Gifts of Life Community Fellowship is a place to fellowship with like-minded believers in collective praise, collective thought and collective unity through the Way, the Truth and the Life, Jesus, the Christ.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Plansational! - Umoja/Sermon 1

© 2008 by Deidre Campbell-Jones (AKA ~Min. Dez)

There is a life that all of us want. No matter who we are, how we were raised, how much money we do or do not have and even what race, ethnicity or country we claim.

We want love. We want safety. We want the basic comforts of life – home, food, clothing, and warmth from the cold. And, I believe there are certain luxuries of life that we all want as well. For some the list may be short, for others a bit longer. But deep within I think there is a neglected, hidden, suppressed and/or unacknowledged hunger or yearning inside us all to accomplish something of our lives and selves.

Some people have recognized this yearning seemingly from the onset of their lives and set out to accomplish it – and many have, I’m sure. You can look at people in your life, celebrities and personalities in the media and notice them right away. They are the ones who seemed to have had an inkling they were meant for greatness and stopped at nothing to be great and push for greater. Or they may even be that teacher, friend or family member who simply made up their mind what they wanted in life and methodically went about accomplishing that with a contentment and determination that has obviously prevailed.

I think even of women in India and Africa – two poverty ridden countries with hardly an ability to accomplish, have or be anything other than to stay alive from day to day. And yet in one country a woman’s deepest, deepest desire for herself is to be the kind of breadwinner and mother that can provide a safe home and enough food for her family. She longs to be good enough at something, or able enough at any thing to do this for her children. Conversely in another country, a woman with (what would be considered “nothing more than”) a single room hut with a dirt floor, a bit of corn meal and goat’s milk; is proud of that hut because she built it herself and is content with life as she knows it because of the goat she owns and the care she’s able to give her family because of it.

We all want something out of this life we have been given – we all want to be something. Even the most evil being, the most selfish, uncaring parent, the most driven and angry individual still has the same source of desire behind what they do or do not do in life.

And so for those of us who are good, fair, decent and trying to do the right thing in life, what hope is there for us as we look upon those who seem to have it all together and seem to have accomplished that innate desire to be exactly who they are meant to be? We may wonder if there is any hope for us at all. I know I have.

I have wondered if it was simply fate – that some people were destined to be great simply because of some cosmic luck of the draw or divine destination. I’ve compared them to grains of sand that were “blessed” enough to be on the surface – exposed to the warmth of the sun, the constant wash of the sea and the appreciation of all who gazed upon them. While I was forever banished to the dark, lonely, murky and uneventful layers underneath them. Too deep to even be dug up and possibly used for good – like building a sand castle of purpose that would finally expose me to the surface.

I have also wondered if there was some unknown decision, word or thing I did as an impetuous, head-strong youth that had messed it all up. Was it that time I shook my fist at God without having known Him at all? Did I piss Him off and seal my fate right then and there? Or maybe it was that audition I blew off because I was tired and weary of the possibility of being rejected once again, or that interview I purposefully blew simply because I didn’t like the environment or the person I might work for?

Somehow I’ve been sure that either I missed my chance to be somebody or it was never meant for me in the first place. And yet even with that prevailing thought, I’d still always been left with the aching desire to accomplish something. I’m sure I have prayed a 100 times that if it wasn’t meant to be then why didn’t the Lord remove the desire from me? Yet even in the midst of praying that prayer, I still hoped it wouldn’t be so. I hoped beyond hope that there was something meant for me even while wondering if there was any sense in hoping at all.

Well, after way too many years wasted in hoping, I have finally – finally learned that there is hope and it comes in the form of a plan!

Proverbs 16: 9 “Man devises his plan, but the Lord directs his steps”

In one little scripture, just a few words long, I found hope enough to fill a universe! How had I missed it? Not just in God’s Word but in life itself? It seems so simplistic, so obvious and so much like what my own mother and father should have said or were trying to say… why didn’t they say it as plain and as clear as this to me every day of my life from the first day I entered school!?

But I was in my 40’s, already married (twice) this time with a loving and wonderful husband and finally the mother of my first child. You would have thought I’d already discovered this simple truth by the way my life looked on the outside. But on the inside I was an empty, purposeless wreck! And my single driving, motivating factor to find something to fill the empty me within was that I didn’t want my new son to one day learn the truth about his mother.

I had been filling in a memory book for him and got stumped on the line: “What does your mother do?” What did I do? Who was I? Was I to put “stay at home mom” when my heart longed for so much more? Did I put “business owner or entrepreneur” when I’d never made any money at all from my well intentioned business ventures? Did I put “writer”, even though I wrote my butt off only to fill a 4-drawer file cabinet with my efforts?

In order to fight the depression that was looming, I turned to the book of Proverbs for answers. And let me tell you, I hand wrote down every single scripture that might possibly be an answer!

I went to the book, looking for scriptures on business, on accomplishments and on life purpose. I didn’t know if they would help me find what I was looking for but I was determined to somehow find what I was looking for!

It would be cool if I could say that after 16 chapters of this, I landed on the 9th verse and instantly saw the light. But the truth is I methodically stuck to my goal – not really reading or comprehending the words, but skimming them for signs of what I was searching. Once I saw a word, like “plan” or a phrase like “devises his plan”, I wrote the scripture down and went on to the next.

Once I’d completed the whole book, I went back and read the scriptures, highlighting those I thought were applicable to me. Step two still did not reveal that awe inspiring tingle of revelation when I came across verse 16 and 9. Again, I had a purpose – to weed out what didn’t fit. And I did this at the expense of still not fully understanding what was applicable about the scriptures I left behind that might fit.

Finally, step three. I analyzed each left over scripture. I studied each one in depth for understanding and application before moving on to the next. And, because this process was so involved, it took me several days before I got to the chosen one. And because the enemy is hard at work trying to keep us all from discovering that we are indeed purposeful, meaningful, worthy beings in Christ, I must admit I didn’t recognize God’s truth in this scripture at first. I told myself I needed to complete all of them and be thorough in order not to miss anything – in order not to miss my blessing of truth.

Well, I didn’t. Somehow God is always able to whisper through the screaming lies of the enemy. And the truth of the matter is – God wants to bless us! (Malachi 3:10) and His greatest blessing to us is for us to know how wonderful each and every one of us is (Psalm 139:14-17). Even more importantly He wants to give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 145:18-19), and the way He chooses to do that is through us and the things we decide we really want to do (Proverbs 16:9).

Malachi 3:10 says: Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

God is testing us – challenging us and giving us an “I double-dog dare you” to try me right now and “prove me now herewith.” And just what is it he wants us to prove and see if he’ll really do? He wants us to see if He won’t open up the windows of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there won’t be enough room to hold it. The only provision in this scripture is to tithe – bring all the tithes into the storehouse. Simple – regular, consistent, cheerful and generous tithing.

The problem with this is that we don’t believe God will do this for us. And it’s not so much that we think God is a liar – not at all. It is because we are somehow convinced - usually because of past experience – that we don’t deserve God’s blessings and that this promise is not meant for us. We have the proof – we’ve never received the blessings of our heart before so why now?

The answer is because we don’t feel worthy of God’s blessings and we don’t know the heart within us that is worthy of God’s blessings and why. But we are worthy and the reason why we’re worthy is because God doesn’t make junk! We are His amazing creation like an artist who creates a masterpiece and the owner is the only one who hates it, despises it and thinks it so ugly we hide it in a closet – never fully appreciating its worth and beauty.

Proverbs 139 verses 14-17 say “I will praise You; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Your works; and that my soul knows right well. My substance was not hid from You, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes did see my substance, yet being un-perfect; and in Your book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God, how great is the sum of them!”

Simply put, God loves us. He knows our very soul, every hair on our heads and the desires of our hearts. And, He loves us anyway! He created in each of us a beautiful, capable being with a specific purpose for each and every day of our lives. And, he thinks so much of us that he wants us to fulfill that purpose. He wants to bless us with the purpose of our lives. An abundant life here on Earth! We are worthy of His blessings, simply because he loves us enough to bless us!

Accepting this is not easy though. I went through an exercise once in which I would rather stand in the mirror and cry rather than look myself in the eye and say “You are beautiful. You are a marvelous creature in Christ and you are worthy of His love!” It took me two weeks or more before I reluctantly did it. It has taken me two years or more before I’ve finally believed it. And because it took me so long to believe it, it is only just now that I have been receiving the blessings promised to me in Malachi.

Almost exactly three years ago, I had a dear woman, whom I have still not met face-to-face tell me that the book of Malachi was a challenge for us to “pray big”. We have heard the verse “ask and it shall be given, knock and the door will be answered,” but we knock too tentatively to be heard and we ask so hesitantly I’m sure that its not given until we ask boldly enough to believe we will get.

Think of a father and his young son. The boy says “Dad, I want a bike” and the father says, “Keep your grades up, keep your room clean and stay out of trouble and maybe for your birthday, you’ll get a bike.”

You know that father really wants to give the bike to his son. And that son is then determined to play by the rules, stick to the guidelines and get that bike. The closer it gets to his birthday; he is more and more confident that he’ll get it, simply because he knows he’s done all that was asked of him.

It is with that same mentality that God wants to give us the desires of our hearts.
Psalm 145 verses 18 and 19 say, “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.”

As believers we are the children of God. And like children we can call out for our Father in Heaven and He’s right there with a spiritually comforting “Yes, Child. What can I do for you?” And if we know the truth and trust the truth of promises in God’s word we can ask of Him in confidence. It is the same kind of confidence that the child has in knowing that if he screws up, he’s going to have to suffer the consequences. And this scenario, the consequences are simply obstacles to our blessings. In truth, we don’t get blessed and we can’t receive our blessings because of the obstacles we place in our own lives through ignorance, neglect, fear and lack of faith. And all too often the deepest desires of hearts fall to the wayside simply because we do not acknowledge them, ask for them, think we are worthy enough to get them and do not know how to get them.

So, here’s how to get the desires of your heart: “pray big and dream bigger.” Make a plan for your life as big as you can envision it and pray boldly asking the Lord, that if you promise to do your part – tithe, and honor him through the person He created you to be, would he please give you the desires of your heart - name them, envision them and spell out a detailed a plan for getting them. Then watch and see if the Lord doesn’t guide each step you make toward accomplishing that plan.

Proverbs spells it out in more ways than one. 16:3 says: “Commit your works unto the Lord and your thoughts will be established.” And 16:9 says: “Man’s heart devises his way but the Lord directs his steps.”

Are you ready to be lead? Are you read to get to a destination where your dreams come true and you feel worthy enough to live the live you’ve always wanted? Then trust in the everlasting promises of the Lord’s word. Make yourself a plantastic goal and get ready to live your life plansationally!

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