Discover an Extraordinary Life
- Thursday, December 22, 2005
If you’re like most people, you want your life to rise above the ordinary to experience true significance, peace, and joy. But no matter how hard you work to achieve an extraordinary life through accomplishments or relationships with others, you can never discover it on your own. Only God can give you the extraordinary life you desire.
Here are nine vital principles to help you discover an extraordinary life:
Complete surrender to God brings complete life.
Understand that you won’t make progress by placing your trust in your own limited abilities to get ahead in life. Ask God to help you stop relying on yourself and striving for worldly affirmation. Look to Him alone as the true source of your worth. Accept His deep, unconditional love for you, and let your gratitude for that love motivate you to submit all aspects of your life to Him. Remember that God wants to the absolute best for you. Trust Him to do what’s right in your life. Invite God to live through you, conforming your thoughts and actions to His will. Write a mission statement for your life based on the inspiration God gives you. Understand that fulfillment is ultimately the result of the Holy Spirit living inside you. Realize that God’s ultimate purpose for your life is to help you grow to be more and more like Jesus. Be alert for ways God might choose to get your attention: by making you restless, through words that someone speaks to you, by blessing you in an unusual way, through denying your prayer requests when your desires aren’t in sync with His, through disappointment, through unusual circumstances, through defeat, through financial troubles, or through tragedy or illness. Ask God what He wants you to learn from such circumstances. Ask Him to give you the faith you need to trust solely in Him.
God’s grace is the starting point.
Realize that grace is the only means to salvation; you can’t earn it. Understand that you can count also count on God’s grace to empower you to do anything He calls you to do here on Earth. Be assured that once you’re saved, you can’t lose your salvation – your eternal destiny is secure. Let your gratitude for this security motivate you to serve God with devotion and humility. Don’t get caught up in rules and regulations; let God give you the peace and contentment you need without having to strive for it. Be confident that you can always depend on God.
True effectiveness comes through intimacy with God.
Ask God to give you a passion to know Him better. Constantly pursue a more intimate relationship with Him. Make knowing God your highest goal. Lay aside any desire in your life that threatens to overtake pursuing God as your top priority. Spend time regularly in prayer, meditation, worship, and Bible reading, listening for God’s voice speaking to you. Remember that God isn’t a distant deity; He’s your heavenly Father who: desires an intimate relationship with you, longs to communicate with you, loves you unconditionally, meets all your needs, disciplines you out of love, guides you to do what’s right, and is always with you.
Trust the Lord, and He will move heaven and earth to accomplish His purpose.
Realize that God is perfect in His love, always doing what’s best for you. Know that God is infinite in wisdom. Understand that God is completely sovereign in His control over all of creation. Ask God to help you look beyond what you normally see to see what He sees, so that His perspective will help you trust Him more. Desire to know God and to be known by Him. Make a commitment to obey Him. Be confident that God will fulfill every promise He makes. Seek to live a lifestyle that’s dominated by faith in Jesus rather than selfish desires. Know that even when life doesn’t turn out the way you planned, God will ultimately be glorified, and you will be blessed, whenever you trust Him. Build a faith that conquers fear by recalling how God has worked in your life before, reexamining and reaffirming your motives, rejecting discouraging words from others, recognizing that the spiritual battle ultimately belongs to God, responding to challenges with positive confessions of faith, relying on God’s unlimited power, and being confident that God will give you victory over whatever situation is troubling you.
Obedience always brings blessing.
Realize that when you obey God, you will experience His blessing, and when you don’t, you will miss out on blessings you could be enjoying. Understand that obeying God in small matters is an essential step to receiving God’s greatest blessings. Recognize that your obedience always benefits other people as well. Expect that obeying God may require doing some things that appear to be unreasonable, because His perspective is different from yours. Trust that when you obey God, you won’t ever be disappointed. Realize that your obedience allows God to demonstrate His power in your life. Know that obeying God always results in deeper understanding. Understand that obeying God will result in dramatic changes in your life. Decide to do what God says, when He says, how He says, as long as He says, until what He says is accomplished. Trust God with your life and leave the consequences to Him. Learn to wait on God, meditate on His Word, and listen to the Holy Spirit. Be willing to walk away from decisions when the path is uncertain. Be willing to experience conflict. Accept God’s discipline with gratitude, knowing that He means it for your benefit. Ask God to forgive you for all the times you’ve failed to obey Him in the past. Ask Him to help you obey Him more faithfully as you move forward in life.
Knowing God’s will is worth the wait.
Realize that God’s timing is perfect and it’s always worthwhile to wait for it. Understand that, however long you must wait, God will always come through in the end. When you’re waiting: pray about your unmet needs, acknowledge the burdens you’re carrying, claim God’s promises in Scripture that relate to your situation, seek God’s direction and ask Him to help you discern true needs from mere desires, be willing to wait and ask Him to help you be patient, and thank God in advance for His provision. Whenever you’re facing an important decision, ask yourself: “Is it consistent with the Word of God?”, “Is this a wise decision?”, “Can I honestly ask God to enable me to achieve this?”, “Do I have genuine peace about this?”, “Does this fit who I am as a follower of Jesus?”, “Does this fit God’s overall plan for my life?”, and “Will this decision honor God?”. Turn all your expectations over to God and trust Him to bring about what’s best for you at the right time.
God refines us by fire.
Remember that God is omniscient (He can answer your most trying questions), omnipotent (He is strong enough to overcome your biggest obstacle), and omnipresent (wherever you go, He is there with you). Understand that, no matter what difficulties you may encounter, God will work it out for your good by using it to strengthen your faith. Realize that God has a purpose for allowing any hardship into your life, and that purpose fits with His overall plan for your life. Always ask God what He wants you to learn through the hardships you experience. Know that God uses adversity to: get your attention, remind you of His great love for you through discipline when you need it, help you examine your life, teach you to hate evil as He does, cause you to reevaluate your priorities, and test you. Keep that God help you bear any hardship He has allowed in your life. Never hesitate to take your problems to Him in prayer. Seek the peace that only God can give by: depending on Him completely, praying often, asking for greater faith, and focusing on God rater than on your circumstances.
Fight your battles on your knees, and you’ll win every time.
Understand the vital importance of prayer: It’s through prayer that God releases His energy, power, and protection to help you live the kind of life He wants you to live – regardless of your circumstances. Spend time with God in prayer on a regular basis. Ask Him to guide your decisions, guard your emotions and renew your thoughts, help you overcome evil, give you the courage to share the Gospel message with others, apply Scripture to your life, remember and express thanks for all He has done for you, and bring glory to His name.
The Bible is the sourcebook of life.
Look to Scripture for guidance in all your decisions. Seek to hear God’s voice more clearly by: confessing all known sin in your life, being patient, resisting pressure from other people, persisting in prayer, leaning on God’s promises, and waiting for peace for taking action. Study the Bible and meditate on passages you read. Ask God to give you a hunger to read the Bible more faithfully and a mind to understand it more clearly. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you interpret and apply the Word well. Seek to live the kind of life that will leave a strong legacy of faith to benefit others after your time on Earth is done.
Adapted from Living the Extraordinary Life: Nine Principles to Discover It, copyright 2005 by Charles F. Stanley. Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com.
Dr. Charles Stanley is pastor of the 16,000-member First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., and is head of the international In Touch ministries. He has twice been elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention and is known internationally from his radio and television program In Touch. He has written many best-selling books.
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