How to know the will of God for your life

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“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”—Matthew 6:33 (NRSV).

We humans are a selfish bunch. We want everything our way. We want God’s blessings but we don’t want to surrender anything, including our time, talent and treasure.

We want to know God’s will for our lives—at least some of us do—but we don’t want to take the time to discover what His will is. That would mean sacrifice on our part.

Recently, our pastor’s sermon series was titled, “How to Know the Will of God for your Life.” Although I’d read articles and books on this topic, I needed a reminder. We easily become distracted by busyness and the chatter of life. Pastor Ray’s five-part series included the following:

1. First, we have to seek God’s kingdom, remembering we are coming on His terms, not ours. Matthew 6:33 says, “But strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

2. Second, we need a plan that offers better reception, meaning if we can’t hear that still, small voice we need to examine our Christian practices like prayer, meditation and worship. These three are like phone plans designed to help us stay connected and communicate more clearly with God. Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”

What does it mean to be a Successful Christian?

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“Then He said to all, ‘Anyone who wants to follow me must put aside his own desires and conveniences and carry his cross with him every day and keep close to me!’”—Luke 9:23(TLB).

In a recent newspaper article, Sean Kouplen, the CEO of a Tulsa-based bank, listed five traits to find balance in life. Speaking from a business viewpoint, he mentioned the characteristics as common ones among those who he defined as successful in life. As I read the list, I realized they also apply to our Christian life.

1.    They have a clear vision of who they want to be.

As Christians, our vision should be striving to be more Christ-like. The banker added, “No matter what their goal, these   people aggressively pursue it with a single-minded focus. They aren’t reactive and they don’t just drift through life.” As Christians, we must be intentional about our spiritual growth. We can’t drift through life, expecting to grow in the fruits of the spirit without spending time with God and reading and studying His Word each day.

2.   They give their best effort at everything they do.

As Christians, our goal should be to do our best each day, no matter the circumstances or the task. According to Kouplen, “Whatever they are involved in, they pursue it with passion and productivity.” Wherever we are asked to serve, we should do it as Colossians 3:23 says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

3.   They focus more on others than themselves.

As Christians, we should be focused on others’ needs. Successful business people enjoy helping others be successful, the CEO said. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Remember the Good Samaritan?

Nothing is Too Hard for our Creator God, Nothing

 

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“Lord God, you created heaven and earth by your great power and outstretched arm; nothing is too hard for you!”—Jeremiah 32:17(CEB).

One recent morning, as I was preparing to spend time with the Lord in my sunroom, I glanced outside to see the largest spider web I believe I’ve ever encountered. I slipped on my shoes and stepped outside to get a closer view of the monstrosity.

Strung between two trees—about ten feet apart—was the most spectacular piece of spider webbing I’d ever seen. The web’s circumference was probably five feet. Holding this silky mesh to the tree were three threads on each side. Just amazing! I knew it had been spun overnight because I’d spent the previous evening sitting in my backyard swing visiting with a friend and the web wasn’t visible then.

Although I’m not a fan of any kind of spider, I’m fascinated by their delicate creations, produced from their own silk. My research reveals all spiders produce silk, but not all spiders spin webs. The silk is used to capture prey, to protect their offspring, to assist them as they move, to provide shelter and to reproduce. However, not all spiders use silk in the same way.

How great is our God, the maker of heaven and earth, who with His great power and outstretched arm, created such diversity—even among spiders.

And A Little Child Will Lead Them

 

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“. . .and a little child will lead them“–Isaiah 11:6 (NIV)

At a recent church service, a father came forward to be baptized. While our church is growing and we have new people coming forward almost weekly to be baptized or join our congregation, this particular Sunday was special. For the man who came forward was led by an 8-year-old child, his daughter, to make a public pronouncement of his faith and accept his new identity in Christ through the celebration of baptism.

It’s not often that you see a child lead a parent to Christ. I heard sniffles around me in the congregation as teary-eyed adults were moved by the scene. I was one of them.

Searching the Internet for examples of children leading others to Christ, I came across a website with an archive of live radio broadcasts. The Christian site has a call-in radio program for listeners to ask questions concerning the Bible and their Christian faith. I was intrigued with one caller whose question concerned witnessing to parents.

“I’d rather give up a kidney than my cell phone.”

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“And after the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper”— 1 Kings 19:12(TLB).

“I’d rather give up a kidney than my cell phone.” This statement from a 16-year-old appeared in a 2010 online article about teenagers and technology. This girl is now 20 and I wonder if she still feels the same way about her phone.

Walk into any restaurant or other venue, including church, I might add, and you’ll see, not only teenagers but adults glued to their cell phones. Whether it’s texting, posting on Facebook or Instagram or surfing the web, technology via cell phones has taken over our lives. I’m guilty too. However, I do turn my phone off for church and put it on silent while I’m in meetings or focused on my writing projects. Also, if possible, I try to avoid messaging and answering calls when I’m seated across the table during a meal with others.

In a recent blog post, “Empty Pocket, Full Attention” Brady Goodwin wrote, “I sometimes leave the house without my phone—on purpose. (Gasp!)”

Continuing, Goodwin added, “Despite the annoyance of anyone who may try to reach me, for an hour or two each day, I willfully decide to do without the ability of immediate communication or information from the outside world. This means no Twitter, no Instagram, no Facebook, no Google, no texts and no push notifications alerting me of the latest breaking news or the game’s score update. The only knowledge accessible to me is the knowledge I already possess.”

How Often Do You Copy the World’s Behavior?

Stand-Out

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how His ways will really satisfy you”—Romans 12:2 (TLB).

Ice bucket challenges to raise money for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease have exceeded the non-profit’s expectations as a fundraiser. As of Friday, August 29, the Association had received over $100 million, with donations ranging from under one dollar to $200,000.

With the help of social media, most notably Facebook, Americans from every part of the country have taken the challenge to help raise money for research, advocacy and care of ALS patients. The challenge is a worthy cause with children, teens and adults as well as former presidents and celebrities, taking a bucket of ice-filled water over the head, all in the name of charity. Even entire sports teams and communities have gotten involved. I’ve marveled at how the philanthropic campaign has resonated with so many.

What it Means to be a Christian Grandparent

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“They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and greenPsalm 92:14 (NIV).

When my oldest son, who is now 37, was born, my mother put a bumper sticker on her car. The words on the sticker, “If we’d known how much fun grandkids were, we’d had them first,” kind of hurt my feelings at the time. Then, when I became a grandmother in 2004, I understood what my mother meant. Grandchildren are a blessing as we grow older.

Recently, I attended a family funeral with my sons and grandchildren. The funeral was for a nephew, 32, who was killed in a car accident. He was the only biological child of his father. My nephew left behind a 12-year-old son who looks just like him. My heart ached, not only for the parents of my nephew, but for his son. I know the grandson will be a comfort to his grandparents in the coming days and years.

While attending the funeral, my 4-year-old grandson grew weary and wanted me to hold him. He fell asleep but awoke when a 12-minute video highlighting my nephew’s life through photos was shown. As Cash watched the video, I told him about my nephew and said, “Do you know he was your second cousin and what happened to him?” Cash nodded, and then said, “He’s in heaven with Jesus and Moses and the dinosaurs.”