Tag Archives: God’s will

(Jeremiah 20-22) Is It God’s Will?

The news these days is devastating. Our government is a disgrace. President Biben quit the Afghan conflict and pulled out our troops, bowing to the wishes of terrorists who want an end to America. People have died as a result. Christians have died. American military have died. And more death is sure to come.

I read a FaceBook post from one of my former students who shared that her faith in God has been shaken. “Why does God do this?” she asked. She said she knows it is His will. She just doesn’t understand it.

I read what God said through Jeremiah this morning and I believe the answer is there. As Jeremiah is describing the woes to come, he makes it clear that what is about to happen is judgment for sin. The people have turned their backs on God, and He is turning His back on them. He is about to show them what that looks like.

Would you say that is an example of His perfect will? Did God cause those people to sin, to reject Him, to worship idols, just so He could zap them with some judgment? If you believe that you don’t know God.

Do you want to know where God’s will is in all of this? His will is that every man, woman, and child in the world will choose to come to Him on His terms so that He can bless them. His will is that all people would come to Him humbly, in repentance, submitting to Him to receive the blessings He wants to shower on them. But repentance comes BEFORE blessing.

God is very honest and upfront to say to those who refuse: the consequences are devastating.

I can say with confidence the suicide bombing that took the lives of thirteen American servicemen, and dozens of civilians WAS NOT GOD’S WILL. It was the hand of evil, not the hand of God. That bombing happened because we have turned our back on God, and He has turned His back on us.

We want to live our lives our own way. That bombing IS our way.

Sovereign God knew that bombing would happen. It didn’t take Him by surprise. But that doesn’t mean He willed it to happen. In His sovereignty He tied His own hands by creating us with the ability to choose. He’s not a fairy godfather who grants wishes. He’s not even a guardian angel who swats away danger.

He is Holy God. And you don’t mess with Holy God without the consequences.

Instead of questioning Him, we – each of us – need to submit to Him. Then and only then will we see His will accomplished.

(Psalm 143) What We Want

What do you want? Think about that for a minute. What are some things you work toward, things you consider worthy of your time and energy? What do you pray for? David shared his wish list with us, and I think it’s a pretty good one:

  1. That God would reveal Himself to David. David wrote Scripture. He didn’t have God’s complete Word in front of him like we do. Do you want to meet God face to face? Read your Bible!
  2. That he would experience God’s love. Did you wake up this morning? You did because God loves you. Do you know Jesus as your Savior? His love sent Jesus to the cross for you. Love isn’t just a feeling, it’s knowing that you can rest in God because He IS love.
  3. That he would know what to do. I believe Psalm 119:105 tells us how we can know. God’s Word shows us the way. Isaiah 30:21 tells us God will use His Word to tell us plainly, “This is the way. Walk in it.”
  4. That God would protect him. Ephesians 6 describes the armor of God available to all Christians. If you read Scripture you will discover many accounts of God’s protection for His obedient children. God’s not going to leave us hanging, if we are obeying Him.
  5. That he would know God’s will. 2 Timothy 2:15 points us again to God’s Word. Study it. Learn it. God wants to teach you His will. And He does that when we read the Bible.
  6. That God’s Spirit would guide him. Hebrews 13:5 tells us God says, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you,” as a result of our obedience.

That’s a pretty good list, don’t you think? I believe God wanted those things for David, too. And I am sure it’s what God wants for each of us as well.

What do you want?

(I Samuel 8-12) Gotta Let It Go

God had made Saul King of Israel. Yet when we next see Saul he’s out plowing his field like any other day. Wouldn’t you think God would want him doing king-stuff? It seems Saul was caught between his old comfortable life, and the unknown life for which God had anointed him.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of our past. Most of us liked it there. It was familiar, predictable, perhaps exciting. It was “us.” But when we meet God and accept His will for our lives, He asks us to turn, to leave behind the old and put on the new.

It can be uncomfortable and scary. But if we are to be the people God wants us to be, we’ve got to let go of the people we were. Sometimes it means leaving home in a physical way, leaving former friendships, overcoming old habits.

Saul could not be king hanging onto a plow. We can’t be the people God wants us to be hanging onto our pasts, either. We’ve got to let it go, leave it behind, and step toward the blessings of life according to God.

(Numbers 33) Unnecessary Detours

If I counted correctly, the Israelites moved 44 times during their forty year romp through the wilderness. God had brought them right to the door of the Promised Land, but because of their unbelief, they were forced to turn away and roam the countryside.

I taught school for almost forty years. During that time I made eight moves. One was during the worst snow storm Ohio had ever seen. None of the moves I made were fun. I can’t imagine picking up and moving 44 times. That’s more than one a year! No thanks!!

What makes this a tragic tale is the fact they didn’t have to have moved at all. If they had only trusted God, He would have given them the land He’d brought them to. It was right there. It was so close. It’s what God wanted for them. But they just couldn’t trust Him, and God closed the door. Such an unnecessary detour.

As you look back on your life, do you recognize the unnecessary detours you’ve taken because you hadn’t trusted God? It happens. God brings us right to the door of blessing, but we hold back. We try another route. We question, and doubt. And God closes the door.

We find ourselves taking that detour that includes hardships and heartache. Yes, there are blessings in the detours. Yes God can and does use us during those times. But we miss what was beyond our doubt at the time God wanted us to accept it.

God is speaking to me about trust today. Are there areas of my life I keep to myself, things I think I need to handle on my own, ministry opportunities I decline because I think the hurdles are too high? What am I missing if I don’t trust God with it all?

I want God’s perfect will in my life. Not just because there are blessings there, but because it’s God’s perfect will for me. I would rather not take unnecessary detours to get there.

The Wrong Questions (2 Kings 8)

Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, was sick. Was he dying? He wanted to know, so he sent a message to Elisha asking, “Will I recover from this illness?” Elisha answered the king, “Yes, you will recover from the illness.” But God had shown Elisha that the king would die anyway. He would actually be murdered in his sleep.

Do you remember Wile E. Coyote? The cartoon character would manage to navigate through a trap set by the roadrunner, only to have an anvil fall on his head. He would successfully get through a roadblock, only to be hit by a speeding truck.

I think that describes many of us. We pray that God will protect us from a virus, but we have not addressed sin in our lives. We ask God to bless our children, but we don’t talk to our children about Jesus. We pray for a better job, or a happy-ever-after-marriage, while our eternity is in question. We get so caught up in the present we forget there is something much more pressing, and that is our heart’s condition before a Holy God.

We may survive this virus only to be thrown into the lake of fire if we try to face God without Jesus.

I don’t think it’s wrong to pray about our health or our circumstances. In fact, the Bible tells us to pray about everything all the time. But let’s be careful to ask God the right questions.

Remember Jesus asked what good it does someone if they gain the whole word, yet lose their soul. (Mark 8) The answer to that is – none!

As we pray about this virus, our families, our nation, let’s first of all ask God to cleanse our hearts, forgive our sins. Let’s call on Him to do a work in our lives that will translate into action for His sake.

Because if the only thing we are asking God is for protection from COVID 19, we’re asking the wrong question.

 

The Only Answer (I Samuel 1-3)

During this time in our lives, many people are asking God, “Why?” Why would He inflict the world with this virus? Why do so many people have to die? Why doesn’t He just either stop the virus from spreading, or give the cure to some researcher?

I’m not going to speak for God because the truth of the matter is, I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. No one does. I know some people feel the need to come up with answers, but there is only one thing I, or you, can know for sure:

God is good all the time.

God loves the world. God wants the world to be blessed. God doesn’t delight in our suffering. For some, that is hard to believe right now. But that doesn’t change the fact.

I can say with Eli, who had just received some very bad news about his sons:

He (God) is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes. (I Samuel 3:18)

So I will continue to pray for protection, healing, a cure for this virus. I will continue to social distance, and wash my hands. But at the end of the day, I will rest in the knowledge that God is God, and He will do what is good in His eyes, whether I understand it or approve of it. He is a good God.

May the good that God wants to do through this time in our lives be accomplished because His people trust Him, are obedient to Him, are reaching out to people who need Him. May families be healed, Bibles read, and may all of us slow down and draw closer to this good God of ours.

He is the answer. He is the only answer.

What Do You Do When You Lose? (Judges 19-21)

There is so much in these three chapters, some of which can get my blood boiling. I have to keep reminding myself that this was a time when Israel had no king, and everyone did as they wished.

But today I was encouraged as I read. Israel was going to war in order to purge the evil from among them. Yes, they were going to destroy their brothers the Benjamites because that tribe was evil.

Israel went to the Lord, and God told them to go to war against the tribe of Benjamin. Israel acted in obedience to the Lord. But the first battle saw 22,000 Israeli soldiers cut down. Did you notice 20:22? I love it!  After this devastating loss, the men of Israel encouraged each other!

They went to the Lord and wept, and asked Him what they should do. Again, God said, “Go to battle.” The next day Israel attacked Benjamin and this time 18,000 Israelites died. After this second defeat the Israelites did something that speaks to me.

They went back to the Lord. They wept, fasted and prayed. They offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. A third time God told them to go into battle, but this time He added:

tomorrow I will give them into your hands.

Sometimes we might think that if we are obeying God, if He is in our situation, that ought to guarantee a victory. And often it does. But what happens if we don’t get the results we are looking for? What if we fail miserably?

Do we quit? Do we wash our hands of God? Do we grumble and complain? I think we can learn something important from the example of the Jewish army here in Judges.

The Israelites encouraged each other after their defeat. Sometimes we need our brothers and sisters to be that encouragement for us. Sometimes we need to hear someone tell us to hang in there, to keep going, to not give up. Sometimes we get our strength when God uses the voices of His children on our behalf. And, friend, each of us can be that to a brother or sister who is experiencing defeat. Let’s not be quick to condemn. Let’s be quick to encourage that struggling saint to do what Israel did next:

The Israelites when to God. Not just once. Not twice. Three times. They went to God and kept going to God. They weren’t one and done. And God rewarded their faithfulness by giving them the final victory.

Dear ones, let me encourage you today. You may be fighting what seems to be a losing battle right now. We are all in a weird situation because of this virus, and some of you have lost your income, maybe your health, and maybe you have lost loved ones because of this disease. Others of you may be fighting a spiritual battle with sin. I don’t know.

But hear me say, hang in there. Go to God and keep going to Him. Storm the doors of heaven, barge into the throne room. Ask God to reveal sin in your life, and be quick to repent of it. Ask God for direction, then obey Him. Trust Him. Yield to Him. Don’t tell Him what you want done, be sensitive to what HE wants done. Then do it.

You might not get a victory after the first battle. Let each failure draw you closer to Him. Let each defeat cause you to trust Him more.

I know God will bless you as you obey Him. And, folks, the victory is the Lords! Don’t forget whose side we’re on. The truth is…

WE WIN!

December 9; I Give Up

Acts 21:1-23:11

I had to chuckle as I read these chapters today. Not so much because what I read was funny, but because what I read was so me. (Sadly).

Paul was heading to Jerusalem. Along the way, all kinds of people told him not to go, that only trouble waited for him there. Agabus, a prophet, specifically told Paul that he would be arrested if he went to Jerusalem.

Well, that did it. When the people heard what the prophet said they pleaded with Paul to change his plans. They begged and wept trying to get him to give up this crazy idea of going to Jerusalem. But Paul was adamant. He was going to Jerusalem in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ whether they liked it or not.

Then this:

When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” (21:14)

Maybe it’s the wording in the NIV, but that is where I chuckled at the foolishness. They did everything they could to convince Paul to do what they wanted him to do. Then, when they finally realized he was having none of it, THEY GAVE UP.

That is totally understandable. Eventually you quit beating a dead horse. But the sad thing is,  it was only when they had given up their own efforts did they say, “The Lord’s will be done.”

To me it sounds the equivalent of an adolescent trying to get his friends to do something he wants to do, then when the friends aren’t interested in giving in saying, “Fine. Have it your way.”

“Fine. Have it God’s way.”

I wish I could tell you I have never said that myself. After praying for something, trying to manipulate circumstances in my favor, thinking positive thoughts, and realizing I’m not any closer to getting my way than I was at the start, I then take a deep breath and pray, “Not my will but Thine be done.”

So foolish. God is reminding me today that having His will accomplished in my life needs to be my first thought, my first wish, my first prayer. Paul’s friends were right. Paul was arrested and beaten in Jerusalem just like they’d feared. But Paul had said he was willing to be bound, even killed for Jesus’ sake there in Jerusalem. He trusted God that much.

Friend, wanting God’s will in our lives should never be a last resort. I’m pretty sure those of us who know Him would say without hesitation we want God’s will in our lives. Then, from the start we need to learn to say:

I give up.

April 16; Practical Faith

I Samuel 18-20

David had faith in God, and God blessed him. The Bible tells us everything King Saul gave David to do, he did it exceedingly well. God’s Presence in David’s life was obvious.

But here’s what dawned on me today about David’s faith. Having faith in God didn’t require David to check his common sense at the door. David’s faith in God didn’t assume God’s will would be done without David’s cooperation. David had what I believe was a practical faith that pleased God. Now before you think I’m blaspheming, hear me out.

David seems to have realized God can use the people in our lives to help us along the way. We see how often Jonathan, the son of David’s sworn enemy, helped David, kept him out of harm’s way, spoke up for him and tried to get Saul to reconcile with David. We don’t read where David ever said, “No, that’s ok, Jonathan. God’s got this.”

We see how David’s wife, Saul’s daughter, lowered him out of a window in their home, so he could escape Saul’s men who were coming to get him. We see how Samuel, at risk of his own life, stood by David, even though his heart may have been a bit drawn to Saul. But Samuel didn’t waiver in his support of David, God’s Anointed. And we don’t see David turning down the help from either one of them.

I believe Scripture teaches us that allowing other people to lend a hand, doesn’t indicate lack of faith. In fact, other people might be the answer to our prayers of faith. God created us to have relationships – first with Him – then with others. Having faith doesn’t mean we ignore those relationships, thinking we will just let God do His thing.

Maybe God wants to do His thing through people close to us.

Let me say here and now: I have faith in God. I trust Him as completely as this mortal can trust. But I need you, too.

Some of you who read this blog are friends of mine right here on the island. Some of you are family who I love so much. Others are people I’ve crossed paths with over the years, and who hold a special place in my heart. Still others of you I’ve never met, except through this cyber-word of ours.

God is reminding me I need every one of you if I am to accomplish His work in me. I need you to hold me accountable, to encourage or scold me. I need you to stand beside me or push me. I might need you to fight my enemy alongside of me, or simply revel in God’s goodness with me.

I need you.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have faith in God. It’s that I have faith that God will use you to be His voice, His arms, His wisdom so that I will grow into the woman He wants me to be. Thank you to so many of you for being exactly that in my life on so many occasions.

Can God accomplish His will with or without us? Of course He could. But I think His will is that each one of us recognize our roll in His will being done. I think that’s the practical side of faith. And I honestly believe it honors God. Let’s, all of us, be sensitive to God’s leading when one of His children could use a hand. Let’s be a Jonathan, a Michal, or a Samuel for each other when the need arises.

And the need will arise. Common sense tells me none of us have it all together all the time. Isn’t it good to think someone will allow themselves to be an answer to our prayers, and give us a hand during those times? Isn’t it a privilege to be that someone for someone else?

 

April 4; That First Step Is A Doozie

Judges 8-9

Israel, under Gideon’s leadership, enjoyed a decisive victory over the enemy. I get excited whenever the Cleveland Indians win a ballgame. I can only imagine emotions were running much higher there in the Israelite camp when they won their victory that day. The people wanted to make Gideon their king. But Gideon politely refused the offer.

He could have cashed in on his success, but he kept his integrity in check. He didn’t even take any of the plunder for himself, although I’m pretty sure the people would not have objected if Gideon had wanted to walk away from the battle a rich man. Who deserved it more?

What Gideon did, however, was take the first step toward sin. Maybe he did it innocently enough, the Bible doesn’t tell us his thought process. He collected one earring from each of the fighting men, added the things taken from the two defeated enemy kings, and made a gold shirt.

An ephod was a sacred garment worn by priests as they served God. This sleeveless shirt held a lot of meaning to the Jews at that time.

Now, I’m only guessing here, but I wonder if Gideon, like lovers who carve their initials in the trunk of a tree to immortalize their love, wanted to “mark the spot” where God granted them the victory. Was it an ancient equivalent of a memory bench, or an 8×10 photo intended to remind everyone who saw it about the greatness of God?

The thing that’s glaringly absent from this story is God. I don’t see anywhere that Gideon asked God what He wanted him to do. “Here, God, let me do this for you. Surprise!”

The Bible says that the gold shirt “became a snare to Gideon and his family.” People actually started worshiping the gold ephod instead of the God it was supposed to point them to. It became an idol.

Gideon’s collecting of the gold earrings seemed innocent enough, maybe even spiritual, or sacrificial. “Look at what Gideon’s doing for God.” But that first step was like stepping off a cliff. It was a doozie. And the result was devastating.

I would like to challenge us all as we serve God to take steps directed only by Him. You might get a great idea and want to run with it. But let’s learn from Gideon’s mistake and stop to ask God His take on our great idea. If He’s not in it, no matter how good an idea you think it is, it just might “become a snare” for you and for others.

Here’s something else God has impressed on my heart today: what I do influences others for the good or for the bad. If I take a step toward sin, how many people will think it’s ok for them, too? And how many of them will take the sin further than even I will?

I’m reminded of Isaiah’s words:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (30:21)

Let’s determine to listen to that voice, and obey it; to take those steps set before us by our loving Heavenly Father. Because if we aren’t careful, we could find ourselves on the brink of disaster. And taking that first step out of God’s will is a doozie, a step that could take us and others down.

Please read your Bible every day. Pray. Be sensitive to God’s leading. Listen to His voice through His written Word. And obey Him. You will be blessed… and a blessing to others.