Decoding God’s Will for Your Life

I wish knowing God’s will for my life was as easy as it seems to be for some people. I hear testimonies, “God spoke to me and said, “Go to lower Afghanistan,” or “Go take two apple pies to your neighbor,” or “I’ve called you to great things.”

For big life changes it seems He has to whisper, nudge, pinch and encourage and/or shout for quite a while, before I get enough clarity (and courage) to jump.

It was that way when I struggled with God’s direction for my life. When I left home, headed for college, all I knew was that I wanted a degree so I could make some MONEY! I didn’t want to be filthy rich. Just averagely rich would have been sufficient.

Then I found some friends who valued God’s will above theirs. I was attracted by the depth of their relationship with the Lord. I wanted that.

I had finally settled on a life as a journalist as a life goal, but God kept poking at me. When I looked forward, I kept seeing myself serving God as a minister of the Gospel. I wasn’t against it, but I didn’t think I had the spiritual “chops” for such a life.

I talked about it with my friend Marvin and said, “I think the worst thing you can do is to go preach when God isn’t calling you.”

“There is one thing just as bad,” he remarked. “It’s to be called and not go.”

“Thanks Marv. You’re a big help.” (note: Marvin claims to be the one who called me to preach but he’s just kidding himself).

The Lord wouldn’t let me alone though. I told my wife that I had to do something, so I went to talk to pastor Northcutt. He basically told me that he’d been expecting this and scheduled me to preach the following Sunday evening.

All Kinds of Voices

The morning after I talked to the pastor, I was working at my Summer job. A voice divebombed me like a persistent horsefly, “You’re not called. What are you doing? Besides, you’ve got those college loans you must pay back. Pastors don’t make much money. You’re going to starve to death.”

That’s when I recognized who was speaking.

If the voice had continued singing my inadequacies, ok. But starve to death? That voice wasn’t God. The Lord never threatened to let me starve to death.

So, we jumped.

My first year of ministry that voice often sneered, “You’re not really called!” After that things changed. I’ll admit there were times when I was discouraged and wanted to quit but now, I knew God had created me for this. I didn’t want to fail Him, though there were times when I REALLY wanted to quit.

I knew what pleased God and I wanted to do that.

“Ah, David,” you say, “All that is good but I’m not called to be a preacher or anything like that (thank goodness).” Listen up!

“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:12, 13 NLT)

Three Elements of God’s Will

“…what pleases Him,” is His will for our lives. There are at least three elements involved in doing His will.

–Knowing Gods will, what pleases Him for us to do. I got my mouth squeezed, checked, explored and I don’t know what all this morning by a lady dentist that loves the Lord wholly. If it pleases God, drive that truck, bang on that computer keyboard, sell those clothes or whatever else God directs you to do. Go after God to know what pleases Him. Trade in your dream for His dream for you.

–Wanting to do God’s will. I haven ‘t always wanted to do God’s will. Sometimes what He was telling me scared me—other times it challenged and excited me. Sometimes it bothered me because I had other plans. If that’s you, don’t feel bad. In the most horrible trial of His earthly life Jesus saw the cross, God’s will for Him, before Him and prayed an agonizing prayer:

““My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26:39 NLT

Don’t worry if you don’t want to do what He’s telling you. Moses didn’t. Jonah didn’t. Your feelings will come around. Probably. And if not remember one thing: He’s the boss, we’re the servants.

–Doing God’s will. “giving you … the power to do what pleases him.” If God calls you, He equips you. He’ll give you a smile for those grouchy Sunday morning visitors, superpowers to overcome that four-year old in Sunday School, patience to listen to and help that aged neighbor, perseverance to pray until you know you’ve touched heaven. And a thousand other things He calls us to do.

Don’t worry if you don’t have what it takes. God’s job is to equip you. Just do what He’s says.

Hmmm …

“God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.” C. H. Spurgeon

image: Alessandro Augusto Lucia flickr creative commons

“I Heard That!”

My dad used to irritate me when I was a kid.

Sometimes I’d ask him a question and he wouldn’t respond. I’d ask it again and he still wouldn’t answer. He’d usually respond if I asked the same question the third time.

Since I’ve had kids of my own, I think I know why he didn’t reply. Constant questions can get annoying.

Have you ever been like my father when God speaks to you? You hear His voice, but you pretend not to.

Has someone ever asked you something and you closed you heart to him?

Whoever wrote the letter to the Hebrews quoted parts of Psalms 95:7,8 three times in the first four chapters. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did…” (Heb. 3:7-9)  Continue reading

Finding Your Destiny, My Destiny, Our Destiny, the World’s Destiny

Have you ever felt you were destined for greatness? How did that go? Have you won “America’s Got Talent,” and gone on to fame?

I’ve noticed something. If you want people to read what you write put something about “destiny” in the title. That’s why I put it in my title four times… and here you are. Works doesn’t it?

Excuse my frankness, but we like to think they we’re more than just the product of our parents’ passion, that we’re on earth for a reason. Otherwise, what’s the point?

I agree a thousand percent with that, but I have a bit of a problem with starry-eyed people floating through life trying to find that marvelous destiny that is certainly their lot. There’s no way God could have destined them to be ordinary. We’re all speeding towards greatness. Right?

Hmmm … if everyone is great, no one is great. If everyone is destined to be great, then great becomes ordinary.

Here’s one definition of “destiny.” “The events that will necessarily happen to a person or thing in the future; the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future; fate.”

Kind of like the philosopher, Doris Day sang, “Que sera, sera. Whatever will be will be.”
Isaiah talks about people in his time who worshipped the gods of Fortune and Destiny. He doesn’t hold out much hope for those who sell out to them.

“But as for you who forsake the Lord and forget my holy mountain,
who spread a table for Fortune and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny,
I will destine you for the sword, and all of you will fall in the slaughter…”
Isa. 65 :11, 12, NIV

I get a funny feeling when Christians talk about “fulfilling my destiny,” when the emphasis is on “MY”… We’re not happy with the present, but we’re sure that greatness looms just ahead. Continue reading

The Speechless God and the God Who Won’t Hush

God can be a bit exasperating. Have you noticed?

Sometimes you beg for Him to speak and tell you what to do, and you don’t hear a peep. And other times you want Him to hush, but He won’t be quiet (like when you’ve sinned or when you’re getting off the path He laid out for you).

When He’s quiet there is usually a reason. After my sophomore year in college, I was really struggling with whether God wanted me for full-time ministry. I had made up my mind that if I felt that was the case, I was going to leave the college I was at and go to Bible college.

One evening I was praying with two other guys. It was nearly time to go back to school and I needed God to hurry up and speak. I was hoping He would send an angel and say, “Goooooo preeeeeach!” The other two fellows seemed fervent in their prayers.

And me? Crickets.

My angel must have gotten lost or the Prince of Persia resisted him. I’m still waiting on him 47 years later. So, I went back to the college I was at and finished a major in Political Science with a minor in Journalism.

And by the way, when I got back to school after that frustrating prayer meeting, there was a new girl who had moved to town and started to going to our church.

She became my wife. The Bible school would have been full of possible pastor’s wives, but none of them would have been as good as the one I got. Thanks Lord for not speaking when I desperately wanted you to.

How Do You Decide? Continue reading

Is It Always God’s Will To Heal You?

Recently, I asked you to tell me what kind of questions you would like to ask of God. Some of your subjects made my eyessick cross as they are the questions I ask myself.

One sore point that came up quite often was God’s healing power. I’ll be frank with you. This week I had a hard time finding anything funny to say because I know that so many are hurting while they long for healing (and also because it’s Monday and I squeezed the last drop of “funny” out of myself yesterday).

One reader, Bruce, shared his heart. “The number one topic I would like to discuss with God would be physical healing. Why aren’t more people healed?  How many people do we need to “enlist” to pray for a sick loved one, or is the sincere prayer of one parent for their sick child enough?  Are we convincing God to heal one of His children when we pray?” Continue reading