God is graduating believers into the Kingdom right now. I hear many stories of both excitement and travail. We have all been discipled in a concept of holding ourselves accountable to live up to certain standards. Two things eventually happen after some amount of time – we either rebel against the rules or we just wear out trying to live that way. Some choose rebellion after a few years; others wear out after a few decades. It might be attendance, tithing, prayer, fasting, serving or evangelism, but eventually believers fall off the wagon of works, and wonder why. I want to offer this simple explanation. Servants are content to do what they are told and to live by a list of rules. God himself eventually insists on something more. He offers us his friendship, invites to be a King, and asks us to look into the dream that he wrote on our heart. When we find that dream, we have an internal motivation that never existed before. We can no longer turn back again to the works of Egypt. Diets and rules just don’t reflect the life of Christ. Once we’re motivated from the heart we are naturally more disciplined, single-minded and focused than any diet or rule could achieve. Here’s how it happens:
I know who I am – For the first time in our walk with Jesus, we have a sense of what we want, coupled with a sense that God’s wants it, too. We give ourselves permission to explore the desires of our own hearts. At first, we see our future in the lives of others… we long to imitate them or follow them because they are already doing something that makes our heart leap.
The next stage is that we experience touching that area ourselves. The dream unites our passion, gifts, values, education, vocation and Kingdom calling in one activity that makes us feel whole. Our hearts soar when it happens and our one desire is to live there… we should. That’s the Kingdom. It’s fun and it’s a place so fulfilling that it positions us to love others and to help them into their dream. It’s a freedom so far from Egypt that we can never go back once we’ve tasted the new wine.
My responsibility – When we have this adventurous sense of who we are and where we want our lives to go, it becomes our responsibility to be intentional about getting there. The first step is that I have a plan to make it happen. We use a Heart Plan and coaching to help people discover and articulate their personal dream in a practical way. Then, it naturally falls out of my own initiative to manage everything I think, feel, say and do to fulfill the desire of my own heart. I can endure difficult things, but it’s not because someone holding me accountable. I hold myself accountable for the joy set before me.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb 12:2-3 NIV
I can do difficult things, but I can never go back to the diet of allowing someone else to hold me accountable to doing something outside the desires that God put in my own heart. I will never again try to discipline myself in the flesh to work against my own heart – “newsflash” it doesn’t work anyway. The Pharisees did a great job of making that point. My dream and destiny are so personally compelling that I have all the fuel I need to live a disciplined life to make that dream come true. If my motivation does falter, my response is spending time in my heart and in the heart of God to clarify the dream. Going back on a diet is not a substitute. I am “maddeningly and unreasonably stubborn and consistent” in contending for my destiny.
God’s responsibility – We all face a huge challenge in sustaining this sense of being and feeling empowered to achieve our destiny. Our heart’s desire is exactly the front lines of warfare in the Kingdom. We all experience circumstances, people and doors that go against and threat to defeat or delay our dream. We all have to learn the power of resurrection life to reverse a downward spiral. Here is exactly where God comes in. I have every confidence that I’m contending for my role in God’s plan and that he will lift me up on eagle’s wings and carry me through. I’ve seen Him reverse impossible situations all my life. He never leaves us or forsakes us. I’m never hopeless; I always know there is an answer available to those who seek it. So, before a defeat even has time to get much traction:
- I can press into the power and presence and the peace of God whenever I choose.
- As a King, I can find the new direction (open doors).
- I can find the new idea (creativity).
- I can find the person who can help me (divine appointments).
- I can connect with a new opportunity and write the next chapter.
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. Prov 25:2 NIV
I love this quote from George Patton. He was a general in World War II who made a mistake that took him out of leadership. Listen to his personal resolve coupled with his confidence in God’s resolve.
“I feel I am destined to achieve some great thing. What it is I don’t know. But this last incident is as trivial in its nature as terrible in its effect. It can’t be the result of accident! It has to be the work of God! The last great opportunity of a lifetime, an entire world at war, and I’m going to be left out of it! God will not permit this to happen. I’m going to be allowed to fulfill my destiny. His will be done.”
Summary – Here’s my commitment to the Kingdom and my faithfulness to the desire God has placed in my heart:
I will never use a rule to approach the person of Jesus or the throne of the Father.
I will not treat the Holy Spirit as an ideological principle who can be manipulated by my good deeds.
Our God is not a cosmic force who can be approached or manipulated or pleased with an intellectual principle. The concept that “if I ______, then God will _______” misses the fellowship for which He created us. In fact, the purest expression of worship that I can offer is to become the person I was created to be and to fulfill the dream that is found in my own heart and offer it to God as the fruit of Him writing His heart on the Tablet of my own heart and me discovering it was there all along.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:6-10 NIV