The Will of God is the Word of God by James MacDonald–Book Review

Do you worry about discovering God’s will for your life? Are you convinced that there is one right choice when it comes to selecting a spouse, a career, a vocation? If so, you will find this book very reassuring. According to author James MacDonald, God’s will is not about the details of our lives, it’s about who we are. It’s about our sanctification (word for the day): that refining process through which we become more and more like Christ.

The Will of God is the Word of God

God’s sovereign will, his plan for the universe and all of human history, cannot be thwarted. It doesn’t depend upon the choices we make. God’s moral will, or His word, is revealed in the Bible. This is God’s desire for our personal behavior, and is what we should concern ourselves with. If we live according to God’s moral will, we can be assured that the choices we make will be wise ones.

The author does give some guidelines for making God-pleasing decisions such as:

*Will this choice bring glory to God?

*Is this a decision Jesus would make?

*Will I be proud of this decision at the judgement seat of Christ?

*Would I want this done to me?

*Will this choice cause a brother or sister in Christ to struggle spiritually?

*Will this choice bring me under the power of something?

*Can I do this with confidence that it’s right?

*Am I breaking any previous committments?

This book was an easy read, and I certainly agree that any decision we make should be evaluated according to Biblical principles. However, I don’t think we need to totally reject the idea that God speaks to us in other ways at times.

VERDICT: 4 STARS A helpful guide to anyone struggling with an important decision.

For more on God’s will see:

Fanning the Flame #6–Seeking God’s Will

The Will of God by Leslie D. Weatherhead –Book Review

Martin Luther on God’s Word

How to Deal with Life’s Challenges

This is a quote from my daily devotional that seemed appropriate to the theme of the month, and also the Easter season.

“Choose but the will of God, and thou willest with His wisdom, thou choosest with Hiss all-perfect choice;  thou enterest into His counsels;  thou lovest with His love.  Be this our watch-word, brethren,  for the Church,  for those we love, for our own souls.  Be this our rule in action, ‘not what I will, but what Thou’;  this in suffering;  ‘not what I, but what Thou.’  This shall hallow our hopes;  this shall hush our fears;  this shall calm anxieties;  this (if so it must be) shall soothe our heart-aches;  this shall give repose to our weariness;  this, the deeper our trouble, shall be the deeper foretaste of everlasting peace and rest.  ‘Lord, not what I will, but what Thou’;  not what I, in my misery, and ignorance, and blindness, and sin, but what Thou, in Thy mercy, and holiness, and wisdom, and love.”

E.B. Pusey

For more quotes by E.B. Pusey see:

Being More Than Conquerers

Have Patience

Know Yourself/Know God

 

 

Surrendering Every Day

This is a quote from my daily devotional:

“No trouble is too small wherein to see the will of God for thee.  Great troubles come but seldom.  Daily fretting trials, that is, what of thyself would fret thee, may often in God’s hands, conform thee more to His gracious will.  They are the daily touches, whereby He traces on thee the likeness of His divine will.  There is nothing too slight wherein to practise oneness with the will of God.  By daily practice in slight crosses of our own will, do we learn the lesson our Lord taught, “Not as I will, but as Thou.”  All the things whereof men daily complain may perfect thee in the will of God.  The changes of seasons, bodily discomforts or ailments, rude words, petty slights, little jealousies, unevenness of temper in those with whom thou livest, misunderstandings, censures of thy faith or practice, severe judgements, thanklessness of those thou wouldest benefit, interruptions in what thou wouldest do, oppressiveness or distraction of they labors,– whatever thou canst think of, wherein others fret themselves, and still more, thyself;  therein thou seest how to be of one will with God.

Edward B. Pusey

For more quotes by Edward Pusey see:

Clothed With Christ

Victorious Faith

 

 

 

How Can I Enjoy Myself?

This quote is from my devotional reading:

“The best way for a man rightly to enjoy himself, is to maintain a universal, ready, and cheerful compliance with the divine and uncreated Will in all things;  as knowing that nothing can issue and flow forth from the fountain of goodness but that which is good;  and therefore a good man is never offended with any piece of divine dispensation, nor hath he any reluctancy against that Will that dictates and determines all things by an eternal rule of goodness;  as knowing that there is an unbounded and almighty Love that, without any disdain or envy, freely communicates itself to everything He made;  that always enfolds those in His everlasting arms who are made partakers of His own image, perpetually nourishing and cherishing them with the fresh and vital influences of His grace.

Dr. John Smith

Is this Spiritual Direction?

I found this quote which led me to wonder, “Is the Lutheran Ladies blog actually a form of spiritual direction?”  In sharing our experiences, insights, reading and more are we becoming to spiritual directors to our readers and to one another? I certainly think sharing my feelings in my posts has led me to confront my own sin, and the frequent lack of purity in my motives.  It makes me think and read deeply about each month’s theme. Hopefully,  this means it has led to some changes as well.  I would love to hear what others (authors and followers) have to say on this subject.

“When we speak with others about our experience in Christ, it sharpens our attentiveness to the voice and will of the Father. Sharing our stories helps us clarify the intentions of our hearts toward the fulfillment of his divine will. A small circle of friends also reminds us of the presence, power and protection of the Holy Spirit. Confiding in one another instills a sense of hope for the future as children who are dearly loved by their Father.”
Stephen A. Macchia, Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to the Well-Ordered Way

Trying to Read God’s Mind

This morning, as part of my devotional time, I was reading from a book, When God Says “Wait”, by Elizabeth Laing Thompson (sidebar:  I got this as a free Kindle book from Book Bub).  This morning’s chapter discussed some of the unpleasant thoughts we have when we’re waiting;  often we come to the conclusion that God is angry and is punishing us.  Then the author makes a very good point:  WE CAN’T READ GOD’S MIND!  The Bible makes this very clear in the book of Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

If you read closely, you’ll see that we’re not only incapable of reading God’s mind, when we try we’re almost certain to get it wrong — He just doesn’t think the way we do.  So, what do we do when we want to know God’s will?  When we want to know why some dreadful thing is happening to us?  When we have questions about the purpose of our life?

I think we have to go back to a previous blog post I did, “Agree in the Lord, Example #1.”  In that post, I talked about the fact that we can’t read the mind of other people — if we’re upset about something they said or did, the best course is to go and talk to them directly.  The same holds true with God — when I don’t understand or don’t like something that’s going on in my life, I need to go and talk to Him about it.  The most important way to do this is prayer:  pray, pray, pray and then pray some more.  It also means studying His word, because often that is how God speaks to me.  It means attending worship — another opportunity to listen to His word through the readings, sermon and hymns.

Does this mean I’ll always get a quick and clear answer?  Well, no.  It does mean I’ll have a relationship with God.  I’ll come to a better knowledge and understanding of His character.  I’ll mature in wisdom and discernment.  I’ll trust Him, even when I don’t know all the answers.

Have questions?  Go to the primary source;  go to God.

Who’s really in Charge?

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God and those that exist have been instituted by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed and those who resist will incur judgement.”  Romans 13:1-2

This is a hard teaching, and one many people seem to disagree with during this time of political transition.  However, it is the plain words of Scripture–God is the one who is in charge of everything, even governments, even elections.  Does this mean politicians are always choosing wisely and following God’s will?  Of course not.  However, even things that seem very bad to us may be used for good in God’s plan (read the story of Joseph in Genesis for an example of this).

How does this fit in with our free will?  Well, I’ve been studying that.  It’s also a thorny question that is hard to wrap our human minds around.  I would recommend a book by Randy Alcorn called hand in Hand.  It explains that while we can choose to violate God’s moral will(God’s laws), and we do this often by sinning,  we can never violate his decretive will, the things that God has promised and decreed will come to pass. How does this all work out?  It’s a mystery, we must leave it in God’s hand.

And are the bad things that happen really for our good?  Well Alcorn says that things that seem to us to be for our immediate good, are not always for our ultimate good.  How do we tell the difference?  I don’t think we can, we have to trust God.  It’s one of those things Lutherans are content to admit we cannot completely understand or reconcile in our human way of thinking.

This was the verse for my devotional reading today:

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”  Psalm 20:17

If we trust in God, we don’t have to fear earthly governments and powers or try to take events into our own hands.  Our free will can never thwart God’s will for us and for the world.  Of course, the Bible also tells us there is a time to “obey God, not men”(Acts 5:29) but I will take that up in my next post!

 

New Month/New Theme

Our theme for this month is obedience –not a popular concept in our culture.  Oh, we may obey in some ways because the consequences for disobedience are unpleasant:  speed or run a red light, and you’ll get a ticket and a fine;  refuse to get to work on time and you’ll be fired;  steal and you may go to jail … things like this.  For the most part, however, we’re taught to be our own person, follow our bliss, resist being a “door mat.”  Behaving this way will (supposedly) lead to happiness and fulfillment. This idea isn’t anything new.  Go back to the book of Judges (which we’ve been studying in our Sunday School class) and you will find that “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”(Judges 21:25). Sound familiar?  Or even further back, to Genesis when Eve decides “that it(the tree) was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise” and so she ate it, going against God’s clear instructions to the contrary.” We humans have been a disobedient bunch, almost since day 1.

So this month let’s ask ourselves the hard questions.  Do we want to be obedient to God?  Why should we obey Him?  What are the results of obedience (and disobedience)?  How do we even know what God’s will for us is?

Send us your ideas and questions.  The Lutheran Ladies will be listening, praying and posting.

Remember God loves you and so do we!

 

Sacrificing at the Right Time

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6

What made this particular point in history and in the life of Jesus the right time?  I’ve been pondering this since Easter Sunday.  I’ve heard teachers speculate that the Roman Empire and the system of roads created allowed Christianity to spread in a way that couldn’t have happened before.  Maybe that’s right.  It’s one of those things the Bible doesn’t tell us, so we don’t know.

What about Jesus?  Why did he “set his face” to go to Jerusalem on this particular Passover?  He knew what was going to happen;  He even told the disciples He would die.  It didn’t make sense to them, so why was he so convinced?  Well, there’s only one answer, plain and simple.  He did it in obedience to God. He never allowed anyone or anything to interfere with the Father’s will for His life.

It makes me realize that if I’m going to imitate Christ, I have to try to obey at the right time: in other words, as soon as God asks.  This is hard for me.  I have a million excuses:  I’m not ready yet, I need to prepare;  it’s not practical, nobody thinks I should do that;  I need to finish this other task first;  and even, is that really you, God?

The Bible tells us that our times are in God’s hand.  He is the one who knows the right time for everything in our lives.  We need to pray the prayer that cannot fail, “thy will be done.”  Then we need to step out in faith and do whatever He is calling us to do. He will take care of the results.