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Thanksgiving morning, when I was in what I call the twilight zone (not fully awake or asleep and trying to decide which way to go), the Lord dropped this teaching in my heart. I get teachings in many different ways from various inspirations. I have had two where I dreamed I was preaching and woke up and took notes on myself. This one was more like one other I received, where I received a prophetic word that I expanded into a teaching.
I've heard and read a lot about New Year's resolutions and whether Christians should have them or not. I know when I was a teacher; September was more a resolution time than New Year's because that's when my year started. I am not going to enter the fray of the correctness of resolutions. I believe there is a higher road and that's what I believe Holy Spirit is directing me to talk about. Holy Spirit prefers New Year's Revolutions! He wants to redirect our lives. Perhaps it may be by a few degrees or 1800, but He wants the opportunity to adjust or revolutionize the way we live.
Here's what I believe Holy Spirit wants us to look at. It doesn't matter if your time of evaluation is New Years, September, June, or every day, these principles will be equally valid.
1. Priorities: Mt. 6.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Each of us only have limited and unknown amounts of time, money, energy, etc. Our focus must be on eternal things. What are they? The Lord, His word, people, and love are what the Bible tells us are eternal. The more we can hunker down on the interaction of these four, the more aligned we will be with God's kingdom. What is His kingdom? His Kingdom is everything He is King of kings over! How do we know our priorities? Check out our use of money, time, and our thoughts and passions. Certain of these are non-negotiable, others are not. Holy Spirit help us determine how are we using each and why.
Sample prayer: Holy Spirit, reveal to me what my priorities really are right now, and then how You want them to be, amen.
2. Vision: Pr. 29.18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law is happy. Do you have a vision on your heart from God as to where you are going and what you're to be doing? If not, it is high time to seek Him for it because He is speaking and revealing these things to those who would follow Him. If you have that vision, are you following it?
Hab. 2.1 I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected. 2 Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. 3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Is your vision written plainly so that you can run with it? God will make clear to us how we will specifically carry out the vision He has given us. If we do not understand that yet, now is the perfect time to seek His face to find out what that vision is. Don't be surprised if things change direction or become more fine-tuned with time. In fact, if your vision is written, it is always good to allow Holy Spirit to tweak it periodically, if needed.
Eze. 12.21 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 22 “Son of man, what is this proverb that you people have about the land of Israel, which says, ‘The days are prolonged, and every vision fails’? 23 Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will lay this proverb to rest, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.” But say to them, “The days are at hand, and the fulfillment of every vision. 24 For no more shall there be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. 25 For I am the Lord. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord God.’ ” 26 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 27 “Son of man, look, the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision that he sees is for many days from now, and he prophesies of times far off.’ 28 Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “None of My words will be postponed any more, but the word which I speak will be done,” says the Lord God.’ ” Often we will have waited a long time for the vision God has given us to begin to be fulfilled. I know I have. A key thing to do is to, with the guidance of Holy Spirit, is to see if there are any steps that you can do now towards seeing that thing fulfilled. They may even seem like baby steps, but every step counts. Even basic things like regularly partaking of the word, interceding for your vision, like-minded fellowship and small steps of ministry can all help your vision to come more quickly. Yes, the vision is up to God since we're believing for big, supernatural things. However, we have our part to play. Then, suddenly, God….
Sample prayer: Holy Spirit, I commit to be what you want me to be, to do what you want me to do, to give what you want me to give, to go where you want me to go. If I don't know, please fill me in. If I am off track some, please straighten me out. Lord, help me write my vision so that it is clear for all to read and run with! Lastly, reveal to me the steps I can start making to arrive at my vision.
3. Motives: 1 Cor. 3.10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Once #1 & 2 are complete, now comes the convicting part. The verses in 1 Cor. have to do with our motives. Notice the emphasis in verses 10 and 13 is on how one builds. This particular judgment isn't about time usage or what was built, but the focus is on motivation, the how and why we do what we do. Especially if you take the time to read 1 Corinthians 2 through 4 you will see the broader perspective. Paul is talking about ministry, his, Apollo's', Peter's, Jesus' and ours.
The idea here is to allow Holy Spirit to examine us, as only He can, to see if we are doing things His way. We may do great works, but do we have the intimate relationship with the Lord that we should? Mt. 7.21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew (intimately, like Adam knew Eve) you; depart from Me, you who practice iniquity (doing what I want.)!’ Are we doing good things, but not the things He has directed, in other words are we doing our own thing? Are we doing things to get the attention/approval of others or are we e truly serving out of love. These are things that cannot be judged from the outside. Appearances deceive. Take the time to allow Holy Spirit to discern and judge us. Don't allow the enemy to sneak in here (or any where in this process) to condemn with his '"You're not good for anything, you can't do anything right" garbage. Also, don't let pride in to say, "I am above all this."
I just spoke about how we can be 'doing 'great things' for God' and yet miss it entirely because our motivation and/or priorities are wrong. Some of us, however, don't have this issue at all. Our issue is lack of any motivation. Later on in 1 Cor., chapter 12 and in Eph. 4 (especially verse 16) the word talks about the body of Christ, of which we all are members. It talks about how in a body, each member receives AND gives to the other members. That is how our physical body works, each part does things that no other part can do as well. The body can learn to compensate, as mine has, without certain things, but it is never as good as the original. You have a place and a role in your local body. Find it, do it, because if you don't, your body won't function right without YOU!
For those of us in the West, the following verses are particularly convicting. Lk. 12.48b For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. Mt. 10.8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. The average Christian in the West in a few years has (or could have) received more spiritual food than pastors in the two-thirds world will ever get. We spend more resources in a year or three than many will in a life -time. We WILL be held accountable by our God for how we handle what we have been given. So as we are allowing Holy Spirit to check motivations, let's be open to certain motivational lacks as well.
Sample prayer: Holy Spirit, examine me yet again. Lord, I can't know my own motives and heart many times, I need You to reveal to me if I am doing what I am doing out of right motives. Slice me open, Lord, and show me if I am aligned correctly. If I am not, please forgive me and show me how You want me to be. If I am not doing enough, please show me that as well. I want Your will, Lord. Just show me what I am to do.
4. Excellence, God's Best: Phil 1.9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Each step we take here allows Holy Spirit to fine-tune us more, touching on different areas and focusing like one would with a microscope when scanning uneven territory. This scripture touches on the difference between good, better and best or excellent. You may wonder why this requires discernment? If we could see all the choices at one time and see them presented with all the results, beginning to end, it would require little or none. But choices rarely come that way. Sometimes what we are facing is Gods best for us, but we may not recognize it as such. They come in ones or twos and we have to pick which is the most excellent without knowing the end. God give us wisdom!
We never want to settle for less than God's best for our lives. Good and better are tempting, promising, even seem right, but we want the best, to choose the excellent thing. We have to be wiling to turn down and turn away from the good and better and even wait for the best at times. If we're in the midst of pursuing good and better, best may pass us by, thinking we're taken. Other times, we can hesitate when God's best is at hand and miss our opportunity.
Sample Prayer: Holy Spirit, I don't want to settle for less than Your best nor do I want to miss it when it is right in front of me. So Lord, let me know if I have settled or if I have missed it. I know Your best is best for me, for You and for all those around me. Help me Lord discern and not be duped!
5. Time Management: Eph. 5.15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ps. 90.12 So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. The issue in these verses is time management. Not only is it about wasting time, the most obvious application, but also how we use our time. Resting in the Lord, waiting in His presence, praying and interceding are some of the best uses of our time, but can appear to be wasting time. This is so tricky. Is the time spent on fellowship worthwhile or is it just empty socializing? Family time is always good, but did I make the best use of it? So, again, we have to allow Holy Spirit to examine us here to see if our time is being used according to His priorities. Another issue God may put His finger on are ways we can involve others, delegating things to them to do so we can focus more exactly on God's specific priorities for us. This benefits others as it gives them opportunities for growth and service, and it helps us stay on task.
Sample Prayer: Holy Spirit, again I cry out to You. Am I redeeming my time? Are there ways You would have me spend it that I am not? Are there things I spend my time on You don't want me to spend so much on? Are there things You would rather have me spend my time on? Show me, Lord. Help me be wise and be in Your perfect will.
I am sorry there are no simple formulas here. These things take time and there are no pat answers. We dare not compare ourselves with anyone, because only the Lord knows what He has called each of us to. Only Jesus, His word and Holy Spirit direction can be our yardstick and plumb line.
The engine in a car requires a combination of correct amounts and timing of fuel, air, and spark, along with lubrication and cooling to run. If all of these are done correctly, it will run at optimum power, speed, safety and efficiency, a finely tuned machine. How often does a car need to be checked for these things? It all depends on the make of automobile, usage and quality of parts, and how picky is the owner/driver. Ten years without a tune up for any vehicle and I can guarantee it is not running at the peak level of performance! Even so with us. Once a year may not be often enough for some of these questions, perhaps too often for others. Again, allow Holy Spirit to gauge this and follow His lead.