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Posts Tagged ‘God’s Will’

… have the mind of Christ …

Philippians 2:5

 

Your mind is as valuable to God as your heart because you make decisions about how you will actually live with your mind.  

 

While your heart determines how it want to live, it is your mind which sends impulses and messages to all the parts of your body, generating action.  

 

We know many people who say, “They would love to ….”, but at the end of the day, they act differently.

 

In Romans 12:2, Paul encourages us, “To be transformed by the renewal of our minds so we might do what pleases God.”

 

If you read further in Philippians 2, particularly verses 6-8, you will see how Jesus’ mind worked.  His only thought was to suffer because He loved us.  A perfect melding of the mind and the heart.

 

The mind of Christ is developed through 5 particular activities: worship, prayer, Bible Study, Christian fellowship, and compassionate care.

 

Many Christians fail to develop the mind of Christ because they are self-absorbed and focused on so many different activities.  

 

We frequently hear and say, ”If you put your mind to it, you can ….”!  

 

Individuals have mastered physics, business management, shooting free throws, home decorating, how to make friends, and auto mechanics by simply putting their mind to it.

 

Yet, many of the same people will tell me that developing the mind of Christ is too much work.  Phooey! 

 

Developing the mind of Christ is no harder than developing any other skill-set or body of knowledge.

 

The heart that desires to develop the mind of Christ can, if it puts it mind to it.

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… be of one and the same mind, 

have the same love, be in full accord …

 

You may be tempted to credit Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dr Oz, or one of a host of contemporary pop psychologists for this kernel of wisdom, necessary for building a strong marriage, family, or community. 

 

Pop psychologists love to borrow freely from scripture.  This nugget of wisdom is from Philippians 2:2. 

 

God’s desire is that His people get along.  Unfortunately, the church today is a hothouse of division and conflict.  Go into any church in America today and you’ll find a divided house.  

 

Congregations are divided over:

Dress codes for worship

The style of music used in worship

Use of videos and projectors

Times for worship

Coffee, thermostats, sound systems, and volume

 

None of these are burning biblical or theological issues.  They are all issues of personal preference.  

 

Somewhere along the way Christians have convinced themselves that the 1976 Burger King commercial, “Have it your way.” is a quote from scripture.  It’s not!

 

It’s easy for us to point the finger at others who want to have it their way.  But God’s desire is that we look within at ourselves.  

 

Are you looking for a Burger King Church?  If you are angry at your Pastor or the leadership board of your church; if you have stopped going to worship; if you frequently change churches, all because worship and community life does not suit your personal preferences, God has a Word for you.

 

My wife admires those older couples in the congregation who never complain when we sing contemporary praise music.  She equally admires younger members who are agreeable when we sing hymns from the 1800’s.  

 

God smiles on these saints because they get it.  They understand Philippians 2:2.  They have learned to put others ahead of themselves.

 

What about you?

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In the Beginning …

It may be too late to talk about “In the beginning” on January 2, since the shine on your new year may already be tarnished.  In hopes the shine is still there, let’s think about it.

The Bible begins with these fate-full words, “In the beginning …”

We quickly learn that in the beginning the earth is mysteriously non-existent.  What we know as earth was a void and formless nothingness in the darkness of the deep.

In the beginning, there was nothing more than a celestial black hole.  This is something Christians and modern-day scientists might agree upon.

The question which draws great debate is, “What transformed the celestial black-hole of nothingness into something-ness?”

The ant-hill which a child observes on the sidewalk today, but was not there yesterday had to come from somewhere.  Christians and scientists can write a historically accurate pre-story for the ant-hill.  It began when an ant took a grain of sand and put it next to another and then another … overnight an ant-hill with a colony of ants came into existence.

From nothingness came an intelligently designed community with life, structure, provisions, and meaning.  A child understands this.

Genesis 1:1 reminds me why I am a man of faith.  In my book a big bang from nothingness cannot yield a community with life, structure, provisions, and meaning.

All of this changes how I look at the New Year.

Out of the celestial nothingness, God created light, life, provisions, and community, His Way.  It was a good design, one which does not need reworking by me.

As I stand at the doorway into a New Year, I am inclined to ponder, “What can I make of the year ahead?”

Admirably, I imagine a list of self-accomplished successes that will lead to life which is best for me.  Then, as a Christian, I ask for God’s blessing upon the year I have set out to create for myself.

Does it strike you as odd that I’d ask the Creator to bless my creation, rather than accept His.

Wouldn’t it be better to begin the New Year submitting to His Way and let His good life unfold for me along the way?

Boy, am I glad I did not make a list of New Year’s Resolutions, God has a better plan.

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Give Jesus Christ a chance, give Him elbow room … 

because the devil doesn’t get lazy around you. (1)

Most Christians only pray when they are desperate.

As Screwtape might say to Wormwood in C. S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters:

“Never let them think they need to pray.  Let them have enough confidence in themselves and fate that they do not ask Jesus to intervene.  This way they create more space for our tempting ploys.”

Prayer is a bother to us because we have nothing measurable to show for it at the end of the day.  

This is why many pastors rarely pray.

How do you explain to the Church Board that the 3 hours you spent in prayer this morning was productive work, while Mr Jones and Mrs. Smith were at nursing home ailing in loneliness, while Darrin was off being a teenage derelict, and while the homeless at the shelter needed someone to cook them breakfast?

Let’s be honest, what would impress your boss and friends the most?

Tell them you woke up at 6 AM and prayed for 3 hours for the Spirit of God to mold your heart and mind, to send Jones and Smith a friend, to get Darrin on track, and to motivate volunteers to work at the homeless shelter.

Or

Tell them that you woke up at 6 AM to serve breakfast at the homeless shelter, then met with Darrin before he went to school, and visited with Smith and Jones as you passed the nursing home before arriving at the office at 9 AM.

No contest here.  We know who will get the big raise.

Genuine praise, adoration, and glory comes to the man, woman, or child who works for God serving the needy, while pleasing pleasant platitudes are offered for prayers.

At the end of Luke 10, when Martha complained to Jesus that her sister avoided kitchen work to listen to him, Jesus said:

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (2)

In Luke 11:1, Jesus is praying and one of his disciples said, “Jesus teach us how to pray!”

We all need more knee time with God.

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  1. I compiled this quote by combining two statements, the first from Oswald Chambers and the latter from Martin Luther.  Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).  Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 240). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Luke 10:41–42.

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“Isn’t it glorious to know that no matter how unjust something may be, even when it seems to have come from Satan himself, by the time it reaches us it is God’s will for us and will ultimately work to our good?” (1)

 

How would your life change if you assumed everything that happened to you was God’s will for you?

 

Everything?  

 

Yes, everything!

 

It’s a question that gives me long pause and few words.

 

Anytime someone glibly says, “It is God’s will” in the face of tragedy or disaster, I cringe.  

 

When bad things happen, questions flood my heart: 

Would God? 

Could God? 

Did God? 

Why God?

 

If it was God’s will and He would, could, and did, how would your life change?

 

I’d turn to God.

 

I’d cry out to Him?  

 

I’d stand with Habakkuk and wait for God to answer me. (See Habakkuk 1:1-2:4)

 

I’d cling to these scriptures:

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” 

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” 

 

“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” 

 

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (2)

 

On the other hand, how would your life change if you assumed everything that happened to you was NOT God’s will for you?

 

In the center of the circle of the will of God I stand: 

There can come no second causes, all must come from His dear hand.

God is Love, and God is faithful, so in perfect Peace I rest. (1)

 

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  1. Reimann, Jim; Cowman, L. B. E. (2008-09-02). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 311). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 23:4, John 3:16, Romans 8:28, and Romans 8:38-39.

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Don’t calculate without God (1)

I have always been a whiz with numbers.  In school I could add, subtract, multiple, and divide with the best.  Word problems and algebraic equations were my soul mates.  

Arithmetic was home base.  I consistently made A’s in math until I hit trigonometry and calculus.  My guaranteed A’s turned into hard won B’s.  After completing my second semester calculus class at Chapel Hill, I had enough.

Life is like calculus, it’s hard to figure out.  I was never able to look at a calculus problem and know the correct answer immediately.  Life is the same.  Just when I think I have life figured out, reality steps up to the plate and throws me a sinking curve ball.

When I became a Christian and began to include God in the equation, life did not necessarily become easier, but the answer became clearer.  With God in the mix, I know how the story ends, thus I know where I am going and can more easily find my way.

Because God’s ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts (2) my greatest error in life is to make plans, do my life calculus, without considering God.  

I am a list maker.  My favorite is a list of pros and cons.  I will consider every obstacle and possibility while completing this list.  Once my list is complete, I weigh my options and make a decision.  Once a decision is made, I move forward.

Periodically I will show my list to a group of leaders in the church or to the men in my Covenant Group, to help them understand that I made a wise and careful decision.

One day, a friend who was reviewing my list asked me, “Where’s God?”  

I stumbled and stammered, I was struck dumb, silenced with nothing to say.  God was not considered.  I had not calculated for God.  I had planned for opposition, deficiencies, sin, evil, rainy days, surprises, and a host of other potential problems the world might throw down in my path.  But I had not planned on God.

My friend said,”Without God, your plans will fail.”

I hate it when my friends are right and I am wrong. 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (3)

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  1. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).
  2. Isaiah 55:8.
  3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jeremiah 29:11.

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Take the Journey!

Whether considering the deep mysteries or the everyday matters of life, we have a tendency to out-think God.

  • Is this God’s plan?
  • Why does God allow this?
  • Is this exactly what scripture means?
  • Where will this lead me?
  • Is God testing me?

Some ponder while others go.  

While I enjoy reflecting, speculating, wondering, and thinking about God’s will and His ways, I recognize that at the end of the day I must act in faith.

Faith is moving forward into the unknown.  

Faith never sees the way, it only sees God.

The prophet Habakkuk teaches, The saints live by faith!” (1)

I appreciate his emphasis on LIVE!  Get on with your life!  Trust God even when you do not understand His ways. 

Let actual circumstances be what they may be.  Look to Jesus.  Trust Him and His love for you.  Live knowing that He will bring you safely to shore.  

Jesus will do that!  While He will not keep your life free from trouble and uncertainty, He will remain at the helm with you during the storms and through the night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. 

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in 

from this time forth and forevermore. (2)

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  1. Habakkuk 2:4.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 121:7–8.

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