July 22, 2022
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly…” (James 4:3)
At the heart of a counseling session, a woman once said, “Don’t confuse me with Scriptures, Pastor. My mind is made up!” Seeking God’s will for our lives is often out of reach because we have our agendas in place when we come before God. If our minds are set like concrete before we converse with God, we are actually asking God to bless our will, our agenda and the way we have decided to go.
James tells us that when we pray, we ask and do not receive because our asking is flawed by our self-willed agendas. To seek and know the will of God we must be completely open to whatever the will of God may be. Our prayer and commitment must be in the spirit of the familiar metaphor, “You are the Sculptor, I am the clay. Mold me and make me according to Your will. I am ready to accept Your will as passively as clay in the hands of a Sculptor.”
There are two reasons to be open and unbiased as you seek to know God’s will. The first we learn from Isaiah 55: the ways and thoughts of God are as different from our ways and thoughts as the heavens are high above the earth. Another is that we become a totally new creation when we are born again.
It is tragically possible 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: a new creation with extraordinary potential.
Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Guidance
October 18, 2019
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8, 9)
“A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?” (Proverbs 20:24)
When God spoke through the prophet Isaiah God told us there is as much difference between the way God thinks and does things and the way we think and do things as the heavens are high above the earth. Building on that revelation the wisest man who ever lived proposed a logical question: if God is directing the steps of a person how can that person always expect to understand the way they are going?
As a God-passionate person, doing your best to follow the guidance of the Lord, have you ever found yourself completely baffled and blown away by inexplicable happenings like the sudden death of a loved one or other tragedies? When we put the two Scriptures quoted above side by side we should expect there to be times when we simply do not understand what God is up to.
Moses explained that what he called the “secret things” belong to the Lord but the things God wants us to do God has made very clear. (Deuteronomy 29:29) That means there are secret things God is keeping secret, so nobody can explain them.
These verses considered together are telling us that while we walk with God we should not expect to understand everything. If we understood everything we would eliminate the need for faith.
We walk by faith.
Dick Woodward, 19 October 2010
July 23, 2019
“I have brought you out that I might lead you in…”
There are times when God wants to do a new thing in our lives. To do this new thing God faces three challenges. First, God has to get us out of the old place, and that is not easy because we often love the security of where we are. God therefore may have to blast us out of the old place.
That can happen in many ways. We could be fired, or we may just know in our knower that it is time to make a change. The call of God is often made up of a pull from the front and a boot from the rear.
The second challenge God faces is to keep us going through the transition time between the old place and the new place to which God is leading us. Transition times can be difficult.
Deuteronomy 6:23 describes the way God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt to lead them into the Promised Land. Their transition time involved crossing a desert, which should have taken eleven days, but they went around in circles for forty years!
They circled that desert because they did not have the faith to invade the land of Canaan. When God wants to do a new thing in our lives, do we go around in circles because we do not have the faith to enter into the new place to which God is leading us?
The third challenge is that God has to make us right so God can settle us into the new place. One translation of 2 Corinthians 6:1 reads that we are ‘co-operators’ with God. When we realize something of what God is trying to do in our lives, it would help both God and us if we would give God a little more cooperation.
Dick Woodward, 24 July 2009
June 23, 2017
“… I being in the way the Lord led me…” (Genesis 24: 27)
When we discover the context of these words of Scripture we realize they teach us a principle of how God often works in our lives. It is easier to steer a moving vehicle than one that is stationary. God can sometimes steer us more easily when we are moving. That’s why we often find that one step frequently leads to the next step when we have faith to be led by the Holy Spirit.
The words above from Genesis were spoken by Abraham’s servant who was commissioned to travel to the land of Abraham’s people to find a wife for Isaac. As he journals the events of his search he writes that while he was in the way the Lord led him he encountered the family of Rebekah. When he met her, he knew that his search had ended.
We who are committed followers of Christ were commissioned two thousand years ago to go to all nations and make disciples for Jesus Christ. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Like the servant of Abraham, as we embark on the adventure of obeying our great commission, we should expect that each step will lead to the next step.
We don’t always have to know where the road leads as long as we know it is the right road. While we are in the way our Lord has commissioned us to go we must have the faith to take that first step, and then, one step at a time, expect our Lord to show us His will about the next step.
Dick Woodward, 28 July 2009
March 28, 2017
“Only let us live up to the truth we now have.” (Philippians 3:16 LB)
The Apostle Paul had a conversion experience on the road to Damascus. He often shared the details of that experience as we find in the third chapter of his letter to the Church at Philippi. It was as if his accounting books were turned upside down: what had been in his gain column was now in his loss column and vice versa.
After his accounting books had been turned upside down (or we might say right side up), his ambitions totally changed in the gain column. He wanted to tackle the purposes for which the risen Christ had tackled him. Now he only wanted to know Christ and the high calling of God to which Christ was leading him.
Paul claims he has not attained all these things in his new gain column, but he has learned a principle about knowing the will of God: if we want to know the will of God we must live up to the light and truth God has given us at any given time on our faith journey.
We can take away from this a prescription for guidance. If we want to see further ahead into the will of God for our lives, we should move ahead into the will of God just as far as we can see. Like driving at night across country we can move ahead into the 100 yards of light our headlights give us, that leads us from coast to coast one mile at a time.
When we live up to the light we have, God gives us more light.
Dick Woodward, 08 January 2011
May 5, 2015
“… He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas (which is translated ‘Peter.’) (John 1:42)
When Jesus met Peter, his name was Simon and his life was characterized by instability. Yet Jesus gave him the nickname “Peter,” which means “rock” and essentially “stability.”
In Matthew 16 we have an intriguing interview between Jesus and Peter. Jesus had done the “who are you?” question in reverse. He asked the apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter came up with the right answer. The Lord then said in so many words, “You’re not that smart Peter. That answer really didn’t come from you. It came from My Father.”
In this interview Jesus was telling Peter who and what Peter was, and what he was being called to be. When I had a chance to meet with Ravi Zacharias in my home, I asked him, “who is Ravi Zacharias?” He responded, “I think what really matters is how our Lord would answer that question.” In this interview with Peter, Jesus answered that question for him.
In the Gospels Peter’s life is recorded like an unstable spiritual roller coaster. But after Jesus called Peter a ‘rock’ for three years, and after Peter experienced Pentecost, we read in Acts that this unstable man became the rock-like, stable leader of the New Testament Church. When you read the Gospels and Acts, you realize Jesus was convincing Peter of what he could become because he had come to know his Lord and Savior.
Do you hear the voice of the Christ Who lives in your heart trying to give you His answer to this question, “What are you?” Is He making you know what you can become and do for Him since He has made you a new creation? Is He making you know what He can equip you to become as He is calling you and revealing what He wants you to be and do for him?
Dick Woodward, A Spiritual Compass (p. 71-72)
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.