Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Extended Vision, 3: Give All You Have

“…a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God.” As a dealer in purple cloth, Lydia was considered a woman of considerable wealth. Purple was a valuable and prized commodity as the dye came at a significant and painstaking cost. The dye was created by extracting a certain gland from a specific mollusk that had to be captured. Upon extracting the gland, it had to be crushed, bled, and dried. Because many mollusks had to be used, the process was labor intensive. Lydia was an entrepreneur. She was also a worshiper of God. She willingly used what she had and gave what she had so that others would have the opportunity to hear the word of God. Her house was used as the first church in her area. Her generosity was an overflow of the extended vision she had received from God.

The tighter we hold on to what we think is ours, the harder it will ever be able to see anything bigger than we are or beyond where we are. Vision from God requires that we live in complete and total surrender to God. The things that we have will either give us access to seeing the vision become reality, or they will serve as obstacles that block us from seeing the fulfillment of what God desires to accomplish. Ask God to show you what you have. Refuse to hold on so tightly that you can’t give it away. Allow God to use you to be a part of someone else coming to know Him.

Extended Reading Option: Acts 20:35

Extended Journal Option: You are on this team for a reason. God allowed it. Why? What has He placed within you to give? How can you give it?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Extended Vision, 2: See Beyond the "Obvious"

“One of those listening was a woman named Lydia…” During Lydia’s time, the culture did not afford her to have the voice that God had placed within her. Her gender disqualified her from be socially accepted as a leader with vision. Her heart for God and her vision to see the truth of God through Jesus become available to those outside of the Jewish context would ultimately help change the world. She would give into what others saw in her. Her vision for what God could do started with God’s vision in who she was. She had a longing to see through the eyes of God.

When we see through the eyes of God, we will see with extended vision. We will be able to see what others can’t see. For each of us, there have been moments when we have been underestimated and discounted for how we are seen by others. Don’t allow someone else’s perception of you infect how God sees you. Look in the mirror and see beyond what has convinced you is “obvious.” You are a sinner, saved by grace, equipped with purpose, and called to pursue a vision. That vision is one that sees other people coming to know the same Jesus that has spoken love and change into your life. Open your heart and your eyes to the extended vision that God desires to impart to you.

Extended Reading Option: 1 Peter 2:9

Extended Journal Option: How have you ever felt discounted by the opinions of others? How have you seen God use that to bring you closer to the vision and purpose He has for you?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Extended Vision, 1: Lydia's Story

“One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left” (Acts 16:14, 40, NIV).

The Bible reminds us that without vision, people don’t survive. As we look throughout history, we are reminded that the great survivals and successes of nations, government, churches, and people are linked to those who had vision and were able to share that vision with others. Lydia was a woman with a big vision. She lived in a time that wasn’t quite prepared for her vision, for her leadership, or for what it would one day mean to the world. She was undaunted by societal rules and cultural contexts. She was a worshiper of God. Through her focus on Christ, her vision would be instrumental for many who would one day come to Christ.

It has been said that discipline always follows vision. It can also be said that without vision, we can never have a real vision, only a real imagination. Vision is when you can see what others can’t. Discipline is when you keep going towards that vision when others say you can’t. Don’t be one of those who give into the pressure of the reasons why you can’t do something, shouldn’t do something, or why it is impossible for you to do something. God has placed you right where you are for a reason. He has helped you to see something that is beyond what you have seen before. You have a vision to be a part of something that really matters. Though you may have questions and concerns, and possibly even some fear and doubt, you have chosen to be undaunted. Continue to trust. Continue to see the extended vision God has placed before you.

Extended Reading Option: Proverbs 29:18

Extended Journal Option: Describe some of the “vision blockers” that have been in your life. What are common distractions for you that tend to slow down or try to stop you from reaching what God wants to show you?