Elevate 28 - A 28 Day Challenge to Intentionally Engage with God's Word
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the
purpose of the Lord that will stand"
"How Do I Know God's Will"
By Chuck Swindoll
Want to know God's will for your life? Let me ask you to stop, look, and listen. God makes His desires known to those who stop at His Word, look in with a sensitive spirit, and listen to others. When we go to His Word, we stop long enough to hear from above. When we look, we examine our surrounding circumstances in light of what He is saying to our inner spirit (perhaps you prefer to call this your conscience). And when we listen to others, we seek the counsel of wise, qualified people.
1. Stop at the Scriptures
The Bible tells us that the entrance of God's Word gives light (Psalm 119:130). That it is a lamp for our feet and a light that shines brightly on our path (Psalm 119:105). God has placed His Word in our hands and allowed it to be translated into our tongue (both were His determined will) so we could have a much more objective set of guidelines to follow than our dreams, hunches, and feelings. Sixty-six books filled with precepts and principles. And the better we know His Word, the more clearly we will know His will.
Precepts. Some of the statements that appear in the Bible are specific, black-and-white truths that take all the guesswork about God's will out of the way.
Here are a few:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:15–18)
These specific things are stated to be the will of God. There are even times that suffering is directly the will of God for us.
First Corinthians 7 says a lot about remaining single as well as being committed to one's marriage. Clearly, this chapter (along with 2 Corinthians 6:14) states that a Christian is definitely not to marry a non-Christian. These are finely tuned precepts that reveal God's will.
Principles. But the Bible also has principles, general guidelines to assist us through the gray areas. Not so much "do this" and "don't do that," but an appeal to use wisdom and discretion when such are needed.
We have both precepts and principles in our traffic laws. The sign that reads "Speed Limit 35" is a precept. The one that reads "Drive Carefully" is a principle. And that principle will mean one thing on a deserted street at two o'clock in the morning, but something else entirely at three-thirty in the afternoon when children are walking home from school.
Just remember this: A primary purpose of the Word of God is to help us know the will of God. Become a careful, diligent student of Scripture. Those who are will be better equipped to understand His desires and walk in them.
2. Look Around and Within
Philippians 2:12–13 presents a good cause for our cooperating with the Lord's leading:
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
These verses highlight three specifics: There's a willingness to obey. There's the need to "work out" or give ourselves to doing our part with a sensitive spirit (fear and trembling). And then there's the promise that God will "work in you" to accomplish His plan. As we remain alert to His working, paying close attention to doors He opens and closes, He directs us into His will.
Closed doors are just as much God's leading as open ones. The believer who wants to do God's will must remain sensitive and cooperative, not forcing his or her way into areas that God closes off. The Lord uses circumstances and expects us to "read" them with a sensitive, alert conscience.
We must stop and check His Word. We must look around and within. And there is one more helpful piece of advice to remember. We must . . .
3. Listen to the Counsel of Qualified People
Solomon the wise once wrote:
A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, But a man of understanding draws it out. (Proverbs 20:5)
Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another . . . .As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man.
Like a quarterback, facing fourth-and-one on the thirty-yard line, who calls a time-out to consult with the coach, so must we. God uses others to help us know His desires.
God makes His will known: (1) through His Word . . . as we stop and study it, (2) through circumstances . . . as we look within and sense what He is saying, and (3) through the counsel of others . . . as we listen carefully.
God makes His desires known to those who stop at His Word, look in with a sensitive spirit, and listen to others.
Charles Swindoll is an evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator, and radio preacher. He founded Insight for Living, headquartered in Frisco, Texas, which airs a radio program of the same name on more than 2,000 stations around the world in 15 languages. He is currently senior pastor at Stonebriar Community Church, in Frisco, Texas.
REFLECT & RESPON
1. Gather your family or small group – to read and discuss the following quotes by well-known people about God’s Perfect plan for us.
2. Adults should explain that God’s Word – is the Word – and that many of the clever and intelligent sounding quotes that we hear by people who are writers, actors, athletes, and motivational speakers – are not their original thoughts. Rather, they are statements of faith that they believe are true based on what they’ve learned from God’s Word. God is the Original!
3. Guide a group writing activity or let it be an individual effort to write your own statement of faith - something that is inspired by a scripture - God's orginal word.
This activity was provided by the Teacher Love Project - a Why Not Charleston community education initiative. The Teacher Love Project aims to provide love and encouragement to teachers that will elevate their wellness and care and therefore, enhance student achievement. We must care for those who care for our children - we must love each other because God loved us first.
"We love because he first loved us."
1 John 4:19
"The Brick Wall Prayer (A Prayer to Know God's Will)"
by Rachel-Claire Cockrell
God, you know me better than I know myself. You know my fears and my desires. You know how much I want this. You know how much I will be devastated if this doesn't happen. I know you love me. I know you have a plan for me. Please, Lord, don't let my desires blind me to your will. If this is not within your plan for me, throw up a Brick Wall. Give me an obstacle I cannot get past. Help me follow your will, Father. Give me peace about whatever is to come. If this falls through, I will know it is your hand.
Thank you for loving me,
Rachel-Claire Cockrell is a wife, a writer, and a high school English teacher. She is passionate about her students and does her best to exemplify the love of Christ to those kids who may not experience it anywhere else. She and her husband live in Arkansas
THRU THE LENS - FINDING YOURSELF IN GOD'S WORD
A blog by regular men and women about finding themselves in God's world
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
By Scott Shellhaas
In default mode, I operate on the belief that I am a pretty good person and that I can get through life on my instincts and efforts that have gotten me by this far. My belief in myself is the deception of the devil. It is not until I make a deliberate decision to start each day in quiet time with the Lord in prayer, reading scripture and listening for His voice that the deception is unveiled. When I spend quality quiet time to commune with God’s Spirit and listen to Him, do I realize both the depth of my deception (I can do it myself) and the breadth of His the love, grace and mercy. In the depths of my soul I know he is my Father, my Creator, my Savior and my Sustainer and I can do nothing without His Spirit guiding me. The biggest living example of this is in my marriage. I had certain beliefs of what marriage would or should look like and in my own self-consumed world of expectations my wife did not fulfill these preconceived beliefs.
Living a relationship in these conditions is ripe for disaster. My wife Maranda will tell you it was miserable living with me and expectations can be crushing. I thought I was stuck with the wrong person but I would grit it out because it was the right thing to do. However, the Lord in His mysterious ways fulfills His promises even when we are not always listening. I had prayed for a long time before I met Maranda for a wife that would be equally passionate for the Lord and during our most difficult times in our marriage Maranda heard a word from God that “the gates of hell will not prevail over our marriage. In our most difficult times we both clung to these promises and prayers. In one way or another, we both suffered and gritted our teeth...persevered through 7 years of difficult marriage. We were separated 4 different times over the years for months at a time, clinging to God’s promise that the gates of hell would not prevail over our marriage. It wasn’t until I got quiet with the Lord daily and consistently that He revealed certain truths to me that enabled change.
1) Even though I thought I was a good person, He revealed the depths of my own sinful nature; how lustful I was of things not of Him (money, security, safety, approval of others, etc.), how selfish and self-consumed I was, and how pride affects our lives and relationships.
2) The depth of His love for me on a personal level. He showed me the agony of His Son on the cross, choosing death by sacrificing his life taking on the weight of sin for all mankind so that we may have everlasting life with God the Father.
These revelations and truths had a life changing impact on me and our marriage. It was like a Jekyll/Hyde transformation. I was able to see Maranda with new eyes, not as an adversary or as someone who is not meeting my expectations but as God sees her, perfect and blameless. Humility in its truest sense is only a gift God can give. Seeing others, saved by grace alone, no better or worse than yourself, allows Christ’s love to change and transform lives.
Through all of this, I realize that my plans apart from God’s will do not compare to the plans made according to God’s will. He knows me best, and He knows the transformation I need to look more like his Son.
Scott Shellhaas lives in Charleston, South Carolina with his wife Maranda. Scott’s son Gates is now a junior at Clemson University. He was a Publisher of local and national magazines in his first career and is now a General Contractor building new homes and remodeling.