Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Prov. 3:5).
I recently read a devotional by Oswald Chambers and, with one word, he really challenged my thinking and fine-tuned my understanding concerning this familiar scripture. He said, “…lean not on your own ‘righteous’ understanding.” Well, we know that worldly thinking is sometimes unscriptural, and we know this applies to carnal perceptions for sure. But have you ever considered that our understanding could be upright and scriptural, but still not be what God had planned at that moment?
This may be a simplistic example, but it helped me to grasp the concept. Once, while preparing for company (you know what that’s like), I asked one of my children to empty the dishwasher. When I came home, the dishwasher was still full, but the house was picked-up. Well, that was a very good and much appreciated help, but my immediate need required full use of the kitchen. Likewise, our service, even if it is righteous and scriptural, may not further God’s plan.
And sometimes the good gets in the way of the best. We may choose a direction to go or a service to do that may be really worthwhile. We may even pray for God to bless our efforts, when in fact, He may have an even better plan. That’s why we’re told to seek His righteousness, and in all our ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct our paths.
I love those who love Me; And those who diligently seek Me will find Me (Prov 8:17).
In discussions with other believers, the topic of God’s will never fails to eventually come up. God, for sure, wants us to know His will, to desire to do and say things that align with His word. But more than even that, He wants us to grow in the grace and knowledge of His Son. In other words, not to just seek His will, but to KNOW Him.
To understand concepts like this, I have to relate it to my experiences, in this case, as a wife. When my husband and I first began building a relationship, we learned things about each other—likes, dislikes, annoyances…. Later, as our relationship grew, we learned about each other on a much deeper level—what we valued, what was in our hearts. Because of this, we could each anticipate how the other might react to a situation.
The great thing about our perfect Father is that the more we know, the more amazed we are. He is the author of every good thing, the very definition of love. And as knowledge of Him grows, it is both astonishing and humbling to be considered His dearly beloved child.
He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice (John 10:3-4).
I was raised in an Italian household where almost daily there were lots of people there, talking all at once, usually at a high volume. I learned early on to block out conversations and to concentrate in the midst of chaos. This isn’t always a good thing because now when I tune-out, I sometimes miss some very important information.
Tuning in to the Good Shepherd is vital for every believer. It is one conversation that we don’t want to miss or dismiss. Hearing His voice is important, not only for direction, but also to build a relationship with the One who loves us so much. And when He does direct us, it is in ways that are the best ways.
He never pushes or forces, but gently guides us to “have a life that is full and good.”
Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up (Gal.6:9).
At times the “well-doing” seems so mundane and fruitless. Yet over and over again, I’ve seen both in scripture and in my own experience, that God’s timing is perfect. Sometimes we get to experience the joy of seeing our work rewarded. We may see fruits immediately, decades later, or we may never see the harvest on this side of Heaven. Then we must rely on our continual growing relationship with the Lord and being obedient whenever He nudges us.
One Bible scholar refers this present time as “seed time.” In a grass seed mixture, the one type of seed that takes the longest to grow is the one that is rooted the deepest; it’s the one that endures year after year.
If we don’t get weary, and certainly not give up, we can take God at His word and expect a harvest in due time.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (I Cor 13:4-8a).
Today’s discussion is not exactly about relationships; it is about prayer. It has been said that in order to communicate with God effectively, we need to discipline our mind. I know that personally I like to start with a prayer of thanks, but often I end up with random thoughts a thousand miles away. My question today is, “How do we know whether or not a thought comes from God.”
This is why I chose Corinthians 13 as the verse. God is love. Any communication that comes from Him follows the principles outlined in these verses. If our thoughts are selfish, revengeful or even prideful, they did not come from the Father.
We can certainly be honest with God about our feelings, but His answer once we leave our “secret place” (Matt 6:6) will never direct us toward any idea or action but love.
These are just beginning thoughts on understanding God through prayer, but it seems that time and time again, the right answer to most questions is love.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matt 22:37-40).
Did you know that there are at least 5,000 federal criminal laws, with 10,000-300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally and may carry criminal penalties? And that is just federal. As we are sitting here right this minute, we may be unknowingly breaking some kind of law or code.
Following Jesus is so much simpler, not necessarily easy, but definitely less complicated. In fact, if everyone followed the two laws outlined by Jesus, we would not need any other law. With the love in our hearts from God (the source of all love), we can turn that toward others. If we truly loved others we would never do anything that would be detrimental or harm them.
Simple, but not easy. Over and over our human nature takes the lead. Even Paul, one of the people throughout history who was most dedicated to the Lord, Jesus Christ said, “ I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
Visualizing life governed by the greatest commandment gives us a little glimpse of one little facet of eternity. Law–less, because we will all be governed by perfect love.
Whoever dwells in the shadow of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty (Ps 91:1).
Today there is so much talk about safe spaces where people are insulated from, well, just about anything that anyone wants to define as harmful, or hurtful, or even just uncomfortable. God doesn’t offer us that kind of isolation; in fact, His word (and my experience) shows that we grow in character and holiness through adversity.
If we look to Him in trust He offers us, not a safe space, but a fortress (v2). He doesn’t remove discomfort; sometimes we need it to grow, but He promises to be with us (v15). He protects us from the enemy’s snare [what are my personal temptations] (v3); terror by night [what are my fears]; arrows that fly by day [what are my arrows]; the plague that destroys [what plagues me physically, mentally, spiritually] (v 5&6–just read Psalm 91, it’s amazing).
Thank You, Father, that You have my back, in fact, You surround me so that “evil can not conquer me and no plague can come near my tent (v10).”