Carefully determine what pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:10 NLT)
Yet what should be the basis for your intentions? Better asked: What does God look at to judge that your intentions are right – and from Him?
1 Samuel 16:7 says, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Think of a grill thermometer. The steak may look done on the outside, but the thermometer will reveal whether the meat is fully cooked inside. Our lives are the same way. Appearances are fine, but deep down are areas that are still not done to completion.
So what is the mechanism the Lord uses to help you see inside yourself?
“The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
The Bible is the thermometer. We look at Scripture as a guide and encouragement, and that’s good. But the Word of God will also, like the thermometer, pierce you; it’ll challenge you to place your life’s journey in alignment with God’s intentions.
At this point, it’s one thing to say you’re going to use this insight to live intentionally. It’s quite another to actually move forward. In Part 2 we’ll tackle the nasty issue of procrastination and the good intentions it creates that stay unrealized and destructive.
More Than Just a Good Intention
2: God’s Intentions are Best!
Procrastination is progressive and it stifles your efforts to live an intentional life in Christ.
Martin Luther had it right when he said, “How soon ‘Not now’ becomes ‘Never’.” In the Bible, Nicodemus with Jesus (John 3) and Felix before Paul (Acts 24) are both examples of people who had good intentions about knowing and following God, but they procrastinated – never following through on what Christ told them. You can easily do that as well.
Psychologists have identified a myriad of reasons why we procrastinate:
- Complex projects seem daunting
- Projects are deemed unpleasant
- An inability to prioritize
- Fear of failure
The old saying says, “The path to Hell is filled with good intentions.” These good intentions have a definite pattern that may seem all-too-familiar to you:
1. Good intentions recognize a need in your life that
2. Creates an interest where you want to know more, but then
3. Leads to an emotional response, usually fear, that holds you back from doing anything else.
Other truths about good intentions:
- They are not decisions; they’re just illusions of good decisions.
- They release you from guilt, making you feel better. But you never take it further.
- They’re all about the future, but not connected to now.
- They’re not accountable to anyone else except yourself.
- They promise much, require little, but accomplish nothing.
- They are the facilitator of procrastination.
So how do you go forward from having good intentions that do nothing to possessing God’s intentions that do something and can be life-changing?
3: God-given Passion
A good intention alone is fed by procrastination and accomplishes nothing. But God’s intentions, when birthed in your life, will not only move you forward. They can accomplish the incredible for you, and dramatically impact the lives of others.
What do I mean? Take the example of one of my favorite Bible personalities, Nehemiah. He discovered God’s intention for his life by using the process of having a good intention – then taking it to the next level. Nehemiah:
- Recognized a need (the walls of Jerusalem were destroyed, and his people were in danger – Nehemiah 1:3), that then…
- Created an interest where he wanted to know more (Nehemiah sought God for insight – Nehemiah 1:4-11), which then…
- Led to an emotional response; not fear, but bold faith (Nehemiah went to the king and secured permission and resources to rebuild the walls – Nehemiah 2:1-8)
The key was this: Nehemiah asked God, “What is your intention about this situation?” When he received the answer from the Lord, he immediately acted because he had a God-given passion about the need. I love that!
Often, people with bad intentions have more motivation than those with good intentions because they, too, have a passion: to kill, to steal, to cheat. Yet when you break through to discover God’s intentions for you, you’ll do the right things based on His leading and direction, not yours.
Now think. What are God’s intentions for you regarding your faith, family, health, finances and work? How can you employ your thinking, emotions and action to live intentionally?
You start by finding the next right One Thing for each area of your life. You can live by Ephesians 5:10, “Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it!” (The Message)
http://www.theintentionallife.com/onething/ Used by permission of the author.