But though God is not controlled by time the way we humans are, He still puts great emphasis on it. He is always punctual—He always acts at the right time even though to us humans it may seem like we have to wait a long time. He also has set aside certain times that He has blessed—for our benefit. These are designed to teach us important lessons and to reveal His plan to us. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: For in six days theLord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.
Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings. God created time as a tool. We were put in this universe of time to learn many lessons and to develop the character of God. Christian time management means learning to use time as God wants us to use it.
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God wants us to become His children —to be like Him For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. To become more like God, we need to learn to have His priorities. And we need to put those plans into action. God reveals to us what is truly most important in life. The Kingdom of God is the perfect government of God that will bring peace and plenty to this earth when Jesus Christ returns. We must be preparing for that time now. The end of Matthew 6: If we put what God says is important first, the other things we need and want will be added to us as well!
We must schedule what matters most first, or it will be pushed out by the hundreds of urgent and persistent things that come at us each week. Our priorities become more real when we write them down as goals and rank them in order of importance. The Bible reveals a God who is a Planner. And He wants us to be planners too. We need long-range plans, annual plans and daily plans—and probably several plans in between. What is planned happens, because planning leads to action.
Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice. Jesus gave several mission-type statements throughout his life. I found 7 that I would call mission-type statements. Although Jesus described His mission in several ways, depending upon the situation and the audience, they involve similar ideas. He came to save people and to serve them by giving His life for them and by preaching the truth to them. He did not do everything that He could have done. He never traveled far from home. But He did all that He was sent to do.
He completed His mission. If He had failed to focus on that mission and allowed others to distract Him, He would not have been able to fulfill what He was supposed to do. In Acts 26 Paul described his conversion experience to King Agrippa. In that account he reported how Jesus had given him a mission. But get up and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this reason, to designate you in advance as a servant and witness to the things you have seen and to the things in which I will appear to you.
I will rescue you from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you to open their eyes so that they turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me. Paul kept this mission in mind throughout his life.
In his last letter written shortly before he was martyred, he told Timothy that he had completed his mission. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. Paul finished the course.
When we focus on our missions, as Jesus and Paul did, we have to let some other opportunities and activities go.
If we understand that God empowers us where He sends u, we realize that focus on mission maximizes our influence. I do more to influence others when I am about the work that God has specifically designed me to do than when I am doing anything else, as good as it may be.
What are the hindrances that keep us distracted rather than focused? Or am I trying to please people?
If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ! This is a big one for women, I think. A friend or someone whom you admire calls and asks you to take on a job or a task. Or perhaps you would love to do this assignment with this friend because you enjoy her company so you agree, although it is not a good fit for you. You are pleasing people and even yourself when you do that. If God has not called you to the task, it is not one you should agree to do.
I have certainly been guilty of this one. I am just not a dinner or retreat speaker, and I should always just say no when asked to do those kinds of things. You could be swayed by the desire to advance in your working situation or even on a church staff.
We make the opportunity more important than the mission. As we read earlier, when Jesus was approached with the demands of the crowds, He focused on His mission instead of giving in to guilt. We often begin falling into this one with our parents. My mother is a master in using guilt to get me to do what she wants. I learned early on that she expected me to act out of guilt.
I went to a relatively small church for several years. When we joined, I was informed that all of the women did VBS. That was not my ministry, and I only had time to focus on what God had called me to do. If I had given in to guilt or had done it to please people rather than God, I would have failed to give my best in the area where God called me to be. I have found this principle of focusing on mission be the easiest way to quickly eliminate a lot of opportunities.
As a rule I do not do the things that do not fit my mission. That is the mission of the church at large, and we are to participate. But in what arena? Most of my evangelism is done when I am teaching a large group or when I am on a one-on-one with someone I know. I do not use up my Saturdays going with our evangelism team on DART to share the gospel with those who are waiting for trains. If I did that, I would not have time to do the ministry God has called me to do while prioritizing God and family.
But I am not relieved of the responsibility to proclaim the good news. Have you ever thought about the fact that a good thing can be a sin to you if God is not calling you to do it? If you are acting for any other reason, it is wrong because it distracts you from your focus. If you are motivated by guilt or pride or to please others rather than because it is what God has called you to do, you are doing it for the wrong reason, and it is sin.
I read somewhere that if we fulfill our missions, our lives will be out of balance. We are to fulfill that purpose. I love to read and would like to just sit down and read more mysteries, but that has to give in to my mission. It will cost you your life, too, in that you will be spent and used up in service to God. It will stretch you to such an impossible degree that you will fail without Him. Which of the hindrances is most likely to keep you from maximizing your influence? Now we want to move on. My guess is that the next area is the reason that most of you are here. You are unsure of your mission.
The first thing to say here is that you are probably already doing something related to your mission, but you may not realize it. If you want to know what God desires you to focus on, you must first prioritize Him over the mission. Our love relationship with God trumps the specific personal missions given to us. We are not called first to special work but to God.
The key to answering the call is to be devoted to no one and to nothing above God Himself. We see this priority in Mark 3: It says that Jesus appointed twelve whom he named apostles , so that they would be with him and he could sent them to preach. The twelve were called to preach but more importantly, they were called to be with Jesus. That was the priority. That was how they learned from Him and received His instructions.
Being with Jesus was the most important part of their training course. And even though Jesus intended to send them to preach, it was a while before he did. They spent a lot of time with him before they went out on their first journey. That may be a big reason we are unsure of our missions. Not only do we need to prioritize the Mission-giver over the mission, we need to prioritize being over doing.
In the passages that give qualifications of deacons and elders , we notice they are character qualities rather than skills or gifts. God makes character maturity a priority when He uses people. How can we bring glory to God unless we are more concerned with being the kind of women He can use than we are in finding a special assignment? First, we must be the kind of women whom God can use before He will trust us to do His mission. But he was not the man he should be, as became clear when he tried to use murder to accomplish the mission. It took another 40 years for him to be ready to fulfill his mission from God.
You may not ready to fulfill your mission because you are defeated and enslaved by your past and its sins or its hardships. If so, you need to deal with the sin and heal from the hurts so that God can use you and the past as part of your mission. Are there people in your past who need forgiving? Are there relationships that need healing?
Are there hurts that you must face with God? Once you do that, God will use the past as you move ahead with your mission. Growing in character is a lifelong journey, and we never quit working on this. God is still working on me and I have a long way to go. I should always prioritize my personal growth over my mission. I can never stop reading the Scriptures and letting God speak into my life. I can never stop seeking the input of those who know me best to see what changes I need to make.
It is not a matter of arriving but it is a constant process. The next item listed belongs under character, but because of its importance in being prepared to do mission, I wrote it separately. In 2 Timothy 2: It is the faithful to whom Timothy is to entrust the ministry. That quality is very important if we are to be trusted with something more.
God values faithfulness in the little things before giving bigger things to us. The work that we do in every arena of life is to be done as if to God. Our work, whether it is cleaning toilets or selling stock or being in full-time ministry is worship. It is done for the glory and pleasure of God. Other qualities where we must grow are love and servanthood. We must be willing to do whatever it is that God tells us to do. If that means that I love the unlovely or serve the selfish, I must be ready to do so.
You are all familiar with the love chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians It is interesting that the context of that chapter is spiritual gifts. This chapter is sandwiched between two chapters dealing with spiritual gifts. The first few verses are important for us as women who want to fulfill a mission: And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. There is no point in doing the mission for which we are called if love is not at its core. Those of us who are task-oriented must learn that people are more important than the task. We must act in love toward others. There are many other character qualities that I could have listed. I chose these because their lack could be the reason that God has not shown you a mission.
So you want to know your mission. How do you discover your mission?
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Jeff Lawrence, with whom I work, suggested this intersection of three circles and I thought it was really good as a visual explanation of how to find your mission. Where the 3 intersect is where you hope to be. I wish I could be technical enough to have that little spot colored, but I never could figure out how to do it! The first circle is your divine design. That involves your personality, your abilities, your motivations, your preferences, and your spiritual giftedness.
In order to focus your influence in this intersection, you must discover your divine design. The calling that fully engages what God has given you is a holy task! Whenever and in whatever arena we fully use the giftedness that God has given us, we bring Him glory because He is the one who designed and created us. So how do you discover your unique God-given design so that you find the place where God intends you to be? There are always tests that you can take, but testing is very limited and not always accurate. I suggest trying some other things. See what the Bible says about the gifts.
The lists may not be exhaustive but when put together they may be. Here are some questions that may help you determine at least where to start looking for your giftedness. What sounds like you would enjoy it? I was attracted to that. I think this is really helpful, but I would ask someone who knows something about the subject of spiritual gifts. Otherwise you may hear that you are gifted at listening or at small talk. There is a woman who leads one of our small groups.
After I had been at Northwest a few months, we had a lesson on spiritual gifts. Hers was obvious to me because I had seen her in action and I knew something about spiritual gifts. She was so excited to learn that she had the gift of exhortation, and the truth of what I told her has been confirmed over and over.
She shared with me several weeks ago that she now makes time for women who call her because she realizes that they need encouragement and that is what God has called her to do. I have placed on the table an assignment that I have done with several groups as we studied spiritual gifts.
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If you are unsure about yours, pick one of these up and use it. If God is working in me to empower me in that area, there should be a measure of success. It does mean that God uses me in the lives of those in my Bible studies, even if that number is very small. I am convinced that your giftedness should give you an inner joy. As you walk where God designed you to be, you will sense that God is using you for His purposes. There is really no substitute for this. Sometimes you just cannot figure out your design until you try different things. All we did as a group was meet once a month and listen to someone talk.
So I got us as a group organized for ministry. I assigned us to visit people in nursing homes and to set up a clothes closet.
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The problem was that when I did those things myself, I hated it. I had nothing to say to the people in the nursing home. I had no clue. Who wants someone from the church to come by and be boring? But I learned a great lesson. I do not have the gift of mercy. God has not called me to minister to the hurting or the sick. I am terrible at it! But I am good at figuring out how to organize a group to get things done. Think through the things that you have enjoyed or from which you have received a sense of accomplishment.
What caused you to feel that you had accomplished something? Do you see a pattern as you think through your lifetime? But we are complex creatures. We are not merely one-dimensional. Spiritual giftedness is only one part of the way we are designed by God for His purposes.
There are other aspects to our giftedness. Other areas where we need to understand our divine design is that of our preferences, our motivations, and our other abilities. We are more than our personalities and our spiritual gifts. We are each motivated by different things. Some of us are motivated by a tangible reward, such as money. Some of us are motivated by fixing a problem. Some like to create something new.
The work and ministry we do should fit this part of our design as well. At the end of this handout is a list of some resources which you may be interested in checking out of a library or purchasing. The one called The Power of Uniqueness gives you some insight into this area of divine design and may be worth working through. In the appendix the author gives questions to consider in discovering other areas of divine design.
The giftedness center has a booth downstairs. This is a place to get help understanding your divine design. No one told me to think through the situations in which I work well or to consider what motivates me. But through the years I did more and more of the things that I enjoyed under the conditions that I enjoyed. I stayed with the things that worked well for me. Go back to your partner and share for 2 minutes each what you know about your divine design.
Do you know your spiritual gifts? What things do you like to do? What do others tell you that you do well? Do you like to work with people or with tasks? Are you energized by people or by solitude? Do you want to organize others to do the work or do it yourself? Or do you want to have the idea and have others implement it? The first circle that helps us find mission is divine design.
The second circle is the desires of the heart.
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Some may call this passion. So we will go with the biblical word, desire. I believe that God has given you desires that accompany your mission. It will not be the last thing that you want to do. That should make some of you feel better. Without the desire to go, God will not send you to Siberia. What does this desire look like? I want to share that with them. I also have a desire for training up a new generation of leaders. That is why I am here doing this seminar today. The opportunity fit my design and my desires. I was in a church where the Bible was not being taught.
We were getting positive thinking instead. How that bothered me! My soul was not at rest because the people were not being fed. I knew that they could not make it long-term without the truth of the scriptures. I also am bothered by disorganization, as far as the large organization is concerned. I like simple rather than complicated. I like to be sure there is a purpose in what people do.
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