Tag Archives: the will of God

Job 12-14; Psalm 100; Revelation 13

“No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you!” The ‘patience of Job’ seems to have run out as evidenced by Job’s caustic answer to his critics. I can relate to Job; after I stop listening to the opinions and perceptions of others, I go straight to God for answers. However, I do think it gutsy and a little frightening that Job utters these words, “I desire to reason with God.” I’ve heard it said that God is not ruffled by our questioning His allowance of evil in life or His silence in unanswered prayer, yet I am reticent to go to God’s throne to state my case. I cower at Job’s question, “Will it be well when He searches you out?” I fear that the three-legged stool of Righteousness, Faith, and Salvation, upon which I stand, will not hold up to the weight of my defense.

My first argument attacks the leg of righteousness. Can I say in my defense that I have been a good girl this year — that I have tried my best to follow God’s will – that I have borne suffering well? This defense is about as laughable as that of the innocent faced, little boy on Santa’s lap who threw his toy truck at the neighbor’s cat when no one was looking. I would like to believe that I have been good, but my conscience, pricked by the Holy Spirit, daily pulls me up short. Those natural urges to blurt out foolishness to cover lack of confidence or the oozing sarcasm and gossip used to minimize irresponsibility are just a few opposing arguments hurled against my righteousness.  Then my irrational thought that even good girls make mistakes, which is understandable and therefore forgivable, leads to a second questionable defense.

“I know that I will be vindicated,” (Job 13:18b). The leg of faith has been gnawed on by various theologians; and my own faith has several layers of meaning. One is tied to belief in God’s sovereignty and His character. I believe that He is concerned for the lives of men and that He will do as He has purposed. Faith also means to me that worldly circumstances do not dictate eternal outcomes. I believe that faith is a supranatural view that allows miracles and other divine interventions in this world to add special sweetness and foretaste of the heavenly life to come. What my faith lacks, however, is the certainty that I should be vindicated. Can I honestly say that God should be on my side in any given situation? What seems fair to me or in my favor may be subjugated to what God is doing in others. Should I count loss as lack of faith or just accept loss as the will of God?

With two legs missing on my stool, I teeter precariously, balancing with years of practice trying to save myself. This arms-out, eyes down approach to holding onto my salvation isolates me from looking up for help or gripping the Lord’s hand reaching down to save.  Fear of falling. Fear of failing. Fear of being forgotten.

And there it is – the thought that God has turned away from me knocks the stool right out from under me. My defenses gone, I plead mercy. Better to be judged and chastised than tossed aside. Yet, my fears dissolve in God’s overflowing grace. It is not my righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ Jesus that the Almighty God is looking for. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that … in him we might become the righteousness of God,” I Corinthians 5:21. It is not my understanding that increases faith, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith; and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8.  So why argue my case at all? Revelation 13:8 alludes to the names written in the Book of Life of the Lamb. Knowing He has written my name there from the foundation of the world is my assurance of salvation.  That is reason enough to “Serve the Lord with gladness and come before His presence with singing.”  Truth is that getting off of my man-made stool of spiritual understanding will allow God to come to my defense; for “The Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5). That is how I am vindicated.

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Job, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Revelation, Uncategorized

2 Chronicles 33,34; Acts 23:16-35

This year I seem to be seeing a basic recurring theme of the mysterious balance of God’s sovereignty (or control of the happenings in the world in general and my life in particular) and the individual’s role in carrying out the purposes of God; how our actions affect not just our lives but the lives of those around us; how God often uses ordinary people to accomplish things, yet sometimes he just shows up with some supernatural force.

In our Old Testament reading the up/down cycle continues. “He/they did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord” is followed by hard times and captivity, then “he/they did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” followed by peace and prosperity.  We have it in multiple combinations (Manneseh starts out on the evil path then repents, Amon is evil from birth to death, Josiah is on the good path from start to finish). While the people seem to reap consequences of their actions, both good and bad, when we step back we see that God had a plan all along. Each part of the cycle had a part to play in the grand scheme of things.

In our New Testament reading yesterday we learned that God intended for Paul to go to Rome. Today we see that plan starting to unfold. But people still had a part to play. Paul’s nephew happened to be in the right place at the right time to learn of the plot to kill Paul, but he also had to be brave enough to get to Paul, pass on the message, tell the commander, etc. The centurion had to obey Paul’s request, the commander had to listen to this boy/young man, the commander had to take quick action. Everything had to be done in quick succession. People had their part to play, but we can see the orchestration if we take a step back and observe the big picture.

I know that when I am facing a trial I need to make sure I take a step back and realize that God is in control. My job is to do my part. I may not know until many days, months, years, decades later how the various events of my life played a part in a grand plan, but I can be confident that ultimately God is in control. Any my God is the God who saves.

10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. 12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God. (2 Chronicles 33:10-13)

27 This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. (Acts 23:27)

suegraff

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Isaiah 20,21,22; Ephesians 5:1-16

Isaiah 20

at that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot. Then the Lord said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years …

Ephesians 5

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

The days are evil!  I need to be wise, putting away my foolishness, carefully seeking to understand the will of the Lord.  I can easily accept that I need to live like Paul explains in Ephesians chapter 5.  However, when I read about people who have been caught in the center of God’s will, I am forced to stop and ponder.  Isaiah was commanded by God to run around naked and barefoot for three entire years.  This would definitely change the way my life looks. Can you even imagine what would happen to me if I was asked to do this today (assuming I actually listened and did it).  Having been raised in Western Culture, I like to have everything fit into my orderly life in a neat, clean, easily explained fashion. I like to think that I would respond with a yes to anything God asks me to do.  But…… when I’m being honest, I really hope he doesn’t ask too much of me.  I don’t really want anything messing up my life.  I don’t want to lose my friends or have everyone laughing at me. This leads me to wonder if God’s will is really so hard to find or if I am just not wanting to hear what he is telling me.

It seems to me that we actually find comfort in our struggle with the things Paul lists in verses three through five.  Paul says that there must not be even a hint of these bad behaviors and yet these types of behaviors are the kinds of things that I struggle with most.  I’m afraid that I do this because it makes it easier to ignore the more difficult things that God asks of me.  When people ask me what my struggle is, I have to answer “my pride!”  How radical would it be to have to respond with “Jesus asked me to walk around naked for three years and I’m trying to figure out how not to get arrested?”  I doubt that Jesus needs me to run around naked but I’m pretty sure that he expects more from me than a struggle with things that Paul claims have no room in our lives at all.  Jesus died for me so that I would no longer be a slave to these things .  I am now free to serve my Savior and Lord, Jesus!  I am ready Lord, show me your will so that I may follow it where ever it may lead!

Ed Sorrell

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Filed under Ephesians, Isaiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Genesis 21; Matthew 20; Nehemiah 10; Acts 20

Some days before I even set my feet on the ground; I am overwhelmed with the day that lies before me.  Meetings, errands, deadlines, bills, appointments, cooking, cleaning….I pull my blanket up over my head and ask God to prepare me for my day.

Coffee in hand I really do try to read my Bible before the day begins, because I know that the words will fortify me for the day. Prepare me for the battles. Smooth the rough waters.  All that said there is one thing I have to bring to the table with me to receive my daily dose of sustenance.   Faith.  I have to faithfully believe that I can do all things through Christ, not just read it…I have to know that I can.

Paul…Now there is a person filled with the Spirit of faith.  How did his day begin?

I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.  Acts 21: 23-24

Wow…am I ever so glad that he was faithful and dedicated to finish the race.  Bet he never pulled the blanket back over his head.  Even though he knew what was before him.  Prison. Hardship. Plots to kill him. Trials.

Let’s see…where does he preach the gospel?  Um yeah.  Everywhere. Publicly. Homes….and later we will see him preaching on the way to prison and even while in prison. And he wasn’t shy about it either.  Never hesitating.  Not to a select groups but to both Jews and Gentiles.

Suddenly my list of things to do don’t look so daunting.

I can almost hear Paul talking to the Elders in the verses 13 – 37 of Acts.  Preparing them for what was to come.  What tasks lay before them?   Warning them to be on their guard.  But that was not what burdened them the most.  Their grief was from knowing that they would never see him again.  I am not only in awe of Paul’s faith, tenacity and humility…but for that respect that he gained by preaching the whole will of God.  Acts 20:27

Not making God seem fun and entertaining. Just telling the truth. Teaching and preaching about God’s sovereignty.

Paul can say with complete confidence that he had run the race without hesitation and without any thought for himself, he was focused on the finish; he knew that he had faithfully proclaimed the whole will of God everywhere he went.  He was confident that he was innocent of the blood of all men because of his urgency to preach the will of God.   He didn’t hold back.  He wasn’t worried that he would offend someone, or seem intolerant, close minded…He was only worried about getting the word to all the people.

Urgency to preach the will of God.

Where is that on my list?

Father…maybe I would not dread my days if the first and only thing on my list is to “preach your will”, then everything else would fall right into place because sharing you and your will with others should be my top priority everyday.  Here I am again surrendering my day and my list of tasks to you.  Prepare me for this day Lord.  Prepare me do your will with Paul’s humility and faith. In Jesus name. Amen

Cindi

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Filed under Acts, Genesis, Matthew, Nehemiah