“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”Jeremiah 29:11
Last week I encouraged you to take some time with the Lord and dream a little; to let Him speak to the desires of your heart. I’m encouraging you to go a bit deeper in relationship with the Lord because as we draw closer, we hear better and see more clearly what He wants for us. The Lord said He would give us the desires of our hearts, and He did! He gave you the deepest desires of your heart and, as you continue to draw closer to Him, he’ll bring those desires into focus and to fruition. I’ve seen him do this in my life, and I know in my heart He wants to do the same for you. I know this because, just as the Lord has a plan and purpose set apart for me and me alone, He has a plan and a purpose made just for you. With that in mind, I have a question for you.
Do you have any idea how rare you are?
It’s a strange question, right? But have you ever thought about it? I don’t think most of us have but we should. Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise from our Father. “I know the plans I have for you” means God has a plan for you. He has a purpose for your life and He made you for that purpose. It’s true. And it’s a big deal. But most of us are ignoring the promise. We fail to realize just how rare we really are and how much potential we have to create value in this world.
Last week, in Part I of this series of blogs about finding our purpose in God’s Kingdom, I encouraged you to dream a little with our Father and to think about the resources and capabilities He’s provided you; the things you have available to you to help you live out His plans for you. Some of those resources and capabilities may seem pretty common; perhaps you have a degree in accounting, a blog, a consulting business, a home, a supportive spouse, a strong faith community, or good public speaking skills. Any of those may be great resources and capabilities, and they could offer good insights into what the Lord may have for you, but none are particularly rare. Alone, none of those is likely to set you apart for a particular role or activity.
Still, as you’re thinking about what God’s calling you to or trying to discern if now is the time to pursue a long-held dream, it’s good to take stock. You might even ask friends and family to help you make an inventory of your talents as well as other resources and capabilities that might help you do good work for the Lord. You should also think about what you value, your passions, etc. As you do so, you’ll be able to consider all that you have to work with, in light of your environment and situation. You’ll be better able to discern what makes you valuable and rare; in other words, what distinguishes you for your unique role. Toward that end, I want to focus on one resource in particular that is often forgotten and that, as a Christian, you should definitely include among your key resources.
Come Holy Spirit
Jesus told the disciples, “You will do even greater things than these.” That seems impossible, right? Honestly, I struggle to get my head around that one, but I appreciate how it sets the expectation. Our lives should stand apart from those who do not live for the Father.
“Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they were amazed, and recognized them as the companions of Jesus.”Acts 4:13
Peter and John were ordinary men. Not well educated, neither of them had any particular advantages; except one. They knew Jesus well. And, although Jesus had already ascended into heaven by the time Peter and John healed the crippled beggar, they were going about their Kingdom work with the extraordinary guidance of the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of God sent to them by Jesus himself. And because of that Spirit, they stood apart and were easily recognizable as friends of Jesus.
Peter and John’s reliance on the Holy Spirit distinguished them from the crowd. They called upon the Holy Spirit to guide them as they accomplished the work of the Lord, and they were entirely unwilling to take credit for any of the miracles accomplished through them. Instead, they always pointed back to Jesus. So, what does this have to do with you? Jesus sent the same Holy Spirit that enabled Peter and John to heal the beggar to advocate for you as you navigate life on this earth. The Holy Spirit, the divine presence of God dwelling within each of us, is the resource of greatest distinction available to all Christians who welcome the Holy Spirit to guide their lives.
When I read that scripture about Peter and John, I had to wonder. Does my life stand out such that people know I’m a friend of Jesus? Does yours? I’ve come to understand that our ability to stand out and be noticed as friends of Jesus is directly related to our willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts, words, and deeds. Not only should our God-given advocate guide our decisions about the jobs we accept and the roles we take on, but the Spirit should guide the seemingly small decisions. Think about Peter and John that day they healed the beggar. They didn’t set out that morning saying to one another, “Let’s go find a crippled beggar to heal.” But they did set out together fully aware of the Spirit of the Lord within them; knowing they were empowered to do the Lord’s work…come what may. That awareness made them notice a crippled man begging for alms. And that awareness emboldened them to heal through the power of the Holy Spirit and enabled a once crippled man to leap with joy…because he could!
I think it’s safe to say Peter and John were at their best that day. They knew their place in the Kingdom, were aware of their particular gifts, and leaned into the power of the Holy Spirit to open their eyes to opportunities to do good works and glorify the Lord. I’d like to encourage you to take some time this week to recall a time when you were at your best; when you used your talents, skills, and resources to glorify the Lord.
What did that moment/day/season look like?
Did you go into it differently than usual?
Were you taking advantage of any especially valuable or rare resources that are available to you?
As you think about all of that, remember this: You are rare; one of a kind. And, our God and creator has a plan for you.
Ask Him to reveal what He wants you to know about Him and about you. Quiet your mind and try to listen. And if you hear anything at all, write it down. This practice of seeking wisdom and listening well is a good one (see our Listening Prayer Guide here). It will help you better understand the desires of your heart as Jesus does and begin to open your eyes to all that He has planned for you, and what you have to work with and protect yourself against as you step out in service of the Lord. We will talk more about that next week.
With the greatest of love,
This is the second in a five-part series on Kingdom work. Over the next several weeks, Joan will share scriptural insights into God’s divine plan for our lives. She and the Modern Day Mary team will be on hand to answer questions, offer insights, and pray for you. We hope you’ll join us for this journey as we all seek a deeper understanding of and commitment to the unique roles God has for each of us. In so doing, we believe we will know deeper joy and realize the truth of an abundant, flourishing life.
Get caught up:
Finding Our Place in God’s Kingdom Part 1