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Don’t Be Distracted From Your Purpose

Don’t Be Distracted From Your Purpose

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22 (NIV) Living this decade for the glory of God will require a change in your priorities, your schedule, your relationships, and everything else. It will sometimes mean choosing a difficult path instead of the easy one. Steve Adams, our pastor to children at Saddleback Church, says when we are moving forward in the direction God tells us, “Action requires traction, but the enemy brings distraction.” In other words, we can’t just say we believe in God’s plan, or say we need to take some steps. God requires that we take real steps to move us forward. But the enemy, as Steve notes, rushes in with distractions designed to pull us away from God’s plan. We become like the man described by James in the Bible, who looks into a mirror, but then forgets what he looks like as he walks away. Distractions such as bad attitudes, excuses, procrastination, and busyness make us mere ‘listeners’ of the word when God calls us to be ‘doers.’ We face a choice with every step we take into this decade of destiny: Will we fulfill God’s purpose, or will we shrink back and live a comfortable, self-centered life? Will we live for our own goals, comfort, and pleasure, or will we live the rest of our lives for God’s glory, knowing that he has promised eternal...

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How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Seventh Test

How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Seventh Test

“[God’s] peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (NIV)   The final test in recognizing God’s voice is to ask yourself, “Do I sense God’s peace about it?” If you think you’ve heard from God, it measures up to God’s Word, you’ve gotten advice from other people and passed the other tests, but you still feel confused or anxious, then it doesn’t pass the seventh test. Why? “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33 NIV). So you wait and remain patient until you sense God’s peace. God is a perfect father. Parents don’t want their kids to feel worried or pressured when they ask them to do something. No, they want their children to feel encouraged. That’s the same way God wants to relate to you. He doesn’t want you to feel anxiety in anything he asks you to do. The only time a sense of pressure is legitimate is when you keep saying no to God. That is a relational pressure that comes from holding God at arm’s length. Satan wants to drive us compulsively in the things we do, but God doesn’t work that way. God wants to draw us compassionately. He’s the shepherd who wants to lead the sheep. He doesn’t drive us; he guides us. And, as sheep, we need to listen for his voice. Philippians 4:6-7 describes the attitude you should have when you listen to God’s voice. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (NLT). It’s not just a matter of hearing God’s voice; it’s also a matter or responding. Hearing is not enough. You have to act as well. The Bible says that God speaks to people who do three things. “Listen to this wise advice; follow it closely, for it will do you good, and you can pass it on to others” (Proverbs 22:17 LB). God speaks to those who listen to what he says, follow it closely, and then pass it on to...

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How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Sixth Test

How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Sixth Test

“There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 (NLT)   When you get an idea and you are wondering if it is from God, the sixth question to ask yourself is, “Is it convicting or is it condemning?” If it convicts, then it is from God, but if it condemns then it is from Satan. A lot of Christians live under condemnation, or constant guilt, and they think it is from God. It isn’t. Condemnation comes from Satan. But conviction comes from God. Here’s the difference between the two: The purpose of conviction is to correct you on a specific issue in order to bring a change in your life, and it is motivated by God’s love. Because God loves you, when he sees an area in your life that needs change – a relationship, a habit, an attitude – he will nudge you and say, “You need to work on this thing that’s out of whack in your life.” The purpose of condemnation is to criticize and make you feel guilty, usually in a vague way. If you’ve ever felt guilty but you couldn’t point to anything specific, or if you’ve ever had a feeling of worthlessness, that is condemnation from Satan. But Romans 8:1 says, “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (NLT). God will never attack you; he will never say you’re worthless or unlovable. In fact, in Revelation 3:19 God says, “Those whom I dearly and tenderly love, I tell their faults and convict and discipline. So be earnest and repent (changing your mind and attitude)” (AMP). As soon as you start to confess and change, you will no longer feel any conviction. It’s short-term. But condemnation is Satan’s way of making you feel worse and worse. It doesn’t go away even after confession. It’s like the American court system. First there is the conviction of a crime in the court; then comes the condemnation, or sentencing which can last for years. But God doesn’t work that way. In God’s justice system the Holy Spirit convicts us of what’s wrong in our life and we admit it. Jesus pays the condemnation. He serves the punishment for our sin through his death on the cross. And we are free to live the way God created us to live, to live the way Jesus enables us to live. That’s the grace of...

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How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Fifth Test

How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Fifth Test

“We will all be judged one day, not by each other’s standards, or even our own, but by the judgment of God … it is to God alone that we shall have to answer for our actions.” Romans 14:10, 13 (PH)   If something is not your responsibility, why should God talk to you about it? Wouldn’t he just talk directly to the person it concerns? This is the fifth test to consider when you wonder if an idea or impression you have comes from God – “Does it concern your responsibility?” In John 21, Jesus told Peter that he would die a martyr’s death. Peter’s response was to glance at John, who was standing nearby, and ask Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” (John 21:21 NIV). Peter wasn’t satisfied with God telling him what was going to happen in his life. He wanted to know about John’s future as well. Jesus responded by saying, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22 NIV). “What is that to you?” My wife, Kay, calls that the WITTY principle. We get ourselves in so much trouble when we start comparing ourselves to others. But when we do this, God says, “What is that to you?” He wants our focus to be following him, not worrying about other people. Have you ever heard someone say, “God told me to tell you”? My response to that is, “Are you sure about that?” All believers have a direct line to God. And God doesn’t have to tell someone else to tell you. He can talk to you directly. Now, does God ever speak to others through another person? Of course he does. But there are three guidelines you need to follow if feel God is using you to speak to someone else. Be patient and pray. Give God a chance to speak to that person directly. God will typically use you to confirm in someone else’s life what he’s already told them. So when you share your words with someone it won’t be a big surprise if it’s really from God. 3. God will usually use you without you being conscious of it. If God is going to speak through you to others, he will often do it in a way that you don’t even realize it was God speaking through you. But the person on the receiving end will recognize its...

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How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Fourth Test

How to Recognize God’s Voice – The Fourth Test

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)   The fourth test for confirming a word from God is to ask yourself, “Is it consistent with how God shaped me?” At  Church, we use the acronym SHAPE to describe the collection of a person’s Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences. These five things make you unique from everyone else in the world. They also reveal your purpose in life. A lot of people ignore their SHAPE and end up wasting millions of dollars going after pipe dreams, starting businesses and making plans they weren’t shaped to do. God will never lead you a way that is inconsistent with your SHAPE. If you have a musical ability, you should use it. But if you’re tone deaf and can’t carry a tune, you shouldn’t try out for American Idol. Romans 12:6 says, “God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well” (LB). So ask yourself, “What do I love to do that I’m good at doing?” Note that I didn’t just say, “What do you love to do?” Before I became a pastor, I was a worship leader. I played guitar and loved to sing, but nobody liked hearing me. So I learned pretty quickly that while I had a passion for music, I didn’t have the talent for it. I loved it, but I wasn’t good at it. You discover a lot of God’s will simply by looking at what you are good at. And if you get an impression that makes you wonder if it’s from God, but it leads you completely contrary to your SHAPE, then it’s not from God. You can know that for a fact. God is not going to ask you to do something he hasn’t given you the ability to...

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