A Blueprint against Burn Out

January 10, 2017

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He Who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:26-27)

There are times when God’s people are so weak we don’t know how to pray. In effect, Paul teaches that when we are burned out and we don’t know what to ask God, we should pray anyway. The Spirit of God knows the mind and will of God. When we are so weak we don’t know how to pray, the Spirit will make intercession for us according to the will of God. Then, even if we ask for the wrong things, our loving Heavenly Father will give us the right things.

Imagine the stress Moses endured all those years in wilderness wanderings. With more than 600,000 fighting men, plus women and children, meant that Moses led somewhere between two and three million people around in circles in the desert. He was the only legal judge to settle all their squabbles. His frustration reached the level of exasperation. He was so burned out, he actually asked God to kill him. (Numbers 11:11-15)

When Moses asked God to kill him, he was so weak and tired of he did not know what to pray. He prayed anyway. Even though he asked for the wrong things, God knew his heart and gave him the right things. God made Moses know that His work requires a team effort. Serving God is a team sport.

The marketplace can burn you out big time if you have not learned that running a business is a team sport. Other players on your team have gifts and skill sets that you do not have and you have what they do not have. Therefore, it is a good blueprint against burnout to accept the reality of beauty in diversity. Diversity should be celebrated rather than resolved.

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 144-146)


Spiritual Commitment: Level of Decision

June 8, 2016

“… the Lord will not be with you!” (Numbers 14:43)

When pilots are landing a large commercial jet they reach a point where they must commit to their landing.  They call that point of no return the LD – the “level of decision.”

God is very patient and full of mercy and grace.  However, Numbers Chapter 14 tells us there is an LD in our journeys of faith.  There is a point where we either do, or do not, commit to doing the will of God.

God will lean on us like an elephant to get us to see and do His will. He reaches a point, however, where He will let us have it our way.  When God lets us do our own thing we suffer great loss.  For starters, we forfeit the present purpose of our salvation.  We all know we are not saved by good works but we can lose the opportunity to do the works for which God has saved us (Ephesians 2:10).

When the Israelites chose not to do the will of God, Moses said: “The Lord will not be with you!”  Perhaps the saddest word in the Hebrew Old Testament is the word “Ichabod” that means “the glory has departed” and teaches that God sometimes withdraws anointing power from His people.

There is such a thing as the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God for your life and mine (Romans 12:1, 2).  The book of Numbers solemnly presents two options: after being delivered from our “Egypt” we can go around in circles for 40 years, or we can commit to doing the will of God.

Are you making a wise commitment in your spiritual LD?

Dick Woodward, 06 December 2013


Grace & Perseverance …

March 6, 2015

“…rejoice in your sufferings knowing…” (Romans 5:3 NIV)

Rejoice in your sufferings, knowing what? In the fifth chapter of his letter to the Romans the Apostle Paul begins by writing that God has given us access, by faith, into grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ in this world and live a life that glorifies God.

Imagine how it must make God feel when He has given us access to all the grace we need to live for Christ in this world and we never access that grace. According to Paul, because God loves us He permits suffering to enter our lives that we cannot bear without drawing on the grace we have access to by faith.

Paul writes that as we receive the grace to endure our suffering God produces mature Christ-like character in our lives such as perseverance. When you ask the question, “How does an orange get to be an orange?” The answer is “By hanging in there.”  That is the essence of the meaning of this character trait called perseverance.

When some followers of Christ find themselves suffering, their immediate response is: “Lord, deliver me from this, immediately!” He can, and sometimes He does, deliver us. But He often does not. When He does not it may be because it is His will to grow spiritual character in the life of His follower. When that is what God is doing Paul is telling us we should rejoice in our sufferings, access grace by faith, and then grow spiritually.

Dick Woodward, 19 March 2009


Power and Purpose

July 5, 2014

“For… through Him… are all things…” (Romans 11:36)

The Apostle Paul concludes Romans with a profound benediction that God is the power behind all things.  This claim is preceded by his declaration that God is the Source of all things and it is followed by his announcement that the glory of God is the purpose for all things.

I resonate in a special way with the middle part of his benediction because I have been experiencing chronic fatigue since 1978.  As a bed fast quadriplegic I now have no strength of my own, so it is impossible for me to be involved in the work of God unless God is the Power behind all the work He wants me to do for Him in this world.

It is the plan of God to use the power of God in the people of God to accomplish the purposes of God according to the plan of God. The Bible is filled with stories that illustrate this proposition.  To this end we continuously read that God delights in doing extraordinary things through very ordinary people while He uses His power in them to accomplish His purposes.

Sadly, many people think God cannot use them because they are just ordinary people.  But the more ordinary we are increases the glory God receives when He works through us.  God can anoint our tool kit and our skill set when we surrender our will to His.  He can also add spiritual gifts to our lives we do not have before we bring our ordinariness to Him and lay it at His feet.

Are you willing to do that and prove that God is the power behind all things?

Dick Woodward,  12 October 2010


Openness

May 29, 2013

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

STEP NUMBER FIVE:   Be completely open and unbiased about what the will of God for your life might be.

A well paid consultant told me that much of the time when he earns large fees, his clients do not want his consultation.  They simply want him to affirm what they have already decided to do.    The will of God is often just out of our reach because we have our agendas in place when we come to God seeking His will.  If our minds are set like concrete before we converse with God regarding His will for our lives, we are not really seeking His will when we pray or open His Word.  We are actually asking God to bless our will, our agenda, and the way we have decided to go.

We must have the faith to believe the verse quoted above. It is tragically possible for you to miss the will of God for your life because you do not have the faith to believe that God can make you a new creation in Christ.  Your extraordinary potential as a new creation in Christ is one reason why you must be completely open and unbiased as to what the will of God for you may be.  Seeking  God with your mind already made up could rob you of the will of God for a life that is good, perfect and the only life acceptable to your God.  God loves you too much to let you live a life that is only a fragment of the life He has planned for you.

 


Doing Leads to Knowing

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.

 


How Can I 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.