Tag Archives: God’s will

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.

January 3; Testing the Water

Genesis 7-9

I’ve never gotten a text from God. And He has not once left me a voicemail. So when I’m faced with a big decision, how do I know what His will is, and what is coming from my own desires?

In my reading yesterday, I was impressed with Noah’s immediate obedience. Today his careful patience impresses me.

I believe God is telling me both have their places in my obedience. When God told Noah to build the ark, Noah obeyed without question. God’s voice was audible and clear. I believe His voice is that clear still today.

Jesus said, “Go into all the world…” so I don’t need to question whether or not He wants me to introduce my neighbor to the Savior. He’s already told me to do that. The Bible tells us to love each other, as well as love our enemies, do good to those who mistreat us, resist the devil… Some things are black and white. God says, “Do,” and we must obey.

But God doesn’t specifically address whether or not I should move from Ohio to Georgia. Or whether you should change jobs, or marry that person you are seeing. Wouldn’t it be nice if He’d just call once in awhile?

So what do you do, when you want to be obedient to God’s will in every circumstance of life? I think Noah gives us a great example.

The rain had stopped, and the ark came to rest on a mountaintop. Now what? Do we stay here? Or do we step out of this ark in faith? At this point, God isn’t saying anything. So Noah tests the water.

First he opened a window. Then he sent out a raven, followed by a dove. He took the cover off the ark, and saw the earth had dried up. And He waited. Finally, God spoke, and Noah moved.

I know I shared about my move to this island a couple years ago. My prayer was that God would lead, and I would follow. I promised not to force open any door He closed, and to go through the ones He opened. But in order to do that, I had to test the water, look at dozens of homes, make offers on several, until the house I now own became available, and God opened the door He wanted me to go through.

Let’s face it. Not every thought or desire we have comes from God. I think Scripture tells us to be wise. Test the water. And if God closes that door, you can bet He did that to save you from a world of hurt. If God opens that door, you are in for a shower of blessings. 

Are you facing a decision here at the beginning of 2019, and you aren’t sure where God is leading you? Test the water. Trust God to shut you down if He doesn’t want you to move. And trust Him to open doors He wants you to go through. But if you think He is nudging you to go in a certain direction, take a step. Open a window. Send out a dove. He’ll be faithful to give you the answers you need.

You just need to obey.

Isaiah 1-4; It’s Personal

Honestly, I think it’s a bit unfortunate when people read books like Isaiah’s as merely an historical account, or a glimpse into the future, Yes, there was sin in Israel. Yes, they were captured by the Babylonians. Yes, Jesus is coming again. But I don’t want to miss what God wants to say to me in these pages about my walk with Him in 2018.

When I read this, I hear hear Him ask me why I am sometimes miserable, why I can feel defeated. He tells me it’s because I persist in rebellion, I’ve let foreigners (sin) in, and sin is stripping me of the blessings He would love to shower on me.

I hear Him tell me He’s sick of me going through the motions of serving Him when my heart isn’t in it. The He says in 1:18-20:

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.

In other words, “Come on, Connie. Use your head. Your sins will be forgiven, you will be washed clean…

If.

I must be willing and obedient. I must stop resisting and rebelling. Then He can bless me. There is order to His plan.

As I continue to read these chapters and make the “you” personal, I understand that God means what He says. Look at 2:5:

Come, O house of Jacob, (of which I am a part through the blood of Jesus) let us walk in the light of the Lord.

That’s God’s will for my life. To walk in His light, not the opinions of men, not in theologies or philosophies. God wants me to walk with HIM!

Isaiah points out that the world seems to have it all, but there will come a time when every man and woman who has ever lived on this planet will be required to face God. Judgment will come to those who reject Him.

I know that in a general way. But God can convict all of us of the personal struggles we have with sin as we read this book. He can convict of us embracing pagans, or considering views other than those in Scripture, or aligning ourselves with ungodly people. He can convict us of tolerating idols, or making idols out of our families or careers or ourselves. He can convict us of arrogance and pride as we read what Isaiah penned so long ago.

I challenge you to read the book of Isaiah with me, and make it personal. What is God saying to you about your walk with Him? Let’s not miss it.

I Samuel 21-23; Why Wait?

Are you like me and, no matter which line you get in at the grocery, it seems the person in front of you will most likely need a price-check? All the other cashiers are moving their customers along while you stand there and wait. Again.

Don’t you always look forward to catching up with year-old People magazines while you wait an hour past your appointment time in the doctor’s office? Come on. You know you love it.

Most of us, if not all of us, don’t wait well, do we? Sometimes standing in front of the microwave for 90 seconds seems too long to wait. But there certainly seems to be a lot of waiting in the Bible. What is God trying to tell us?

David was anointed King of Israel way back in chapter 16. Yet here in the chapters we read today, Saul is still Israel’s acting king. And to make matters worse, Saul is following David all over the countryside, trying to kill him. I’d rather have the People magazines.

If God wanted David to be king, why was all of this happening? Why is David still on the run instead of sitting on the throne that was his?

I think about the years David spent hiding out from Saul, living in caves, running for his life. And I thank God that, during that difficult time, David penned some of the most heart-felt psalms that speak to hearts yet today. I can read these chapters in God’s Word and see the shepherd boy grow in wisdom and faith to become a very great king.

David wasn’t anointed king, then sat back and waited in the comforts of home until the kingdom was his. There was pain and suffering and loss in the waiting. But David was the king he was – not in spite of – but because of those waiting years.

Are you getting impatient waiting for God’s timing in some matter? I would encourage you to not resent the waiting. God is most likely trying to teach you some things, trying to grow you into the person He wants you to be as you serve Him in this lifetime.

Don’t just put your feet up while you wait. Feast on your daily bread, and pick up your sword. There are things to do, places to go, people to see.

Remember God’s timing is perfect. And He does all things well.

Genesis 26-28 God’s Perfect Will

The last couple of days I have been looking into the idea of predestination. It is sadly a concept that has divided God’s Church, and I believe unnecessarily. I know many of you hold tightly to one end of the spectrum or the other. And I don’t imagine my thoughts will change anyone’s opinion. Smarter people than me have debated the issue more eloquently than I can ever hope to do. But, dear one, recognize your position as an opinion. I am just going to share mine.

I looked up the Greek definition of the word proorizo. And I found that there is not just one emphatic definition. But among those I found are: pre-established boundaries, pre-determined limits, foreordain.

Does God have a predestined will? Absolutely. The Bible is clear about that. But what I want you to consider is what that will is. Did God predestine boundaries, or did He predestine individuals?

God so loved the world…

He is not willing that any should perish.

I submit that before creation God predestined a plan. Giving humans free will, they would need a Savior. God, before He made the heavens and the earth, determined that Jesus would spend time on earth, die, and rise again to pay for the sins of every human being. That was His perfect will.

There are a lot of examples in Scripture of how God intervened in the lives of people to bring about His purpose. But we must remember that we are reading the result of choices these people freely made. For instance, Isaac would have blessed Esau. Esau was the first born, a man’s man so to speak. And Isaac chose to place his final blessing on his oldest son.

However, God had told Rebekah before the twins were even born that the older would serve the younger. That didn’t matter. Isaac planned to give Esau the blessing anyway.

You know the story. Rebekah and Jacob conceived a plan to deceive Isaac, to steal the blessing intended for Esau. And they succeeded. The result was exactly as God had said it would be.

Now some of you will say that God did that; that God arranged the events to bring about His plan. I wonder. Does God cause people to sin in order to manipulate circumstances? Jacob lied repeatedly to his dad. The Bible tells us lying is a sin. Did God make Jacob sin?

James 1:13 says: When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by there own evil desire and enticed.

Remember that God has seen the end of everything long before we who live it one minute at a time experience it. And when God tells us what is going to happen – and then it does happen – we see He is Sovereign, Omniscient, the One True God. What I don’t see is a god who pulls strings, who manipulates people, who chooses some people to go to heaven and some to go to hell. I don’t see a god who shed his blood for some and not for others. I see a God who knows what is ahead because He has seen the choices we make before we make them.

I go back to the analogy of watching a movie with one who has already seen it. They can tell me what’s going to happen because they know the end from the beginning.

I think the thing about either side of the issue is to remember that our choices are eternally important. Your choice to speak or not to speak to that neighbor about Jesus may be the difference between heaven and hell. Some people live as though God wrote the script and they are just delivering the lines. That God will bring about His will with or without us. And if we choose to do nothing, well, that must be in the script.

Go into all the world and preach the Gospel…

Fight the good fight of faith…

How can they hear unless someone tell them…

If you are wondering what God’s will is for your life, it’s to know Him, it’s to accept His Son as your Savior, it’s to obey Him, to tell others about Him. He’s not going to make you. But He won’t stop bugging you about it, either. Not until you draw your last breath.

I guess you know which side of the issue I’m leaning toward. I would rather get to heaven and hear God say the choices I made in this life really didn’t matter, than to hear Him say the choices I didn’t make mattered a great deal.

 

September 23 – Why Today?

Esther 1-5

Have you ever felt you’d been at the right place at the right time? If you’d waited you’d have missed a great opportunity? If you’d not gone you’d have missed a blessing?

Reading Esther today has me wondering about “such a time as this.” The question I’m asking myself is how much did God’s role play in what happened to Esther, and how important was Esther’s role in it all?

I believe both were necessary. God opened doors. Esther walked through them. She didn’t have to. She could have refused.

Mordecai himself explains that if Esther had kept her nationality secret, if she refused to go to the king on behalf of the Jews, we would be reading about deliverance of the Jews from another source. (4:14). It’s because of Esther’s obedience that her story is included in God’s Word.

It’s not because God orchestrated the matter, that Esther had no choice but to deliver the Jews. She had a choice. She chose to fast and pray, to ask her uncle to do the same, then she chose to walk through the door God had opened for her.

God has a plan He’d like you to be a part of. He’ll open doors. He’ll nudge you. He’ll put a burden on your heart. But if you want to be in on His plan, you’ve got to make that choice to obey. Otherwise, someone else may get the blessing – and you’ll be on the outside, regretfully looking in.

You are where you are today as a result of God’s leading, and your obedience or disobedience. Can He use you today? You bet. Will He open doors? He opens doors all the time. Will you walk through them?

That depends on the choices you make today. God knows what you’ll choose. I pray you’ll choose obedience.

Why today? Because God has given you today, for such a time as this, to glorify Him.

Let’s make it happen.