I have established a dozen principles that I have discovered in a careful study of the Bible on God’s guidance in our life. I wrote about the first 5 in yesterday’s blog and I will cover another one today. I did this study way back in 1975 when I was working on a dairy with my Dad and struggling with whether I should continue farming or go into the ministry, and I have been refining it ever since.
Principle # 6 – God communicates His will to the person who He knows will actually do it.
Every morning I begin the day with a prayer of dedication and commitment after the pattern of Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Notice the promise given, “that you may prove what the will of God is”.
And notice the condition set, “Present your bodies a holy and living sacrifice”.
So my morning prayer of commitment begins with this, “Today, Lord Jesus, I will obey You, I will follow you, I will do whatever Your will is for my life no matter how difficult or how hard it may be.”
I haven’t missed my morning prayer of commitment and dedication for over 30 years. I include other commitments in my morning prayer, but the key part is “I will obey You”no matter what.
God’s will for our life is usually hard and we aren’t wired for hard. I think there are many Christians in the United States who really don’t want to know the will of God because they suspect that it might be hard. Until we are willing to do anything He asks, no matter how hard, we will never know God’s will for our life.
In my teenage years I began to realize that God had plans for my life. I came to that conclusion slowly and intuitively as I began to realize how infinite God was in His rule and reign over His creation. I thought, there is no way that God is a victim of His own creation, that some part of what He has made can function without His permission. As I began to sense that God was calling me into ministry instead of being a dairy farmer, I wanted to know for sure, but I wasn’t sure how, so began my quest on discovering the guiding principles into knowing the will of God for my life. That quest was primarily a study of literally hundreds of verses in the Bible on the topic of God’s guidance in our lives, here are a few.
Psalms 16:11a You will make known to me the path of life;
Psalms 139:24 lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalms 5:8 O Lord, lead me in Your righteousness because of my foes; Make Your way straight before me.
Psalms 31:3 For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.
Psalms 23:3 He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
Psalms 143:10 Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
From my study I came up with what I called “A Dozen Simple Principles to Successfully Navigate Through the Distractions of Life into the Perfect Plan of God for my Life”
Principle #1 – God has a perfect will and plan for my life.
Principle #2 – Inside the realm of God’s sovereignty I can choose to live outside God’s perfect plan either because of pride, self-sufficiency, rebellion, or ignorance.
Principle #3 – I will be successful and bear much fruit inside the will of God for my life, and I will fail and be miserable outside the realm of God’s perfect will and plan for my life. It doesn’t take a highly intelligent person to understand that principle.
Principle #4 – God wants me to know His will and plan for my life more than I want to know it, and it usually takes failing before I am motivated to seek His will.
Principle #5 – God expects that I am going to seek His will diligently, I won’t find it if I don’t. My ignorance of exactly what His will and plan is for my life is generally a result of apathy and laziness in seeking it.
To be continued
Yesterday I gave a list of 7 disciplines to keep in order to be strong in the midst of a major trial. It is a sad thing to me to see people who are supposedly Christians experiencing a trial the same way a lost person does. During the days before mom died and after she died I cried, got choked up when I tried to talk about it, and had periods of sadness and depression. But during any tough time I don’t ever think that God is somehow being unfair or unloving to me, I don’t think that I have more than I can handle, I am not grouchy or unkind to others because of my pain. During tough times I can act strong, talk nice, smile and tell funny stories. If I choose to act the way I just described I will be observed by those who don’t know Jesus and they will be attracted to my strength and want to know the reason.
One of the disciplines that I mentioned in yesterday’s blog was act strong and soon you will be strong. When I say act strong I am not meaning to pretend to be someone you aren’t. People pretend in order to impress other people. When we choose to act strong, we are choosing to behave in a way that is right, in a way that is considerate of others, and in a way we know is pleasing to God.
In the book of Ezekiel God tells Ezekiel that his wife is going to die and when she does He doesn’t want Ezekiel to mourn for her as part of a prophecy and message of judgment to the nation of Israel.
Ezekiel 24:18 So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. And in the morning I did as I was commanded.
The question is, how was Ezekiel able to do that? And the answer is, because God told him to. When we are seeking to obey God and please Him we have strength, we become a strong person.
Life is hard, full of trials, pain,and disappointments. The trials are like the weather, they come in cycles or seasons, one day the sun is shining and the next it is pouring rain. There are lots of days when the sun is shining, you catch a limit of fish, everybody is getting along well, and no one is sick. Those days are great for recovering and getting strong, but they do tend to lull us into thinking that those good days are the norm when they are actually the exception for most.
For many the hard days make them bitter at others and God, they entertain long periods of self-pity, their reactions to pain makes them difficult to live with, and they justify and excuse the despair, and negative way they act and treat others because “it is so hard”.
And then there are those who cope with tough times, manage the thoughts and emotions well, grow in their character, grow in their love for God, and treat others with grace and kindness. In fact they become a major source of comfort and strength for others going through the same trial with them or a similar one.
Those who do well dealing with tough times have learned the skill of coping. People call them strong, they weren’t born strong, they became strong. Here is a simple list of 7 disciplines that will make you strong in managing the worst trials in life.
(1) God is infinitely strong and loves to give His strength to us, but it isn’t automatic. He also gives great joy and peace in the awfullest of times, but again, it isn’t automatic. We must trust Him, seek Him, and ask Him.
(2) Our self-talk or cyclical thoughts are critically important. Take every bitter, self-pity, critical, and negative thought captive. I do this by replacing them with faith statements that I have memorized and memorized Bible verses. “God loves me very much and I love Him.” “God is infinitely wise, but there is so much that I don’t understand.” “God is in charge and in control of my life, I choose to trust His every decision that He makes in regards to my life.”
(3) when I have a reoccurring thought or feeling that is getting the best of me I don’t let it win, I conquer it by writing about it. When I write about events that have happened to me, my responses, actions, behavior, emotions, and thoughts, everything shrinks in magnitude, and my thought then is, “I can do this“!
(4) Even in the very worst of times there are funny things that happen, share them, repeat them and laugh at them. Laughing in the midst of hard times isn’t being hard-hearted or unfeeling, and it fills us and others with strength.
(5) Discover activities that are renewing to your soul, and fill your emotional gas tank. Physical activities work great for me, especially working on projects with my hands. The best for me is fishing. I really wanted to go fishing yesterday because I knew Mom was going to die any day now so I found a friend that would go with me and we went surf fishing on the beach for red tailed perch. The sun was shining, we caught 20 fish, and the fellowship was great. On the drive home Patty called me with the news that Mom had just taken her last breath. I was ready to face this and to help others to manage tough times as well.
(6) Control what comes out of your mouth. Thinking self-pity, poor me, bitter thoughts is like driving a nail into two boards. One board is our heart and the other is the programmed way of treating others that is selfish, grouchy, and rude. But when we speak those same thoughts it is like bending the nail over on the back side of the second board. Talk like a strong person who is walking with the Lord and totally trusting Him. If you act and talk like a strong person, before long you will be one.
(7) look for opportunities to help others who are struggling with the trials of life. Encourage, give advice, pray for them and with then. A basic law of God is, the more we give the more we receive.
My Mom died today and at the moment she did die she received a new glorified body and is in heaven talking with my Dad. All I can do is use my sanctified imagination concerning what Mom’s day was like, what her conversation with Dad was like, what her first words to Jesus were, because we have very little information in the Bible concerning the details of after death. It is the unknown that makes us nervous about death, our own and that of our loved ones. It is probably the area of our life where we need the greatest level of faith. If God is real, if heaven is real, and we believe it with all of our heart, we should all be able to say with Paul, “to depart,and be with Christ is very much better“.
2 Corinthians 5:1-8 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.
Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
“Prefer to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord”
How many can say that is true of them , if not, why not.
Over my 71 years of living there have been a lot of hard and difficult days and experiences, as in any person’s life, but I have to work to remember them, they have just sort of faded away in my memory. But I know and have talked to a lot of people that remember all the bad things, the hard trials like they were yesterday because they think about them repeatedly, over and over again. The difference between me and those who remember clearly the negative, the sad, the hurtful, and the pain is I spend my time thinking and reviewing the good and positive experiences, and ignoring the bad. Three times in the book of Philippians Paul says, “rejoice always”, and it isn’t hard to figure out what that means in the Greek, it means rejoice always. Also in the book of Philippians Paul says, “set your mind on what is pure, and good, and honorable, and lovely, that means review regularly the good things in life and forget the bad. When any person thinks mostly about the good things that happened to them in the past and chooses not to think about the bad they will feel incredibly blessed by God. Today, all day, I mentally worked at remembering as many good, positive things and experiences about my life as I could, especially the things that revolved around my Mom. Tonight I am feeling so blessed that I am thinking that God has spoiled me. It is so sad to hear people question God’s love for them, even His existence because of the trials in their life. It is all about “mind set”, what we consciously choose to think about over and over. Proverbs says, “what a person thinks about is who they become”. Today was Thanksgiving Day, a good day, I think I will make every day Thanksgiving Day.