Clarity of Vision

Our culture often tells us to dream big and have great ideas for how life could be. It is true that a vision for our life is vital, because it shapes so much about our choices. However, the influence of those goals is so profound that we need to be sure that the dreams we are building choices around are the best ones for our future.

If we believe the world’s ideas, we should be trying to build the best possible life for ourselves based on luxury and entertainment. That kind of selfish outlook, however, will not bring satisfaction or a closer walk with God. We need to be talking with God about our dreams and goals and building a vision for our life that accomplishes His will for us..

Our ultimate goal is always to know God. The Bible says that’s what eternal life is: knowing God. (John 17:3) All other things in our life should revolve around that one. Knowing Him.

After that, the vision for our life is very individualized between us and God. Each one of us needs to go before the Lord and talk about what God is doing in our life. This may not be a daily thing; maybe it’s only once a year. However, without some time spent with the Lord, clarifying His plans and ideas for you, you are missing out on directed time with Him.

When we clarify our vision with Him, we can find a beautiful purpose that energizes us. God knows us and planned good works for us to do. If we take the time to plan with Him about our work, we will find ourselves given  work that is made for our gifts and talents. It will be work that energizes us and fills us with a sense of accomplishment.

At least on good days it will – on bad days, it might be difficult. But if we have a vision, we know that what we’re working through has a purpose. It’s a part of something bigger, even if that bigger thing is as high level as knowing God; it will have a purpose. Knowing that might not make the work easier or the drudgery less boring, but it will give you a focus and a reason to keep on when others might give up.

God’s purpose for you is real and valid. Each of us has a purpose and we can walk in it daily, hand in hand with the Lord.


Being Guided by God

God as our guide sounds beautiful. God telling us what to do can be frustrating, yet, they are both the same idea. We know we want God to guide us, but are we willing to make the changes that He asks in our lives?

Sometimes the guidance of the Lord is subtle and we aren’t even aware until things fall into place. Sometimes, however, the Lord is asking us to do something at odds with our natural way of doing things. While the first way is easier, they are both from  the Lord.

Being guided means having the way you should go pointed out. If you take a guide with you on a trail, they show you the path. If you don’t listen to them, you might end up lost, or at the very least, not getting where you meant to go. God’s guidance is the same way. He shows us the path, and we have to choose to take it.

His prompting can come in so many ways: from conviction of sin, to an idea to help someone else, or to the inspiration to pursue an idea, just to name a few. As we learn to sense Him more and understand what He’s guiding us to do, we must then choose to change our course to include that guidance.

Our natural self fights the guidance of the Lord because we want to be the one at the helm. Our need for control runs deep and we often find ourselves at odds with the Holy Spirit over life choices.

God as our guide means He is the one who chooses the path we are on. If we hear His advice and then choose our own way, we are not being guided by Him. Saying you want the Lord to guide you means that you must also be willing to do what He says, even if it isn’t anything like  you thought it would be.

God is a good god. He wants the best for His children and knows how to give them good gifts. His advice and commands are good and bring us to a fuller life in Him. Our willingness to listen and obey Him is how we partner with Him to bring  freedom and blessings in our lives.


Listening to God

We know we’re supposed to listen to the Lord and let Him guide our steps, but in the grind and hustle of daily life, it can be difficult. The voices around us and our own thoughts seem to easily drown out any connection we feel with the Lord. Our daily walk with him must be founded on habits of opening our ears and opening our hearts.

Listening begins with stillness. Pausing our day and our mind to find a quiet place where the Lord can speak to us is imperative to finding our connection with Him. The Lord never leaves us, even we are in a whirlwind of busyness. In that busyness, however, we can quickly find ourselves caught up in it and lose touch with the pulse of the Spirit. We don’t have to be still all day to hear Him, but we do have to consciously practice times of stillness to refresh our connection with Him.

Listening to God requires trust in Him. If we dismiss what He says out of fear or confusion, we will quickly get out of sync with His will. Believing that we can be in tune with Him and hear His will in our hearts is vital to being able and willing to connect with Him.

Willingness to change or do what He says is the final piece of listening. Just hearing Him isn’t enough, if we aren’t putting action to His words. He is in the habit of growing people and isn’t interested in empty words. It doesn’t always mean that we are doing a physical action, but if the Spirit prompts us to stop and breathe, we need to be willing to do that as much as we are willing to do any other act or service.

Listening is the final piece of hearing because it takes the passive act of understanding what He’s saying and makes it a part of  daily life. Listening isn’t something you do once in awhile, or even once a month. It’s an active part of being with Him and walking with Him. It’s the part of seeking Him in every moment.

If you don’t feel that you know how to listen to the Lord in all your moments, start by listening for one moment. Find one time per day that you can be still and talk to Him. Practice hearing Him and responding to what He puts on your heart. From there, you can grow with Him and grow in Him until He pervades every moment.


Opening My Heart

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

Trust is listening, accepting and doing the work of God. Before we can trust Him, we have to be willing to be open with Him.

Trust is a frightening prospect in any relationship, including with the Lord. It is a vulnerable place to be. Trust is letting someone else influence you. When you trust the Lord, you are willing to risk the opinions of the world to serve Him.

Before we can trust, we have to be willing to open our heart to the Lord. If we don’t fully open up to Him, we will always be held back in our trust. Asking the Lord to prove Himself before we are willing to walk with Him is a conditional relationship. He wants unconditional access to our hearts and our lives.

Opening our hearts means practicing coming before Him in our daily life and being willing to trust Him. If we hold back our willingness, we are holding back our connection with Him.

When you come before Him, ask yourself and Him if there’s any part of you that is being held back. Maybe there’s fear about what He’ll ask you do, or maybe you are afraid of Him not answering a prayer. Maybe you are struggling to submit your family to Him or your work.

The Bible talks about the Lord testing your heart. Ask Him to test it and find what’s in it that you are holding back. Where are your feelings closed off? Where are you shutting a door in your mind, asking Him not to go there?

As your willingness to open your heart before Him grows, your ability to trust Him will grow. You will experience His faithfulness and His gentleness in leading you through your day.

Trust opens doors to a deeper and more life-altering relationship with the Lord. We can’t force trust or demand it. Instead, we grow into it by being willing to be vulnerable with Him in our mind and hearts.


Am I Good Ground?

In the Bible, Jesus tells a story about a farmer who scatters seeds on the ground; some seeds take root and grow while others, for various reasons, don’t. The seeds represent people and how they react when they hear the truth of God. In the story, only one place that the seeds land  allows them to take root, grow strong and produce fruit. That place is the fertile ground that represents a willing and listening heart.

Most of us assume that we are the fertile soil. We think that when we hear the truth of God, that we are ready and able to lap it up and grow. Assumptions can blind us to areas that need work, though. Not everyone is good ground, but all can be if we open our heart and mind to the Lord.

Willingness to receive anything means that you are open to be given something. Openness invites in; it doesn’t shut out. It means letting the experience of God be worth the risk of being wrong. It defies the fear of being made fun of. It allows the new thing to be explored and learned about.

With each new idea that we encounter, we have to choose if we are going to let it in and then choose whether or not we will allow it to help change us. When we hear the truth of God, whether it is the first time we hear the gospel of Jesus or a new insight from His Word, we must make the choice to let it in. We have to mull it over and think about the truth of it and the practicality of it.  If we look into new ideas and seek to find the joy of God in them, we will be changed.

Good soil listens and hopes and celebrates as new ideas about God are brought to them. Applying God’s truth to our lives is the growth part of being good ground. We try on the new idea for size. We see if it fits us and what it means for our lives. Good soil is a willingness to change if the Lord desires that change within us.

God says, ”I create good soil and I nurture it and fill it full of good nutrients. When my Work falls on the prepared ground, I am there to help it grow and find life in my truth. Listen to me and be ready for all that I have planned.”


Following Christ

Following Christ is a very personal and internal decision. It is something that only you can determine to do. By listening to the Lord, you are able to live in His power and might. Each day we walk with Him is a day filled with joy and comfort. There are days, however, when we may not feel as confident that we’re walking in step with Him.

Each day in God’s presence is a confidence-building day. Walking next to Him builds our understanding of Him and helps us to grow in the knowledge of Him. Each day outside of His presence brings confusion. Walking apart from Him causes us to lose hold of our connection with Him and who He made us to be.

No one can tell if you have committed your heart to the Lord. However, others can see the fruit in your life and how it is helping you to grow. When you are filling your heart with the teachings of God, you grow in the good fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Growing with the Lord means seeing more results like these in your life.

Following after your own ways leads to sin growing in you. Old habits can come back or new sins can creep in. The good fruit in your life is inconsistent or non-existent. Judgment toward others clouds your relationships. You demand your own way and put yourself above others.

Growing in the Lord means that you are reaching for His Spirit and His truth. Finding your way in Him isn’t a path to perfection for the sake of self-improvement; instead, it’s a journey of joy to find freedom in Him.

Talk to the Lord about your walk. Ask Him if He sees you as a growing Christian. In addition, take a look at your fruit. There should always be change toward a deeper relationship with Him, no matter how long you’ve been walking along side Him. Find a fresh truth and awareness of Him and see more of an ability in your life to be free in His name.


Why Did Christ Die for Me?

The Bible tells us that when God first created people, they lived and walked with Him. Adam and Eve were the first two people on earth and they didn’t have any separation between them and God. Because they chose to disobey God and do the one and only thing that God told them not to do, they were kicked out, not only of paradise on earth, but also the direct presence of God.

Ever since then, humans have walked on earth apart of the presence of God. Our human nature is one that is selfish and sinful. We always do our own thing first, no matter the consequences.

God’s nature is perfect, separate from our selfish human nature. To find our way back to being in the direct presence of God, we must find a way to be with Him again: to be made pure again.

Adam and Eve chose to be separate from God because they didn’t believe that God would do what He said. God said if they ate of the fruit, they would die. They ate, and they did die. First, spiritually in that they were separated from life with God, and second, physically, after years of sweat and labor to live outside of paradise on earth.

We have a choice as well. We can choose to enter back into the presence of God and become pure again by believing that God will do what He says He will. The Bible teaches that Jesus is the way to the Father. By believing on Him, we can be saved spiritually. We can be returned to the presence of God and be made one with Him again.

God didn’t have to make this way back to Him. He could have left us out there on our own. But there’s a reason He didn’t: He wanted to be back with us. God missed us and wanted to have us with Him in eternity. He made a way for you to come back to Him and be with Him again. Jesus Christ, the perfect son of God, died on the cross so you could choose to believe that God will do what He said He will do.


What Do I Owe to God?

From the ground up, we have been made by God. He created us, spiritually and physically; He designed everything about us. He knows us and knew us while we were being created in our mother’s body (Psalm 139).

After our creation, we entered the world as a squalling mess of bodily fluids with nothing but our God-given instincts to survive on. Unable to live on our own, we depend on everyone around us to live and grow, whether born into a loving family or a mess called a family. The first years of growth and development led us to finally be able to talk, dress ourselves, and eat by ourselves, for the most part.

Mastering our body, connecting with our mind, and learning the process of interacting with others takes up most of our childhood years. Teenage years come, and we start to branch out and find out who we are and how we are going to live our own life – a life away from the environment that has been our support, good or bad, until then. Young adult years find us building a life with others, finding purpose and working to add value to the world.

Somewhere in these teenage, or young adult years, we begin to truly believe that we are the ones building this life – that we have scratched out our own way and this world created is ours. While it’s true that some people have worked harder than others, we all would have died in the first few hours of life without other people.

It is good to build a solid life, and it is good to work hard at work you enjoy. The trouble begins when we give ourselves credit for our life, our circumstances, and, most often, our successes. We did not choose our circumstances, whether they are good or bad. We did not choose our families, again, whether they are good or bad.

We also did not choose our talents and abilities. Part of life is discovering what you are good at, or at least what you enjoy. These are not abilities that you gave yourself; they are abilities that were innate in you when you were created, and you are now discovering them.

All of these things are from God: our lives, our bodies, and our talents. Everything we have is from God and given to us to build a life that connects with others He’s placed in our lives. It is important to keep before us that we are living as caretakers over a life that was given to us out of His plan.

Whether we like our life or not, whether we’re happy in our circumstances or not, God is the author of our days and our ways. He planned our good works  in advance (Ephesians 2:10); He is faithful to finish a good work in our lives (Philippians 1:6).

Trust, honor, and walk with Him, and come to know Him as the author of your story.


What Is the Meaning of Life?

The meaning of life is an age old question. What’s our purpose for this time on earth? Do our days and our choices mean anything? Our reaction to these questions can range from a resounding response of purpose and connection to a heartbreaking sob of hurt and separation. Knowing that life has a purpose, and that we can find it, brings us peace when life and its struggles can feel meaningless.

Struggles are a part of living. We are not perfect; we have all fallen from God (Romans 3:23). We also live in a cursed world that is waiting for God to free it (Romans 8:20-21). In that freedom we will find a place that is perfect and full of peace and rest, but it is not in this world.

When we meet God at the end of our lives, we will find out in that moment whether we have spent our time preparing for our time with Him or spent our time defining our own system of living (Matthew 7:21, Jeremiah 2:13). Instead of seeking our own way, we should be trying to build up a relationship with God in order to have eternal life with Him in the next life. (John 17:3).

Living within God’s system or purpose is to help others and seek peace for all people. This is the result of the two greatest commandments: love the Lord with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40).

This seems so very simple, but living love out can be very complicated. Relationships are hard and people can be difficult. Listening to God daily is the only path toward connection with people and action in line with your purpose. Reaching out to others is the heart of connection. Action in line with your purpose is living out God’s will. Listening to God is the joy and power that allows us to understand our role as well as accept others and love them.

Part of loving others is to see them through God’s eyes. You will see their struggles. You will be able to accept God’s purpose behind their actions. You will also be able to accept who was brought to walk with you and who was brought to leave. Not everyone stays in your life, but each one can help you see God better.

God will never leave you. He is chasing you and wants you to find Him. Time spent with Him, whether in this world or the next, is what life is about.

Find him. Find your purpose.


What Does it Mean to be a Christian?

There are many answers for what it means to be a Christian: following the teachings of Christ as taught in the Bible, following the Holy Spirit, or loving others. All these are true, but these can be simplified even further: being a Christian means experiencing God’s love for you.

God calls us to Him. All have fallen away from God and need to be saved by Jesus to return to Him. (Romans 3:23). For some of us, this is a new idea, but others have heard this their entire life. Whether you grew up in church and know all the answers to every Bible trivia question ever asked, or if you are hearing these ideas expressed this way for the first time, the truth is the same for each of us. We need to experience the love of God in our lives everyday.

We need to experience the forgiving love as we repent and turn our lives to Him, each and every time there is a need for repentance. We need to experience His redeeming love as we grow into an understanding of His purpose for our lives. We need to experience His bountiful love as we learn to trust that He provides for us.

As we learn to be more and more aware of His love for us, we can then experience an awareness of God on a deeper level, as God is love. This new awareness transforms our moments, and enlivens our lives as we learn to see things through His perspective. Being a Christian is about walking day in and day out in this awareness. We can fill our days with a fullness of life and the power of God based on knowing Him more.

Part of this process of growing more aware of His love is learning to believe what He says about us. God says we are loved, we are valuable, we are precious, and we are eternal. Not only do we believe this about ourselves, but when we look at others, we should believe in their value as well.

When we see God’s love and experience how it flows from Him to everyone, we see their value and we know that we are all children of God, equal before Him. He shows no favorites; He loves all of us.