Are you satisfied with life? Do you wake every morning with excitement and enthusiasm for the plans for that day? If your answer is painful to face and yet simultaneously you are rationalizing your answer as "I'm normal - no one has life THAT good Carole" then this message is for you! The Lord has given me an exciting message that will change your life forever if you will be faithful to do what God has called YOU to do. Because this is an interactive study, I encourage you to sit down with your bible and paper so you can participate in this lesson.

Most people live their lives frustrated, unhappy, searching for a better life, yearning for a sense of contentment and fulfillment. This is true of people whether saved or unsaved.

God has given us instructions from His Word concerning the general call for the people of God. We are all appointed and anointed as His disciples. We are all told to tell others about Jesus, to heal the sick, to minister to the poor etc. But there is also a very specific call on each of our lives. Something that God has appointed and anointed us to do that is very needful to His Kingdom. I call this a call of God that is vocational. A business dream that is in your heart to follow. This path will have its ups and downs as you learn and grow, but it will always lead to adventure and satisfaction.

Very few of God's people are doing what God has called them to do, and most do not even know how to discover what God has destined them for. The time is short and it has never been more important for each of us to take our place in the body of Christ. Many people in our churches today are seeking God's will for their lives. They are waiting for an angel of the Lord to appear with an assignment, a list of contacts and an envelope filled with money to step over into their destiny. It just doesn't happen that way!

Let's lay the foundation from God's Word and then we will proceed in helping you to know and carry out your destiny. Dare to throw your whole life and everything you have into building a dream that comes from the heart of God.

Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations."

"The LORD has called Me from the womb; From the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name." Isaiah 49:1

Paul writes in Galatians 1:15 "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace."

These scriptures clearly show that God has a plan for His children and a purpose for each life. Because this plan is laid out before there is even conception, it is obvious that God's choice has nothing to do with whether or not we deserve to be called nor who we are in the natural. There are no babies born by 'accident' in God's plan. Every life is important - every person has a specific plan to carry out for the Kingdom of God. Whether you came to know the Lord as a child, as in the life of Samuel the prophet, and have faithfully followed Him all your life or whether you came to know God as an adult (like Paul) the Lord has had His hand on your life and has been leading and guiding you all the days of your life. Many of you feel that you have "blown it" and that you are unworthy to ever be used by God. Many of you feel that life has passed you by and its 'too late'. Because of wrong choices and bad decisions you feel that you have 'missed the mark'. I want to assure you that none of these are truths. No matter what your education, no matter what your age, no matter what your past, no matter what your bank account, He Who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it. All God is looking for is your willingness to trust Him and follow His leading.

The Lord spoke a word to me once that explained His tremendous involvement in my life. He said that even decisions that I made and never consulted Him, He was there and had a part in them. Things that I have seemingly wasted my time on, He was there directing me. The Lord showed me that He is more actively involved in our lives than we realize. Because it is He that has called us, then it is obvious that He will do doing everything possible to help us carry out the destiny for which we have been birthed. We typically put way too much stock in our abilities and what we do in following after the Lord. He is our loving Father and just as a loving natural parent is there to teach, train, raise and guide their children, how much more so is our heavenly Father involved in steering us on the right course for our lives.

>From Psalm 32:8 the Lord assures us "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you." In order to receive this help from the Lord, we must have hearts that are willing to receive His instructions - teachable spirits, ears that are open to His voice and spirits that are obedient to His counsel. Trusting God at times will seem very risky. Because God is looking for a people who trust Him no matter what, He will often require us to give up those places of manmade safety and security. We will only grow and mature in Him as we walk through some valleys with Him and prove Him faithful to get us through safely.

Psalm 37:23 promises us that "If the Lord delights in a man's way, He makes his steps firm; through he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand." Getting through life effortless and without any stumbling is delusion. Just as our children struggled and stumbled in their learning how to make one leg work with the other as they learned to walk, so too we will be fumbling around as we are learning how to listen and obey God. Trusting God no matter what requires faith. Our life must be one of living and walking by faith in order to please God. Having faith in God's promises that when we give our lives to Him and are seeking His guidance and Lordship He is there every step of the way. He is faithful to us and in His great love, He doesn't give us everything on a silver platter. God isn't able to use spoiled, self-centered and indulged children. Psalm 48:14 assures us that "this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end." We don't have to walk alone. We don't have to travel through jungles and uncharted paths. God sees all. God knows all. God is God. He is a trustworthy and faithful guide.

David the psalmist wrote "When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before You. Yet I am always with You. You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel and afterward You will take me into glory." (Ps 73:21-24) Our faith in God and our willingness to live life according to His plans and purposes must continue no matter what we encounter. No matter if we blow it hundreds of times, we must have that same assurance and confidence that David had, "yet I am always with You. You hold me by my right hand." God isn't like a natural parent that might release us in frustration - tossing us aside because we don't measure up to their expectations. God is for us. He never, never lets go of us.

In Romans 8:14 we are consoled that a person who follows God's plan and purpose is destined for greatness. "Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father'. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children, Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory." God never promises us that we won't suffer - but our greatest suffering is the dying to our old nature - our old patterns of thinking. Throwing aside all fears and insecurities to trust God no matter what. Realizing that everything God requires of us is for our good - out of His great love for us, He will purge from us everything that may hinder or try to trip us up in our future. We are God's children. His plan for our lives is good. Our futures are bright. We have tremendous hope when we place our hope in Him alone. With this brief foundation of truth from scripture, we can now build our knowledge of His will and plan for our individual lives.

On your paper draw a large triangle with the broadest part at the bottom of your paper. Under the triangle, draw a rectangular box about 1 inch deep going the length of your triangle. At the top point of the triangle write "Destiny" and your name. As we progress in this lesson, we will be working from the bottom up. The bottom represents your past and as we move up we will be fine tuning the direction that God is calling you.

One of the first questions that I want you to consider is this; If you could be doing one thing everyday, what would it be? Let me caution you - there are no right or wrong answers. Just answer honestly, no matter how foolish or simplistic or extravagant your desire might be. Perhaps working with computers is your answer - or maybe working in a flowerbed. Playing with children or solving problems. Just write this answer down in the bottom of the triangle. It may be very explicit or it may be one or two words. Now, are there other interests that you have that seemingly are burning desires in your heart? Are there things that you once dreamed about that you have written off because you are "too old", "don't have the financial means of making it happen", "don't have the education", "couldn't do because of the other responsibilities in my life", etc? Then write these down too. We are looking for dreams that were there even as a child. Maybe it is painful for you to bring these back, maybe the loss of that dream was very disappointing to you. Throw aside your fears and reach way down inside of you to pull up those forgotten or lost dreams and write them on your paper. Dreams from childhood but discounted once we are grown, are often the ones we should listen to when searching for a satisfying career.

Let me give you an example from my life; as a young girl I had an insatiable desire to explore. I filled my time with books of far away places. Whenever possible I would get on my bicycle and ride out into the country, to walk along a stream, adventuring both in fantasy and reality. By the time I got to high school that dream had become a specific goal in life, to be a photo-journalist and work for National Geographic. There was nothing that excited me more than the idea of traveling around the world, experiencing new cultures, exploring things that the rest of the world knew little about, discovering secret places, peoples and customs. I wanted to capture the images that I found to share with people all over the world. I wanted to write about my findings so that people who could not venture out might share in the joy and excitement of discovery. I wanted to learn about every tribe, every nation, and every place on the face of the earth. Because of this I excelled in English and History. My grades in math were so-so because I had no connection between Math and my dream. When I went to college, I had the privilege of petitioning for a class of my choice that was not offered in the general curriculum. I was assigned a professor and together we wrote a curriculum that would help me in pursuing my goal of writing for a magazine. My final grade was decided largely by whether or not I could write an article for two magazines, which were published. For the entire semester, I worked on these two articles. When both my professor and I thought they were perfect, they were submitted. It was extremely painful for me when neither article was accepted for publication. At this same time, I fell in love, decided to get married and my dream of working for National Geographic was tempered by this new distraction in my life. With the passing of each year, the dream became less and less obtainable and it was finally laid to rest with my acceptance that I would never participate in this dream. So, in my triangle, I started with the words "photo-journalist for National Geographic".

I am convinced that the majority of people are working in jobs that they do not enjoy. Our society in general groans every Monday morning and spends the entire workweek looking forward to Fridays. Most are wishing their lives away, living for the weekend. Why? To escape the doldrums of our occupations. It is virtually impossible to wake up on a Tuesday morning with enthusiasm and exclaim, "This is the day that the Lord has made! I will rejoice and be glad in it!" Or if know to do this, it is a faith confession rather than an expression from our heart! We do what we have to do to get through each day, arriving home that night weary in mind, spirit and body. All we want to do is relax and escape by watching the TV or searching the Internet. Let's watch Hollywood actors take us into their TV lives where everyone is happy and fulfilled. Where the good people always win and everyone lives happily ever after. This goes on week after week, year after year. We feel trapped in our jobs and lives. We lose excitement for life. We see the future and all the years that we have left 'stuck' in this position. We become cynical about life, disappointed to discover that life isn't as great as we thought it was in our youth. We try so hard to love God and expect His best in our lives, but deep down inside, we really don't think life will ever change. We accept things the way they are and measure ourselves up against our neighbors. We console ourselves with the fact that we are normal. No one lives happily ever after except in the movies.

What if you were able to get paid for doing what you love to do? What if you could wake up every morning knowing that you got to spend all day working in the garden, or writing, or tinkering on automobiles, teaching or whatever it is that you have written down? Would you wake excited? Would the praises of God flow freely from your lips in true appreciation and gratitude for life? Would you be a more pleasant person to your family and nicer to those around you? Would the problems we all encounter in life - the washer breaking down, the kids needing braces etc. seem easier to handle? Would we be able to embrace each and everyday and not begrudge 5 of the 7 days of every week?

I believe God's Word when He says "delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." I believe God when He wrote "The Lord be magnified who takes pleasure in the prosperity of His servants." (Prosperity means "the condition of being successful and thriving") Our God who made us is very much in love with us. He delights in us. He wants us to be happy. He wants us to be fulfilled everyday of our lives. He wants us to be so satisfied with our lot in life that it is easy to praise Him, that we are so full of Him that we overflow to others. That we are doing what is in our hearts to be doing for His glory, for His Kingdom, to be a blessing to the people of the earth. Now, lets dissect this dream of yours a little more. You may be asking, "Carole, how can God be getting any glory in my working with flowers? How can this in any way be blessing the people of the earth? Isn't this a selfish desire?" The answer is simple. Nothing God does can be put into a box. We are all created unique and filled with a variety of personalities. How God can use this dream in your heart for His glory can only be answered by Him as you spend time with Him to learn. The desires in your heart come from Him. He has prepared you from before birth with a dream that comes from Him. He has helped you in the classes you've chosen to take. He has connected you with people who encouraged you or taught you. He has been training you, giving you the ability and all that is necessary to be the very best at that which He has called you to do. Your obvious credentials are not always the ones that will be transferred to fulfilling your destiny.

You may work harder than you ever have before in your life, but you will never have any regrets, even on your worst days!

Let's look at Paul in the scriptures, who acknowledged as we read above, that God called him from his mothers womb. We do not know how old Paul was when he encountered God on the road to Damascus, but we do know from his accounts written in the Word, that he had been raised a devote Jew. In Galatians 1:14 Paul writes about himself "I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. BUT WHEN IT PLEASED GOD . to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles." If God called Paul before he was born then the training that Paul received was under the guidance of God. Now, Paul did things that were outside of God's will as we all do. But overall, in the direction that Paul's life took, the evidence of God's participation in his life is apparent. At the time that Paul was needed, God got a hold of him and his life was never the same.

You may wonder what happened to the dream that God put in my heart. Are you expecting me to announce that I have taken a position with National Geographic and will be leaving the ministry in order to fulfill the desire of my heart? No, I have learned that what God laid on my heart to do was not to work for a magazine. That was just the box that I had to fit the dream into so that it made sense to me. What I am doing with my life is a fulfillment of this dream however, in travel and bringing to other people the wonders and beauty of spiritual life in the Kingdom of God. Exploring new places in God's Kingdom. Experiencing new adventures all the time. Taking those things that I see and hear and bringing them to God's people through writing and descriptive visualization of their dreams.

Finding your destiny in God's Kingdom is absolutely the most precious and exciting fulfillment. May you be led and guided by the Holy Spirit as you seek to know the truth, for that truth will set you free! You may spend your days creating something so beautiful, having the time of your life, experiencing peace, when your head is telling you you should be doing something "practical" like working for a large corporation, progressing up the corporate ladder.

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