Pearl 355: Clarity

TOPIC: Purpose and Wisdom

"(Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power" - 1 Corinthians 1:16-17.

You have to admire and respect what Paul was able to accomplish and the impact he had in just a few years of public ministry. All he accomplished did not happen by accident. Paul had exceptional clarity of who he was, what he was to do, and what he was not to do, as evidenced by these verses. He also had wisdom as to how he was to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, and he walked in that purpose until he died. God wants you to have what Paul had—awareness—and do what he did—purpose. Do you have the kind of awareness Paul had? Are you acting on it? Do you have wisdom concerning how you are to carry out this purpose for your life?

Lord, I want what Paul had! I want and need clarity into who I am (and am not) and what you want me to do. Then I need wisdom so I can fulfill my purpose with the kind of efficiency and effectiveness Paul had. You promised if I asked for wisdom, You would give it, so I'm asking and thanking You in advance. Amen.

Pearl 354: Details

TOPIC: Organization and Productivity

"With this in mind, since I myself have carefully
investigated everything from the beginning, I
too decided to write an orderly account for you,
most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know
the certainty of the things you have been taught" - Luke 1:3-4.

Luke was a scientist of sorts, so he was accustomed to being meticulous in his work. So when he went to write a gospel, he organized his work carefully. First, he investigated thoroughly; then he decided to write his findings in an orderly, chronological format. Finally, he had so much material that he ended up writing his gospel and what we know to be the book of Acts. All throughout his work, Luke evidenced a profound ability to organize his work and thoughts. What about you? Do you invest the same attention to organizational detail in your work? What can you do to improve in the coming year?

Lord, I see that even when you use someone, there is no substitute for clear thought and organization. Success is never haphazard or an accident, but rather You work with and promote those who can keep Your call and work from being buried in confusion and disorder. Help me handle the details well.

Pearl 353: Lifestyle

TOPIC: Faith and Daily Living

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him" - Hebrews 11:6.

Faith isn't an event; it's a lifestyle. Faith isn't a parachute that you pull out in emergencies, it's to be your day-to-day walk with the Lord as you find and fulfill purpose, set and achieve goals, manage your time, and organize your life and world around you. Without faith, it's impossible to please God. That means with faith, you can please Him. Are you pleasing Him? Is faith a lifestyle for you or just something you resort to when you are backed into a corner and have no other options? What are you trusting the Lord for right now that if He does not come through, you will look foolish?

Lord, I want to please You and there's not way to do that without trusting You, without faith. I confess that I often have faith when I have run out of options, but I see today that you desire a lifestyle of faith, and not just an occasional excursion into faith. Forgive me for my unbelief as I venture forth in faith.

Pearl 352: No Shortcuts

TOPIC: Time and Values

"A faithful person will be richly blessed,
    but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished" - Proverbs 28:20.

When you discuss one who is faithful, it in part pertains to how they use their time. In this case, if you use your time to find shortcuts to success or productivity, you will certainly fail. If you identify your life values and devote your time to those day in and day out, year in and year out, you will find the kind of fulfillment and success you are seeking. Have you spelled out the values that govern your life? Are you being faithful or true to your values through good use of your time? Are you looking for shortcuts for how to get where you want to go when there are none?

Lord, I want to be known as a faithful person. I know that involves how I use my money, how well I follow through on commitments and how I use my time. I know what's important to me, now I must invest my time on those things to see them come to pass. Deliver me from seekign shortcuts to this lifelong process.

Pearl 351: Next Year

TOPIC: Goals and Balance

"A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth" - Proverbs 17:24.

Goals help you focus on something that's important to you and then help you stay focused. Without them, you tend to either daydream - which in this verse is described as your eyes wandering to the ends of the earth - or replicate what you already have and do every day, without any growth or change. Can you name a few goals you achieved this past year? Can you identify some on which you made significant progress? What about next year? What are your goals for the coming year and beyond?

Lord, I want to be realistic, but also set faith goals beyond my reach but within my capability of achieving with Your help. Help me to strike the proper balance of stretch and reality. Thank You for what I was able to accomplish this past year, but next year I want more, and will start to plan for that more right now.

Pearl 350: Your Verse

TOPIC: Purpose and God's Word

"Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law" - Psalm 119:18.

If you go looking for it, you can find a passage in the Bible describing the life purpose for all its main characters. You also have a verse or passage from Scripture defining your purpose, something that closely describes who you are and what you do best. The psalmist knew that God would have to open his eyes to see anything in the Word, and prayed for that to happen. You would do well to pray for the same thing. How is your study of the Word going these days? Do you have a life-defining passage from the Bible? Do you have faith to discover one? What is your plan for the next year to journey more deeply into the Word? 

Lord, I have lived my life as a person of your Word, and now I need new insight from it as to who I am and what it is You called me to do. Open my eyes to see the wonderful things the psalmist mentioned and use Your word to lead and guide me to my purpose through the power of Your Spirit. Amen.

Pearl 349: Family

TOPIC: Faith and Fear

"So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime" - Judges 6:27.

Gideon had faith to obey the Lord, but there was one major stumbling block for faith in his life, and that was his family. He did what God wanted in this instance but did so under the cover of darkness. The opposite of faith is not un-faith or unbelief, but rather fear. Gideon was afraid of what his family would think and say, so he carried out a clandestine faith operation. Jesus also addressed this problem as you can read in Matthew 10:32-39What are you afraid of that is hindering your faith? Is your relationship with your family one that sustains and promotes your faith, or hinders it? What are you prepared to do about that if the latter is the case?

Lord, I love my family, but I am too concerned about what they will say and think. At times, I also need them to need me, so I do things that perpetuate an unhealthy situation that hinders my faith. Forgive me for ever putting my family before You and Your purposes for my life. That is about to change.

Pearl 348: Holiness and Fruit

TOPIC: Goals and Productivity

"For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" - 2 Peter 1:8.

The Greek words for ineffective and unproductive are defined as being lazy, shunning the work that one has to do, and not yielding the fruit that one ought to produce. Your knowledge of and relationship with Jesus should enable you to be fruitful and goal-setting is one means by which that productivity can come to pass. What's more, your holiness should be increasing if you expect to be effective and productive. Are your holiness qualities helping you bear good fruit? Are your goals helping you produce this fruit? What new goals can you set that will stretch your faith and increase your productivity as you grow in your knowledge of God?

Lord, I don't just want to be holy, but holy and productive in Your will for my life. I have things in my heart I have been hesitant to express and pursue. Help me overcome my hesitancy to commit to a course of action through goals and then once I do that to persevere to see the goals accomplished.

Pearl 347: God Has a Plan

TOPIC: Organization and God's Help

“Set up the tabernacle according
to the plan shown you on the mountain" - Exodus 26:30.

Moses was not given creative license to set it up as he saw fit, for God had a plan for how this was to teach the Israelites and foreshadow Christ. Not only did the Lord direct Moses as to how he was to build the tabernacle, He also gave him directions how to set it up. If you need help witih organizing your life and work, then the place to go is to God and trust His Spirit to lead you in the way you should go. Are you drawing on all that God has for you as you organize your day, your work, your life? Where is your organizational plan the weakest? Why do you think that is so? Is it out of fear? Is there someone God has placed in your life who can help you with this deficiency?

Lord, I don't want to overspiritualize my work, expecting You to do what You have directed me to do. Yet I need Your help and input on how to organize my life! I trust You to send the right people and information into my world, and I will carry out Your plan down to the smallest detail.  Amen.

Pearl 346: Heart Attack

TOPIC: Faith and Will

"See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God" - Hebrews 3:12.

Today's verse indicates that you are to "see to it" you don't have an unbelieving heart. That indicates that a faith-less heart is your decision and under your control not to have one. When you don't take care of your heart and faith, however, then you turn away from God, and that is fatal where your purpose and life goals are concerned. This makes perfect sense, for later in Hebrews we are told that without faith it is impossible to please God. Therefore, faith is non-negotiable where serving and following the Lord are concerned. Is your heart full of faith? Do you see lack of faith as a sin, or simply a weakness? Do you accept responsibility to keep your heart in tip-top faith condition?

Lord, I don't want to have a heart attack of unbelief. Therefore, I choose to trust You, not just for salvation, but for all the affairs of life, including my purpose, goals, and creativity. Help me keep watch over my heart so I will  know when it's weak in faith, so then I can correct that condition immediately by Your grace.