blueprint-design

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com/btobin

How you see your life developing may be different from God’s blueprint.

1. We dream of greatness. Growing up, we often think of being a doctor, nurse, firefighter, or a professional athlete. We dream of being in front of the largest crowds, cheering fans, and living lavishly. As time and opportunities come into focus, some (if not all) of our dreams change…reality sets in.

2. Life meets the Lord. As the kryptonite of our super dreams sets in, somewhere along the way the Lord intervenes into our lives. He shares His love, forgiveness, and the opportunity to experience a different perspective of freedom and success.

3. Past dreams want to live again through Christ. Oftentimes, many of us seek to infuse our previous thoughts of success with who we are in Christ. We want to be great, famous, and rich…but through Christ. Our thoughts of grandeur return. A hope ignited once again. However…

4. God has a greater plan. God has a perfect and personal plan made for each of us. He wants to show us a different life…a different plan…a different blueprint. God wants to reveal our true purpose and life mission. He is trying to show us more than fame and fortune. He wants to lead us to the purpose of our existence. This is HUGE.

Think about this for a moment…

5. We have to give up our previous plan. In order to accept who God has created us to be, we must give up our previous plan for our lives. There’s no room in our lives for both. If we try, we’ll will spend years in misery trying to force a square peg in a round hole, fighting God and even our own sanity and peace.

The sooner we accept God’s plan and purpose, the sooner we’ll experience His peace and begin to walk in our life mission.

True success is obedience to God’s word and purpose for your life.

1 John 2:15-17 -Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

6. We must accept God’s plan for us. God’s plan for our life is THE plan, it’s our plan. What God has prepared for us (whatever it is) is perfect because He has included us into the fabric of His story to the world. Regardless of what He is calling us to do or perform, we’ll share His love and story with others. We’re being called to elevate the fame of God’s Son Jesus.

Matthew 5:14-16Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

When we allow God to be great in our lives, more people will have the opportunity to know Him, experience His love and forgiveness, and learn their true purpose in life.


Image covered under Creative Commons License.

chocolates

Photo courtesy of freeimages.com/hotchocola

1. You know what to expect. When you receive a box of chocolates, you expect to a delicious treat. Before opening the box, you’re already looking forward to eating some of your favorite chocolate.

In a similar fashion, the Bible is filled with many inspiring stories, messages of hope, and words of wisdom to keep us free, peaceful, and loving.

2. You don’t know what to expect. In our excitement for a box of chocolates, we don’t know what to expect. We can hope for specific chocolates in the box, but we don’t know for sure.

As the Bible has been eternally immortalized, each time we read through the scriptures, the Spirit can reveal something different. You may have read a scripture fifty times, but on the fifty first time, God allows you to see the scripture from a different perspective (or provides a different revelation).

3. You never know what you like until you try it. There are some chocolates you’ll skip over. Maybe you don’t like dark chocolate, caramel, or even coconut filled. You look at it, sniff it, and put it back in the box. You don’t want to deal with it.

In like fashion, there will be some scriptures that you won’t like. These scriptures are packed with conviction, correction, and reveal the truth of the internal sins and churning wickedness within. You’d rather not read these verses. However…

2 Timothy 3:16-17All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

…unlike a box of chocolates, everything in the Bible is good for you!

Psalm 34:8 - O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

The entirety of God’s word is good for you, but you must first take the time and opportunity to read through the Bible. Many people only want to focus on specific sections of the Bible rather than reading all of it. Though certain portions of the Bible may not be written to you specifically, there are lessons that can be learned, shared, and build you as a disciple of Jesus.

Monkey See, Monkey Don’t

Photo courtesy of freeimages.com/stoob

Matthew 22:39 - …Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

  • People that experience mistreatment and verbal or physical abuse often grow to conduct the same behavior toward others.
  • Children take on the destructive behaviors of their parents when they have children themselves.
  • Husbands abuse their spouses in the same manner they witnessed their mother being abused.
  • Young girls learn to use their femininity as a means to get what they want because they watched their mothers and other adult women do the same.

Oftentimes these behaviors come as unintentional acts that developed over a period of time. Many people are not intentionally trying to be abusive or carry on the negative traits they experienced, but it does happen.

1. How do you want to be loved? As Jesus provides the second great commandment in the law (Matthew 22:39), it’s important we first consider how we want to be treated. We don’t like to be yelled at, put down, trampled, abused, or taken advantage of.

2. Use how you want to be loved as your baseline for your relationships. To change the nature of your relationships, you must make a conscious effort to establish a new standard. Continue to remain connected and committed to prayer, God’s Word, and His direction in each relationship.

3. Don’t think about change, be about change. You can’t think about (or hope for) change and expect it to happen on its own. You don’t have to continue the destructive patterns you once held. Repent. Forgive. Ask for forgiveness. Walk in humility and love. Restore relationships.

4. Understand that pain takes time to heal. Some relationships may not be healed/restored without time and patience, often away from you. Just as many of the abusive situations you endured took years for you to be fully healed, you can’t expect the abuses you committed to be overlooked immediately (though this is our prayer for God to heal hearts, minds, and souls as such). Pray for them often and ask God to show you ways you can help them find the love, peace, and healing they need to be whole.

5. Be committed to creating a new standard of love for those around you. Just as you may have picked up negative behaviors and traits, allow those around you (especially your children) to glean from positive behaviors that they carry as they continue in life. Break the cycle and commit to a new standard based on love.

Walking-on-Trust

Photo courtesy of CreationSwap/deaconales

In Matthew 14:22-33, Jesus sent His disciples away in a ship while he sent the multitudes of people following them away. While the disciples were on the seas, they were tossed with waves and a strong wind. Early in the morning, Jesus walked on the sea toward the ship. When the disciples saw Him on walking on the seas, they were afraid, but He told them who He was and not to be afraid. Peter cried out to Him and said, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.”

Jesus said “come,” and Peter walked on the water toward Jesus.

1. Trust is a journey between two rivers of life. When God desires us to trust Him, we know it will stretch our mind, will, and capacity of our current standing. It will cause us to give up our desire to control people or a situation and move into the ‘unknown.’ What is unknown is not what God said, but how things will end up for us.

2. Trust initiates an internal question. “Will I trust God?” This is the question we are faced with as the ‘storms ‘of the situation rage around us.

3. An internal storm rages within. We want to trust and believe, but we keep looking at what’s going on around us. We’ll refuse to move unless we can somehow or in some way control at least a small part of the situation.

This is when we must work out our salvation with God and reason with Him (Isaiah 1:18; Philippians 2:12). See, in these situations we keep looking at our internal storms rather than going to God to work out our doubts and fears. By continuing to seek after God, we place ourselves in a better ‘position’ to hear from God and trust Him rather remaining in fear and doubt.

4. Trust ends with an external decision. If we find that we’re unable to have any control over the situation, (a) we’ll remain still and do nothing; (b) make a decision to control the situation (which is not what God wanted us to do) and we cause the situation to become worse; or (c) we’ll trust God and follow His plan and will.

Following option (c) can sometimes be a challenge because we spend so much time focusing on the storms around us (and within) that we choose option (a) or (b). Trusting God is not the absence of these internal storms, but moving out in spite of them.

When Peter took a step out of the ship and unto the water, the seas were still raging and the wind was blowing. In spite of what was going on around him, he took a step, and so can you.

Take your opportunity to step out of your situation and trust God. The internal storms may rage from time to time, but continue looking at God. Keep remembering the words He spoke and know that He hasn’t brought you this far to leave you (Philippians 1:6).

sheeptalk

Photo courtesy of freeimages.com/crunchcrea

Don’t judge me!

How many times have you heard someone make this statement?

Many times the person that makes this statement may need to be corrected for some wrongdoing on his or her part. However, a misinterpretation of scripture can produce greater strife and separation than restoration and peace.

Matthew 7:1-5Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

What does it mean to judge someone?

The word judge in Matthew 7:1 is translated from the original Greek translation (Strong’s Concordance) as properly, to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially); by implication, to try, condemn, punish:–avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think. In order to properly judge someone, we would need to know ALL of the facts about a person or situation.

1. It is virtually impossible for a person to know everything about another person or situation. He or she would need to know another person’s thoughts, motives, heart, and reasoning. This is why there is only one true judge (2 Timothy 4:1, 6-8).

2. Judging casts a shadow of a final sentence to be pronounced on a person or situation. Now, without understanding all of the details of a person or event, we may make claims prematurely and in ignorance.

How is correcting someone different?

1. People that judge others do not seek to correct a person’s behavior or situation. These individuals simply pronounce their sentence or position on the matter and move on (after telling a few people how they feel).

2. Correction improves a person’s or situation status, standing, or position. Looking at Matthew 7:3-5, the person that sees the mote in his brother’s eye wants to assist him. This person doesn’t want to judge his brother.

3. The person wanting to correct his brother must first correct any negative behaviors, issues, and sin within him or herself (2 Corinthians 13:5). Now, this is a personal and internal action that can only be verified by that person and the Lord. When a person self-corrects, it comes with humility, conviction, and compassion. The person is free of sin and a defiling mind and heart, and is ready to properly assist his brother.

4. After a self-correction (and often chastisement from the Lord), a person is in the right mindset and position to truly help his brother.

Jesus said do not judge…He did not say do not correct.

Galatians 6:1-2 - Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

the-line

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.com/oneinchpunch

Matthew 12:43-45When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

1. Freedom is joyous. When you’re delivered or freed from an evil spirit or habit (i.e. pornography, smoking, drinking, etc.), you feel a great freedom and peace. The thoughts in your mind is silenced and your heart is happy. You’re full of peace and joy.

2. The spirit wants back in. At the same time, that spirit or habit wants its home back. Its physical address was you and it wants back in. The spirit is possessive and doesn’t see anyway around it. Though it returns and sees the your ‘house’ in order, it wants back in.

The spirit needs a way in. It will try some of the ‘old’ temptations and people to bring you back to your previous state in sin. In most cases, the spirit is not strong enough to return on its own. It needs you to open the door. Honestly, the spirit doesn’t need you to do all of the same things as before, it only needs one crack of the door. However, you’re now strong enough to keep that spirit away.

Ephesians 4:27Neither give place to the devil.

3. The spirit calls for backup. If the spirit can’t get back in through some of your previous acts of sin, it gets help. As Jesus says, the spirit returns with several spirits more wicked than itself. The spirit doesn’t care about what will happen to you, it just wants to return. It plans on riding you until you die anyway. It has no concern for the condition of your soul. It’s already destined for hell (the eternal lake of fire).

4. The stakes of temptation are raised. The other spirits that are brought in are more wicked and devious than the first. These other spirits will increase the level of temptation in order for you to give in. Now, you hear these evil spirits calling out through other people and situations…waiting for you to wear down, tire out, and give up from saying no.

5. The line of temptation and sin. When temptation comes, you can feel a line being drawn between you and sin. If you cross the line of temptation, you’ll return to the previous habits and sins. And if you return, it’ll be even harder to return to a ‘place’ of freedom and peace (John 5:1-15).

6. Don’t cross the line…keep fighting. In the moments of temptation, you must walk away, bind (and cast out) thoughts, unfriend people on social media, turn the television channel, and not accept the thoughts of temptation.

Keep fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Put on the armor of God and stand your ground on the word of God and the freedom you’ve received (Ephesians 6:10-18). You don’t have to give in. You don’t have to sin. You don’t have to cross the line!

still-pray

Photo courtesy of CreationSwap/forgiven

There are times when you give someone your very best advice to help them out of a difficult situation or improve their life…but they don’t take it. No matter what you do or say, they won’t listen. You spend hours, days, weeks, and months pouring out your heart to get them to change, but to no avail. You get so frustrated that you want to give up and not waste anymore time trying to help them.

Though they may not listen to you, you can pray for them.

Prayer is never beyond the reach of those you care for and want to see happy and whole. The Lord’s hand is not too short where He cannot save nor His too ear heavy where He cannot hear (Isaiah 59:1). He can reach into the secret and private places of our hearts and minds to change our perspective and change circumstances for the better. What seems impossible for you is not impossible for God!

The next time you feel frustrated with a friend or family member…pray. No matter how much time goes by, keep praying.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 - Pray without ceasing.

peace-shores

Photo courtesy of CreationSwap/joecavazos

Isaiah 26:3Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

1. Life is tough. There’s so much going on around us that we feel that we are drowning without a life vest or help. We try to come up for air to take a breath from the struggles of the day, only to be pulled back into the abyss of reality. We fill stuck, trapped, and without hope. We spend our days disappointed, impatient, and frustrated. We want peace and freedom, but they seem to slip through our hands just when we think it’s in our grasp. An endless cycle of chasing peace and freedom, only to be disappointed again and again. However, there is a way to experience a perfect peace.

2. There is a ‘perfect’ peace. Isaiah was writing about those who are kept in perfect peace. When thinking about a peace that is ‘perfect,’ we can think of something that is whole and complete. Because it is perfect, it is everything we ever want, need, or desire. There are no imperfections with this peace, it will not fail us, and it can be ours.

3. The means to obtain perfect peace is trust. In order to receive a perfect peace, we must first place our trust in God. Trusting in God requires a change in our perspective of the reality of our circumstances in light of who God is. Though our situation may or may not change, our trust in God allows us to see how He can influence our minds and hearts regardless of where we are or what we have to face.

Our trust in God doesn’t mean we’ll be delivered from every bad situation or trouble. It doesn’t even mean we’ll begin to receive good things from God because we say we trust Him. We trust Him because we understand He is God. He is a deliverer. He cares for us. He has a plan greater than our current surroundings. He has given us eternal life and He wants us to understand that what He has is far greater than anything the world can provide us.

4. Trusting God takes faith. So many of us spend our years wanting to enjoy the pleasures of the world and sin. We forget that these pleasures are only temporary, yet we often spend every mental, physical, financial, and emotional available to secure a bit of the American dream and any other pleasure possible. However, in doing so, we may place ourselves further away from God’s ideal as His enemy rather than images of His children (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17).

When reading Hebrews 11:1-40, we read about what faith is, how those who lived by faith focused on God, and the perfect peace they obtained in spite of their trials. Regardless of their trials and tribulations, they were hoping for the eternal city which was not made by human hands (Hebrews 11:13-16).

However, when we take our eyes from God (and place them in the world), our hope diminishes. We forget about an eternal life after this, the eternal city, and we begin to focus on our current location. We allow it (and the ways of the world) to consume us rather than keeping our faith and trust in God.

5. When we trust God, we will keep our mind stayed on Him. You’ve lived long enough to know how the ways of the world attempt to suffocate every godly thought and behavior out of your life. In order to keep the world out of your mind and heart, you have to keep yourself engulfed in God.

Being engulfed in God is more than a physical location. We can spend every waking moment in church, yet be no closer to God. We’re in the right place, but it doesn’t guarantee our minds will be stayed on God. Keeping your mind stayed on God is both intentional and focused. It is a deliberate act that chooses to focus on God regardless of the trials and tribulations surrounding your life. It is a conscious decision made to fill your life and heart with God…all day, everyday.

6. God will keep us in perfect peace. Being in perfect peace can be both a feeling and a state of mind. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused to worship a gold image set up by the king of Babylon (Daniel 3:8-16). The king stated that whoever did not bow down and worship the image when the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery sound would be thrown into the burning fiery furnace.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were brought before the king to answer for their disobedience to his decree, they stated:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

The trust of these three was in God. They were facing certain death for their refusal to worship the gold image, yet they chose to place their trust in God. They understood God was able to deliver them, but even if He did not, they would not serve the king’s gods or worship the gold image. They were kept in perfect peace.

God will keep you and allow your testimony before Him to remain strong and sure. God is able to deliver you from whatever issue you have in your life right now. But if He doesn’t, be encouraged to keep your faith and trust in Him. He loves you and desires to keep you close to His heart for an eternity. This is what He wants for you, and it’s more than the world could give you.

He can keep you in perfect peace, but it is something you must want as you first trust Him and keep your mind stayed on Him.

remember

Photo courtesy of CreationSwap/jeremybinns

Isaiah 25:1 - O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.

Isaiah makes a personal reference to His God. What he shares is not hearsay or what he learned from another person. He is declaring what he knows about God:

1. God is his God, and he will exalt and praise Him.

2. He remembers the wonderful things God has done.

3. He remembers God’s counsel is filled with faithfulness and truth.

Regardless of the test or trial in your life now, you can look over your life and think of the wonderful things God has done for you in the past:

  • He has been faithful when people were not.
  • He has been forgiving when people have not.
  • He has been a provider.
  • He has been a comforter.
  • He has brought you out of situations you never thought you’d be free from.
  • He placed you above your enemies, in spite of what they did to you.
  • He lifted you up and kept you close to His heart.

When you remember God’s love, His faithfulness, and truth, it provides you with the comfort you need to hold your head high, stand upright, and live by His standard. It gives you the energy, strength, and grace to continue on because in spite of what you see, hear, or experience, God can overcome it all.

What do you remember about God?

mistreated2

Photo courtesy of CreationSwap/MattGruber

Matthew 5:38-42Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

1. People hate being mistreated. People want to be treated with respect at all times – to include their time, property, money, and family. They may avoid some people and treat others badly to ensure everybody knows not to mess with them. They will not be taken for a ‘fool’ or be used as anyone’s doormat. They don’t want to be taken advantage of or seem like they’re weak. They want to be strong in the eyes of man, but does that ‘strength’ equate to obedience in God?! No, it doesn’t.

2. Many people may seek to take advantage of us. Some people will try to take advantage of us or abuse us (and their position) because we’re disciples of Jesus or because of their own prejudice and hatred. They’ll exercise every opportunity possible to take advantage of us because they can.

3. We want to avoid (or repay) people that seek to abuse, mistreat, or act on their hatred of us. Some people being mistreated may need to fight off feelings to repay others for what they’ve done or run away. They close their heart and life to anyone that would even remotely treat them in a similar manner. Their mind and emotions are are over the place and they become a wreak because they continue thinking about the injustice which has occurred (or is occurring). They often know what they should do, but they fight their flesh until they choose to change their perspective of the person (or people) and situation. Jesus wants to show us a better way…

4. The response to mistreatment. When Jesus speaks about ‘an eye for an eye…,’ He speaks from the Law of Moses (Leviticus 24:17-21) to repay those things which are done to you or your animal. However, Jesus says that we are not to resist evil. We are to allow the evil to continue without seeking repayment or ‘revenge.’ If a person sues you and takes your coat, give him your cloak. If a person compels (forces) you to go one mile, go with him two.

Jesus goes on further and says that we are to give to them that ask of us and not turn away those that want to borrow from us. What happens when you’ve given to those in need and they keep wanting more? Give more…love your enemies…bless those that curse us…pray for them that despitefully use and persecute you…show mercy (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 10:25-37).

Jesus says we should do this to be a child of our Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:45). He says that our Father makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rains on the just and unjust. As our Father even provides for those that are considered evil and unjust, we should do the same. It’s what makes us perfect as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48). God is not asking you to do anything He wouldn’t do or hasn’t already done for you (Hebrews 12:1-4). This is what makes you His child. A child does what His Father does.