Live on Purpose!

Hello and welcome to Positive Life Principles. I hope you find encouragement in this place. I’ve asked my friend Candace Gray to be our guest blogger for the month of January. Her insight and inspiration are sure to strengthen your heart. Find out more about Candace at the end of this post.

– For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,

which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Are you clear on your purpose?  There have been many seasons when I struggled to clearly understand mine.  I thought defining your purpose was a one-and-done event and once you defined it, you never needed to question it again.  I expected to fulfill my purpose in a predictable, logical sequence of events.  When that didn’t happen, I felt confused, frustrated and stuck.   

It’s been said that defining your purpose is a matter of answering the question:  why do I exist?  But that’s a weighty question for a finite human being. The truth is that God does not reveal the entirety of His plans & purposes for us at any one point in time. God is multilayered and complex, and He design us that way as well.  To narrow purpose to our own understanding based on one point in time can be way too limiting.  Instead, the best way to understand purpose is in seasons.  I now have a simplified definition of purpose:  it’s how do I make life better for others.  While there are common threads throughout my life, my expressions of purpose have looked very different in various seasons and situations. 

You may be in a season where you work full-time on a lofty cause; or you may be dreaming about something you would like to do.  You may even be in a vocation that doesn’t seem meaningful or you may be in a season as a full-time parent or caregiver.  As long as you are serving others by applying your God-given, mix of gifts, skills and experiences to a situation, you are living purposefully and bringing glory to God.  As you simplify the concept of purpose you will be able to see the wide variety of ways God shows Himself to others through you.  

Live on purpose daily, but don’t overcomplicate the matter.  God has created you to do good works and He will continue to reveal the next chapter to you.  Identify how you can make a difference in the season you are in and leave the rest to God. 

Questions for Reflection

  • In what ways have you struggled to define your purpose?
  • What simple ways do you make life better for others? 

 

Master Your Mindset

Welcome to Positive Life Principles with Karol Ladd. I’m glad you are here. My desire is to encourage your heart and strengthen your faith through the truth found in the Bible. For the month of January, I have asked my friend Candace Gray to share her wisdom and insights on starting the year off in a positive direction. I know you will enjoy her blog. You’ll find more info about Candace at the end of the blog.

  • Numbers 13:33 “…We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” 

Many success gurus talk about the importance of mindset. Mindset refers to strongly ingrained patterns of your thoughts, attitudes, assumptions and beliefs. You may have good days with a positive mindset and discouraging days when your mindset is negative. But, just like establishing healthy eating practices, the issue is not what you do for a day or two, but your prevailing habits over time.

Mindset is incredibly crucial because if you have a faith-filled mindset, it can propel you toward great achievements and give you the ability to persevere despite significant obstacles. Likewise, if your mindset is negative, it can derail you from accomplishing what you desire or it can prolong the time it takes you to get there. Some believe that mindset is simply what you believe about yourself, but what you believe about yourself is directly related to what you believe about God.     

As God was preparing the growing nation of Israel to take possession of the land He promised them, they had a pattern of negative thinking. They routinely looked at their circumstances and dismissed God. They consistently displayed a lack of faith in Him and belief in His promises.  The result of their stinking thinking was a grasshopper mentality. They viewed themselves as small and powerless in the face of their enemies. They felt they would be crushed if they attempted to take the opportunity that God wanted to give them.    

We may wrestle with questions about God’s intentions toward us: Are His plans for me really good? Does He really care about the affairs of my life? Is He really at work in my life? Does He truly want to work through me to bless others? Does He truly have a purpose for me? Is my life going somewhere or is it just randomness and minutia? Is He willing to act powerfully on my behalf? Will He show up for me?

Don’t be afraid to take your questions to God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” If you struggle with a grasshopper mentality, ask for His help.  He loves to strengthen our faith, since our faith is what pleases Him.  He will help you develop a faith-filled mindset that boldly pursues purpose throughout the year.

Questions for Reflection:

  • When have you viewed yourself as a grasshopper in your own eyes? 
  • How can you become more aware of the pattern of your thoughts?
  • How can you strengthen your faith in God?

About Candace: Candace Gray is a seasoned leader with a track record of living a life of purpose and helping others to do the same. She is a Senior Director for Buckner Children and Family Services and a longtime member of Concord Church in Dallas. 

If you’d like to follow her full 21-day devotional series, go to www.candacegray.com 

Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash

Photo by Jonathan Leppan on Unsplash

Creating a Prayer Strategy

Welcome to Positive Life Principles with Karol Ladd. I’m so glad you have joined me here for a healthy dose of encouragement and wisdom. During the month of January, I’ve asked my friend Candace Gray to be my guest blogger and share her insights on starting the new year in a positive and productive way. Enjoy and be strengthened!

– Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

  Matthew 7:7

Do you have a strategic approach to your prayers? Being strategic is about being consistent and intentional. Making progress on meaningful goals can be a fight, so you need a battle strategy for the year.  Here are some things to consider:  how & when will you pray? What and who will you pray for? What are your go-to Scriptures that encourage you and remind you of truth? Who are the people who will encourage you, pray with you and challenge you?  Finally, does your prayer strategy include bold requests?  

There are many benefits and specific promises tied to prayer. James 5:16 tells us that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  Here are some suggestions for being strategic in prayer:

  1. Ask, Seek, Knock continuously.  Matthew 7:7-10. This passage is an encouragement to be persistent and consistent in prayer and you will be rewarded with a response. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (7:7)” Furthermore, the passage explains the heart of God and His willingness to respond to  His children. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for fish, will give Him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him. (7:9-10)”
  • Be bold. In Matthew 14:29, Peter asked Jesus to allow him to walk on water. Jesus’s response to him was, “Come.”  He allowed Peter to walk on water just because Peter was bold enough to ask.  Not one to waste an opportunity, Jesus used the experience to show His power and increase Peter’s faith.
  • Ask with confidence. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God:  that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.”  Don’t over-analyze your prayers and hold back in what you ask of God. If you pray for something that is not in alignment with God’s will, know that He is good and He will sort it out. He does not punish you for asking.  Instead, He teaches you so that you grow in understanding His will.  Therefore, present the desires of your heart to God and let Him guide you in His will. If I pray for something that’s not good for me and is not born out of the right motives, God, in His kindness, will help me to come to that realization. In His mercy, He will not give me something that He knows will be harmful to me.

In the spirit of confidence in God and pursuing a focused, purposeful and bold new year, pray and seek:

  • God’s vision for you for this year; 
  • Ability to do more than you think is possible this year;
  • Wisdom, creativity and practical ideas for accomplishing your goals this year. 

About Candace: Candace Gray is a seasoned leader with a track record of living a life of purpose and helping others to do the same. She is a Senior Director for Buckner Children and Family Services and a longtime member of Concord Church in Dallas. 

If you’d like to follow her full 21-day devotional series, go to www.candacegray.com 

Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash

Eyes to See

God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.

Genesis 21:19

            There are times when our sight can be blinded by hopelessness or fear.  It’s easy to become consumed with our circumstances and unable to envision a solution. In the book of Genesis, we read the wilderness story of Hagar, a desperate woman who could not see any possibilities for her and her son. She thought they would simply die in the desert. Yet God not only heard her son’s prayers, but He opened her eyes to His provision for them. He removed whatever was blinding her and keeping her from seeing the water she so desperately needed.

            Interestingly, it doesn’t say that he made the well of water for her, rather it says he opened her eyes. The well of water may have been there all along, but she couldn’t see it. Do not assume because you cannot see any hope or possibilities, that none exist.  On the other hand, ask God to open your eyes to the provisions around you.  Ask Him to give you fresh eyes to see your situation from a new a broader viewpoint.

Photo by Jordan Wozniak on Unsplash

This devotional thought is an excerpt from Karol’s book, Pursuing God in the Quiet Places.

Look Up!

Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can.

Genesis 15:5

Guest Blogger Candace Gray

Do you ever feel weighed down by the daily grind of life? Have you suffered some disappointment in the last year that caused you to lose hope? Perhaps you’re in a long season of waiting and not seeing any change.  Going through a hard season can make you lose vision and shrink your view of what’s possible. As you start this year, stir up your hope by remembering there are tremendous possibilities with God. 

Abraham found himself in a discouraging place. He wanted much more than what he saw in his life at the time.  He wanted a child and he had none; he wanted a home and he’d been uprooted from his home and told to go to an unknown place. Furthermore, God had promised to bless him with not just one child, but with numerous descendants and God had promised not just a home but a nation that would have its own land. Yet there was a big gap between what Abraham was experiencing and what God had promised. So, God told Abraham to “look up at the stars and count them if you can.” It was an encouragement to look beyond what he could see around him and understand that God has as many ways as there are stars to fulfill His promises.  The same is true for you and me. Looking up represents seeing the vast power of God and His ability to bring about amazing things in your life.  As you approach the new year, fix your gaze on Him. He is I AM (Exodus 3:14), meaning He is able to do more than you can ask or imagine.   

Don’t stop believing in God’s good plans for you.  Life is better when you focus on the wide sky of possibilities rather than the narrow view created by your disappointments. When you play small, there is no energy, no vision and no confidence to make bold moves. When you think and look toward the sky, there are infinite possibilities and a great and powerful God working for your good.  Even through adversity and delays, He’s growing you and preparing you to be blessed and to be a blessing. Turn your gaze from your disappointments to the sky and remember I AM. 

Questions for Reflection:

  • What disappointments did you encounter last year?  Did they cause you to lose hope? 
  • Where is your focus now – on you and your circumstances or on God? 

My guest blogger this month is Candace Gray. She is a seasoned leader with a track record of living a life of purpose and helping others to do the same. Candace is a Senior Director for Buckner Children and Family Services and a longtime member of Concord Church in Dallas. 

If you’d like to follow her full 21-day devotional series, go to www.candacegray.com 

Photo by Klemen Vrankar on Unsplash