Finding the Will of God

Of the 20 or so times that the phrase “the will of God” appears in the NT not one of them is in context to ones occupation, job, ministry assignment, geographic locale or spouse. Take a look at some of these:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification (holiness)…(1 Thess. 4:3)

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— (1 Pt. 2:15)

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:2)

Nearly all of them have to do with an inner change occurring. Maybe the Lord did this on purpose. Maybe His written Word, that reveals His will, wasn’t meant to be an answer key for every one of life’s decisions. That might essentially undermine the central nature for which we exist. Clearly, there are some directives that are given to us by the Spirit, however, as it pertains to our search for the will of God you won’t find an explicit answer of the oft asked questions above. The will of God for our lives isn’t a role or title it’s a person – Christ. God wants us to search and seek for Him. This is the ultimate will of God for our lives – that we would know Him, deeply (see Jn. 17:3). If we don’t know Him does it really ‘t matter if we’re an engineer, school teacher, pastor, mailman or sandwich artist?

Presupposing that  the Father is after relationship (as revealed even in His name), we can be assured that He won’t give a quick answer to every single question we have. Seeking a one-word answer takes the relational process out of the equation. Think of how frustrating it is to relate to a close friend who only offers one-word responses! The lack of clarity related to our questions means that we have to keep coming back to the Lord and talking with Him. That’s one thing we often forget: He loves and wants the process as much as anything. So much happens to the heart in the process.

Here are some reasons people attempt to hear the will of God for their occupation:

  1. They do not know who they are in Christ. Their identity is formed by a secular ideology rather than the truth of God’s Word. This ideology can pressure people into defining their success by a title, position, or salary.
  2. They are afraid of missing God and being displeasing to Him. There are several issues with this. Undoubtedly it’s done in good intention; yet many things done in good intention end up wildly incorrect. Firstly, this puts an enormous amount of stock in their ability to discern the voice of the Lord in the first place. Why are they assuming that they’re suddenly able to hear the voice of God with clarity and distinction when they haven’t cultivated this type of relationship with Him prior to this moment? It also assumes that God is waiting to reveal His displeasure over our life. This is a broken and harmful view of God. It is simply not one that is in accordance with scripture. The fear of disappointing God can be a powerful deterrent of relationship. As children of God they must have their view of Him reconstructed, from one of fear to trust.
  3. They are bored and wanting God to motivate them. This may be more one of the more common reasons. People are passionless, or often passionate for the wrong things. The motivating dreams of success and productivity are fueled by the truer passions for pleasure and comfort. Rarely are we thinking in terms of success related to internal character, family, marriage, or relationships. Most think materialistically. Success therefore equates to materialistic gain. That becomes a driving motivation. Now we try to add God into the equation, “What do you want me to do?” We cross our arms and wait impatiently for a thunderous voice to command us what to do. Are we naive enough to think that the Lord is going to fancy our misguided delights disconnected from genuine relationship with Him?

Settle the fact that we’re not that great at hearing the Lord and He is really good at leading us in spite of that fact. What if we trained our children and the next generation to value what the scripture actually highlights pertaining to the will of God? A people who value renewing their mind according the Word; a people who do good putting to silence the foolish ways of the world; a people who prioritize being changed into Christ-likeness? Whether my kids are librarians, histories or soldiers I want them to have a deep life in Christ. This is my will for them.

Here’s another article I wrote for students trying to figure out the next step after high-school.

howtoknowgodswill_2000x800-1024x435

Fear: Master It or Be Mastered By It

There’s this old story about a notorious criminal who is finally captured. He appears before the king to be brought to justice and the king presents him with two options, the man could either be hung by the gallows or choose what was behind an imposing, iron-clad door nearby. The criminal chooses the gallows, fearing that much worse must lay in wait behind the door. With the decision made, the sentence is pronounced and then the criminal asks the king what lay behind the door. “Freedom,” the king replies.

Fear

Often, fear of the unknown can be more debilitating than the actual threats that face us. We, like the criminal, can fall prey to the power of fear that binds up lives, rendering us immobile. I recently heard that fear, frequently described as anxiety in modern speak, is one of the primary reasons that people seek counseling, medication and all manner of help. I don’t blame them. It can be fearful when we feel that the future holds uncertain outcomes beyond our power to influence change.

The first usage of the word fear in scripture is actually a positive one. This surprised me.

So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.[a] 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. (Gen. 9:1, 2)

After God reaffirms the mandate to humanity to be fruitful and fill the earth, He tells them that they were to be a source of fear to all the beasts and birds and fish etc. More importantly, the Lord affirms to Noah and his sons that they were to be the masters over the created order. Their dominion, their sphere of authority, would produce fear in these beasts. Fear was to follow authority.

Fear in connected to authority. When one is under authority, like the beasts under Noah, there is a healthy fear that is established. Not all fear is bad. For instance, scripture speaks often of the fear of the Lord. But that subject is beyond the length of this article.

However, the root of fear may be bound up in this issue of authority. Check out what Paul says in Romans chapter 8:

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Rom. 8:14-16)

Our starting place is this, “the spirit of bondage to fear.” “Fallen humanity begins with fear; it’s our natural state. The starting line for every person is bondage to fear. Why? Because we are not under the authority of God, we are under the authority of sin and death, we are serving a false god, therefore we are riddled with fear.

That’s both saddening and encouraging. It is encouraging to me because it means that I am not alone in my fear; I’m not the foregone basket case of despairing anxiety, and neither are you. The unredeemed are holed up with all the rest sailing on a ship named fear. Thankfully, that spirit of bondage is exactly what Christ has delivered us from. He has the power, and has exerted that power, to break us from the chains of fear delivering us into His glorious family. Through Christ our spirit of fear is exchanged for the Spirit of Adoption – here, we gain a new father, we gain a new master: Abba. We have a new identity and a new name. No longer under the authority of fear, we as children of God are under the authority of the Father.

Ok, so the reality is established that believers are not under the authority of fear, but of the Father. But why do I still struggle with feelings of fear?

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 Jn. 4:18)

John gives us insight into the quelling of fears. He notes that fear involves torment. To unlock a heart from fear requires perfect love. Note the quality here. Perfect love. This isn’t just any old love. It’s certainly not power or control or anything else. It’s only the love the Father can give. He is the source of this perfect, fear-obliterating love. We also see that there is a process involved to overcoming fear. It doesn’t happen immediately like the old advice tells us, “Just face your fears.”

Fear is rebutted as the believer gains confidence in their Father. Our source of authority is changed from bondage to the Father; from fear to freedom. As we believe that the Father is ourWinter Dawning Inspirations Snow Sunlight Wintr Sky Wallpaper Pictures Free life-giver our fear of death subsides. As we believe that our Father is our provider the fears of lack subside. As we believe that the Father is our judge our fear of condemnation flees. The quality of the love that the Father currently bestows upon is perfect; we still battle fear because we see and experience that love imperfectly.

A key to overcoming fear is to experience the Father in a deeper way. As we grow in the knowledge of God the grip of fear begins to loosen its hold upon our lives. Walking in freedom from fear is available for everyone in Christ. May the Lord grant us revelation of who He is and who we are in Him.

Faith – Eyes Open or Closed?

Man was made for the ground. Why else to do we feel nauseous when we go zipping around in our uncle’s boat? We have feet not flippers; arms not wings; lungs not gills. We jump and expect to feel the jarring impact shoot up through our knees. We lay on the grass, avoid excessive air-travel, and kiss the ground when we get home.

I wince when I travel.

Ground is our home. It makes us feel secure. Ground comforts us, exemplified by the sighs of relief when an airline touches down; or when we come down the ladder propped on the side of the house. Solid equals condolence. Man was made for earth and earth for man. The two are joined. They are twins from the same parents but you can’t tell in a crowd.

What did Adam feel the first time he stood up from his dusty womb?

The issue of faith is an issue of truth. An issue of reality. Faith can’t be faked, just as truth can’t be faked. Either something is true or untrue; fabricated or evident. While the false may parade as the true, somewhere, somehow, we believe that there is a reckoning. Some gavel must slam down and the curtain must drop, and when it does we will all gasp.

I’d guess there are more agricultural major graduates than philosophy major graduates.

Faith. Ask anyone on the street about faith and I’d bet they’d give you some answer along the lines of religion, or an eyes-closed-leap, or country music. Humanity wants evidence to have faith. Is this real? Prove it.

What if I told you you’re walking on air? Ushers have bags for the sick. What is faith? We imagine that faith steps off the cliff and walks on gases. I beg to differ.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Heb. 11:1

Invisible stuff right? Intangible. Read it again. This time time take off your glasses, your prescription renewal is overdue.

Faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things not seen.

Makes you wonder. Imagine the man plunging brashly off the cliff was actually plunging onto it the whole time. He floated around in gas until he stepped onto the precipice. Truth is solid. No one who has been to the moon debates the existence of it. No one thinks of faith as substance and evidence, but look for substance and evidence to substantiate faith.

We might have had it backwards.