Posts Tagged With: God’s will

How to Know God’s Will for Your Life (It Truly is This Easy!)

fork-in-the-road1As you are about to hear in this week’s PODCAST, knowing God’s will for you life is far easier than you may have been led to believe — Far easier. Uncomplicated. Abundantly knowable. Readily understandable.

In a word, God WANTS you and me to know His will for our lives.

The reason for this discussion this week is the fact that last week I inadvertently created a vacuum. I made a point last week (not even the main point of the message, but a valid and timely point nonetheless). Last week we discussed the fact that we have come to a place in our day where far too many Christians rather cavalierly throw around the phrase,

“God told me…” “God spoke to me and said…” “God is telling me…”

or its equivalent. Does that ring a bell?

And we noted then that, Look, words mean things.

When we or others invoke such phrases as, “God told me…” “God spoke to me and said…” “God is telling me…” what are we really claiming? Did we hear an audible voice, such as the voice heard in our passage for this podcast?

And what is the person to whom we claim, “God told me…” supposed to do with that?

More to the point, if God does not reveal His will to us through an audible voice, how then does He reveal His will to us?

How am I supposed to know where God wants me to live? Where am I supposed to work? Do I go to college? Join the military? Get married and start a family?

How does God reveal His will for my life, and YOURS?

After you hear this, there will be no doubt as to the answers to those and many, many other questions. This really is a practical and straightforward as it gets.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you as you listen.

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A Closed Door, Or an Open Window?

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umnet.com, mobile your fun!

We are going to begin this week’s PODCAST precisely from where we left off in last week’s podcast.

We left off last week by considering together this most enigmatic verse (Hebrews 5:8):

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered.

If you are at all uncomfortable with that, then the rest of this story will make no sense, and will leave you with an even greater discomfort.

But if you are willing to allow for the fact that “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered,” then you are in for this great big blessing: The grand and glorious realization that Jesus, just like you and just like me, learned in real time what it means to live a life of obedience to God the Father.

We stressed last week, and I will ever-so-briefly remind you now, that Jesus was fully human, just like us. Last week we discussed some of the implications of Hebrews 4:15, where the writer emphatically affirms this ever-so-comforting reality:

Jesus understands all of our human weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings and temptations we do, yet He did not sin.

Jesus experienced every human emotion, felt keenly every human feeling — including our feelings of fear, insecurity, uncertainty, abandonment, betrayal. 

I mean, you just wait until we get to the Garden of Gethsemane, at which time there will be no doubt that in Jesus 100% deity meets 100% humanity, with all that that word humanity implies.

As we saw so vividly last week, life threw at Jesus unexpected challenges, unanticipated conflicts, undeserved difficulties, uninvited troubles… Just like life throws at us.

Jesus learned, just as so many of us are now learning, that sometimes, perhaps even most times, our richest life lessons can be taught only in the crucible of calamity.

By the reading of books our minds become broad. But it is only as we walk the pathway of pain that our souls become deep.

Something that Jesus learned.

Something that we are each learning.

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed it might take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you as you listen.

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A Dramatic Detour in Jesus’ Road to Destiny

pleading_womanWelcome to one of the strangest stories — many would call this a troubling tale — in Jesus’ entire life and ministry.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, what happens here in Mark 7, and its parallel passage in Matthew 15, seems highly uncharacteristic of Jesus; uncharitable to a tragically needy-yet-remarkable mommy; and unnecessarily cold and calloused as far as a Jesus is concerned.

A Jesus, I will humbly remind you, who defined Himself as “gentle” in Matthew 11, and who described His mission as one “to seek and to save the lost in Luke 19.

As you read this story, at first blush anyway, Jesus was Anything.But.Gentle in the way He spoke to this panic-stricken mother who was understandably distraught over the condition of her daughter.

Tell you what: If His mission was to seek and to save the lost, you couldn’t find anyone more lost than this woman.

As we read this story together (it’s only 8 verses in Matthew’s account), you tell me if you find this encounter between Jesus and this mom at all unsettling or unnerving. Put yourself in the mom’s sandals for a second and imagine that Jesus is talking to you about your little girl.

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

A happy ending to be sure.

But what an insensitive, ungracious, uncaring way to get to that happy ending..

You talk about showing a little kindness (as we did last week), there was no kindness shown to this woman; no kindness of any kind was shown to her at all. Until the very end.

Jesus (apparently) ignored her (“Jesus did not answer a word.”), then (apparently) refused and rebuffed her (“I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”), then (apparently) belittled her (“It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”).

Curiously enough, that’s it as far as Jesus’ road trip up North into what is today Lebanon, what was then Phoenicia, was concerned.

This one strange story.

And as always, my friend, we have much to talk about.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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God WILL Answer Your EVERY Prayer (Seriously! IF You Pray Like This…)

How-To-Pray-More-EffectivelyWelcome to this Jesus in HD Encore PODCAST.

I am coming off of an exhilarating week with the best students in the world, the Joshua Wilderness Institute students. So in my absence, and for your edification and enjoyment, I have reached way back into the archives, all the way to Podcast #61.

This was at the time a wonderfully received and enormously helpful discussion that brought so much peace to so many troubled (and sometimes tortured) souls.

If you were ever going to hear just one message on the mysterious and majestic practice we call prayer, let this one be the one. For here we come to the crux of the matter regarding this glorious thing we call prayer.

So much is going to become so clear in just the next few minutes: Questions about unanswered prayers. Questions about why God even designed this thing called prayer. Questions about the purpose of prayer. Questions about what we ought to pray for, and what we don’t need to pray for.  Why prayer sometimes doesn’t seem to work. Yet why every time we pray biblically, it ALWAYS works.

So much to talk about. I am so glad you are here to share in this discussion with us.

PLEASE NOTE that depending upon your web browser, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

HAPPY LISTENING, and may God richly bless you as you listen.

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Mary, Did You Know???

mangerMary’s was NOT an easy life. 

Consequently, she is a woman whom I greatly admire. As should we all.

Just imagine what it must have been like to walk in her sandals, or to ride on her donkey.

At the time of the angelic visitation announcing her miraculous pregnancy, Mary was assured that her baby was the vital part of God’s plan of salvation. Not only for her, but for the whole world.

Yet we know that very late in her pregnancy, Joseph and Mary were forced to make the arduous journey from Nazareth-Bethlehem,60 miles as the crow flies. A harrowing 3 to 5 day journey under the best of conditions into what was for all intents and purposes a different country far removed from Nazareth geographically, culturally, and demographically. More like 5 to 7 days considering Mary’s condition, walking or on camelback, through treacherous terrain, exposed to the elements and the ever-present threat of bandits, all to register for yet another Roman tax.

This poor couple living, as we learn a little later in the Gospel accounts, barely above the poverty line, having even what little they had plundered by their corrupted government officials.

Mothers, think back to what it was like when you gave birth to your firstborn child – the fears, the insecurities, the feelings of inadequacy. Now imagine that when you did give birth, it was not in the clinical cleanliness of a hospital room or birthing center. Imagine you were in a cave, dark and alone, unsanitary to the extreme, no nurse, doctor, or midwife to help you, and you are all of 13 or 15 years old, in what was essentially a foreign country, away from your family, with only your fiancé to help you.

Add to all of that the political climate of the world Mary was living in – a world of crushing oppression and a brutal and barbaric military occupation. One that would soon force the holy family to flee to Egypt in the wake of Herod’s maniacal and murderous attempt to kill the baby Jesus in His crib.

Mary was completely obedient to and submissive to the will of God for her life, whatever that might be. She stepped out in obedience to God, and yet everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

Which begs this question:

Why do we expect that if we are indeed obedient to the will of God, everything should go right for us, go good for us? That our obedience buys us a trouble-free existence?

Mary would beg to differ. So would Abraham.

As the OT begins, Abraham obediently followed God’s call to leave his country, his extended family, his friends, and his home, everything to travel to a Promised Land that he had never even seen before.

While en route, his beloved dad died. No sooner had he settled in that land, a severe famine hit the land and down to Egypt he was forced to go. Welcome to the Holy Land, Abraham.

Abraham did everything right, and everything that could go wrong did go wrong. It happened to Abraham.

And as the NT begins, the exact same thing happened to Mary. 

Maybe, just maybe, it has happened to us. Or will happen to us. Unexpected, uninvited, and unwanted trials and tribulations may well be proof-positive that you and I are right smack dab in the middle of God’s will. Unexpected, uninvited, and unwanted trials and tribulations may well be the precursors to God’s richest blessings.

So don’t despair, no matter how rough your road. God never abandoned Abraham; He surely never abandoned Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. And we can be sure that He will never abandon us.

The pathway to God’s blessing is often strewn with boulders. Speed-bumps abound. But as we learn from this Christmas story, with Mother Mary showing us the way, God’s blessings always win out in the end.

Just one of the snapshots of Christmas from last Saturday night’s Safe Haven Christmas celebration. The podcast of the full five of these snapshots can be heard by clicking HERE.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

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How Can I Know God’s Will for My Life?

Time to tackle yet another question from camp. And this one just happens to be one of my all-time favorites. 

This student phrased the question as follows:

How do I know if God is “calling” me to do something? How do I know if it’s just what I want to do?

I can’t wait to get into this. For two reasons:

1. Because the question reveals a heart of obedience, someone who genuinely wants to please God with his or her life.

2. Because the answer to this question is so practical.

To rephrase the question, what this person is asking is this: 

How can I know God’s will for my life?

Do you know how many books and pamphlets have been written in an attempt to answer this very common question? Neither do I. I can’t count that high.

You’ll read everything from “God just tells me what He wants me to do,” to complicated formulas where means, motive, and opportunity must all be in their proper alignment before God’s will can be known.

roadsignwillThe more cynical among us might be tempted to conclude that God is playing some sort of hide-and-seek game with us, as if God’s will is buried treasure, the Bible is our map, and we must discover the clues or solve the riddles in order to unearth God’s will.

I, for one, do not for a second believe that God is a cosmic tease, someone who gets some perverse pleasure out of watching His children stumble around in the dark, searching for His will.

God would not encourage each of us…

…to know God’s will for you (Romans 12:2 NLT)…

…unless He wanted us to know it!

Oh, and by the way, while we’re talking about this, let’s once and for all time put away this faulty notion that God’s will for your life must be the opposite of everything you want out of life. Or worse, God’s will might just be the most horrible thing in the world that you can imagine. As if God’s will is something to be feared.

Just because someone hates heat, doesn’t particularly like to get soaking wet, and screams at the sight of spiders does not mean that God has called him or her to sweat in a mud hut in the middle of some deep, dark rain forest living on a nasty diet of beetle-grubs.

How do I know this? Because in that same blessed verse (Romans 12:2), God Himself describes His will for your life as…

…good and pleasing and perfect.

Hear this:

God’s will for your life is “good and pleasing and perfect.”

Now repeat after me: 

God’s will for my life is “good and pleasing and perfect.”

OK, so back to the question at hand, 

How do I know if God is “calling” me to do something? How do I know if it’s just what I want to do?

God answers that question in just sixteen words, Psalm 37:4 (NLT).

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Or to put it another way, If you make God the delight of your heart, His will for your life is to follow your heart.

Follow your heart. Yes, it is that simple.

What does it mean to delight yourself in the Lord, or to make Him the delight of your heart? It simply means to do those things that you know will please Him, and refrain from doing those things that you know will displease Him.

This is not complicated. I’ll give you a few examples, and you tell me if these things please or displease God.

Tell a lie. (Displeases God)

Tell the truth. (Pleases God)

Gossip about someone (Displeases God)

Speak favorably about others (Pleases God)

Do your best at school, at work, or in your home (Pleases God)

Cheat at school, at work, or in your home (Displeases God)

Fill your mind with pure pictures, lyrics, etc. (Pleases God)

Fill your mind with filth (Displeases God)

Harm someone (Displeases God)

Help someone (Pleases God)

This is NOT complicated.

So His promise is this… Make God the delight of your heart (by doing those things that you know please Him), and then follow your heart. 

Why does this work? Because as you make God the delight of your heart, His heart will become your heart, His heart’s desires will become your heart’s desires, His will will become your will.

It really will!

One last thought… This does not necessarily mean that when you follow your heart, God will reveal His entire plan for your entire life, all at once. Let me share with you one more equally precious verse, 

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105 NLT).

Not to get too technical here. But the lamp to which the verse refers is a handheld oil lamp, which were as common in biblical times as light bulbs are to us today.

But here’s the thing: An oil lamp gives off exactly the right amount of light to allow you and me to take one more step.

Did you get that? #OneMoreStep.

Take that step, and voilà! The lamp will give you exactly the right amount of light to take one more step. The next step.

Step-by-step is how this Christian walk is meant to be lived. Step-by-step, one step at a time.

So here it is: Make God your heart’s delight by doing those things that you know please Him. Follow your heart’s desire in order to follow God’s will. And take the first step to fulfilling your heart’s desire. Just one step. Take that step, and sooner rather than later God will give you just enough light to take the next step, and the step after that.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Happy walking, my friends. And be sure to enjoy the journey!

(Any thoughts? Just click on the title, scroll down to the bottom, and leave a reply. I’d LOVE to read it.)

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