What IS God’s Will?

For most of us one of the main aspects of our Christian life is trying to discern and find out God’s will. Oftentimes we hesitate when it comes to different aspects of living out our faith because we “don’t know what God’s will is for our lives.” In Hebrews 11:1 God tells us “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” If we could see forward and know each step in “God’s will” for our lives, where then would be our faith?

This Moment

Living by faith most often comes when we do NOT see the path ahead. One common strand in all walks of life in Christ is that it is filled with times of uncertainty, trials, waiting and times of what we view as “dead ends.” If this is one of the most common factors of a walk with Christ, does it not bring to light that this is one of the most common ways God leads His children?

Looking through scripture starting in Genesis, we see in literally EVERY story some person or persons at a point in time of their lives where they have no clue as to the path that lies ahead. Each had a day in time where they had a choice to make as God showed them one step or asked obedience in one area. Moses had no idea that when he headed back to Egypt that he would be leading around a complaintive and faithless people for forty years. Gideon had not the slightest inkling when he surrendered to leading the army of Israel that he would be tested even further by cutting that army to a mere 300 men, and then that they would defeat an army of thousands before they drew a sword! Time won’t suffice to tell of Abraham, David, Jonah, Ruth, Joseph, Paul, Timothy, Peter, Mary and SO many more, but it’s safe to say that none of these could “see God’s will” for their future lives. They had the promises of God, and His commandments in addition to the common sense He gave them, but outside of that they had no idea of the path before them.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105 Sometimes God shows us the path, and this is what we generally think of when it comes to discovering God’s will for our lives. However, many times God’s will for us is simply the lamp at our feet. We see where we are standing, and as we step forward we see the next step, but the path ahead remains in obscure darkness. God’s will is not what will happen someday in the future, but rather where He has us today and at this very moment.

God's WillWith this in mind, how would that change the way we live out our moments of today? If this very moment in our life IS God’s will for us, would we change how we are living it? The best way to know if we are walking in God’s will is to examine our own hearts and minds and see where our focus is. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God; and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Oftentimes walking in God’s will is not about knowing what is ahead and how we will walk through it, but spending today examining ourselves, surrendering our body, mind, will and emotions fully and completely to the Lord and opening ourselves to His cleansing and sanctifying power.

As God opens up the doors of opportunity to serve and work in any capacity, we are responsible to be diligent in “whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) Even during the seasons of waiting, uncertainty and trials in our lives, we are not to be idle. As an example, a good waiter in any restaurant will be faithful in the little tasks that come simply by existing in the place where they have been placed, and they will be especially attentive to seek the desires and fulfill the wishes of the patrons. Waiting effectively is to be attentive to the ways we can remain faithful and diligent in our walk with the Lord, and as we are consistent in this we will discover that we are indeed living out God’s will for our lives.

If God’s will for us were something other than what we are living right now that means one of two things. Either we are in the wrong place, or God put us in the wrong place… and as God makes no mistakes, we know the latter is not true. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) Again, God’s will for our lives is not somewhere in the future or how we will spend the rest of our lives, but rather the very moment we are living right now.

May we each open our hearts to the Lord and ask these questions:

-Am I depending on faith or sight to walk in God’s will for my life?

-Am I living God’s will for my life this very moment?

-Is there anything hindering from this moment being God’s will for my life?

-Am I willing to change what God shows me so that this very moment I am living in IS His will for my life?

-Am I willing to accept God’s will for today as His will for my life and leave His will for tomorrow in His hands?

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Puzzle Pieces

I am an impatient person. I have a difficult time not knowing what is going on or how things will turn out. It is challenging for me to wait… have faith… and just trust in the Lord and His timing for my life.

The past several weeks have been some of the most challenging I’ve ever experienced, but through them, the Lord has been so faithful! I still don’t know His full plan for me during this time, but I have been striving to surrender everything to the Lord, asking Him to show me His will and way through it all. Over the past couple days the Lord has been bringing to mind bits and pieces of thoughts, things being shared with me and scripture verses. Between last night and this morning I was so blessed to see the Lord bringing those pieces together into a complete thought, a beautiful picture of what He is teaching me and growing me through. I know my problems aren’t all solved, but at the same time I know that all the troubles and trials of the past several weeks the Lord has been working together for my good, and I’m SO thankful!

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:26-28

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4

Puzzle Pieces

When He Calls Me to Walk on Water

This morning I was reading in Matthew 14 about when Jesus walked on the water out to His disciples in the boat in the storm, and how Peter walked out to Him. I’ve read this story one hundred times and yet it has never hit me with the impact it struck me with this morning. I saw how this very story happens in my own life.

In the midst of all the craziness and “storminess” of fears, temptations and uncertainties around me, Jesus approaches me, giving me the desire to go to him, in spite of how crazy and impossible it may seem to myself and those around me. But that desire is there. I Want to walkWANT to walk into the storm because I know that is where He is. Yes, it is scary and there are so many things, the wind, the waves, the pelting rain, SO many things that can distract me from drawing nigh to the Lord. But at the same time I can see how if ever I become distracted with the wind and begin to sink, the Lord is RIGHT HERE to reach out a grab me and pull me back to my feet. And it is all simply because he loves me. He WANTS me to come to Him, He WANTS me to be willing to walk onto the stormy sea because many times that is the only way He can continue to grow me in my faith and trust in Him and bring me to the place in my life that He wants me to be. He never leaves me alone in those stormy seas and is always just ahead, encouraging me to draw nigh, but at the same time is right beside me when I fall.

Also the Lord has been showing me how even in the thickest of storms, He gives me peace and confidence, because I know it is His will for me to walk on the waters to go to where He is leading me. The story of promisesAbraham has been on my mind a lot lately, and I can’t help but think about how many times he had to walk forward “into the stormy seas” by faith to follow where the Lord was leading him. Think about how many times the Lord called Abraham to step forward into the impossible! Going places and doing things that seemed impossible to not only Abraham, but also those around him. Yet, at the same time, Abraham stepped forward in faith, and the Lord led him through all of the unknown into His fulfilled promises to Abraham, precious and beautiful promises that only He could have fulfilled.

And kind of as a side note: I’ve been talking to a good friend recently about how it seems every time God is doing something amazing in my life the fears and temptations seem to increase. I truly believe this is because whenever the devil sees a person or situation with a lot of potential for glorifying and honoring the Lord, he tries to throw them off with doubts, fears and temptations… all of the “wind,” “waves” and “rain” that can distract them from focusing on and drawing nigh to Jesus. The harder the wind and rain, the more I know it is vital for me to keep pushing on and going where the Lord is leading me, because He has something precious and beautiful prepared for me, either in my walk with the Lord, in my physical life, or both!

I am so thankful for the “stormy seas” the Lord brings into my life, because I know that without them I would not grow as much in my faith and trust in the Lord, and also because they cause me walking on water of uncertaintyto draw even closer to the Lord and His will for my life. Yes, I struggle with doubts and fears about what lies ahead and around me. I also know that the Lord is faithful to His promises, and that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and who are called according to His purpose. I know that He has blessing exceedingly abundant in store for me as I follow His will for my life. I know as I draw nigh to the Lord, He will draw nigh to me as well and even in the darkest, scariest storms of fears and doubts He is still using those times to teach me to walk by faith on the waters of uncertainty. The beauty of drawing nigh to Him and seeing what precious plans He has for my life is always worth the storm He brings me through, and because of this I can walk confidently through the wind, waves and rain without worry or fear as long as I keep my eyes on Him, resting in His love and strength, and ever mindful that what He promises He will do.

What an amazing and precious Lord I have!!

 

 

Exercising in Godliness

 

exercising-in-godlinessWith an upcoming new year, everyone is thinking about the year past, what has gone wrong, what has gone right, and resolutions are being made for the new year. Some people don’t set much in store for New Year’s Resolutions, some obsess over it, and some view it as a refreshing opportunity to get a new start. New beginnings are exciting, terrifying, encouraging and intimidating. They are an opportunity to test personal resolve and faith in God.

This past year has been one of the most challenging years of my life. As I look back over it, I see many things I truly wish I had done differently, and other things that I cannot believe the Lord grew me through. There are many areas I’ve fallen in over and over again, yet at the same time there are areas that the Lord has given me almost complete (if not fully complete) victory in. There were many tears, fears and frustrations, but there have also been unmeasurable moments of joy, peace and excitement. God is SO good!

I know the past few weeks in particular I’ve been struggling with my daily walk with the Lord. Daily readings were a struggle, prayers seemed empty and Bible memorization was… non-existent. I was still trusting God, praying, and fighting through what I FELT to cling to what I KNEW was true of God and my relationship with Him. God always has a plan ready, and can use the smallest thing, a tiny word or a couple of innocent questions to electrify you and shock everything back into place. If anyone else had read them, it wouldn’t have made a difference, but when the God who knows every need of your heart places them in front of you, it is like a healing balm that smooths over the dull ache and gives healing and health to reach up and grasp with a new zeal that mercy and grace that is new every morning.

One of the things the Lord has blessed me with this year was the ability to get into martial arts. It’s something I always wanted to do, and I can see how immensely it is helping me physically. The past couple days I was thinking about how most New Year’s Resolutions circle around exercising, dieting and deal with bodily health. As I’ve personally been working through the physical challenges of martial arts, I find I have to work hard, train through and practice continually what I’m learning in order to progress. The more I practice and train in these areas, the more excited and confident I am about what I am doing.

The same is true of my relationship with the Lord. As I was focusing on the changes I was wanting to make in my relationship with the Lord this year, it was all of the normal “Reading, praying, memorizing” changes. But then something clicked. I looked up the word “exercise” in my concordance and found it.

“But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” ~1 Timothy 4:7-8

Then ensued a pretty lengthy study, but the main points are what I’d like to share.

-“Bodily exercise profiteth little,” meaning it profits only the physical aspects of my life. This does not mean that I should not exercise, but that it only profits me in one area.

“Godliness is profitable to ALL things.” It reaches out and touches and influences EVERY area of my life, both in my life today and in my life that is to come.

Exercising godliness helps me to be more spiritually “awake.” (If you read the whole of chapter 4, or even the whole book of 1 Timothy, you can see this theme weaving throughout.) When I think of someone spiritually active, I can read 1 Timothy 4:12 into their life.

“…an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

There is this saying, “if you want it bad enough, you will go through anything bad to get it.” I think many times the reason I do not become more spiritually active in my life is because I do not determine in my heart and mind ahead of time that this is what I truly want. When I read a verse like this, deep down in my heart I know that this is the way I want to be above all else. When I decided to do martial arts, I determined to make the most I could of it with the time I had. My relationship with God is even more so. As I was thinking about this the past couple days I was almost bewildered at where to start. Well, thankfully God’s word gives me everything I need that “pertains to life and godliness,” so I kept reading, and wouldn’t you know it? I found the answer! 😉

“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine…. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” ~1 Timothy 4:13,15

There it is right there, a whole list:

-Reading

-Exhortation (teaching and preaching)

-Doctrine (studying)

-Meditate (memorization)

And lastly,

GIVE THYSELF WHOLLY TO THEM

At church last night, Bro. Ben broke down a day and narrowed it down to how much “extra” time we have left in a day. Even on a day where I’m working a full day’s work, I still have 5 ½ “extra” hours left. Just think of what would happen if I spent even half of that time exercising in godliness?

Just for a second I wanted to touch at the flip side. The more “awake” I am in fleshly things, I am more “groggy” spiritually. I know different people have their fleshly weaknesses… for some it’s tv and movies, for others it’s video games, or social media, or books, or friends… anything. I know when I allow myself more time in the things that are not exercising in godliness, I’m a lot less likely to do my godliness exercises. Kind of like eating a huge meal of junk food at lunch and not feeling like exercising that evening. Then the next morning looking at those donuts sitting there on the table, and thinking you’ll exercise extra later to make up for it, and before you know it, it’s been a week (or month!) since you’ve exercised at all. The same thing goes for the fleshly things in life. They are a distraction from exercising in godliness.

At the end of every year for the past few years the Lord has given me a word that burned in my mind throughout the whole year. This past year the word was “change,” and boy! Was that the truth! The past few weeks I’ve had the words “hard work” in my mind. It’s kind of funny, because at first thought, hard work is not something particularly pleasant, but I am growing more and more excited about what God will do in my life in this next year. My “New Year’s Resolution” is to exercise myself in godliness and making it a personal goal for this year. I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work, and even a struggle at times, but I also know God is my strength to hold that resolve and it will be through His power alone that it will come to pass.

What is your New Year’s Resolution? Is there something I can pray for you for this up-coming year?

 

 

 

Focusing on the Dross

“Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.” ~Proverbs 25:4

It is so easy to get discouraged in my walk with the Lord because I tend to look at all the impurities that are still in me. The ways that I fall (yet again), yield to temptation or fail to be a witness or testimony when I focusing-on-the-drosshave the opportunity to do so. I get to the point where I feel like I am not growing in my relationship with the Lord and feel stuck.

God knows exactly how I feel though, and there are also times like this morning when I read a verse, and it jumps off the page and hits me square in the face.

Silver is beautiful, even impure silver is beautiful, and as the dross and imperfections are gradually worked out, it becomes even more beautiful and shines of its crafter’s loving touch and wise workmanship.

Focusing on the dross and impurities of my life while God is still working on me is like someone who has no idea of a craft criticizing a crafter long before His work is finished. There is a reason He commands us to “(forget) those things which are behind and (reach) forth unto those things which are before,” (Philippians 3:13). The longer I focus on the impurities and failings of my life, the harder I make it for myself to look forward to the finished work I know God will accomplish in my life.

If I were instead to look at the finished product God promises to make me through His word, I would then be able to see the beauty of today, even among its dross and impurities, and live a life of hope and joyful anticipation of the completed work to come.

“Just because I know something doesn’t mean I know it.”

There are so many times in life where someone may have known the answers, known what they should do or the way things ought to be, but couldn’t “get it” because they didn’t REALLY know. One can be told something over and over again, so they “know” it, but when God tells them, they know it. And when God starts working in and through that knowledge, they start to KNOW it!

a-single-roseSo many times sharing what is being learned helps one to process the information even better, so you’re helping by allowing them to share!

So just because someone may write an amazing blog post, article or thought, it doesn’t mean that they are fully spiritually mature or have fully learned that lesson and have it fully under control, just that the Lord is showing them, teaching them and growing them in that knowledge.