Principle # 8 – God will reveal his will for my life to me through others in my life if I am humble enough to seek it from them.
The definition of Pride in the Bible is, “I can do it by myself, I don’t need you!” Obviously we would all acknowledge the fact that if we say or think that about God we would have a major pride problem, we definitely all desperately need God in our lives. But what many don’t realize is that same definition of pride applies to others around me. God has created us incapable of accomplishing much by ourselves without help from others. His will for us is that we developed healthy interdependent relationships so that we can become successful and grow in maturity. In the Bible He uses the physical body as an illustration of the church, and calls each person in the church a part of the body, a hand, foot, ear etc. Obviously no part in the body can survive cut off from the body, we must be connected to function properly and succeed in life.
Asking others in our life for counsel on things we should change and grow in, in our Christian life, for advice on decisions we need to make, and counsel on how to succeed in various areas of life like marriage, managing our money, raising our kids, and success in our jobs requires humility. A key, is to understand that this is how God works, when we choose to humble ourselves and ask others for guidance God will often prompt them on what to say to us, He will speak through them.
When I was struggling with whether to leave the farm and pastor at Jefferson Baptist Church or stay and do what I loved most in life, I decided to ask my Dad for his counsel. I decided to do this after reading Proverbs 23:22 which says,
“Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old.”
And also Proverbs 1:8 which says,
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction And do not forsake your mother’s teaching”
I was 28 years old and I didn’t like it when my Dad told me what to do, which is probably true of most young men. So I think he was very surprised when I asked him to sit down with me at the kitchen table and give me some counsel about a decision I needed to make. Things at the time were going very good on the farm and also between us as we worked together, so he was surprised again when I told him I was considering leaving the farm and being a pastor in Jefferson, Oregon. I explained to him the history of my involvement in the church having helped start it while going to Bible college in Salem a few years earlier, and my struggle in knowing what to do in responding to the opportunity to become the Pastor of the church following the resignation of the founding pastor. He thought about it for a minute and then said, “Go do it for one year, and see what happens, it is hard to know for sure if you will be good at something and enjoy it unless you give it a shot.” Then he added this little tid bit, “What will probably happen is that the people in the church will be super critical of everything you do, you will be miserable, and then you can come back and farm with me.” The counsel resonated with me, so Patty and I, and our 1 year old daughter moved to Jefferson the next week, and we have been here for 43 years.
Proverbs 1:5 A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.
Proverbs 24:6 For by wise guidance you will wage war, And in abundance of counselors there is victory.
Principle # 7 – The wise man will most often figure out what God’s will is.
Proverbs 2:2-10 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the Lord And discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom….Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course. For wisdom will enter your heart
“You will discern every good course” because you sought for wisdom like gold and you found it.
We used to hide colored hard boiled eggs in our yard when our kids were young at Easter time, and they had a blast looking for them. We didn’t hide them to hard because we wanted them to find them. Check this cool verse out.
Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
God hides His perfect plan and will from me, He doesn’t hide it to hard, because He wants me to find it, and I will find it if I have wisdom. The main source of wisdom is reading, studying, and memorizing the wisdom of God, the Bible.
Psalms 119:97-100 O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, Because I have observed Your precepts.
The person who wants to consistently know what the will of God is for his life in every detail will faithfully read the Bible. I read 12 chapters every single day, I memorize 4 new verses every week and review and meditate on all verses memorized every month. I am seeking a growing relationship with God and I am seeking for wisdom.
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
Today we had Mom’s burial service. We buried her right next to my Dad in the Trout Lake cemetery, and we did it just like my Dad’s. We built Dad’s casket, but Mom had purchased an antique quilt box years ago and had said that she wanted that to be her casket. When she died on Friday we got a local doctor to sign the death certificate, then Patty and others cleaned Mom up, dressed her in her favorite cloths, combed her hair and put her in the box. Today a bunch of family drove to Trout Lake and we sang some of Mom’s favorite songs, shared stories about her life, then us boys loaded her into the back of the pickup and drove her up to the cemetery. Everyone else drove up as well and we lowered her into the hole, sang another favorite song, and shoveled in some dirt. We ended the day by praying, thanking the Lord for the gift of her life to all of us. The entire day was so beautiful, the sun was shining, there was snow on the ground, and Mt Adams filled much of the northern sky. Mom had 5 children, 24 grandchildren, and 85 great grandchildren plus husbands and wives of the children and grandchildren so there is a great gang of family, though not all were able to make it today. We are going to have an awesome Memorial service in 2 weeks with lots of music, pictures, and testimonies. My Mom lived an amazing and full life and influenced many people. She ran the race of life hard and finished a winner. It would have been so cool to have heard the first words of Jesus to Mom as He welcomed her into His home. Today was a very good day for me as we celebrated Mom’s life. Most of my grieving was done over the last couple of weeks so today was a day of great joy. I will miss Mom and I will continue to thank the Lord for all that I am because of her, but I won’t be sad again because she is gone, I will just anticipate seeing her some day in heaven.
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.