How to discover your vision (1)

Jeremiah 23:16 NKJV

You don’t get to decide God’s purpose for your life, you discover it. How? Through prayer. God says, “I know the plans I have for you” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT). Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. You may be overwhelmed with problems, but God sees your potential.

David’s family didn’t think he would amount to much. But where they saw a shepherd boy, God saw a king. Looking back, David wrote: “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me… I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” (Psalm 139:16-18 NLT).

You’re unique – and so is God’s plan for you. It’s encouraging to read stories and listen to great achievers and think, “If they can do it, so can I!” However, the secret is to learn from others without trying to duplicate them. It’s not enough to have a good idea; it must be the will of God. You don’t get to decide what your vision will be; you discover it by seeking God for direction. And His Word says He will give it to you: “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21 NKJV). That way you know it’s “from the mouth of the Lord.”

Soul food: Jos 19:24-21:45; John 16:12-18; Ps 2; Prov 28:25-28


1 Timothy 4:15 NIV

How much of our hearts have we handed over to God? Are we wholeheartedly seeking Him, or has He lost His place as priority in our lives? God wants us to be devoted to Him. That means God should be more to us than any other person or thing. It means we surrender to Him and His plans for our lives. It means we let Him lead us rather than trying to do life our own way.

David was someone who was devoted to God. He still made mistakes, like we all do, but his heart was in the right place. In fact when talking about David, the Bible says: ‘The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart’ (1 Samuel 13:14 NIV). David was a man after God’s heart. He wanted to seek God and be close to Him. He wanted to be devoted to serving Him. David actually prayed: ‘Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name’ (Psalm 86:11 NIV).

Is our heart undivided? There are many things which can try and steal parts of our heart away. We might focus on things like our relationships, work, family, and hobbies. They can all try to distract us from God. It’s not bad to have these things in our lives, but God still needs to be our priority. We should love God above everything else. In the New Testament, we’re told: ‘Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful’ (Colossians 4:2 NIV). We should be desiring to spend time with God in prayer. It’s a great way to deepen our relationship with Him. We shouldn’t be praying only when we need something, but because we long to spend time talking and listening to Him.

Jos 16:1-19:23; John 16:1-11; Ps 130; Prov 28:21-24

God is only a prayer away

Psalm 34:6 NLT

J.C. Penney was a rich businessman who founded a famous chain of department stores across America. But despite his wealth and success, he suffered setbacks, bereavement, financial ruin, and deep depression. At his lowest point he cried out to God. He said: ‘When I was brought to humility and the knowledge of my dependence on God…it was like a light illuminating my being. I cannot otherwise describe it, than to say it changed me as a man.’

When things fall apart in our lives, and we don’t know what to do or whether we’ll be able to recover, God is only a prayer away. It’s amazing to think that the creator of the universe is so close to us. Even if we’ve neglected our relationship with Him and tried to rely on our own strength and wisdom, He joyfully welcomes us back to Him when we realise that we need Him in our lives. ‘The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth’ (Psalm 145:18 NIV).

When we’re in the depths of trouble, we can sometimes think that God’s abandoned us. But the opposite is true. ‘The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed’ (Psalm 34:18 NCV). In times of brokenness and despair, we can draw strength and comfort from His presence. ‘He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust”‘ (Psalm 91 ESV). The psalmist wrote: ‘In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles.’ God will do the same for us.

Eze 5-9; Luke 18:18-30; Ps 119:169-176; Prov 19:9-10

God is only a prayer away

Psalm 34:6 NKJV

J.C. Penney has died and gone to heaven, but hundreds of department stores across America still carry his name. When he started out in life he was interested in one thing only: making money. Working as a clerk for six dollars a week, his consuming ambition was to be worth a hundred thousand dollars. When he reached that goal he felt temporary satisfaction, but soon set his sights on being worth a million dollars. Then tragedy struck his life. His wife caught cold that developed into pneumonia, of which she subsequently died.

He recalled, “When she died my world crashed about me. To build businesses, to make a success in the eyes of men, to accumulate money – what was the purpose of it all? I felt mocked by life, even by God himself.” Before long he was ruined financially and in deep depression. It was at that point he turned to God and experienced a miraculous conversion. He said: “When I was brought to humility and the knowledge of my dependence on God…it was like a light illuminating my being. I cannot otherwise describe it, than to say it changed me as a man.”

Have things fallen apart in your life today? Are you down, wondering if you’ll ever be able to get back up? Turn to God; He’s only a prayer away. And David the psalmist prayed that prayer: “This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” And what God did for David, He will do for you today.

Soul food: Eze 5-9; Luke 18:18-30; Ps 119:169-176; Prov 19:9-10

When we pray, God works

1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV

Two things about prayer are truly amazing: 1) God listens when we pray. ‘You can pray for anything, and if you believe that you have received it, it will be yours’ (Mark 11:24 NLT). He hears every prayer, and when we pray in alignment with His will, He’ll move to meet our requests.

2) We don’t pray enough. We have the greatest privilege imaginable – access to the control centre of the Universe – but we rarely use it. And our lack of prayer surprises God. Through the prophet Ezekiel He lamented: ‘I sought for a man among them who would…stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one’ (Ezekiel 22:30 NKJV).

When Abraham learned that Sodom and Gomorrah were going to be destroyed, he didn’t rush to warn the cities. Instead he chose to’ … [remain] standing before the Lord’ (Genesis 18:22 NIV). When God said Israel deserved a nationwide death penalty for the golden calf, Moses interceded and saved them. One paraphrase of Exodus 32:11 says, ‘Moses tried to calm his GOD down’ (MSG). An obscure priest called Phinehas begged God not to send the plague, and it was checked (see Psalm 106:30).

Prayer is so important and valuable because when we work, we work, but when we pray, God works. Scripture attaches breathtaking power to prayer. The Message paraphrases Matthew 18:19 like this: ‘When two of you get together on anything…and make a prayer of it, My Father in heaven goes into action’ (MSG). Does any other activity promise such results? Did God call us to preach without ceasing? Or have meetings without ceasing? No, but He did call us to ‘pray without ceasing’.

Eze 1-4; Luke 18:1-17; Ps 119:161-168; Prov 19:3-8