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Dream Bigger – Ask More

“You do not have, because you do not ask.” (James 4:2 ESV)

James the Apostle had the spiritual gift of bluntness. We’ve received the benefit of his brutally honest thoughts, such as when he answers a common question with such a common sense answer. Why don’t I have? Because I didn’t ask. And he goes on to point out that often when we ask, we’re doing so for selfish reasons.

I want to challenge you today to do some pretty important things.

Dream Bigger

Whatever it is you feel is God’s will for your life, think bigger. It’s a virtual guarantee that God is already thinking bigger. His vision trumps ours every time, so it’s a good challenge to try to keep up with Him.

Consider God’s Glory

As you dream, dream for His glory. The purest motive possible is the motive of the nations being made glad in the light of the glory of God. Why are you dreaming what you’re dreaming? For a nicer home? A bigger reputation? Or the glory of God?

Sometimes when our dreams don’t align with God’s will, we expect Him to adjust His will to our desires. We ought to be thinking just the opposite – how can we adjust our desires to His will?

Ask

The most common word for “pray” in the New Testament literally means “ask.” In fact, the word ask is a more literal translation, but pray came to us from old English and we’ve hung on to it as a religious word. So dream in a way that is aligned with God’s will, then ask Him to bring it to pass in your life.

Do

Ever heard that phrase, “Plan your work, then work your plan?” I believe that we should join God in what He wants to do in, around, and through us. We have the privilege, by grace, of cooperating with the actions of God.

So get started.

Finding the Right Path In Life – Jesus

Sandy PathJesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father except through me.” I remember a Bible college professor paraphrasing what Jesus meant with these lines:

I am the Way… walk Me.
I am the Truth… know Me.
I am the Life… live Me.

Jesus, paraphrased by Dr. Jesse Thomas

I love that! I wrote last week about getting off the wrong path, but that can never be the end of the story. To jettison ourselves from any path, we need a new path to follow, and for the believer in Christ, that path is the person of Jesus Christ.

In other words, it’s not just about doing all the right things instead of doing the wrong things. It’s about being involved with the right Person, Jesus. He is the right path. When we walk “in Christ,” and we’re coming to know Christ, and we’re living as Jesus lived, we’re guaranteed to be on the right path.

So how do you find and walk the right path, the path that is Jesus?

  1. Trust Him. Once and for all, completely trust Him as your one and only Savior.
  2. Hear Him. Get to know His voice through His Word.
  3. Talk to Him as you live, as you walk, and as you do life.
  4. Follow His example, emulate His character, and imitate His behaviors.
  5. Serve Him, by serving others in His name.

Here’s hoping you find the right path, that you fully commit to trusting, hearing, knowing, following, and serving Jesus!

Photo by jwtwel.

Getting Off the Wrong Path

Danger. Wrong Way. Turn Back.

You are where you are because you have followed a path. You’ve made a series of choices that have brought you to your current spot on life’s map, and the Bible lets us know that our default direction is always down the wrong path.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6 ESV

There is a path before each person that seems right,
but it ends in death.

Proverbs 14:12 NLT

We often wonder, how did I end up so unhealthy, so broke, so alone? Obviously there are times when circumstances are beyond our control, but often we have landed in our current situation because of the decisions we’ve made. So what do you do when you realize you’re on the wrong path?

Turn around.


By the way, have you "liked" Grace Hills Church on Facebook yet?


The Bible word for turning around is repentance and to repent means to change the mind – to do a 180, forsaking our sin and trusting in Jesus. You have never traveled so far down the wrong path that God’s grace is unable to draw you into His will again! Your emotions may tell you otherwise, but if God was finished with you then you wouldn’t be reading this article right now.

So switch. The Bible makes it clear that too few people will heed this advice.

You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

Matthew 7:13-14 NLT

Need help figuring out how to express repentance to God? Think through this prayer and speak from your own heart to God in similar fashion…

Dear God, I realize I’ve been living apart from you, following my own path. I’ve sinned and deserve to be separated from You forever because of it. But I also know that Jesus Christ died for me on the cross, paying the penalty of my sins, and I receive Him today as my Savior. I want to turn from my sin and follow You, Lord. I want to begin walking the right path today.

If you’ve prayed to repent of sin and receive Jesus just now, or if you have questions about this decision, please let me know!


Note: This series of articles is based on some truths I’ve learned while reading Andy Stanley’s book, The Principle of the Path, an excellent read!

Enjoying the Favor of God

Favor of GodYesterday, I talked about defining the favor of God, and I defined it as enjoying the undeserved kindness of God. I also said you can spot the favor of God when you see that He has sovereignly chosen to bless something or someone for the purpose of bringing Himself glory. His favor is never for our enjoyment alone – it is always intended to be shared with others.

In the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, Gabriel comes to deliver the message that the Holy Spirit would conceive His Son in her virgin womb, and that He was to be called Jesus. Astounding! Impossible! After the angel explained that nothing is impossible with God, Mary reacts, and there’s a HUGE lesson in her response…

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

~ Luke 1:38 NLT

Did you catch that? Mary was humble and highly favored as a recipient of God’s gracious gift. But she was also confident and even enthusiastic about what God wanted to do in her life. This is a point at which I see a significant divergence in Mary’s attitude and the average believer today.

We’re afraid of being confident before God. We’re afraid of being enthusiastic about what He wants to do. Why?

  • People will think I’m prideful.
  • I’ve failed God too much.
  • I’m not worthy of His using me.
  • Somebody else is better equipped.

And on go our lists of excuses. Most center around a false understanding of why He values us. God doesn’t assign value to us on the basis of our past performance but rather on the purchase of our lives made by Jesus on the cross. Because we are redeemed, He wants to use us to change the world. And our other excuses tend to revolve around what other people will think.

Mary, on the other hand, teaches us a different lesson. She replies to Gabriel, “May everything you have said about me come true!” In other words, “I want it! I want it all! Use me to the fullest extent possible, God, because that’s why I’m here to begin with! I’m yours!

It isn’t a prideful or arrogant thing to desire the favor of God on our lives. Instead, it’s a recognition of God’s eternal purposes for me, and it’s also a recognition that God is big and powerful enough to use even me. And it’s also a matter of submission to a God who has sovereignly chosen to use redeemed, imperfect people to accomplish His greatest missions.

Enjoying the favor of God shouldn’t be about wanting more stuff or striving for mere personal comfort and pleasure. Instead, it should be about accepting our assigned role in His kingdom work.

If you’re refusing to accept the benefit of God’s favor out of a false sense of humility, get over yourself (false humility is really self-centered pride anyway), stop holding up the mission, and receive the assigned blessing God has for you so that He can be all the more glorified in your life.

This is an imperative… enjoy the favor of God for His name’s sake!

Photo by abstract duck

How to Know When God Is Up to Something

WavesIs the earth still spinning? Are waves still crashing on the beach? God. Is. Up. To. Something… guaranteed!

It’s been well over ten years since I led our church in Kentucky through a study of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, the classic work by Henry Blackaby and Claude King. The primary lesson of that study has made a lifelong impact on who I am: God is always at work in, around, and through you. And the conclusion is we must join God in what He is doing.

Angie and I are on a roller coaster journey right now. Easter at Saddleback was a crazy time in which we saw around 38,000 people come to church with hundreds of decisions made for Christ. My parents have been visiting from Kentucky. I’m a bit behind on several freelance projects. Angie has a very busy week and then is heading for Vegas to be treated like the princess she is at Women of Faith. And as of today, we have about nine weeks until we move to Arkansas to begin the planting of Grace Hills Church.

As we prepare for relocation, it’s been interesting to see word get out about Grace Hills and people expressing an interest in being part of things already. We can’t wait to get on the ground and grow those relationships, but we also want to squeeze all we can out of the experience here in southern California. I have a Pastors.com community to manage. We have friends we’re going to dearly miss. I have mentors from whom I want to learn. And there is also a bit of packing to do!

We’re currently praying for God to open doors to support partnerships. If you or your church would be interested in partnering with us, we’d love to hear from you, but what is more valuable is the prayer support we’re already receiving in large amounts from many friends and family.

God is up to some stuff. If we get too busy, we’ll miss joining Him because we’ll be too distracted. If we don’t get busy, we’ll miss joining Him because we’ll expect things to happen without intentional effort on our part. In the middle is this thing called balance and in our walk with God, balance means finding that sweet spot where we’re taking time to slow down and know Him and we’re devoting time to serving Him.

Like the ocean waves hitting the shores, God is consistent in showing up. Day or night and no matter the season, He keeps making noise around us. There are times when the tide goes out and a sense of distance from Him looms heavy, but the tide always comes back in. God’s presence never leaves us. He’s always up to something!

photo source: stsuch