3 Things For The Christian Graduate

Dear Christian Graduate,

As you embark on this next chapter of your life, there are three things I want to encourage you with:

1. We Need You and Your Dreams.
2. Guard your hearts and filter your motivation.
3. God has a dream for you. Do you know what it is?

Let me expand on these…

1. We need you, your energy, your inspiration, and we need you to pursue your dreams!

Whose “we” you ask… the collective citizens of this world.  Your dreams, the ones you possibly went to college for, or the ones that keep you up at night… pursue those.  I have heard that our dreams, are actually not for ourselves. The dream(s) you have, they are intended to be pursued for someone else. As you pursue your dreams, God will use your courage and willingness to unlock the hearts of the lost, change the trajectory of people’s eternal destinations, and you will experience what it is like inspire others.

Life is more about the journey, and the people you meet along the way.  The sheer effort of going for your dream will inspire, challenge, and encourage others to go for their dreams.  The destination is not the actual goal, it’s in the willingness to go for it. It’s in the willingness to fail… that you will succeed.  Please be brave, please don’t let the naysayers, “giants”, or your most trusted friend or relative keep you from pursuing what God has planted in you.

“Your Gifts are what you do, Your Passions are where you use them, and your Personality is how you do them.”

I had heard this formula from my pastor (Jim White) at Mecklenburg Community Church five years ago, and it provided for me great clarity and encouragement. Your gifts are not just your talents, but also your Spiritual Gifts. We are to develop these gifts through the Holy Spirit who is alive in us making us more in-line with Christ. Pray for the Lord to help you discern and see how He has gifted you. Seek to understand and embrace how God has designed you.

This is a great resource to help you discover what your spiritual gifts may be: Spiritual Gifts Test  … if you decide to do this, PRAY over it first – ask the Lord to help you honestly answer the questions (don’t answer how you think you should, be real with your answers) then also pray for the Lord to help you discern His gifting in you, and to develop and employ them.

2. We need you to guard your hearts.  We need you to filter your motivation.

In my NIV Study Bible, it notes that the word “heart” is biblical language for “the center of the human spirit, from which spring emotions, thoughts, motivations, courage and action – the wellspring of life.”  One could say that this is where our dreams live. But here is the issue, our “hearts” are not pure… in fact they are deceptive if left alone to our human nature ways.

Proverbs 4: 23-27 says this:

23-27 Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
    that’s where life starts.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;
    avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
    ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
    and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
    leave evil in the dust.

Dang- now that’s an exhortation to live by!

The word “vigilant” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary means: carefully noticing problems or signs of danger.  The word “heart” according to the Strong’s Concordance, the Biblical Hebrew meaning of heart is: inner man, mind, will, heart.

“To keep vigilant watch over your heart” means that we are to carefully notice the problems or signs of danger in our mind, in our heart (the well-spring of life), and in our personal will.

Jeremiah 17:9 The Message

“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful,
    a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart
    and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human.
    I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are,
    not as they pretend to be.”

We have a God who searches our heart, examines our mind,  and treats them as they really are.  The reality is, we need His help, and we need His grace. We need the Holy Spirit filtering our “hearts” (and our dreams) – and helping us guard them. We need His Spirit permeating our hearts from the inside out!

But how do we do this?

Romans 12:1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:1-2 MSG)

 

2 Corinthians 10: 3-6 The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

“Building lives of obedience into maturity” now that is statement worth pursuing and allowing God to fulfill.

 

3.  What is God’s Dream for you?

That you would grow in knowing Him, trusting Him, and using your one and only life to be the YOU He designed, by knowing the HIM who is alive in you.

John 17 is a chapter of Scripture that lets us in on a very personal moment in Jesus’ life, He was praying right before He was arrested and then later sentenced to be crucified.  But what I want you to realize today – is that in this chapter – JESUS PRAYED FOR YOU. And He is relentless in pursuing the journey on your behalf.

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3 NIV)

The Greek word translation for know in this John 17:3 verse is ginóskó and it means: I come to know, learn, realize. This word is further defined as: properly, to know, especially through personal experience (first-hand acquaintance).

20-23 I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.

Incredible right … Jesus prayed for you, and He wants your life to be evidence of Him!

In John 17:20-23 (note that the bold and italic text I highlighted for emphasis) Jesus interceded on your behalf – that you would know God, be unified in Christ and the Spirit, and that you would grow in mature oneness with Him. The byproduct of you growing in knowing Him, is His glory revealed, and a world impacted by your testimony of a Living God being known in your life.

How do you grow?  You seek Him.

1. Pray.. genuinely ask the Lord to grow you in knowledge, wisdom and understanding of Him for His glory!

2. Get connected in a church – don’t just attend – but get plugged into a small group/community group, and volunteer to serve in some capacity at that church.

3. Get plugged into a Bible study or devotional that is digging deep in the Word and expanding your mind in Christ. Seek a Christ following mentor to be a sounding-board to your questions and challenges in life.

God is faithful to reveal Himself to you – and your obedience in seeking Him will bless you greater than you know.

One of my favorite life verses is Philippians 2:13,

13 because God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases him.  (Philippians 2:13 NCV)

Wow – praise Jesus that it is God who is doing the work in us!  The result will be that we will want to do, and be able to do what pleases Him!

When you seek to grow in knowing God, you will grow in knowing God’s design of you. There is only one of you – and we need you, but we also need you to be growing in Christ.  We need you to be seeking Him, filtering your motives, and pursuing the things He leads you to pursue, and then willingly let God shine through it all.

Graduates, know that Jesus is for you.  I will be praying for you, I will be asking the Lord to help you discern His leading in your life.  May the world be positively impacted because of you and your willingness to pursue your dreams and God’s dream for you!

Blessings,

Shannon O’Brien