Our Life Plan

 

“You have been given a gift-your life. What will you do with it?”

Michael Hyatt

Last fall I had the privilege of meeting with a life coach to discover my Life Plan, what God had created me for. Jesus also had a life plan. We can read about it in John 13:3-5. “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up… and washed His disciples’ feet.”

Jesus knew His authority, who He was, and He understood His empowerment, what His position as God’s Son made Him capable to do. He realized His place of origin and His past. Jesus was also aware of His future, where He was headed, back to eternal life with His Father. When Jesus put all the pieces of His puzzle together, He recognized His purpose was to serve His Father by serving mankind.

One of my favorite parts of my Life Plan was going through my timeline, to see how my valleys and peaks all fit together, to shape me into who I am today and what my mission in life is to be. When I understand my past: the good, the bad, and the ugly, as well as all of the ways God redeemed it and used it for my good and for His glory, then I’m able to see clearly what He’s called me to do. It’s as if He gave me a picture of what my life’s finished puzzle looked like.

When we understand who we are, what we’ve inherited from Christ, where we’ve been, even our past life before we knew Christ as our Savior and Lord, and that we’re headed to heaven, then we’re able to do what God created us to do, which is to serve Him by serving mankind. When were aware of our identity in Christ, then we’re able to humble ourselves and get under others, helping them to be all that God created them to be.

“God has a plan and purpose for you; He will not fail you!”

John Hagee

Relevant Reflection:

  1. As you reflect back on your past, the good, the bad, and the ugly, what is God’s life plan for you?
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Slave Versus Son

 

“I am not yet able to fully believe that where my failings are great, ‘grace is always greater.'”

Henri Nouwen

There are many nuggets of wisdom in the parable of the lost son found in Luke 15:11-32. Pause for a few minutes and read this passage. As I’ve reread these Scriptures, I am able to identify with both of these sons. But I relate most to the oldest son, the one who judged his sibling and thought all along he was more of a laborer, than his father’s son.

How we see ourselves, as a slave or as a child of God, will dictate our thoughts and actions. The elder son connected more with a servant’s mentality which affected his emotions and deeds. The oldest son was angry that his father threw a party for his sibling’s return and refused to celebrate his brother’s homecoming. Having a religious relationship with his dad, the elder son thought he had to earn his inheritance, instead of receive his legacy as an heir.

The irony is that all along he had his birthright in front of him, but he didn’t partake because of his inaccurate perception of his relationship with his father. The oldest son was offended at his dad because his dad gave the younger son what he didn’t deserve, while the oldest didn’t get what he thought he had earned through work.

How many times have I performed to get my Father’s attention and approval? How often have I judged others who I thought sinned more than me? These “religious” responses testify I don’t really believe I’m God’s daughter. Yet, since I’m adopted into God’s family, my inheritance is secure, because of what Christ did for me on the cross. This is what is true: “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours'” (Luke 15:31).

I obey God because I love Him, not in order to get His love. As His daughter, I already have His unconditional love and acceptance; it’s part of my inheritance. But how I see myself in relationship to God and what I believe is my true identity, affects my daily life. Either God is my Father, the one who loves me in spite of my sin, the one for me and is with me, and all that He has belongs to me, or He is my master, the one I need to work hard to gain His acceptance.

The choice is ours: do we believe we’re His children or do we embrace an orphan mentality, that He’s our master and we’re His slaves? Our thoughts make all the difference.

“Orphans labor for favor and identity. But a son begins from a place of acceptance.”

Elias Tan

Relevant Reflection:

  1. If you truly believe you’re God’s son or daughter, and already possess your inheritance, how would your actions today, be different?
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What to Do When Hard Times Come

 

“The diamond cannot be polished without friction, nor the man perfected without trials.”

Anonymous

One of the best ways I learn, is by watching others walk through life. I am grateful for the godly group of women with whom I pray with. Observing their lives during adversity has taught me how to handle trials. And likewise, the psalmist David, instructs me in Psalm 13 on what to do when hard times come.

David does not live in denial of his tribulation, nor does he ignore his emotions. Instead, he pours out his heart to God. He is not afraid to ask God the tough questions, like, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1) David expresses to God how he feels. He prays and beseeches God for answers and seeks God’s direction. After David processed his heart, he comes full circle, back to the truths he knew all along. Psalm 13:5-6 says, “But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me.” David concluded that even though his life was difficult, God is good and he can still trust Him.

When hard times come, I’ve tried to respond like David did in Psalm 13. I haven’t been afraid to ask God why, what His purpose is in the trial, nor to ask God questions, seeking His answers. I’ve told God how I felt and have expressed my emotions through tears. I haven’t denied my pain or confusion, but have poured out my heart to God in prayer. I had to process my heart in order to land upright with both my feet, and especially my heart, in the right place. I’ve come to realize that the why I’ve had to experience things or the reason behind the trial, still doesn’t change God’s goodness. God is good and remains good, no matter what happens.

As I’ve struggled with God during trials, I have come to the same bottom line that David did: God is good, therefore I will trust in His unfailing love. Even though I may wrestle with what’s going on, I know God will win. He will triumph over my enemy and over my heart.

I encourage you to learn from David’s example in Psalm thirteen, on what to do when hard times come.

“As sure as ever God puts His children in the furnace He will be in the furnace with them.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Relevant Reflections:

  1. What do you do when hard times come?
  2. How will you change the way you handle adversity based on Psalm 13?
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Devotion

 

“Beware of anything that competes with your loyalty to Jesus Christ.”

Oswald Chambers

At times I’ve wondered what holds me back from not fully attaining God’s destiny in my life. Why isn’t there victory in certain areas? I stumbled upon one possible answer while reading Joshua 7:13. It says, “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it.'”

The Israelites had conquered Jericho but they lost the battle at Ai, because one man, named Achan, disobeyed and “acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things” (Joshua 7:1). Achan took what was supposed to be burned and because of that, the Lord’s anger burned against the whole nation of Israel. The sin of one can affect many.

In verse twelve, God goes on to explain how the Israelites can’t defeat their enemies, or have victory in their lives, unless they destroy whatever is devoted to destruction. God would not be with them unless they demolished the idols. In order for the Israelites to have victory against their enemy, they needed the presence of God. But they would not have that unless they destroyed their idols.

Likewise, we can’t stand against our enemies and have victory until we remove those things that we are devoted to. Our devotion, first and foremost, needs to be toward God. And when He is our one and only, then His presence is with us and we are victorious.

William Bernard Ullathorne wrote, “Whatever a man seeks, honors, or exalts more than God, this is the god of idolatry.” For me, food is still too much of an idol. It lures me to focus on it, instead of God. If I want to have victory over the obstacles that prevent me from fulfilling God’s destiny, then I need to crush my idol, set myself apart, and cling to God. I want to be devoted to God, not to other idols, which can’t satisfy.

This is where the Holy Spirit must come in. I need Him to cause me to fall more madly in love with God, so I fall out of love with my idol of food. As I enter the Holy Week, I desire to worship God and have devotion only to Him, as a small response for all He did for me.

“Jesus wants our absolute, unrestrained devotion to Himself.”

Oswald Chambers

Relevant Reflections:

  1. What idol stands in your way of wholehearted devotion for God?
  2. How has that idol prevented you from having victory over your enemies?
  3. Has your sin of idolatry affected many?
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Partnership

 

“The best of it is, God is with us.”

John Wesley

I can identify with Gideon’s feelings of inadequacies to fulfill God’s call, in Judges 6:15. “‘But Lord,’ Gideon asked, ‘how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.'” When God first assigned me to “mentor the masses,” I thought, How in the world will I be able to do that when I struggle with writing and I’m not speaking? God encouraged Gideon in the next verse with these words: “I will be with you.”

Gideon acknowledged his weakness. He knew in his own strength, he could not do what God asked him to do. Gideon was already fearful of the Midianites, so how could he strike them all down. All along God knew that what he asked Gideon to do was impossible for Gideon to complete on his own. But if Gideon would partner with God, it would be attainable.

It’s the same with the destinies God places in front of us. They’re impossible to fulfill by ourselves. God’s call on our lives is always an invitation to partner with Him. He doesn’t want us to try to do it in our own strength. Instead, He desires for us to lean dependently upon Him, collaborating with Him in His work.

In II Corinthians 3:4-6a, the apostle Paul confirmed this truth. “Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant…” Our ability to do what God has asked us to do comes from God. Whatever God has entrusted to us can only be accomplished by joining a partnership with God.

Long ago I learned this equation: God + Norma = Anything Possible! Whatever God has called me to, mentoring the masses or getting the house ready to sell, I will be able to do because God is with me.

“You never know God is all you need until God is all you have.”

Rick Warren

Relevant Reflections:

  1. What is God’s assignment for you?
  2. How can you partner with God to fulfill it?

 

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Mysteries Solved

 

“One of the best gifts we can give ourselves is time alone with God.”

Author Unknown

I struggled the first thirteen years of my new life as a Christian with being consistent with my time alone with God. My quiet times were hit and miss. After my daughter was born, God encouraged me to spend time with Him first thing in the morning with my cup of coffee. That was the “carrot” I needed, to motivate me to spend time alone with Him. Father God, in His wisdom, knew this daughter of His really enjoyed coffee, so he paired the two together! I’ve learned over the years, the way to have questions answered and mysteries solved, is by having a date with God.

Jesus often spoke in parables to large crowds, but they rarely understood all that He was trying to convey. The hidden meanings sailed over their heads. Even Jesus’ disciples were unable to solve the story mysteries, until they got alone with Jesus and had one-on-twelve time. Mark 4:34 says, “He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when He was alone with His own disciples, He explained everything.”

When I’m in the dark and I’m clueless about what is going on or why something has happened, I become fearful. But being alone with Jesus, flips on the light, which illuminates what life is all about. All doubts, questions, and misunderstandings flee when I’m with Jesus.

Likewise, when trials come, they seem like a mystery. I may think, This doesn’t make sense or Why is God allowing this? But when I have time alone with Jesus, He explains everything. It’s as if He turns the knobs on the binoculars of my heart and mind, and things become clearer, more in focus and in line with His perspective. His heart and mind, the reasons behind the why, become known and understood. In order to solve my present day mysteries or to have revelation on my life’s parables, I need time alone with God.

“We can be tired, weary and emotionally distraught, but after spending time alone with God, we find that He injects into our bodies energy, power and strength.”

Charles Stanley

Relevant Reflections:

  1. What current parable in your life are you having a hard time understanding?
  2. Spend time alone with God, and ask Him to explain everything.
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God’s Presence

 

“I must first have the sense of God’s possession of me before I can have the sense of His presence with me.”

Watchman Nee

I love reading the account of Joseph in Genesis chapters 37-50. Even though many undeserved trials happened to him, he never took on the role of a victim. Because Joseph loved the Lord, he lived his life with integrity, faithfully devoted and obedient to God. The result: God’s presence was with him.

Genesis 39 expounds on what occurred when God was with Joseph. “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered…” (Genesis 39:2). Others noticed God was with Joseph and that God gave him success in everything he did. (Genesis 39:3) Joseph found favor with those in authority. (Genesis 39:4) Because God was with Joseph, the leaders in control entrusted their possessions to him. (Genesis 39:4) And as a result, others were blessed. (Genesis 39:5) Joseph’s officials totally trusted him and left everything in his care. (Genesis 39:6)

Even when Joseph wasn’t in the palace, but in the prison, God was still with him. (Genesis 39:20-21) God showed kindness toward Joseph and granted him favor with the prison warden. (Genesis 39:21) Again, Joseph was put in charge and made responsible in that setting and the warden paid no attention to whatever was in Joseph’s care, because success would be the outcome. (Genesis 39:23)

It didn’t matter whether Joseph was found in a pit, or a palace, or a prison; God was with him, right by his side. Likewise, as believers, we can rest assure that God is with us in times of adversity as well as times of prosperity. When God is with us: others will notice, we will find favor and have success, leadership will trust us with responsibility, we’ll experience God’s kindness, and others will be blessed. And because of that, we need to long for and seek the presence of God.

“…If a person firmly believes that God is always with man, then even if he is thrown into the depths of the sea, he will be preserved in body and soul, and will enjoy greater solace and comfort than all this world can offer.”

Julian of Norwich

Relevant Reflection:

  1. Describe a time when God’s presence was with you, in the pit, the palace, or the prison.
  2. What were the obvious signs He was with you?
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