the future revealed?


 

 

Have you ever asked God to reveal His will to you?  How about your future?  “God, please tell me where I’m supposed to go!  I want to do Your will, but I need to know what that is!”  I have.  I’ve asked God what He wants me to do, with the purest intentions.  I want to know so that I can serve Him best.

But I’ve come to realize that there’s a fine line between knowing the future and knowing God’s will for me.  A lot of the time, we lump them together as one and the same.  My future may be God’s will, yes, but maybe God will tell me one and not the other.  He may reveal to me what my future is supposed to be, or His will, but maybe not both.

When it comes to the future, God does not tell us in advance what His plans are.  He asks that we trust Him regardless.

In his famous devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers said:

Have you been asking God what He is going to do?  He will never tell you.  God does not tell you what He is going to do—He reveals to you who He is.  Do you believe in a miracle-working God, and will you “go out” in complete surrender to Him until you are not surprised one iota by anything He does?

That is what I mean by “future” and “God’s will.”  By knowing God, we can often get a clearer picture of what His will is.  For example, it might be God’s will for you to grow in your faith a certain way within the next year, but God won’t tell you exactly how He is going to do that (the future).

I began reading the book of Colossians the other night and I was scanning quickly through Paul’s introduction to the Colossians (they seem to be the same in every book).  But I slowed myself down, reminding myself it was the Word of God.  When I reached verses nine and ten, I was a bit confused.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing good fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

(Colossians 1:9 – 10)

It was the second part of verse nine that really caught my attention.  I had just read the devotional that the above excerpt comes from (January 2) and this verse seemed to completely contradict it!  “…filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…”  I realized I must be missing something and asked a few questions and prayed.  Does this mean knowing what God is going to do?  Paul mentioned “the knowledge of his will,” but I also know that God doesn’t just tell us the future.  “…in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…” I also noticed that Paul said “the knowledge,” not, “a knowledge.”  I’m not trying to nit-pick here, but aren’t there many futures?  I finally journaled this conclusion:

I think Paul is saying that it’s more knowing God and being wise and understanding Him.  Not necessarily the future, but His will.  Not what will happen to us, but what God wants in us.  Then we will do His will if we know Him.

Verse ten says:

So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

We can see from this verse that God’s will for us is for us to walk with and in Him, and to bear “good fruit” through good deeds (needed for faith and vice versa). We need to increase in the knowledge of God and, by doing so, we will know His will—maybe not the future, but His will—more and more.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

(Philippians 1:6)

 If you want to know God’s will better, get to know God better.

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enough


All of You is more than enough

For all of me, for every thirst and every need

You satisfy me with Your love and all I have in You

Is more than enough.

(Enough, Chris Tomlin)

 

Have you ever tried to survive by just drinking water?  You can have as much water as you want, but you can only have water.  Nothing else—no food or other drinks.  Just water.  Or have you tried to survive by living off of only one specific food?  Like only bread, or only rice?  Probably not, unless you’re doing a 30-hour famine.  We know that it’s nearly impossible to eat or drink only one thing and be healthy.  The human body needs a variety of nutrients in order to be healthy.

The same is true for our souls.  Have you been trying to live off of only one aspect of God?  Maybe you’ve only accepted the part of God that forgives.  Maybe you only accept God if you forget about the side of Him that says to honor Him in everything you do—not just Sundays and youth group.  Or maybe you are okay with God in everything except loving your enemies.

But the truth is that we need all of God to be spiritually healthy.  True, some things about God don’t look appealing at first glance; such as we need to actively serve Him otherwise we aren’t truly following Him.  Or that we need to have faith when everything is falling apart and God seems to be nowhere close because He is faithful even when we can’t see Him.  Or those who are “good people” but haven’t accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour won’t receive the eternal reward.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

(2 Corinthians 12:9a)

God says that His grace is sufficient for us.  It’s enough for us to live our spiritual lives off of.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

(Romans 3:23 – 24)

We are all justified by the grace of God.  We are made whole through Him.  If we accept all of God, He will accept all of us, just as we are.  It’s not enough to just accept a part of God.  It’s all or nothing:

 I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

(Revelation 3:15 – 16)

God requires the whole of us and He requires that we put our faith in all of Him, not just the areas that suit our needs.  He is enough for us.  Is that true in your life?

because you are young [purity]


Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

(1 Timothy 4:12)

Purify: “to rid of impurities . . . to free from guilt, sin, etc.” – dictionary

How can we be examples for others in purity?

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

(1 Peter 3:2)

I included this verse because it speaks to purity setting an example to others; it’s not only for wives, but everyone.

 He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.

(Acts 15:9)

So I say to you: ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

(Luke 11:9)

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

(James 1:5)

God will purify our hearts if we ask and if we have faith. These people had faith, so God purified their hearts.

 Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

(2 Corinthians 7:1)

We must purify ourselves when it comes to who and what we surround ourselves with, as well as resisting temptation. This means getting rid of anything that isn’t God-honouring in our lives. Although not listening to certain music (which might be “okay” but still not giving glory to God) or reading certain books or watching certain TV shows may seem a bit extreme, it will not go unnoticed by our Heavenly Father.

 It teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

(Titus 2:12 – 14)

God wants to purify us for His purpose.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

(1 John 1:9)

God will purify us if we repent and ask.

No matter how hard we try, we alone cannot purify ourselves. God must purify us because only He can truly forgive sins and change our hearts. We may try to physically change our hearts by trying to think good thoughts, etc., but it will never be enough because we do not have the power to make ourselves good enough for God. Only He can make us truly pure.

Today, I challenge you to rid your life of all things that are not honouring to God. Allow God to purify your heart for His great and wonderful purpose. God can change your heart if you let Him.

a glorious surrender


You know how close others seem to be to God? Well that’s what I want. I became a Christian when I was younger but was never really “close” to God…at least, I didn’t feel like it. So I tried doing more devotions, different ways of devotions, tried to change my attitude toward others, etc. But it never helped. I think it’s because I never experienced a change of heart and I never surrendered completely to God — not just my life or future plans, but my heart as well. At Acquire the Fire, they spoke of how people say “the prayer” and ask Jesus to come into their lives, and they go to church, etc. but still have not experienced glorious surrender to God. And that was me. Although I had physically done everything I needed to, I hadn’t done everything I needed to spiritually and emotionally. Something had been missing, and that was a change of heart. I never asked Jesus to give me the heart of a follower of Him. Another speaker at Acquire the Fire spoke about how when he became a Christian, he went into his room and destroyed everything that was not God-honoring. He spoke about how we cannot compromise our faith in any way for being normal, accepted. After all, how can we stand out if we’re listening to the same music as everyone else, and acting the same as everyone else, and speaking the same as everyone else?

 

because you are young [love]


Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

(1 Timothy 4:12)

So far, we’ve talked about being examples to other believers in speech and life; now for the next one…love.

Why do we need love?

How do we love others?

How do we know we are loving others?

Why?

Why do we need to love others? What’s the point of loving others if you don’t really like them? Why put the effort into loving others?

 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

(John 13:34)

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

(1 Peter 4:8)

We are commanded to love each other by God because love covers over sins. Love can overcome all kinds of evil. So why love each other? Well, most importantly, because God commands us to. If we are true disciples of Christ, we will want to obey Him. And second, because love covers most sins and therefore is the main way that we witness to others. Also, as Paul said:

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do nothavelove, I am nothing.

(1 Corinthians 13:2)

How?

The definition of love is found in the famous “love chapter” of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:4 – 8.

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. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

Love is sacrificing, unselfishness, patience, kindness. The qualities of love are pretty much listed in this passage.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

(Romans 12:9)

Love means nothing if it’s not sincere. Pretending to like someone or always agreeing with them is not love. To exhibit the love of Christ, we must be sincere in our love for others. You don’t need to like someone to love them with God’s love. Just because Jesus didn’t like the Pharisees doesn’t mean He didn’t die for them too. God’s love goes above man’s behavior.

How do we know?

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.

(1 John 5:2)

So how do we know that we are loving others? The easiest (and perhaps most accurate) way of “checking” this is to compare ourselves to God’s love. Was Jesus hypocritical? Was He rude? Selfish? The answer to all of these is, of course, no. We need to be as close to Christ’s example as possible to be living examples of Him to the world. Another way of gauging our example of love is to check out 1 Corinthians 13:4 – 8 — the characteristics of love.

Of course, none of this is possible without God’s help. Lean on Him and trust Him to help you show His love to everyone.

Following God’s commands proves that you love God and others.

“Jesus replied: “‘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.””

(Matthew 22:37 – 40)

because you are young [life]


Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

(1 Timothy 4:12)

We are called to live a life so as to be an example to other believers. But what does that mean, exactly? Actions, serving others and glorifying God in everything we do are all ways that we can show Christ in our lives.

A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord.

(Proverbs 19:3)

Actions

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

(James 2:17)

 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

(Titus 1:16)

These two verses make it very clear that faith without works is not really faith at all. The second verse from Titus is speaking about unbelievers; if we do not act to show our faith in God, we are denying Christ and are not being God’s light to the world.

Serving

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

(Colossians 3:23 – 24)

For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

(Luke 22:27)

Serving is an important aspect in the Christian lifestyle because it’s the ultimate showing of Christ’s love to others. God showed his love for us when he served us and, ultimately, when he sent his Son to die for us. We are called to witness to others by serving with humility.

Glorifying God

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

(1 Peter 4:11)

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

(Ecclesiastes 9:10)

…so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Romans 15:6)

Finally, and most importantly, glorifying God in everything we do is key to living an exemplary life. Glorifying God includes giving God the glory in our accomplishments, making choices that will point to him in everything we do, and making him the center of our lives. Putting him at the center of our lives allows everything else to fall into place.

However, this isn’t easy — putting God first. It’s a constant battle, a fight to push other things aside and let God into the middle. Even though it’s difficult, God will give us strength to do his will: glorifying him and showing Christ’s love to everyone.

it’s who I am


In the Christian environment that many of us experience, whether that is church, school, or work, we are encouraged to be imitators of Christ. On the other hand, the world tends to tell us two things: be perfect (fashion, etc.) and, more recently, to just “be yourself!” The world’s sense of being yourself and “standing out” include standing up for what’s right (which is great), not caring what about what anyone says about you (ignoring gossip mills — again, great), and wearing what fits your style, not anyone else’s (again…great).

So often, though, the world tells us to be different in things that don’t really matter. Media tells us that voicing our own opinions matters, that wearing what we want matters, that just…being ourselves is what matters. At a glance, this seems harmless. And if all you’re doing is wearing what you want to wear, that’s pretty harmless; there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you observe more closely what the world seems to tell everyone, you’ll realize that the world is really telling you to live for you. Wear what you want, do what you want, be who you want.

Many Christians have chosen to combine Christianity (imitators of Christ) with the world’s message of you being you (different, unique, etc.) and it looks totally okay. After all, Jesus didn’t blend in; he stood out. Jesus didn’t go with the flow. In fact, he went against the current and broke down social barriers. Which is great! God doesn’t call us to be one with the world; he actually tells us to be in the world, not of it.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.

2 Corinthians 10:3

Nothing I’ve said so far is really wrong. Wearing the clothes you choose to wear, etc. is okay! There’s nothing sinful about that.

What I’m talking about is more along the lines of “this is me, everyone needs to get used to it. If they don’t like who I am, that’s their problem.”

This is not a Christian attitude. I’m talking about Christians who are rather opinionated and don’t mind letting others know. I have heard some say that it’s “just who I am.”

I know that we need to accept people for who they are, and I’m not saying that we should judge other people.

What I am saying is that being harsh in the name of Christ isn’t okay.

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

Titus 3:1 – 2

It’s one thing to stand up for what’s right, but it’s quite another to be inconsiderate of other’s feelings and be harsh with them. Let’s face it — no one is perfect, or ever will be. But we as Christians should strive to demonstrate the same loving-kindness that Jesus did in his ministry. Jesus never ran after the Pharisees yelling, “You bunch of sinners! Follow me or you’ll go to hell!” No. He instead showed the love of God to them (although he did sometimes use harsh words with them out of righteous anger at their pride, but again — he never cut them down as people but rather showed them where they were wrong kindly, in the hopes of gaining their repentance). Similarly with other people, he never sat there telling them what was wrong with them, or was inconsiderate of their feelings. He did quite the opposite, actually. He talked with people, got to know them. Showed them love.

God calls us to be loving:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

2 Peter 1:5 – 7

(Check out 1 Corinthians 13 to see what love is: patient, kind, etc.)

God calls us to be different for him; we need to be different with the intent of bringing glory to his Name. Being opinionated and harsh with others will not bring glory to him. If we truly desire to please him, we will allow the meek loving-kindness of God to shine through us, pointing to his presence in our lives. Ask God to use you and help you practice meekness and love in everything you do. He will!