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Posts tagged ‘Following God’s Will’

Whose Will Be Done? – Following God’s Will

Discerning the Will of GodFor new insight, try looking at a familiar Scripture passage from a fresh perspective. Take the story of the Woman at the Well—usually viewed as a case study in pointing someone to God.

Today, look at it from the angle of an exhausted Jesus and what it was that actually recharged his batteries.

This was early in Jesus’ ministry, and with His growing acclaim, He had apparently decided to withdraw from Judea to avoid immediate direct confrontation with the Pharisees.

Interact with God’s Word:  John 4:3-8 John 4:27-38

  1. Based on verses 6-8, how would you picture Jesus’ physical and emotional posture at this time?
  2. What did Jesus’ disciples assume would revive their exhausted rabbi?
  3. What did Jesus hint (in v. 31) had already lifted His spirits?
  4. How will knowing you are doing God’s will in His power (v. 34) bring a sense of fulfillment?
  5. Share an example of how you felt rewarded with “good wages” and joy (v. 36) from being part of God’s planting-and-harvesting team.

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to empower you to make the shift from resisting or reluctantly accepting His will to gladly embracing it.

John 4:3-8 John 4:27-38

3 So he left Judea and returned to Galilee. 4 He had to go through Samaria on the way. 5 Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.

27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” 28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?”

30 So the people came streaming from the village to see him. 31 Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.”

33 “Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other. 34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. 35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe[a] for harvest.

36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to accept your “good and pleasing, and perfect” will, even when that runs counter to my natural desires.

Whose Will Be Done? – Listen to Your Coach

Discerning the Will of GodKey Bible Verse:  “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.”  – Luke 22:42

Bonus Reading: Matthew 26:36-46

With his 2006 British Open victory, Tiger Woods had amassed victories in 11 majors, second only to Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18.  This victory was particularly emotional for Tiger with the recent loss of his father.  After his final putt he embraced his caddie and the tears fell freely.  To become the world’s best golfer, Tiger relied on his father as coach, mentor, and friend.  But I’m sure, like any other kid, there were days when Tiger simply didn’t want to practice.  Then dad was there to keep him focused on the goal.

Our Savior had a similar experience in the Garden of Gethsemane.  As He braced to shoulder the sins of the world, Jesus reached the limits of His humanity.  He cried out to His Father, pleading for another solution.  But the Father knew the ultimate goal.  Jesus relied on His Father’s perfect will and continued down the path to the cross, where He achieved an eternal victory.

Are you relying on your Father?  Do you hear His voice in desperate times?  “Don’t give up,” He whispers. “Victory is just around the corner. Keep walking with me, and we’ll make it through this.”  Listen for the encouraging words of your Coach, and you’ll be on your way to victory.

—Lane McGullion in Georgia

My Response: What might be required for God to keep me focused on His goal for me?

Thought to Apply: The basic decision, after all, is to let God be God, to say “yes” to the work of the Lord.  —Luke Timothy Johnson (monk turned theology prof)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to accept your “good and pleasing, and perfect” will, even when that runs counter to my natural desires.

 

Whose Will Be Done? – Clear Vision, Murky Path

Discerning the Will of GodKey Bible Verse: How can we understand the road we travel?  It is the Lord who directs our steps.  –  Proverbs 20:24

Bonus Reading: Numbers 9:15-23

As a computer professional, I worked for one company for 13 years, moving from hardware and software technician to officer and partner. Eventually I owned almost a quarter of the firm.

As my contributions to the bottom line increased, the company tried to tighten its grip on my heart.  But years ago I’d felt God’s call to deliver a message to the church.  A day would come, I believed, to leave my firm and become a full-time author.  I didn’t know how God would bring this about.  But on the side I learned the writing craft by attending conferences and producing magazine articles.

My vision remained sharp.  But my loyalty and sense of obligation to my company weighed heavily.  If I left, its survival was not assured.

Should I keep waiting? I tensely wondered.  Maybe God wants me to keep working and write part-time.  O God, show me what You want me to do!

Then God, in His mercy, solved my dilemma.  Another company, with its own computer systems, purchased ours.  Within a few months, I’d transferred our client data and transaction history.  I was then free to bow out with no harm to the firm.  And the sale provided me with money to live on as I pursued writing full-time.

—Bryan Davis in Spit and Polish for Husbands

My Response: In what situation am I waiting for God to act?

Thought to Apply: God always gives his very best to those who leave the choice with Him.—J. Hudson Taylor

Adapted from Spit and Polish for Husbands (AMG Publishers, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to accept your “good and pleasing, and perfect” will, even when that runs counter to my natural desires.

 

 

Whose Will Be Done? – Who Calls the Shots?

Discerning the Will of GodKey Bible Verse: “May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven.”  – Matthew 6:10

Bonus Reading: John 4:31-34

What if we ask for guidance and God guides us in ways we don’t want to follow? What if we pray for wisdom and the wisdom we receive seems more like nonsense? What if we pray for patience and the answer means nothing but trouble for us?

All of this shouldn’t surprise us. Jesus hinted at the problem when He gave us the Lord’s Prayer. Included in that model prayer were the words [of today’s Key Bible Verse]. The basic difficulty comes clear if we lay it out in a syllogism:

  1. God has a will (or desire) for your life.
  2. But you also have a will (or desire) for your life.
  3. Therefore, when you pray, “Your will be done,” you are asking that His will take precedence over yours.

Only one will can be done at a time. Either He is in control or you are. It’s not easy to pray like that because when you ask that God’s will be done, you’re implicitly asking that your will be overturned, if necessary. It’s not easy to pray that way when you’re standing beside the hospital bed of someone you love.

But then you’re not really in control anyway. It only seems that way.

—Ray Pritchard in The Incredible Journey of Faith

My Response: In what situation am I now prepared to pray, “Your will be done”?

Thought to Apply: Ninety-five percent of knowing the will of God consists in being prepared to do it before you know what it is.—Donlad Grey Barnhouse (Philadelphia pastor)

Adapted from The Incredible Journey of Faith (Crossway, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to accept your “good and pleasing, and perfect” will, even when that runs counter to my natural desires.

 

Whose Will Be Done? – Accepting Helplessness

Discerning the Will of GodKey Bible Verse: But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, “You are my God.”  – Psalm 31:14

Bonus Reading: Psalm 31:9-20

[continued from yesterday]  Hearing my pregnant wife’s cancer diagnosis taught me what it meant to pray, “Your will, not mine.”

As much as I wanted Cathy’s health restored and a healthy baby, I knew there was nothing I could do to affect the outcome.  Accustomed to forcing outcomes at work and at home, here I was truly powerless.  It frustrated me, but, at the same time, offered an unexpected peace.  For once in my life, I had to place it all in God’s hands. I had no alternative; there was nothing more I could do.

Despite the chaos of having a healthy newborn and a wife drained from weeks of chemo and radiation treatments, I rejoiced as my daughter, Ellen, and Cathy progressed in their growth and recovery. I was ecstatic that, in this case, God’s will was to ordain an outcome that matched my own desires.

In the process, He taught me what true obedience felt like. Now, when I face much more trivial instances of wanting my will done, I remember that turning the situation over to God gives a sense of power in the midst of weakness. Sometimes the first step to accepting God’s blessings is setting my desires aside to receive them.

—Tom Petersen in Iowa

My Response: How has God responded in my life when I’ve prayed, “Your will be done,” and meant it?

Thought to Apply: The will of God is either a burden we carry or a power which carries us.—Corrie Ten Boom (Dutch concentration camp survivor)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to accept your “good and pleasing, and perfect” will, even when that runs counter to my natural desires.

 

Whose Will Be Done? – Unwelcome News

Discerning the Will of GodKey Bible Verse: If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God. Isaiah 50:10

Bonus Reading: Isaiah 40:27-31

Cathy and I were thrilled when the doctor confirmed her pregnancy.  Married for only a few years, we’d been praying for a child and were giddy at the prospect of this first addition to our family.

Time passed quickly until about six months into the pregnancy.  In addition to the usual odd cravings and inability to go more than 20 minutes without a bathroom break, Cathy assumed her night sweats and the lump growing on her neck were related to her pregnancy.  Conversations with our doctor provided no clear information.

Finally we pressed the issue.  She referred us to a surgeon to take a tissue sample.

We met with an oncologist after the biopsy. Cathy, he grimly informed us, had Hodgkin’s disease. The bottom fell out of our happy world.

The oncologist recommended inducing her pregnancy, in hopes that the seven-month-old fetus was old enough to survive.  That would clear the way for Cathy to begin chemotherapy treatments without further delay.

Suddenly, the pending joy of a baby’s birth was overshadowed by the coming struggle to defeat the cancer—and the uncertain final outcome. [continued tomorrow]

—Tom Petersen in Iowa

My Response: When have I found it hard to trust God?

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to accept your “good and pleasing, and perfect” will, even when that runs counter to my natural desires.

 

Whose Will Be Done? – A Draftteam Named Desire

Discerning the Will of GodWho Said It…Danny Wuerffel

Danny Wuerffel won the Heisman Trophy in 1996 as the Florida Gators quarterback.  Drafted by the New Orleans Saints, he got involved in ministry in the country’s second-largest housing project.

Desire Street Ministries, which Danny now directs, builds and restores houses, operates a pediatric clinic and Desire Street Academy (with 192 grade-7-12 boys enrolled before Hurricane Katrina), conducts Bible studies, and sponsors a church in the district.

What He Said…A Draftteam Named Desire

How could a talented quarterback walk away from the NFL to work in the inner city when he could still play at the game’s highest level? asked Sports Spectrum writer Rob Bentz.

“I was planning to keep playing,” Wuerffel explained. “In the mornings I’d train to be a pro football player. In the afternoons I’d work at Desire Street Ministries.  But after a month, walking into our gym to visit with one of our kids, I passed on a desk a newspaper with a story about Peyton Manning throwing a touchdown pass to break Dan Merino’s record.  As I looked at the kids, I thought, I wouldn’t trade places with Peyton for anything. I knew I was right where I was supposed to be.

“After Katrina, an incredible moment was when we found a 4-H camp in Florida to temporarily house the academy. It’s run by my alma mater, the University of Florida! ‘Danny, we’re going to make this work,’ the officials told me.  They did, and also donated $50,000!”

Adapted from Sports Spectrum (11-12/05).

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, help me to accept your “good and pleasing, and perfect” will, even when that runs counter to my natural desires.

 

Whose Will Be Done? – Following God’s Will

Discerning the Will of GodFor new insight, try looking at a familiar Scripture passage from a fresh perspective. Take the story of the Woman at the Well—usually viewed as a case study in pointing someone to God.

Today, look at it from the angle of an exhausted Jesus and what it was that actually recharged his batteries.

This was early in Jesus’ ministry, and with His growing acclaim, He had apparently decided to withdraw from Judea to avoid immediate direct confrontation with the Pharisees.

Interact with God’s Word:  John 4:3-8 John 4:27-38

  1. Based on verses 6-8, how would you picture Jesus’ physical and emotional posture at this time?
  2. What did Jesus’ disciples assume would revive their exhausted rabbi?
  3. What did Jesus hint (in v. 31) had already lifted His spirits?
  4. How will knowing you are doing God’s will in His power (v. 34) bring a sense of fulfillment?
  5. Share an example of how you felt rewarded with “good wages” and joy (v. 36) from being part of God’s planting-and-harvesting team.

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to empower you to make the shift from resisting or reluctantly accepting His will to gladly embracing it.

John 4:3-8 John 4:27-38

3 So he left Judea and returned to Galilee. 4 He had to go through Samaria on the way. 5 Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.

27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” 28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?”

30 So the people came streaming from the village to see him. 31 Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.”

33 “Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other. 34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. 35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe[a] for harvest.

36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to accept your “good and pleasing, and perfect” will, even when that runs counter to my natural desires.

Whose Will Be Done? – Listen to Your Coach

Discerning the Will of GodKey Bible Verse:  “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.”  – Luke 22:42

Bonus Reading: Matthew 26:36-46

With his 2006 British Open victory, Tiger Woods had amassed victories in 11 majors, second only to Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18.  This victory was particularly emotional for Tiger with the recent loss of his father.  After his final putt he embraced his caddie and the tears fell freely.  To become the world’s best golfer, Tiger relied on his father as coach, mentor, and friend.  But I’m sure, like any other kid, there were days when Tiger simply didn’t want to practice.  Then dad was there to keep him focused on the goal.

Our Savior had a similar experience in the Garden of Gethsemane.  As He braced to shoulder the sins of the world, Jesus reached the limits of His humanity.  He cried out to His Father, pleading for another solution.  But the Father knew the ultimate goal.  Jesus relied on His Father’s perfect will and continued down the path to the cross, where He achieved an eternal victory.

Are you relying on your Father?  Do you hear His voice in desperate times?  “Don’t give up,” He whispers. “Victory is just around the corner. Keep walking with me, and we’ll make it through this.”  Listen for the encouraging words of your Coach, and you’ll be on your way to victory.

—Lane McGullion in Georgia

My Response: What might be required for God to keep me focused on His goal for me?

Thought to Apply: The basic decision, after all, is to let God be God, to say “yes” to the work of the Lord.  —Luke Timothy Johnson (monk turned theology prof)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to accept your “good and pleasing, and perfect” will, even when that runs counter to my natural desires.

 

Whose Will Be Done? – Clear Vision, Murky Path

Discerning the Will of GodKey Bible Verse: How can we understand the road we travel?  It is the Lord who directs our steps.  –  Proverbs 20:24

Bonus Reading: Numbers 9:15-23

As a computer professional, I worked for one company for 13 years, moving from hardware and software technician to officer and partner. Eventually I owned almost a quarter of the firm.

As my contributions to the bottom line increased, the company tried to tighten its grip on my heart.  But years ago I’d felt God’s call to deliver a message to the church.  A day would come, I believed, to leave my firm and become a full-time author.  I didn’t know how God would bring this about.  But on the side I learned the writing craft by attending conferences and producing magazine articles.

My vision remained sharp.  But my loyalty and sense of obligation to my company weighed heavily.  If I left, its survival was not assured.

Should I keep waiting? I tensely wondered.  Maybe God wants me to keep working and write part-time.  O God, show me what You want me to do!

Then God, in His mercy, solved my dilemma.  Another company, with its own computer systems, purchased ours.  Within a few months, I’d transferred our client data and transaction history.  I was then free to bow out with no harm to the firm.  And the sale provided me with money to live on as I pursued writing full-time.

—Bryan Davis in Spit and Polish for Husbands

My Response: In what situation am I waiting for God to act?

Thought to Apply: God always gives his very best to those who leave the choice with Him.—J. Hudson Taylor

Adapted from Spit and Polish for Husbands (AMG Publishers, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to accept your “good and pleasing, and perfect” will, even when that runs counter to my natural desires.

 

 

Whose Will Be Done? – Who Calls the Shots?

Discerning the Will of GodKey Bible Verse: “May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven.”  – Matthew 6:10

Bonus Reading: John 4:31-34

What if we ask for guidance and God guides us in ways we don’t want to follow? What if we pray for wisdom and the wisdom we receive seems more like nonsense? What if we pray for patience and the answer means nothing but trouble for us?

All of this shouldn’t surprise us. Jesus hinted at the problem when He gave us the Lord’s Prayer. Included in that model prayer were the words [of today’s Key Bible Verse]. The basic difficulty comes clear if we lay it out in a syllogism:

  1. God has a will (or desire) for your life.
  2. But you also have a will (or desire) for your life.
  3. Therefore, when you pray, “Your will be done,” you are asking that His will take precedence over yours.

Only one will can be done at a time. Either He is in control or you are. It’s not easy to pray like that because when you ask that God’s will be done, you’re implicitly asking that your will be overturned, if necessary. It’s not easy to pray that way when you’re standing beside the hospital bed of someone you love.

But then you’re not really in control anyway. It only seems that way.

—Ray Pritchard in The Incredible Journey of Faith

My Response: In what situation am I now prepared to pray, “Your will be done”?

Thought to Apply: Ninety-five percent of knowing the will of God consists in being prepared to do it before you know what it is.—Donlad Grey Barnhouse (Philadelphia pastor)

Adapted from The Incredible Journey of Faith (Crossway, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to accept your “good and pleasing, and perfect” will, even when that runs counter to my natural desires.

 

Whose Will Be Done? – Accepting Helplessness

Discerning the Will of GodKey Bible Verse: But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, “You are my God.”  – Psalm 31:14

Bonus Reading: Psalm 31:9-20

[continued from yesterday]  Hearing my pregnant wife’s cancer diagnosis taught me what it meant to pray, “Your will, not mine.”

As much as I wanted Cathy’s health restored and a healthy baby, I knew there was nothing I could do to affect the outcome.  Accustomed to forcing outcomes at work and at home, here I was truly powerless.  It frustrated me, but, at the same time, offered an unexpected peace.  For once in my life, I had to place it all in God’s hands. I had no alternative; there was nothing more I could do.

Despite the chaos of having a healthy newborn and a wife drained from weeks of chemo and radiation treatments, I rejoiced as my daughter, Ellen, and Cathy progressed in their growth and recovery. I was ecstatic that, in this case, God’s will was to ordain an outcome that matched my own desires.

In the process, He taught me what true obedience felt like. Now, when I face much more trivial instances of wanting my will done, I remember that turning the situation over to God gives a sense of power in the midst of weakness. Sometimes the first step to accepting God’s blessings is setting my desires aside to receive them.

—Tom Petersen in Iowa

My Response: How has God responded in my life when I’ve prayed, “Your will be done,” and meant it?

Thought to Apply: The will of God is either a burden we carry or a power which carries us.—Corrie Ten Boom (Dutch concentration camp survivor)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to accept your “good and pleasing, and perfect” will, even when that runs counter to my natural desires.

 

Whose Will Be Done? – Unwelcome News

Discerning the Will of GodKey Bible Verse: If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God. Isaiah 50:10

Bonus Reading: Isaiah 40:27-31

Cathy and I were thrilled when the doctor confirmed her pregnancy.  Married for only a few years, we’d been praying for a child and were giddy at the prospect of this first addition to our family.

Time passed quickly until about six months into the pregnancy.  In addition to the usual odd cravings and inability to go more than 20 minutes without a bathroom break, Cathy assumed her night sweats and the lump growing on her neck were related to her pregnancy.  Conversations with our doctor provided no clear information.

Finally we pressed the issue.  She referred us to a surgeon to take a tissue sample.

We met with an oncologist after the biopsy. Cathy, he grimly informed us, had Hodgkin’s disease. The bottom fell out of our happy world.

The oncologist recommended inducing her pregnancy, in hopes that the seven-month-old fetus was old enough to survive.  That would clear the way for Cathy to begin chemotherapy treatments without further delay.

Suddenly, the pending joy of a baby’s birth was overshadowed by the coming struggle to defeat the cancer—and the uncertain final outcome. [continued tomorrow]

—Tom Petersen in Iowa

My Response: When have I found it hard to trust God?

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to accept your “good and pleasing, and perfect” will, even when that runs counter to my natural desires.

 

Whose Will Be Done? – A Draftteam Named Desire

Discerning the Will of GodWho Said It…Danny Wuerffel

Danny Wuerffel won the Heisman Trophy in 1996 as the Florida Gators quarterback.  Drafted by the New Orleans Saints, he got involved in ministry in the country’s second-largest housing project.

Desire Street Ministries, which Danny now directs, builds and restores houses, operates a pediatric clinic and Desire Street Academy (with 192 grade-7-12 boys enrolled before Hurricane Katrina), conducts Bible studies, and sponsors a church in the district.

What He Said…A Draftteam Named Desire

How could a talented quarterback walk away from the NFL to work in the inner city when he could still play at the game’s highest level? asked Sports Spectrum writer Rob Bentz.

“I was planning to keep playing,” Wuerffel explained. “In the mornings I’d train to be a pro football player. In the afternoons I’d work at Desire Street Ministries.  But after a month, walking into our gym to visit with one of our kids, I passed on a desk a newspaper with a story about Peyton Manning throwing a touchdown pass to break Dan Merino’s record.  As I looked at the kids, I thought, I wouldn’t trade places with Peyton for anything. I knew I was right where I was supposed to be.

“After Katrina, an incredible moment was when we found a 4-H camp in Florida to temporarily house the academy. It’s run by my alma mater, the University of Florida! ‘Danny, we’re going to make this work,’ the officials told me.  They did, and also donated $50,000!”

Adapted from Sports Spectrum (11-12/05).

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, help me to accept your “good and pleasing, and perfect” will, even when that runs counter to my natural desires.