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
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.
“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!
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!
“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.