God’s Will is Bigger Than Your Role in It

Continued from here.

In his book, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Henry Blackaby made an interesting distinction that I had never before considered. He said that asking what God’s will is for your life is the wrong question. Instead, you need to ask what God’s will is and then join Him where He is already working. Blackaby says that God is always at work in the world around us. When we seek to do His will, He will open our eyes to an area where He is working. That is our invitation to join Him in His work.

For example, God’s will was not for Moses to lead His people out of slavery in that it wasn’t about Moses. Instead, God’s will was to free His people from slavery. God was already at work, and He invited Moses to join Him in this work. God had prepared Moses for the task, but if Moses had declined to join God where He was already working, then we would be reading about someone else instead of Moses.

The same dynamic holds true in the example I shared in my last blog entry about leading a Bible study at a Christian transitional home. God was already working at that home, and He opened my eyes to see His activity. That opening of my eyes was my invitation to join Him in that work. If I had declined, He would have invited someone else, and I would have missed out on an opportunity for which God had prepared me. Make no mistake – God’s activity does not hinge upon our participation. That being said, he chooses to partner with us in that activity, working through us to accomplish His will.

Thus, another way to know whether you are doing God’s will is simply to recognize that you have been invited to join Him where He is already working. This can unfold as a series of “coincidences,” as happened with me as God invited me to join Him in his work with the women at the Christian transitional home. When you feel a pull toward doing something that is consistent with His Word and that topic keeps arising – such as through words during your devotional time, a sermon, or something a Christian friend says, take notice! When God opens your eyes to where He is at work, that’s often an invitation to partner with Him.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Revised and Expanded. Courtesy Amazon.]


Saying “No, Lord” is not an Option for a Disciple of Christ

Continued from here.

In his book, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Henry Blackaby says that two words can never go together: “No, Lord.” If Jesus is your Lord, then your response must always be yes, such as saying “Yes” to losing a friendship, being rejected by extended family, or being fired from a job to follow Jesus… all of which I have personally experienced. If you say “No,” then Jesus is not your Lord. Either you are Jesus’ disciple, or you are not. If you are his disciple, then your response will always be “Yes, Lord,” no matter how heavy the cost. The point at which you say “No” is the point at which you cease being His disciple.

That’s a hard truth to process, but I believe it’s pivotal to understanding how someone can be a “miserable Christian.” I’ve been there myself! Several years ago, I saw a way to fix a longstanding problem. I did not pray for God’s leading. Instead, I told God that I am going to do X and asked that He bless me. His response what deep conviction that this was not His plan for me, but I didn’t care – I wanted what I wanted, and I was determined to do it whether God liked it or not. In other words, I said, “No, Lord.” I arrogantly believed that I knew better than God, and I ceased being His disciple.

Keep in mind that I knew the Bible very well, was leading a Bible study in my church, was praying to God regularly, etc. From the outside, I was a very strong Christian. However, I was MISERABLE on the inside because God stopped “talking” to me. I had reached a place in my relationship with Him where I could sense His “yes” or “no” to guide me through my life. After I made the choice to say, “No, Lord,” He grew silent. For one miserable year, I continued to pray, lead Bible study, study His Word, etc., but I refused to obey Him, and He remained silent. And that thing I wanted that I thought was worth disobeying God over never brought me any satisfaction. It was a sham that I could have avoided by saying, “Yes, Lord.” God broke me down that year, and I refused to repent until I was bedridden with an ailment that perplexed the doctors. That was one of the most miserable years of my life, and I learned from that experience that my response to God will always now be “Yes, Lord.”

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. Courtesy Amazon.]


Are You Willing to Submit Your Will to God?

Continued from here.

I have shared this several times, but it’s worth repeating. In his book Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Henry Blackaby says that two words never go together: “No, Lord.” If God is your Lord, then you will always say yes to His will. If you say no, then He is not your Lord. In other words, you are not His disciple.

Most of us want to straddle the fence. We want the blessings of being a disciple of God without having to the pay the cost, but it doesn’t work that way. We love to quote the scripture about not worrying because God will provide all of our needs, but we don’t “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). In the legal world, this is called a condition precedent. To activate “all these things will be given to you as well,” we must first prioritize God’s kingdom and righteousness. We accuse God of not being faithful in providing for us when we did not first do our own part of chasing Him rather than chasing what we want.

Another example is that we love the Bible verse promising that God will give us the desires of our heart. Who doesn’t want this, right? But the condition precedent is that we must first “take delight in the LORD.” James tells us that the reason we don’t receive the desires of our heart is that we are not delighting ourselves in the LORD but instead…

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3)

James’ very next words are, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?” Why are they adulterous? Because they delight themselves in their own pleasures rather than in the LORD. We rail at God for not giving us what we want when what we SHOULD want is HIM, and He gives Himself to us freely.

So, are you willing to submit your will to God? If you are, you must do all that He tells you to do. That being said, it’s not about doing the right thing so much as it is about obeying Him to express your love for Him. God isn’t looking for people who do the right thing – He is looking for people who love Him enough to do the right thing. There’s a big difference, and it all comes out of our motivation. Do you love Him enough to submit your will wholly to God? If you say yes and actually do it, you will be blessed beyond measure.

[Graphic: Cover of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. Courtesy Amazon.]


Saying “Yes, Lord”

In his book Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Henry Blackaby says that two words never go together: the words “no” and “Lord.” Jesus said that if you love him, you will keep his commandments. Thus, if you truly love God, then your only response to anything He tells you to do will be “Yes, Lord.”

The Bible is filled with commands that we are unable to keep without God’s intervention. For example, it was impossible for me to forgive my childhood abusers because they destroyed me. People often talk about having a broken heart, but mine was more like a shattered heart. It was nothing but a pile of sawdust that was beyond repair or redemption, but God gave me a new heart, one that feels like it was never broken. He did this after I said, “Yes, Lord” to forgiving my enemies, something I could never do on my own power and something, quite frankly, I had no interest in doing.

My sole motivation was love for God. When He asked me whether I loved Him more than I hated my child abusers, I realized that I did. And if I loved Him, then I would obey His commandments. This was the most difficult change I ever made in my life, and it took a long time (over a year of praying for my enemies day after day, week after week, and month after month). God blessed me richly for my obedience by giving me a new, tender heart that not only loves and feels compassion for my childhood abusers, but it also feels love and compassion for sex offenders – the very types of people who originally shattered my heart.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Revised and Expanded. Courtesy Amazon.]


Comparing our Relationships with God

Continued from here.

In his book, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God Henry Blackaby, along with Richard Blackaby and Claude King, points out that each Christian’s relationship with God is unique. Thus, the way God speaks to me is going to differ from the way He speaks to you. He pointed out that there’s only one burning bush story, only one story of God talking through a donkey, only one wrestling with God story, etc. in the Bible. This is because each of us encounters God in a unique way as we each have a unique relationship with Him.

People sometimes say to me that they wish they had a relationship with God like I do. I always reply that He’s the same God and is just as available to them as He is to me. If people want to compare themselves with me, don’t compare the outcome – compare the spiritual disciplines with the intention of engaging in them as I do … not in HOW I do them but THAT I do them.

As an example, I set aside the first hour of each day for quiet time with God. A friend sets aside the last hour of her day for similar quiet time. She’s not a morning person, and she sleeps better by spending time with God at night. It’s like God “tucks her in” at the end of her day. There’s no need to compare my mornings with her evenings or even what we do during that quiet time. What matters is that we are both engaging in the spiritual discipline of prioritizing time with God.

If we must compare, let’s compare only enough to spur one another on to engage in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, prioritizing time with God, studying the Bible, giving, church attendance and service, praise & worship, and other practices that help us develop a deeper relationship with God. But let’s not compare HOW we do them. God may be calling me to study the Psalms while He is leading you to study Revelation. In both cases, we are engaging in the spiritual discipline of studying God’s Word, which is deepening our relationship with God. God doesn’t want us to be clones – His purposes and plans for you are not the same as His purposes and plans for me, but both are good.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. Courtesy Amazon. ]


Obeying God as a Spiritual Warfare Tactic

I have shared before that I am working through the Henry Blackaby’s Bible Study, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. My small group recently completed Unit 9, which is on obeying God, and watched the video. One important point from the video that I have been pondering is this:

The greatest single way you can engage in spiritual warfare is to obey whatever God tells you to do.”

I have been writing a lot about spiritual warfare because I am smack dab in the middle of a firestorm of it. When I think about how I need to react to spiritual warfare, I think about putting on the armor of God, which involves several steps, such as picking up my shield of faith and putting on the helmet of salvation. When I’m under heavy spiritual fire, I cannot always remember each individual piece because I am distracted by the enemy’s flaming arrows.

I love the simplicity of this advice from Blackaby because I don’t need to remember multiple things. I only need to remember one: do what God says to do. Encompassed in that one command is all of the individual pieces, such as putting on the helmet of salvation (aligning my thoughts with God’s thoughts) and picking up the shield of faith (remembering that God was faithful before and believing that He will be faithful again). It also encompasses other commands that lead me to put on the armor of God, such as to rejoice, pray, and give thanks.

One reason that soldiers run drills is to automate their reaction when under fire. They don’t have the luxury of time to think about doing X, Y, and Z as bullets are whizzing by their heads and bombs are going off around them. In the heat of battle, they need to know what their role is without having to stop and think about it. That’s what we need to do as well as Christians – we need to prepare for spiritual attack before it happens so we do what we need to do without having to think about it. I find it helpful to have to remember only one marching order: obey God.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God Courtesy Amazon.]


Disciples Only Say, “Yes, Lord”

Continued from here.

Henry Blackaby says in his book, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God , that a disciple’s response to a command from God is always and only “Yes, Lord.” Hear his wise words:

…begin by saying with all your heart, ‘Lord, whatever I know to be Your will, I will do it. Regardless of the cost and regardless of the adjustment, I commit myself ahead of time to follow your will. Lord, no matter what that will looks like, I will do it!’

If you cannot say that when you begin to seek God’s will, you do not mean ‘Thy will be done’ (Matt. 6:10, KJV). Instead, you mean ‘Thy will be done as long as it does not conflict with my will.’ Two words in a Christian’s language cannot go together: ‘No, Lord.’ If you say no to God, He is not your Lord. If He really is your Lord, your answer must always be yes, Lord.”

I was guilty of saying “No, Lord” for most of my Christian life, which means I was not a disciple of Christ for most of my life. God’s way is simple:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” ~ Matt. 16:24

I complicated matters by coming up with multiple reasons not to obey God in my particular circumstances, but it all boiled down to saying, “No, Lord,” and those two words never go together for true disciples. The reason my walk with God – and my life, by extension – radically changed in March 2013 is because I stopped saying, “No, Lord” and started saying yes … yes to forgiving my child abusers … yes to humbling myself in my marriage … yes to obeying laws that I don’t like (such as obeying the speed limit). I did not want to do any of these things, but nowhere in Matthew 16:24 does Jesus say that the disciple has veto power. If I want to be his disciple, the only option is complete and immediate obedience. Any other response reveals that I am not really Jesus’ disciple.

Does this mean I never sin? I’ll discuss that in my next blog entry.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. Courtesy Amazon.]


Being Moldable and Remaining in God’s Hands

Continued from here.

In the Bible study of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Henry Blackaby talks about the potter and the clay from Jer. 18:1-6. He says that just like the pot in the potter’s hands,

To be God’s servant, you must be moldable and remain in the hand of the Master.”

I used to not do either one and was miserable. In March 2003, I climbed into the hands of the Master by committing to spending my first hour with God daily. He filled me with His love and then started molding me, leading me to release my bitterness by forgiving my child abusers. He then led me to humble myself in my marriage and breathed new life into those dry bones. And then he led me to submit to authority, which is still an area where the clay can be a bit stiff, but God is working with me by degrees.

All of this molding has come about by remaining in the potter’s hands. I have stayed committed to my daily quiet time with God, which I believe is critical to the molding that has taken place inside of me. I am now learning that one hour is not enough. I cannot focus on God for one hour and then my problems for the other 23. It’s not enough to climb into the potter’s hands for one hour and then hop out for the rest of my day. I need to rest in those hands throughout the day, recognizing that He is moving in the situations that I keep running ahead to try to fix myself. God created me with an assertive and zealous nature, but those qualities only benefit God’s kingdom when used at the appointed time and in the appointed way.

Patience does not come naturally to me, but perhaps it’s easier to be patient when I rest in the hands of the Master. At the appointed time, He will tell me to act, and then He will do the work, parting waters that I could never part myself.

[Graphic: Cover of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God (Workbook)Courtesy Amazon.com.]


Abiding in God’s Presence Drives Out Fear

lets_goContinued from here.

The day after I wrote yesterday’s blog entry, I attended an evangelism meeting at my church. We talked about a presentation I am building on talking about our faith: why we need to do it and how. I felt so alive in that meeting and did not have a whit of anxiety during or after it. I realized that my focus was on God rather than my problems, and I felt the difference between a “life” and “death” focus in a tangible way.

And then God pounded home the same message during my quiet time the next morning. I read the following quote in Daily Wisdom for Women 2017 Devotional Collection:

Try ‘abiding, not striving nor struggling.’” ~ Hudson Taylor’s friend

Next was this quote in Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence:

Relax in My loving Presence.’”

And then this quote from Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God (Workbook):

To be God’s servant, you must be moldable and remain in the hand of the Master.”

When I hear the same message three times in a row, I take notice.

I am now getting a better understanding of what I keep doing “wrong.” I have a similar nature to Peter and Paul, always running ahead of God, zealous to do His will but not waiting for His signal to act. Both men truly wanted to serve God, but their view of servanthood aligned too much with the world’s view – as soon as they thought they knew where God was going, they ran out ahead of Him and tried to do the job themselves. I don’t know if this caused them anxiety or not, but that’s what happens to me when I do it. Like Peter and Paul, God can use me to go boldly where He leads, but I first must learn to follow, just as they did.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace running and saying, “Let’s go!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]


Do You Love God More Than Anything Else?

Continued from here.

As I stated in my last blog entry, I never once considered backing down from doing what is right, even though it ultimately cost me my job. While this was not easy for me to do, it truly was a simple decision because I love God more than I love anything else, even my family’s health insurance, financial security, and my professional reputation. If I must choose between God and these other things, which also matter to me, God wins.

It’s hard for me to say whether I would have made the same decision a few years ago. While I respected and admired God, I did not actually begin loving God until March 2013, when I started spending the first hour of my day with Him. Loving God changes everything. I might be willing to endure some challenges for people I respect and admire, but when push comes to shove, it’s only those I love who I would be willing to make major sacrifices for.

When you are faced with a big decision like I was, the Enemy will try to muddy the waters by taking what should be simple and making it complicated: “Don’t you care about your family’s well-being? Look at what you are costing your family – it’s not all about you. What about your responsibility to them? Look how hard you have worked to build up your professional reputation. Are you really going to throw it all away over this one issue? Nobody else is taking this stand, so why are you? If they are willing to do it, then why aren’t you? Do you think you are better than they are? Why not just walk away quietly? Simply quit, and then nobody ever has to know…”

God’s truth is always simple … not easy, but simple. Either I love Him more, or I don’t. If I love Him, I will stand up for what is right, even when it comes at great cost. As Henry Blackaby says in Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God , if we have an obedience problem, we have a love problem. The more you love God, the easier it becomes to obey Him, even when obedience comes at great cost.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cover of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God . Courtesy Amazon.]