Understand what the will of the Lord is…
Ephesians 5:15-17 in the English Standard Version says:
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
The scripture warns us to be careful how we walk out our Christian life. There are plenty of unwise people in the world. But we are able to walk in wisdom of His will if we choose to do so.
There are three main keys that lead us to the will of the Lord.
The first one is reading the Bible. If we want to know how and what God thinks, we need to read His book.
Many people say they want to but they don’t know where to start. If you’re wondering where to start, start at the beginning. If you think it’s too long, remember the old saying… the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
Remember, life is not a sprint, it’s a life-long journey.
Reading through the Bible in a year is okay if you don’t feel rushed.
But if it’s just to say you read thru the Bible, you’ve lost the whole purpose of doing it. The purpose is to give God time to speak to you so why hurry?
I finished reading through the Bible at the beginning of this year and it took me three years to do it. If something interested me I stopped and researched it until I felt satisfied.
I’m as busy as anyone else which means it might have taken me a week or a month to do my research depending on how interested I was in the topic.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t know there are 66 books in the Bible but it matters a great deal if you don’t know what’s inside those 66 books. Knowing the Bible is not for show … it’s for living your life worthy of the calling God has called you to.
2 Timothy 3:16 in The New Living Translation emphasizes why we read God’s Word:
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”
The second key is applying the Word to our lives: It’s not just about knowing the Word of God. It’s about what we do with what we know.
James 1:22 in the New KJV says:
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
You see people fool themselves all the time by thinking that going to church or reading a verse a day, serving as an usher makes them a good Christian. Those works are all greatly needed. But Christian character is proven when we make the hard decisions to serve God when we could take the easy way out.
Matthew 47:24-27 in the Passion Translation says:
“Everyone who hears my teaching and applies it to his life can be compared to a wise man who built his house on an unshakable foundation.
“When the rains fell and the floodcame, with fierce winds beating upon his house, it stood firm because of its strong foundation.
“But everyone who hears my teaching and does not apply it to his life can be compared to a foolish man who built his house on sand.
“When it rained and rained and the flood came, with wind and waves beating upon his house, it collapsed and was swept away.”
Applying the Word of God to our lives is like planting seeds in our garden. The more we plant, the more harvests of blessings will end up coming our way.
The third key is called Practicing His Presence.
I read an article probably in the 1970s in Guide Post magazine written by Sue Monk Kidd entitled Practicing His Presence. In it she encouraged the readers to become conscious of the fact that God is always with you.
I had just become a born-again believer and I remember beginning every morning by saying: “Lord, today I’m going to remember you are with me all day.”
Next thing I knew it would be 10 a.m. and I’d remember I was supposed to walking in the realization that God was right there with me.
Hebrews 13:5 in the Classic Amplified Bible says:
“Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! Assuredly not!]”
I don’t recall how long it took Practicing God’s Presence but I was determined not to give up. Today, I enjoy walking in the realization that God is forever and always with me. Now we talk and carry on conversations all day long…
- Understand How the Body of Christ Works
Second Corinthians Chapter 12 gives us such an amazing insight into how the Body of Christ works.
In the first verses the Apostle Paul explains that each of us were given certain gifts to share with other believers as the Spirit of God leads because we are all parts of the Body of Christ. I Corinthians 12:7 in the New International Version says:
The New Living Translation puts it this way:
“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.”
But that is not where the analogy stops. As believers we are not only given spiritual gifts, but we function as parts of Christ’s body. The Apostle Paul makes it easy to understand since we all have bodies and can easily relate to what he is saying.
In I Corinthians 12:12 in the New Living Translation it says:
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.”
Paul explains in detail how each of us not only has a spiritual gift within the Body of Believers but that every physical position within the Body of Christ is important too.
Every part of your body is important to you. Verse 17 says: “… the eye is not able to say to the hand., I have no need of you….”
He also makes the point that we should make every effort to work together. Understanding the way Paul explains the Body of Christ in I Corinthians 12 should help all of us understand that we must come together for the good of God’s Kingdom.
I Corinthians 12:25 in the Classic Amplified Bible says:
“So that there should be no division or discord or lack of adaptation [of the parts of the body to each other], but the members all alike should have a mutual interest in and care for one another.”
God has assigned us all a part of the Body of Christ. But, it is up to us to walk in it.
Taking all these facts and parts into consideration as a whole takes us to the point number 3.
- Understanding Authority from God’s Viewpoint
We have just glanced at how the Body of Christ is put together. Now we are addressing the most important and I think often neglected aspect of all.
If we as Christians make up the Body … do we understand the headship?
Colossians 2:10 New Living Translation says:
“So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”
It should be obvious that if we are parts of the Body of Christ that Christ Himself is our head. He is the one telling us what to do … calling the shots… or the One Who’s in authority.
What happens if your head directs your hand to do something but it begins to wander around and ignore the directive? How can your body function properly if it doesn’t obey what your head is telling it to do? It can’t.
And that is often what happens when the Body of Christ wanders around on its own because the individual parts do not either want to or don’t seek God in how to work together.
We have all been called to a purpose much higher than anything we could possibly do by ourselves.
That is why it is so imperative … so important that we daily come before the Lord and give Him our day. Otherwise, how are we going to know we are on the same page as the Lord?
There are two scriptures that are a part of my daily devotional time to help control that.
Proverbs 16:3 in the Classic Amplified Bible says:
“Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.”
The other scripture is Psalm 32:8 also in the Classic Amplified Bible:
“I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”
These are two scriptures I personalize to be sure I’ve put God squarely in my day.
That way when something unexpected comes up, I know He knows I am open to His direction without saying another prayer because it was already done.
Being ready to walk with God is what Ephesians 4:1 (AMP) is all about. The Apostle Paul writes from prison:
“So I, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation].”
The reason I named this third key understanding authority is because in our society we understand the civil authority. There’s not one among us who would not stop when we see the police standing underneath a light at an intersection directing traffic to stop and go. That person is in authority to do so.
Yet you see Christians in church who are not willing to submit to simple authority in the church. They want their 5 year old in the 6 year old class. They don’t want to help in some area because they don’t like the person in charge. Or they don’t want to fill in the pew when the church is crowded because it’s not their pew.
How much impact can we make on this earth if we don’t understand that being willing to submit to church authority is a first step to ruling and reigning with Christ?
I encourage you to read the book Spiritual Authority by Watchman Nee. We carry it at the Christian Soldier Bookstore. It will open your eyes on how important obeying God’s authority really is.
We cannot be given authority until we are submitted to God’s authority. When we are the ones who decide we don’t agree with what or who God put in authority, we are rebelling against Him. That is a very dangerous position to be in.
I have a teaching called Understanding Spiritual Authority that I preached at the church we started in Clearwater, Fl years ago. It should be available on our website.
I’m convinced that if we as a body of believers were to find our place and walk in God’s authority … the whole world would be saved and Jesus could come back in a week. That is how powerful God’s authority really is.
Ephesians chapter 4 is an excellent study on changing our minds and hearts toward working together for the cause of Christ.
Walking closer to God means we also want to be used to make a difference in someone’s life.
If you think your influence is small and won’t get anyone’s attention, spend the night with a mosquito!
- Understanding the Difference Between the Law and Grace
Have you ever thought how strange it was that when Jesus came to earth, He was loved by many … but not many of those who supposedly represented His Kingdom?
Jesus addresses the religious leaders in the last part of Matthew Chapter 5 concerning their interpretation of the law by saying.
“You have heard it said…” and He brought up the established laws they enforced about adultery, murder, divorce and then said: “… but I tell you …” to explain the real meaning behind the law.
To me, He uses these scriptures to introduce grace. The religious leaders were very pious about rules and regulations. Jesus cuts through their hypocrisy by telling them it is right to have rules but it’s the Spirit of the law, not the letter of the law that matters more.
In Matthew 23:23 Jesus calls the scribes and Pharisees’ hypocrites, frauds and pretenders… The Passion Translation says:
“Great sorrow awaits you religious scholars and Pharisees—frauds and pretenders! For you are obsessed with peripheral issues, like insisting on paying meticulous tithes on the smallest herbs that grow in your gardens. These matters are fine, yet you ignore the most important duties of all: to walk in the love of God, to display mercy to others, and to live with integrity. Readjust your values and place first things first.”
The point is that as a Christian, we can always make ourselves look good
…but the real question that begs answering is: are we good?
Proverbs 16:2 in the New International Version says:
“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.”
But I particularly love this scripture in The Living Bible:
“We can always “prove” that we are right, but is the Lord convinced?”
That is the question we will someday have to answer before the Lord Himself.
- Understand It Takes Faith and Patience
Hebrews 6:12 in the New International Version says:
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
The real reason we live in such a fast-paced society is because the enemy of our souls is trying to make us feel everything has to be rushed.
We don’t have time to pray…
we don’t have time for people…
we must hurry to get the next thing accomplished.
I mentioned recently on one of our Rich Thoughts for Breakfast conference calls that years ago I was not happy where my son was headed and began putting his name in I Thessalonians 5:34-35 in the Classic Amplified Bible.
Sometimes what we commit to prayer depends on how badly we want to see it come to pass.
The Thessalonians’ scripture has to do with separating us from profane things and some of the guys our son was hanging out with were not making wise decisions.
I didn’t even try to keep track of how long I prayed this Thessalonians scripture, but I can fairly accurately say it was for a couple years or possibly more.
One day he called me out of the blue to tell me how strange it was that all his friends were parting ways with him. On the phone, I was telling him that did seem very curious while all the time I’m doing a silent happy dance. I had received the promise that scripture held.
What’s in your life worth fighting for.
Circumstances can look overwhelming. People can be disappointing. Pressures can weigh us down.
But life is tougher if you don’t know what God says about defeating problems.
Here are just a few of the immense number of scriptural promises available to every Christian:
Matthew 28:18 New International Version
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
In this very last chapter of Matthew, Jesus gives the great commission but before He does, He plainly tells us He not just in heaven but on earth as well. If He has all authority then the devil has none. The only problem with this is we first … have to know it … and second …have to use it.
I John 5:14-15
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
“And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
We can know His will…because we know His Word.
Isaiah 54:17 NKJV
“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, [most Christians know and recognize this part of the verse… but the rest of this verse is very important to know.]
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord.”
There are so many promises God has given us to make our own.
In closing, we are the only ones who can decide the price we are willing to pay to walk more closely with God.
The first way to get closer to God is by continuing to read His Word, that is a big way He speaks to us.
Then we have to apply whatever the Holy Spirit reveals something to us that will take us to a better place.
And seek to become aware that God is with us all the time. He neither leaves nor forsakes us.
The Second way is understanding where we fit in the body of Christ. Once we realize our spiritual gift we need to find out where we are being planted in the Lord’s body and be listening for directions from the head, the Lord Himself.
Third, is understanding that we must walk under God’s authority. God set up man’s authority
Fourth is understanding the difference between the law and grace. We can always make ourselves look good but is the Lord convinced?
Fifth is understanding the need for faith and patience. If we don’t take time to read the Word of God, we quit praying, we speak negative words instead of what God says about a situation… then we will never experience God like He wants us to.
But if we persevere as Joseph did in prison, as David did in the wilderness when he was running from Saul, the many times the Israelites were up against enemies that should have wiped them out …BUT GOD…
John 16:33 says:
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
I John 4:4 … greater is He that is in you, then he that is in the world.”
We can change more from our prayer closets than sending mighty warriors going into battle. We have the weapons … and God has equipped us to be more then conquerors through Jesus who died and gave himself for us … to be victors, not victims.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS