When today draws to a close, the whole world will celebrate another year gone. But this isn’t just a year passing, it’s also a decade (and a score as my son will tell you). It’s a time for looking back as well as ahead. Where were you in 2010? What was happening in your life? Are you better off now than then? Are you where you thought you’d be? Had you given any thought to where you wanted to be ten years later? A lot can change in a decade that is out of our control, but there’s also a lot that you and I can control. Looking forward and dreaming about what God wants to do through you is one of those things.
We know Jeremiah 29:11 says that God knows the plans He has for us, but do we know the plans we have for ourselves? As a Christian, it’s important to be proactive with our lives. We can’t afford to just go with the flow. You were created with purpose on purpose. Unless you set goals, make a plan, create practical steps to achieve and measure your progress in that plan, you may find yourself in 2030 no where near where you want to be having lost a decade. Where do you want to be 10 years from now? What are some major things you want to accomplish? What would you like God to do through you in that time?
The Golden Rule In Matthew 7:12 tells us to treat others the way we want to be treated. Do you have a goal for how you want to treat others going forward? Romans 15:2 says, “Our goal must be to empower others to do what is right and good for them, and to bring them into spiritual maturity” (TPT). Think of ways you can empower others in your life, and do something daily to do it. You don’t have to do something big, but through your consistent, small actions, you can make a world of difference in the lives of people around you. Seek God on what He would like to do through you to empower others each day so that you can help them reach their goals and spiritual maturity. In ten years, you can change countless lives, but it starts with a choice, a plan and an action.
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It was a sculptor named Frederic Bartholdi who designed and built the Statue of Liberty. It was built and then dedicated in New York City In 1886. It would be nearly 20 years later when the Wright brothers first took flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Yet, when building the Statue of Liberty, Bartholdi refused to cut corners, especially on the head of Lady Liberty. To think that someone would ever be able to see the top of her head never crossed his mind, but he took the time to put the same amount of work and detail up there. When you’re driven by excellence, you focus even on the details you don’t think that others will see. You understand that when you get the small details right, the big problems rarely show up.
My personal motto is, “If it has my name on it, it needs to be done with excellence.” If I’m going to spend my time working on something, I want to make sure I don’t cut any corners or do a job that will reflect poorly on me. In my mind, I think about how the things I do don’t just reflect myself, but God. As a person who bears the name Christian, I should also be concerned about the reputation of the One whose name I bear. According to 1 Corinthians 12:7, each one of us are given gifts by God in order to help each other. If we’re going to maximize our gifts and their effects in the lives of others, it’s important that we understand how to use them and that we focus on using them well. We should never take these gifts lightly.
Galatians 6:4 says, “Let everyone be devoted to fulfill the work God has given them to do with excellence, and their joy will be in doing what’s right and being themselves, and not in being affirmed by others” (TPT). You have work that God has called you to do through the unique gifts He has equipped you with. If you don’t use them, or do your work half heartedly, you diminish the ripple affect into the lives of others. To have the greatest impact on this world, we each need to know our giftings and operate in them with the excellence they deserve. Put time into perfecting the details, even the ones you think no one will ever see. You never know what God will do or how He May bless your commitment to doing all things with excellence.
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I like to ask people, “What’s the difference between a dream and a goal?” A lot of people struggle with this question at first because it’s hard to articulate on the spot. But think about it for a second. They’re very similar with one exception. A goal is something you have a plan for in order to accomplish it. Dreams are usually large goals without a plan. The problem is most of us think we have set goals when really all we have done is created a bunch of dreams without a plan to accomplish them.
The people I know who are goal oriented aren’t easily swayed into doing things that don’t align with their goals. They know exactly what they need to do in order to accomplish them and they are pretty disciplined. Dreamers aren’t as disciplined. They live with their heads in the clouds and are easily knocked off course by distractions. Unfortunately that’s the way many of us live our lives and it bleeds into our faith as well. We’re living for Christ without a purpose, and that’s dangerous.
In 1 Corinthians 9:24, Paul mentions that in a race, everyone runs, but only one wins. He then tells us to run to win. Verse 26 says, “Therefore I do not run without a definite goal” (AMP). Not only are we to run to win the ultimate prize, we are to run with purpose. We are to run with goals. To keep from being easily distracted by all this world has to offer, and to keep our head out of the clouds, we need to have spiritual goals. There’s no other way for us to have the impact on this world that we’re called to have. God has a purpose and a plan for you that only you can fulfill. Don’t go through life without accomplishing all God has planned for you. Set goals, make a plan and start doing things today that move you towards fulfilling your purpose.
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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
At a young age I felt like I was called into ministry. I began preparing and practicing, but honestly I was afraid of it. It was a dream that was in front of me, but the older I got, the further into the future this dream seemed to go. Then in a single day, the dream died. I went through a divorce that couldn’t be avoided. The denomination I was a part of at the time had a rule back then that you couldn’t be a minister if you were divorced. I was devastated by both the divorce and the fact that I could never be in ministry. All my life had been pointing to the dream of ministry and it was gone. Not only was I having to start life over, I was lost without a dream to guide me. That is until a friend told me,”Do you really think that man can negate God’s calling?”
In Ezekiel 37, God showed Ezekiel a valley of very dry bones. I imagine it was quite a sight to see. Dead people’s bones were scattered everywhere and there were none connected together I’m sure. As God showed him all these bones, He asked him a question in verse 3. “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?” (NLT) You and i both know that humanly it impossible for them to be brought back to life, but that’s not how Ezekiel answered. Instead of stating the obvious, he replied, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know the answer to that.” At that answer, God told him to speak to those bones and prophesy to them to come alive and live again. Just like that the bones all came together and were covered with flesh. Then he was told to speak and prophesy the breath of life back into them and they became a living army.
You may be where I was once in feeling like your calling or the dream God gave you is dead and in the past. It doesn’t matter whether it’s anything you’ve done, someone has done to you or if it’s from not going after it in time. Man, including yourself, cannot take away God’s promises, nor His plan for your life. You may be looking at a valley of the dead bones of your dreams today, but God can make them live again. Speak to your dream. Speak life into it. If God has placed it in you, it will happen no matter what things look like today. Be like Ezekiel when you’re looking at what seems dead. Don’t pronounce that it can’t live again. Let God answer that question and watch Him begin to bring the pieces back together again.
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Have you ever felt ill equipped to do something? Maybe you did your part to get ready for it, but you didn’t have the right tools to be successful. I’ve had that happen before. I had to lead a meeting, but when I arrived to the location, there wasn’t a projector. If they couldn’t see my PowerPoint slides, they wouldn’t be able to understand what I was discussing. It was one of those moments where you have to get really creative or pray that someone had a spare projector somewhere. Thankfully that was the case and I was able to give them the info they needed.
When it comes to fulfilling your purpose, the same thing can happen. There’s only so much you can do before you need God to do what only He can do. The problems come when we stop being patient and start trying to get creative in doing God’s part. We try to equip ourselves for what He wants to accomplish through us, but like Saul’s armor on David, it doesn’t fit. I’ve found that moving forward before God has done His part often complicates things and can have long lasting consequences.
In Hebrews 13:21, the writer prays and reminds us, “May the God of peace provide you with every good thing you need in order to do his will” (GNT). You have a part and God has a part. Learn to do your part and then have patience while God does His. He will give you what you need when you need it. I know it feels like you need it sooner or that you need to step in and help Him, but wait on Him. The Bible is full of people who didn’t wait and tried to do God’s part. Today, purpose in your heart that you will trust God to provide the thing you’re missing to accomplish His will and that you will wait until He gives it to you.
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In sports, there are always arguments over who is the greatest of all time. In football, the question is if Tom Brady is greater than Joe Montana. In basketball, it’s if LeBron James is greater than Michael Jordan. There’s even debate over who the single greatest sports figure is across all sports. People will always have opinions and will argue over who the greatest is when it comes to sports or just about anything really. I believe it’s because God put something in us that wants to be great and fights against mediocrity.
Even the disciples argued over who was the greatest. Luke 9:46 says, “An argument broke out among the disciples as to which one of them was the greatest” (GNT). I can hear their arguments now. John probably said, “I’m the greatest because He loves me most.” Peter argued, “But I walked on water!” What’s funny is you don’t hear Jesus rebuke them for wanting to be great. Instead, He says, “For the one who is least among all of you [that is, the one who is genuinely humble–the one with a realistic self-view]– he is the one who is [truly] great” (AMP).
Jesus’ desire is that each of us would be great, and He told us how. In God’s Kingdom, the greatest isn’t the person who wins the most souls, heals the most people, has the most famous ministry or goes to third world countries. To be great is to be humble and to serve others. It’s understanding who we are on Christ and that we are only great through Him. He is the potter and we are the clay. If you want to be great, then let Him do what He wants with your life. Your greatest potential lies in being who He created you to be.
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