May 23, 2013
“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)
When the disciple’s asked Jesus this request they were not just asking Him the ‘how to’ of prayer. They were amazed at the large amounts of time Jesus prioritized for prayer. They were asking something like ‘teach us what you know about prayer that we obviously do not know that causes You to spend so very much time in prayer.’
STEP NUMBER THREE: Spend much time in prayer.
When you must know the will of another human being, what is the first step you take? Our first thought is usually that we must meet with that person and have a conversation with them. When a man is in love and decides he wants to marry a woman, his first thought is that he must meet with her and have a conversation with her.
When we seek to know the will of God, our first thought should be that we must meet with God and have a conversation with Him. Prayer is a conversation with God. If you do not know how to pray, think of prayer as simply meeting with and having a personal conversation with God.
Jesus responded to the apostles with a prayer that was not as much a prayer as it was an instruction about how to pray. When you are alone, use that prayer as an outline for your conversation with God. You will find yourself applying the second and third steps I have shared with you for knowing the will of God when Jesus instructs you to pray:
“Your kingdom come; Your will be done.”
May 20, 2013
“If any man wills to do, he will know.” (John 7:17)
STEP NUMBER TWO: Be willing to do the will of God.
When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He taught them to say, “Your will be done.” When Jesus modeled this, He sweat drops of blood as He prayed, “Not My will, but Your will be done.” (Matthew 6:10; 26:39; Luke 22:42-44) Jesus gives us a principle that shows us how we can know His teaching is the teaching of God. This principle also applies when we are seeking to know the will of God in the marketplace.
The principle is simply this: If any man wills to do, he will know.
The Living Bible paraphrases Psalm 139: 16 to say God had every day of David’s life scheduled before David existed. David writes there that God is with him in such a way that it is impossible for David to escape God’s personal interest in every move he makes. This intimacy with God is obviously not only the experience of David, but can and should be the experience of every child of God.
According to Jesus and Paul, knowing the will of God for our lives does not have to be complex. God does not deliberately obscure His will. The complexity is not in the will of God, but in your will and my will. As Paul tells us how we can know “the good, acceptable and perfect will of God,” he begins his prescription for knowing God’s will by telling us to throw up our hands and offer an unconditional surrender of our wills to the will of God (Romans 12: 1-2). Our unconditional surrender to God will significantly un-complicate our quest to know the will of God.
May 18, 2013
“Prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands and moves towards the goal of spiritual maturity.” (Romans 12:2 JB Phillips)
When someone questions me, a pastor, about the will of God, they might be referring to a fork-in-the-road decision or sometimes the issue has been the broader question, “How can I know the will of God for my life?” While answering that question many times over many years, I have come up with twelve steps I believe you should take when you are seeking divine guidance. These twelve steps are not a precise formula that will immediately and clearly lead you to the specific will of God, but they do focus some issues that should be visited, or bases you should touch, when you are trying to establish an alignment between your will and the will of God.
THE FIRST STEP: Believe there is such a thing as the will of God for your life.
“Every time a tiny sparrow falls dead from a tree, God goes to the funeral!” Observed a preacher from another generation, referring to the teaching of Jesus that not one tiny sparrow falls dead from a tree apart from the Father’s plan. The application Jesus makes is that since two sparrows are sold for a penny and we are of far greater value to God than a sparrow, if God has a will regarding the details of the life and death of a sparrow, then we can be sure He has a will regarding every detail of our lives (Matthew 10: 29-31).
According to the Bible, God is our Shepherd and our Father. God is personal and has a plan for our life we can know and experience.
May 14, 2013
“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16)
We can be a philosopher and love truth. We can be a sincere seeker after truth and never find the truth we seek. According to Jesus when we come to know the truth by relationship, He himself will make us free (John 8: 30-36).
Jesus said in a prayer to His Father: “Thy Word is truth.” (John 17: 17) This means we should read the Bible as a lover and seeker of truth. Jesus made the claim that His teaching is the truth of God (John 7: 17). He even told us how we can prove that claim. The doing leads to the knowing. If we will personally do what He teaches we will know that His teaching cannot be the teaching of a man. It has to be the teaching of God.
There are times when we can devastate people with the truth. There are also times when the truth can cut through the denial of people and set them free from problems that are isolating them from reality and destroying them. It is then that we must speak the truth in love and ask if we have become their enemy for doing so.
When we are facing those kinds of challenges we must pray that: “God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves” (2 Timothy 2: 25). To repent means to think again and have a change of mind will and direction.
May your search for truth not only end but begin with the One who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).
May 10, 2013
“And He said, ‘ Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (Genesis 32:28)
When we read in the Bible about the great men of God we find that they all seem to have deep experiences with God. The details of their experiences vary greatly but the results are very similar.
Jacob wrestled all night with an angel. The angel forced Jacob to look up and wrestle his way through to God.Then the angel forced Jacob to look in and confess that he was a rascal who lived up to his name. The name “Jacob” meant “Grabber.” He was a mover, shaker, doer kind of man who was always running and would not stand still long enough for God to place a blessing upon him.
God could not get Jacob to wait on his Lord. He had to cripple him so He might crown him with His blessing. We might call it: “The cripple crown blessing of God.” When a man is crippled what else can he do but wait?
When God won the wrestling match He pronounced a blessing upon this man - the one quoted above from the book of Genesis. By changing his name to “Israel” God declared that Jacob was a fighter. He had fought his way through to his God and confessed to what he saw when he looked in. He was then ready to look around and fight through his relationships with people.
Are you a spiritual fighter? Have you fought all the way through your up look to God? Have you won the battle when you look in? Are you winning the battle when you look around and work out all your relationships?
May 7, 2013
“So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!” (Exodus 32:24)
After the greatest miracle in the Old Testament delivered the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt they went around in circles of unbelief for nearly 40 years. Moses went up on Mount Sinai several times interceding for them with God. While he was there the people became so corrupt they made a golden calf, which was an Egyptian idol for God. They were going to return to Egypt behind this idol proclaiming that this God deserved the glory for bringing them through the Red Sea and out of Egypt!
Moses confronted Aaron who was the spiritual leader responsible for them. He asked Aaron, “What have these people done to you?” I quoted the reply of Aaron. While Exodus 32 tells us Aaron skillfully created the golden calf, his response to Moses was that he threw their gold in the fire and out came this calf!
Life is a banquet of consequences and every one of us must eventually sit down and eat the banquet we have accumulated. Our capacity for following the example of Aaron is almost infinite. We can rationalize until we convince ourselves that we put a lot of gold in the fire of life and somehow there came out this calf. Denial (‘de Nile’) is not just a river in Egypt. We often elect to swim in denial until we are far from reality.
We need to deny our denial, confess and be mature enough to accept the responsibility for what we have contributed to our personal banquet of consequences.
Will our choice be reality and responsibility or to swim in denial?
May 4, 2013
“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word…. It is good for me that I have been afflicted…I know, O Lord, that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.” (Psalm 119: 67, 71, 75)
Many believers like me can resonate with these words written above. Although this is not always the explanation when God’s people are afflicted, it very often is. I have been living with a chronic illness since 1978 and I have been paralyzed since 1984. It was my affliction that moved me to do the life’s work God was calling me to do for Him.
God tells us in His Word that He chastens those He loves (Revelation 3:19). Although the goodness of God can lead us to repentance, for most of us it is the chastening of our Lord, knocking on the door of our life that moves us to open the door and invite Him into the practical areas of our life. Like Jonah, it is only through divine intervention that our “I will not” is converted to “I will.”
As a “Type A” obsessive-compulsive, workaholic pastor I left before I got there and people could not keep up with my fast walk. For someone like me to be slammed down in one place, unable to move anything from the neck down, it was an overwhelming intervention.
It took two years to even begin moving toward accepting my limits. When the acceptance came it was a supernatural miracle of inner healing. It took twenty years, but I eventually reached the point where I could tell the Lord I loved Him for cutting me back and improving the quality and quantity of what He wanted me to do for Him.
Can you resonate with the perspective of this ancient hymn writer?