there is...
God has a vision for your life. That is why you are alive! What we have to do is discern what his vision is, because we can't sieze what he has called for us if we don't first see the call.
Here are a five thoughts to help you clearly see the vision that God has for your life.
1. You will have a clear mental image. When called you to your purpose in life you can see it on the inside of you. His purpose serves as a blue print. The question is what has God called you to....What's my purpose? Let me ask you this....what in life pains you? When you look around at the world, and if you had the power to change one thing what would it be? What is it in life that causes you the greatest pain? Is it the homeless, the hungry, the poor, the hungry, the fatherless, the orphened....What ever causes you the greatest pain in your life when you think about it...is what God has called you to.
2. A positive change. Gods calling on your life will always serve to improve present conditions. You are here to be the salt and light. You will be the catalyst for positive change in present circumstances. When you step into God's calling for you life, it won't take very long for positive changes to begin to happen to you and others.
3. A future focus. Gods calling on your life will give you insight and direction for the unseen future. You will know the steps you have to take, because you can literally see the future. Its like walking into an emptry room and seeing in your mind and heart how everything would look. When you describe the room to others, you don't describe empty you describe how it looks in your mind. Your description is future focus. Jesus was always future focused.
4. A gift from God. God's calling on your life is always divinely inspired, not humanly manipulated. You won't just wake up one morning and have an ah ha moment...You will have always known! The differnece is you waking up to what you already knew to be true.
5. A chosen people,place and time. Gods calling on your life will lead to you a chosen people, a chosen place and chosen time. God called Abraham to move to a different place without telling him where he was going, and he called to him be the father of a nation without giving him the details about that nation. Always remember Jesus' own words....A prophet is without honor in his own home. Where your at now may not be the place where God is calling you to...no matter how badly you want it to be.
I was at a church that if you would have asked me five years ago would I ever leave it...the answer would have been NO! I can tell you today that had I not left that church I would have never stepped into the full purpose God has called me to. I would have missed out on everything because I was comfortable where I was at. It was easy, fun and uplifting, and the people there were my friends. However the people there weren't the people God called me to. I was there for a season in my life, and you may be where your at right now...comfortable, maybe its easy, maybe its fun, maybe its uplifiting and you feel good on the outside while on the inside you know that some thing deeper is missing. That deeper feeling may be the Holy Spirit trying to tell you the season of fun is over with...it's time to get to work. As Paul said faith without works is dead!
6. Your purpose will never be COMFORTABLE! You will be stretched beyond limits you thought possible. God is not about making you feel better about yourself and using you in a way that you deem proper, fitting and comfortable. You will never move from Glory to Glory and Faith to Faith by living in yesterdays Glory and yesterdays Faith. What once took faith the first time quickly becomes easy and comfortable. Its easy to rest in old faith. Its a stretch to move from old to new. Abraham had to have a new level of faith to be willing to kill is son for God.
The measuring stick of our commitment is not our lip service. It's our LIFE! You were born for a reason and with a purpose. If you want your life to add value to others, your actions in life must be based on your values, action is the guage, not mrere words or thoughts.
Here are six thoughts to help you add value to your life and others.
1. Selfish motives prevents a servan'ts minstry. So many people serve for the simple of fact of being acknowledged. Their service to others is all about themselves. They want to look good to booster the EGO. Service so often becomes an I GO, and you didn't. I DO and YOU DON"T. To truly serve is to serve with a humble heart... Not a PROUD one. God is not upstairs looking down on you and saying man...thank GOD you're serving because if you didn't the whole world would stop. My whole plans for the world would come to a grinding halt, if it weren't for you...newsflash....when you serve with a proud heart...God is NOT IMPRESSED! At the end of the day it's not about you...it's about HIM. A proud heart is you focused, a humble heart is him focused.
2. Following rules cannot save us, but following JESUS can. So many people fail to add value to their life and others because they feel like they can't follow the rules. I have to look a certain way, act a certain way, do certain things...because the church says that is only way for me to have impact. If you want to have impact try following JESUS and not the rules. A legalistic heart is again a proud heart until you realize that you can no longer keep up with the rules...then it just produces shame. You were made for more than following rules, you were made to love JESUS. Keep in mind that Jesus broke all the rules and because of him the world was forever impacted.
3. A lifestyle that costs nothing is worth nothing! Say what you mean and do waht you say. So many Christians become hypocrites. They will act one way Monday-Saturday and then a totally different way on Sunday! How can you impact anybody when all they see is a flip flopper.
4. A FAITH that is only in my head is dead! If you are not living what you believe and sharing what you believe....do you really believe? Your faith has two parts...doing and sharing.
5. Faith JUSTIFIES the leader and, the leaders WORKS justfiy the faith. Faith without works is dead! How you work at your faith validates your faith. What are you doing...if anything to justify what you believe? It is not enough to slip in and slip out of church un-noticed.
6. A worthless past is resolved by a present that works. Are you always more than the sum of your past mistakes. The only person keeping you in prisioned to your past is you! If you are still alive it is because GOD is not done with you yet. You still have a purpose and it is never too late to start working on it.
FOCENSITY? What is it...A made up word...kind of. I have a friend of mine who makes commercials and in one of the commercials for a bar, one of the bar tenders jokes about his FOCENSITY being 111%. While in the background, he is ignoring all the activities of the customers trying to get his attention at the bar. So what does FOCENSITY have to do with anything....the answer is simple...EVERYTHING!
As you start this new year with your list of resolutions..,if you were to pinpoint the one reason why you still have the same resolutions from last year and the year before...my guess the one reason would be that you lost your FOCENSITY.
It is amazing how in life what is in front us keeps our attention. Since the reason for not following thru with resolutions boils down to losing your focus...what do you have to do to keep you focus?
The Apostle Paul openly communicated his priorites. He talked about them all the time, and the accomplishments and glory from the past he counted as rubbish. Now that word Rubbish...in the orginial lanugage is SKUBALA. The real translation of that world is S#@!.. Garbage... Crap...the point is... it counted for nothing moving forward. Paul wanted to know Christ, experience his power, share in and complete his suffering, and ultimtely be conformed to his death. This was his RESOLUTION! He wasn't trying to loose weight, gain more stuff, payoff debt, focus more on himself or anything else. His RESOLUTION was to know and experince Christ in completeness. Paul was a man on a mission, and he narrowed his wedge and his focus to the essentials. He was successfull by all accounts. So what was his secret that we can learn to apply to our FOCENSITY?
There were three things that helped the Apostle Paul keep his FOCENSITY...
1. HE DISCERNED WHAT HINDERED HIM! Paul had to let go of all the things he once cherished, considering them distractions. He basically added more MARGIN to his life. MARGIN is the space between our load in life and our limits in life. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for continegncies and unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion...the space between breathing freely and suffocating.
2. HE DISCOVERD WHAT HE WANTED! Paul wanted God's righteousness, not his own. Christ became his solitary pursuit. One the biggest obstacles to focus is truly deciding what you want. When you really know what you want, when something else comes along, it won't grab your attention. If really really want to lose weight and get in shape the donut shouldn't be able to take me away from that resolution.
3. HE DETERMINED HOW TO GET IT! With single-minded PASSION, Paul forgot the past and pursued the prize of his call. You have have plan and then work your plan. It is not enough to simply want...As my mom used to say people in hell want ice water but they don't always get it! Every house that is ever built starts with a set of blue-prints. The end is determined first, which determines where to start. Until you have a blue print for your resolution you won't be successfull because you won't have a starting point, and definitely not an ending point.
How about you? Have you narrowed your FOCENSITY? Can you list your priorities on one hand? What are you pursuing?
The difference separating a person who is pursing their purpose in life and someone who isn't...is perspective. Both individuals could have character and integrity, both can love others, both can obey God, both could be church goers...but the difference is the person who is pursing their purpose in life thinks differently from a person who isn't.
Job and his friends held profoundly different perspectives. Throughout the book, Job maintains an eternal perspective, while his friends maintained an external perspective. "For I know my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth," Job says (Job 19:25). He follows that verse by casting vision for the reality of life beyond the grave. Unlike his wife, who told him to curse God and die; unlike his friends, who told him none of this would have happened had he just lived a better life...Job saw beyond the superficial to the eternal.
The difference between someone who is pursing their purpose and someone who isn't is simply perspective. It has nothing to with "what your doing" it has everything to do with..."what you see your doing" As a Christ follow we all share the same purpose. We are given the same instructions by Jesus. Go into the world and make disciples and spread the message. Too often, we are waiting for "the right opportunity" to come along to share the message. We are waiting on all the external forces to line up perfectly before we can step into our purpose.
Have you ever noticed someone who keeps an eternal perspective....every chance, every meeting, every encounter, everything is an opportunity to spread the message.
Here are three things that might help you keep an Eternal perspective on your purpose:
1. You have to constantly RENEW YOUR PERSPECTIVE OF GOD. Job clung to the justice and character of God. The world wants to take you away from that, just like Job's friends and family.
2. You have to be willing to RELEASE THE PAST. You have to be willing to let go of what you lost, or possible never had. So many people are babies about their past. They have literally imprisoned themselves to something they had little to no control over. In doing so, they have locked themselves away from what they do have control over. The past is the past....get over and move on!
3. You have to always REMEMBER YOUR PURPOSE. When you realize that you exist only to glorify God and that he doesn't exist to glorify you...only then will you see everything in life is connected to your purpose.