Tag Archives: God

Where There’s Grace, There’s Fire.

Candle Flower FREE

   There was a time in my life when I went to confession, having been told by the good nuns (and they were good), that I would receive “grace” for going and that the more I went to confession, the more grace I would get. That was all fine and good – except that I didn’t really have any idea what grace was.

   For the most part, I reasoned that grace was synonymous with mercy. Makes sense, right? I mean, you confess your sins and you have to receive mercy in order to be forgiven. The only problem was, I couldn’t understand how you could get “more” mercy; either you had it or you didn’t have it; either your sins were forgiven – or they weren’t. How could they be more forgiven or less forgiven?

   ???

   Now while I didn’t lose a lot of sleep over the issue, it was certainly a mystery. But I filed it away in the back of my mind and figured that some far off day when I finally got to heaven, some angel or saint would no doubt explain it to me. (It would, I thought, probably be Apostle Paul since he was always declaring “grace and peace” to someone or other.) However, that day came sooner than I thought – and not from Paul. One day as I was sitting in church mostly listening, I heard a woman begin to teach on the difference between grace and mercy. My ears perked up.

   Simply put, mercy is defined as not getting what we do deserve – for example, punishment for sin, while grace is defined as getting what we do not deserve –  in this case, the power and ability to accomplish whatever it is we need to do.

   I took a moment and thought about that. Suddenly it all began to make sense: Mercy and grace are not the same thing. Mercy is the forgiveness of sin, and grace is the power to overcome sin.

   Still, grace is so much more. Grace is the power of God to accomplish and achieve the extraordinary, the supernatural, even the impossible things we are called to do in order to fulfill our destinies.

Grace is not just some vague, wimpy, “nice” little Christian concept. Grace is the fire-power of God.

   Think about that.

   The fact is that grace, like faith, is an actual substance, a “thing” which we can receive from God in order to accomplish whatever it is He has called us to do. And although it’s probably an insufficient analogy, I like to think of grace as a tool without which we can’t get the job done. Can we split wood without an axe or saw? Can we drive without a vehicle? Can we communicate without language?      

   Can we fulfill our destinies without the fire of God’s grace empowering our lives?

   Possibly, but not well. But that’s all right because God says, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (Romans 12:9).

   Have you ever been so frustrated trying to achieve your calling, your destiny, that you just can’t seem to do what you feel you’ve been called to do? Have you even doubted that calling?

   Have you ever just wanted to quit?

   There’s fire for that.

 

 

 

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Just Believe It.

God’s Eye in Space (NASA)

gods-eye-nasa

Have you ever gotten a promise from God – and then you’re not certain you’ve gotten a promise from God? Probably. You get a word somehow – from the Bible, a sermon, another person – and you know it’s for you. God is speaking the very thing to you that you’ve been praying about or that’s been your heart’s desire or that you wondered if, someday, you could do. But then that promise seems too good to be true – and you begin to wonder . . .

“Did I really hear that? Or did I imagine it?” It happens. We begin to doubt our ability to hear God. Then we become afraid to believe what we’ve heard because – well, what if we’re wrong??

Gideon certainly had this problem. God told him that he would be the one used to lead Israel into battle against its enemies and Gideon, who was the least likely in all of Israel to be chosen to lead anything, wasn’t quite sure he’d heard correctly. So, he initiated the “fleece” test. You’ve heard of that? A “fleece” is any test we throw out to God asking Him to prove Himself to us. Can you imagine?? (But we’ve all done it.) So Gideon put out a sheep’s fleece and asked God to make it dry despite the dew and then to do the opposite: wet and no dew. Gideon needed to be absolutely certain it was God who had said to go and fight. He was afraid he’d heard incorrectly. But, as it turns out, he had heard right; God did speak to him to lead Israel into battle and promised him he would win. Which then caused Gideon to say:

 “Who? Me? I don’t deserve a promise like that!” No one does – but that’s our perspective, not God’s. If you randomly open to any given page in the Bible, odds are you’re going to find God choosing someone inconsequential to do something quite consequential. Reference Abraham, Moses (after he’d been banished to the desert), Esther, Joseph, Gideon, David, Rahab, most prophets, Mary, Peter, Mary Magdalene, Matt the tax collector – you get the idea. Somebody has to do great things. Why not you? And if your promise has to do with receiving a heart’s desire – getting married, having a child, doing any specific thing – remember that God stands behind those promises, too. Both Sarah and Hannah desired to have a child and both did. In addition, Jesus healed many people whose desire was for wholeness or deliverance; He even answered prayers to raise the dead. God wants to give you your heart’s desire.

Nathan the prophet, speaking for God, told David, “’Go and do all that is in your heart.’”

“What if God changes His mind about what He promised me?” I don’t believe God does that – primarily based on what He says about changing His mind: “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Num. 23:19). Translation: If God has given you a promise, it will happen.

The Lord gives us an interesting illustration in the Word to make the point that His word is unchanging, trustworthy, and reliable. Both King Xerxes in the book of Esther and King Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel gave commands they later regretted. Xerxes gave a command allowing the slaughter of all Jewish people (not knowing Esther was Jewish), and Nebuchadnezzar gave a command to put to death anyone who insisted on worshiping anyone other than himself (not knowing Daniel had done this). However, having given the commands, even the kings could not revoke their own word. So if the word of mere man was so invariable, how much more the Word of God? As the Lord says about His own word: “’As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it’” (Is. 55: 10-11). Period.

“But what if I can’t do it??” Abraham expressed this fear right after God had promised him “the land,” saying, “’O Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it [the land]?’” (Gen. 15:8). Abraham wasn’t questioning God’s faithfulness to His promise. Rather, Abraham was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to live up to the promise and “gain possession of it”. He didn’t understand that it wasn’t up to him to fulfill the promise – it was God’s work to do. In fact, the Lord goes on to tell Abraham that this possession of the land would happen long after he had died and that it would be His doing, not Abe’s. “’To your descendents I give this land . . .’” (vs. 18-19). If you’re worried about whether you “can do it,” remember God’s word to Zerubbabel: “’Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty’” (Zech 4:6).

If you’ve received a promise from God regarding a dream, a vision, a destiny, count on it because the thing is this: the fulfillment of that promise does not depend on you; it depends on God.

Your job?  Just believe it.

 

Prayer Wreckers

Man in DespairWe all spend a lot of time and energy praying for all kinds of things – and some of those prayers are urgent, desperate prayers. But what if we’re sabotaging our own prayers? What if we’re doing something, even unconsciously, to negate them? Would we want to know that? Why wouldn’t we?

In my last post, “Ten Ways to Blow Up Your Destiny,” I introduced three things that will shipwreck our prayers. Today, I want to discuss the rest of the principles that we should know in order to not sideline our prayers.

Thing #1: Put God first. In other words, we cannot and should not put our dreams, visions or destinies before God. Jesus tells His followers, ‘”Your heavenly Father already knows all of your needs . . . Seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and all of these things will be given to you as well . . .’” (Matt. 6:33). Our “needs” are not just categorized as physical needs; we need all kinds of intervention for all kinds of things. No matter – same principle applies: the big “if-then” – if we put God first, then we get whatever we might need. Period.

Thing #2: Unconfessed sin. David proved that after he sinned with Bathsheba, lied about it, and then killed her husband, Uriah, to cover it up. Now, if anyone should have their prayers tuned out by God, it would be someone who’d done all of those things. But David repented of his sin (with a little persuasion from the prophet, Nathan). David pleaded to God: “’Don’t keep looking at my sin. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God, Renew a right spirit in me . . .’” (LB, Ps. 51:9-10). After David confessed his sin, God was able to interact with him again. Remember, Habakkuk says to God, “’Your eyes are too pure [even] to look on evil; you cannot tolerate sin’” (1:13). “Tolerate” is a little mild for the translation. The KJ version says, “’You cannot [even] look on sin’”.  And the word “cannot” in all translations means “cannot”. It doesn’t mean “might not” or “can-if-He-wants-to-but-just-doesn’t-want-to”. God is not able even to look at sin, much less have fellowship with someone in it (thus the reason Christ died – but that’s another post entirely). So – unconfessed sin = unanswered prayers.

Thing #3: Wrong response to authority. We see this principle in Paul’s warning to children to submit to and obey their parents and they’ll be blessed. Why? Because their parents are the authority over children. If they will submit to authority, then they will be blessed. But that warning about authority applies to all of us, not simply children.

And why does God feel so strongly about submission that He ties conditions to responses to authority? Because societies fall apart when people begin to blow off authorities.

(Watched the news lately?) So God has built into His principles the condition that if we submit to authority, then we will be blessed. And aren’t all answered prayers considered blessings? I know mine are.

Thing #4: Pride.  This is another no-no if we’d like our prayers answered. We all know pride is bad – no surprise there. For example, take Naaman who came to the prophet Elisha to petition (pray) for healing from leprosy. When Elisha told Naaman to go and dip in the Jordan River some times, Naaman thought that was ridiculous and refused. His pride got in the way. Consequently, he didn’t have his prayer for healing answered until he decided to humble himself and take a dip. Then his prayer was answered. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5-6).

Thing #5: “Evil speech.”  Our words can be another problem if you’d like your prayers answered. Gossip, slander, accusation, arguing, lying, complaining – all of these can hinder prayers. Now, thank God for his mercy because who hasn’t, at the very least, complained? But for those who continue in these things without repentance, their prayers won’t accomplish much. Isaiah warns, “’If you do away with the pointing finger [accusation] and malicious talk . . . then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday [revelation]. The Lord will guide you always [direction]; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land [provision] and will strengthen your frame [healing] . . .’” (58:9-11, interpretations mine). Peter says, “’If you want a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and keep your lips from telling lies’” (3:9).

Thing #6: Have faith in God, not in faith itself.  It’s not up to us to manufacture our faith and moreover, “having faith” is not about how much faith we have, it’s about whether or not we trust God. Why is this important? Two reasons: first, sometimes we treat faith like heaven’s money; if we just get enough of it, we can cash it in for whatever we want. Doesn’t work that way. Second, the essence of faith is the question: “Do I trust God – whether or not He answers my prayers the way I want Him to?” That’s vastly different than “Okay, God, here’s how much faith I have so here’s how I want You to answer my prayer.” Faith is not cash, and God is not a vending machine. If we think so, I think I can predict that our prayers won’t be very effective.

Next post I’ll finish this up; there are three more principles for praying effectively and, if disregarded, will negate our prayers. In the meantime, lest we become overwhelmed with all of the ways we can shipwreck our prayers, let’s simply remember to begin our prayers with a sincere, “Lord, I’m sorry for . . .”

 

To Quit or Not to Quit? That is the Question.

Grandfather Clock           Ever feel like you just want to throw in the towel? You’ve worked, labored, toiled at some particular thing for a long time – weeks, months, even years – and suddenly, you come to the realization that it was all a waste of time. Or you think it was. Isaiah thought so. Isaiah knew that the Lord had called him to speak for Him and yet still, he doubted the impact of his calling and labor: “’I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing . . .’” (49:4a).

            Isaiah felt like many of us when we give years of our lives to some dream and then it all falls apart. It’s devastating. It could be sowing into a career, a ministry, a business; it could be something we’ve been striving to create or to build – it could be any dream or vision fused with our hearts.

           And the emotional train wreck is not the only problem. After we hit the Big Wall, we find ourselves stuck on the question: “Is this just a temporary setback in the will of God or have I been on the wrong track the entire time?”

Because if it’s the “wrong track,” that means we’ve wasted the only real commodity we’ve got in this life: time.

            The problem is – which is it? The distinction is huge. The difference makes all the difference.

            As Christians, we put a great deal of stock into “seeking the will of God” – as well we should. However, when things don’t pan out, then we’re often in doubt: Was it ever God’s will that I pursue this dream? Or was it not? (Of course the assumption is that we did ask first.) Nevertheless, whether it was the will of God or not, we have the same two choices: We can persevere – or we can quit. However, if we know that pursuing that thing is the will of God, then quitting is not an option. We’re going to push through because the encouragement we have is that we’re not on the wrong track – we’ve just hit a temporary obstacle. But if it’s not the will of God, it would be stupid to persevere with something that God was never in to begin with. So then the fundamental question remains: was it God or was it not God?

            What if we really just don’t know?

            Back to Isaiah. Granted, Isaiah had the advantage of having heard from the Lord in the first place that what he was doing was what he was called to do. So knowing that, he was able to say, “’Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward’” (41:4b). But when we haven’t heard directly from the Lord about what we’re doing – and let’s say we did sincerely ask – then what? Do we fight through or do we back up?  Fascinating question.

            There’s always the option of putting “the dream” on the shelf. If it’s God’s will that we get back to it, then we won’t have to dig through the trash to find it. If it’s not God’s will that we ever pick it up again – well, then, it dies on the shelf.

            I have to believe that somewhere along the way, God will show us which it is. And really, isn’t that what Isaiah did?

            Sometimes it’s time to leave a dream behind, to move on, to begin a new thing. And sometimes it’s time to persevere, to fight forward, and to keep that thing alive. In the meantime, dealing with the devastation of loss is excruciating – whether it’s temporary or permanent.

           “’Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand . . .’”

           The critical thing is this: do not quit moving forward. If you’re not be able to move forward with that vision, then seek God for a new one and move forward with that. Just do not let the loss take you completely out. Because then, guess who wins?

           It’s not you.

Let the Race Begin.

horse-herd-fog-nature-52500Would it make any sense to give a six-year old an algebra problem? Perhaps not. Learning to count would probably be a prerequisite. How about scheduling a med student to do brain surgery? What if it were just a small brain op? Or what if couples skipped all the long years it takes to have kids and just went and picked out a whole litter at once? Say, maybe a baby, a couple of two-years old – oh, and they wouldn’t want to miss the whole teenage experience – maybe a fourteen-year old? (Fourteen is such a wonderfully expressive age.)

The point is, we can’t just be thrown into the middle of challenges – especially big ones.

Consider the prophet Jeremiah, aka “the weeping prophet” (because he was always weeping for the people): the day came when Jeremiah had just had enough. He was tired of people sinning against God and refusing to repent; he was fed up with the unrighteousness and idol worship that had so completely polluted the nation; and he was done with people plotting to kill him. (Who wouldn’t be?) So he went to the Lord with a complaint:

“’Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy? You have planted them, and they have taken root and prospered. Your name is on their lips, but in their hearts they give you no credit at all. But as for me, Lord, you know my heart. You see me and test my thoughts. Drag these people away like helpless sheep to be butchered! Set them aside to be slaughtered! How long must this land weep [from sin]? Even the grass in the fields has withered. The wild animals and birds have disappeared because of the evil in the land. Yet the people say, “The Lord won’t do anything!”’” (Jer. 12:1-4)

Now Jeremiah had a point: the people were evil – and they were good at being evil. In addition, they were mocking God and saying, essentially, “We can sin as much as we want and God won’t do a thing about it!” Jeremiah didn’t like that. One bit.

God’s response? “’If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan?’” (Jer. 12:5)

Point? If the job training is more than you can handle, then how will you handle the job?

But – here’s what we say: “Lord, when is my destiny going to happen? Why is everyone else living the dream and I’m still struggling? You know my heart! You see how sincere I am! Why do they get to be happy and prosperous and not me?? They don’t even give You the credit for their success!”

Now, here’s what the Lord might say: “If you can’t balance a checkbook or stick to a budget, how will you manage great wealth? If you can’t give when you have a little, how will you give proportionately when you have much? If you can’t discipline yourself at your job when you aren’t solely responsible for everything that happens, how do you expect to be able to discipline yourself when you’re the boss or self-employed? If you can’t honor your mother and father now, how do you expect to honor a husband or wife later? If you can’t handle the ordinary spiritual warfare and attacks of the enemy in your own life, how do you expect to fend off the enemy if your destiny makes you visible to the community or to the nation or to the world?”

Here’s what the Lord has said: “’Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given’” (Luke 12:48).

This means that the greater your destiny, the more that will be required of you. Pick any Bible character who ever did anything worth mentioning and that will be their story. However, that’s always a choice; never does God force the “more required” part on anyone.

Remember: if you don’t cave in the prep “racing against mere men”, then you’ll win in the battle “racing against horses”.

So then – let the race begin.

No Seed, No Harvest.

    Empty FieldOne of the most important principles of success in life is that of “seed”. To make the point, I’d like to share a picture the Lord once gave me. 

     In the pic, I saw a man standing in a field that had been plowed and had rows of fertile black soil.  The man was looking at the field and it was clear that he was waiting for growth to appear.  However, the problem was that no seeds had been planted.  The man was waiting for something to occur which would never happen. 

A field that has not been planted with seed cannot yield a crop.

     I asked the Lord what the scene meant and He showed me that the man represented many people who are waiting for a harvest in some area but have planted no seed.  He emphasized that “seed” doesn’t just mean money as we often hear it referred to by people encouraging others to “sow seed” for a “financial harvest;” rather there are many other kinds of seed in the spiritual realm exactly as there are in the physical realm.  And when we sow seed in a particular area, we reap a harvest in that same area.   This is a fact that has its source in the principle that God established at the creation of the earth when He decreed that plants, trees, and flowers would “multiply after their own kind.”  This means that maple tree seeds reproduce as maple trees, watermelon seeds reproduce as watermelon, and sunflower seeds reproduce as sunflowers.  In other words, grape seeds don’t produce lima beans nor do acorns produce daffodils.

     In the spiritual realm, then, this means that if we’d like a “harvest” in a particular area, it would be a good idea to plant seed in that area.  And this principle applies to everyone, not just Christians. While I refer to “sowing and reaping” as a “biblical” principle, it works whether a person is a Christian or not. Every day you can find examples of people who are not Christians and yet, because they’ve sowed good seed in a particular area, they’re reaping a good harvest. In the same way, many Christians are still waiting for their harvests to come in because they haven’t planted any seed. Listen, Christian or not, if I want watermelons to grow in my garden, I need to get out there and plant watermelon seeds.

     I once heard a story about a lady who had grasped this principle in her quest to have a baby.  The woman had had many years of infertility, had been to many doctors, and had begun to lose hope that her prayers would ever be answered regarding having a child.  Then she learned about sowing seed in a specific area and so began to hold baby showers for, as she said, “every pregnant woman in my church.”   As a result, she did become pregnant – twice – and now has two beautiful children. The principle is clear: giving in any particular area – whether money, material resources, or actions of a particular kind – is one type of seed.  So, if we’re seeking salvation for a loved one, for example, we can sow seed by witnessing to others about Christ.

     Another type of seed is preparation: get ready for the harvest you’re asking for.  If you’re praying to get married, begin planning for a marriage: read books on developing a great marriage and begin putting aside items you’ll use once married.  If you’re praying for a job, make sure you’re ready for it when it comes.  Have child care lined up if necessary or get your work wardrobe in order, or whatever your preparation may require. Realize that a farmer doesn’t wait until after the harvest comes in to build the storehouses nor does a pregnant lady wait till the baby comes to buy diapers.  (That would be most unwise . . .) 

     Finally, a third type of seed is prayer: pray for others who are seeking the kind of harvest you are.  If you’re asking for healing, pray for others to be healed; if you’re asking for a promotion or an opportunity, pray for someone else who needs those things.  If you’re praying for – well, you get the idea.

     Seed is all around us and it is well within our power to plant some.  Just look around and see what it is that you can give, do, pray, or prepare for as you seek to sow seed.  And then don’t quit; realize that some seeds take longer than others to produce. Oak trees, for example, take a good deal longer than leaf lettuce.  So while you’re waiting, just keep watering your seed by praying for a harvest – a good harvest – just as you would keep watering and nurturing real seeds.  Don’t keep standing in an empty field any longer; plant the seeds of your dreams and do it today!

     Remember – it’s a biblical principle.  It can’t not work.

Destiny Nation

Flag and Fireworks     For 240 years, the United States of America has embraced its destiny, as Ronald Reagan liked to say, as a “shining city on a hill”. Proof is Lady Liberty as she’s welcomed untold millions to find refuge and freedom and, in short, a home.  Thus the United States has been nicknamed the “Great Melting Pot” as generations from countries worldwide have assimilated to become proud Americans. 

     Nor has Uncle Sam been idle, leading the fight for liberty and freedom around the world. Everywhere on earth, on every continent, America’s influence and generosity can be seen and felt.  From being the Cavalry in World Wars I and II to promoting the principles of democracy to peoples who have never been told that all men are born free, America has led the charge in the battle for good in the very real face of oppression and evil.  Country after country, people after people have the United States to thank for rescue in times of war, political unrest, famine, natural disasters and financial crisis.

That’s the legacy of the United States of America.

     However, despite all of that, America’s greatest destiny has been – and continues to be – the privilege of bringing the life-changing news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to virtually every nation on earth. Dedicated and brave American missionaries, for the sake of that Gospel, have faced persecution, imprisonment and even death from the worst of dictatorial and communist countries.  America has sown its blood, sweat and tears into the soil of nations around the globe to proclaim the good news of true freedom in Jesus Christ – and what could ever be a more noble legacy than that?

     Many say that America’s best days are behind her. However, that’s been said before.  Imagine a war in which citizens slaughtered one another in one bloody battle after another.  Surely the Civil War was the end of our nation.  Or the stock market crash of 1929 which led to a decade in which fully one-quarter of Americans were unemployed. Add to that the great Dust Bowl in which nothing would grow and it certainly looked like the end of America.  Or World War I – the most massive war in the history of the world; surely that was the end of the whole world.  Or WWII in which the Nazis reigned in Europe and the U.S. was attacked on its own shores for the first time in its history.  There was no doubt then that the Apocalypse had come . . . Et cetera.

     Certainly the United States has problems and they are broadcast far and wide for all the world to see. But the only difference between the crises of today and those of all the decades past is cable news.  Without a doubt crisis was happening; we just didn’t know about most of it.

     Is it the end of the United States? I don’t believe so.  The United States still has a great destiny to fulfill: the continued spread of the Gospel worldwide.  And until the day comes that America quits doing that, our nation will continue in order to fulfill that destiny.  No other nation on earth has even come close to sacrificing what Americans have sacrificed in order to achieve that priceless goal for mankind. 

     God has not forgotten America because, despite all of the bad press, Americans like us have not forgotten God. The United States has sown its time, its people, its strength, its money, and its resources into saving and blessing other nations and so we will, according to the Word of God, “reap what we have sown”.  We have sown salvation, blessing, freedom and hope into the peoples of the world, and so we have a long future of blessing to look forward to as one the greatest nations history has ever known.

     So on this Independence Day, I hope you’ll join me in declaring the great destiny of the United States of America:

     “ONE nation under GOD with liberty and justice for all.”

     Happy Birthday, America – and may you have many, many more to come.

It’s Time to Cast Your Net.

Casting NetsLynn had failed over and over. Not once or twice but multiple times she’d pitched her business idea to investors and each time was rejected. To say she was disappointed is hardly an exaggeration. All Lynn had ever wanted to do was to open her own business so she took business courses, researched different opportunities, and developed a business plan.  

Lynn believed!

But no one else did. Finally, after several years of trying to secure funding and failing, Lynn quit.  She was heartbroken.  It was the death of a life-long dream. Until one day when, out of the blue, the Lord said to her,

 “Now go out where it is deeper and cast your nets.”

“Who? Me?” Lynn responded, somewhat bewildered.

“Yes, you,” said the Lord.

“But Lord,” answered Lynn, “I’ve worked for many years searching for investors and failing. But, if you say so, I’ll try again.”

So Lynn set out once more to find investors for her company except that this time, she sought bigger, more lucrative investors. After all, the Lord had instructed her to fish in deeper waters.

The next day, Lynn got a “bite” from an investor saying he was definitely interested in Lynn’s company and suggested even more money than Lynn had sought. Not only that, but two other investors had heard about Lynn’s business and were interested in investing as well.  In the end, Lynn ended up with two investors and her business – Chinese restaurant trucks (just like ice cream trucks except with egg rolls, General Tao and chopsticks) was a huge success!

So okay, yes – this is the same situation in which Jesus directed Peter to “’go out where it is deeper and let down your nets and you will catch many fish.’”

Peter, at first though, isn’t so sure. He responds, “’Master, we worked hard all night and didn’t catch a thing.’”  Then he adds, “’but at Your word, we’ll try again.’”  The story ends with Peter’s nets so full they began to tear (Luke 5:4-6).

What’s it all mean?

First, the Lord tells Peter to “’let down your nets’”. Note that God didn’t just drop the fish from the sky (although I hear that’s been known to happen).  Rather Pete had to work for it.  The take-away here is that God loves to co-labor with us; He doesn’t want to do “it” alone (whatever “it” is) nor does He want us to have to do it alone. He wants to have partners.

Moreover, sometimes the Lord may tell us to go “deeper”. While “going deeper” can have many applications, in the sense of fulfilling a vision or destiny, it means to seek larger territory, more impactful opportunity – to go big!  At the same time, going deeper, seeking bigger things, might be a bit scarier and require more faith.  However, the risk of “going deeper” did pay off for Peter.

Then there’s the timing. Apparently, in Peter’s day, nighttime was the accepted time to fish (idk) but Jesus instructed him to fish at a time that others might’ve questioned – even ridiculed.  Often God will instruct us to do something in the off-season or during a time that just seems wrong.  However, He’s in touch with all of the logistics of a situation and we are not.

Finally, notice that Jesus says to Peter, “’Now go out . . .’” When God says “now,” it’s best to move.  Considering that God often saves the “now”s until we don’t expect them, it never hurts to be prepared. (The virgins and their lamps come to mind . . .)

So – even if you’ve been through a long season of “try and fail, try and fail,” it may be that that season is about to end. After all, fishermen are supposed to be successful at fishing and you are supposed to be successful at whatever you’re called to be – or God wouldn’t have called you to be that, would He?

So get ready to cast your nets. Get ready to go deeper.

Does Your Dream Need A “Do-Over”?

            Do-over-button Have you ever had days when the “same ol’, same ol’” feels like it’s just sucking the life right out of you? Have you ever felt like you’ve “missed it” somehow – destroyed the destiny you might’ve had by making a wrong choice, a huge error, or even just wasting time? 

            Have you ever looked up to the sky and asked, “Why am I even here?”

            We’ve all been there. But the fact is, it’s never too late to discover your destiny or to make course corrections and get back on track to it.  How?  Because our God is a God of “do-overs”!

            Look at Moses who got a do-over after killing a man (his fault).  Look at Joseph who got a do-over after spending 22 years in prison (not his fault).  Whether you’re ten or eighty, God has a destiny for you.  And it’s a good destiny – one that will give your years life and your life purpose.  It will get you out of bed and excited to get moving every morning.  And it will allow you to know that you’re making a real difference in the world which, essentially, adds up to “eternal purpose”.

            I’m reminded of a young woman who had moved to a new town and had no job or money or husband (he’d died); all she had was an old woman to take care of and no food to feed her.

            Eventually, the woman got a job harvesting in the fields, barely making any money, and really just living off of what she was able to pick from the fields and take home.  And she did this day in and day out, day in and day out, day in and . . . you get the idea; you’ve been there.

            By now, you realize I mean Ruth.  But did you ever wonder what she was thinking during those long, hot hours in the fields?

            How did I get here? Did I make the wrong choice?  What will happen if I can’t work anymore?  Why won’t anyone talk to me?  Where would I be if I’d stayed in Moab?  Will I die here . . . ?

            Long story short: Ruth had no idea that she had an incredible destiny, that someday she’d marry a rich man and eventually be counted as the great-great grandmother of King David!  Nor did Joseph, rotting away in prison, ever dream that he’d be in charge of all of Egypt.  Nor did Moses, a murderer and fugitive, in his wildest dreams, ever imagine that one day he’d be the deliverer of the entire nation of Israel.

            It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, didn’t do or tried to do and failed – God has a plan for your life, a purpose, a destiny – and it’s a good one.  And only you can fulfill it.  No one else in all the earth has the combination of talent, ability, mindset, personality and life experience that you have. You, and only you, can fulfill the purpose for which God planted you on this planet.

            Think about that.

“The Light is Green Until It’s Red.”

Green LightHave you ever wanted to follow a dream so you asked God about it – and then waited? And waited. And waited.  There was no angel Gabriel appearing with a message in the dead of night.  God didn’t give you a prophetic word – even though you hit 7.5 prophetic meetings (you know you did).  And then there was the fleece: you said something like, “Okay, God, if the sun rises tomorrow, I’ll know You’re saying ‘yes,’ and if it doesn’t, it’s a ‘no’.  Got it.”  And then the sun didn’t rise so you kept asking because that wasn’t what you wanted to hear.

Ever been there?

Jesus told a parable about a rich man who had three servants to whom he announced that he would be going away for an extended period of time. But before leaving, the master gave each of the servants talents ($) to invest, saying that when he came back, he would expect to see a return on his investment.  Then he gave a different number of talents to each servant according to his abilities.  But it’s not the number of talents that’s important; the way the servants invested them is the point.

The key thing in this parable is that the master distributed the talents – and then left. The servants weren’t able to call him on his cell or message him or email him to ask what they should do.  The master gave them the freedom to do whatever they thought was best with their talents – as long as the results benefited his kingdom.  So what did they do?  The best they knew how to do.

Except for one of them.

When the master returned, he was pleased to find that two of the servants had invested their talents and produced a return. But the third had not; he’d simply hidden his talent and then handed it back.  The master, not pleased, asked him why.  The man’s response?  “I was afraid.”  Unfortunately for him, that was not an acceptable excuse to the master.

Want a message from God?  He’d much rather have you try and fail than never to try at all.

As Pastor Andrew put it, “The light is green until it’s red.”

In other words, go.

The fact is that God wants us to move forward and if we’re headed in the wrong direction, He’ll throw up the road block or close a door (or something). Recently, I had an interesting experience to prove that very point.

Last week, I decided I wanted to take a reputable on-line writing course but it was a little pricey. S0 – should I or shouldn’t I?  I checked in with the Lord (in case He had any thoughts on the matter) but really didn’t hear anything and registration was about to close.  So I made an executive decision: believing the course to be a benefit, I registered and paid for it.  By the next morning, however, I still hadn’t received any links to the course or even a receipt for payment, so I emailed the folks in charge and asked about it.  Someone emailed back, saying that they had no record of my registration or payment.

Red light.

Though they invited me to re-register, I took the hint from the Lord and decided that now was evidently not the time. I believe I probably will take the course at some point but, in the meantime, I keep moving.  As Pastor Paul Wagner used to say, “God can’t steer a parked car.”

“But,” you argue, “what if I try and fail?” You probably will.  Everybody does (it builds character).  But then you get back up and try again. 

Over the years, I’ve seen people move forward and follow their dreams – regardless of failure. My family once moved to another state after my father retired from the military because he’d had a job offer.  However, it didn’t work out and we moved back to NY.  No harm, no foul.  I tried a business one time and discovered it really wasn’t what I thought it would be and while I lost some money in the process, it was an “acceptable loss.”

The “acceptable loss” principle is huge when making a big decision and can often make clear whether you should move forward with a dream or not.

An “acceptable loss” is simply an assessment of what, if anything, you can afford to lose if a situation doesn’t work out. For example, if you invest money in a dream, is it an amount you can afford to lose if it doesn’t happen?  If not, then don’t do it.  If you take a new job, are its requirements something you can deliver?  If not, red light.  I once turned down a job because I found out that it would require evenings and weekends (as well as days) and with a baby and a toddler at home, I decided that their well-being was not an acceptable risk.

Red light.

What college should you go to? Any one you want – if you can afford it.  Don’t risk going to a college where you’ll rack up 100K in debt for a major that won’t allow you to make enough to pay that debt.  Not an acceptable risk.

Should you marry a particular person? Not without considering Biblical principles such as being equally yoked and seeking wise counsel.  And if you consider marriage an “acceptable risk” (meaning divorce is an option), then that’s a red light.  A really bright one. Continue reading “The Light is Green Until It’s Red.”