Wisdom – Having an Understanding Heart

God hasn’t created us for a life that is lived aimless and without direction. We are actually created to walk with reason and full of purpose. In fact he has prepared good things for our lives in Christ before the foundation of the world. (Eph 2:10) Many people live their lives without the feeling that their life serves any real purpose but when we begin to access God’s perspective we start to see that we were created with eternal purpose and destiny. He has great things set aside for us each day… All we need to do is listen.

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Foolish people are generally rash, senseless and without purpose or reason. God wants us not to walk rashly but to rather be increasingly attentive to what the Holy Spirit is telling us throughout each day. He desires that we walk in wisdom and with a heart that is careful to hear what his still small voice is saying. To hear this voice sometimes we have to turn down the volume of everything else in our lives. Sometimes to hear Him it requires that we literally turn everything off and step away. It can sometimes cost us our comfort of convenience to hear God’s voice. We just might have to turn our TV’s off or get off our social media for a few minutes to hear His voice.

I was thinking last night about how differently I would live if I really believed I could access the voice of the almighty, eternal, all powerful living God anytime day or night. If I had a full revelation of this, I don’t think I would let anything distract or divert me. If I knew I had access to some great figure like the president tomorrow morning at 10am, I would probably make some room in my schedule for that meeting. I might even make a special sacrifice just to meet him. The amazing reality is we have 24/7 access to someone far greater than any super-star athlete or political figure! When we realize the great potential of this reality we begin to set aside more and more time to be with him. We begin to long for more time with him in the moments of business and distraction. We can’t love God too much.

To “understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph 5:17) we must have a listening heart that is always open to the Holy Spirit. We can trust every guiding from the Spirit because He cannot lie to us. (Num 23:19) This amazing reality for believers of Jesus Christ means that we have unlimited access to an eternal wealth of wisdom inside of us in the Holy Spirit. All we need to do is learn to listen to Him. We gain true wisdom when we simply learn to hear the voice of God in our inner man (mind, will, heart…) and to be obedient to anything and everything that he says.

When God visited Solomon in 1 Kings 3 in a dream he told Solomon he could have whatever he wanted. Solomon told God he wanted an understanding heart. Solomon’s greatest desire was to be able to hear the voice and direction of God in his heart and then carry out in obedience what God was saying. Today God is proposing the same question to each of us who are followers of Christ; “Ask and it will be given to you..” (Matt 7:7), “Ask what you desire and it shall be done for you…” (John 15:7). Will we choose to ask God for the same thing that Solomon did? When we choose to seek after the things of the Kingdom then we can trust that all the rest of the things in life will surely be added to us. (Matt 6:33)

“Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know…” Eph 1:18

Today ask God for a listening heart. Ask him for a greater desire to listen to His voice and His direction in everything. Tell him what struggles you have in hearing his voice and how you may want things to change. Be honest and open with Him! Ask him to let you hear his voice in a fresh and new way today…

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Leading out of Exile – 3 Lessons from Great Leaders

The first great return of Israel back to the promised land from Persia is an amazing story of redemption. The story of the return from exile is split into three different waves of return and has three primary leaders that lead each wave. Today the Lord brought me to the book of Ezra and Nehemiah and showed me a few things that I really thought were important for all leaders to remember. Everyone is in a place of leadership over others or in a place that they somehow influence others. Leadership is not always a matter of a title but simply impacting the lives that are naturally around you. Everyone is a leader in some way.

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1. Don’t try to do it alone

The first wave of the Hebrew nation had returned to Jerusalem and as they began to rebuild the foundation of the temple. In Ezra 3:9 it says that many of them “joined together” to help supervise all the work that had to be done. It’s important to remember that whatever God has called us to do will always require that we partner with others. There are no lone-rangers in the Kingdom. Instead God disperses the gift in various people throughout His body so that we learn to work together.  When we come together in unity to build the Kingdom, the unbelieving world sees Christ in us and God is glorified by the accomplishment of not one man or ministry. We can’t do it alone and need the support of others.

2. Devote yourself to the Lord

The second wave of Israelites had arrived in Jerusalem and Ezra comes onto the scene in Ezra 7. Ezra was known as a man with great favor from the Lord and it is even said, “the gracious hand of his God was on him.” The source of all of this favor and blessing is revealed in Ezra 7:10. Ezra was a man devoted to studying the Word of God. He was a man of deep devotion and commitment to the Lord. It can be safe to assume that from the way verse 10 is written that the favor on his life was a direct result of the great devotion he had for the law of the Lord. As leaders we desperately need God’s favor and blessing on us in order to attain the God-sized goals he has placed in our hearts. We need to be known as people that are fully committed and devoted to Jesus who is the Word of God (Jn 1:1). This devotion is the key to our success. If we want to see the realization of our dreams then we need to be pursuing God with reckless abandon and studying His word day and night.

3. Stand up for Justice

Nehemiah was the leader that brought the 3rd and final wave of Israelites back into their promised land. He helped to rebuild the walls of the city and stood in the face of much opposition. As leaders we can all expect opposition. Leaders exist because the current situation or condition needs to change in some way. Leaders are meant to take things somewhere new, which can sometimes be scary. Leaders also must be prepared to stand up and confront situations that are unacceptable. We can’t be scared to face confrontation. In Nehemiah 5:9-13 you can see a story of Nehemiah standing up for an injustice that was being done to the people of Israel. This was probably not a comfortable situation for him to confront but he knew that he had to do something. As we lead we may see things that are in desperate need of change. We may have to confront a person or a group of people about this which can cause a lot of discomfort. We as leaders need to have the courage to stand up for justice and confront event the hardest issues.

There are many more examples that can be found from the leaders in these two books but I just wanted to take time to mention three important ones the Lord has shown me. I would highly recommend reading these two books looking for insight into being a better leader. The Lord has given us an amazing instructional manual in His Word to help us become the leaders he is calling us to be.

Out of these three examples, what’s the one that you struggle with the most?

What He’s given us

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For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

 – 2 Timothy 1:7

I read this verse early this morning and it was such a great reminder that God brought to me. Its so good to be reminded of things you already have heard and to really sit and allow your heart to dwell on the simple truths of God. This one verse is so essential to walking in a victorious life through the Holy Spirit. When we realize that we don’t have to fear anymore, our life takes on a whole new perspective. He has given us power. He has given us his love. He has given us the ability to live disciplined and Holy lives. 

All of these things are only possible because of the Spirit that he gives to those who surrender their lives to him. Allow yourself to walk in this simple truth today and you will experience freedom and joy like never before. Our heavenly father has everything taken care of and promises ” that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

How can you apply this simple truth to your life today?