Not yours

Do you need God to move in a big way in your life? Wait. That’s a silly question. Who doesn’t need God to move in a big way in their life? If you’re sitting there thinking that you don’t, then you really need God to move in a big way.

We all need God. And we all need Him to move in our lives. But most of us never really see God move in the ways we’d like him to. Jim Cymbala said in his book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, that he despaired at the thought that [his] life might slip by without seeing God show himself mightily on [his] behalf. What a sorry existence we live as Christians if we never really see God move in or through us.

So what does it take to see God move?

  • Individuals. A move of God starts when one person decides that they want more for their life than what their own plan can accomplish. It takes one person making the choice to put God’s plans ahead of their own.

The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands father than the practices of Israel.

2 Chronicles 17:3-4 (NIV)

  • Leaders. A move of God requires leaders—those who have made the choice to put the plans and purposes of God above everything else—to stand up and encourage others to do the same.

As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.”

2 Chronicles 20:20b

  • Families. If one person can make a decision, a family can make a difference. The entire nation of Israel was one family descended from Abraham. When they chose to walk in the ways of the Lord, God went before them and blessed everything they touched.

All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.

2 Chronicles 20:13 (NIV)

  • Worship. Our response to God, His goodness, His faithfulness, His good plans for us, stirs His heart. God cannot move where He is not welcome and what better way to welcome His Spirit than to stand in an attitude of adoration?

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 20:21 (NIV)

In the case of Jehoshaphat and the nation of Judah, God went ahead of the army and defeated the enemy for them. By the time the troops arrived on the battlefield, all that remained were dead bodies and so much plunder that it took three days to gather it all.

We may not be headed into a physical battle, but we are most certainly in a spiritual one. If we want God to move on our behalf, there are certain things required of us. The greatest of these things is the sacrifice of ourselves.

He must become greater; I must become less.

John 3:30 (NIV)

It’s hard to let go of our own wants and needs. Scary, even. But when we recognise God for who He is—a good God and a loving Father—it becomes easier to allow Him to set the course for us. And that is what we must do. God will move, but it will be in His direction, not ours. We must be committed and submitted to His will.

For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

2 Chronicles 20:15b (NIV)

Read: 2 Chronicles 20-22, John 16:1-15

Know that it is good

Now Saul heard that David and his men had been discovered. And Saul, spear in hand, was seated under the tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeath, with all his officials standing around him. Saul said to them, “Listen, men of Benjamin! Will the son of Jesse give all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make all of you commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? Is that why you have all conspired against me? No one tells me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you is concerned about me or tells me that my son has incited my servant to lie in wait for me, as he does today.”

1 Samuel 22:6-8 (NIV)

This sounds like the rant of a madman. It is the rant of a madman. Jealousy can be a powerful motivator. Saul saw David as a great threat to his rule over Israel and sought to destroy him. He allowed his jealousy, anger, and rage to consume him. Instead of ruling the nation as he had been anointed to do, Saul took his best men and went running around the countryside seeking to kill the man who had once been the only one who could calm him.

David, on the run, had long ago been anointed as the next king of Israel. The present king was doing all that he could to prevent David from ascending the throne. At one point, David had ample opportunity to take Saul’s life, and thus, the throne. His men would have followed him that day in the cave had David chosen to relieve Saul of his life while Saul relieved himself. But that would have made David just like Saul.

Saul had once been an honourable man. Anointed as king over Israel, he started off well, but soon took matters into his own hands rather than leaving them in God’s hand. God had already taken his anointing from Saul’s familial line. David, the man who chased after God’s heart, would be the start of a line of royalty that would not only last for generations, but for eternity.

But all of that could have easily been cast away had David chosen to kill Saul instead of trim his robe. David took the path of humility over the path of vengeance. Just one of many instances that earned him the eternal bloodline.

He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you?’ This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the Lord’s anointed.'”

1 Samuel 24:9 (NIV)

David’s faithfulness and his haste to repentance when he wasn’t so faithful allowed God to continue to work through him. By continuing to seek the Lord rather than pursue his own desired, God was able to make Israel great and, eventually make a way to save the whole world. David’s obedience and faithfulness to God far outlasted his own lifetime. It spared many generations to follow—all the way to Jesus, who came to save all generations.

Just as David could not fathom all that God had planned for his lineage, we cannot even begin to understand the plans God has for us. We can live in the moment and take the path of least resistance, or we can live for the prize God has set before us.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14 (NIV)

That prize that Paul was talking about is our green card, our citizenship in heaven. I can guarantee that there will be opportunities to take the easy way—like Saul in the save before David—but I can also guarantee that there is another way. We can’t know all that God has planned for us and how it will affect the generations to come. But we can trust in His plan and know that it is good.

Read: 1 Samuel 22-24, Luke 16:1-18

Planned with purpose

I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.

Jeremiah 1:5 (NLT)

Though these words are spoken by God directly to Jeremiah, it is not the first time we’ve seen this idea. David, too, spoke of God knowing each of us before we were ever conceived.

You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

Psalm 139:16 (NLT)

When you make plans, when you set out to begin a project, what is your intended outcome? Do you plan to fail? Do you make certain that your project will never be suitable for its intended use? Of course not!

While you may have measures in place in case of failure, you don’t plan with it at the forefront of your mind. You plan for success. You do everything in your power to be sure that all of your time, energy, and effort does not go to waste.

God put a lot of thought, time, and effort into creating every human being. Psalm 139 talks about all of the thoughts God thinks about you. They are too many to count. We all began in God. As a thought. When He began to form you in your mother’s womb, His plans for you were all about success, never failure.

So when you make an excuse that you aren’t good enough or that you don’t have what it takes to answer the call of God on your life, you’re really insulting God’s plans. God didn’t create you with a failsafe or a kill switch or failure precautions because He created you exactly the way He needed you to fulfill His plans for you. You are what He intended you to be and you have all that you need to fulfill His purpose.

Do you get off track? We all do. But that doesn’t negate God’s plan or purpose. Remember that He knew all of your days before you even existed. The life you’ve lived, the mistakes you made can still be used for His glory. Nothing you can say or do can change the fact that God planned you with purpose.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 1-2, 2 Thessalonians 2

No plan B

There are some things in life I like to have planned out. When I know I have to be somewhere, I plan my route. I know which roads I will take and, if there is an unforeseen backup, I’ll have a secondary plan. Plan B.

God had no such thing. There was no plan B in case His whole humanity thing went sideways—which it totally did. God is smart. He’s smarter than smart. He’s all-knowing. When He put mankind on the earth and told them not to eat from a certain tree, He knew full well that they were going to eat from that tree. And He also knew what He was going to do about it.

May grace and peace be yours from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. He died for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. That is why all glory belongs to God through all the ages of eternity. Amen.

Galatians 1:3-5 (NLT)

He died for our sins, just as God our Father planned. I’m sure that all of Jesus’ followers would have liked to have been in on that plan. I cannot imagine how they must have felt having the person they assumed would be their king killed for a crime he didn’t commit. We have the ability to read through both the Old and New Testaments and see a bigger picture. We can see how God’s plan for our salvation—which included the death (and resurrection) of Jesus—began with Adam and Eve.

You can look at God’s lack of forward planning two ways:

  1. He’s really not all that bright. Who works out a plan so grand without any backup measures whatsoever? That’s just crazy right? Everyone needs a plan B. But… we’ve already established that God is omniscient.
  2. He’s a genius. Before time even existed, He put into motion the greatest escape plan of all time. And it wasn’t even for Himself—it was for us.

God was so confident in what He started that He never worried about failure. He had one shot and He took it and let it play out for thousands of years. All so that you and I could be redeemed.

I can’t even get across town without a plan B. God rescued all of humanity.

Daily Bible reading: Song of Solomon 6-8, Galatians 1

Your lot in life

There are people I refer to as Eeyore Christians. You know, always depressed, pessimistic, gloomy. Glass half empty kind of people. These are the sort of people who may say that they’ve just accepted their lot in life. And they believe themselves to be of great piety as they say it.

But, guess what? These people are sorely mistaken! Too many Christians have taken that one small phrase from a larger portion of scripture and have used it to justify the fact that they refuse to work harder or find any joy at all right where they are. Accepting your lot in life has absolutely nothing to do with settling for a sub-par existence.

And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God.

Ecclesiastes 5:19 (NLT)

Have you ever heard someone say that they just had to accept their lot in life and say it with joy? I doubt it. It’s usually with that Eeyore drone as though they are meant to go through life alone, unhappy, sick, and poor.

But there is nothing in this portion of Ecclesiastes that would indicate all of those things are our lot in life. It points to the opposite.

Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, and enjoy their work—whatever they do under the sun—for however long God lets them live. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God. People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 (NLT)

Is poverty a gift from God? No! Is pain a gift from God? No! Is sorrow a gift from God? No!

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.

John 10:10 (NLT)

To accept your lot in life is to accept a life of fullness no matter where you find yourself. Life may not be what you thought or planned it would be, but that doesn’t mean that you have to slog through it accepting all the junk life may throw at you. To accept your lot in life means to trust that God still has a good plan for you. It means to look for the joy in the things you see and do every day. It means be thankful and grateful for today and all that comes with it. And, above all, it means enjoying life.

So go ahead, accept your lot.

Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have.

Ecclesiastes 6:9a (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 4-6, 2 Corinthians 10

A way out

Do you can do whatever you want to do. You can say whatever you want to say. You can feel whatever you want to feel. You can be whatever you want to be.

These are all ideas that are being thrust at as all the time. At first glance, they seem great. Yeah, I can do what I want to do! But what about what we are called to do?

Just because a feeling pops up or you want to say something or you want to be something doesn’t meant those are things that you should feel, say, or be. Our sinful, selfish natures will lead us to do things that are completely contrary to God’s will and plan for our lives. While the world would have us cater to ourselves, God would have us fight against those temptations.

But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)

You mean I don’t get to do or say what I want? No, you don’t have to do or say what you want. Look at the people who live completely for themselves. Are they truly happy? Are they completely fulfilled? Or are they chasing one temptation after another looking for something they’ll never find as long as they pursue that path?

There is something to be said for restraint and resistance. Paul talks about it in 1 Corinthians and David addressed it in the Psalms.

Take control of what I say, O Lord,
and keep my lips sealed.
Don’t let me lust for evil things;
don’t let me participate in acts of wickedness.
Don’t let me share in the delicacies of those who do evil.

Psalm 141:3-4 (NLT)

Giving up control, even a little, is something we naturally want to fight against. We want things our own way! We all fight to gain control, but what does that truly get us?

We can pursue our own selfish whims or we can pursue God. We cannot do both. But giving up selfish desires isn’t resigning ourselves to a life of passionless boredom. By turning away from the endless pursuit of worldly pleasures, we enable ourselves to walk a path that was laid out for each of us as individuals before we were even born. We don’t have to go on a search to find ourselves. We are found in Christ. He has a plan and a purpose for us.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!
They are innumerable!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up in the morning,
you are still with me!

Psalm 139:17-18 (NLT)

We can wander aimlessly through life looking for the next bit of pleasure, never quite being fulfilled, or we can give up that search and find lasting, eternal fulfillment with the One who has already planned our days for us.

You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

Psalm 139:16 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 139-141, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Law to love

If, according to Galatians 5:14, the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbours as yourself”, the words law and love should be interchangeable through much of the Old Testament. Jesus came and fulfilled the law with love—great love. So what does that fulfillment look like in light of the law according to Psalm 119?

I meditate on your age-old [love];
O Lord, [it] comfort[s] me.

v. 52

Your [love has] been the music of my life
throughout the years of my pilgrimage.

v. 54

I pondered the direction of my life,
and I turned to follow your [love].

v. 59

Evil people try to drag me into sin.
but I am firmly anchored to your [love].

v. 61

Your [love] is more valuable to me
than millions in gold and silver!

v. 72

Surround me with your tender mercies so I may live;
for your [love] is my delight.

v. 77

Your [love] remains true today,
for everything serves your plan

v. 91

Even perfection has its limits,
but your [love has] no limit.

v. 96

Your [love] make[s] me wiser than my enemies,
for your [love is] my constant guide.

v. 98

Your [love] give[s] me understanding;
no wonder I hate every false way of life.

v. 104

When we look at the law through Jesus and his fulfillment of it, what a difference it makes in our understanding of these verses! It’s not a bunch of rules and regulations that we follow, but love—perfect love at that. Love that gives understanding and wisdom. Love that teaches. Love that is valuable. Love that has no limits. Love that is our delight.

If the psalmist found all of these things in the law that God gave to Israel, how much more should we be able to find in the love that fulfilled the law?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 119:49-104, 1 Corinthians 4