Discerning God’s Will

A Christian is obsessed with God’s will. Our love of the LORD is synonymous with obedience to His Word (John 14:15). To know it. To do it. To serve Him is our greatest privilege. God’s Word speaks to so much but what about the things it does not speak to specifically? 

As I read today’s scripture I’m reminded of advice I received with regard to discerning God’s will: focus on His revealed will. When we are faced with decisions in life that we cry out for discernment on we need to look to scripture and focus on God’s revealed will. In the past, I have acted like a child, just wanting my answer for my particular situation. ‘Should I major in this or that… God’s word says to love people… right, right, but what about my major….’

I have heard it said that God does not care when it comes to these smaller things. You may have heard it phrased as a question; “Does God really care who wins the super bowl?” In my estimation, of course He does! I have come to believe God cares about everything (1John 4:8). I have also come to believe that God knows everything (Psalm 139:4). If God is love (opposite of not caring) and God knows everything, my faith strengthens me to believe that His revealed will contains all I need (Isaiah 46:9-10, Romans 8:28, 2Corinthians 12:9). And so by the grace of God, those who love God, can face a specific decision and know that God’s will for you is fully contained in God’s revealed will. Praise God that we need not over complicate things nor worry and that obeying God is simple and the burden light if we let it be! (1John 5:3, Ecclesiastes 7:9) #FaithForward 

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Today’s reading: 1 Kings 22; 1 Thessalonians 5; Daniel 4; Psalms 108–109

Suggestions for prayer: Ask God to place on you a love for His Word and to light your path.

For further study: Make a study of all the places in scripture where God reveals His will. Copy them down and share them with your family at the dinner table (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Ask your family to join in and add to the family collection of God’s revealed will.  

What kind of inheritance will you leave?

Today’s readings in 1 Kings reminded me of a verse in Exodus 20 that helps us realize the importance of loving the LORD with all our heart for our family’s sake (a/k/a following God’s commands, 1John 5:3, John 14:15 ). How what we do now affects our family in the future. 

Here was the scripture that reminded me of this important truth in leaving an inheritance:

He committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been. Nevertheless, for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising up a son to succeed him and by making Jerusalem strong. – 1 Kings 15:3-4

Here is the scripture in Exodus 20 that it reminded me of:

“You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. – Exodus 20:3-6

Proverbs tells us a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s, children (Proverbs 13:22). In a world that may try to have us think money is the best form of inheritance, would believing so be putting money before God and actually undermining a true inheritance of lasting wealth? Is there anything that we could leave more precious than God’s Word that calls us and restores us to Him? Anything more precious than loving God and keeping His commandments? Do we need to reevaluate, in truth, our inheritance plan?

May God’s inheritance be rich in love toward Him. May the parents have wisdom (right living, James 2:13) to disciple the children of God’s inheritance. 

 

Originally published on BibleJournal.net from October 9th, 2016’s reading: 1 Kings 15; Colossians 2; Ezekiel 45; Psalms 99–101

Marriage and Family Advice

Ephesians 5 is rich with advice on relationships. At the center of all relationships are the marriage and the family. God established them in the beginning for good reason and in good and perfect design. I have heard them referred to as ‘just another place to walk your Christian faith’ and in the same breath ‘thee most important and challenging place to do so,’ which gives them the familiar simple but challenging label. Praise God for His Word that reveals the truth and guides us! Here is the simple recipe for a blessed family:

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. – Ephesians 5:18-21

So that is it, a simple four point checklist. There is a lot out there written on how to have a successful marriage and family. Let us quite all the noise for a moment and remember God’s recipe. Here’s a four point checklist that we use in our family. It is labeled the real issues to remind us that God’s word is the authority in our lives and our relationships. These are instructions on what each family member has in Christ.

The real issues of blessed family:

  1. Spirit filled; under the obedience of God’s Word
  2. Singing hearts of joy; speaking in psalms/spiritual songs to one another
  3. Saying thanks; ever thankful, ever grateful
  4. Submitting our will to the others’; going last, putting others first  

The image I used for this post is a heart that Jamie made to remind us of these real issues of a blessed family. It is placed on our fridge right next to handle, a little in the way but never out of place.

Extra Credit: free ~11 hour study resource marriage, parenting, and family: The Fulfilled Family

 

Originally published on BibleJournal.net from October 5th, 2016’s reading: 1 Kings 8; Ephesians 5; Ezekiel 38; Psalm 89

Giving Thanks

So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture
Will give thee thanks for ever:
We will shew forth thy praise to all generations.
– Psalm 79:13

I really enjoy how Psalm 79 closes. After a long list of cries to our LORD the Psalmist ends with Praise. It reminded me of the reference to Isaiah 54:1 from our reading in Galatians 4 verse 27 that I had just read.

For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. – Galatians 4:27

This reference to Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, reads an encouragement to Sarah and a reminder to us all that even if things do not seem to be going according to what we think is best, our God is good and His promises are true. All we need to do is remember and believe, trust in Him and praise His name!

Originally published on BibleJournal.net from September 28, 2016’s reading: 2 Samuel 24; Galatians 4; Ezekiel 31; Psalm 79

A Nation’s Leader

Psalm 72 is a beautiful prayer for a nation. It’s focus is primarily on its leader. In its recipe for a prosperous nation we find a leader who knows the truth from lies and acts in truth and righteousness, a leader who brings up other strong leaders, a system that brings peace to the people and a people who fear the LORD. On the other hand, we see in scripture how a nation and people who turn from God are handed over to confusion, not being able to discern the truth from lies, they pursue emptiness and the nation declines.

  • Romans 1:18-32 – Turning away from God, being handed over
  • Isaiah 1:21-31 – Outcomes: systematic ruin of economy and justice
  • Isaiah 3:2-6 – Outcomes: weak leaders
  • 2 Timothy 3:1-7 – Outcomes: false believers
  • 2 Timothy 4:3-4 – Outcomes: false religion
  • Deuteronomy 28 – Compare and contrast

May we be the salt of the earth and preserve the old ways.

Originally published on BibleJournal.net from September 21, 2016’s reading: 2 Samuel 17; 2 Corinthians 10; Ezekiel 24; Psalm 72

Discerning People

There is so much in the Bible instructing us not to judge others and at the same time there is much in the Bible instructing us on how to judge others righteously, even warning us that we need to be able to look to the fruit to understand who a person is. How could this be? We know the Bible does not contradict itself. I have come to believe that one of the worst attacks on the truth is the weakening of the language. For example, my understanding is that our word ‘judge’ is translated from 20 different original words. Imagine all the instructive contextual meaning that was lost in this mashup. It is then up to us to investigate the difference between attempting to judge the heart and motive of another and discriminating between the truth and a lie, or put another way, between life giving righteousness and sin that leads to death.

After this the king of the Ammonites died, and Hanun his son reigned in his place. And David said, “I will deal loyally with Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father dealt loyally with me.” So David sent by his servants to console him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the Ammonites. But the princes of the Ammonites said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think, because David has sent comforters to you, that he is honoring your father? Has not David sent his servants to you to search the city and to spy it out and to overthrow it?” So Hanun took David’s servants and shaved off half the beard of each and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away. 2 Samuel 10:1-4

It is sad to read the rest of the account and how this terrible misjudgment lead to war. Here are a couple lessons I think we can learn from this reading:

  1. Be careful who you lend your ear to, from whom you take your advice. Instead of a righteous judgement in truth: perhaps considering the question, “is it a good thing that David sent comforters?”, the suspicious questions Hanun received from his advisors were aimed directly at David’s motives. And they missed by a mile.
  2. Do not judge motives. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) But again what is the difference in judging and discerning? The Bible warns us again and again that judging others come with heavy and dire consequences as does not discriminating. God please help us get this right.

If you are looking for answers to understanding the difference between sinful and righteous judgment, I recently listened to a sermon called Stop Criticizing that I would recommend. It was part of a series called Mishandled: Setting the Record Straight on Frequently Abused Bible Verses. It is on judging and worked from Jesus’s teaching on human relations from His Sermon on the Mount, while also taking a comprehensive look at the Scripture as it relates to this subject.

 

Originally published on BibleJournal.net from  reading: 2 Samuel 10; 2 Corinthians 3; Ezekiel 17; Psalms 60–61

Discerning Faith

 

1st Corinthians Chapter 12 is so rich with practical wisdom for living. Individualism and teamwork. Pride and humility. Comparison, jealousy and envy; beauty, goodness, and joy. It is all there. The one that stands out the most to me is the idea of ownership as it applies to pride and humility. I wrote about this back in April (You are [not] awesome). Instead of considering that again, I would like to draw on yesterday’s post, Examine Thyself, which I believe can help us not only learn from today’s scripture, and any truth, but put the truth to use.

Yesterday we read of the gravity of our call to examine ourselves when we eat and drink the LORD’s Supper (1Corinthians 11:26-29). Consider with me today this thought and if you find it true, let us venture examine our hearts. Here is the thought: knowing the truth and believing the truth are different.

Too often, in my past, I have confused knowing the right answer in truth with having a heart that is right in truth. For example, when posed with the question “should you be prideful or humble?”, most Christians would spring to the right answer understanding the truth is “humility is profitable and pride is not.” However, if the truth is not truly believed is it then impotent? Put another way, How does knowing the right answer differ from living the right answer? If indeed there is a difference, If one were to know the right answer but not live it, what is missing? Could it be a true belief?

If belief is a matter of heart and we know that hearts are not so easily discerned (Jeremiah 17:9) and more that our hearts are deceptive to the point where they can even deceive us (Proverbs 21:2), how then can we discern our heart? How can we examine ourselves?

I was shown an exercise I’ll share it with you here. It is a simple question, that, if seriously considered, may help us discern our faith and test our hearts. It can be adjusted to suit most any situation where discernment of faith in the truth is needed. Here is the question:

What would I be doing right now if ___________?

The blank can equal a prayer answered, worry eradicated, or truth applied. The idea is to imagine a reality where the blank was already filled in, in truth, and measure your actions, choices, demeanor, and/or attitude prior to asking this question against what those things would be like if ______ were so.  

Stick with me here just a bit longer. Let us take in an example. One of the most fundamental in nature and possibly one of the most challenging to follow because it is so unusual to imagine not maintaining your own faculties. Let us attempt to discern our pride, a matter of ownership (1 corinthians 6:19-20). For this, the question then could be: What would I be doing right now if I did not own myself? If you were, say, on loan to yourself from Christ but for a season. Try applying this to a decision you might make in an upcoming meeting or what your first thought might be when you wake up in the morning.

One more example. Let us say there was a leper in a time when being a leper meant they were an outcast to society. In a place where, if for whatever reason they were healed, to rejoin society they would need to follow a protocol to let the proper authorities examine them and give them a clean bill of health that they could then carry back for admittance into the community.  Let us say this leper begged mercy from someone they believed to be able to heal them. The question then becomes: What would the leper be doing right now if they were healed? (Reference: Luke 17:11-19)

This exercise is all to help each of us arrive at the answer to one simple and basic question that at the same time is most critical to everything we think, say and do: do we really believe? (James 1:6-8, Hebrews 3:12) May we examine ourselves and keep our hearts with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23). May we think on our ways and turn our feet to His testimonies (Psalms 119:59).

Extra Credit.

Examine yourself and test your heart with this question in two ways:

  1. construct the question with a supplication you are making to our LORD as if it were already answered.
  2. construct the question with a one of these basic truths you may be taking your heart’s position for granted on; God is perfect and holy, God demands holiness, Hell and Heaven are real, on our own we are hell-bound sinners incapable of holiness incapable of earning a right relationship with God, Jesus bought us and paid our way into Heaven and that right relationship with God, there is nothing we can do to repay Him, even our best performances are but filthy rags to Him, our greatest privilege is to serve Him.

Originally published on BibleJournal.net from September 7th, 2016’s reading: 2 Samuel 1; 1 Corinthians 12; Ezekiel 10; Psalm 49