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Posts in Laura Vander Neut
Flourishing

Psalm 1: 2-3 “But whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”

God delights in seeing his people flourish. In fact, that’s what he really wants for all of us - to be “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not whither”. And if there’s an area of your life or your community that’s flourishing, God wants to continue to bless that!

As you reflect back on your week, what were areas of your life that felt life-giving or good for your soul? Did you see this type of flourishing out in the world? Where there’s flourishing, God is at work. Why not partner with him there?

 

 

 

Try, Try Again

Hebrews 5: 13-14 (The Message) “Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God's ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.”

 

Have you ever watched a baby just learning to eat solid food? There’s a lot of dribbling and messiness, and sometimes even gagging. But as they keep practicing, babies go from eating very soft foods to eventually eating practically everything their parents eat.

The author of Hebrews likens this process to learning God’s ways. It takes practice to discern what God is trying to tell you. In fact, you might make a few mistakes along the way and that’s ok! As we’ve seen in Acts 16 this week, even Paul made several incorrect moves toward various mission fields before finding the right path. The good news is that the more we practice obedience, the better we get at discerning God’s will.

Spend a few minutes today to reflect when you sense God might be trying to tell you something and take the opportunity to practice discerning where He’s leading you.

 

Open and Closed Doors

Act 16: 6-7 “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.”

While it’s only a couple of sentences in our passage, Paul’s journey was not short. Paul journeyed hundreds of miles on foot, sometimes only to find a closed door. How frustrating that must have been! Only after Paul experienced several closed doors, did God give him a vision with an open door.

We’ve all experienced closed doors. Perhaps you’ve experienced closed doors during a job hunt or elsewhere in your career. In the moment, it can be incredibly discouraging, but it can be helpful to recognize this as a way that God is speaking into our lives. Sometimes, when we recognize God closing a door in our lives, it gives us space to see an open door somewhere else.

Are there any areas in your life where you’ve been knocking on closed doors? What might happen if you walked away from them and opened yourself up to other possibilities?

 

The Importance of Community

Acts 16: 10 “After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

Notice the use of “we” in today’s verse. Paul told his companions about his vision, and as a group, they came to a conclusion about what they should do. This is such a great model for us as we grow together in Jesus.

Sometimes pride, shame, and a host of other emotions, keep us from sharing with our community. But God uses our community to speak to us and help us discern his vision for us. We were not meant to take this journey alone and it is wise for us to seek out feedback and guidance from others.

Take some time to think of the trusted and wise people in your life. Do you have any thoughts, goals, or struggles that might benefit from some feedback? Consider how you might share these with the trusted people closest to you. Conversely, think of some ways that you might encourage those around you to see God’s vision for their life.    

 

Dreams and Visions

Acts 16: 9-10 “During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

In today’s verse, the Holy Spirit spoke to Paul in a dream. The Message version of this passage says, “The dream gave Paul his map...All the pieces had come together.”

Sounds pretty great, huh?... Fall asleep one night and wake up the next morning with a complete roadmap of where God is leading you!  You may be thinking that this type of thing, seeing visions from God, only happened in Biblical times and could never possibly happen to you. But the same Holy Spirit that lived in Paul lives in all of God’s disciples, including you! Don’t underestimate the possibility that God might be trying to speak to you, both in big ways and small ways.

It’s also important to point out that in the verses leading up to today’s passage, it says that the Holy Spirit kept Paul from entering multiple regions to preach the gospel. Paul didn’t come to this place of true purpose without some struggle and this might be the case for you too.

Open your heart to the possibility that the Holy Spirit might be speaking to you today. As you go about your day, take time to pause and reflect when you think you see a glimpse of the vision God has for you.