Friday, June 6, 2014

Becoming A Jonathan

Melvin was 92 years old. His wife of 66 years recently passed away.

Over the course of a few weeks his sons mentioned that he might consider moving into a retirement or assisted living community so he wouldn’t be lonely. 

This would be something new … totally different.  Is it a journey he wanted to take at this late stage in life?

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Although it was difficult, this senior-senior made a decision to follow the new path God had set before him.  A short time later Melvin mentioned how excited he was that a new retirement center was opening and that he wanted to be the first resident there.  His son John asked why.  Without hesitation Melvin replied, “Son, those people will be old and some have never been away from home. They need someone to encourage them and I want to be the first one to welcome them there.”

Not long after Melvin moved into his new residence he became the Chaplin at the community. No, he wasn’t voted in, he was self-appointed.  God had shown there was a need for a church in the new residence location and that all He needed was a willing heart and vessel He could use.
After taking on the responsibility of a church things really stepped up in Melvin’s life. He gained a new perspective on walking in the will of the Lord. The congregation grew so much that he holds two services each week and is advancing into satellite to reach more people.
Our friend in this story has learned what it means to be a "Repurposed Christian", and is loving this part of his journey to Jesus with passion.
Not My Will, but Thine
What makes a person find renewed hope when they think they are at the end of their journey? 
According to Pastor, author and teacher John C. Maxwell, it’s all about having a surrendered will to God that says like Jesus,
“Not my will, but Thine Lord.”
Jesus said, “Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me.  Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Luke 22:42 NLT)
When our passion for God’s work is first in our lives, it ignites a passion for something He has set in our path that will take us to new heights and areas we’ve never known.  We gain energy that we didn’t know existed even though exhausted, because God is leading us all along the journey.
It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone has the same desire – “Finding My Purpose in Life.”
When a person finds that purpose, it brings something into their life that nothing can compare to or destroy.  With purpose comes passion that leads you into areas nothing else will.
There hasn’t been a time that I can’t remember wanting to be a teacher and writer, but it didn’t come easy.  Through all the twists, turns, tangles and trials I finally reached farther in my journey of dreams after I gave my will to the Lord for His vision.  To be honest I wouldn’t have taken this road, because it wasn’t in my comprehension at the time. Submitting to God’s will guided me to the path of my destiny, but I had to learn that on my own.
“I take joy in doing Your will, my God, for Your instructions are written on my heart.” (Psalm 40:8 NLT)
I Need A Hero
God instills purpose and passion in each of us, but all too often people never discover what that is, because they haven’t surrendered their lives and will(s) to the Lord. We’re looking for heroes to follow, but are walking on the wrong road.
Many think that if they don’t have this “big vision” that they are missing something in life and are a failure.  Let me get you off the hook here by saying not everyone has a “big” vision or dream to solve the world’s problems, be a superhero, orbit into space, conquer the highest mountain or even preach like the Apostle Paul. That’s OK and actually part of God’s plan. Whatever He has for you it will be big, but may not always look like what you think it should.
You might not have a super vision, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to have a great life and journey. As a matter of fact, God may have you help fulfill “a” dream/vision for His will through someone else. He knows that:
Teamwork makes the dream work!
Sometimes our passion isn’t wrapped up in what we’re doing, but what someone else is doing that really excites us.  We all have our part in God’s plan and all parts are equally important to the Lord.  No one is on the second wrung of the ladder in His eyes.  God isn’t looking for self-made heroes who follow their own plan.  He makes heroes when we pursue His.
Remember this when you are seeking God for your passion and plan.
“Those who aren’t willing to follow, 
He is not willing to let lead.”
If you want to be a leader in your field, you have to be willing to follow the lead of God in the direction He wants you to go. Until you do, you will never achieve all that He has planned for your life and journey.
“Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God.  May Your gracious Sprit lead me forward on a firm footing.” (Psalm 143:10 NLT)
Wrong Answers Breed A Family Feud
When we pour our God given gifts and talents into a vision of the Lord’s, amazing things can happen. Since the beginning of man God designed us with the purpose of adding value to a vision and to come alongside Him in fulfilling the overall plan.
The Bible points us to two subjects we can use as examples – one got it and the other learned the hard way. I’ll begin with the one who refused to submit to the plan of God and it caused a humongous family feud.
In the Old Testament we learn about the coming of a Messiah and one who would lead the way.  We find out that the forerunner to Jesus was to come through a Jewish priest named Zechariah. (Luke chapter 1)
Although he was happy that he was going to be a father at his age, he wasn’t thrilled with the plan of God and didn’t follow the instructions of the Lord in Luke 1:3.  What happens when God says yes and we say no?  Just ask old Zech … well, you could ask, but he couldn’t tell you. 
We know what happened. God shut up or “silenced” his voice for nine months until he finally agreed with the plan of naming his only child John. 
That was a big “will” test, because it was tradition for a son to take the name of the father/family.  This created havoc among the village causing a family feud.
However there was a bigger plan in store for this priest, who before this point had a great track record with the Lord.
God chose the name John for a specific reason.  In Hebrew it means “YAHWEH is gracious,” however in Greek (which was for this purpose) means “the grace or mercy of the Lord.” This was a sign of the mercy through Jesus Christ that would soon come after baby “Zech”.  The name wasn’t as important as the message that was told through the name.
For Future Generations
Let’s move on to the second example, which really came before our beloved John the Baptist. Here is someone who understood that there was a greater vision than he could possibly execute on his own.
Prince Jonathan was destined to follow the reign of his father King Saul.  There was a problem; Saul would have no part of it and did his best to kill the future subject that would rule in his place. 
Nonetheless, Jonathan knew that even though he was in line to be the future king, he wasn’t the one God had chosen to lead Israel.
Putting his own will, desire and passion to be king aside, Jonathan did all he could to support his friend David going against his father the King.  He accepted that God had removed him from his rightful place as heir to the throne  allowing David to take his position.
By turning his gifts and passion toward what God wanted Jonathan’s son would receive favor from the King after his own demise.  It is here that the name John/Jonathan in Hebrew was given to establish the graciousness of GOD poured out on future generations. 
God gave favor to Jonathan’s family because he was willing to let the throne be transferred to the line of David, in which Jesus would be born.  Over and over scripture talks about the love of these two friends, and the name of Jonathan has outlived his father and old Zech. 
Jonathan is the unsung hero among men, but not forgotten by God. His surrendered will was for future generations so that the ultimate plan of God would be established.
Third John – No, not him …
Another John, not one mentioned in the Bible by name, but certainly one that was called by God is John Maxwell.  He too spoke of how his purpose for being came to life when he surrendered his will in exchange for God’s.  Once that happened his ministry exploded into the big vision God had always planned for him. 
Mr. Maxwell also said when asked, “What is the difference between success and significance?” he responded: “Success is when you add value to yourself. Significance is when you add value to others.”
Our purpose is greater when we lose ourselves to significance.  We have a calling not a career as believers. Careers end and change, calling remains and grows.  We retire from careers, but never retire from calling.  When you invest in others, everything changes.
What “will” you do to help someone so that they are free to do the vision God has set for them?  Are you willing to be a Jonathan for future generations?
If you want your vision or dream to come to pass, you have to be willing to let yours go by helping someone else reach theirs.  When you do this, God will cause others to come help you with your purpose, plan and vision for your life.

 “Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me (Jesus).  Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine.” (Luke 22:42 NLT)

A Willing Journey
We are at that place in our journey where God is asking us to let go of our will and take on His.  This week we are going to give ourselves to something bigger than self.

When we are bigger than our purpose thinking our careers, things or fame are  what counts the most, we are not in God’s will. It is when we lose ourselves to the will of God that we always find our true calling and purpose. 
You are never too young or old to make a difference in life.  Get involved with something and someone who is making a difference for Christ.  It takes a team to do something astonishing.  That’s what makes it wonderful and purposeful. 
It’s focusing on something that will live beyond you for future generations that makes it count.  Dare to become a modern day Jonathan and receive God’s grace and favor on your life.

This Week’s challenge:
Surrender Your Will

When you woke up this morning God had a plan and purpose for you.  Primarily it is to know Him, and that’s what this journey is all about this year.  Next, God wants us to have joy in the plan along the journey.

First – Find out what gifts and spiritual strengths you possess that aid your purpose? Whatever they are you will be good at them.  These gifts come naturally, are easy and energize you.  God gifts won’t wear us out, but on the contrary strengthen us.

Second – Connect to a Vision. Volunteer your time, energy and passion to someone else’s God vision. Do something to lift the load.  Your part may be to add value to another purpose and plan that is bigger than you (or them). It doesn’t have to be a pastor or specific ministry, but there is someone God wants you to hook up with right now - today.

Mow their lawn, pick up dry cleaning, cook some meals, run an errand ... do whatever you can so they have more time to pursue God’s universal plan and keep at it. Find out who it is and get connected with that vision.  The sooner you do, the sooner yours will take flight.

There is a great Jonathan plan in all of us, but we have to be willing to surrender to it if we are to be graced with the favor that comes through submission to God.

“…we ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.” (Colossians 1:9 NLT)

Lord Jesus,

I’m sorry for my sins and holding on when You want me to let go of my selfish will. I know you have a plan for my life and I give myself to you.  I want a new beginning with the plan that brings favor in my life. Give me a willing heart and a Jonathan spirit to follow your direction with a passion to fulfill my purpose and Your plan.


Until next time, a willing heart receives God’s favor.

Maybe you don’t know the Living God that I know, but would like to have this kind of favor in your life also.  Click on the above tab “Tell Me About Jesus” for more information on becoming a child of the Savior.

Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy. A.N.A. logo by J.C.Penney, Inc.
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provide by Bible Gateway
Image credit: Google Images or Dreamstime Creative Common License if not specified.
Images: Moving  Great Leader  Look What I Found  Jonathan/David    
Notes: Why John was not named “Little Zech.” (Luke 1:57-80)