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.

Made New

“Behold, all things are made new!” 2 Cor. 5:17

Michael prepared his talk for weeks, editing again and again, looking for the best descriptions and phrases to accurately explain the idea of being Born Again and becoming a new person in Christ. He knew his college graduating class would be caught off guard by his subject but he also knew it was the perfect time to share his faith.

Finally he felt ready. The hours of research, writing and editing had paid off. However, it was not to be so. At least not the carefully prepared speech Michael had written and re-written. God had other plans.

While driving to the campus he began to feel that mysterious, almost audible voice of the Holy Spirit changing his plan. Then, with slowly mounting terror, Michael understood that God was telling him to forget about his speech and to fully trust Him. At first he was gripped with terror, picturing himself on the stage, facing the sea of faces on this very special day, completely unprepared, wondering what he might say.

Later, as he gripped the sides of the lectern, looking out at the great crowd of expectant friends and relatives, Michael absolutely understood the meaning of being made new by his faith in Christ. As he opened his mouth, an amazing sense of calm and poise came over him. God had taken control to give Michael’s words supernatural power, reaching into the hearts and minds of all in attendance. Years later friends would remind him of his powerful and dynamic speech that truly touched their hearts and, in some cases, changed their lives.

2 Corinthians 5:14-21 The love of Christ controls us. Because we know that One died for all. So all have died. Christ died for all so that those who live would not continue to live for themselves. He died for them and was raised from death so that they would live for him.

From this time on we do not think of anyone as the world does. It is true that in the past we thought of Christ as the world thinks. But we no longer think of him in that way. If anyone belongs to Christ, then he is made new. The old things have gone; everything is made new! All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself. And God gave us the work of bringing everyone into peace with him. I mean that God was in Christ, making peace between the world and himself. In Christ, God did not hold the world guilty of its sins. And he gave us this message of peace. So we have been sent to speak for Christ. It is as if God is calling to you through us. We speak for Christ when we beg you to be at peace with God. Christ had no sin. But God made him become sin. God did this for us so that in Christ we could become right with God.

Ephesians 4:22-24 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

2 Peter 1:3-4 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Colossians 3:1-4 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:13-16 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Philippians 2:1-4 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Viewing life through the filter of faith in Christ transforms us into a new creation.

Time To Come Out!

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“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord”  2 Cor. 6:17

While reading an article, extolling the virtues of a famous person, I was amazed by his accomplishments and honors. Wondering how he had come to such a life I was struck by how easily I could admire someone whose life was deeply embedded in the world and its charms. And then I wondered if I had come out?

To come out is not a phrase unique to the 20th century and needn’t be limited to one’s sexual preferences, instead it is a command of God for His followers…you and I, to come out from the world. To be separate from the world. Have I? Or am I blended like homogenized milk (part world and part church) indistinguishable from people who reject Christ as their Savior? Does my lifestyle illuminate the darkness in the world or have I reduced the flame to an ember so as not to offend? Have I come out?

2 Corinthians 6:14-18  Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:

  “I will live in them and walk among them I will be their God, and they will be my people. 17Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. 18And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.  (Isaiah 52:11; Ezek. 37:27; Ex. 29:45; Lev. 26:12)

In case you are wondering how God sees our coming out from the world, it is important that we understand what He is NOT saying as found in 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 5:9-12  In the letter that I wrote you I told you not to associate with immoral people.10Now I did not mean pagans who are immoral or greedy or are thieves, or who worship idols. To avoid them you would have to get out of the world completely.11What I meant was that you should not associate with a person who calls himself a believer but is immoral or greedy or worships idols or is a slanderer or a drunkard or a thief. Don’t even sit down to eat with such a person. 12-13After all, it is none of my business to judge outsiders. God will judge them. But should you not judge the members of your own fellowship? As the scripture says, Remove the evil person from your group.

Ephesians 5:1-3  Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. 3Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people.

1 John 1:6-10  So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

Often, when faced with a life change, we naturally seek a set of rules to help lay the groundwork, light the path or make the change easier. However, we seek for them in vain since God has made it clear it is what doctors might describe as, “a heart condition.” Coming out for us requires our effort, our diligent effort. But if that were all, then the most disciplined person among us could proudly proclaim their success and right-standing with God.

Reading the Bible, praying, choosing to call upon the Lord when we are weak, admitting to Him we are incapable in ourselves, praising and worshiping our Savior are paving stones on the road to a closer walk with the Lord. Contrary to the world, God uses our weakness and dependence on Him to accomplish what is humanly impossible. Contrary to the world, God uses our weakness and dependence on Him to accomplish what is humanly impossible.

1 Corinthians 1:27-31  God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense in order to shame the wise, and he chose what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful.28He chose what the world looks down on and despises and thinks is nothing, in order to destroy what the world thinks is important. 29This means that no one can boast in God’s presence. 30But God has brought you into union with Christ Jesus, and God has made Christ to be our wisdom. By him we are put right with God; we become God’s holy people and are set free. 31So then, as the scripture says, Whoever wants to boast must boast of what the Lord has done.

Coming out from the world is not a thing I do, it is a life I live, through the grace of God.

The Power of Our Minds

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“What he thinks is what he really is.”  Prov. 23:7

 

            “What’s on your mind?” Stan asked his good friend Evan. “You seem preoccupied.”

            “Funny you should ask,” Evan replied, stirring his coffee. “Lots of things are spinning around in my mind and some of them I am not happy with.”

            “Can you share?”

            Evan looked at his friend and decided to be honest…fully honest. “I think of how much better my life would be if I had not been passed over for promotion. And that leads me to think of how I’d like to tell my boss just what I think about that. Sometimes I actually imagine grabbing him by the shirt and yelling in his face. Stupid huh?”

            “No. Not stupid. Honest. Have you ever told anyone your true feelings about this before?” asked Stan.

            “Actually I haven’t and it feels good to get it out there. Now that I hear myself saying it, I realize how wrong it is and the word forgive pops into my mind. I’ve spent a lot of wasted time being secretly angry and bitter over what I thought I should get instead of taking my feelings to the Lord and giving Him the burden.”

            “Praise God, Evan. But don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. I spent several years being angry with Pastor Tim because I didn’t get selected to be an Elder. Since he and I don’t always see eye to eye, I knew he was behind it. And then one day over coffee, Tim told me he voted for me in every case but it seemed as though God was preventing my name from being selected. That shocked me and took me to my knees, asking God to forgive me. The power of the mind is staggering, Evan. And the power of forgiveness is even more powerful.”

            What do you “think”? Are you building a secret thought life that gives you the pleasure and gratitude you “think” you deserve? Are you secretly angry or disappointed but unwilling to share that with a friend? Satan is the father of lies and is willing and able to help you along that road. He did remind a hungry Jesus that He could turn stones into bread!

            John 5:39-40  “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.”

            Philippians 2:5  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. . .who gave up all He had and took the nature of a servant.

            Matthew 22:37  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

            Rom. 12:2-3  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.3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

            1 Cor. 8:2-3  Those who think they know something really don’t know as they ought to know.3 But the person who loves God is known by him.

            1 Cor. 3:18-20  You should not fool yourself. If any of you think that you are wise by this world’s standards, you should become a fool, in order to be really wise.19 For what this world considers to be wisdom is nonsense in God’s sight. As the scripture says, God traps the wise in their cleverness (Job 5:13);20 and another scripture says, The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are worthless (Ps. 94:11).

            Eph. 3:13-21  So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

            The power of thought to bring wealth has been the subject of many best-selling books; Because there is truth in it. A kernel of truth that says you will walk in whatever you think. Therefore, we must “Fix our thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise,” according to Philippians 4:8