Thoughtful Thursday: When Dreams Are Shattered

Photo Credits johnkrohn.blogspot.com

Photo Credits
johnkrohn.blogspot.com

Job 17:11

“My days have passed, my plans are shattered, even the desires of my heart.”

Proverbs 13:13

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is like a tree of life.”

Joel 2:25

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” 

Psalm 27:13-14

13 “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. 14 Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.”

Perhaps nothing stings more than the reality of a hope that is dashed or a dream that is unfulfilled.  You were so close to your goal, and then suddenly it is gone.  Or the plans you had for your life have seriously been altered, completely shattered because of circumstances beyond your control.

Why is it so disheartening?  What is it about a dream crushed that causes disillusionment?  I use a GPS most of the time I am driving.  My husband does not.  If he gets lost, he just works to figure it out.  I, on the other hand, begin to wonder if the world will end – I am lost – what do I do?  I want to be certain where I am going and the uncertainty causes concern and insecurity.  That is where faith comes in.

The great heroes of the faith did not always get in their time-frame what they were promised.  They desperately wanted to see their dreams or promises fulfilled, but they learned precious lessons while waiting.  Patience and trust cannot be earned by merely being taught, they are instead caught through endurance.

Perhaps the terrain looks a lot different than you thought it would.  Maybe you are on the correct path, but in God’s sovereignty, your destination is going to take longer to get to.  The character or tools needed for that assignment need to become part of you, before you can handle the plans God has for you.

But our souls cry out, how can destruction or pain be God’s best?  I honestly do not know or fully comprehend how God does it, but He does use every part of our pain for good.  Perhaps your hope or delight was in that dream, and seeing it as your end or goal, rather than in God and seeing it everything as part of God’s plan and surrendering our way to God’s best.

When it seems like there is no more joy, no more hope, that is where faith comes in.  Placing our hope in God rather than on the temporary fulfillment of this earth is perhaps the greatest treasure learned when our longings are not fulfilled in the timing or way we wanted.

Lord, help us to trust you when things look vastly different than we thought they should.  You know best.

Worshipful Wednesday: Freedom and The Favor of God

Photo Credits thespiritscience.net

Photo Credits
thespiritscience.net

Psalm 3:1-8

Lord, how numerous are my enemies!  Many attack me. 2 Many say about me, “God will not deliver him.” (Selah) 3 But you, Lord, are a shield that protects me; you are my glory and the one who restores me. 4 To the Lord I cried out, and he answered me from his holy hill(Selah5 I rested and sleptI awokefor the Lord protects me6 I am not afraid of the multitude of people who attack me from all directions. 7 Rise up, LordDeliver me, my GodYesyou will strike all my enemies on the jawyou will break the teeth of the wicked. 8 The Lord delivers; you show favor to your people(Selah)

Psalm 4:1-3, 6-8

1 When I call out, answer me, O God who vindicates me! Though I am hemmed in, you will lead me into a wide, open place.  Have mercy on me and respond to my prayer2 You menhow long will you try to turn my honor into shameHow long will you love what is worthless and search for what is deceptive? (Selah3 Realize that the Lord shows the godly special favor; the Lord responds when I cry out to him6 Many say, “Who can show us anything good?” Smile upon us, Lord! 7 You make me happier than those who have abundant grain and wine. 8 I will lie down and sleep peacefully, for you, Lord, make me safe and secure.

David was fleeing for his life from his own son when he wrote this Psalm.  In a moment he, though he was King, lost the freedom He had.  When we consider all he had to go through prior to becoming King, the thought of returning to a similar state of hiding out in caves I am sure evoked thoughts of horror.  Once he had tasted of persecution and had the resulting freedom, he probably never anticipated going through it all again.  But there it was.  And from his own flesh and blood.

There is a war on freedom today, felt as far away as Syria and as near as a neighboring county.  Sometimes from strangers, sometimes from family and sometimes from those in authority.  The familiar struggle for power from the enemy of our souls is wrought upon those he would seek to control.  In particular among all of the freedoms we earn (not given), freedom of religion is perhaps chief among the freedoms that are the most difficult to maintain.

We dare not grow apathetic about our brothers and sisters who fight for their lives because of what they believe.  Nor can we disregard when basic freedoms threaten to be removed in our own country, county, city or town because of someone’s misinterpretation (ill-conceived or in ignorance) of the law.

Such was the case last night when the freedom to home educate children under the religious exemption statute in Virginia was being threatened.  I do not ever recall feeling more proud of home schoolers and fellow citizens than last night, seeing sincere mothers, fathers, children, citizens – speaking up for freedom, even though it might not have been their own freedom they fought for.

There is something inherently wrong about individuals or organizations thinking they have the right to come into someone’s home and tell a parent or a child what they should believe or what educational choice they should make for their child.  But last night, freedom won. Common sense won.  All present had the opportunity of seeing democracy fleshed out and felt the very amazing, patriotic feeling of seeing freedom being reinstated.  Much like those who first came to this country for the very same reason – freedom to worship their God and live before him in accordance with their convictions without interference – witnesses of last night’s debate once again thanked God for the freedoms we enjoy in this country.

A funny thing happens when basic freedom of religion is threatened.  God’s people cry out.  God hears.  People who had formerly forgotten that the freedoms gained must be maintained, suddenly ignite with a sense of purpose.  The joy felt when justice is given and the favor of God is apparent is indescribable.  Sometimes we have to almost lose a freedom to appreciate it all the more and recognize the favor of God that is upon us when we walk in accordance to His Word. Although I am certain my friends would have preferred not to undergo the persecution and threats they suffered, the result ended up in God receiving glory and their freedoms cherished by many.

Lord, help us to not take for granted the freedom we have to worship You.  May we cry out to You and see once again Your favor on our land, one nation under God.

When Fear Faces Faith

Isaiah 8:11-13

“Indeed this is what the LORD told me.  He took hold of me firmly and warned me not to act like these people.  ‘Do not say, ‘conspiracy’ every time these people say the word.  Don’t be afraid of what scares them; don’t be terrified.  You must recognize the authority of the LORD who commands armies.  He is the one you must respect; He is the one you must fear.'”

2 Kings 6:17

“Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he can see.” The LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw that the hill was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Recently I noticed within myself an anxiety.  Fears creeping in over the atrocities all over the world and what it could mean for my children, friends and family, God’s church, this nation. It is certainly human to have such dread when daily we see evil being committed.  But we who are found in Christ do not need to fear what the wicked dread.

It sounds ridiculous to say, “don’t fear”, when people, crazed with hatred fueled by religion are increasing in numbers and attacking at whim.  Until we truly understand how mighty our God is, how He is omniscient, omnipotent, the only One with whom we will have to answer about how we conducted our lives.  It is then that we recognize temporary threats as nothing compared to the greatness of our God.

Still our faith is tested when we consider that nothing happens apart from His permission.  How could God allow evil to continue?  Why does He not squash them in the midst of their evil campaigns?  To ask such questions is to refute the wisdom behind God’s plan, which includes free will.  Although He permits us to choose how to live this life, He holds promises for those who still trust in Him and persevere in that faith, despite the seeming victory of the evil all around them.

The battle is the Lord’s, and it is a spiritual one.  We see the flesh and often cannot see what is transpiring in the spiritual realm.  But, oh to peacefully, sweetly trust in our Maker’s strength, wisdom and promises.  No matter what things look like to our naked eyes, what God is accomplishing even through evil is unbeknownst to us.  Trusting in His goodness and sovereignty is where we can have peace in all circumstances.  Knowing Him and His revealed will is a compass, enabling us to see His purposes are far above are own.

We desire peace on earth, Jesus said there would not be peace – not because He did not want peace, but because He knew the hearts of men.  We essentially want earth to be Heaven, but it is instead a temporary stay in which our eternity is decided.  We fear death, while Jesus, who chose to face the fear of death for us, said death no longer has any sting. Dwelling in the flesh makes it difficult for us to think with a Heavenly mindset, but we have great hope because God warned us about the things transpiring even now and has revealed the end to us, as well.  He knows the end – isn’t that great news?  Here’s a hint – the bad guys do not win!

God is calling us to trust Him with our fears and also trust that whatever He allows into our lives, He will enable us to walk through it and use it for our good.  But what if anxiety is persistent, despite our faith in God?  Our flesh may struggle with fear still, despite all we know about out amazing God – who uses evil and good for His purposes.  We find compassion in our LORD Jesus, who experienced anxiety when He contemplated what He was about to endure, sweating drops of blood – but he did not allow that anxiety to keep Him from doing God’s will.  He saw the greater purpose and trusted God.  If we focus on God and His character instead of the trial at hand, we will have victory – He’s got it all in His hands.

Lord, open our eyes to see that nothing escapes Your notice and You are in complete control.  Our trust is in You alone, Lord.

The Opportunity of Emotional Baggage

Photo Credits simplykashonna.com

Photo Credits
simplykashonna.com

Isaiah 7:2b

“They and their people were emotionally shaken, just as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.”         

Emotions are a funny thing.  One moment you can be full of joy and the next full of sorrow.  Ever felt overwhelmed by multiple circumstances all pounding you simultaneously?  Like a sledgehammer in the enemy’s hand, you are pounded down and discouraged.  Where was the faith you had yesterday?  It is in times like these that we have to take captive our emotions, which threaten to undo us.

The perceived lack of care from people around you can make the sting of pain more intense, making you feel boxed in with no means of escape from the oppression of hurt which has you bound.  The operative word is “can”.  God has given us emotions – we are meant to feel.  When we suffer emotional pain, the temptation is to want to escape that crucible of suffering – but how do you escape from the pain in your own mind?  This is perhaps what makes emotional pain so difficult to overcome.

I often try to guard myself from intense emotional pain, as it produces in my autoimmune system a physical response that is unpleasant and incapacitating.  But sometimes surprises come and you feel the full impact of sorrow.  I think God wants us to feel that pain, not avoid it.  Emotional pain can lead us to our Savior’s feet, surrendered and desperate before Him.  Hurt can, instead, be fuel for revival or self-absorbed pity parties.

Some pain is thrust upon us by others and some we presume in our own minds.  Taking captive thoughts that are not biblical is the first step toward emotional wholeness.  It is incredibly difficult to avoid fleshly thoughts of consolation, but doing so enables us to break out of the emotional bondage trying to enslave us.  The saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is actually not true.  Coming to the realization that everything is about God’s glory brings perspective that opens a door.  A door for us to walk away from life’s surprises and people’s words that can either become sin through bitter unforgiveness or a doorway to victory and emotional freedom from anyone’s judgment.  He has made us to be free, indeed – from emotional baggage, too.

Lord, we don’t like to be hurt or to suffer emotionally.  But You know what that feels like, too.  May we not resist the fruit of such suffering and glorify You in the midst. 

Worshipful Wednesday: Sound Advice

Psalms 1:1-3

“How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of scoffers!  2 Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the LORD’s commands; he meditates on his commands day and night.  3 He is like a tree planted by flowing streams; it yields its fruit at the proper time, and its leaves never fall off. He succeeds in everything he attempts.”

Welcome to “Worshipful Wednesdays”!  I treasure this day smack dab in the middle of the week where we can reflect on writings from the Psalmist’s heart.  David was a worshiper.  Not just because he played the harp, but He worshiped God with His life.  Sometimes we can have a narrow definition of worship, thinking it mainly has to do with that portion of a church service in which we sing songs to God.  But worship can take place in the most mundane of circumstances, moments in which we ascribe worth to God and acknowledge how amazing He and His ways are – so far above our own.  It is a lifestyle and affects every part of our life.

Today I marvel at the counsel of God.  He has truly given us everything we need in His Word to live a godly life.  In this opening chapter of the book of Psalms, the stage is set that the believer has a choice – to choose righteousness or unrighteousness, wisdom or folly.  Beginning with examining the advice we receive and pursue is paramount, because it is a precursor to all decisions we make in this life.  Here the Psalmist counsels us to not follow the advice of the wicked.

Who are the wicked?  Are they easily discernable?  Not always.  Sometimes advice is subtly influenced by the world with a hint of wisdom and not easy to discern whether the counsel is of God.  What then?  Filter the advice through God’s Word – does it agree?  If we are not in our Word, we can be given to great error.  Sometimes people will think you are not being flexible or are too legalistic because you do not bend to follow counsel that is not biblical.  The Psalmist understands – and advises us to not sit in their company or let their opinion matter.

I love how we have an alternative in Christ.  It is not just avoiding evil, but doing the opposite which brings great blessings. Choosing to obey God’s command instead of following the world’s counsel, or choosing to meditate on God’s commands is where we actually find pleasure and joy.  Ironically, it is not in following our flesh and doing what we or others want to do. That path brings burden and destruction.

Sometimes we still choose bad advice when the fruit of listening to good advice is known.  We often are deceived or unaware that the counsel we are receiving is bad and neglect to see the many benefits of walking in good counsel.  The fruit of listening to good advice is a fruitful life, succeeding “in everything he attempts” and God guarding his way.  That sounds a lot better than rebelling against God to get “our” way, which ultimately is Satan’s ploy to destroy us.

In gray areas where Scripture appears to be silent, God’s principles still offer counsel.  They stand as a beacon guiding our path.  People who have walked before God can also be a beneficial source of advice, but ultimately we answer to God.  Go with God and His counsel – therein lie blessings beyond measure.

Lord, thank You that You instruct us and guide us in all aspects of this precious life You have given.  Help us to seek Your will fervently and to obey You.

Manic Monday: But That Was Yesterday

Isaiah 43:18-19

18Don’t remember these earlier eventsdon’t recall these former events19 Look, I am about to do something newNow it begins to happen!  Do you not recognize it?  Yes, I will make a road in the desert and paths in the wilderness.”

Hebrews 13:8

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!”

You read that right – I am posting for Monday on Tuesday.  Yesterday was a whirlwind, but I praise God for it, anyway.  It has been on my heart to write about “yesterday”, so it seems fitting to post for yesterday, today.

While trying to begin a new year invigorated and putting behind us the failures of last year, it is easy to recognize that we will not achieve everything we set our sights on.  In fact, old habits die hard and living intentionally will take some effort. Or sometimes life crowds in and messes up your plans and, well, you realize you will not accomplish that day’s endeavors.  It is in those moments that we have an opportunity.  Being sidetracked does not have to wreck your day – instead it serves a purpose.  Can we be content when the day does not go as planned?  Can we see the larger purpose, or are we limited by someone else’s or our own definition of a successful day?  Being inconvenienced when other people or ourselves “drop the ball” is an opportunity to apply grace.

Perhaps life’s interruptions are meant to jar us to not become too robotic in our pursuit of our goals and can also serve to help us not lose perspective and remember what is really important.  Our days do not have to look perfect, so long as we continue to press on toward the goals we have in Christ.  Laugh a little.  Laugh a lot.  Life is unpredictable, but God is not.  One of the greatest comforts we have is in knowing that Jesus never changes, even though our circumstances can change each and every minute.  Our yesterdays are all covered and there is hope that Christ can change us in areas we are weak.

When we think about forgetting the past, we consider that often to be a distant past.  But part of the victory of living in Christ is that a mistake made or a pain suffered just 5 minutes ago can be brought and laid at our Master’s feet and forgotten. The past is remembered for the sake of improving our lives and our walk before God, but not for condemnation.  This year, give it your best and leave the rest to Jesus!

Lord, thank you that everything You use for good for those who love You.  Crazy moments are even a tool in Your perfect hands.  Help us to consistently serve You with all that You allow into our lives and glorify You in the midst.

All Part of One Dysfunctional Family

keep-calm-and-love-your-dysfunctional-family-4

John 1:12

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

Ephesians 2:19-22 

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” 

I confess that I used to dread reading through geneologies, but now I cherish reading them, one name at a time.  I know, it must not take much to entertain me, right?  But behind each name is a story, and often one of dysfunction.  Why does this comfort me, you may ask?  Because these names that are a part of the line that lead to our Emmanuel were not perfect families which were a part of God’s background.  The Son of God chose sinful man to be a part of His lineage.

A prostitute, adulterers, murderers, foreigners, deceivers, in-laws, non-biological parents, idol worshipers, and the list goes on and on.  I love when I see families who leave a godly heritage, generation after generation, with no divorce.  I wish that could have been my story, and yet I don’t.  We can still leave a godly heritage to our children when our story has not been perfect.  It is in the scars, in the hurt, in the reality of not being perfect that I was able to be embraced by my Savior, my Kinsman Redeemer, Who makes all things new.  This fallen world and any labels people want to affix to people who are broken by sin’s stain, has no hold on me.  I am a part of God’s family, too.

As a little girl I recall feeling strange as a child of divorce.  Moving multiple times between homes was my newly accepted norm.  When I came to know Jesus in college, I was excited about being in a Christian marriage one day and teaching my children about Jesus’ loving salvation.  I married a Christian man and raised my children in the LORD.  Little did I know the secret my now former husband had, which would break up my “perfect” family.  How could this happen?  How could God receive glory from such sin?  And yet the hand of God guided me and led me to remarry a man who also had his heart broken.  The Brady Bunch, indeed.  So now, where did our family fit in?  With God.

It still amazes me.  Why did God choose us?  To show His great mercy.  To lavish His love upon His children.  To heal.  Whenever we begin to look at ourselves and compare to someone else, we need to remember that we cannot always see someone else’s struggle, and ultimately we are all the same in God’s eyes – all a part of His cherished family.  Whatever you have been through, You belong to Him, and that is all that matters.  The church is the family of God and is full of dysfunctional people, too.  That is why we need a Savior.  If you are a new believer, welcome to the family – love you!  We are not perfect, but we are being made into His image, day by day.

Lord, heal hearts and families today that need to know they are accepted in Your sight.  May You be glorified in our families and our churches.

The Options Before Us

Isaiah 1:18

“Come, let’s consider your options,” says the LORD. “Though your sins have stained you like the color red, you can become white like snow; though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet, you can become white like wool.” (NET)

Isaiah 6:5-8

“I said, ‘Too bad for me! I am destroyed, for my lips are contaminated by sin, and I live among people whose lips are contaminated by sin. My eyes have seen the king, the LORD who commands armies.’ 6 But then one of the seraphs flew toward me. In his hand was a hot coal he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, ‘Look, this coal has touched your lips. Your evil is removed; your sin is forgiven.’ 8 I heard the voice of the sovereign master say, “Whom will I send? Who will go on our behalf?” I answered, ‘Here I am, send me!'”  (NET)

I love the wording of the NET Bible version in Isaiah 1:18 – “Come, let’s consider your options” – not much of a decision there, really.  Either be covered in sin and condemned to hell, or be covered with Christ’s blood, forgiven and go to Heaven. For such an obvious choice, so many miss it.  Why?  Deception.  Ignorance.  Rebellion. Election.

The master deceiver does his job well.  Many tools lie in his arsenal – condemnation, oppression, distraction, busyness, anything to keep us from seeing our need for salvation.  But we can contribute to our own deception by remaining in ignorance.  Laziness helps our ignorance along if we expect God’s truth to be spoon fed to us rather than seeking Him.

Our rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, but we often sanitize our sins to make them acceptable.  Excuses can abound to make one avoid accountability.  This is not surprising, because our flesh’s natural disposition is to avoid doing anything that requires facing something potentially ugly in ourselves.  Why?  Our pride and self esteem might be injured.  (You probably picked up on the sarcasm there).  Or we want to be our own master, assert our independence.  Every person I have known who rebelled and craved independence regrets that decision later.  But still something in us craves “freedom” from anyone’s control, which can cramp our style and choices, even if those choices harm us and separate us from fellowship with our loving God.  Rebellion is actually insanity – What or who are we rebelling from?  The One Who offers us true unconditional acceptance – why run away from that?

Ultimately, in God’s sovereignty, He already knows who belongs to Him before we even have our eyes opened to understand that we need saving.  Where is our responsibility, then?  We are unique in all of God’s creation, in that we have reasoning and free will.  When God’s plan of salvation is shared, people have a choice – to accept this great salvation or to reject it.  Yet even in that choice it is solely the grace of God that enables us to make that choice.

Isaiah was humbled and desperate for his sins to be removed when confronted with God’s Holiness in comparison to his wretched sinful condition.  His response could only be to throw himself upon the mercy of God.  His sins atoned for, Isaiah exuberantly pronounced, “Here I am! Send me!”.  I want to have this same wonder and amazement over God’s salvation every day of every year.  May He help us to have the same zeal to help others recognize and receive the gift of eternal life.

Lord, help us to see how very vile we are apart from Your loving grace and salvation.  Thank you, dear sweet LORD, for opening my eyes to see and know You and to choose the best option of my life.  I did not deserve it, I never will – but please help me to never forget how great a salvation You have given and to live worthy of this amazing gift.  Amen.

Thoughtful Thursday – Happy New Year: Putting the Big Rocks In

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Psalm 90:12

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome to 2015!!  I still remember Y2K being a big deal, so it is rather shocking to think we are 15 years later now.  Where has the time gone?  It is fleeting.  It is easy to let time fly by, seemingly unnoticed.  We stay busy and never is everything fully accomplished.  But seizing the moments we are given, prioritizing the days can bring immense satisfaction and a sense of fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives rather than squandering it.

Years ago I heard of a philosphy in which our big priorities were referred to as “big rocks”.  In order to accomplish some of the larger priorities in our lives, they must be considered first before all of the little rocks take up all the spaces in our lives.  What is really important to us needs to be placed first.  Determining what is most significant is another matter.  Today I created a “Big Rock” calendar for myself in which I placed on my calendar (printable, so easy to copy and paste repeating items) items that were important to me, to ensure they do not get forgotten.

Our relationship with the LORD is primary, followed by time with family.  Some big rocks are already going to happen, regardless, because they are already interwoven into our days.  What are your big rocks?  A great tool to help with the process or prioritization would be a bible reading plan.  Some wonderful plans are found here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans/ . Depending on whether you prefer to study the bible chronologically, or by literature type, there are many different types to choose from at this website.  May God grant us all a blessed and effective year and enable us to rise each day and be intentional.

Lord, all of our days are Yours.  Please give us strength, courage and ability to carry out the plans You have placed on our hearts.  We surrender all of our plans to You and for You.

Preparations for the New Year: Planning in Humility

Photo Credits missionyear.org

Photo Credits
missionyear.org

James 4:13-17

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

Psalm 39:4-5

“O LORD, help me understand my mortality and the brevity of life! Let me realize how quickly my life will pass!  Look, you make my days short-lived, and my life span is nothing from your perspective. Surely all people, even those who seem secure, are nothing but vapor.” (Net Bible).

Proverbs 16:9

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” (NIV)

It has been a joy for me to go through the process of blogging about planning and aligning our hearts, minds, bodies to God’s will and evaluating through His lens.  The planning process is necessary and often neglected because it is not a once and done occupation.  I want to dare to dream and try to do things that I would normally limit myself on, but simultaneously surrender it all to God, delighting in the truth that His way is best.

There is a fine line between planning for temporary pleasure and planning that is divinely inspired.  By saying divinely inspired, I mean it is something God truly placed on our hearts, and not us manipulating to have it be a part of His plan for our own desires.  Sometimes it is not clear.  We plan and wonder if it is what we are supposed to be doing.  That’s ok – as long as our plans are submitted to God and we trust His will.

At the root of our plans our motivation might be difficult to discern, but it reveals the impetus behind the inspiration for our goals.  Pride, insecurity, fame, jealousy, popularity or any other carnal catalysts toward a goal will be burned up in the end.  But purifying our motives before God can confirm whether a goal really is worthwhile, after all, and have eternal rewards. Recognizing that we are just vessels doing His work, not ours is paramount.

Planning in this way leads to encouragement rather than discouragement; if a venture or pursuit fails, then I know either the LORD was not in it or that I need to go back to Him again.  Self is removed when I consider the whole purpose is doing His will and I lay it at his feet again, praying whether it is something I need to cease or whether it is an opportunity to grow in character and not give up.  If I look for outward signs only, including man’s praise rather than an inner peace of walking in His plan, then I can easily become confused and misled.  Being hyper-spiritual is also not a beneficial solution to discerning whether God is in our plans.

If our goal truly is God’s glory, though, then the results are completely up to the LORD.  Failure or success in goals is not what matters most. The success of a goal might even just be the character earned in the process.   We must just be faithful to seek Him daily and press on toward our goals in Christ. Ultimately, our time investment needs to be with eternity in mind and the recognition that everything we have comes from Him.  Everything we set out to do is only by His grace.  Everything is all about Him.

Here’s to planning a godly year in 2015!  Happy New Year’s Eve!!

Lord, our time is in Your hands.  Your will be done in every aspect of our lives!  To you alone be all glory, honor and praise for any accomplishments You allow.