Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation (2 Peter 1:20).
I am presently working with a group of students who are frustrated with the standards (guidelines) with which they must comply. Often times it isn’t the guideline itself, but the way that it is implemented. Don’t we sometimes do the same things as believers? We take a verse, principle or even a commandment and interpret it to our liking. This is nothing new. Paul addressed the Colossians about this a few centuries ago.
Take the verse “Husbands love your wives” as an example—part B of a very volatile principle in today’s world. Love is defined in Corinthians, and we hear it at 99% of the weddings we attend. But to put it in 21st century terms: Love is patient and kind, not arrogant or rude, or selfish, or demanding its own way, not easily angered, doesn’t keep score (I like that one), always protects, never gives up, is always hopeful and is trusting. God’s definition is sooo much better than Hollywood’s version.
Time to look at part A of this verse, “Wives submit to your husbands.” I addressed this before so I’ll just make a few comments that go along with this title. Like my education example, through the years and across many cultures and religions, this has been interpreted in ways that are in opposition to the intent. This verse does not suggest spiritual inferiority; in fact, the one submitting is actually in control of choosing the course of action. Valuing others above ourselves requires confidence in order to willingly yield to another, in order to lift that person up, with only one motive—love.
As the above verse states, scripture did not come from man, but it is the inspired word from the Holy Spirit. Although the most trusted theologians can give us insight, they are still men. God speaks directly to all believers, not just teaching by human wisdom, but teaching by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
Over the years I have visited a number of churches either through moves, visits, or while on vacation. I have found that whether I listen to a poorly delivered message or an eloquent one; one with sound teaching or one with questionable content, God still speaks to me. In fact, I often learn more from the poor ones because they send me to my bible to find out why they didn’t “sit right.”
At times though, when something seems disagreeable, it’s because God is convicting me of an area of my life that needs to change.
And then there are the times when I sit through three-fourths of a message thinking, “Whatshername should hear this one,” when BOOM, the Holy Spirit makes it clear that I am Whatshername.
We all know that we don’t have to be sitting in a church pew to hear God speak. He meets us at the beach, on the radio, in the car (some of our best two-ways are here), in the shower, and of course, through His word.
I think the key is expectation—the expectation of our faith. Look for Him. Anticipate His response. His word promises over and over again—
And if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him (Deut 4:29).
If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me (Jeremiah 29:13).
And my favorite brings associations of a loving parent– If you seek Him, He will let you find Him (1 Chronicles 28:9 NAS).
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.