Baptism at Singles Retreat - 147 Baptized!!!

*******************Baptism at Singles Retreat 147 Baptized!!! ***********************

* Sharing times in the Word and looking for growth. Let's Commune Together!

Friday, August 9, 2013

The difference between God’s “will" and God’s “direction.”

Discussion on Will versus Direction

I have been getting questions concerning the “will” of God. One problem is our understanding of the term “will”. I have found, instead of an endless debate that leads no where over the exact meaning of a word that the Scripture does not define precisely, it is better to use terms that will address the differences.

In Scripture the term “will of God” can cover either a universal desire of God for all, for example it is the will of God for all to repent and come to know Christ. Or it can mean a specific desire of God for a specific individual, for example God’s will for you concerning education, vocation, marriage, etc. 

So what I have done in order to understand what I am talking about is define “will” and “direction” in terms that will help me be specific in considering how the Lord works.

When I speak of “will” it is universal and applies to all believers! When I speak of “direction” it applies to a specific individual.

This helps us see the difference between the two. For example, when it comes to the “will” of God for the way we live, everyone can know what it is, because it applies to all; it is universal.

When someone asks me how can they find the will of God for their life, the answer is easy! I have him or her turn to Romans – God states clearly what His will is for every believer.

Romans 12:1–2 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

God's Will is universal – “one size fits all” – Every Christian has been called to the same will of God.

Here we find God’s will for our lives - basically it is where you are with God! If you are yielded and offer your life to Him – you are in His will.

God's Direction on the other hand is very individual – only each individual can know it for himself or herself. You and I cannot tell someone else what God’s direction for him or her is. We can offer godly counsel and pray for illumination, but only that individual can determine what God is saying.

Direction is what God desires for you and you alone. There are conditions that need to exist though. I would like to examine them, offer vital questions that we should ask and then share 4 important conscious thoughts that can help in understanding the direction God is revealing to us.

I will begin today and then follow up in the days to come.

How to move in direction

1. Make sure Rom 12:1-2 is a reality.

This is the first condition. If you are disobeying God in what He expects from every believer, why would He give you specific guidance. He desires that we are in His revealed will first and foremost.

Matthew 6:33–34 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

For example: when a young man seeks my counsel about whether or not the woman he is courting is the one God wants him to marry, the question I ask is: are you both living morally pure? This is a “no brainer”! God has revealed His will to all when it comes to matters of sex. Anything outside of marriage between a husband and his wife is sin. Marriage is a lifetime commitment, a person is foolish to make that move without sensing it is God directing. Here is the problem; how can you sense anything from God if you are already disobeying His revealed will? When the heart is callous toward sin, our spiritual ears will be deaf!

Get right with the Lord first concerning His will, then it is safe to seek His direction. God is not playing games, making us seek for His direction like we are using a treasure map that may or may not be true. God desires to guide His children specifically, but first they must be obedient to what they already know. Blessing a child when they are in rebellion will only confirm such dangerous behavior!

Heart check: Are you obeying everything you know God has revealed clearly? That does not mean we won’t fail, but even there God has revealed clearly what to do. Humble ourselves, confess and repent!

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Flexibility = Advantage!

When I was a young man I used to love to climb trees. One of my favorite trees to climb, I don't know the name, was a very tall and skinny tree. The thing about this tree was how flexible it was. My friends and I would climb as high as we could and at some point our weight would begin to bend and the tree. It was so flexible that we could make you go back and forth quite a long time and it would not break. One day I decided to go higher than ever before. As I was climbing it did not enter my mind that even though the trunk might be flexible and hold me without breaking, that might not be true about the branches which became thinner and weaker the higher I went. Finally I reached out to the highest branch I could grab, putting both my hands on it I was planning to pull myself up and start bending the tree. However, that thin little branch was not flexible like the trunk was, as I heard it crack I realized my trip down was not going to be as fun as my trip up! 
My friends said I looked like something out of a movie sliding down the trunk breaking branches as I went and finally landing on the ground. Unfortunately for me where I landed there was an old tree stump sticking out of the ground. I felt a puncture in my…well let me put it this way; it was weeks before I could sit down comfortably.

Flexibility is an important attribute, not only when it comes to climbing trees LOL, but in our approach to life. When dealing with black and white commands from Scripture, flexibility is not needed, just obedience. However, considering that most of our life is lived under the realm of liberty, flexibility is essential. We go to the world, not to share for the most part a list of rules, i.e. do's and don'ts, but a life that has been given much freedom and the privilege of living in close relationship with our Creator who will guide us in making mature decisions in all aspects of our life. Each individual needs to keep his or her conscience clear before our Maker. If we are good stewards of our liberties we are empowered far beyond those that are selling a “religion” because we remain flexible in the society we live in.

Lets look at the Advantages to Liberty

[1] Freedom

Romans 14:5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.

Romans 14:14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

Freedom is such a tremendous advantage when trying to bridge to people that do not know the Lord. Religiosity overloads the individual with a list of do's and don'ts that makes their life so rigid that it is impossible to relate to their society. For us, individually God will lead our conscience to where it should be in each aspect of our life in the society we live in. This is why one Christian can have the freedom to do something in the society he lives in and another Christian would sense that is wrong. Both are right before the Lord and only freedom gives them that flexibility.

 [2] Penetration

Acts 21:15–25 After these days we got ready and started on our way up to Jerusalem. Some of the disciples from Caesarea also came with us, taking us to Mnason of Cyprus, a disciple of long standing with whom we were to lodge. After we arrived in Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law; and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. “What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. “Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law. “But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.”

Our freedom allows us with flexibility to penetrate the society we live in. Due to our liberties we can choose to identify with the culture we are in as long as it does not go beyond the commands of Scripture. Our conscience will be the guide. Paul, whose ministry was reaching the Gentiles, could still identify with his Jewish culture because his conscience allowed him to do so.

[3] Release

Romans 14:4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Liberty also brings a release to each believer that frees him or her from pretending they are God. Religiosity produces leaders that feel it's their job to tell everybody how to live. As believers, we have the standard that the Word of God brings forth on certain issues, yet much of life is left to the individual believer to work out between them and their Maker. Their decisions are between them and God, and we should respect that. This is a great release where we can enjoy fellowshipping with each other while we respect and tolerate each other's personal convictions.

[4] Sensitivity

Romans 14:15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.

At the beginning of these devos I pointed out how our proper use of liberty will produce the greatest growth in maturity. Here is the reason why. It is one thing to obey commands, but it requires real spiritual maturity to become sensitive to our environment, to our conscience and to the Holy Spirit, in such a way that we can discern what is an appropriate thing to do or not to do, when the scripture is silent on that issue. That sensitivity brings a believer to the point of maturity where it no longer matters if an issue in their life has a verse forbidding or allowing it anymore. Instead the bar has been raised to, if the Lord brings to your conscience that for you, this issue, is not good at this time. A believer will give up their right to something, even though the scripture does not forbid, because he or she loves the people around them so much that anything that could cause someone to stumble is not important enough to hang on to. That is growth!

Meditation Questions: How often do you review your personal liberties? Have you deliberately prayed that God show you how you can use your liberties to bridge to others? Do you know if you are enjoying your liberties? Why has God given you the liberties He has? What is the process you go through when you decide you can or cannot participate in an issue that is not covered by a direct command of Scripture?