Posts Tagged ‘ God’s will ’

June 27, 2017

June 27, 2017

PSALM 74-77

Focus Verse: Your way, O God, is holy;
What god is great like our God?
Psalm 77:13

 

God’s way isn’t just right. His way isn’t just what’s best for us. His way isn’t just better than our way. God’s way is HOLY because He is holy. Interesting translation point here, the Hebrew root used here for ‘holy’ is qodesh, but the actual Hebrew word used here is baqqōdeš, which is commonly translated as “holy place” or “in the sanctuary”.

 

Isn’t that an interesting translation? God’s way is in His holy place. God’s way is in His sanctuary. God’s way is in His temple.

 

So let’s mash some verses together (while remaining exegetically responsible of course). 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 6:19 tells us that our hope is an anchor of our soul, one that holds us within the veil. The veil was what separated the rest of the temple from the holy of holies. So our anchor holds within the holiness of God. I listened to a sermon by Mark Batterson just this morning (isn’t God timing great!) about how the technique the writer of Hebrews is talking about here doesn’t have as much to do with stopping a ship from moving as it does navigating a ship through treacherous waters. If that’s the case, then our navigating anchor holds within God’s holiness.

 

So let’s land this plane. You are a temple of the Holy Spirit the minute you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. So inside of you there is THE SOURCE of holiness – the Holy Spirit! Inside of this temple is also the way of God…God’s will. The will of God is not a mystical path that you need to find! It’s not some ‘fountain of youth’ or other hidden treasure that God keeps burying somewhere else to keep you searching forever. The will of God is INSIDE of you!

 

His way is completely perfect. His way is completely holy. And his way is completely attainable. As long as you are following the Holy Spirit, God’s way is INSIDE of you. How can you know whether or not you’re following the Holy Spirit? Is Jesus your Lord and Savior? Are you listening to Him and willing to do what He asks of you? Then you’re in it! Let His will carry you.

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June 21, 2017

June 21, 2017

PSALM 36-39

Focus Verse: Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
My ears You have opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.”
Psalm 40:6-8

 

I love this. God doesn’t want sacrifices and offerings – He just wants YOU! Hebrews 10:5-10 shows us how Jesus lived out these verses, and we are called to do the same.

 

It’s a beautiful thing, that God doesn’t want anything more than us. He doesn’t want your works, He doesn’t want your possessions, He just wants a relationship with you. That’s mind blowing. The God of the universe, the One who created everything you see around, everything you can imagine, wants nothing more than YOU and a relationship with you. That’s the most beautiful thing in the world.

 

At the same time though, this is a steep commitment. Let’s face it, it’s easy to offer sacrifices and offerings, then walk away and forget all about our “church life”. In the grand scheme of things, it is much more costly to offer up your life than it is to offer any offering or sacrifice. Offering your life to God is all-inclusive, your very life becomes the offering and sacrifice.

 

Paul summarizes this perfectly in Philippians 2:17 when he says, “Even if I am being pour out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I will rejoice and share my joy with you all.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it this way, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

 

It is a dear price to pay, to give your life over to the will of God, but I can promise you that the cost is worth it. In the end, when you give the whole of your life to Christ, there is no question you will shout from the mountain tops, “I delight to do Your will, O my God”!

June 20, 2017

June 20, 2017

PSALM 36-39

Focus Verse: Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:5

 

This tends to be one of the more misused Bible verses that I have come across in my time as a Christ follower. I think that it’s very easy to look at this verse as a legalistic verse, that if we follow God and do everything on the ‘Christian checklist’ then he will give in to all of our demands and requests.

 

But that’s not a good reading of the qualifier of this verse, “Delight yourself in the Lord”. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, His heart becomes our heart, His desires become our desires, His will becomes our will. It has nothing to do with doing anything. It has everything to do with relationship.

 

Is God your sole desire? Or is there something you want from Him that’s more important to you than He is? Is there a relationship that you need restored that’s more important to you than God? If so, you will never get that relationship restored enough. Is there a financial blessing that’s more important to you than God? If so, then you will never be financially secure enough.

 

Set God as the sole desire of your heart and I promise you He will give you the other secondary desires as well. What I’ve found in my own life is that it’s not even that God gives me everything I thought I wanted, it’s that He changes my heart to only want the things that He wants for me.

 

I never wanted to be a pastor…until I made God the sole desire of my heart, and then, slowly, over time, He changed my heart and called me into ministry. Now there isn’t a day that goes by that I question my decision to leave my job and follow Him. But it didn’t start with me seeking a job. It started with me seeking Him.

June 15, 2017

June 15, 2017

PSALM 9-16

Focus Verse: The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You support my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.
Psalm 16:5-6

 

I want to give you peace this morning. Well, not me personally, but God wants to give you peace this morning. He wants to give you peace all the time, and if you remain focused on this verse, you will have peace. The Lord is our portion. He supports our lot. Again, I’m going to jump to the original Hebrew because the word ‘lot’ is not one that we use much today. The Hebrew word here comes from the word ‘Goral’ which is commonly translated lot, allotted portion, land, territory allotted…etc. So, do you get the gist now? God IS your portion and He supports everything that you have been given.

 

All that you have, all that you do, all that you are is because God has ordained it. You are where you are, you are when you are and you are with what you have for HIS purpose for you life. God doesn’t make mistakes, and even when we do, He redeems those.

 

This is the most common question that I get as a pastor: “How do I know that I’m doing the will of God?” Well, do you believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior? Do you listen to the Holy Spirit and obey His leading? If you answered yes to both of those, then congratulations! You are doing the will of God!

 

It’s so much simpler than we make it. I’ve heard the comparison that the will of God is not so much a path that we must find and follow as much as it is a river that we jump in and allow it to carry us. I love that description! The Holy Spirit will carry us where we need to go. You want to talk about streams of living water! Let His river carry you.

 

When I was offered the opportunity to go into full time ministry, it was a scary decision. I wanted to go, I wanted to do it, but I was scared to leave my job as a high school English teacher. I liked that job, I was good at it and the retirement and benefits were very secure. Needless to say, I prayed a whole lot about that decision and asked a lot of friends to join me in covering that decision in prayer.

 

I will never forget the advice that one friend gave me though. He told me, “In all of the huge decisions I have made for God, I’ve never been 100% certain – there has always been an element of faith involved. Don’t look for 100% certainty or you’ll never do anything.” That was the most truthful advice I have ever received. I am afraid that so many Christians have missed out on so many awesome ministry opportunities because they’ve been waiting for a fleece to come back wet instead of just jumping in the river and letting the Holy Spirit take them down God’s will.

 

So here’s the peace I want to give you today…that God wants you to have with you always: you are exactly where God wants you to be right now. If you are reading this and you do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, now is the time. Get out of that dirty, gross river of your will that you’ve been struggling to keep your head above water in, and get washed in the river of God’s will for your life. His river holds healing for you, forgiveness, salvation, redemption, and a peace of knowing that the One who hung the stars and charted their courses in the sky is also directing your path.

 

God is your portion. He is supporting you. Do everything you can to grow IN HIM, do everything you can to be the best you can possibly be FOR HIM, but never forget to be content with where God has you in this moment. YOU ARE IN HIS WILL. Trust that He has you right where He needs you to be and let the Holy Spirit guide you through the currents of His grace and mercy.

May 30, 2017

May 30, 2017

ESTHER 1-5

Focus Verse: On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown in order to display her beauty to the people and the princes, for she was beautiful.
Esther 1:10-11

 

This is a random passage for a focus verse…but that’s exactly how God works – through random events that don’t make any sense to us.

 

The book of Esther is named for its main character, but I think the actual main character in the story is God. If I were in charge of picking the title of Esther, I would title it, The Secret Workings of the Grand Weaver. Aren’t you glad I’m not in charge of naming books of the Bible?

 

God isn’t mentioned at all in Esther, yet He is clearly the main character. There aren’t any flashy miracles, any huge military victories in which God goes before the Israelite army and defeats their foes, no huge “God intervention” like we’ve seen in other books of the Bible.

 

Yet through every situation, God is present and working His magic behind the scenes.

 

Esther is such a good example of how God works through everyday life. Now maybe you’re life is categorized by miracles, signs and wonders every day. If so, good for you! Mine personally is not, but that doesn’t mean that God isn’t moving. I think that all of our lives are categorized by daily miracles, I just don’t think that we see all of them.

 

The book of Esther speaks to that, and it all starts with King Xerxes getting drunk and summoning his wife to come show off her beauty to all of his friends. Not really how you’d expect a great move of God to start, is it? But think about it, if Xerxes doesn’t get drunk, he most likely doesn’t call on his wife to do something ridiculous (excessive alcohol and ridiculous behavior often go hand in hand), if he doesn’t call Queen Vashti to do something ridiculous, Vashti doesn’t disobey the King, and if Vashti doesn’t disobey the King, then Xerxes never replaces her with Esther.

 

There is no book of Esther if King Xerxes doesn’t get drunk. Moral of the story, go out and get wasted so that you can help the next Esther take her rightful place. NO! Please do not take that from this story.

 

The point of the story is that God is really good at getting us where He wants us to be. The point of the story is that God can redeem our mistakes and the mistakes of others (yes, Xerxes getting drunk was a mistake, not a noble deed) and use them for His perfect will to be done.

 

No one will question that it was an absolute miracle that Esther was in a position to request that King Xerxes save the Jewish people from the genocide that his official, Haman had planned for them; that Esther and Mordecai found more favor with Xerxes than Haman, his closest advisor.

 

So even though Xerxes getting drunk doesn’t look like a miracle, Vashti being exiled doesn’t look like a miracle, Esther being chosen as a finalist in a beauty competition doesn’t look like a miracle…they all add up to a piece of art that could only be crafted by the Grand Weaver, the God of all creation.

 

So rejoice today! God is weaving your mundane into a work of art! Making copies today might be the lynchpin in His perfect plan to do something amazing. Walking your dog could be an integral part of someone else’s salvation. You never know what God is going to use in His plan of redemption. Actually you do…He is going to use all things as we are told in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

 

You have been called to HIS purpose! There is no such thing as ordinary for you anymore! As you walk in obedience to Him, every step you take is a miracle that the Grand Weaver is using to advance His Kingdom! Now THAT is a promise to walk in!

May 23, 2017

May 23, 2017

EZRA 8-10

Focus Verse: So now let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.
Ezra 10:3

 

I went a different route for today’s reading. This passage is an example of a passage in the Bible that rubs me the wrong way. I don’t like to think about these men bailing on their families because they were idiots and disobeyed their God. And actually, I’m not going to spend any time defending this passage. Instead, I want to talk about what my choices are when I come across a passage of scripture like this.

 

First, I could choose to ignore the passage. This is the route most people take, primarily because it’s the easiest. I continue living in my little bubble with my safe ideas of who God is. This passage, even though it clearly doesn’t support my idea of God, is just “one of those verses”, so I can push it to the back seat of the car and continue driving. The problem with this is that eventually my backseat is going to be filled up with a lot of baggage. And any psychologist worth his or her salt will tell you that unresolved baggage isn’t a good thing.

 

Second, I can choose to say that the Bible is wrong and I am right. No one will come out and say it this boldly, because in saying it straightforward like that, we realize how pompous and arrogant it makes us…because that is exactly what this stance is…a pompous and arrogant stance. Who would actually have the audacity to say that? “I think I am in a better moral position than God here.” No one would say that!

 

Now there are shades of this that aren’t as extreme, but they are all rooted in the same beginning, and therefore have the same outcome. We can fall back on the tired argument that the Bible was written by humans, so this is just an example of some of the human bias that snuck in while the Holy Spirit wasn’t being sovereign and guiding this whole process along.

 

The problem with all of these shades is that they lead you to the same outcome: if they are true, then God’s Word is faulty. If God’s Word cannot be depended on to be our moral authority in one verse, what other verses got messed up? It’s a nice stance for those who like to make their own religion, because we’ve built a pretty nice case for a cut and paste Bible. We get to pick which verses live up to our standards and push the rest off to the backseat. And I’ve already discussed what happens with stuff in the backseat.

 

Then there’s the third option. This option says that I will wrestle with this passage. It’s coming to God through His living Word and asking Him, “God, why?” It’s being completely honest and transparent with God (a silly notion, being transparent with God, since He already knows all our thoughts) and saying, “God, I don’t like this. Why would you have the Israelites do this? Did you have a reason? Were they acting out of Your will? What’s going on here?”

 

The key to this approach is making up your mind beforehand on how you will react to God’s answer. You must predetermine that God is the moral authority here, that His ways are higher than ours, that His Kingdom’s culture is the only perfect culture, and that ultimately, whatever God tells you, you will bend to His way.

 

I have heard God’s Word compared to sandpaper. The areas that rub you the wrong way are places in your life that He is trying to smooth out and polish. The longer you resist, the harder He has to rub you down. Praise God though! We have a God who loves us enough to walk with us and help change us into His perfect image!

May 22, 2017

May 22, 2017

EZRA 4-7

Focus Verse: Blessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to adorn the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem, and has extended lovingkindness to me before the king and his counselors and before all the king’s mighty princes. Thus I was strengthened according to the hand of the Lord my God upon me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.
Ezra 7:27-28

 

I absolutely love the story of Ezra. It reminds me so much of one of the darkest seasons that I have every walked through in my life. So why on earth would I love it so much? Because it’s those dark seasons and the fact that I am still standing firm in Christ that remind me how absolutely faithful, how absolutely true, how absolutely wonderful our God is! He has never failed me, He has never forsaken me, and even when I’ve felt alone, He has never left my side. Ezra is a great reminder of that.

 

If you skipped the fist few chapter of Ezra up to this point, the Israelites hit some opposition in their rebuilding process. Their enemies come and make some slanderous accusations – accusations that appear to defeat God’s call in their lives to rebuild His temple.

 

But God’s call cannot be defeated, and we would do well to remember this. Sometimes we get too focused on defending ourselves. We’ve gotten very good at it, with our social media fights and faceless wars. We are masters at defending our own honor. But sometimes when we defend our own honor, we don’t leave room for God to do it for us.

 

This was what I walked through. All sorts of accusations were made about me, but through it all I felt God tell me to allow Him to be my defender. And He did just that!

 

I can’t help but smile as I read through Ezra today. The Israelites thought they were defeated so many times. And man have I been there! So many, “God! Why would you bring me this far just to let them win!” moments. But God takes our defeats and turns them into victories.

 

Because the enemies of the Israelites complain, the officials look into the official decree of Darius, only to find that they aren’t doing enough to help the Israelites! Only God could pull that kind of turn around! What looks like a crushing defeat, God turns into a payday!

 

And He will do the same for you. Trust Him. Cling to His will and know that if God has called you, He will defend you. You don’t have to defend yourself.

 

We receive unmerited favor from God because Jesus, who deserved all of the favor of God, gave His up for us. He traded us the glory He deserved and took on the punishment that we deserved. Through Christ, God has written the ultimate comeback story in your and my life. What a Savior!