Friday, April 27, 2012

The Will of God

When I was in college I had a professor who used to point out any verse that told us what the will of God is.  He would tell us to mark down those “will of God verses.”  You know, the Will of God isn’t hard to find – He spells it out pretty clearly in His Word!  God has a general will for all of His children, and He has a specific will for each of us individually.  I think we would all agree that God’s will is for us to live holy lives, and for us not to live in sin.  That’s His general will.  Deciding where my family should live, what job to accept, or what ministry to serve in would be God’s specific will for my life.  He can reveal that through His Scripture too, just not spelled out as clearly in black and white letters.

Today I was reading Ephesians and I came across a “will of God” verse.  In Ephesians 5:15-21 it says,

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,  16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;  20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;  21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

There in verse 17 the Apostle Paul challenges us to be wise and understand what the Will of God is.  So what is it?  Right there in verse 18 – be filled with the Spirit.  God’s will is that every one of His children would walk in the Spirit.  And if you take the context, I think we could say that all of these things are God’s Will for us today:

  • Walk circumspectly {careful to consider all circumstances; prudent}
  • Be wise
  • Redeem the time
  • Be filled with {controlled by} the Spirit
  • Singing spiritual songs
  • Giving thanks for everything
  • Submitting ourselves to each other

Walk in God’s Will Today!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

“But God…”

Ephesians 2 illustrates the great difference between our position as dead in sins before salvation (vs.1-2), and the amazing position we share now, sitting together with Christ in heavenly places (vs.6).  How did this transformation take place?  All because of God.  “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us;” (vs.4).  His love and mercy made all the difference!

Before salvation:

  • Dead in sins (vs.1)
  • Walked according to the world (vs.2)
  • Lived in Satan’s realm (vs.2)
  • Disobedient (vs.2)
  • Lusts of the flesh (vs.3)
  • Fulfilling the desires of the flesh (vs.3)
  • Children of wrath (vs.3)
  • Gentiles in the flesh (vs.11)
  • Aliens from God (vs.12)
  • Strangers from the covenant of promise (vs.12)
  • No hope (vs.12)
  • Without God (vs.12)
  • Far off (vs. 13)
  • Separated from God (vs.14)
  • Afar off (vs.17)
  • Strangers and foreigners (vs.19)

“But God” gave us this new life and totally transformed us, so that we can walk in Him and not fulfill the lust of the flesh:

  • Quickened – made alive (vs.1)
  • Loved (vs.4)
  • Saved by grace (vs.5)
  • Raised (vs.6)
  • Seated with Christ in heavenly places (vs.6)
  • Rich through the grace of Christ (vs.7)
  • Saved by grace through faith (vs.8)
  • Given salvation as a free gift (vs.8)
  • His workmanship (vs.10)
  • Living unto good works (vs. 10)
  • Made nigh (vs.13)
  • We have peace through Christ (vs.14)
  • Reconciled (vs.16)
  • One body through the cross (vs.17)
  • The punishment (enmity) against us is slain, abolished (vs.15-16)
  • Access to the Father through the Spirit (vs.18)
  • Fellowcitizens with the saints (vs.19)
  • Household of God (vs.19)
  • Build on the foundation and Corner Stone (vs.2010
  • Growing (vs.21)
  • The habitation of the Spirit (vs.22)

Now that’s a reason to smile and have a “happy heart” today!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Grieve Not the Spirit

Ephesians 4:30 says, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”  I have mentioned before that I am reading a book on the Spirit-filled life called Rivers of Living Water by Ruth Paxson.  In this book she describes grieving as a love word, because you cannot grieve someone who does not love you.  Ms. Paxson goes on to describe the ways we can grieve the Spirit who indwells us.  Each point has to do with a name for the Spirit in the Word of God.  These are direct quotes from the book:

  • He is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17), so anything false, deceitful, hypocritical, grieves Him.
  • He is the Spirit of faith (2 Cor. 4:13), so doubt, unbelief, distrust, worry, anxiety, grieve Him.
  • He is the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29), so that which is hard, bitter, ungracious, unthankful, malicious, unforgiving, grieves Him.
  • He is the Spirit of wisdom (Eph. 1:17), so ignorance, conceit, arrogance, and folly grieve Him.
  • He is the Spirit of power, love and discipline (2 Tim. 1:7), so our weakness, fruitlessness, disorderliness, and lack of control grieve Him.
  • He is the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2), so anything that savors of indifference, lukewarmness, dullness or deadness grieves Him.
  • He is the Spirit of glory (1 Pet. 4:14), so that which is wordly, earthly, or fleshly grieves Him.

I thought that was a very good way of explaining it and looking at the things in our lives which grieve the Holy Spirit.  He cannot fill us and control us if we are grieving Him by allowing these characteristics in our lives.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hard Lessons to Learn

I wanted to write this post for my Thankful Thursday post last week (on my personal blog), but I didn’t get it done.  I don’t think I was ready to be able to express everything I’ve been thinking about lately.  Now that I’ve had a few more days to think about them, maybe I can adequately share what I’ve been learning.

You probably know that I like cloth diapers.  And…I had a retail store called Doable Diapers.  But it hasn’t been making money, and we came to a point last month where we wondered if we should keep it open.  I had hoped it would grow and be profitable enough so that Ben would not have to work a full time job when we are church planting.  I put out my fleece prayer request, and God chose not to answer it.  I asked my family members and close friends to pray with me about wisdom for the right decision.  Last Tuesday, we decided to close Doable Diapers. 

I feel like things are being stripped away from me one by one.  I know God is working on me and teaching me, and that these are good lessons to learn.  Good to learn now, before we are in full-time ministry.  But they are hard lessons too.  They hurt my pride and self-sufficiency.  They make me weak, and that is when I can fully experience the strength and power of God.

I thought we were doing pretty good on this parenting thing.  Our kids seemed pretty well behaved.  Then Elaine burst into the “terrible twos” stage with a vengeance.  She challenges me on everything, and throws these horrible fits, mostly in public.  Any pride I had in my parenting ability is being stripped away.  Though I know it intellectually, I am learning that I can only raise these children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord if it is the Lord who is giving me wisdom and strength to do so.

I thought I was a pretty good Christian.  Doing the right things, saying the right things, living the right way.  Then I come face to face with reality that my prayer life is struggling, and my relationship with the Lord needs some repair.  It’s humbling to admit you haven’t been completely genuine.  But now I feel like my cup is overflowing every time I open my Bible, and I know this has been a good lesson to learn…again.

I thought I would help supplement the family income and provide a way for my husband to spend more time in ministry and less time at work.  Then my business failed.  And as I look back over the months of sporadic work and unemployment, I realize that it is God who provided our needs and upheld us…not Andrea.  And now with no Doable Diapers, it is God who will continue to be the provider for us now, and in church-planting ministry.

I thought I had a good relationship with everyone.  Then things blew up with my neighbor.  And I had to admit some areas where I had been just as wrong as inconsiderate as perhaps she had.  And that was humbling.  And I didn’t want to do it, but I realized that it is necessary.

One by one God is removing my props.  Everything that was Andrea.  Everything that I thought was good.  But He is replacing them with something so much better.  He is filling me with more of Himself, and that satisfies so much more than anything I could come up with. 

This has been a hard month.  Several really hard days.  Things seemed dark.  But He is giving me the treasures of darkness.

“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places,
that thou mayest know that I, the LORD,
which call thee by thy name,
am the God of Israel.”
Isaiah 45:3