God’s Will

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What Is His Will?                                    
Most of us, either openly or secretly, struggle with finding God’s will for our lives. Sometimes, based partly on the influence of our more emotional brothers and sisters in Christ, we long for, no, expect an audible voice answering our plea. But what if we already know His will? What if He has clearly revealed His will for our lives?
First, let’s strip away theological meanderings, traditional liturgy, and false expectations. Let’s prepare the soil of our hearts and minds for a new crop; plow up the crusty surface of misunderstandings and misconceptions to reveal the pliable and rich soil of our hearts…ready to receive His direction — to know His will. Lo and behold, bits and pieces of this deep mystery (or so we think of it) rise from His written word, the book of absolute truth— there all the time!

  •     Romans 12:2  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Sounds so simple and yet, as we all know, so very challenging; “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world.” Lord I want to give up, walk away from, the world and all its trappings but…it is so difficult. It is right there all the time, waiting to pounce on me and drag me back into the mess of wanting to be liked and wanting stuff.

After I spend time reading the Bible and praying I feel spiritually strong, able to repel my own selfish desires and the Devil’s attacks. Then a friend calls with an invitation to coffee. I accept and as I arrive at our favorite coffee place, I see him standing by a shiny new car, my favorite model. “What do you think?” he says, grinning widely.

What do I think? I think I want your car— should have your car! Envy leaps upon me and holds on tightly. My mind is racing, and not toward the Lord. How can I buy one? Desire has not only planted seeds but they are the quick-growing variety and have sprung up to full size. My pulse quickens, I begin sweating, I’m ignoring my friend. And now, worse yet, I dislike my friend for having this beautiful car. Oh, what a fool I am— “copying the behavior and customs of the world.”

If following God’s will depended on me the result would always be like the one above. Thankfully, the second part of that sentence in Romans 12:2 says, “But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Heaving a great sigh of relief, we can see it is Him who transforms our thought patterns, revealing His perfect will for our lives.

  •     1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

  •     Ephesians 5:15-17  Be very careful then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

    I find encouragement and excitement in knowing that not only has God revealed His will to us, but has given us His Holy Spirit to come alongside and comfort. We are truly prepared to walk this walk and know His will for our lives. And we can also pray for each other to see His will for our lives, according to the following verse:
    
    Ephesians 1:15-17  For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

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Stumbling Block

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1 Corinthians 1:23

We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.


I grew up in a neighborhood with lots of diversity. My folks did not discriminate, so neither did my sister and I. People were people. Some were nice and some not-so-nice. One of the most interesting was Mr. Johnson. He was blind and he was older—like a Grandpa.

One of my friends…actually not a friend as I was to learn…who lived nearby, was a prankster. He never tired of pulling pranks on everyone and we were getting frustrated with him. Finally, he did something to Mr. Johnson that excluded him from my circle of friends.

Mr. Johnson lived alone with his dog, Pete. He used a cane to get around his yard and all over town. He had a garden out back and tended it often. He raised lots of vegetables that he shared with everyone. If you wanted to pick some veggies on your own, you just rang a bell Mr. Johnson had attached to his gate. That way he knew someone was in the yard and he would come out to visit and chat.

As you may imagine, Mr. Johnson had established walking paths around his yard to get around to everything. Often he would putter around without using his cane to detect any stumbling blocks. This is where Freddy the prankster came in.  

Freddy decided it would be funny to ring the bell after he had set up a few obstacles in Mr. Johnson’s pathway. So he did. After he placed a few blocks in the paths, he rang the bell and hid off to the side. Mr. Johnson came out smiling, bidding a welcome to whoever may need some vegetables. He hadn’t gone very far before his foot hit a wooden block in the middle of the path. Down he went, cracking his wrist bone and bumping his head on a border stone.

Fortunately, Mr. Johnson’s next-door-neighbor came to get some cucumbers right after this happened. She was a nurse and was able to tend to his bruises and swollen forehead. It turned out that his cracked wrist just needed a tight wrap for a week, along with some pain medicine. This prank did not change Mr. Johnson’s attitude or generosity. Friends removed Freddy’s obstacles and everything went back to normal in Mr. Johnson’s backyard.

Freddy was never seen in the neighborhood again. By the fall, he and his family had moved to another school district.

I wonder if I am ever a stumbling block to others by my actions, attitudes or conversation? Do I, without considering the impact of what I am doing or saying, throw up obstacles in the path of others? Do I possibly cause someone to stumble spiritually? What about those times when I just have to have my way? Who stumbled on my selfishness? Someone surely. Thank you Lord for your forgiveness.

1 Corinthians 8:9  But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.

2 Corinthians 6.3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us.

Romans 14:13  Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

 

Am I Content?

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Job 5:17  “Consider the joy of those corrected by God .”

“I was upset and frustrated that I had wretched shoes until I met a man who had no feet!” While growing up I heard this quote many times but failed to give it much credence…until my life took a few hard turns. I can recall my pathetic pity parties as I longed for a better car, job, apartment, etc; unaware of just how self-centered I had become. I wonder what my friends and fellow workers thought of my whining? That’s ok, I think I know.

Strangely I thought I deserved whatever I wanted. I had allowed myself to believe that wanting was the same as deserving. Unfortunately, me-focused attitudes do not just pass away, there must be an impetus, a strong reason to change, to see others as more important, or at least, as important as myself.

In my life, the powerful change that shifted my vision from me to others happened when I met the One who can truly change lives. And that with no ill side effects. I met Jesus in a small rural church in Oregon. Jesus Christ, the Life Changer.

In a way, He fitted me with new glasses and corrected my focus; shifted my vision to see others rather than myself as most important. He became my primary focus. Day by day, week by week my gaze was redirected to the lives of friends, fellow-workers and even strangers. I was now concerned for people other than myself and, like the fellow frustrated about terrible shoes, I saw, for the first time, the needs of someone else. What a wonderful vision-shift.

Along with a visual change, I became content for the first time in my life. God’s presence in my life brought contentment as only He can do. Did I get a flat tire on the way to an important appointment? Well, praise God for building my character through an otherwise frustrating event. He brought peace into my life as no other person or methodology can do; a peace that passes human understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).

2 Cor 12:10  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Romans 5:1-5  Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Phil 4:11  I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

1 Tim 6:6  Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.

Heb 13:5  Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.

And now what? We are laid bare before God, our excuses piled high like cord wood, waiting for a heavenly match to set them ablaze, burning away the impurities with only glowing hot embers of faith and contentment in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ remaining.

Oh God, thank you for your eternal patience, grace and mercy. We see your light of hope gleaming brightly just over the horizon, beckoning us ever nearer to walk along this life-path hand-in-hand.

“But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sins.”  1 John 1:7

Attitudes and Feelings

 

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The Lord is my helper,  so I will have no fear. ~Psalm 118:6

“Oh this view is magnificent,” Neal said. “Now I see why you wanted to bring me here for photos today, Michael. So it really was worth getting up at zero-dark-thirty to get shots of the sunrise.”

“You are such a baby, Neal. Truthfully, I am a little surprised you agreed to the early wake-up since you have so little free time to spare. But you must admit it was worth it.”

“More than just worth it, my friend. This view of the river, mountains and colorful trees is breathtaking, to say the least. Now let’s stop talking and capture the moments here.”

After an hour of basking in God’s glorious fall morning, the men settled in to their trailer for a sumptuous breakfast while reliving the special photo opportunities they’d just experienced.

Later, when the final dish had been washed, dried and put away Neal said, “I need to talk, Michael. I’m carrying some problems and I need answers.”

“I’m listening.”

“I’m carrying feelings and attitudes that aren’t right. I get angry, frustrated, sometimes I realize I’m greedy, thinking of ways to get more money instead of sharing. On the outside I seem to be calm, patient, understanding. You know, the perfect Christian who everyone loves to be with. I’m like two people all the time. I am so tired of these feelings. I need help!”

Michael said, “What you are describing, Neal, is how most people live their lives. The problem is, we act as though we don’t have certain selfish angry, petty feelings—but we do. By denying them, we enact a different set of feelings that attempt to disguise our true, base, human feelings. Then we beat ourselves up by saying, Christians don’t have these feelings. So we replace our snarl with a smile and our caustic sarcasm with polite Christian-talk. When someone hurts us, we pretend outwardly that it didn’t happen. Inwardly though, deep inside where no one can see, we are hurt and begin to distance ourselves.

“And guess who is delighted…Satan! Yes, he is dancing with joy at our behavior which he helped create. You are bringing a knife to a gunfight, Neal. God is not only concerned, He is in us with His Holy Spirit, waiting for us to call out to Him. He understands our emotions and attitudes, He created us! We all do it, we try to fight spiritual forces with our own might and get depressed when we fail.

“Let me read Ephesians 6:12 ~For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

“Suddenly we remember that God has the power and the victorious battle plans for all our attitude problems. We simply call upon Him and His power is released for Satan’s defeat and our victory. But we must call upon Him. It is impossible for you and I to defeat Satan without calling upon God.”

“The next step is preparing for daily war by putting on the armor of God, explained in Ephesians 6:13 ~Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will be standing firm.”

“Without God, we are like little kids trying to fight an adult boxer. There is simply no hope without calling out to our Savior. He is the Victor and our Lord. Let’s pray Neal. God wants to change our outlook and attitudes.”

Faith Is…

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Faith Is

…Abel’s offering

…confident assurance

…Abraham’s journey

…bloody door posts

…giant walls of water

…falling walls of Jericho

…Rahab’s scarlet cord

…believing in the unseen

…Gideon’s fleece

…David’s sling & stone

…Elijah’s great bonfire

…Queen Esther in the inner court

…three men in a blazing furnace

…a tiny mustard seed

…a woman’s touch on His hem

…Stephen’s last prayer

…believing you’ve received

…rising to walk

…washing mud from your eyes

…loving your enemies

…the gift of the Holy Spirit

…praying for those who hate you

…forgiveness of sins

…incomprehensible peace

David Nelson

If My People Will Pray

 

 

 

The religion of the founding fathers is notoriously difficult to pin down, but their written records offer many insights. For example, when the Continental Congress met for the first time, in September 1774, John Adams described in a letter to his wife a remarkably familiar religious atmosphere:

“When the Congress met, Mr. Cushing made a motion that it should be opened with prayer. It was opposed by Mr. Jay of New York and Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina because we were so divided in religious sentiments—some Episcopalians, some Quakers, some Anabaptists, some Presbyterians, and some Congregationalists—that we could not join in the same act of worship.

“Mr. Samuel Adams arose and said that he was no bigot and could hear a prayer from any gentleman of piety and virtue who was at the same time a friend to his country. He was a stranger in Philadelphia but had heard that Dr. Duche deserved that character, and therefore he moved that Mr. Duche, an Episcopal clergyman, might be desired to read prayers to Congress tomorrow morning. The motion was seconded and passed in the affirmative. … “

In this case, unlike many others in history, conflict apparently ended with the selection of a spiritual spokesman. Adams continues:

“Accordingly next morning he appeared with his clerk and his pontificals [vestments], and read the Psalter for the seventh day of September, which was the 85th Psalm. You must remember this was the next morning after we had heard the rumor of the horrible cannonade of Boston. I never saw greater effect produced upon an audience. It seemed as if Heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that morning. After this, Mr. Duche, unexpectedly to everybody, struck out into extemporaneous prayer, which filled the bosom of every man present:

“‘Be Thou present, O God of Wisdom, and direct the counsel of this honorable assembly. Enable them to settle all things on the best and surest foundations, that the scene of blood may be speedily closed, that order, harmony, and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish among the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and the vigor of them in this world, and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, thy Son and our Savior, Amen.’

“Washington was kneeling there, and Henry, Randolph, Rutledge, Lee, and Jay, and by their side there stood, bowed in reverence, the Puritan patriots of New England, who at that moment had reason to believe that an armed soldiery was wasting their humble households. … They prayed fervently for America, for Congress, for the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and especially for the town of Boston [whose port had been closed and in which British troops were being quartered].

“And who can realize the emotions with which they turned imploringly to Heaven for divine interposition. It was enough to melt a heart of stone. I saw the tears gush into the eyes of the old, grave, pacifist Quakers of Philadelphia.”

If My People Will Pray

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