Is It God’s Will?

Figuring It Out

Some of the most frustrating times in my life have been times when I was trying to figure out what God’s will was in a particular situation.

Romans 12:2b

“…Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

This passage of scripture answers the question of how to know what God’s will is. Remember that verses one and two go together. We need to keep everything in the context of the book of Romans but for now, we will just look at these verses.

Let’s go to the verse:

“…Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is… “

Is this saying that God wants our approval? Not at all. God wants us to love HIm and be joyful in HIm but He is not going to change His will for us. If He would do that, He would not be sovereign. Think about it, if God was worried about pleasing people, then He would be back and forth with contradictions all the time. God is absolutely and completely stable. He will always show Himself and His will and His plan in line with His character which He has revealed in His Word.

Test and Approve

This passage saying “test and approve” means that we will be able to be in agreement with His will and want what He wants. To do this we must be able to identify His voice. We have to look at what we see to be His direction and make sure it lines up with His Word. His character never changes. You can trust Him to always be who He has always been, and what He has always been is holy, awesome, and wonderful!

“…His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

We are not the center of the universe and our comfort and pleasure are not the issues here. God’s glory is the issue – always is and always has been the issue. With this in mind, we can also know that the very best thing that can happen to us, in the long run, is that God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will goes forth in our lives and in the world around us. Though His will is for He, Himself, to be glorified, it is in our best interest too. According to Jeremiah 29:11 God has good things planned for us, maybe not comfortable but good. That passage goes on to say that He wants us to seek Him so that we can know Him and be close to Him. His will always involves our growing closer to Him.

A Different Way

Our close walk with God – Keeping our mind renewed (minds full of Him and His Word) will help us not be conformed to this world (not being like the world) and our close walk with Him will help us be able to discern what His will is. The frustration can be replaced with trust as we walk closely with Him because the better we know Him the more we will be able to trust Him.

I am amazed at how young children have a sense of direction and location. An alternate route draws out questions like “Where are we going?” and “This is not the way home??” I remember saying “It’s just a different way.”

This applies to God’s will too. Though we may not recognize the route, we can always know that God is propelling us toward His glory.L

Things to Ponder:

Over the last 3 days, we have talked about some things that I want you to think about this weekend. Go back and carefully read Romans 12:1 & 2 again.

  • How does a living sacrifice act?
  • What are you worshiping? We are always worshiping something!
  • What is the best way not to conform to this world? (Hint: It is in the 2nd half of the verse.)
  • Does God change His will to please us?
  • Where is the best place to be in any possible situation?
  • Where is the only place to get to know God personally?

Go Deeper Today:

Matthew 8:18-22

Be Transformed

Questions

Are you looking to live a transformed life? Do you struggle with living your life in a way that just blends in with society?

Romans 12:2

“Do not be conformed any longer to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Continue reading “Be Transformed”

A Closer Walk

A Key to a Closer Walk

This passage of scripture is so easily glanced over. It is such a great passage and we should take time to feast on it – feast on it and savor it. Truly, it is a scriptural key to our close walk with Christ.

Romans 12:1-2

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” 

Today we begin a 3 day series in Romans 12:1-2. I hope you can join us for all three days!

Let’s go to the Verse:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy… “

Paul is saying here in verse 1, for us to keep in mind what God has done for us as we think of how we live our lives. As you go through your day, do you keep what God has done for you forefront in your mind? I know I do not, not all the time. Paul tells us very plainly here that we need to.

Let’s back up a little. Take a minute or two to see what the “therefore,” is there for. It wraps up what has already been said and the following verses hang on it. All of Romans is about God’s mercy, The text before this “therefore” is about God’s huge act of mercy toward us. The text after it is about our response to His huge act of mercy.

“…to offer your bodies as living sacrifices… “

Does this mean that God demands human blood sacrifice on some kind of horrid altar? No. It says, “living sacrifices” so what is a living sacrifice?

If I sacrifice something, I give it up. In this instance, I give it up to God and for God. He wants us to sacrifice our purpose for our lives and take on His purpose. He wants us to be His and His completely. In view of His merciful act upon the cross, it is reasonable that we give up everything for and to Him.

“…holy and pleasing to God… “

As we seek Him to know Him our lives will be affected by His life in us. He will help us to live lives that are holy and pleasing to Him. We give up that control and be living sacrifices and He makes us what He wants us to be.

“… – this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Constant Worship

I have heard it said, and know it to be true, that we all worship all the time. It is only what we worship that is in question. 

If we live in obedience to God, we will live sacrificially. Obedience is one form of worship. We do not just worship when we sing praise and worship songs. God wants me and you to worship Him with our entire life. The benefits are huge but the actual reward…

Genesis 15:1

“After this, the Word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”

We will definitely benefit from our obedience – yes – but our reward is to get to walk closely with God in our lives. He is the reward. Let us worship Him with our obedience.

Things to Ponder:

  • Is my/your motivation for living to please God? Am I/Are you a living sacrifice to Him day by day?
  • Is God forefront in my/your mind as I/you go through my/your day?
  • Do we live in response to what Jesus did for us and what we know of God from His Word?
  • What reward are we seeking as we live this life? Are we striving toward Christ as a very great reward?

Go Deeper Today:

Matthew 8:5-13

God is Working

I originally posted this devotional last April. I thought I would share it today after touching on Romans 8:28 last week.

God Works All Things for Our Good

Romans 8:28

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purposes.”

Continue reading “God is Working”

A Beautiful Psalm

Psalm 33:1-22

Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.

Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to Him with the harp of ten strings!

Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully on the strings with loud shouts.

For the word of the LORD is upright, and all His work is done in faithfulness.

He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their hosts.

He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; He puts the deeps in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him!

For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm.

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.

The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom He has chosen as His heritage!

The LORD looks down from heaven; He sees all the children of man;

from where He sits enthroned He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,

He who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.

The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.

The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Behold the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His steadfast love,

that He may deliver their souls from death and keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for theLORD; He is our help and our shield.

For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name.

Let Your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in You.

Middle of Storm?

What Do You Do When Storms Approach?

Are you in the middle of a storm right now? If not, you or someone you know will be soon. Storms are just part of life, aren’t they? Where is your storm shelter? How do you keep from just falling apart?

Zephaniah 3:17

The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save.

He will take delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.

An Old Friend

At lunch a while back, I ran into a friend who I do not see very often. She shared with me that she was going to have a diagnostic lump-ectomy within a few days. I recognized the “controlled” panic in her eyes. I had seen it before, in my mirror, when I looked at my own eyes.

In my devotional time that very morning I had relished in this beautiful verse from Zephaniah. At the time I did not realize that God was giving it to me, not just for me, but for my friend as well. It immediately came to mind as I looked into her eyes. I knew it was for her, too.

When I shared it with her, she grabbed hold of it like someone adrift in deep stormy water grabbing a life-preserver. My prayer for days after that was, “Lord, please quiet her with your love.”

And, how are you doing today?

Let’s go to the verse:

“The Lord your God is with you… “

Hebrews 13:5 says that He will never leave us as believers, so He is with us right now.

“…He is mighty to save… “

God is strong enough to do whatever He wants to do. He is all-powerful!

“…He will take delight in you… “

Though He always loves us, He even delights in our trusting Him, obeying Him, and submitting our lives to Him.

“…He will quiet you with His love… “

Like an upset baby or a small child who calms right down and go to sleep in its mother’s arms – we can calm right down and rest in Him, God will quiet us with His love. Stop now and just close your eyes for a minute and let Him quiet you with His love.

“…He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Imagine that! God not only wants to love us, He rejoices in us loving Him. Our trusting Him and walking with Him gives Him great pleasure.

How’s the Weather?

Once again, how are you doing today?

Are you anxious about something?

Have you lost a loved one?

Do you have a broken relationship in your life?

Are you screaming inside because of the threat of a catastrophic illness that looms in front of you?

Don’t Wait

Storms take many forms, don’t they? One minute you have a beautiful sunny day and the next thing you know the sky is filled with thick gray clouds. Well, that’s how it is in Maine and South Carolina anyway. Don’t just watch it roll in and overtake you!

Take some time today and just read God’s Word in the Psalms (maybe Psalm 63). Imagine yourself crawling into your Heavenly Father’s big strong arms and letting Him quiet you with His love. He can handle whatever comes and you can too if you will just stay in His arms. He is watching you struggle, He wants you to come to Him, and trust Him and let Him quiet you with His love. There is no peace and no rest comparable to the peace and rest that comes with being quieted by Him in His amazing love.

What a wonderful loving tender God we have!

Things to Ponder:

  • Think about how huge God is and also how small I am/you are.
  • Ask God to help you grasp and live in the fact you are His.
  • Ask God to help you to trust Him and grow in your trusting Him.

Go Deeper Today:

Matthew 7:28-29

Don’t Be Afraid

Don’t Be Afraid, Only Believe

Years ago, my family suffered the loss of my dearly loved aunt. It was a very difficult time. I am sure that you have experienced this kind of loss, too.

Dealing with My Grief

It was a time in my life when I was doing a lot of songwriting. I didn’t usually “work” on songs as “real” songwriters do. They just kind of came out of me as God gave me tunes and lyrics. I “wrote” many songs this way. I worked with musician friends who helped me put chords with the tunes.

Before my aunt went to be with Jesus, God began putting a song in my heart and I began trying to get it out and onto paper but it just would not come. Then after she passed, I stayed up all night one night crying, praying and grieving. I was so grateful that she was no longer suffering but I was very sad for all of us who would miss her so much. God finished that song in my heart that night and I want to share the lyrics with you today.

As believers in Christ we have this promise in Scripture.

Look for the Blessing

What do we do now? How do we go on? 

Its never gonna be the same again.

As the pain tears at the fiber of who we are 

and the ache inside seems to intensify…

Look into

look into the face of God and

Chorus

Look for the blessing in the hard time

because in the hard time, He doesn’t leave.

He’s right there beside you in the hard time

Don’t be afraid, only believe. (repeat chorus)

Bridge

He will carry you through, His promises are true…

So run into

run into the arms of God and

Final Chorus

Find the blessing in the hard time,

because in the hard time He doesn’t leave.

He’s right there beside you in the hard time.

Don’t be afraid, only believe.

Know He’s right here and He’s not gonna leave.

Don’t be afraid, only believe.

Dell Scruggs ©️ Copyright 1999

Matthew 1:23 ESV

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel” (which means God with us).

Matthew 28:20b ESV

“…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Things to Ponder:

  • Is this promise yours today? The one condition of this promise belonging to you is that your faith for salvation is in Jesus Christ alone.
  • In the hard times, run to Him. Run to His Word. He loves you and you do not have to go through hard times alone.
  • There is no comfort, my sweet friend, like the comfort of our beautiful Savior – Immanuel – God with Us.

Go Deeper Today:

Matthew 7:24-27

Making Peace

Life’s Situations

Do you have a rough life situation that by all appearances is permanent? Are you fighting with that situation tooth and nail? How do you make peace with a less than pleasant situation to maintain sanity and rest? How do you not succumb to anger and bitterness? If God is in control and He is, who are we getting angry and bitter toward?? I know. OUCH!!!

This new normal of mine has been tough for me. In the last post, I think I may have sounded like I had just settled happily into it. It has not been quite that way, but knowing what you are dealing with can give a semblance of peace. So in that, I did find “settling in” easier to do. I did not seem to have a choice so fighting it was futile.

New Focus

What God has planned for us is what we will or need to gravitate toward. I believe that my lack of energy and having to quit my job with no hope of being able to hold down another one helps me to focus on what God wants me focused on: My family and ministry through this devotional and in my church. That really helps me settle in.

Joseph, Son of Jacob

I am reminded of the life of Joseph, the son of Jacob. We find the account of Joseph’s life in Genesis in chapters 37 and then 39 through 50. Joseph was a bit of a pill for his eleven older brothers to deal with. He was the favorite of Jacob’s sons and he had dreams that led him, his brothers, and even his father to believe that he envisioned them one day bowing down to him. Saying that this did not set well with his brothers would be a huge understatement. So in frustration that bordered on hatred, they sold him into slavery and the slave traders took him to Egypt.

Slave to Ruler

Joseph found great favor and success in Egypt but still ended up in trouble more than once. In the end, he was second in power only submitting to Pharaoh himself! It is a wonderful story of God’s loving care, His power, and His sovereignty not only for Joseph but for the entire Israelite people! I hope you will take time soon to read this wonderful account of the life of Joseph. For today though, I am going to pull out a few passages that show how God used Joseph and dealt with his heart.

Genesis 41:50-52 ESV

Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

Settling in to God’s Will

Joseph could have spent the 13+ years in Egypt seething in anger and bitterness for which some would say he was justified. However, he did not do that. He let it go and settled in to what God had called him to do.

Genesis 45:4-8 ESV

So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

God’s Calling

Please do not think that I equate myself with Joseph. I absolutely do not! But I do see God working things out that could be taken in a negative way and that I could make me frustrated, angry and bitter. Instead, God has given me peace and for that I am so very grateful.

Romans 8:28 comes to mind:

And we do know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

Note: This verse is directed toward Christian believers who love God.

Big Picture vs A Glimpse

As God brings His will to pass and involves us in it, every single part of it is not going to feel good or be fun. However, we can know and trust that He is in control and that He is not hanging us completely out to dry. He sees the big picture and we only see a glimpse. Because we only see glimpses, we must learn to take things one step at a time, following His lead. As we move through the situation and get to see it from a new angle, things will most likely make more sense.

Things to Ponder:

  • What is your challenging situation: an ill loved one? your own illness? a terrible work situation? financial struggle? living with depression?
  • Is this challenge a part of God’s plan for you? Is He using it to make you what He wants you to be? Are you fighting Him or surrendering to Him? Tough questions, I know. Sometimes we cannot answer them either.
  • Can you trust God in your situation, make peace with Him about it, and rest in Him?
  • I pray that both you and I will take it one day at a time – because tomorrow God may give us a whole new angle on the situation and everything might just make perfect sense.

Go Deeper Today:

Matthew 7:21-23

A Very Present Help

January was an interesting month for me… and mine. It has been one interesting thing after another all month. Some things have been inconvenient and some have been downright scary. We made it through all of the adventures and seem to be calming down in this first week of February.

Psalm 46:1-3

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Go-Getter No More?

One thing that was present all month was my low energy level. Back in August when I realized that something in me had changed, I began researching and, of course, visited my doctor. Since August, my energy has never come back up to the go-getter pace that I am accustomed to. But it did get considerably better during the Fall. Then, after low energy all month, last week I bottomed out fully again and I was in bed for 5 days. I thought that maybe I had gotten past whatever was going on last year but apparently, I haven’t.

I am okay with that and I am so thankful that I did not get depressed. Obviously, I just had to ride it out, knowing that I was in my Master’s hand.

God is in control and I know He has His hand on me in this particular situation. As far as living in my new normal, I simply have to learn how to live knowing that if I really push myself, my body will force me to take a few days to recover. I would rather be ready for it than to pretend it won’t come again. I just need a simple plan to get what I must do done.

Our Passage

Above we see that God is with us even when things are going haywire. We did not have mountains crumbling into the sea and such. What we did have was times of not knowing what was going to happen next for days at a time. A lot of people were praying and even if they had not been, God is still good and He is still in control. We are very thankful for praying brothers and sisters in the Lord and we are thankful that God is faithful to who He says He is in His Word.

Hiding and Resting

We can really hide in Him because He is our refuge. Sometimes when I wind up in bed for a few days, I feel myself hiding in Him, resting in Him and waiting for Him to restore my physical strength. There is no better place to be than hiding in Him. We can really know that He is God and He is in control. We can trust Him to do what is best even if the earth around us is sliding into the sea!

Things to Ponder:

  • Do you need to hide in Him and rest in Him today?
  • Do you need Him to restore your strength?
  • Is the earth moving around you today in a way that you cannot navigate for yourself?

I hope you will go back and read our passage for today and ask God to help you trust Him as He leads you through.

Go Deeper Today:

Matthew 7:15-20

God is Our Fortress

Psalm 46:1-11 ESV

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He utters His voice, the earth melts.

The LORD of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come, behold the works of the LORD, how He has brought desolation on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the chariots with fire.

“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth!”

The LORD of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.