Titus Email – February 2020

Volume 14, Number 2– FEBRUARY, 2020

          Greetings.  There are times when we go through a spiritual or emotional wilderness and wonder perhaps where God is and what He is up to in our lives.  Hopefully what is shared next is an encouragement.  May we stay ever so close to Jesus at all times, knowing He never leaves nor forsakes us who are His own.  Mike
          We read in Exodus 13 of the consecration of the firstborn and the subsequent killing of firstborn humans and animals if there was not blood on the doorposts.  Then Pharaoh finally let the Israelites go.  Exodus 13:17 says that God did not lead the Israelites on the road that was the shorter distance to the Red Sea because He knew what they were going to face and the Israelites’ reaction.  If the Israelites faced war with Egypt or the Philistines, they probably would have changed their minds, wanting to return to Egypt. 
          The first point to remember when going through a wilderness experience in your life is God knows us and what is the best way to lead us.  He knows the future and who we are.  We need to listen to Him, submitting when we do not understand and think that what we are about to do does not make sense or something could be completed “faster” or by “a better way”. 
          Newer vehicles have the global positioning system (GPS) and this system is able to take you from where you currently are in the vehicle to where you want to go, simply by typing in the beginning and ending locations.  It does take into account detours and will guide you around to where you want to go.  When you type in your current location and where you want to go, it will tell you where and when to turn, simply guiding you.  It gives distances and estimated times of arrival.  This instrument knows things you probably are not aware of in your travels.
          God knows what we will be facing and even what we would have faced if we did not follow His leading, thus why it is so very important to trust His guidance and follow His lead even when it does not make sense, and you think there is a better way.  God has everything in control and our job is to stay focused on His leading.
          God led the Israelites around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.  They were ready for battle.  By day God guided them with a pillar of cloud and at night, a pillar of fire.  He was always there, never leaving them nor guiding them. 
          Another point is God’s ways are definitely not our ways as illustrated by the route the Israelites took to camp at the Red Sea.  This was to confuse Pharaoh.  His thinking would be that the Israelites were wandering around in confusion and they had become easy prey, being hemmed in by the desert (14:1-9). 
          God sometimes sends us somewhere when we wonder what He is doing and that He very well may be setting up the enemy.  Pray for wisdom to be faithful during these times.  Let God use what sees embarrassing to us for His glory.  Our detours are often His plans. 
          Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by God and Pharaoh made irrational decisions.  God will confuse the enemy for His glory and He will utilize us in carrying out those decisions.  When someone gets angry and upset, your emotions can get the best of you and you make decisions you otherwise would not, like Pharaoh.  God will accomplish His will whether we are a part of the process or not.  Having just suffered great human loss from God, Pharaoh sent his best military personnel and equipment to gather up the defenseless Israelites. 
          One word of caution here.  Not every detour is God’s plan as sometimes we make choices that are not part of God’s will but because of His Sovereignty, He still accomplishes what He set out to have happen.  Traveling at high speeds and getting stopped by a police officer because of speeding is not God’s leading.  He may very well use that situation to teach us to slow down and be more responsible in our driving. 
          When we are facing wilderness situations, going through life situations that do not make much sense, stop and wholeheartedly seek God’s leading and direction because He may take you and allow you to go through situations that are confusing not just to you but also the enemy.  If you and I are willing to be used for God’s glory when situations are confusing and even embarrassing, He is simply asking us to be faithful and trust Him because He knows the route we are taking and will get us there. 

Would you desire to be a part of an elite group involving three percent of all people?  Brian Tracy, author of Maximum Achievement, shares that taking the time to write your goals down will put you in that elite category.  He also says fewer than one percent of all people who have written their goals, read and review their goals regularly.
When going on a trip, you normally would you would check out Mapquest or google your destination.  (In the old days a person would look at a physical map.) That way you know how to get to your destination the best way possible.  Desiring to become something, we need to plan and purse that course of action.  If you are planning to try out for a sport and desire to be any good at it, to grow in your spiritual relationship with Jesus or preparing to attend an university or apply for a job, just does not happen.  There has to be a plan, having some direction to follow to get where you want to end up.   Some of us hope we get to where we want to go and never get there. 
          To become what God created you to be does not happen by sitting and waiting for the formula to fall out of heaven.  He has not physically lifted me off the ground and carried me to a witnessing opportunity or opened a book, holding my head in place and eyelids open, reading out loud to me.  As the Holy Spirit prompts, I need to carry out my obedience by the choices I make. 
A tool that has helps develop people is a growth plan.  This tool helps us prioritize our lives to where we need to focus, giving us specific opportunities to be obedient to God.
To start off, select one or two areas of your life where you want to develop.  Some areas would include spiritual (your relationship with Jesus), family, finances, career, personal development, health, friends, a current or future marriage relationship, raising children, and ministry.  You could include specific skills that would affect several areas in your life.  Listen to God’s leading. 
Write out a purpose statement and one or two goals for each area selected.  For example, if spiritual is the area you desire to develop in, a purpose statement could read, “I want a vibrant, personal relationship with Jesus.”  That is a great statement but unfortunately that is where many Christians stop.  It does not answer how you are going to develop the relationship.  The key is writing out SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time dated.   
Let’s say you are going to read the Bible more.  That is good but what does more mean?  It could be five minutes in the next year or 20 minutes a day.  To say you are going to do something and put it down as a huge time commitment, it is not going to happen.  If you want to read for an hour a day and you barely have any time right now, it will not happen.  Begin in small increments and work your way up.  Whatever you put down as your goals, you have to work into your schedule or it will not happen. 
Start small.  Remember it is not the amount of time you read but rather developing habits where you get the most benefit out of what you are doing.  So a SMART goal for reading your Bible could be something like, “I am going to read my Bible (Relevant) for 5 minutes (Attainable) every day in the book of John (Specific) before school/work (Measurable) for the next two weeks (Time dated).” 
After two weeks you can determine whether you accomplished this goal.  If you struggled to be able to read for five minutes each day or your reading did not happen each day, then for your next two week goal would possibly say something like, “ I am going to read my Bible for 3 minutes every other day in John before school/work for the next two weeks.”
Once you get consistency with that goal, then up the increments of time, frequency or that you are going to take notes on what you read.  Let the Holy Spirit guide you.  Do find someone(s) who will hold you accountable to your goals.  Review your goals often because as you reach your goals and they become a part of your life,  God stretches you further than you can imagine right now.  This is not a magic formula or a pie in the sky idea.  It works because you are arranging priorities in your life as God is leading.  If you would like more information on developing a growth plan, email me.    Be a part of an elite group.