Saturday, October 11, 2008

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Here I Am, Lord ... Now What?

"Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. For forty years you sustained them in the desert; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen." (Nehemiah 9:19-21)

You'll recall from my previous post that asking God to reveal His will, then following His leading is the way to make sure of His blessing, just as the Israelites above were assured of manna and water for as long as they continued to follow the pillar of cloud. Still, absent a fiery pillar in the desert, understanding what He is saying can seem overwhelming. The "Discover" part requires us to examine the circumstances He has carefully arranged for us. Consider the Apostle Paul's circumstances:

"Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them." (Acts 16:6-10)

Paul and his companions were gifted evangelists who were commissioned and sent on a mission. When they reached the border of Mysia, they found they could not travel where they assumed they were to go, but instead followed God in another direction, where He greatly blessed their work.

Likewise, God provides us with gifts and talents with which to meet the needs and opportunities He’s placed before us. He makes resources available to us but also places constraints on our service to guide us to where and how He wants us to minister. Think of it like this:

Paying attention to where the circles intersect helps us understand how He is arranging the terms of our service. The dashed lines around the circles remind us that our understanding of our abilities and circumstances may be selling God short--like Moses or Gideon we need to exercise faith in what God can do beyond our apparent limits.

As a starting place toward better understanding the context of God’s direction for your ministry, conduct your own, personal inventory:
  • What gifts & talents do you believe God has equipped you personally, or in the form of your ministry partners, if you have them? (Hint: These are generally areas in which God has given you a special passion and ability. If you're not sure, consider those listed in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 as a starting place. We'll talk more about gifts and talents in a later post.)
  • What particular resources has God has supplied you with? (Consider time, money, relationships, material goods, home or access to facilities, health, mobility, family situation, etc.)
  • What constraints has God placed on your capabilities and resources?
  • What special needs and opportunities is God drawing your attention to?
Use this as a way to organize your prayer time. Commit the above questions and answers to prayer and begin a discussion with God. Ask Him to reveal how He has equipped you and for what purpose.

14 comments:

  1. Admin note: This is an article on "The Cypress Times"
    http://www.thecypresstimes.com/article.cfm?articleID=19685

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  2. Thank you Raymond. I plan on sharing your article with my Men's Discipleship group. As we have learned in our PCL groups we are all here to serve and bring glory to our Lord. He has placed each of us where we are for a time and a purpose. I am excited to see where he may be directing me next.

    Are you familiar with the book Share Jesus With Out Fear by William Fay?

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  3. Great article! A nice refresher/reminder for those of us who have been in ministry for a long time.

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  4. Great article! Over the past three years I thought I was going to just be a great trainer at work and work on a Masters Degree to better my career. What I have found is that my job is the icing on the cake of multiple ministry opportunities God has placed into my path. I work as a trainer for prospective foster and adoptive parents and help develop curriculum for an inner city mentoring program. If you have asked me what my ministry would be years ago, I would have looked at you blankly and maybe said something about service projects. Now I have clear croon and calling, because I realized I do not have to have three lives; home, work and ministry.

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  5. Thank you for this. It was much needed.

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  6. Thank you, very reassuring and timely word.

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  7. Good Teaching. Fresh insight on an important topic. Thank for the reminders.

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  8. Amen Brother Ray

    You are right on target in what you say. We can't discover God's personal will for our lives until we are practicing the things He has willed for each of us. He has given us interests and gifts to suit what it is within His will for us. If we can just keep looking around for what we enjoy and what makes us feel fulfilled and close to the Lord, we are at the beginning end of Discovery. It's a fascinating journey.

    God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called. If it's His will for us, it will work out, if not, we will be blocked in some way. Thank you for your insight into the subject. May God bless you.

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  9. We each have been blessed with special talents and abilities. If we let God guide us, he will provide opportunities to best use the gifts He has given us. I get asked (probably more than most people) to take on different fundraisers, special events, plan tournaments, sit on boards, become part of committees etc.. I pray before I take on any new endeavor to make sure that it's the right thing to do and it's where God is leading me. Pressure from people within our communities, all of whom we want to serve, is overwhelming at times. There are needs that are not being met spiritually, and physically and it will break your heart to draw the line somewhere. I just trust that God has never led me in the wrong direction... I had one of my Cancer Survivors tell me once, "I had one plan for my life, God's plan was different than mine. God won." I watch this lady now at our "Relay For Life" ministering to people, bringing them comfort and hope. She reads people well, and knows what they need to hear. She knows if they need a pep talk, tough love or a hug. She is living God's plan now with the abilities He has given her. Praying may not always give us the answer we want, but He will always give us the answer we need.

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  10. Ray, Thank you so much for this article. I have already shared it with a few friends. I had been a member of a church for over 9 years - served on as many committees, and as a Youth Coordinator for 7 years, and also a lay-speaker. However, about two years ago I felt a burning desire to leave because I wasn't needed anymore. I had so many obstacles (politics in the church) preventing me from doing what I had to do. I prayed about it and waited on the Lord's direction. I have now joined another Church (same denomination) closer to where I live, and I am preparing for a journey to the Seminary for Ordained Ministry.

    The self inventory or evaluation is very helpful and I believe that without faith in, and obediance to the Lord we cannot really serve Him.

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  11. We are finishing up the book Praying Backwards by Chappell. Going through the book has opened my eyes to working through God's will. Often times our prayers are hedonistic. We want Our Will to be God's and we do not want any of the pain or discomfort, just the good stuff - selfishness.
    Are we being rightous in our prayers for God's will? Are we praying that we are prudent in our seeking of God's will for us? Sometimes we let emotions drive God's will.
    I think we will know what God's will is for us if we really become intimate with God. That is a tough one.

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  12. God's Voice is in Our Hearts if We Listen for Him. There are days when I just want to run and hide because things don't seem to be heading where I thought it should go. OR many negatives hit and it makes me wonder what Track AM I ON Anyway God? Yours or Mine? Can I be on His track and be tossed about in these high Seas? Sure we can. The only advise I can give you for Survival and direction and you will be taken to the other side of the Lake....just DON"T GET OUT OF THE BOAT! God is in control when your boats about to capsize. He loves you and just wait on HIM, Praise HIM, and See the Salvation of your Lord Jesus. He will walk on Water to save you. You're very valuable to HIM. Blessings,

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  13. Amen to this! God has promised those who abide in Him, to lovingly guide them and appoints His Holy presence to accompany them, overrules all events for our good and for His glory. "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you" - Psalm 32:8.

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  14. Ginger HarringtonJune 25, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    Love this visual. It really breaks it down for me. Thanks for some great insights to get us rolling!

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