X Marks the spot.
Getting out of the woulds sounds so elementary. Being lost in them, however, can be totally disorienting. Remembering our life destination, as mentioned Wednesday, may re-establish our bearings to some degree. Just the same, the intentional life requires more than directional instinct. And, that's a trip wire for most of us. It stands to reason: our natural inclinations are the number one reason we get lost in the woulds. Finding an intentional life after wandering aimlessly in the woulds will take purposeful preparation and positioning to get back on course, something beyond what comes to us naturally. This is especially true right now, with so much uncertainty about new normals.
As a believer my personal life destination should be God's Kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven." Being lost in the woulds is usually the result of misalignment of life priorities and distractions that cloud the intents and purposes of Kingdom living. With this Kingdom mindset are several definitive mile markers necessary for getting back on track. These include---
1. Do a spiritual inventory.
Scripture advises believers to "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!" (2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV). To leave the comforts of the woulds I need to know my exact starting point. Performing a regular, honest spiritual inventory or personal assessment helps me mark the spot of my position with a bold X. When X marks the spot accurately, I have some idea of the life adjustments I need to make in order to implement God's plan of intentional living in my own experience. Now, there are many such assessments. If you'd like to explore this process in greater detail, go here for a spiritual inventory. This is a very detailed spiritual assessment designed by LifeWay Resources. Get into at least the basics so you can mark your current personal spiritual positioning with accuracy.
2. Follow directions.
Believers are given an incredible promise about living the Christian faith. Peter wrote, "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness" (2 Peter 1:3, NIV). In this regard, God's gift to us in twofold. First, God the Holy Spirit lives in believers. John explained this gift when he wrote, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:26, ESV). In this lesson plan God the Holy Spirit will teach us everything we need to know about intentional living. That is, if we follow his instructions.
Second, God has given us the Bible, truth without mixture of error, as guidance for Kingdom living. The writer of Hebrews explained Scripture in this way, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12, ESV). God's Word discerns the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Living according to his Word will clarify our intentions and help us activate the soul and spirit with the joints and marrow to fulfill them. Following instructions is the positioning system.
3. Pay attention.
God speaks to his people in many ways. I am always thankful for the work of Henry and Richard Blackaby in their classic discipleship study Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God (B & H Books, Nashville: 2008). They explained that God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit in all things, through Scripture, through prayer, through the church, and through life circumstances. This means that God will direct his people out of the woulds into intentional living when we pay attention to his voice as he speaks. This is another hard assignment for us in such a loud, fast moving world. Paying attention is hard stuff.
These are three distinct ways we can do the will of our Father who is in heaven (see Matthew 7:21, ESV) and therefore enter his Kingdom. X marks the spot of our beginning place. Then, we follow directions and pay attention for our way out of the woulds and into the joys of intentional living.
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