Christianity 201

September 2, 2017

“For This Purpose I Have Come”

Its time for our annual visit to Steven C. Mills of Steve’s Bible Meditations.  Click the title below to read this at source.

Why? – John 12:27

“Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came!” (John 12:27, NLT).

Recently, I’ve been reading Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why. The premise of the book is that successful leaders influence loyalty to a product, movement or idea because they communicate why their organizations exist. According to Sinek, knowing your why is more important than  knowing what you do or how you do it. And, knowing your why will help you know what to do and how to do it.

So, apply this on a personal level. What’s your why? Why do you exist? Why do you do what you do?

In a conversation in John 12 that Jesus had with some of His disciples concerning His impending death, He seemed to be very aware of His Why. He knew exactly why He existed and why He did what He did.

Some God-fearing Gentiles (Greeks) approached Philip and asked if he would introduce them to Jesus. Jesus had, heretofore, focused His ministry on the Jews and had only occasional interactions with Gentiles. Philip told Andrew about the Greeks’ request and Philip and Andrew went to Jesus to ask Jesus to meet with the Greeks.

It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t consent to meet with these Gentiles. Rather, He made it a teachable moment to announce to His disciples a change of direction in His ministry. Instead of continuing to heal the sick and teach and preach to the Jews about the coming kingdom of God, Jesus declared that His ministry will now become a matter of sacrificing His own life so all people, Jews and Gentiles, can enter into God’s coming Kingdom.

But, He seemed to express some hesitancy at first. Although He knew the reason He had come–to die for the sins of the world–maybe there was another way. Perhaps there was an easier way to save the world besides suffering a torturous death.

But, I don’t think He was really hesitant. I don’t think He believed there might be easier way. I think these expressions of doubt were really expressions of resolution.

Jesus absolutely knew what He had to do. Because He knew His Why!

He knew without a doubt His reason for living…and for dying.

The Apostle Paul also knew His why:

“Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning” (Ephesians 3:8-9, NLT).

So, what’s your why? Why did God create you? What did He call you to do? And, how are you going do it?

Find out your why. Ask God why He created you. Ask Him what is the purpose of your life.

Then, when you’re clear about the why, you can pursue the what and God will empower you to accomplish the how.

We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. (Colossians 1:9-10, NLT)

June 2, 2015

Recognizing God’s Voice (2)

We continue with some wisdom from Rick Warren’s blog: (click the section headers to read at source)

The Third Test

“God’s intent is that through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known.” Ephesians 3:10 (NIV)

God has not meant for anyone to go through life alone. He made us to live in relationship with other people. So when it comes to hearing God’s voice, you need to listen to the people around you. You need a church family and a small group to confirm whether what you sense God directing you to do is true or not. This is the third test question: Are there other people who can confirm what I believe God is saying to me?

If God has genuinely spoken to you, he will confirm it through other mature believers. This idea that we have to do everything on our own is an American idea, not God’s. He wants you to share your idea with others for confirmation and listen to their feedback.

And if you feel resistance to the thought of even asking somebody else about your idea, that should be a huge red flag that the idea did not come from God.

The reason God tells us to get advice is because he wants to save us from a lot of things. As it says in Proverbs 11:9, “The wisdom of the righteous can save you” (GNT).

Advice from other mature believers can save you time wasted doing the wrong thing. It can save you from wasting money. It can save your reputation. It can save you from making mistakes.

One of the main reasons people mess up their lives is that they have no godly friends to give them feedback. That is why it is so important to be in a small group with fellow believers who can hold you accountable and give you advice.

The Bible says, “In the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14b KJV). If you are not in a small group, you are skating on thin ice and you don’t know when you might fall through.

The Fourth Test

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

The fourth test for confirming a word from God is to ask yourself, “Is it consistent with how God shaped me?”

At Saddleback Church, we use the acronym SHAPE to describe the collection of a person’s Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences. These five things make you unique from everyone else in the world. They also reveal your purpose in life.

A lot of people ignore their SHAPE and end up wasting millions of dollars going after pipe dreams, starting businesses and making plans they weren’t shaped to do. God will never lead you a way that is inconsistent with your SHAPE. If you have a musical ability, you should use it. But if you’re tone deaf and can’t carry a tune, you shouldn’t try out for American Idol.

Romans 12:6 says, “God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well” (LB). So ask yourself, “What do I love to do that I’m good at doing?” Note that I didn’t just say, “What do you love to do?”

Before I became a pastor, I was a worship leader. I played guitar and loved to sing, but nobody liked hearing me. So I learned pretty quickly that while I had a passion for music, I didn’t have the talent for it. I loved it, but I wasn’t good at it.

You discover a lot of God’s will simply by looking at what you are good at. And if you get an impression that makes you wonder if it’s from God, but it leads you completely contrary to your SHAPE, then it’s not from God. You can know that for a fact. God is not going to ask you to do something he hasn’t given you the ability to do.

Learn more about your SHAPE through S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life by Erik Rees

 

October 27, 2014

Only Visiting This Planet

On Sunday our sermon had a “passport” theme. One of the central points was that we’re just visitors, or what the Bible calls “strangers and aliens.”

NLT Phil. 1:21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.

25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. 26 And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.

27aAbove all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ…

NLT 1 Peter 2:10 “Once you had no identity as a people;
    now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
    now you have received God’s mercy.”

11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.

At one point in the message, the pastor reminded us that we go on vacation we recognize that our “moving in” to a motel or hotel room is at best a 6 or 7 day proposition. We’re not there to stay, we’re just using the room, it’s not our home.  As I let that allegory sink in, it occurred to me that the way to tell if you’re not staying is this:

You don’t rearrange the pictures on the wall.

You might move a table to let you work at your laptop in better light. You might change the chairs around to play a board game. But that’s about it. You have no sense of belonging there. You aren’t going to do any painting or change the carpet.

But so many times we let ourselves get absorbed in activities that basically amount to rearranging the pictures. We allow ourselves to fall into the mindset that this place we call Earth is permanent. We invest so much in this life, and I’m not just speaking financially.

The Reformation Study Bible speaks of these investments as “bodily” desires, or we could use the word physical equally, and notes that the desires of our fallen, sinful nature are always going to be perverted by our sin nature. There’s a reference to Galatians 5:

NIV Gal. 5:19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Jesus certainly intended us to take a second look at even our concerns for what we would call the necessities of life in Matthew 6:

NIV Matt. 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Take a minute to re-read that last verse: “The pagans run after these things.” The IVP New Testament Commentary reminds us:

Some people today associate faith with being able to obtain possessions from God, but Jesus did not even associate it with seeking basic needs from God. Pagans seek those things, he warned (v. 32; compare 5:47; 6:7); we should seek instead God’s kingdom and his righteous will (6:33).

Verse 33 is familiar to everyone here, it references not worrying in light of God’s ability and promise to provide for those necessities.

However “this world is not my home.” A new passport was issued to you when you affirmed Christ’s divinity, His payment for your sin, and your desire to subject your life decisions to His best ways.

Don’t spend too much time and energy concerned about the paintings on the walls.

September 4, 2014

The Timing of the One who Exists Outside of Time

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This is part two from Steven C. Mills of Steve’s Bible Meditations, and again you’re encouraged to read this at source and visit the rest of the blog. If you’re a grandparent, you might also enjoy Steve’s other blog, Poppy’s New Adventure. Click the title below to read today’s devotional at source. If you missed part one, you’ll find it there on July 4th, as well as here yesterday.

 

Wait Training, Part 2: The Inscrutability of God – Isaiah 40:28-29

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power” (Isaiah 40:28-29, NASB).

When we wait upon the Lord, our faith is actually strengthened because the act of waiting develops God’s perspective in us. In other words, it’s Wait Training!

“Waiting upon the Lord” causes you to rise above your present circumstances to get a higher view, a more objective view, a God-view of them. From that vantage point, you can gain perspective about what it is that you are hoping and trusting God to do and thereby develop a better understanding of God’s plans and purposes for you.

When you follow the advice to “wait upon the Lord” (vs. 31), it’s easy to see why you must wait on God to act and to perform His will when you consider it within the context of the previous verses. God is the Everlasting Creator of the universe. Time and space exist only within His Infinite realm (vs. 28). So, He proceeds about the business of performing His will at the perfect pace!

While we can ascertain God’s intentions–His goodness and our redemption–we can’t always perceive His timing. We can only know that because He is the Everlasting Creator of the universe that His timing is perfect. He doesn’t need to hurry up because He’s fallen behind or slow down because He’s gotten ahead. He’s at the right place at the right time doing just the right thing!

But because God is not limited by time and space and we are, He is inscrutable to us. We can’t always know what His timing is nor do we have the capacity or authority to question or mistrust His timing. That’s why we wait on it. That’s why we wait on the Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the universe who is always at the right place at the right time doing just the right thing.

Rather than scrutinize God’s timing, we must wait upon and trust in and hope for the One Who Is Inscrutable. Then, our faith is strengthened and we are empowered to do His will!

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.  (Psalm 27:14, NASB)


If you missed it, click back to Saturday (August 30th) for the song More Power To Ya by Petra, which really fits this theme.


Some days I really struggle with the idea that it seems so few Christian writers are willing to try their hand at writing devotional literature.  But six months ago I discovered this page at CBN. It’s good to know that there are others out there who prioritize the gift of encouragement and the gift of teaching and are willing to take the time to write out thoughts that will strengthen and encourage others. If you find yourself looking for something at other times of day, bookmark the page and then ask God to lead you to a particular author and click their name.

June 12, 2014

God’s Plan for You is Clearly Defined

Susan and Jen take turns writing posts at the blog The Free Slave’s Devotional. Susan posted this one two weeks ago under the title God’s Plan, God’s Will.  I encourage you to click through and look around the rest of the blog.

Be at peace among yourselves. And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are lazy, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always purse what is good for one another and for all.  Rejoice always.  Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:13-18

I can’t think about being a part of God’s plan without running into the concept of “God’s Will.”  I capitalized that on purpose, because so many Christians, including myself, tend to capitalize it in our hearts.  Surely, we think, God has a plan for me, a specific plan, so I need to spend lots of time worrying and praying over which college to attend, which person to marry, which job to take.  If I don’t get it right, I might be out of “God’s Will.”

But I’m not sure it works that way.  He pretty clearly lays out His Will right in these verses:

  1. Be at peace among yourselves
  2. Warn the lazy.
  3. Comfort the discouraged.
  4. Help the weak.
  5. Be patient with everyone.
  6. Don’t pay back evil with evil.
  7. Pursue what is good for one another.
  8. Rejoice always.
  9. Pray constantly.
  10. Give thanks in everything.

Nowhere in there does he say I’ve got to pick the “right” spouse or job or country in which to live.  But rather, wherever I live, wherever I work, I need to treat others around me in these ways.

And if I do, I am joining God in His plan.  When I choose not to repay an evil, I am showing my offender God’s grace – undoubtedly His will for my life and the life of the guy who did me wrong. When I am patient with my children, I am joining God in his plan to rear them to adore a patient God. When I comfort a weeping friend, when I help a struggling student, when I make decisions with others in mind instead of just my own gain – I am following God’s will, joining in his plan.  Who else will comfort that woman if I do not?  It is God’s Will that she be comforted.

The other stuff, the big, life-changing decisions, well, if God has an opinion on those, He’ll certainly let me know.  Sometimes, He does.  But if He doesn’t speak from Heaven, I think I can exercise my right as a daughter of the King. Sometimes, a princess gets to pick whatever she likes best, as long as the choice doesn’t go outside of God’s boundaries found in His Bible.

It’s living in the aftermath of those choices that show whether I am truly following God’s will.  In this job, the one I chose, will I treat my coworkers compassionately?  With this husband, the one I chose, will I put his needs before my own?

Father, may I join you in your plan today, right where I am at. Show me Your Will.

 

March 4, 2014

Can We Know What God’s Up To?

A year ago we introduced you to the writing of Mary Argusa and today we pay a return visit to her blog, The Thought Just Occured to Me. As always you’re encouraged to read articles here at their source.

I really like the tension that this short article sets up. We have a verse that presents the idea that God’s ways are beyond anything we can understand, but then we remember in Hosea where it’s written, “So let us follow on to know the Lord.” It reminds me about a statement someone once made about prophecy and the Lord’s return, “We don’t know the day nor the hour, but we can know the times and the seasons.” There is a balance to be found in this tension.

Enjoy reading, You Just Never Know What God’s Gonna Do…Really?

For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord, so as to guide and instruct (Him) and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ, the Messiah, and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart. 1 Corinthians 2:16 Amp.

“You just never know what God’s gonna do!” I’ve heard this from both the pulpit and the pew and bought the lie hook, line and sinker. What God’s going to do will remain a mystery if one never bothers to crack open a bible and find out. The Apostle Paul wrote that believers have the mind of Christ, right now. In Heaven we’ll possess greater understanding of the totality of God’s plans and purposes. We don’t need to wait until we get there to take advantage of the mind of Christ. We can do that now.

God gave us this gift to help us comprehend how He operates. Paul wrote in the verse above that no one is in the position to tell God how to do anything. The mind of Christ helps us align our thought processes with His. It’s easier to get on board with a program when you understand the rationale behind it.

We can know beyond a shadow of a doubt what God will do. What we don’t know is how and when He’ll do it. This is where we get tripped up. If we knew everything in advance (my preference) we would go through life and never exert one ounce of faith. Having things spelled out in intricate detail ahead of time eliminates the one thing that pleases God – faith.

As children, when situations arose, our parents assured us that they’d handle them. They didn’t bother to bore us with details we wouldn’t understand. We’d take their word at face value and consider it done. This is how childlike faith in God operates. The mind of Christ helps us really know personally our Heavenly Father, His character and how He operates. We know what He’ll do and are pleasantly surprised with how He does it.

Don’t believe the religious mumbo-jumbo that God’s ways are beyond comprehension. Dig into His word and discover for yourself how He works. The next time someone tries to tell you that, “You just never know what God’s gonna do,” you can respond, “Really?”

 

March 1, 2014

Gaining Spiritual Wisdom

Spiritual WIsdom - Renewal of the Mind

Do you have friends who ask you, “How can you believe that?” To try to answer the question intellectually is to bypass an opportunity to testify and say, “In my old life I wouldn’t have believed it either, but in the renewing of my mind I know what the Holy Spirit reveals is truth.” It might not satisfy them as an answer, but it allows that you know that normal logical, deductive or intellectual capacities won’t be able to verify some things we regard as the truths of scripture.

Popular Christian author Neil Anderson (Bondage Breaker, Victory over the Darkenss) has been blogging since January of last year at the Freedom in Christ website. Yesterday he posted this article about Spiritual Wisdom, to which we’ve added the referenced scriptures.

The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth, enables us to discern good from evil and live a righteous life. How He does this is difficult for the finite mind to comprehend, but Paul offers some explanation of the process in 1 Cor. 2:6-16.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.  14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,

“Who has known the mind of the Lord
    so as to instruct him?” 

But we have the mind of Christ.

First, the natural person cannot understand spiritual truth. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (vs. 9). It is humanly impossible to understand the wisdom of God through our natural channels of perception and our limited ability to reason, “but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit” (vs. 10a).

Second, the Holy Spirit knows all things and reveals the nature of God and His will. “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” (vs. 10b). Third, as believers we have not received the spirit of this world, but we have received the Spirit who is from God. The Spirit makes known to us the things freely given by God. Fourth, we have the mind of Christ, because the very presence of God is within us. Fifth, the Holy Spirit takes words (logos), that are not taught by human wisdom but by the Spirit, and combines (brings together, or explains) them. The original language literally reads, “spirituals with spirituals.” That phrase is translated in the NIV Bible as, “words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truth in spiritual words” (vs. 13b).

Recall that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds

Do not conform 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. (Romans 12:2).

Paul says, we are to be made new in the attitudes [literally, the spirit] of our minds

23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; (Ephesians 4:23).

The Holy Spirit discloses to us the mind of Christ as we study God’s Word. The Holy Spirit then enables our thoughts and renews our minds with the Logos. The peace of Christ rules in our hearts as the Words of Christ richly dwell within us

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.(Col. 3:15,16).

Finally, the peace of God guards our hearts and our minds

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7).

We may not fully understand how God does this, but we don’t have to in order to believe that He does. Nobody can fully explain the virgin birth of Jesus, the mystery of the incarnation, the Holy Trinity, and the miracle of our new birth, but liberated Christians believe it. When we choose to believe what God says is true the Holy Spirit renews our mind and we begin to understand and see more clearly. Those who refuse to believe God and His word until they fully understand will never fully understand. Those who choose to trust God and live accordingly by faith are blessed and began to understand more fully as they mature in Christ. Thomas saw the resurrected Jesus and believed prompting Jesus to say,

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20: 29).

December 28, 2013

Is Full-Time Ministry a Higher Calling?

Today’s article is by Paul Burleson, who has been in pastoral ministry for 54 years. It appeared at his blog under the title Is Full Time Ministry a Higher Calling Than Any Other Calling?  (You’ll also find two articles from December 2013 exploding seven specific myths associated with Christmas.)

In Ephesians 4:1 Paul says this….

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called….” [the New American Standard Bible (1995)] The King James version uses the word “vocation” but it is better understood as “calling.” It is a reference to the general calling of grace that the first three chapters have described. So all Christians have a “calling” and we’re to walk accordingly.

Roman Catholic writer Michael Novak wrote a book on ‘Business as a Calling’ in which he presented four aspects of a “calling.” [His idea was in the context of business remember.] He said a calling will have …

1) An understanding that it is a personal and unique calling to you….

2) A requirement for the talents needed for the task and a love for the drudgery that may be involved in the task to which you’re called….

3) The presence of an enjoyment for and renewed energies from the doing of the task that is your calling….

4) A period of discernment and testing for [learning all about] the task to which you’re called.

Not bad.

I would think, in the Ephesians 4 context, our calling, which is to the same “Lord” Paul said he was a prisoner of in verse one and that “Lordship” calling is for EVERY true believer, might have the same characteristics about it…

1) It IS personal and unique to each of us…

2) We HAVE been gifted for our Life in Him…

3) There IS joy unspeakable in our life in Him and strength provided for the living of life…

4) We then spend the rest of our lives learning what life is all about by “hearing Him” as commanded of the Father. As I said, not bad!

I would also add what someone else has called a “fifth aspect” of a true calling and it is..

5) An orientation away from self so our goal would be the glory of God and the good of others in all things. That makes it even better.

It is obvious from all this that I believe we as Christians have accepted the universal vocation [calling] of following Christ and Novak’s ideas can be seen as relevant to that task/life.

But… is there in life a calling to a more specific vocation for all of us through which we make a living, provide for our families and, generally, live out our days on earth?

In other words, are we “called” to a career? And if we are, how do we know what we are to do for a career or livelihood? Add to that the question… is the “calling” to “full-time ministry” [career] a GREATER calling than the calling to other careers?

It is this that concept that I’m addressing today.

Since I believe ALL of life is sacred and there is NO division in scripture between the sacred and the secular [See 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.] I think we are to view ANYTHING we choose to do in life as a “calling.” A better way of saying it is we are to see anything we choose to do as an opportunity to “life-out our Lordship calling.” Choose anything you wish, but see it as a commitment to express His life in you and understand that what you do choose is a gift from Him to you.

Someone may be saying “Wait a minute Brother Paul, it sounds like you’re saying we can choose however we wish in matters of life instead of finding God’s specific will in those matters.” I am. The only WILL God has revealed to you and me specifically is that we are to live as what we are…’Sanctified people.” [1 Thess. 4:3 the rest of the chapter shows what that looks like.]

When we are committed to Him as Lord we will reflect that in whatever we choose. Our life is not to be lived trying to find out what He wishes we would do in each decision but, rather, in celebrating who He is as our Lord and making ANY decision accordingly.

So, I say marry whomever you choose, go to whatever University you wish, get whatever degree you desire, and live doing wherever you long to live doing. But in EVERY CHOICE YOU MAKE, see it as that which allows you to be effective for God in this world and bring glory to Him and good for other people. Your vocation or marriage or career or whatever, will only allow you to establish God’s order and virtue in your life and to assist other people to do the same. This is Christianity to me.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t an eternal and secret will that God is working out for us in His Divine Purposes. But it is to say that, by definition, that will is “secret” and we’ll understand in all only in “eternity.” Don’t worry. You won’t miss God in decisions. He really is in control. He’s unique that way.

By the way, as to whether a “calling to full-time ministry” is more sacred than anyone else’s, my answer is NO. It is different. It is unique to the one called. There are greater responsibilities for certain areas of life affected by that calling. But remember, all that is true of every christian’s life, as well in their unique way of living that life in employment. It’s ALL sacred and satisfying and spiritual when He is Lord.

So you obviously can see I believe every christian IS a full-time minister. Some are just placed as gifts to the Body as shepherds/pastors/elders/deacons, recognized by the body as gifts, but all Christians are gifts to and gifted for the Body of Christ in some fashion, [for ministry] and for the living of life however we live it. [Which is what ministry is.] “Whatsoever you do, do ALL to the glory of God.”

By the way, if I’m out in left field with this, don’t tell me. I’m having too much fun out here. ;)

Just kidding!

December 8, 2013

Do We Make Excuses to Get out of God’s Calling?

This article appeared at Christian Today, a UK Christian news website, and was written by Dick Slikker who lives in Harderwijk and is a consultant for mission projects, see http://www.projectcaremc.org and http://www.lessgodmorecrisis.org …you are encouraged to read this article at source.

The people of Israel were in Egypt in bondage and slavery, and they asked God to deliver them. God did not intervene immediately but he began to look for someone who could be His instrument and in the end, He did so with a baby.

Such a process is not very fast and often takes more time than we want. We sometimes find ourselves asking ‘God can it be a little faster?’. No, God likes to look for a tool or instrument that can carry out His work.

In this case, it was a baby who had to become a leader for the people of Israel and act as God wanted him to – according to His principles. The best training for him was in the court of Pharaoh and so God caused His man, Moses, to land right there and get the best education.

After 40 years, Moses understood that he was God’s chosen instrument to liberate the people of Israel. He saw it all before him (see Acts 7:22-25 and Hebrews 11:24-25), he would liberate Israel, he was to be the big man, wise in words.

But at that moment God saw that Moses was not ready and sent him for 40 years into the desert. It was a time to put into practice what he had learned. There he attended an intensive course on ‘how to survive in the wilderness’. But God also taught him not to trust in his own abilities.

He must have wondered many times how he could be so stupid to forfeit his ministry. Doubt was his greatest companion. Had Moses made a mistake in thinking he would be used by God? ‘I thought I had the training to liberate the people and now I’m right in the sand. Why?’ ‘God can use me and he doesn’t’.

After 40 years of training among the sheep and the desert, Moses no longer feels he has a task from God. His enthusiasm and his horizons have been quenched.

And then God speaks: ‘Moses, now you are finally in a way I can use you, I want you to go to Pharaoh.’ Moses was afraid (see Ex 3). In fact, he reluctant. When he was 40, he was excited, he wanted to take action and that’s why he just took it upon himself to kill someone.

By the time he was 80, all hope and expectation had disappeared. ‘God, you’re a little late,’ he must have been thinking. ‘When I was 40, I had some sense of it, but not anymore.’

Moses therefore comes with all kinds of excuses not to obey:
• Ex 3: 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
• Ex 3:13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
• Ex 4:1 Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you’?”
• Ex 4:10 Moses said to the LORD, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
• 4:13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

In other words, send somebody else.

The first excuse is so often used by us too: ‘Who am I? I cannot, I’m simply not cut out for it. You should not ask me, you should ask someone else.’ Moses was so concerned about himself that God was not in the picture.

With any excuse, God has patience but he gives a clear answer to make our excuse invalid. Of course the excuse, ‘They do not believe me,’ is still a common one. This command is not suitable for me and my audience will not respond to me.

Moses said he could not speak well and God gave him a companion. As we read in other passages, he was a powerful man in word and deed. Just like with Moses, our excuses are camouflage over what we really want to say: ‘Lord, send someone else.’

That was enough for God, he was angry (see Ex 4:14).

The first apology sounded something like: ‘I do not have much faith in myself and not really any in You.’ But in truth, they were soft expressions for: ‘I do not want this.’

And when God had rejected all excuses, Moses went anyway reluctantly to Pharaoh. God spoke so clearly that Moses knew he could not get away from it. It would have been easier for God if Moses had just been obedient in the first instance instead making all these excuses.

October 2, 2013

The Sufficiency of Scripture

EPSON scanner image

After several days of writing original pieces here at C201, I went back to mining the internet for interesting topics and articles, only to strike gold. Rebecca Writes is the blog of Rebecca Stark, and one of the features on her blog is the Theological Term of the Week. So far, she’s covered about 270 such entries, going back to 2007. I encourage you to use this resource again and again. Remember that theological terms are not necessarily Biblical terms; the entries in a theological dictionary won’t always occur in your concordance, in fact the majority won’t.

After reading many recent ones, and trying to choose a sample, I ended up going to one of the older ones, on the sufficiency of scripture, and then one of the newest, on the mortification of sin. Honestly, there are so many good articles at this blog that we might do this again sometime.


sufficiency of scripture
The principle that the words of scripture contain everything we need to know from God in order for us to be saved and to be perfectly obedient to him.
  • From scripture:

    …from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. ( 2 Timothy 3:15-17 ESV)

  • From The London Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 1, Section 6:

    The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture, to which nothing is to be added at any time, either by new revelation of the Spirit, or by the traditions of men.

  •  From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem:

    The sufficiency of Scripture also tells us that nothing is required of us by God that is not commanded in Scripture either explicitly or by implication. This reminds us that the focus of our search for God’s will ought to be on Scripture, rather than on seeking guidance through prayer for changed circumstances or altered feelings or direct guidance from the Holy Spirit apart from Scripture….

    The discovery of this great truth could bring tremendous joy and peace to the lives of thousands of Christians who, spending countless hours seeking God’s will outside of Scripture, are often uncertain about whether they have found it. In fact, many Christians today have very little confidence in their ability to discover God’s will with any degree of certainty. Thus there is little striving to do God’s will (for who can know it?) and little growth in holiness before God.

    The opposite ought to be true. Christians who are convinced of the sufficiency of Scripture should begin eagerly to seek and find God’s will in Scripture. They should be eagerly and regularly growing in obedience to God, knowing great freedom and peace in the Christian life.

Learn more

  1. GotQuestions.org: “What is the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture? What does it mean that the Bible is sufficient?”
  2. Scott McClareThe Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture
  3. Tim ChalliesThe Bible’s Sufficiency
  4. Mark Thompson: The Sufficiency of Scripture
  5. David G. Peterson: The Sufficiency of Scripture
  6. Mark Dever: God Told Me” and the Sufficiency of Scripture
  7. John MacArthur: The Sufficiency of Scripture, Part 1 (mp3); The Sufficiency of Scripture, Part 2 (mp3)
Related terms:

mortification (of sin)

A way of life in which a Christian takes an active role in “crushing sin from their lives … rooting it out, and depriving it of its influence”;1 a Christian’s active role in battling sinful habits in the power of the Spirit.

    • From scripture:

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away:anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:5-11 ESV)

[Mortification] is, then, the work of the Spirit. For, —

(1.) He is promised of God to be given unto us to do this work. The taking away of the stony heart, — that is, the stubborn, proud, rebellious, unbelieving heart, — is in general the work of mortification that we treat of. Now this is still promised to be done by the Spirit, Ezek. 11:19, 36:26, “I will give my Spirit, and take away the stony heart;” and by the Spirit of God is this work wrought when all means fail, Isa. 57:17-18.

(2.) We have all our mortification from the gift of Christ, and all the gifts of Christ are communicated to us and given us by the Spirit of Christ: “Without Christ we can do nothing,” John 15:5. All communications of supplies and relief, in the beginnings, increasings, actings of any grace whatever, from him, are by the Spirit, by whom he alone works in and upon believers. From him we have our mortification: “He is exalted and made a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto us,” Acts 5:31; and of our repentance our mortification is non small portion. How doth he do it? Having “received the promise of the Holy Ghost,” he sends him abroad for that end, the Spirit, as Tertullian speaks, “Vicariam navare operam,” to do the works that he had to accomplish in us.

Learn more:

  1. Got Questions.org: What is mortification of sin?
  2. Sinclair Ferguson: The Practice of Mortification
  3. J. Ligon Duncan: Putting Sin to Death
  4. John Owen :  The Mortification of Sin in Believers
  5. Christopher Love: The Mortification of Sin
  6. Octavius Winslow: The Believer’s Obligation to Mortify Sin
  7. John MacArthur: The Mortification of Sin (pdf)

Related terms:

July 26, 2013

He Will Direct Your Paths

He Will Direct Your Paths

My wife and I met at a Christian summer camp, and now both of our sons work there in the summer. Camp IAWAH takes its name from Proverbs 3:6 “In All Ways Acknowledge Him (and He will direct your paths).”  Here’s what some people have written about this verse…

Billy Graham

In all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths. — Proverbs 3:6 (NIV)

Are you facing a significant decision? Then look again at these words in Proverbs 3:6. Implicit in this verse is the truth that God knows what is best for us, and that He wants to guide us so we will make right, God-honoring decisions.

When you face a decision about your future, seek God’s will above all else. Make your decision a matter of prayer, and ask Him to guide. If we are truly open to His will, He will direct us.

Does this mean we should just wait around until God gives us some kind of miraculous sign or deep inner conviction? No, not necessarily. God wants us to be practical. Do research if you need to; understand yourself and your gifts; seek the advice of others. Make your decision in the light of God’s Word also; God never leads us to do anything that is contrary to the Bible.

Remember, too, that God often guides us only one step at a time—but that is all we need to know. So don’t be anxious. Trust God to guide you, and He will.

Colin D. Smith

…Proverbs 3:5 exhorted us to trust in the Lord wholeheartedly, and not to lean on our own understanding of things. That is, I think, the attitude we should have toward life. The next verse seems to me to be speaking more practically: acknowledge the Lord in all your ways.

The words for “ways” and “paths” are two different words in Hebrew, but very close to each other in meaning. The first, derek, often means simply a road, or a journey, but can be used metaphorically to refer to one’s behavior, or “life-journey.” The second, ‘orach, refers to a stretch of road too, but seems to lean more toward referring to one’s manner or behavior. From this, I think we get the gist of what the proverb is telling us: in all aspect of your life, acknowledge the Lord, and He will keep your life correctly oriented.

I should note that “acknowledge” is the way the Hebrew verb yada’–”to know”–is commonly translated here. This is a perfectly legitimate translation, and the one that makes best sense in the context. To “know” the Lord as you travel life’s byways is to acknowledge Him, and to take every twist and turn leaning upon Him for guidance and direction.

Indeed, I think this is the lesson of the verse. Life throws us curveballs. Not just once in a while, but often. Our best-laid plans are frequently thwarted, and it’s not unusual for us to feel frustrated when things don’t go our way. To quote that classic movie, The Princess Bride, “Life is pain… Anyone who says differently is selling something.” Sure, there’s a lot that good and joyful about our lives, but we know it’s all too frequently not an easy road.

But if we’re trusting in the Lord, leaning upon His wisdom and not our own, and acknowledging His presence in our lives, His goodness, and His wisdom, He will help us keep our eyes lifted up. The burdens of life, while still present, will be easier to bear. As we keep our eyes on the Lord, by His grace we will be less inclined to wander into sin and despair, and more able to maintain a right perspective, and a godly attitude…

Darrell Creswell

What the scripture is saying here is to Know Him, see Him, seek Him, always have Him in your mind, in your heart and let it be His consideration that you always turn to.

As you see things before you always have Him in view in front of you, in your side-view mirrors and in your rear-view mirrors; let it be Him that is in view in all that you see. The Lord is ever-present with you. Let him be the ground beneath you as you step, and do not take one step without Him. Follow His lead, His wisdom, and His divine advice in all that you do.

Ask of Him to have the wisdom to endure and the strength to overcome in all situations. As you seek the Lord let His Word counsel and direct your steps as you walk in His providence. He will be your guide lest you stray. Let it be your mindset to submit to His divine plan for your life and follow Him wherever He leads as you walk not after the flesh in your own understanding, but in the Spirit as He leads you in the path of His righteousness.

So be still and know that He is your God; your Help in the time of need; your Rescue; your Guide and your Shelter. He will always do what is right for you according to His will and plan that He might be glorified in your life. So give Him the glory and the praise for what He has done, is doing and will continue to do in your life.

What we need to understand, that everything in our lives are completely under God’s control. As Jesus died upon the cross sin and death were defeated, and in His seemingly weakest hour, the strength of God was made manifest as redemption was poured out for the first time upon all mankind. In that weakness and pain and suffering that Jesus endured, the power of the living God rested upon the world bringing salvation and restoration to all humanity. We are the recipients of that grace.

It is by His hand you were created and it is by His hand that He will make your paths straight as all that you need in life flows freely from the throne of grace. It is the Almighty God that sits upon that throne acknowledging you, loving you and providing for you. All good things come from Him.

In the same way, Jesus gives us comfort, direction and victory in our lives even when we feel we are overwhelmed by the circumstances around us. We can find wonderful things out of even the darkest moments of our lives. Our Lord is present with us when it is the very darkness. He has planned that even the darkest of situations that we face will result in redemptive good for us. He surrendered His very own Son to death so that we could have life. He does not abandon us, He saves us.

Isaiah 40:21 Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether it be to the right or to the left.

God is always right here, walking beside us, urging us on when we wander left or right saying – “This is the right road. Walk down this road”.

Blog: My Lord, My Friend

“Think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.”

We are all on a journey through this life on earth and we all have a final destination in eternity either with God or without God.

Yes the God that created us wants us to spend eternity with Him. That is what we were created for but somehow free will allows us to choice of  a journey and an eternity without Him.

How sad it would be an eternity without him. without His Love which is real love from which all love grows and through free will that love can become distraughted. In Him {Our Lord and Our Friend} we have a purpose on our journey, and we have a destiny, and with Him, it is the most exciting and wonderful journey and destiny of all.

The above scripture says THINK about Him {Our Lord and Our Friend} and He will guide you on the right paths. He will always be there to help, but even if we take or have taken the wrong paths, He is always there waiting to help us, to get us back on the right track.

In the Sermon on the Mount {Beatitudes}, Jesus told us to enter the narrow gate, for the gate is wide, and the highway is broad that leads to destruction, and many are traveling that way.

Mathew 7 verse 13 “Enter through the narrow gate”  Verse 14 ” How narrow is the gate and difficult is the road that leads to life, and Few find it.”

Ask Our Lord and Our Friend and He will lead you, and be with you, and help you no matter what difficulty you go through.

He has said if we Ask Him, He will Never leave us or Forsake us. Think about Him in all your ways, and what a wonderful journey through life you will have {He did say it wouldn’t be easy, but He did say He would always be with us all the way.}

God Bless  you on your journey .

In All Ways Acknowledge Him

Image: Darell Creswell (click to link). Got a verse you’d like to see covered here? Send us a suggestion and consider being one of the 4-6 writers we use.

Camp Iawah is an interdenominational faith ministry in Ontario, Canada that is sustained by camp fees and the support of contributors.

June 4, 2013

Making Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians My Prayer

This is a first-time feature for the blog Grow Deep by Jerrell Jobe. This piece appeared under the title Paul’s Colosssian Prayer — click the title to link — and is part of a current series. The author personalizes the prayers of Paul; I’ve added the link for those who wish to review the original text.

The New Testament letter’s penned by the Apostle Paul contain instruction and doctrine, but they are also very personal. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul writes, “we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”

Paul saw prayer as a significant element of the on-going transformation within the life of those he discipled. Not only their prayers, but the prayers he prayed for them. In nearly every letter we have by Paul, he makes note that he has been praying continuously for them. In a few places Paul even gives us a glimpse into not only the constancy of his prayers, but the content as well. There’s much we can learn about prayer from simply reflecting on they types of things Paul prayed. The past couple of weeks in New Community, we’ve been reflecting on Paul’s prayers.

I’ve encouraged  everyone to take the passages/prayers that we’re studying and commit to pray them throughout the week for:

  • themselves/immediate family,
  • someone they are close to, and
  • someone they have a hard time being around (but must interact with on a regular basis).
In addition to studying and reflecting on Paul’s prayers as they are written, each week, I’ve offered a rewrite of the passage. A remix, if you will, of the passage, what it means and how we could practically pray it for ourselves and others.
The following is the rewrite for Colossians 1:9-14.
 
God I pray that you grant unto me an experiential encounter with Your truth – the knowledge of Your will. Renovate my mind and establish the blueprints to Your kingdom deep within my heart. God, help me to see things from Your perspective. Everything, from who I am to what I do. Invade every sphere of my life – private to public. May I live as if You were living through me. I pray the very minute details of my life will bring an unending smile to Your face.
 
God, more and more, let me learn how to keep in step with Your Spirit in every part of my life. As I follow Your leading, the way You want things to be done, may my life be marked by the out-flowing of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
 
Father, expand the horizon of my vision, until I see Your present-activity in virtually every arena of my life. Strengthen me with the power of Your Spirit. As I’m empowered according to Your might, may I not bow down as a despondent coward in the face of adversity and difficult circumstances. No, in the power of Your might, may I find the wherewithal to stand and not give up. When I’m mistreated and in the midst of difficult people, may I be slow to anger and respond to others with love and grace.
Finally, I desire to be a wellspring of joy, giving thanks to you at every occasion. May I not get bogged down with the snares of this world to the point of my joy becoming strangled and my heart diminishing into decadence of complaining. May I never lose sight of the reality that I was once aimlessly wandering in sin, shrouded by death and held captive under the dominion of darkness. Not so any longer! I have been rescued out of darkness, snatched out of death and transferred into the kingdom of the Son of Your delight. I have been chosen, forgiven and redeemed because of Your never-ending love.
Amen!
…Here’s another example of taking scripture and making it personal that we looked at just over a year ago at Thinking Out Loud under the curiosity-inducing title A New Kind of Bible Translation.
…This passage from Colossians is one of my favorites. We’ve talked about it many times here, including some shorter earlier blog posts from 2010 here and here.

July 4, 2012

Finding God’s Direction

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.   Isaiah 30: 20-21 (NLT)

Ever wish you could see God’s entire plan for your life like a giant road map?

Back in the day, if you were heading on a vacation trip to a place in the U.S. or Canada where you’d never been before, if you were a member of AAA (or CAA) you could request a trip guidebook.  Using previously printed pages representing different highway sections, someone would assemble a series of these ‘strip maps’ into a booklet that also provided commentary on places of interest, restaurants and motels.

Hard to imagine in a world of MapQuest and GPS tracking.

These ‘strip maps’ are a closer representation as to how life presents itself to us.  We’re given direction that is sufficient for the day, but don’t always know how the pieces of the journey are going to form an overall story.  It’s not unlike walking across a stream using stepping stones, and stopping on each to determine where to put your feet next.

Chuck Smith says of our key verse: “How glorious to be led of the Spirit and having God say, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’ What is the way? The way of waiting upon God and trusting in Him.”

As C.S. Lewis once suggested, to understand how God sees time, draw a line with two ends in a blank sheet of paper, then look at the entire paper. We see the line as a progression, but God sees it as a whole. We live within time, but God is eternal and separate.

Another way to say this is that the difference between our perception of time and God’s might be compared to having a travel atlas where the journey across a country or a continent reveals the beginning and the end. This is the type of “big picture” that God has. Our perception would be more flipping through the strip map, getting the journey in small bite size pieces.

I’m told Lewis also compares our perception and God’s perception to the difference between sitting at a level crossing waiting for a long train to pass by.  Each car passes sequentially, one after the other. But miles above, as seen from an airplane, the entire train is visible from beginning to end, and as it slowly snakes its way through the mountains and valleys, seems to almost be standing still.

The problem is, we want the big picture. We want to know where the story is going. But information is supplied on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour and even minute-by-minute basis.

If anyone can find a link to the Lewis/train story, or knows an equally good time analogy, feel free to add it in the comments.

~PW

April 15, 2012

Spiritual Transformation

Today we introduce you to yet another new blog, I Want to Believe in God by Justin Powell; where this post appeared recently under the title Be Transformed.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” –Romans 12:2

There are two parts to man—the spirit and the natural.  The natural part of man is what the Bible often refers to as our “flesh.” I realize my flesh will never be satisfied.  Man was created to walk in the Spirit but our flesh calls us to darkness and wishes for us to remain there.  Lust by nature and definition cannot be satisfied.  Our carnal lusts will continually want more.  It is only through Christ that we can walk in the Spirit and seek the will of God in our lives.

The Chuck Smith commentary on this verse states:

“Many people seek to relate man to animals, because they want to live like them. Animals don’t possess a spirit and live solely on a body-conscious level.  So, the man who wants to feel free of any responsibility to God disclaims his spiritual capacities and proclaims himself a highly evolved animal. He’s constantly searching for the missing link between himself and the ape.  Natural man does have a missing link, but it’s not between man and the animal kingdom, but between man and God.  Man, once created in the image of God, has fallen from the spirit-controlled being he once was to the flesh-controlled creature he has become.”

Once we have tasted the goodness of the Lord our spirit is never content unless we are walking in the will of God.  If we are Christians but led by our flesh, then we are not walking in the will of God and this will only bring confusion, bondage, strain, depression and discontent.  That is not the joy the Bible talks about.  Jesus offers a way out and a way to freedom—it’s called being a disciple.  The way to freedom is to simply follow Jesus, so what do we have to do to be a disciple of Jesus?

Jesus said:

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Be strong today and be encouraged because Christ is with you!  When your flesh calls you to darkness rely on the power of Christ and His word to lead you from temptation.

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” -1 Corinthians 10:13 

Glory to God and Christ our Savior!

~Justin Powell

Read more at the same blog by the same author: The Lord Has Set Peace Before You.

April 9, 2012

Praying According To God’s Will

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This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us – 1 John 5:14

Embracing the will of God is the highest attainment of prayer.  If the petitions we lift up to our heavenly Father are in harmony with his purposes, we can be fully confident he will hear them.  Of course, he might not answer in the manner or the time that we expect, for he knows the need better than we do and he will orchestrate his reply to conform to his higher and nobler design for our lives.

How can we ensure that our prayers are “according to his will”?

Keep in mind that

  • we pray not to inform God’s mind, for he already knows all things even before we ask. 
  • We pray not to change his mind, for he already has a plan in place and knows what is best. 

Rather, we pray to receive his mind – to ask him to place his desires in our hearts so we can become cooperative instruments of the work he desires to do on the earth.

~found on a church bulletin, source unknown.

And if you missed this at Thinking Out Loud earlier today…

Really, really looking forward to getting my computer back! In the meantime, here’s a great song for Easter Monday. Most people know the version here by Robin Mark, but there’s also the Bethel Live version which rocks it out a bit more and adds a bridge after some of the verses. Apparently, the song is a Welsh hymn, though most people would assume it to be part of the modern worship repertoire.

God’s grace and love… vast as the ocean.

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