How to Unlock God’s Call on Your Life

God has an undeniable calling on your life. That is true on the days when you feel like your life has deep significance and is counting for eternity, and it is equally true on the days when you feel like you never accomplish anything more significant than tackling a pile of dirty laundry.

Paul says in Ephesians 4:1: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” The calling he speaks of was not exclusive to the church at Ephesus – you and I are included that “you”. You HAVE received a calling – strong and sure – from the Lord!

A calling from God does not necessarily mean you will become a full-time minister or be sent to Africa to do missions work.

A calling from God DOES mean that the sum total of who you are – your past, present, and even your future, your experiences, your failures, your pain, your hopes and dreams – has vast value in His Kingdom. Nothing is wasted.

A calling from God also means that He has lovingly crafted plans specifically for you to accomplish great things in His kingdom, and to fully embrace your life and daily live for His glory. Right now, no matter what your circumstances might say to the contrary.

How can we unlock that call?

Paul’s answer may surprise you like it did me! He doesn’t send us to a seminar, or ask us to make a list of all our top qualities that we can offer to God. Instead, Paul urges us to unlock the call by living in a manner that is worthy of it:

  1. To live UP to our potential in Christ we must first lay DOWN our rights – “Be completely humble and gentle…(Eph 4:2)”
  2. Walk out life with those around us in love and patience – “Be patient, bearing with one another in love (Eph 4:2)”
  3. Be peacemakers and highly value unity in the Body of Christ – “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:3)

The key to unlocking God’s calling on our lives is to turn from our pride and selfishness and turn to the humble, patient, Servant King, and thus become like Him.

He also unlocked God’s call on His life by laying down His rights, walking out life with those around Him in love and patience, and valuing unity among God’s people.  In that place of submission, and only in that place, we are living lives worthy of our calling.

In that place of humility and valuing others above ourselves, we are positioned for God to use us and expand the calling. And then look out – there’s not telling what God has in store! Whatever it is, it will be specifically tailored to your incredible uniqueness, and lovingly crafted with your gifts and talents in mind. In short, it will be something only God can accomplish. Will you join me?

“Father, I pray today that by your grace you would lead each one of us into the fullness of your call on our lives. Help us to walk away from our pride and selfishness, and to embrace humility, patience, loving kindness, and peace. Cause us to live lives worthy of your calling, and may your specific call on each our of lives be completely, beautifully, and joyfully fulfilled. For Your glory, amen.”

With faith, hope, and love,

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How to Unlock God's Call on Your Life

What You Need to Know BEFORE You Pray

Do you make this same mistake I sometimes do when approaching God?  Sometimes I imagine that God is reluctant to my need, and that my prayer needs to be a catchy sales pitch to get Him to agree!    Luke 8:40-48 tells the story of a desperate woman, her one request, and a much-needed glimpse into the heart of our generous Father.

I don’t know how she ever have the strength to shove her way through this mass of humanity and reach Him.  Years of hemorrhaging had left her weak.  Twelve years, to be precise.  Society had furthered the work that sickness had begun, making sure she felt the stigma of her condition.  At this point, it would be hard to say which aspect was more debilitating.  The doctors had taken all her money, but had delivered nothing but empty promises.  Now there was nothing left…nothing except the one desperate plan that haunted her every waking moment, and even her dreams at night.

When she heard the shout of His name from somewhere down the dusty street, she knew that this day she had to try. It may take every ounce of energy she could muster, but she knew deep within her being that He could help her.  If only the people wouldn’t stop her.  “Unclean”, they called her.  When they saw her pushing past them, there would be a scene she had been hoping to avoid.  If she could only keep her head down, and not be recognized, then perhaps no one would notice she was breaking the rules to get to Jesus.  If only she could approach Him alone!

By the time she reached the edge of the crowd that was already surrounding Him and began to worm her way through, a man named Jairus was pleading with Jesus to have his little dying daughter healed, and it appeared that Jesus was agreeing to go heal her.  He had just arrived, and already He was leaving!  The crowd around Him became so tightly packed in their excitement that He was almost crushed.  The jostling and shouts and smells were overwhelming.

There! As the crowd shifted direction, she saw it. An opening!  It was small, but then so was she.  With one last desperate shove, Scripture says “she came up behind Him…”.  She didn’t need to stop or bother Him,  and certainly didn’t want to attract any attention.   She just needed to touch Him.   Would she be knocked down?  If she missed…well, that was not an option.

But she didn’t miss.  Her faith made contact with the One so worthy of it, and she was gloriously, instantly, verifiably healed.

Then the last thing she wanted or expected happened.  Jesus stopped walking.  He knew.  “Who touched me?” He asked immediately.  A truly laughable question, under the circumstances.  Peter was incredulous at the question; everyone was touching Him!  No one admitted to being the one; but God had so much more in store for this woman than physical healing. There would be no creeping away, unnoticed.  He wanted her restored in every sense of the word.  She saw there was nothing to do but confess, and give up the blessed anonymity she had so fervently hoped would shield her.  She came and fell trembling at His feet, in front of everyone…everyone who knew her as “unclean” and what her touching Jesus meant.

 But Jesus was not made unclean by her touch; she was made whole by His.

He commended her faith. Jesus found that kind of faith noteworthy – noteworthy enough to stop a moving throng, and to delay his arrival to heal Jairus’ daughter.  His gentle words to the one trembling at His feet communicated that she was known, accepted, and pleasing to Him: “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace”.

God wasn’t reluctant to meet her need!  She asked for physical healing, but He gave her much more than what she asked for.

Of all the people thronging about Him, pressing Him from every side, only one person’s touch warranted His attention.  Only one person’s touch was significant to Jesus, because only one person’s touch was an act of faith that drew power from Him.  Who will touch Jesus today with a faith that brings the Kingdom of Heaven into their situation?  Will you be that one?   One who not only asks, but asks believing?  What do you need from Him today?  In what area of your life have you completely run out of options unless Jesus shows up?

May your faith be strengthened today to believe God for the wonderful things He
wants to do in and through you, and to patiently wait on His timing.

Ephesians 3:20-21(NKJV)

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

With faith, hope, and love,

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Photo via VisualHunt

The Truth About Trials – What You REALLY Have When Times Are Tough

They say that timing is everything. My cat, were she temporarily endowed with the gift of speech, would probably agree with that today. In one ill-timed moment, she learned what it means to be in the right place at the wrong time. Or maybe the wrong place at the wrong time…I’m never sure which variable claims the role of guilty party.

I saw it all happen from across the kitchen but was unable to quickly navigate through the maze of grocery bags I had just brought in to be able to avert disaster.

The cast of characters:

  1. One large, unevenly shaped spaghetti squash wobbling on the counter
  2. one cat meandering through the kitchen
  3. the force of gravity

They all converged in one dramatic moment.  The squash rolled off the edge just as my unsuspecting feline blissfully strolled past. The impact made me wince (even as I laughed), and then her stunned and drunken weaving through the house (To go where? Away from squashes?), along with the hateful look she gave me, made me laugh even more. Cat lovers – you can breathe easy; she is just fine, and it took her a lot longer to get over being mad at me (??) than to recover from the smack on the head.

The thing of it is, I have some dear friends who were going blissfully about their lives this week when the enemy snuck up and rolled a giant spaghetti squash of trouble off the counter onto their heads. Live reversals, diagnoses, life and death situations, betrayals.

As I spent time in prayer for each of these impossible situations, I realized the truth about trials.  I saw that in life, all we really have is Jesus. We don’t “own” our good health. We don’t “own” ouimageedit_2_8742992173r happy lives, free from uninvited, painful situations. Or our jobs, or our families.

The truth is, all we really ever have is Jesus.  In the dark and desperate times, when everything else is stripped away, we actually understand that.

If it is you who find yourself in that place today, where the rest of life fades into the background, and you stand alone with your great and isolating experience, know this:

  • All you really ever had was Jesus, and you haven’t lost Him. You still have the only thing that will get you through this trial.
  •  This will not last forever. There will be happiness again, and clinging to Jesus, you will come through this to the other side.

If you never had Jesus in the first place, today would be a great day to change that. He’s waiting with open arms.

If you are in that lonely place of painful struggle and want someone else standing with you in faith to see God bring beauty from the ashes as only He can do, drop me a line. I will pray.

The truth is, all any of us ever really has is Jesus, and that is enough. Click To Tweet

 

With faith, hope, and love,
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Don’t Make This Mistake When God Says No

When God says “No” to something I desperately want, I sometimes mistakenly think I might prefer a genie in a bottle.

Bound to my every wish and compelled to act on my behalf.

Ever felt that way when surrounded by the pressing needs of others (or your own), and God seems a million miles away, or deaf to your heart-rending cries?

My mind begins to race as I contemplate the “one wish per day” scenario.  Immediately I think of all the people who would be healed, the marriages restored, the salvations, the miraculous provision.

Or perhaps it would be better to start with plans for entire countries instead and then scale back to individuals?  Urgent, impossible choices begin to present themselves while the suspicion dawns that I am not the one to be making these far-reaching decisions.  My knowledge is severely limited.  I am not God.

And sometimes, God says “no”.

 

God doesn’t short-circuit the process He has lovingly designed for every child of His because I can’t stand to see them in temporary distress.

 

In short, He doesn’t answer to me.  If I was the one in charge, He would no longer be God.  If He was my servant, He would no longer be the Master.  Right?

That’s where things begin to get interesting.  Picture the uncontainable God contained in human form, with a towel wrapped around His waist, washing the dirty feet of his disciples.  Performing a task that only the lowest servant would get stuck with.  Walking mile after dusty mile, touching, healing, teaching.  Serving.  Suffering.  Giving His life away.  But still very much God. Compelled by relentless love for His people to enter the muck and mire of our very fallen world.

Oh yes, God was compelled.  Love does that.  And God IS love.

When the piercing awareness of that depth of love permeates our beings, it changes us.  It heals the old, festering wounds we thought we would always have to live with.  It sweeps out the stagnant pools of the soul with a fresh flow of living water, and it ushers in light and wholesome air into the dank dungeons we pretend don’t exist.

 

Love sees us at our despicable worst, and just when we have denied Him three times, He looks straight at us with eyes spilling radiant love and goes to the Cross for us.

 

That kind of love destroys all the barricades and defenses that have been painstakingly constructed over years and layers of hurt. But it’s okay –  with this kind of love, no defenses are needed.  We are forever transformed, knowing we are THAT loved; THAT accepted and valued. It joyfully bubbles back out of us and compels us to love those around us with His transforming power.

This serving, loving God is far different from the genie my imagination conjured up in a moment of frustration.  I may not understand Him, and definitely can’t contain Him, but I AM known and loved by Him, and so are you.  We can trust that the same love that compelled Him to freely give His life away is enough for every person who will open their heart to Him, and for every need they have. We can choose to trust that the One who knows all, knows best, even when we don’t understand.  No genie in a bottle can hold a candle to that.

This uncontainable God who is compelled by love? I so love Him in return, and that is enough. Click To Tweet

With faith, hope, and love,

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The ONE WORD You Need to Know When Temptation Strikes

I told myself I was going to start watching my carbs again.  It sounded like a great plan at 8 in the morning, when I hadn’t even gotten hungry yet.  But late at night I was facing a long drive home, feeling exhausted, and very hungry.  Bad combination.

I’m not entirely sure how the bag of salted plantain chips (man, I love those things!) ended up in my lap – let’s just say the devil put it there.  Or maybe it was me.  Sometimes I get us confused.  🙂  I made a choice – I decided I wanted plantain chips on that drive home more than I wanted to watch my carbs.  “Plus”, I rationalized, “I am watching them.  I’m looking at each one before putting it in my mouth”.  Epic fail.

Temptation strikes again.  Sometimes I start things, full of energy and enthusiasm, but fizzle out before the finish line.  Derailed by temptation.

Over the sounds of crunching I recalled a saying of King Solomon:

“If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!” (Pr. 24:10).

How strong, then, must I be to make it to the finish line in time of trouble?  Is my strength even enough, when real trouble and temptation arise and whip life into a shambles with hurricane force?

Paul said he rejoiced in his weakness – not his own strength.  Why?  Because in Paul’s weakness, Christ’s strength could take over.

  “…for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Cor. 12:9, NIV

The end result of being weak and allowing Christ to live through him was far greater than the end result of being strong in himself.

The same is true for you and me.

So then, how strong do we need to be to not falter in time of trouble and temptation?

Just strong enough to open our mouths.  Not to fill them with plantain chips, but to say the one word that will initiate the transition from human stumbling effort, to supernatural intervention.

Jesus. He's as close as the mention of His name. His beautiful, matchless name. Click To Tweet

Do you need strength and help today that is completely beyond what you can muster?  You are only one word away.

With love,

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