June 15, 2013
“In a multitude of counselors, there is safety.” (Proverbs 24:6; 11:14)
THE TWELFTH STEP: Seek wise spiritual counsel.
The verse quoted above is found twice in the book of Proverbs (the Bible uses repetition for emphasis.) This proverb of the wise does not mean you should consult a multitude of counselors when you come to that fork in the road; that would be very confusing, because a multitude of counselors could possibly give you a multitude of opinions regarding your difficult decision.
When the wise men who wrote the book of Proverbs made this statement twice, they were teaching two basic truths. In the first one (Proverbs 24:6), they are telling us that when two nations go to war with each other, the nation with the multitude of counselors will more than likely win that war. (That is what our Pentagon is all about.) In the other proverb (Proverbs 11:14), they are telling us that when we come to that fork in the road, if we have had a multitude of good counselors in our lifetime, in other words, a good spiritual education and spiritual mentors, we will be better equipped as we make our difficult decision as to which side of that road we should travel.
There is a beautiful passage in the prophecy of Isaiah that affirms this:
“… But your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30: 20-21)
Are you making time for good Scriptural spiritual education and spiritual mentors now, so when you face a fork in the road you will hear God’s word for you?
June 12, 2013
“… work out your salvation… for it is God who works in you.” (Philippians 3: 12)
The Bible is filled with paradoxes. A paradox is something that appears to be a contradiction, but when examined closely, you discover there really is no contradiction. There are times when a paradox is not a contradiction because the two propositions stated by the paradox could both be true; they could be both complementary and supplementary. They are often resolved when you realize that it is not either/or but both/and.
THE ELEVENTH STEP: Keep moving.
The Scriptures tell us we can miss the will of God because we are in a hurry and God is not. When that is the case, we need to wait on the Lord (Selah). There are other times when we miss the will of God because we are sitting on our apathetic and indecisive immaturity, demonstrating our lack of faith and courage, and the Lord moves on without us. These two apparently opposite concepts are really not contradictory. It is not either/or, but both/and. The truth is we sometimes need to wait on the Lord and at other times need to keep moving.
We have an adversary who does not wish us well. His first strategy is to make us into lazy, indecisive, apathetic, spiritual wimps, who miss the will of God because we lack the faith and courage to follow the leading of the Lord. If that fails, he will turn us into obsessive, compulsive workaholic movers, shakers and doers who miss the will of God because we are out-reaching His will for our lives, running far ahead of the Lord.
Obviously, we all need balance to discern and do the will of the Lord.
June 10, 2013
“Then he blessed him there.” (Genesis 32:29)
THE TENTH STEP: Learn to wait on the Lord.
It takes more faith to wait than it takes to be active. God’s guidance prescription for what we call Type A personalities like Jacob is to wait on the Lord. Jacob was missing God’s will for his life because he was always running ahead of God. He was a make-it-happen, mover, shaker and doer. Read the story of Jacob in Genesis, chapters 25 through 32, and Paul’s commentary on that story in chapter 9 of Romans. As you read how God crippled Jacob so he could crown him with His will for Jacob’s life, you will see what I call, “The Cripple Crown Blessing of Jacob.” When a man is crippled what else can he do but wait on the Lord?
Sometimes on our journeys of faith, God puts us in a holding pattern. We are like commercial airplanes when they are directed by the control tower to circle the field while waiting their turn to land. In the book of Psalms, the word Selah is found in 73 places. The Amplified Bible’s paraphrase for that word is, “Pause, and calmly think of that.”
As He leads us God frequently places Selahs in our lives. Sometimes what God does in our life while we’re waiting can be more important than what we’re waiting for. He may want us to pause and calmly think about our priorities, our vision statement and mission objectives and other issues as we experience His will for our lives. When you encounter one of the Lord’s Selahs and find yourself in one of His holding patterns, ask yourself what God wants you to pause and calmly think about. And, never put a question mark where God places a period in your walk of faith.
June 8, 2013
“A person’s steps are confirmed by the Lord.” (Psalm 37:23 Berkeley)
THE NINTH STEP: Look for confirmation as you seek God’s will.
At times on our journeys of faith when we come to a fork in the road there is no verse of Scripture that tells us to go to the right or to the left and we have no prompting or leading of the Spirit. We do our best to make the proper choice, while acknowledging the hard reality that we simply do not know which direction is the will of the Lord. Having done everything we can to discern the will of God, we journey down one side or the other of that road.
The verse quoted above means we should sometimes move forward into what we perceive to be the will of God, praying and looking for a confirmation. That confirmation may be positive or negative. If everything works out and the direction we have chosen obviously has God’s stamp of approval on it, we can say God has given us a confirmation of His will. We have the conviction of God saying to us, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21) We see evidence of the reality Jesus described, that when He calls His sheep to follow Him, He goes before them. (John 10:1-4) After we commit to a direction, we see evidence that the Living Christ has gone before us and prepared the way for us.
Sometimes, the confirmation is negative and the results are the opposite of those just described. When that happens, we should be humble enough to go back to that fork in the road and choose the other direction. We see an example of this in Acts chapter 16 when Paul wanted to go into Asia and was directed instead by illness into Philippi.
June 6, 2013
“I see very clearly clearly that God doesn’t show partiality. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.” (Acts 10: 34-35 NLT)
THE EIGHTH STEP: Look for a pattern in the way God reveals His will.
In chapter 10 of Acts we read that the Apostle Peter had a vision of a sheet with animals on it, animals which the Law of Moses would not permit a devout Jew to eat. Peter was told three times to kill and eat those animals. He refused each time. Then, he heard knocking on the door. The Spirit told him to go with the men who were knocking, asking no questions about why they came looking for him. Peter soon learned they were not only Gentiles, but the servants of his enemy, a Roman Centurion. When he arrived at the home of this Roman army officer, he was asked to speak to the Centurion’s entire household. The first thing Peter told them was that God had shown him not to call any man common or unclean.
Peter did not think this series of events was a coincidence, but saw these happenings as a pattern of divine guidance. These events depict the way the Great Commission of Jesus, to preach the Gospel, crossed over a tremendous barrier of prejudice. Peter’s experience ultimately revealed the glorious reality that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was not for the Jew only, but for every person in every nation on earth.
Since our God is a God of order and the “thumbprint” of God can be seen in the extraordinary design of His creation, we should expect to see order and design in the way God reveals His will for our lives.
June 3, 2013
“I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord.” (John 1:23)
THE SEVENTH STEP: Evaluate and surrender your natural and spiritual gifts.
Once you get a good evaluation of your gift inventory, a principle application to the will of God for your life is to accept the limits of your limitations and the responsibility for your abilities. John the Baptist is a good example of a man who implemented this application. John knew who he was and he knew who he was not. He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness… ” That was who, what, and where John was to be. He knew it was foolish to try to be more than he was called to be. He also knew that life was too precious to be anything less than that voice crying in the wilderness.
I have known parishioners who experienced needless pain because they would not accept the limits of their limitations. However, when we are evaluated at the judgment seat of Christ, most of us will suffer agonizing shortfall because we did not accept the responsibility for our abilities. Like the unprofitable servant in The Parable of the Talents, some of us believe we are not gifted and we bury our talents (Matthew 25:14-30).
Your natural gifts are the result of your genetic heritage. Your spiritual gifts come with the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). How are you utilizing them for God’s Kingdom?
May 31, 2013
“When the Lord comes, He will bring our deepest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. And then God will give to everyone whatever praise is due.” (1 Corinthians 4:5 NLT)
According to the Apostle Paul, before all our works are evaluated God is going to reveal the private and secret motives of our heart. Since that is an ultimate and certain reality it would be the better part of wisdom for us to pray about the motives of our heart on a regular basis. We should also touch this issue of motives as we consider the will of God for our life.
THE SIXTH STEP: Examine the motives of your heart as you seek to know the will of God.
Why do you want to know the will of God for your life? That is an important question. We are incredibly egocentric and self-centered creatures. We naturally come to every situation with the inherent question in our hearts, what is in this for me?
The Word of God associates our motives with our hearts and the Bible tells us that above all things our hearts are deceitful. Jeremiah tells us our hearts are so deceitful only God can know them (Jeremiah 17:9-10). Do you want to know the will of God for the glory of God, or for your own glory and personal gain? Your answer to that question will be very important to God and to you when your works are evaluated at the judgment seat of Christ. The motives of your heart should therefore be very important to you today and every day that you live.
We should all pray with David: “Search me, oh God, and know my heart… and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)