319 items found for ""
- Finding the will of God for your life Part 8
How can circumstances inform the will of God? Circumstances Circumstances and events will sometimes indicate God's direction for us. Paul wrote about such a circumstance in his life in 2 Corinthians 2:12, "Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord." Sometimes God opens the opportunity for making something possible, but at other times the door is firmly closed to us. Finances, family, church, travel regulations, health, world events can all be factors that facilitate or hinder the choices that we make. God wants us to be aware of our surroundings and circumstances. The are not the primary means of God talking to us, but they are however, crucial factors as we weigh up all the information. Phil. 4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 1 Thes. 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Common Sense God has made us rational creatures (Gen 2:19-20). He has given us the ability to think, communicate, teach, and invent. We are intellectual beings with rational thought. This intellectual consciousness is what makes us unique. A number Christians believe that they have to stop thinking for themselves and let ‘God do their thinking for them’. God wants us to be down-to-earth common-sense people. Sadly common sense is not that common! Prov. 2:6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Prov. 19:8 He who gets wisdom loves his own soul. he who cherishes understanding prospers. Does the proposed course of action glorify God? We are God’s ambassadors, and our lives should be a living representation of his nature and character. All too often people convince themselves that what they are doing is in the will of God. Most often than not in these situations God is not being glorified, they individuals are merely doing what makes them happy or brings attention to them. 1 Cor. 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Processing God’s Will God often reveals his will to us in two or three stages. Initially we may get a ‘sense of direction’ in our spirits. The next thing that we should do is to be praying over that matter to see of we ‘sense anything different’ (Luke 11:9-10 Ask, Seek and Knock). Often his word will bring further confirmation; perhaps a verse will standout and really grab our attention (Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet). Our friends and Christian leaders can be praying with us and advising us in the way we should be going. This kind of ‘searching’ is often much more beneficial to those who are really serious about ‘seeking God’s will’, it’s deliberate, well thought through and immersed in prayer and bible study. The alternative to this is a ‘quick flash in the pan’ idea that people rush into without thinking through the consequences of their actions. When God Doesn’t Speak? God does not always speak to us in a direct manner. Christians often feel that they must be doing something wrong, because God is speaking to everybody else apart from them. God primarily wants us to live a life of faith. It is a quiet confidence that God is wholly and completely in charge – He is sovereign. Hab. 3:17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. If we had all the answers and knew God’s will with pin-point accuracy then there would be no place for faith, because faith is being certain of what we do not see… Heb. 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Seeking is as important as finding God! Through the process of seeking, we are learning to wait upon him, to depend entirely on him and to trust in him. The most crucial factor in this process of waiting is that we learn to live a life that pleases God (Eph 5:10). Heb. 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. It help to remember that is God is always speaking to us through his creation, his word, and his Son. This may not always mean a specific word, but his always trying to communicate his wonder and his love to us. People often wonder what they should while they are waiting for a specific word of instruction from the lord. - Be faithful. - Be patient. - Be holy. - Be joyful. - Be consistent. - Be available. Amen Prayer This series of teachings was originally delivered as part of a 'Digging deeper' course by Pastor Paul Meiklejohn assisted by Charles Green. Any modifications to the original text were performed by the latter.
- Finding the will of God for your life Part 7
How to test God's will for your life/situation Rom 12:2 Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing, and perfect will. The Apostle Paul says that we should be able to test and approve the will of God. So how do we do that? The Bible gives us a number of ways that we approve his will: The Bible The Bible is God’s primary source of revelation. It is inspired and trustworthy, we should read it and apply it to our life. The Bible is our standard for testing everything else that claims to be true. 2 Tim 16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Psa. 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart: do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. If anything is contrary to the teaching of scripture, then we know that it cannot be God’s will since God cannot contradict himself. We need to be regularly reading God’s word so that we are familiar with it teaching. Apart merely reading the scriptures we need to approach them with a sense of enquiry. We should pray and expecting God to speak to us through them. We should not only be thinking about what he has written historically, but we should be expecting personal present revelation. Prayer Prayer is a vital tool in discerning God’s will for our lives, even Jesus used prayer to find out what God wanted him to do. Luke 6:12-13 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God - When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Matt. 26:39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” We should be regularly asking God to guide us and to reveal his will to us. Through prayer we are entrusting every situation to God for his blessing and protection. Through prayer we learn to relinquish control as we submit everything to God. See also Eph. 1:18; Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6; Col. 1:9-10, 3:16, 4:2; 1 Thes 5:17 Accountability This is the one area that Christians struggle with the most. The idea that our leaders and fellow Christians have the right to speak into our lives and bring correction and guidance is too difficult for some people to accept. Of course its okay if the agree with what we think, the problem arises when they disagree with us. It’s often very difficult for an individual to make decisions without being influenced by their own likes and desires. God has placed us into community so that we can love, encourage, correct, and rebuke each other in the matter of faith, doctrine, and lifestyle. Heb. 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. Submission only has meaning when we disagree with each other. If your leader asks you to do something that you really want to do anyway; that’s not submission, that’s just doing what you want! Submission is when they give advice that is contrary to what you want, and you submit to that advice. You give way to what they are saying. We are to submit to: - - God’s Word (Jer. 7:23) - governing authorities (Rom 13:5) - our spiritual leaders (1 Cor. 16:16, Heb 13:7) - our husbands (Eph 5:22) - one another (Eph 5:21) - God (James 4:7) Often when Christians are bent on doing something that is contrary to the wishes of those around them, they often hide behind phrases like ‘I must listen to what God is saying’ and ‘it’s the spirit who guides me’. Yet the bible makes it quite clear that the Christian community is an essential component in discerning God’s will. Amen Personal Prayer In our (final) Part 8 we consider how circumstances may help us discern the will of God.
- Finding the will of God for your life Part 6
Offering your bodies as living sacrifices Holy and Pleasing to God Rom. 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing, and perfect will. These two verses are central to our pursuit of ‘knowing God’s will.’ Living Sacrifices: Living as disciples of Jesus often means living sacrificial lives. Jesus said, ‘take up your cross and follow me’ (Matt 16:24). Sacrificial living is costly and means preferring others more than we prefer ourselves (Rom 12:10). Sacrificial living is not easy, we often feel unappreciated and misunderstood. Holy: Peter says, ‘But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy (1 Peter 1:15:16).” God’s will be that we live holy lives (1 Thes 4:3). Consequently, living a life that is contrary to God’s standard is going to seriously impair our ability to actually hear God when he does reveal his will. Pleasing: The whole purpose of finding and doing the will of God is to please him (Col 1:10). All too often people want to know God’s will so that they will be happy themselves. Even Jesus surrendered his own pleasure in order to please his Father. Rom. 15:1-3 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbour for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” Conformity: The world is in darkness. When we refuse to conform, we reveal God’s light and expose their darkness (John 3:19-21). When we come to Christ we are to live with a new standard of purity and obedience (1 Peter 1:14). Transformation: ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Cor 5:17), we are to ‘put on the new self created to be like God in righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:23).’ We are to no longer live the way that we used to before coming to Christ; we are to be different – we are to be like Christ. Renewed Minds: Whatever is true, lovely, praiseworthy… (Phil 4:9) we are to think on those things instead. We are to set our minds on God (Col 3:2) and not on earthly things. Real change can only happen if we change our thinking, that is why we need to address this vital area of our lives. Once we have fulfilled these conditions then we will be able to test and approve what the will of God is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will. The Permissible Will of God 1 Cor. 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me” — but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me” — but I will not be mastered by anything. There are many things that are permissible for Christians, but some things are better left alone. Paul mentions two areas in the Christian life that can easily entangle the believer: food and sex. These two areas can be used for good or for ill. Paul is saying that in his pursuit of God’s will he is not prepared to be mastered by anything – for Christ has set him free. There are things in life we are free to use at our discretion. What to wear, what to eat, what kind of music we prefer, films to watch at the cinema etc. If we do these things with thanksgiving, God will bless them. These are permissible choices. However, in our choice we must ask ourselves are they constructive for godliness. Clothes, music, media, and the arts can all master us unless we use them wisely. With choice comes responsibility before God. 1 Cor. 10:23 “Everything is permissible” — but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” — but not everything is constructive. Paul uses introduces another factor in helping us make good choices – the ‘weaker brother’. In 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 Paul says that even if something is perfectly acceptable, if it causes someone else to stumble in their faith, then we should be prepared to forfeit that for their sake. 1 Cor. 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Amen Personal Prayer In Part 7 we consider how we cant test the will of God.
- Finding the will of God for your life Part 5
The importance of nurture and discipleship Discovering ‘God’s will’ should never take priority over discipleship. If our focus is on events rather than process, we tend to concentrate on the present or the next few weeks or months. God’s discipleship plan will take a lifetime to unfold. Few people have the foresight to be able to see long-term. Sometimes the call of God can take a decade or two to mature; often we are just not ready to give God everything. God often gives us a glimpse of what he is going to do, and we tend to assume that he is going to do it right now. Abraham, Moses, and Joshua were all in their old age when the promises of God were finally realised. Many characters in the bible had to go through a sustained time of ‘training’ before they were ready to serve God at his level. So often we want to bypass discipleship and dive into the programme. For God, discipleship is the programme. Discipleship is not a means to an end; it is the main thing. He is much more interested in who we are and what we’re becoming than he is about choosing what kind of job we would like. True discipleship is about learning to lay down our will for his will. We cannot fulfil God’s will unless our own will has died. Jesus said, ‘take up your cross and follow me.’ Even he had to lay down his will in order to discover his Father’s will. Matt. 26:39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Doing stuff for God doesn’t make us mature believers – discipleship does. Eph 4:13 … until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Heb. 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Deitrich Bonhoeffer in his book the ‘Cost of Discipleship’ talks about the Christian who assents mentally to the gospel’s message but fails to put its truth into practice; he calls this ‘cheap grace’ - “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. It remains an abstract idea, a myth that has a place for the Fatherhood of God but omits Christ as the living Son. … There is belief in God, but no following of Christ… He wants to follow but feels obliged to insist on his own terms to the level of human understanding. He places himself at the God’s disposal, but at the same time retains the right to dictate his own terms. This is no longer discipleship, but a program of our own to be arranged to suit ourselves, and to be judged in accordance with the standards of our own rules." When we practice true discipleship, we will be well on the road to discovering the will of God. Process is much more important than event; event is short lived and temporary; process is the steady gradual transformation of a person’s life. Discipleship is studying the life of Jesus and then putting his words and example into practice. Finding God's will require us to seek Him by spending time reading His Word, the Bible. God's Word is the primary source for discovering His will. Prayer is also essential in finding God's will. Through prayer, we humbly ask God for direction and share with Him our desire to accomplish His will. This involves placing faith and trust in Him, knowing that He has a plan and purpose for our lives. Amen Personal Prayer In Part 6 we consider how to offer a sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God.
- Finding the will of God for your life Part 4
Is it an event or a lifestyle? Lifestyle Versus Event Today's society is very event led; life seems quite dull unless we are doing something. Recent politics have emphasised performance related pay. At the same time many modern churches have a stringent programme of activity. The result of this can inadvertently lead to a person’s worth being measured by what they do. It can also make us believe that God is ‘programme-based’ in his love for us. We often associate God’s will as an event, i.e. doing this or that, going here or there, apply for this job, marry that person and so on... ‘God’s will’ can include specific instruction, but more often it is to do with relationship, lifestyle, and nurture. Relationship It is God’s will for us to have an intimate and close relationship with him. Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Jeremiah 30:21 I will bring him near, and he will come close to me, for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?’ declares the LORD. Knowing God’s will does not necessarily equate with activity. Sometimes God withholds his plans from us so that we will master the art of waiting. Waiting on God is an essential ingredient to knowing God’s will. Many people want to bypass the waiting and get straight into the doing. For some people, doing nothing is a waste of time, for God our inactivity is a vital element in getting to know him. Psalm 119:166 I wait for your salvation, O LORD, and I follow your commands. Psalm 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word, I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Activity without intimacy is of little importance. It’s not uncommon for people to want to know God’s will more than they actually want to know God! Activity is an event; relationship is a process. We cannot effectively hear God’s voice or do God’s will unless we have first learned the art of knowing God. It’s like having the benefits of sexual pleasure without the security of a loving relationship, or like a farmer reaping a great harvest without first labouring over the crop. Knowing God’s requires intimacy, time, and commitment. There are no shortcuts to doing God’s will. Many Christians fall away because they have become bored, impatient, or distracted. Others spend so much time trying ‘to do’ God’s will that they simply burn themselves out. Isaiah 40: 29 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD, shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Lifestyle Doing the will of God is much more about being the right person rather than doing the right things. People often focus on life-events rather than the process of a sanctified life. God is much more interested in ‘who we are’ than he is in ‘what we do’. It’s easy to get caught up with Christian activity and neglect the importance of Christian character. It is God’s clear will that we: Be financially responsible (Luke 12:21) Live by faith, not by sight (Rom 1:17) Live a life of sacrifice and service (Rom 12:1) Renew our minds (Rom12:2) Transform the way we live (Rom12:2) Fellowship with other believers (Rom 15:32) Give ourselves fully to God (2 Cor 8:5) Do the best job for our employer (Eph 6:6) Stand firm, and remain standing (Col 4:12, Eph 6:13) Mature into strong believers (Col 4:12) Have a servant attitude (Phil 2:5) Avoid sexual immorality (1 Thes. 4:3) Live a pure life (1 Thes. 4:3) Rejoice in every circumstance (1 Thes 5:18) Keep our eyes on Jesus – the perfect example (Heb 10:7, 12:2) Persevere in the work (Heb 10:36) Do good to all men (1 Peter 2:15) Understand that God’s will includes suffering (1 Peter 4:19) Be faithful in prayer (1 John 5:16) Most of these verses are direct references to the ‘will of God.’ There are, however, simply hundreds of other commandments on how we should live our lives. It is God’s will that we honour our parents, tell the truth; that we should be kind, generous, and gentle. We should be calm, temperate, and full of compassion. The list goes on and on. It is clear that our attention needs to be on our character and personal development rather than ‘activity or events.’ It is God’s will, first and foremost, that we live a life that is a true reflection of the Lord Jesus Christ. God wants us first of all to be pure, blameless, and holy. Amen Personal Prayer In Part 5 we see the need to be nurtured in discipleship.
- Finding the will of God for your life Part 3
Dealing with hindrances in your life Understanding God’s will for our lives is not always a straightforward process. As we have seen, we need to have a God-centred perspective, with a close intimate relationship with God and we need to have the right motives. Here are some other hindrances that may prevent us from hearing God: Deliberate Sin Psalm 66:18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. John 9:31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. Throughout the bible, we find that sin separates us from God. Even though Christ has taken away God’s wrath, he still needs to discipline us if we stray from his standards. Hebrews Chapter 12 teaches that this only proves that we are the true children of God. No sensible parent would simply stand back and let their children do as they please. Since God is holy, he also wants us to be holy. If we want to know the will of God, we need to live a holy and sanctified life. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified… The above reference is really about sexual purity, but every act of disobedience can have a diminishing affect on spiritual lives: bad tempers, telling lies, being unkind, being argumentative and angry are just but a few vices that lead us away from God’s purpose. Disobedience 1 Samuel 15:22 But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Some people chose to only do the things that suit them, things that they enjoy. God requires that we obey whenever he speaks. He will only reveal his will to those who having an obedient heart. An Unteachable Spirit There are some people who decide that their way is the only way and there is no telling them. They are simply unable to talk or receive any kind of constructive criticism. If they are unable to take instruction from their fellow Christians, it’s unlikely that they will not take any advice from God. Proverbs 1:30 Since they would not accept my advice, and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways, and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them. Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice. Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Proverbs 20:18 Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance. Pride Knowing that God wants to speak to and use us should be a very humbling experience. To serve God requires that we take on the attitude of a servant. John talks about the pride of life. This “pride of life” motivation is what drives many people to devote their lives obsessively to their career or to the pursuit of money. While we have our focus on personal ambitions, it will be extremely difficult to make God’s purpose the main thing. People who expect God to ‘fit in’ to their plans will be disappointed. Zephaniah 2:3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. 1 Pet. 5:5 Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Other Distractions There are many people who are happy to do will of God - until something better comes along. Their focus is on the excitement and buzz of the event, but as soon as the event is over the ‘day-to day’ journey soon looks much less attractive. An important part of fulfilling God’s purpose is faithfulness. Many people can only hold onto a ministry for a few months before they lose interest. God can only use people who are in it for the long haul. Hebrews 10:36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Being Uncooperative God always works through community. He himself lives in complete harmony within the framework of the Trinity. We will not be able to fulfil the purposes of God unless we are prepared to work in cooperation with other Christians. We can do the ‘right thing’ but have the ‘wrong attitude.’ If we are not prepared to take advice or instruction from others, we are not going to get very far. If our way is the only way, then it’s unlikely that God will be able to entrust with ‘his way.’ If we are going to have God’s blessing, we need to submit to our leaders so that the work of the church can run smoothly. Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. No Spiritual Covering There are many Christians who just want to ‘go it alone’ and believe that they do not need the covering of leadership. God always works within the confines of leadership and government. People who reject the authority of the church are in danger of excluding themselves from the plans of God. Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. Amen Personal Prayer In Part 4 we consider whether God's will for your life is something found in an event or is it found in your lifestyle?
- Finding the will of God for your life Part 2
The need for relationship in finding God's will for your life Finding God's will necessarily involves having a close relationship with God. This may seem obvious, but many people want to know God’s will without actually getting to know God himself. Human fathers instruct their children about what needs to be done because of their father/child relationship. God can only reveal his will to those who are close to him. Finding the will of God by its very nature means that we have to spend time with him. The bible is the primary source of revelation; prayer is the means with which we communicate with him. Trying to discover ‘God’s will’ without the bible or prayer would be a futile exercise since that would mean bypassing the two main forms of communication that God has given us. Our attitude will influence our response to God’s directions. A pliable and willing heart is an essential ingredient in hearing God. Are we willing to do what God requires? Isaiah 45:9 says, “…Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?” We need to understand that God’s plan may include difficulty and hardship. God’s will for Paul was that “he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:16). When people want to know God’s will they are very often looking for assurance rather than instruction; what they want is to be assured that everything will go as they plan - without difficulty or trial! 1 Pet. 3:17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good, than for doing evil. Many Christians are preoccupied with their own personal fulfilment. If this is the case, it will seriously restrict our ability to receive God’s instruction for our lives. God’s plan for our lives may well include a path that we did not expect. It is essential that our intent is to obey, not to evaluate. Some people believe that they have heard from God by the very fact that he confirmed what they knew already! Others desperately want something so much that they convince themselves that that is what God wants for their lives. There are difficulties with both scenarios. Often people have already convinced themselves even before God has actually spoken. They give the impression that they are really only interested in hearing from God if ‘he agrees with them’. We need to be vigilant in making sure that we are not merely listening to our own desires. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. James 1:4 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. We are often the worst judges of our own intention; that is why we need to make sure that we are seeking godly advice and that we are willing to lay down our plans. James 4:13-14 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Amen Personal Prayer In Part 3 we consider how to deal with the various hindrances to finding God's will for your life.
- Finding the will of God for your life Part 1
Does God have a plan for your life? This set of teachings is a modified version of a course delivered by Pastor Paul Meiklejohn assisted by Charles Green as part of a 'Digging Deeper' module. Any changes and amendments have been made exclusively by the second author. Almost every Christian would like to know what the will of God is for their lives. What is the will of God? Does he have a specific plan and if so, how do we go about finding out what it is? It can be frustrating when we don’t have a clear sense of direction. God spoke to Moses through the burning bush, to Gideon through a damp fleece, and to Paul with a big burst of light. However, it would be fair to say that these are atypical methods of God talking to people. Proverbs 3:6 "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Psalm 37:23 "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord...." Isaiah 30:2 "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." From the above three scriptures, we can see that God's word clearly is saying that God will help us find his direction, but how does he do it? Defining the ‘Will of God’. Do we mean the ‘will of God’ or the ‘will of God for my life’? There is an important difference, the former is God-centric and the other is self-centric. When we talk about the will of God for my life, then we become the subject of the enquiry and the focus is on ourselves rather than God. When we talk about the true will of God then he becomes the primary subject and we become consequential. This is a vital aspect in the study of God’s will; his will needs to overshadow our lives. If our lives are the subject of the study, then it’s necessary for God’s will to ‘fit around our lives’ and not the other way around. Keeping God central is paramount if we are to discover and do God’s will. So, we start with God, not us. If you are making decisions based primarily on what makes "me" happy, then you have your priorities backwards and you will stumble at every turn. We are first and foremost studying ‘God’s will.’ Matthew 10:39, "If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me" (The Message). Motivation is also an important aspect to our study. Many people want to find the will of God so that they can decide whether or not to do it! God will not reveal his will to people who are undecided as to be part of it, he only reveals his will to those who have already committed themselves to doing his will. If our motivation to finding God’s will is merely for information’s sake, then God will not answer our enquiry. James 4:2-3 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 1 John 3:22 We have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 1 John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. What is your motivation for finding out God's specific will for your life? Amen Prayer Next time in Part 2 we consider the need for relationship when we try to discover God's will for our lives.
- Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled (Luke 14:7-11) Part 2
but whoever humbles himself shall be exalted Here are some biblical models for humility A. The Lord [Philippians 2:6, 3:9] B. Matthew 18:1-4 Verse 1 Disciples wanted privilege and glory. Verse 2 Jesus called the child, he did not know why, he just came because the Master called him. He knew nothing in a sense, but the Word’s voice. Verse 3-4; Disciples were humbled by the example of a child. This child was the closest to humility and was used as an object lesson to them because children know little but just trust in God. That is like us, we know little but must learn to trust him. There should be no place for price and ambition. You say, yes agreed, we ought to be humble but how do we do it? I do not pretend to know all the answers but here are some suggestions. 1. Level with God; Get down on your knees regularly and confess your sins to him, begging forgiveness and admit to him you can do absolutely nothing for him in the power of the flesh. Declare your total dependence on him, ask him to reveal your areas of pride. 2. Admit to yourself that you do not have all the spiritual gifts, abilities and that you are interdependent on your brother and sisters in church. Count them more worthy than yourself. 3. Confess your faults one to another 4. Confess your worldly ambitions and desires to God and ask him to remove them (red lizards). Ask a brother or sister to pray for you. 5. Ask God to remove that in you that loves to near your name mentioned. I need this. 6. Ask God for opportunities to serve people 7. Wash the feet of the saints 8. Fast regularly, puts flesh and pride down low. Caution- the danger of False Humility Colossians 2:18-23 God commands certain acts of humility, but the worshipping of angels was not one of them. We must worship God alone. The puffed up proud human mind reasoned that holy angels are superior beings. Our worship is meant to be done in humility (outward) not with inward pride and spiritual superiority. We should ask God what he wants from us in terms of humility and remember that our acts of the flesh have no reward. Amen Prayer
- Whoever exalts himself will be humbled (Luke14:7-11) Part 1
and he who humbles himself shall be exalted Pride comes before a fall. Satan fell because of pride because he wanted to be like the Highest. He forgot that he was a created being. Yes, pride does come before a fall, I can testify to that. A couple years ago, a colleague and I made a discovery about blood groups. He is a better scientist than me. Yet, at the scientific meeting, I sort pushed myself forward and when questions were asked at a national meeting, I completely fluffed it and ended up looking rather foolish. My wounded pride was made worse later that night when I found out that we had been favourites to win the national poster prize. Before the meeting I had asked God to bless the venture and he did so in his way, teaching me a valuable lesson. Because I exalted myself, I was humbled. Today we are going to investigate God’s word concerning the results of being humble and try to learn how we can become humbler ourselves. Key scripture Luke 14:7-11 Definition-To be Humble: To think lowly of oneself. To be meek Not to be proud, arrogant, or assuming To be modest To Exalt oneself: To elevate oneself in rank/standing. To lift oneself up (in pride) To raise oneself on high Whenever we find ourselves beginning to make comparisons between ourselves and others, we are already on thin ice. The tell-tale phrases such as “well, I am just as good as him/her” give away our own pride/ insecurity. Better that we do not make comparisons, but if we must, then count yourself the lowest in rank/standing. That is very practical and is the safest position to be in. You know your own heart and life, but so does God, and when you humble yourself in this way, he will exalt you in due season. If you ascribe the lowest level of honour/status to yourself, you can only go up! But if we push ourselves forward and take a high standing then He who knows all hearts may demote us. Do not develop a ‘top table’ mentality, which is a place of honour before men, but develop a servant’s heart like Jesus, be a foot washer. Some people can allow themselves to be exalted with religious titles. Pastor is an important role not a title. The only Reverend in scripture is the Lord God! Bishop is an important role not a title. Where we allow the accent to be on titles, there is a danger we can lead our people to exalt us in this way. Why should we be humble? A. Matthew 11:28-30 Because our God is humble. Jesus Christ Son of God, Saviour, and Messiah is gentle and humble in heart, he came to serve, and totally submitted to the Father’s will. Be Christ-like, be humble, be gentle, and ask God to give you a servant heart. B. We have already seen that Humility leads to honour but pride to humiliation. In fact, God loves his people so much that he undertakes to humble them. He humbled Israel in wilderness for 40 years to test their hearts. C. For many other reasons including because Jesus tells us to be humble. James 4:6-10; God gives grace to the humble. Psalm 32:11 The humble will inherit the land and will delight in abundant prosperity. Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes shame, but with the lowly is wisdom.. Summary We should be humble because. Our God, Jesus Christ is humble, and Jesus tells us to be humble. There is safety in humility, which keeps us from shame. We can receive more grace. We can inherit all God’s promises. It is wise to be humble It leads to great rewards. Amen Prayer In Part 2 we will consider the biblical examples of humility and give some suggestions how to live a humble life.
- Love is a weapon Part 2
How should we use love? Love as a weapon The concept of love as a weapon is not new as was used to significant effect by Martin Luther King; ‘’ Fifty thousand who took to heart the principle of nonviolence, who learned to fight for their rights with the weapon of love, and who, in the process, acquired a new estimate of their own human worth’’. God has provided each believer with protection for day to day life and this includes the whole armour of God which describes to us the revelations we need to incorporate into our lifestyles for us to be continually fully protected in our spiritual lives. The weapon known as the sword of the spirit is when we use God’s rhema word as weapon against temptation in its various forms and disguises. In the church life the weapon of love is displayed in our various actions such as forgiveness, kindness, tolerance, unity, and service (be addicted to service of the saints- tasso). Are we practicing these day by day? Love is a drug, but it is a good habit. John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” This is the acid test of our discipleship. Brotherly love is a great witness and highly reproductive. The weapon of love helps us to win people to Christ. 1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers,” Agape love is a sacrificial love. Romans 13:8“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law,” You owe me a debt of love and I owe you a debt of love, When we forgive each other in love it releases each other from the bondage of unforgiveness which is the breeding material for Satan’s destruction of our relationships. Love is all about giving and forgiving. Radical love -Loving our enemies Luke 6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, In any given situation if we can demonstrate God’s agape love then we will be wielding our most powerful weapon. Jesus tells us not to render evil for evil but do good to our abusers and tells us even to pray for them. King David fasted and prayed for his enemies. Pretty radical. Most times we struggle to fast and pray for a friend! In this life if we can keep showing love when people treat us badly then something must give and where we show longsuffering love it will break through albeit later than we had hoped for. Some ‘Dirty’ tactics The late Dutch woman and evangelist Corrie Ten Boom had to forgive a prison guard from Auschwitz where her father and sibling were murdered. She could only do this through the love of God. We need to act in love and just as importantly react in love. Corrie said this; You never so touch the ocean of God’s love as when you forgive and love your enemies: this is very challenging. Many years ago a neighbour whose marriage had broken up in the then recent past came to complain about my son hitting her son. We told her that we would investigate and get back to her. We sent our son over with chocolate biscuits for her, befriended her and were able to lead her and her son to Christ. Love is a powerful weapon Do not underestimate the power of even small kindnesses and ask God to show you how to do them every day in life. Many situations can be turned around by small kindnesses. A cup of cold water on a hot day, a bowl of warm soup on a cold night? The Love Weapon in our speech Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger How about telling a sibling you have had an argument with that ‘you love them with love of Lord and that you can see in them the glory of our King’!? It is hard to fight against such power because the love of God is active in it and will touch their heart! How to use the love weapon In the spiritual type of battle we often use the opposite spirit to defeat the enemy e.g. when someone forces us to go a mile, we go the extra mile. They are compelling us be we are submitting to them. If they ask for our tunic give them our cloak as well. They are demanding but we are compliant. When people are mean to us, we should be kind to them. Love is giving and love is forgiving. Matthew 5:40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. Walking in love, repentance, and forgiveness –some people have equated this to wearing the shoes of the gospel of peace- (among our weapons of spiritual warfare) and have suggested that this lifestyle is effective against curses, sickness, and hatred. Perhaps this is worth thinking about! In personality clashes with people when we respond in a godly way by showing love or forgiveness then this usually turns the situation around. Love is indeed a powerful weapon. When you want to hit them, hit them with weapons of love, forgiveness, and kindness! Conditional or unconditional- my opinion This love of God is unconditional in the sense that it does not look at who we are, where we have been or what we have done but focuses on what we will become when we are willing to be changed by the most powerful love of God. The ultimate victory of Jesus Christ’s victory over sin and death has the condition that we must believe it to receive the new birth with forgiveness of our sins and the inheriting eternal life. Wear your weapon of love and wield your weapon of love each day as a lifestyle Summary We need to ask the Lord to continue to pour out the Holy Spirit into our heart’s day by day so that the liquid love of God will flow through us producing fruit in our lives that can be tasted by those around us. Be continually filled with the spirit. We need to use this agape sacrificial love which is out most powerful weapon. We might need to 'fight dirty' to win hearts and minds and souls to achieve God’s purposes in our lives! Amen Prayer
- The dimensions of God's love Part 2
The width, length, depth, and height of God's love Ephesians 3:18-19 Picking up from Part 1 in Ephesians 3:18 we see that there is a supernatural order of the dimensions of God’s love. The Holy Spirit directs our attention as follows. A. What is Breadth? We have some difficulty in seeing the breadth of God’s love to all men of every race and colour, every age from a foetus in the mother’s womb to a man on his death bed, embracing each one of these. In all time past, back to Adam and forward to Christ’s second advent. This breadth tells the Jewish believers of God’s love for the Gentiles and tells us now of His love for all the various parts of the body of Christ. In my Father’s house there are many mansions. God’s love is so broad it embraces His whole family beyond any man-made barriers. He is not a respecter of rank or position. His love is so broad it includes from the humblest to the most exalted of his people. B. Length, this invites us to meditate on the eternal nature of God’s love. Christ loved us before we got born again. 1 John 4:19 tells us that we love him, because he first loved us and as his love knows no end, so it has no beginning and is from everlasting to everlasting. Jeremiah 31:3 Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness. I have drawn thee the Lord says this to each one of us. His drawing of us unto himself is the effect of his love. John 13:1 Jesus loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. Romans 8:35-39 Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Are you catching a glimpse of its length? C. Depth, another way to look at the depth of God’s love is to look back to where we came from, dying and on the way to eternal death. Each one of us can take a minute to meditate on how deep our Father’s love was to raise us up out of the pit of our sinful lives. We were children wrath by nature see Ephesians 2:1-6. Does this not speak to your heart of the Depth of our Father’s love? D. Height, so far, we have seen the love of God has a boundless breadth, an endless length, a fathomless depth then surely its height is measureless? In trying to comprehend the height we may look to both our present privileges and our future promises as clearly identified in the word of God. 1 Samuel 2:8, Isaiah 56:5 Romans 8:16-17, 1 John 3:1, and Revelation 22:4-5,19 that we might know the love of Christ which passes knowledge by the Holy Spirit that you might be filled with all the fullness of God. Did Paul get carried away with it here or was the Holy Spirit showing us the summit of the prayer? Are we not heirs of the Father, joint heirs of Christ? If we ask for bread, will he give us a stone or a snake instead of a fish? This is the point; the word of God tells us that God wants us at filled with all His own fullness. Our hearts and minds must constantly be occupied with the love of Christ to be prepared for the being filled with all his fullness. Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness as in Matthew 5:6? The Greek for ‘filled with all the fullness’ suggests a continuous process, a progressive and enlarging experience. As a vessel is filled to the brim the vessel then expands and the process continues thus our hearts will grow and take in more of him on an ongoing basis. Suggestion: Let us agree not to pray any more weak and feeble prayers! Pray for yourself and others in this manner. Prayer Father God we bow our knees to you in the name of Jesus Christ. We ask that you grant us, according to your riches, that we might be strengthened with your mighty power in our inner man. We pray that Christ may be dwelling in our hearts by faith, and that we are becoming rooted and grounded in your divine love. We ask that we may be able to comprehend with all your saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of your love, and to come to truly know your love which surpasses mere human knowledge, that we might be filled with the love of God as you are Lord. Lord, we know you can do much more above all we can ask or even think because your power is at work in us, and we say. Amen