What Is God’s Will? by Lysa TerKeurst

decisionsI used to think it was crucial for me to know God’s will. If I knew His grand plan for at least this season of my life, then I could direct all my decisions to fall in line.

Is it His will for me to stay in this job or change to that one?

Is it His will for me to send my kids to that school or make another choice?

Is it His will for me to teach that Bible study, serve on that committee, or go on that mission trip?

I ponder and I pray. I ask friends. I read the Bible. I look for confirmations that point in one direction or the other.

I assume there is one right answer and in order to stay in God’s will I must make the right choice.

That’s a lot of pressure for a simple girl like me. After all, I’m choosing between one good thing and another good thing. And so I fret and wonder, which of these things is God’s will?

But what if I’m wrong?

What if God’s will is more simple than that?

It’s great to pray, ask friends, and look for confirmations. But what if God is more concerned with us looking for Him than looking for answers?

What if God just wants us to pay attention to Him in the midst of whatever choice we make?

Recently I heard a story that shook me to the core. It had been a busy day at a restaurant with lots of customers coming and going. But at one point a guy came up to the manager and handed her a card. He told her, “This is for your staff.” And with an emotional catch in his throat, he said, “I just wanted to make sure they knew.”

The customer then turned and left as the manager tucked the card into her apron pocket.

A little while later, she had time to open the card.

It was a note directed to the staff thanking them. It wasn’t for their service or for the food. It was for their smiles.

He explained in the letter that he’d made plans to take his life that day. But their gift of simple conversations with simple smiles gave him the gift of hope.

As I heard the story, I cried.

Something stirred deep inside of me.

I got this overwhelming feeling that this is such a beautiful picture of how God’s will works. He intersects our lives with people that need His hope and whispers to us, “You have the hope they need… give it to them.

Maybe it’s to offer them a little of our time. Maybe it’s to share a little of our story. Or maybe, like with this customer, it’s to simply offer a smile. And when we listen, a shift happens. It’s like the world splits open with each of our simple acts of obedience to God and His light breaks apart the world’s darkness.

God instructs us to let our light shine. This is His will. This is His plan. This is His instruction.

And when we get in the habit of obeying His instruction today, we’ll develop a keen awareness of His direction for tomorrow.

The more we pay attention to these moment-by-moment instructions by God, the more our thinking starts to line up with God. Our mind gets in a new rhythm of seeing what He wants us to see, so that we can do what He wants us to do.

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, NIV)

This is why I wrote The Best Yes. I want to unrush my schedule, unrush my life, unrush my soul… so I can have enough space to pay attention to God. To see those divine opportunities with people who need hope and to be able to say yes to God’s instruction. These are my Best Yes moments. And I don’t want to miss them.

I suspect the same is true for you.

A Closer Walk: Looking For Pain’s Logic

I could see the logic.

I mean, there are awful things going on in the world… and there are Christians who are suffering… dying… everywhere.

Where had I gotten the idea that the Bible taught I would always be kept safe from trouble?

When I started to search the scriptures again, it painted an honest and accurate picture of men and women who believed and trusted God, and yet suffered pain and loss, and sometimes even death. The scriptures were full of dirges and laments; songs of passionate questioning, pain, and deep sorrows.

Why had I believed that these songs would not someday be mine to sing?

I was being childish.

Who did I think I was to be entitled to a pain-free-life?

forgivenessI had wanted to only follow a safe God… a God who would always protect me from all hurt, in all circumstances. I decided I would listen more carefully to some of the teachers I had followed. Sure, they taught the Word of God, but I was beginning to see that they predominantly taught only one type of Truth. Yes, there is victory and prosperity for those who obey, trust, and believe… but sometimes, there is also sickness, suffering, sorrow, and loss.

As I began to honestly look at the stories of Joseph and Job; Isaiah and Jeremiah; the disciples of the early church, and the Apostle Paul in particular, my eyes beheld the worst kind of suffering. I had been taught that Paul was one of the greatest Christians that ever lived, and yet he suffered terribly for his faith. (And, who could have done more than he had?) Why had I believed that if I just, did enough… prayed enough… believed enough… declared enough—God would protect me from all harm? Wasn’t all my doing a sort of idoltry? Rub the magic lamp, or say a sincere prayer, and the genie will pop out and do my bidding?

performance condemnation trap

Wasn’t I really idolizing my own comfort; hoping for a way, or a formula, to manipulate God into giving me the comfortable and safe life that I wanted?

What selfish foolishness.

My eyes were open alright, and I was beginning to see, but I didn’t like what I saw.

(No, not one bit!)

I began to wonder if maybe, I really deserved all the bad stuff that had happened?

(Now I was really depressed.)

journal

SING!

Oh, My dear child, how I see you struggling to walk in freedom, but dear one, your jailers are not the condemnation of those around you. That is why you still struggle so.

(No, Sweetheart.)

The one who keeps you bound—is YOU!

Let Me explain.

making bricksYou grew up in terrible slavery. So did your parents, and their parents, etc., etc. Generations of “brick-makers” just like the children of long ago, enslaved to the Egyptians, making bricks. But you are no longer in Egypt child, yet you still have the voice of the evil taskmaster in your head. Instead of shouting, “Clay! Straw! Water!” he whispers, “Try harder! Do more! Perform!” and so you obey, and do, do, do… to the point of exhaustion.

But honey, I set you FREE.

What does My Word say?

“Who will set me free from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.”    Romans 7:24-25 The next time your old task-master whispers, “Do more. Try harder.” and you are tempted to begin laboring, by bending your back in the “brick-pits of performance,” remember who bought your freedom. (Me!) I have released you from “performance-condemnation” forever!

free to be myself

Remember the song…

I’m under the blood of the Lamb; who covers the guilt of my past. By the mercies of God, Holy and righteousness I stand. I’m under the blood of the Lamb; I’m safe and secure from the enemies hand…Sing, Sweetheart, sing…

Your song!

a closer walk

 

“So now there is no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:1

 

God Is Real & The Bible Is Truth with Kim Bond

He Speaks To Us In Songs of Deliverance

The Psalms have been songs of deliverance for me more than once. And so I go there, whenever I am struggling with anything—because it is there HE SPEAKS to me.

songs of deliverance

In those sweet songs I find comfort, I find healing, I find wisdom, instruction, and redemption. In those one hundred and fifty passages—I find HOPE!

They are the Bible’s most beloved poetical anthems of praise and glory to God!

It was C. S. Lewis who wrote,

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . .

The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”

― C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms 

So for as long as it takes, let us journey through this Book of Songs, looking for the reasons why we can TRUST God.

I believe we shall find such beauty growing there, that by the time we are finished, we shall have discovered our own Garden of Eden in it’s pages.

you are my hiding place

And, songs.

That, too!

There will be songs of deliverance, that shall bring with them, all manner of good things. We shall find messages that will bolster our strength and courage, as well as the substance and evidence, for our faith and trust in a God who passionately loves us.

As C S. Lewis encouraged us to do, we shall “complete our enjoyment” by consuming all the beauty we shall surely uncover there.

Come, let’s mosey together down ancient paths laid out for us thousands of years ago, gathering wildflowers from the darker vales of sadness and lament, as well as in the highland meadows with their prospects of hopefulness.

As we refresh ourselves here and there, by pools of still waters, we shall find His messages of love for us. Then, like Lewis we shall also be able to say,

“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.”   

songs of deliverance

Never Losing The Light: Weary and Worn Mariner

weary of warfare Oh, Beloved, I see how weary you have become.
You have warred a “good warfare” but there is a limit to all that body, mind, and spirit can take.
Day (and especially) at night—your enemy mercilessly attacks.
You wonder at your despair?
You wonder, “Why hasn’t this changed yet?
Where is my relief?”—yes?
Yes.
But Sweetheart, you have heard me say to you many times, “I am coming.”
I AM!
Do not give up your hope just as the battle turns!
I see what you cannot, for I see what transpires here in the Heavens, a great and mighty conflict is being waged.
Many souls hang in the balance.
You do not see in your present darkness all that is depending on you—and your faith!
My word to you today is, “Hang on!”
Hang on My child.
Yes, I AM coming.
Your life, your calling, your destiny, all are being decided as this warfare rages.
Do as you have been doing.
Run to Me!
Pour out your heart.
Cast all your failure and lonliness and fear at my feet.
As I rise from My throne to lift you up, I shall place my omnipotent foot upon your enemies neck!
weary mariner“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Seems that God is looking more for ways to get us home than for ways to keep us out. I challenge you to find one soul who came to God seeking grace and did not find it.

—Max Lucado, “When God Whispers Your Name”

A Closer Walk: Closet Control Freak

closet control freakI always believed, “I am NOT a closet control freak—I am a person of order.” A place for everything and everything in its place. That’s my motto. Chaos of mind or situation is NOT my thing. I have been accused many times of being a control freak, and to some of that I plead guilty, but guilty with good reason.

(She said smiling.)

I grew up in chaos, so I learned early in life, that if I was going to have any sense of peace or order I would have to create it myself.

my messy life

I have tried to come to some sort of truce with myself about all of this; to “give myself a break” because a child does the best they can with what life hands them, and sometimes—the coping mechanisims that were our friends in childhood—become our enemies in adulthood.

Ah, but giving them up… there’s the rub!

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with an orderly life. There’s actually a scripture that calls for us to live that way.

Again, the difficulty is that many times chaos in life is not the exception, it is the norm. Life, especially in our day and times, is full of unexpected catastrophes of endless variety. Control is only a cherished illusion. Much as I hate it, it is a truth that must be faced with honesty—but also with faith and hope.

Yeah, life goes crazy on us, but though we must acknowledge that we are not in control of anything, we can still place our faith and hope in a God who is in control of everything.

faith NOT fear(Selah?)

So, if God is in total control, then why did He allow my disaster to happen you might ask?

And to that, I give you one key word: AGENDA.

We have an agenda for our lives, but God has His, and when our agenda collides with His, well guess who wins every, single, time?

God is in control

I like what John Koessler said about agendas,

Jesus is an equal opportunity disappointer. Jesus was a disappointment, not only for people like those of Nazareth, where they drove Him out of the synagogue and tried to throw Him off a cliff, because He wouldn’t perform miracles for them, but for people in Korazin and Bethsaida, where He did perform miracles. Jesus was a disappointment to friends and foes alike… we are disappointed with Jesus because we do not see what He is really doing. It turns out that we have been laboring under a major misapprehension. Jesus came for us, but that does not mean He came to please us. Jesus came for us, but He does not answer to us. Jesus came for us, but He will not subject Himself to our agenda, no matter how good that agenda might be. Instead, Jesus demands that we submit ourselves to His agenda.   (Why Jesus Always Disappoints)

When I talk to others (like myself) who are struggling with disillusionment and disappointment with God, there is this reoccurring issue; this matter of control—God’s agenda vs. ours.

Oh, we don’t come right out and say that we think we know better than an Omniscient God. But scratch the surface of our best Christian facade, and you will find a closet control freak, fighting to get out.

journal

IT’S NOT MAN’S WAY

I know how much you hate it ~ being weak.

You want to conquer this thing you’re struggling with.

You want to be in control again, yes?

God in control

No… but “No.” with an explanation.

Listen My dear child, if strength were the best thing for you right now, would I not give it? You know I always do the best thing for your growth and perfection. (But, My definition of perfection, not yours.)

You want to be perfect—I want to: perfect.

(It’s not what you wanted Me to say.)

I know.

But you know Love does the best thing, not necessarily the easiest thing.

God in our ruins

(Yes, you’re right.)

It would be easy to give you this thing you’ve requested.

But, do you want the dream your way?

Do you know what the cost would be, to yourself, to others?

Do you want this dream to be less than it could be?

These are questions only you can answer. To be perfected from suffering you must yield to it ~ not clench your fists and stiffen your neck. You decide if you want everything you have asked Me for.

God's mission: partnership

I’ll wait right here, as I have been, since this tug-of-war started between us.

You must decide, whether you are to be powerful, or I AM to be powerful in you.

This is the way My Kingdom works.

It’s not man’s way, it’s Mine, Decide.”

a closer walk

 

“…No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Part 1: Is God Whispering Or Shouting?

Is God whispering your name?

Is He?

This storm you’re in—could it be that God isn’t whispering but actually shouting to you?

It could be.

It might be.

I wonder.

“Do heroes know when they are heroic? Rarely. Are historic moments acknowledged when they happen? You know the answer to that one. (If not, a visit to the manger will remind you.) We seldom see history in the making, and we seldom recognize heroes. Which is just as well, for if we knew either, we might mess up both. But we’d do well to keep our eyes open. Tomorrow’s Spurgeon might be mowing your lawn. And the hero who inspires him might be nearer than you think. He might be in your mirror.”

― Max Lucado, When God Whispers Your Name

 

(I wonder?)

The more God empties your hands for other work the more you may know He has special work to give them.

— Edmund Garrett

If Job could have known, as he sat there in the ashes, bruising his heart on this problem of Providence, that in the trouble that had come upon him he was doing what one man may do to work out the problem for the world, he might again have taken courage. No man lives to himself. Job’s life is but your life and mine written in larger text… So, then, though we may not know what trials wait on any of us, we can believe that, as the days in which Job wrestled with his dark maladies are the only days that make him worth remembrance, and but for which his name had never been written in the book of life, so the days through which we struggle, finding no way, but never losing the light, will be the most significant we are called to live.

— Robert Collyer

As evening fell, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”

So they took him just as He was and started out, leaving the crowds behind (though other boats followed). But soon a terrible storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water and about to sink. Jesus was asleep at the back of the boat with His head on a cushion.

Frantically they wakened Him, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to drown?”

Then He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Quiet down!” And the wind fell, and there was a great calm! And He asked them, “Why were you so fearful? Don’t you even yet have confidence in Me?”

Gospel of Mark 4:35-40 The Living Bible

God whispering your name

 

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