Some people don’t want to focus on a specific goal because they fear their lives might not be well-balanced. They say things such as these: “I don’t really want to go after anything in particular because then I will be closing off other options,” “I don’t want to become too narrow,” or “If I become too serious about something, I might miss what I really want to do in life.” The problem is that people will say things like these for forty-five years and never end up doing anything! What they call a pursuit of balance is really an excuse for not making a decision. They end up being average, mediocre people.
True balance is the maintenance of equilibrium while moving toward a destination. A good example of this truth is the way a ship functions on the ocean. A ship always needs to maintain its balance. Wouldn’t it be a waste of precious time and fuel, however, for a boat to expend all its energy just trying to balance on the water so that it didn’t tip over? Some people live for sixty-five years, seventy-five years, or ninety years just balancing. Yet balance is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end. A ship keeps its balance as it makes its way to a specific port. Likewise, we need to have a destination while we’re maintaining balance in our lives.
Prayer: Father, please help me to keep my conviction about my vision strong. I want to be balanced in my life, but I want to do so as I move forward boldly in Your purpose for me.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thought: Balance is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end.
Reading: Psalm 119:1–88; 1 Corinthians 7:20–40
I am committed to fulfilling what God gave me birth to do. I resolved years ago that I would look only to God’s Word and the vision He put in my heart to know what I could accomplish. In this way, God’s purposes and principles have determined what I’m going to be and do rather than my own fears or others’ opinions. The Bible says, “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for [Jesus] to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51 NKJV). Jesus set His face “steadfastly” or “like flint” (Isaiah 50:7) in His determination to fulfill His purpose. Flint is one of the hardest rocks you can find. This analogy means that after Jesus had set His goal to go to the cross, it was too late to talk Him out of it.
Sometimes we know what we should be doing, but we’re hesitant to take that first step. We intend to do it, but we never do. We make excuses, such as “When my life gets less complicated,” “When I feel more confident,” or “After I pray about it more.” There is a story of two fishermen who were lost in a storm on a lake. The storm was blowing so fiercely that they couldn’t see a thing. One of the fishermen said to his colleague, “We have two choices. We can pray or row.” The other answered, “Let’s do both!” That’s the way you need to live. Instead of deliberating about what you need to do, just say, “Let’s row.” Set a destination even while you’re praying, and God will guide you where you need to go.
Prayer: Father, I am committed to Your purposes and Your Word. Please help me keep the vision You’ve given me always before me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thought: Are you committed to your vision?
Reading: Psalm 116–118; 1 Corinthians 7:1–19
The Trap of Wishful Thinking One reason people aren’t specific about their visions is that they confuse them with mission. Another reason is that they get caught in the trap of wishful thinking. Their dreaming doesn’t go beyond vague ideas of what they would like to do “someday.” Yet dreaming is only the beginning of vision. Instead of wishing that things would get better, we must make concrete resolutions. We have to say, “Things must get better, and here, specifically, is what I’m going to do about it.” For example, instead of saying, “I wish I could go to college,” sit down today and send for applications to specific colleges. When they arrive, start filling them out. Instead of saying, “I wish I could lose weight,” see your doctor and go on a specific weight-loss plan. Make a decision, and then take the first step.
People’s success or failure in life is not dependent on the color of their skin. The real problem is the color of some people’s lives; their lives are “gray.” Such people don’t have a precise way of living. They’re just here. They drift along, allowing life to happen to them. God doesn’t want anyone to live in a gray zone. When someone is living in the gray, it means that person isn’t saying “yes” or “no,” but “maybe.” He has no real intention of doing anything with his life. God has invested so much in us. He doesn’t want to see us wasting our lives in wishful thinking. He wants us to place our feet on the solid ground of God-given vision.
Prayer: Father, I don’t wish to live in a gray zone.
Help me to make concrete decisions that will help me to fulfill the vision You have placed within me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thought: God doesn’t want anyone to live in a gray zone.
Reading: Psalm 113–115; 1 Corinthians 6
Day 22 Devotional
Topic: Drawing upon God’s Strength
Be strong in the Lord be empowered through your union with Him; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides. EPHESIANS 6:10
An important secret to being successful in any task that is set before you is to draw on God’s strength. Your strength will run out eventually, but God’s strength never will.
Many times in my life I have been in situations not knowing what to do, but God always helped me and brought me through to a place of victory. Each time He met me with His strength that I desperately needed in order to be successful. You can expect God to do the same thing for you no matter what challenges you are facing right now. God is your strength!
In Ephesians 6:10, Paul assures us that God will pour strength into our lives as we live in close relationship with Him. And the prophet Isaiah says that those who have learned the secret of waiting on the Lord “shall mount up with wings as eagles” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV). These scriptures, and others like them, show us that we are strengthened as we go to God for what we are lacking.
God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He is with us each step of ourjourney and He gives us the strength we need when we need it.
God wants to do more than just give you strength—He wants to be your strength.
Readings: 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 4:8; Ephesians 1:19
Vision versus Mission God is not vague about your life. Therefore, it is essential that you learn the difference between vision and mission. You were designed to be unique and to fulfill a particular purpose. If you are to carry out this specific purpose, your vision has to be specific. Otherwise, you will be just like everyone else around you. Remember, your vision—like your fingerprints—is meant to distinguish you from every other person in the world.
Let me use the Christian church as an example. The assignment that Jesus gave His followers two thousand years ago—“Go into all the world and preach the good news” (Mark 16:15)—is called the Great Commission. It is the “co-mission,” the joint or corporate mission of the worldwide church. Therefore, if a local church thinks its particular vision is to preach the gospel, then it has a mistaken idea of vision. It knows its mission, but it hasn’t yet found its true vision, that one thing that distinguishes it from all other churches.
One church is not assigned where another church is assigned. That is why an individual church shouldn’t compare itself with other churches in its city or nation or use another church as a measure of its own success. Each church is to fulfill its part of the Great Commission through the specific emphasis or approach that God has given it. The same general principle holds true for you and your personal vision. What is the specific emphasis or approach in life that God has given you?
Prayer: Father, my mission as a believer is to see others won to the Lord Jesus Christ. Please open my heart to see the specific vision You have given me to fulfill this mission.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thought: You were designed to be unique and to fulfill a particular purpose.
Reading: Psalm 107–109; 1 Corinthians 4
And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.
According to the Bible, God is the Potter, and we are the clay (Romans 9:20–21). When we first come to the Lord, we are like a hard lump of clay that is not very pliable or easy to work with. But God puts us on His potter’s wheel and begins to refashion and remake us so that we can discover the wonderful plan He has for our lives.
Sometimes that process of molding is uncomfortable at first. The reason it hurts is because God has to peel away the things in our lives that would keep us distant from Him. So out of His love for us, He keeps working and working on us, trimming away this bad attitude and that wrong mind-set, carefully reshaping us until gradually we are changed into the likeness of His Son Jesus.
Don’t be discouraged with yourself because you have not yet arrived. The more God works in your life, the closer you are growing in relationship to Him. Enjoy your life each day, even as God is shaping you. Let the Potter do His work, and trust that He has your best interest at heart.
You can always trust God that He has your best interest at heart, and all that He does in your life is for your benefit.
Readings: Hebrews 12:11; 1 Kings 8:56; Proverbs 12:1