Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done

Today’s reading is Psalm 57 where David is hiding in a cave from Saul who is trying to kill him.

Have you ever had something “really bad” happen to you in your life? Perhaps someone close to you has died young or unexpectedly, you or someone close to you has had a serious illness, job loss, financial challenges, or divorce. How did you feel during the midst of it or after? How do you feel today? Of course you were sad, but beyond that were you feeling sorry for yourself or perhaps even mad at God. If yes, that’s ok. I would say these reactions are all normal and human nature. I’ve been there and felt that way as well.

Recently I heard someone say that one of the differences in great leaders and successful people is how quickly they recalibrate and get back to their vision and putting everyday good habits first after something bad happens or they are feeling down. In a similar way, I have to say I really admire Christ-followers who I’m sure initially feel upset, but who quickly turn to God for strength, help, and recalibrate to focus on how God can use them in their circumstances for His greater purpose and glory.

While David was fleeing for his life and hiding with seemingly nowhere to go he says in Psalm 57:2, “I cry out to God Most High to God who fulfills His purpose for me.” Jesus taught us that we must ask for what we want from God in prayer and have the faith to truly believe that it will happen. He does so in Matthew 7:7-8 and Matthew 17:20. David asked God to rescue him in Psalm 57:1 and 57:3 and believes this will happen. David also says God’s purpose will be fulfilled either way in Psalm 57:2. Jesus tells us to ask for what we want and that’s the only way it will happen, but that God’s Kingdom and will are most important. He instructed us to pray about this and keep it on the forefront of our heart in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:10 when He said, “Your Kingdome come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Jesus didn’t just tell us to do this, He modeled and did it Himself in His toughest moments when He knew He was going to suffer the wrath of all the sins ever committed through a brutal scourging and crucifixion. In Luke 22:42, He prayed, “Father if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” He asked for what He wanted, but in the end put God’s will first despite the incredible suffering he was about to endure. Did God remove the pain and suffering? No. And I can’t promise you God will remove your suffering during your current or next challenge. But, God did send an angel strengthening Him in that moment in Luke 22:43. I can promise you that God will be with you always through every storm and challenge. David later became king and Jesus was raised 3 days after his death to give all who believe in Him eternal life in Heaven. He can turnaround the worst of circumstances through miracles and in ways on He could do. There cannot be a miracle without a setback! And whether we actually see it or not, He’s working all things for His good and His purpose through us. We must remember that “His good” and “our good” may not be the same, and although we may suffer through tough circumstances, we should be humbled that He would think enough of us to use us for His glory even in our challenges in a similar manner to how He used His Son Jesus.

“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

Completing A Good Work?

Today’s reading is Psalm 132.

Here the unknown Psalmist gives God praise for keeping His promise to David that although David would not himself build the Temple, David’s son Solomon would complete one of David’s greatest desires in doing so (Psalm 132:11-13).

Building the Temple for God was extremely important to David as it says in Psalm 132:2-5. In these verses it says David stated he was so dedicated and committed to it that would not sleep in his house or bed, or even close his eyes and rest, until the Temple was built.  However, the prophet Nathan delivered the sobering message from God to David that he himself would not build the Temple, but that his son would in 1 Chronicles 17. We can learn from David that although he I’m sure was disappointed, he was happy that his son would serve as king and gave God praise in 1 Chronicles 17:26-27.

What have you been committed to in your life that you feel God is just not bringing to fruition? Are you working towards a promotion or career goal that’s not happening? Are you wanting to start a business but don’t feel you have the resources? Are you dedicating yourself to helping a family member or friend get on the right path to make good life decisions or follow Jesus but neither are happening? Or what is a noble goal, life mission/purpose, or positive impact you are trying to accomplish but are not completing?

Why aren’t these things happening? Well..I think the first thing we need to ask ourselves is…are we working towards and desiring these things for our own glory or His? We also need to reflect on whether or not we are asking for wisdom and guidance from God on our journey or just trying to make it happen our own way. God did not let David build the Temple because he was responsible for much bloodshed and war as God said in 1 Chronicles 22:8. God did not let Moses reach the Promised Land because he did not have the faith that God would spew water from the rock from just telling it to do so,  so he disobeyed God’s specific instructions and struck it with his staff instead (Deuteronomy 32:51-52). Just like David, Moses handled the disappointing news he would not accomplish during his lifetime something he had worked most of his life towards by giving a blessing to Israel after in Deuteronomy 33.

We can learn much from David and Moses in how they reacted to not accomplishing what they thought was their life’s purpose and mission. They reacted with reverence and praise trusting in God’s decision.  Also, despite them not fully realizing the fruits of their labor and the mistakes they made, the Bible still tells us there has been no prophet of the Lord like Moses (Deuteronomy 33:10-12), and God knew David was a man after His heart (1 Samuel 13:14). The Bible tells us in Romans 5:8 that while we were still sinners Jesus died for us. He still loves us more than we can imagine no matter what we have done, and there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

We can also learn that God will accomplish His purpose in the ways and timing He sees best fit. His ways and thoughts are wiser than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). And many times, He will accomplish His purpose through us, but we just may not witness it during our lifetime or even know it occurred. God still used David and Moses to accomplish both His goals and what they strived for…even though they didn’t witness it while here on this Earth. You never know the impact you might be having during your life which you just don’t see. Maybe you had a conversation with someone about Jesus where they didn’t give their life to Christ then, but that laid the foundation for them doing so later. Or someone saw your faith and dedication which led them to do something great with their life even though they didn’t tell you so. We have heard the great things said about someone and the impact they had at their funeral which sadly people never told them while they were living, and they likely didn’t even know about.

As you reflect on the nobleness of your vision and whether it is for God’s glory and aligns also with His vision, continue to ask for wisdom and clarity from Him in your journey. As Pastor Mike Baker stated in his 3/27/2022 sermon at Eastview Christian church in discussing Jesus’ scourging and mocking in Mark 15:15-20, God sometimes allows difficult seasons and pain so something really great will come in the end. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I’m sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Are you doing a good work? This verse says it will be completed ‘‘at the day of Jesus Christ”, but it does not say it will be completed during our lifetime. We may be like David and Moses or we may not even realize His vision and purpose are being accomplished in a different way to impact others for His glory through us.

The High Priestly Prayer

Today’s reading is John 17.

Two weeks ago I wrote about figuring out if God is the king of our heart. While the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as a whole help us know Jesus’ heart, today we read what is known as The High Priestly Prayer where we get to listen in on a one on one conversation with Jesus and God the Father to hear and know Jesus’ heart. I’ve heard prayer called the ultimate wireless connection because it’s a direct line to God 24/7 and how cool is it that we get to listen in and hear Jesus talk to the Father.

What is your “why?” Have you ever been asked that question? It’s really another way to ask you what your purpose is in life. Many would say their children, spouse, parents, or to make impact in the world in some shape or form. And while those are all good things, it is very apparent here what Jesus’ “why” is.

Jesus says in John 17:4, “I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave me to do.” A few verses earlier in John 17:1 he says,”…glorify your Son that the Son may glorify You.” Jesus’ “why” was very clear, He was here to glorify the God. Personal coaches will tell you that your “why” should resonate in your soul and push you through challenges and hard times to strive towards it. You will do nearly anything to accomplish your “why.” No set back will stop you from pursuing it. To me, Jesus had the ultimate “why” that we should all strive to have in some shape or form..to glorify God through our life here on earth and to be able to say at the end of lives like Jesus did in John 17:4 and John 17:2 that we accomplished the work God gave us to do and that God was glorified through it. Jesus glorified the Father by showing the Father’s sacrificial love through laying down His life for the forgiveness of our sins.

While I could (and maybe should) stop here, there are a few other big takeaways I had in reflecting on John 17. The first is that when we are in the midst of striving towards our “why,” we will probably have some big wins and successes in life where people tell you privately or publicly great job and maybe there are even big awards and trophies. When this happens, who do you give the glory? Jesus gives us a great example in John 17:7, “Now they know that everything that You have given Me is from You.” I used to not like it when an athlete was interviewed after a game and thanked God because I thought it seemed silly…does God really care about who wins a game? Did God want your team to win more than the other team? My perspective has changed on this. The person is not saying that at all typically. They are saying all their talents and gifts and abilities come from God. They are giving Him the glory..no different than Jesus here.

My last big take away here is how Jesus prayed for us. He knew we needed protection from the evil one. He prayers in John 17:15, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” In John 17:17 he says, “Sanctify them in the truth, your Word is truth.” We must fervently pray for our children and family and even our country and governmental leaders and the whole world to know God and His truth and will. How cool is it that Jesus prayed specifically for us and our protection?! We should do the same for our loved ones…not just from physical harm and for good health..but for protection from Satan.

Those who know me well know that in text messages I will commonly use an emoji that looks like a hand holding up the number one. My interpretation of this emoji is that it’s not a number one, it’s pointing to the sky. When people tell me good job or thanks on something, I can easily get puffed up with pride thinking it’s me. When there is a problem, I can commonly think this seems hopeless or there is no way out. This emoji reminds me that everything that I do should be to glorify God and anything that was accomplished was because of what He has done through me. It also reminds me through Him there is a way out of every situation and problem because everything is possible through Him. Jesus gives us this example in John 17. May He, and He alone, be glorified through all things.

Mountain-Top Experience

Today’s reading is from Matthew 17.

Are you familiar with the expression “Mountain-Top Experience” or “Mountain-Top Moment?” They typically refer to a time where you experienced something impactful, usually a big victory or success you accomplished, which you will remember the rest of your life. One of my mentors and coaches, Kurt Dorner, uses recalling “Mountain-Top” moments daily as a big part of his What’s Possible Coaching. Why? Jason Selk, one of the world’s top sports psychologist, and now business coach, says, “Confidence is the number one variable in success.” Reminding ourselves of past successes breeds confidence and leads to peak performance again because we remember what’s possible and what has been done before knowing we can do it again.

Today we read about Peter, James, and John both literally and figuratively having a “Mountain-Top Experience” with their presence at Jesus’ Transfiguration on the top of a mountain (again..both literally and figuratively). How awesome must this have been to be there for this?! Much of my writing today is from notes in my Bible from a sermon Pastor Mike Baker did on this topic on 2/17/2019.

First, Pastor Mike discusses how Peter, James, and John missed Jesus’ superiority and what was going on right in front of them. How? Peter won’t be quiet and just observe what’s going and just listen. In Matthew 17:4, he immediately starts trying to plan and take action. Pastor Mike discussed we must be quiet to observe God’s presence and role in our “Mountain-Experiences” and lives.

Second, Pastor Mike discusses how in the midst of the Transfiguration and traveling with Jesus and taking part in His ministry, they still missed seeing God’s plan. In Matthew 17:9, Matthew 17:12, and Matthew 17:22, Jesus says He must suffer and will be raised from the dead. Yet, they kept misinterpreting the Old Testament scriptures as the Messiah being an earthly king. Despite how many times Jesus told them what was going to happen, they were still fearful when Jesus was captured and killed thinking His mission and purpose died with Him. They ran and hid. They forgot everything Jesus told them and forgot this past “Mountain-Top Experience” with God the Father, Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. Would they really have felt this way if they remembered the Almighty God who is in control of all things was with Jesus and with them? Did God the Father not have a big plan for Jesus? Did God the Father not have a big plan for them if He included them in such a significant moment as Jesus’ Transfiguration? How different might they have reacted and felt after Jesus capture and death if they just remembered their “Mountain-Top Experience?” How often do we fall into the same trap and not recognize the awesome things God has done and will continue to do in our life? As the saying goes, we can’t see the forest through the trees.

So, how do we recognize the things God is doing in our life? Pastor Mike says we do 3 things. First, we fall to our knees like they did in Matthew 17:6. We can see Him better this way which leads to the next thing we do which is focus only on Jesus. In Matthew 17:8, when Peter, James, and John looked up after falling to their knees..all they saw was Jesus. Lastly, we follow the empty tomb. Despite things looking as bad they possibly could for 3 days with Jesus dying, we know that ultimately Jesus conquered death and the tomb was empty.

Remembering our personal past “Mountain-Top Experience” is great to remind us what God has done in our lives and can do again and then some. As Ephesians 3:20 says, He can do more than we can ask or imagine through HIS power working within us. And let us also remember Romans 8:28, which tells us He has a plan through all of our troubles to work it for His good. But above all things, let us remember the empty tomb. Romans 8:37 says because of the empty tomb defeating sin and death, “we are more than conquerors” through His love. The same power that conquered sin and death lives within us as well (Romans 8:11). Let us the recall in the midst of all our “Mountain- Top Experiences” and troubles that we fight from victory and not for victory (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Purpose

Today’s reading is Psalm 138.

Here is a brief excerpt from the last 2 verses.

Psalm 138:7–8 (ESV):

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,

      you preserve my life;

      you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,

      and your right hand delivers me.

      8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;

      your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.

      Do not forsake the work of your hands.

These past couple weeks there has been a lot of talk about purpose around my life. It started with our kids’ lesson at Eastview Christian Church where they learned about God’s purpose for Esther’s life where she became queen (even though she was Jewish and the king didn’t know it), so she could save her people from death. Dictionary.com defines purpose as the following, “the reason for which something is done, made, used, etc.” If you believe Psalm 139:13, “For You formed my inward parts, You knitted me together in my mother’s womb,” then you know God, your Creator, made you for a purpose or reason by its definition.

Eastview asked the kids to reflect this week on these questions…

  • What are you really good at?
  • How can you use that for good in the world?

These are 2 really simple questions we can ask ourselves as adults even.

Ironically just a few days later Kurt Dorner, my Managing Director and mentor, asked us to reflect on the following questions about finding our purpose.

  • How can my uniqueness impact me and others?
  • What are my core values and who do I want to be known as?

You may in a tough place mentally right now..wondering what you are good at and what God can use you for. Trust though that God does have a purpose for you, even if you feel you have been stricken with hardship or illness and even if it is not what you would have chosen for yourself.

John 9:1-3 (ESV):

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Have you stopped to think about how God’s mighty works might be shown and made known through your challenges? You may be thinking you are unlucky to have these “bad things” happen to you when in reality maybe you should feel blessed and humbled that God cared enough about you to use you for His purpose and glory in the world and to impact others for Him uniquely in a way the only you can. So many have used what seemed to be unfortunate circumstances of a tragic accident leading to a disability, an illness, challenges with depression or anxiety, beating an addiction problem, or the life of their special needs child to glorify God and make His love and provision still through their situation known to others.

God’s purpose cannot be thwarted..even by death. This past weekend 320 teams made up of nearly 4,000 boys ages 8 to 14  across the Midwest and their families played in the 17th Brad Wallin Memorial Baseball Tournament in Peoria.  Brad was a little boy from Chillicothe, IL who died from cancer sadly. However, this tournament has raised over $1 Million dollars for St. Jude’s to help other kids with cancer, not to mention help this kids and families give thanks to God for each day and the opportunity to play baseball while reflecting also on the fact that life is about more than just baseball. Our son, Deklin, plays for Game 7 which has 21 baseball and softball teams with over 250 kids ages 8 to 18 here in Bloomington- Normal, IL. Game 7’s mission is, “changing the world with the hope of Jesus: one athlete, one coach, one team at a time.” Game 7’s faith based baseball idea came from Michael Collins and his Dad, Jim, with Michael coming up with the name because the ultimate “Game 7” in life is accepting Jesus as your Savior. Tragically, Michael was killed by a drunk driver a few weeks after coming up with this idea and name. But, Jim and Michael’s Mom Kelly have continued Michael’s purpose to glorify Jesus through his life through Game 7 and the Michael Collins Foundation/MC Strong. Game 7 is not only changing the lives of the boys and girls on their own teams’ kids, but is also having an impact on other teams and their kids by inviting the opposing team to pray around home plate after each game to glorify God.

Again…God’s purpose cannot be stopped…even by death. He has shown us that not only by Brad and Michael’s life and legacy, but through the life and Resurrection of His only Son Jesus. He took the biggest injustice and worst event in the history of mankind, the only truly sinless person to ever live suffering and being crucified, and used it for His greatest purpose to save mankind.

How can He use you and your life?

John 3:16 (ESV)

16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Comforter

Today, we are examining God as our comforter.  This post was originally written in 2017 by Michael Summers.

Paul’s letters to the Corinthians are painful to read.  Yesterday David asked if any of us had ever experienced having a person we were trying to help question our motives and speak negatively about us to others.  I sadly answered yes in my heart as I read David’s prompting.

That experience was difficult for me.  Today’s reading challenged me to grow. Especially verses 3-7.

3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

God is our comforter.  Παράκλησις, translated as comfort here, could also be translated ‘encourage’.  It holds in it the element of acceptance, council, and courage.  As if to say God is the one who finds our sorrow acceptable (or not) and strengthens us to continue on (if it is acceptable, more on this latter).

Παρακαλέω, translated as comfort three times in verse 4, could also be translated as urge, implore or exhort.  This helped me understand the activating (or reactivating) nature of this word as if strengthening one to get back in the fight.  God provides us the strength to continue Glorifying Him.

4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

‘That we’ is a purpose clause.  God strengthens us so that we may be strengthened and encourage others.  Citing God’s character as the Comforter; the source of strength gives God glory.

5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

This was the most challenging part for me.  The comfort supplied has no limits, so long as our sufferings are in Christ.  Put another way, God supplies us with all the comfort we need for righteous suffering.

The question then became, what if the suffering was not righteous?  That is, what if the suffering was actually a result of my selfish ambition, seeking my own glory and not God’s?  This was my wake up call.

If I did not receive strength and comfort for the sorrow I felt, does it then mean that it was chastening rather than suffering for Christ?  I am inclined to consider this deeply.  Afterall, are we to believe that all suffering is because we are seeking Christ glory perfectly?  If not, as I reflect on a past wound that lingered too long, that sapped my strength when I know it shouldn’t have, I am inclined to think it was due to my sin and pride.

Ouch and amen! God is the righteous One who judges.  I am the sinner who is judged.  God is the Merciful One who gives grace.  I am the one in desperate need of His mercy and grace.   Admitting this depravity is the first step to receiving that which I need from God.  Confessing our Sin is our humble gate that protects God’s glorious reputation. (see extra credit below)

6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

We are to thank God for the righteous suffering.  We will know it by the degree to which we are supernaturally strengthened.  This is to be shared with and passed on to those who suffer.  All the time giving glory to God as the Strengthener.

7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

 

Extra Credit: God’s Glory and Confession of Sin

All things were created for God’s glory. (Revelation 4:11, Isaiah 43:7)  The proud are too busy seeking their own glory to give God His glory.  Confessing our sin proclaims God’s character as holy and His Law as right. (Luke 23:41)  Not confessing our sin is a way of blaming God for sin.  Notice the first sin and how Adam blames God. (Genesis 3:12)  Confessing our sin humbles us and gives God glory. (Joshua 7:19) In summary, when we do not confess our sin it is disagreeing with God, a form of attack on His reputation.  When we say, “God I deserve this” it agrees with God and brings Him glory.  We were designed to bring God glory.  This is one way we can do it.  Confessing our sin.  

The world says, ‘find your strengths and play them up.” the Word says “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2Corinthians 12:10)

Nobody But Jesus

Today’s reading is Acts 10:1-11:18 as we focus on Cornelius.

The Bible tells us Cornelius was a centurion in the Roman army meaning he commanded at least one hundred men and held an important social status. Despite his non-jewish, Gentile background, we are told in Acts 10:2 that he was devout, feared God, and gave alms or money to the poor and needy. Being a believer, Cornelius likely thought he was already being used by God for a purpose with his favorable position of power. However, we serve a big God who has bigger vision for each one of us and the people of this world than we can see. Cornelius is visited by an angel telling him to send a few of his men to get Peter who he’s never met and doesn’t know. Not coincidentally when Cornelius’ men show up, Peter just had a vision from God (Acts 10:9-15) telling him that the Gospel was available to all nations. Peter then went with Cornelius men to Caesara helping bring the Gospel through the Holy Spirit to them and all the Gentiles.

As I read these verses, I could not help but think of and look back on my notes from a sermon Pastor Mike Baker from Eastview Church did a few years ago on Genesis 12 where Abram is called to leave his country. Pastor Mike said, “Faith is not a ‘stay’…it’s always a ‘go.’” If you ‘stay,’ you don’t need faith and you can’t grow to be all God’s called you to be. God doesn’t give us the details of the future even when we are in turmoil wanting to know His plans for two reasons. First, we would likely freak out if we knew everything that would happen. Second, we would try to take over and mess it up thinking we can do it better than God can. Cornelius could have just said, “Hey God..I’m doing good things here as a centurion. I’m giving to the needy and using my position for good, and I have 100 men here under me I can witness, too.” However, God called him for bigger things..to bring the Good News of Jesus through the Holy Spirit to all the Gentiles and letting them know that His forgiveness through the cross was available to all people and all nations (Acts 10:34-35, Acts 10:44-48 Acts 11:18). He called Cornelius to “go” and do bigger things, he obeyed, and look what happened.

Today, on Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for Cornelius, the Holy Spirit, and the big God we serve that is always working on our behalf.  Sadly, I don’t know much about my genealogy, but likely similar to many reading this, I don’t think I have any Jewish roots. I’m thankful that Cornelius obeyed God’s command so we non-Jews know that we are also one of God’s people through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We can be thankful Romans 8:26-28 tells us the Holy Spirit is always working on our behalf and interceding (just like here to come to the Gentiles and make Jesus’ forgiveness available and known to everyone). Despite whatever challenges and changes in your life you may be going through today, you can be thankful that He working ALL things for His good. Be grateful you don’t know and can’t control the future because through His power within you, He can do more than you can ever ask or imagine, and He will be glorified (Ephesians 3:20-21), so that ultimately through you the world can see “nobody but Jesus.” How blessed are we that He uses us for His purpose.

 

 

Living From Abundance

1 Thessalonians 2

Most of us go through life working hard, trying to get ahead.  We all define “getting ahead” differently.  Some strive for money, others look for more time, we even throw family into the mix.  We think that having more of this one thing will give us the life we dream of.  We think it will bring us abundance.  Sadly, it never comes.  In fact, the harder we chase it, the more elusive it becomes.  For example, our toil for more money never reaches abundance.  John D. Rockefeller confirmed it.  When asked, “how much is enough?”  He replied, “just one dollar more.”   The Apostle Paul, however, knew better.   Simply said, Paul worked out of his abundance, not for abundance.

In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul tells us how he works from abundance.  To start, he reminds us of his terrible sufferings and mistreatment.  How can that be abundance?  Obviously, Paul’s definition of abundance did not look like ours.  His definition sounds more like righteousness.  Now before you check out because you are not righteous, consider this.  Paul references the righteousness of Abraham in Romans 4:21.  He says that Abraham was granted it by having “no unbelief to make him waiver concerning the promise of God” and that he was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”  The result was righteousness.  Paul shared in God’s righteousness as well.  This righteousness is exactly what allows him to live abundantly in any situation.

When we are fully convinced, like Abraham and Paul that God is able to do everything he promises, we too will be able to live from abundance.  In fact, Jesus promises it specifically in John 10:10.  Like Paul, when we live in abundance, no adversity, no pain, no suffering or mistreatment will ever discourage or destroys us.

 

Jars of Clay

 

Young plant - "Ficus" in a broken flower pot
Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 11; 2 Corinthians 4; Ezekiel 18; Psalms 62–63

I was recently asked about what I do to stay motivated. I offered the stock answers, explaining how I spend time every morning studying and praying. I exercise and eat right (sometimes). I read a lot and am careful of how much sleep I get. Sounds like a 10-step plan, doesn’t it. In fact, you could get similar advice from any self-help book ever written. Don’t get me wrong, there is some truth in those answers. The problem with them is that they don’t get to the Truth.

The Truth is that no matter how much you exercise, eat right or study and pray, you are going to have hard days. Maybe not only days, but weeks, months and years! Our lives are, in fact, fragile. In every moment, we are vulnerable physically and mentally to the forces of nature, illness, economics, character assassination, and defamation. The Apostle Paul calls us “jars of clay.” It is a fitting metaphor. You see, anything made of clay is rigid and strong enough to contain precious things. Even so, it is brittle and fragile. It reminds me of our clay flower pots.  When that clay pot makes sharp contact with the corner of your table or the wind blows it over onto your concrete patio, watch out! We encounter these same dangers in our everyday lives. So, if we are so fragile, how is it that we are to live fearlessly?   How will we stay motivated to press on?

The answer those questions lie in your “big why.” I learned about this from the founder of Keller Williams Realty, Gary Keller. He writes, “The Big Why is about having a purpose, a mission, or a need, that in turn gives you focus. High achievers always have a Big Why powering their actions.” This statement is spot on. In fact, we can look throughout history and see where many people put their very lives on the line to achieve their singular purpose. To illustrate this further, I could cite men like Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King. No person stands out to me more than the Apostle Paul. He endured one painful day after another. Amazingly, Paul didn’t just endure the suffering of his life he thrived in it. So, how did Paul stay motivated? Simple, he had a really big why.

as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. (2 Corinthians 4:15, NLT)

That’s it! Paul was so enamored with God that he became laser focused on Him. His sole purpose, his Big Why, in this life was to “reach more and more people so that there would be great thanksgiving and God would receive more and more glory.” Wow! I am immediately and deeply humbled by the purity and righteousness of Paul’s motives. Truly, I want to be “sold out” like that. I want to be fully aware that the dangers to my “earthen vessel” are nothing. As Paul says, “our present troubles are small and will not last very long.” (2 Corinthians 4:17, NLT) That mindset is only possible when we “fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.” (2 Corinthians 4:18, NLT). When we do, God will remove the cares of our temporary, earthly minds and bodies, replacing them with His “surpassing power,” (2 Corinthians 4:7, ESV) which becomes our motivation. What is your Big Why?

Works Cited:
Keller, Gary; Jenks, Dave; Jay Papasan; Gary Keller; Dave Jenks; Jay Papasan (2004-03-11). The Millionaire Real Estate Agent (Kindle Location 1163). McGraw-Hill. Kindle Edition.

Mission Statement

misison1 Samuel 17 – Romans 15 – Lamentations 2 – Psalm 33

It’s likely that the company you own, or work for, has a mission/vision statement. Good mission statements inspire people. More so, effective mission statements have the power to identify and establish the priorities that yield powerful results. Did you know that Paul had one too? Read it with me. Romans 15:18-21 says,

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written,

“Those who have never been told of him will see,and those who have never heard will understand.”

Did you hear it? If I were to format it in today’s corporate or church language, it would sound something like this.

To bring all people from Jerusalem to Illyricum to understanding of the Gospel,  through preaching, utilizing signs and wonders from the Holy Spirit and by my own example.

Pretty powerful, right? Can you imagine having a statement like that for your own life? What does your mission statement say? More importantly, what do your priorities say that your mission statement is?  That is what impresses me the most about Paul.  He lived it!  The evidence is well documented. In fact, he lived it so well that in 2 Timothy 4, as he nears the end of his life, he says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Mission Accomplished.