Tag Archives: Christian destiny

Small Beginnings, Influencers, and Cupbearers

water glassI know I have written on this topic before, but it’s on my heart once again.

In the last thirty years or so, I have seen a mindset within the charismatic/prophetic church which has brought a great deal of discontentment and disillusion to some believers. It’s the emphasis on being somebody special — special in the sense of being more than everybody else. We’ve been encouraged to achieve “greatness.” Many of us have been given personal prophecies that we would be important “influencers;” “world-changers;” great evangelists, prophets, worship leaders, or whatever. In short, we’ve been molded into thinking that if we don’t have some kind of celebrity status, there is something wrong with us.

We’ve been told, “Don’t despise the day of small beginnings” — with the implication that we might start small, but it had better get bigger! We’re encouraged to serve first by cleaning toilets, because eventually our faithfulness will be noticed, and we will graduate to better things (where cleaning toilets is no longer part of our job description). I suppose it’s the same “dream big” mentality that pervades all of American society, where every little girl or boy theoretically has the potential of someday becoming President. We’ve just repackaged it a bit in Christianity.

Along the way, though, some have become sadly disappointed when these illusions of greatness did not materialize. They’ve given up, wondering what went wrong or where they failed. Still others continue to chase after that pot of gold (personal importance) at the end of the rainbow, while it always remains out of reach.

I suspect God never intended for us to have expectations of being a “somebody.” We already are somebodies in His eyes, because we are His sons and daughters. We are already “a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9) of priceless value, just because we are His. I don’t think He ever wanted us to aim at graduating from scrubbing toilets into something “better.” Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, didn’t He? He said that in the Resurrection, He would seat us at the table and serve us (Luke 12:37). How amazing! Not even Jesus has graduated from serving. It is His eternal nature, and it must become ours.

A few days ago, I spent some time praying part of Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might….” I promised the Lord that I would do whatever He brings to my hand, no matter how insignificant it might seem. For me right now, that means devoting myself to serving my elderly mother, making sure she feels loved and well taken care of. It means spending time listening to people, praying with them, answering their questions about spiritual things when I am able, and helping them in little ways here and there which are unlikely to be noticed on a grand scale. It means cherishing my husband and children. It also means that right now I can’t pursue some things I would have preferred to do if I had the time.

I see a lot of other Christians in the same position, some serving with greater dedication than I could ever hope to. Selfless giving in small ways is precious in the Lord’s sight, if we do it humbly and joyfully for Him. These acts of kindness, every bit as much as miracles, signs, and wonders, are the works and greater works which Jesus said we would do, in John 14:12. Don’t think so? Take another look at 1 Corinthians 13, with its message about noisy gongs and clanging symbols versus loving when the rubber meets the road.

Years ago, I taught a Bible verse to our small children when I put them to bed at night: “And whoever will give to one of these little ones a cup of cold water to drink, only in the name of a disciple, most assuredly I say to you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42). We recited this verse together over that last glass of water they requested before going to sleep at night. It’s a fun memory.

Whether you ever become well known or not, do with all your might whatever the Lord gives you, moment by moment. Don’t miss out on the many opportunities to serve Him and the people around you while you wait for some big destiny thing. And remember, giving that cup of cold water, only in the name of a disciple, will be rewarded by the King, too.

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peace of mind

 

 

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Don’t Waste Your Time in the Prison (Continued)

JosephLast time, we said that being faithful in the small things is necessary if we are going to make the transition from the prison to the palace, as Joseph did (see Genesis 39:20 through 41:44). If we stay close to God’s heart and put Him first, He will give us a good inner sense of how to walk out faithfulness, no matter where we currently are.

Besides serving the jailer with excellence, what else did Joseph do to make his time in the prison worthwhile? Very likely, he kept in close personal communication with the Lord. I doubt if he could have served with integrity if he had not, and without that close relationship, being able to interpret dreams accurately for Pharaoh’s servants, and eventually Pharaoh himself,  would have been unlikely.

We have a hint of something else Joseph did while in prison, found in the story of the king’s butler and baker. Genesis 40:6, 7 tells us that Joseph, in serving these two men, noticed that they were sad. He asked them, Why do you look so sad today?”  That’s an odd question to be asking of prison inmates!  “They said to him, ‘We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it.’ And Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t interpretations belong to God? Please tell me the dreams’'” (v. 8).

Joseph didn’t just perform his designated duties. In the process, he cared about the people he came in contact with. I doubt if most prison workers would be concerned about whether the inmates under their jurisdiction were happy or sad! Joseph offered to listen to the dreams of these two men and to help them with the interpretations. The Bible doesn’t tell us, but if Joseph took the time to converse with and care about the butler and the baker, he might have done the same for the other prisoners as well. He probably knew all their stories  — why they were there and whether they had been justly or unjustly imprisoned.  Because of his own circumstances, he would have had compassion for them.  Suffering will either harden and embitter us, or it will build the heart of God in us.

Now, let’s imagine a little bit. Again, the Bible is silent on what I’m proposing, but as I was talking with the Lord about Joseph’s prison experience, I believe He gave me this insight:

Do you think when Joseph became the prime minister that he forgot about all the prisoners he had come to know? Remember, Joseph had been an innocent victim himself, and he had asked the butler to put in a good word for him when he was restored to Pharaoh’s good graces — but the butler forgot him. After a disappointing experience like that, do you think Joseph just ignored the plight of those who had been imprisoned with him? I doubt it. By this time, Joseph was walking in a level of character maturity that would not have permitted him to be so selfish. It is highly likely that Joseph used his influence with Pharaoh to get some of those other prisoners out of jail, too.

How can we apply these ideas while we are waiting for our own destiny fulfillment?  First of all, it is critical that we not waste our prison time. We can serve, and serve well, right where we are, even if it’s not the ideal situation. We can love while we’re there — encourage, comfort, and listen to others — while we’re waiting. It’s not just about poor us. We’ve got people to care for, which is an eternal work of great value in God’s eyes. In addition, all the faithfulness and giving of ourselves that we do during this time is training for our next level of Kingdom responsibility.

Secondly, when we move from the prison into better times, it’s important to bring others with us. We need to do what we can to lift them into their better place, too. The details of how that works out will be different for each of us, but here are a few ideas:

  1. Use what you have learned in the hard spots to help others through. That’s part of why you went through those difficulties in the first place. “And if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer: or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation” (2 Corinthians 1:6).
  2. Use what influence, insights, and experience you have to help others find their place of serving Jesus.
  3. Don’t sever relationship with people who have come to love you, just because you’ve moved upward or outward — especially when people express a desire to stay connected with you. Whether you realize it or not, some of them may be looking to you as a father or mother in the faith. Don’t abandon your spiritual sons and daughters. Apostle Paul stayed in communication with the churches and individuals whom he had mentored. He prayed for them, too.

May you persevere until you make it from your prison experience into your God-appointed place of service, and may you bear plenty of Kingdom fruit in your process of getting there.

 

Part 1

 

Don’t Waste Your Time in the Prison

JosephIf you’ve ever read the story of Joseph, found in Genesis 37 and 39-45, you know how wonderful it is — almost like a fairytale dream come true. An innocent young man is betrayed by his evil brothers, who sell him into slavery.  He eventually ends up about as low as he could go, in a dungeon. And then, overnight, he is catapulted to be prime minister of a world super-power nation.

We so love those rags-to-riches stories, don’t we? How many preachers and teachers have expounded on Joseph’s happy ending, telling us all, “Hang on! Your destiny appointment is on the horizon. You are coming out of that prison, just like Joseph!” I’ve written a few devotionals on that theme myself. We need Joseph’s story to give us hope, to inspire us to press on.

But here’s what we don’t often talk about: how you live in the prison has a lot to do with whether you ever get out. If we don’t tell the whole story, we are not really helping each other.

In Luke 16:10, 12, Jesus commented, “He who is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much, and he who is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. … If you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who will give you that which is your own?” Jesus was talking about money, but it’s an across-the-board principle: be faithful in the little things, because if you are not, God and man will see no point in entrusting you with bigger things. We learn to handle much responsibility by practicing with the little stuff.

This is where it is entirely possible to miss out on the promises God has given us. There are a whole lot of people who never come into what they were born for — not because God wasn’t faithful, but because they weren’t. So many people with big dreams (which were genuinely implanted in them by God) are looking for the “someday” when, overnight, they will be shot from God’s cannon into a magnificent destiny.  They’ve even had those dreams confirmed multiple times through prophetic words from other people.

But they are forgetting a key point in the story: Joseph served with excellence in the middle of his prison. Yes, Genesis 39:21-23 tells us that God was with Joseph and gave him favor there, but if Joseph hadn’t used that favor to do his job well, how long do you think the keeper of the prison would have left him in charge?

There are people who have huge destiny promises from God, but they can’t be counted on for the simplest things, like being on time — or showing up at all, for that matter. You can’t depend on them to unlock the church door if the regular opener is out of town! For those with basic faithfulness issues, the happy, getting-out-of-prison ending to the tale may never come. Or if it does, those who gave them the promotion may sincerely regret the decision.

So, what did Joseph do, while he was in prison? First of all, he followed directions. That’s a good starting place. But I think he probably went beyond that. He no doubt kept his eyes open for what needed to happen so things could run smoothly. He served the prison keeper with excellence.  It was the same thing he had done previously as Potiphar’s servant. Both Potiphar and the chief jailer came to the place where they knew Joseph wouldn’t drop the ball. He could be counted on. He had their best interests in mind.

Why? I don’t believe personal ambition was the whole story. Joseph was a God-pleaser more than a man-pleaser. That thread runs throughout his biography. And if we want to excel so that we can come out of our prison into our destiny, caring about what God wants more than what we want is a necessary component for our future success. Cherishing God’s heart first and foremost takes us a long way toward walking out the day-to-day faithfulness which is required in order to move onward in His plans for us.

Serving the keeper of the prison with excellence wasn’t all that Joseph did while in that place. I’ve got a few more ideas to share with you next time, which I hope will excite you as much as they did me.

Part 2

Steady as She Goes!

Steady as she goes.  It’s a nautical phrase, a command given by a ship’s captain to the helmsman to stay on the same course when the waters get rough, in spite of wind gusts and cross-currents.  And, it’s good advice for Christians to heed.

When the Lord has given you a promise or specific direction for your life, inevitably there will be some rough seas.  We tend to think that if we’ve got our sailing orders, God will prepare calm waters before us — but it rarely works out that way.

I would imagine there are times the helmsman feels nervous while carrying out the captain’s orders to stay the course.  He might not always think his superior is making the best judgment.  And when our personal ship is rolling on the high seas, it’s sometimes hard to remember that Jesus, our Captain, knows what He’s doing too.

We may feel like we’re way down here in the storm, while the One giving the orders is way up there in heaven, radioing commands. But in reality, our Captain is right there in the boat with us, just as He was with His disciples on the Sea of Galilee, when they were shipping water and thought they wouldn’t make it.  They did, and we will, too. 

If the Lord has laid out a vision for your life, but it has shifted into looking mighty impossible right now, He wants you to keep a steady hand on the helm and stay the course, based on what He has already said to you.  You may even have panicky sailors around you shouting contrary orders to you out of obsession with the obvious outward circumstances.  Those sailors may be well-meaning people reacting to what they see with their natural eyes.  They may be your own fear-filled thoughts, or even injected thoughts from the enemy of your soul to tempt you to disobey.

But you’ve got your Captain’s orders.  He’s a wise old seasoned hand Who has seen this kind of storm many a time before and navigated through it successfully.  So listen to Him.  Do what He says.  Steady as she goes.

Challenges Prophetic People Face: The Future Factor (Part 3)

The Future Factor and Your Personal Destiny (cont.)

As I said in our last post, most of the time, God starts speaking to us about the personal destiny He has planned for us long before we are able to step into it in its entirety.  And this can cause problems for us, because those words often feel like “now” words when we first hear them.  But we are not usually ready to take on those destiny-callings immediately.  God takes His time in preparing us. He has to bring us to a place of greater maturity and humility so that we handle our callings well, and the bigger His purpose for us, the more refining of our character there will have to be.

Joseph and Moses both found out about the future factor the hard way.  Joseph told his brothers about his prophetic dreams of one day being a ruler over them, and they not only hated him for it, but they did their best to stop it from ever happening (Genesis 37).  Moses knew as a young prince in Egypt that he was to deliver Israel from bondage, but he was rejected by his own people when he mistakenly tried to step into that calling prematurely (Exodus 2:11-15).  Acts 7:25 tells us, “For He supposed his brethren would have understood how God by his hand would deliver them, but they did not understand.”  Both Joseph and Moses needed some maturing before they could fulfill their destinies in such a way as to bring the most glory to God and the most benefit to other people.

In summary of these last two posts, let’s briefly list what you can do while waiting for your personal destiny to unfold in your natural world:

  1. Draw ever closer in intimate relationship with the Lord.  (This really is of #1 importance.)
  2. Have faith for the things God has spoken to you.
  3. Don’t give in to being disheartened if the circumstances don’t immediately line up or if people give you flak.
  4. Do what you can to prepare.
  5. Serve to the best of your ability.
  6. Take the baby steps forward as opportunities open up before you.
  7. Don’t beat up on yourself when you make mistakes.
  8. Keep the prophetic vision God has given you before your eyes.

If He spoke it to you, He’s going to do it for you, as you trustingly hold His hand.

In our next post, we’ll look at how our future factor affects prophetic words we release to church leadership or the congregation.

Challenges Prophetic People Face:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 4  

Personal Prophecy

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy

Challenges Prophetic People Face: The Future Factor (Part 2)

The Future Factor and Your Personal Destiny

How do we  cope with the future factor challenge when it involves our personal destiny?

When God speaks a word about our ministry, vocation, or calling, most of the time it will not be immediately possible to step right in and do it.  What we can do is embrace what He is telling us and begin to align ourselves with however much of the plan He is currently revealing to us.

In most cases, we can’t just sit around and wait for God to drop whatever He has spoken to us into our laps.  People who do that end up missing what God has for them in the now.  They also miss the road to their future.

To a point, we can take appropriate steps to prepare for what’s coming, whether by educating ourselves, getting our finances in order, or asking our pastor to assist us in growing into our place of ministry.  But practical preparation alone is not usually enough. Most of the time, the role God is giving us must be worn on the inside long before we are able to wear it outwardly, where everyone else is aware of it.  We begin to “see” ourselves doing the things which God has spoken to us of, and we develop the mindsets that go with our calling.

Inevitably, over time, we begin to step into God-given callings in the material world, which in an overall sense is what should happen.  But there will be occasions when we will quite naturally step into them prematurely, causing others to raise their eyebrows and wonder what we are doing and who we think we are.

If you have a pastoral calling, it is going to show up in how you relate to other people long before that office has been officially given to you.  You will probably be the one who makes newcomers at church feel welcome.  People may call you or come to you for counsel, sensing that you care and that you have the wisdom to help them.  But you might find yourself at times taking on responsibilities that aren’t rightfully yours yet – things that you should have left to  recognized church leaders.

Teachers-in-the-making will sometimes be wrongly viewed as know-it-alls, when that is the furthest thing from their hearts.  While God is still in the process of rubbing their rough edges off, and long before they are perceived by one and all as teachers, they start stepping into their God-given giftings. Because they really are teachers, they start to sound like they are teaching, even when they are not trying to.  And that will sometimes offend others.

When God first spoke to me about my husband and me having a primary call of armor bearers to our pastors, He gave some specific details of how that would be accomplished.  I did not see a whole lot of tangible ways to do the things I was hearing.  But the Lord said to live it in the spirit first, which involved much prayer support for them and a deliberate aligning with their vision. He said the practical details would follow.  By wearing that role on the inside, I began to develop a consciousness of little ways to work it out in everyday practicalities — and sometimes I went overboard in stepping into those things prematurely or immaturely.  I got some criticism from people who didn’t have my inside info from the Lord.

So, unless you are a perfect person, you are going to make mistakes and get yourself into a little trouble here and there, all because you are living futuristically. Others are not always going to understand.  They may think some of the things you do and say are odd – even arrogant.  And they may criticize you.  There’s really nothing wrong with you: it’s just that your time zone is ahead of theirs. None of us have life so together that we will get all the timing exactly right.

We will finish talking about how our future factor works with personal destiny next time.

Challenges Prophetic People Face:
Previous: Part 1
Next: Part 3

Personal Prophecy

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy

Look Out and Get Ready!

I was praying this morning for a person who has a definite call of God on his life, but who is probably considered one of the “little people”  — one who would not be voted as “the most likely to succeed.”  As I prayed, I felt that God was giving me encouragement for many of you who are in the same boat:

If you are one of the faithful ones who know what it is to stay close to the heart of God, yet you feel insignificant, I have a word for you:

Look out and get ready, for God is about to use you.

History reveals that time and again, God has chosen the most unlikely people to accomplish His strategic purposes.  Seeing that His Word lays this out as His normal mode of operation, this should not overly surprise us, yet it always seems to. 

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many who are wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.
          — 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

The Lord is speaking to prepare and position yourself by continuing to align with Him — staying close to Him, ministering to Him by listening to His heart-cry.  Believe the things He has spoken over you, no matter how long you have been hearing without seeing the result, and no matter how “small in your own eyes” you may seem.  Staying small and keeping Him big is what will propel you into being used for the Lord’s mighty purposes.

Look out!  Get ready!  He is about to use you.