Last spring, a couple of friends and I had gotten our kids together a time or two for play dates, and we talked about how much we would enjoy using our time together to fellowship around the things of the Lord and his word. After tossing around several ideas, we decided to read through a book over the summer and discuss it when we could get together….
“What is God’s will for my life in this situation?” Whether it is knowing God’s will for this afternoon, next week, this year, or a lifetime, I’ve often prayed and sought earnestly to know the will of God in my life.
In order to accurately hear from God concerning His will in a given situation, I must hear His voice through the Bible, His written word. In the precious Bible, He has given me all that I need to live godly in Christ Jesus (2 Peter 1:3-4).
As the Holy Spirit applies the word of God to our hearts, we discern His will. I want to mention three things that the Bible clearly states are God’s will, and then look at how to know God’s will for our lives when the Bible does not literally state what we are to do or not to do….
A Christian woman has the opportunity to be one of the greatest influencers on earth. The striking beauty of her spirit may win the soul of her unbelieving husband. Her adherence to God’s design in marriage can proclaim the glory of the gospel. Her faith in and knowledge of God’s word can spill over into her spheres of ministry.
However, if a woman does not know her God and his word, and if she is not clinging to its precious promises, she begins to resemble Eve, the mother of her flesh. Her heart can easily be deceived by the enemy’s craftiness, and her affections can be led astray.
We who have trusted in Christ are not only descendants of Eve, but now we are descendants of Sarah, the free woman (Galatians 4:31). We are children of promise and we are no longer in bondage to Eve’s nature. In 1 Peter 3:1–6 and Hebrews 11:11–12, we receive the commendation of Sarah’s faith, and we are pointed to her life as an example of biblical womanhood. As we imitate the faith of Sarah, we can leverage our God-given gender and unique gifts to glorify our God and advance his kingdom….
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10
For the rest of this week, this day, or even in this hour, you and I will be faced with challenges, unexpected sorrows, and fears. We might remind our souls, “Bless the LORD, O my soul,” but sometimes we can’t figure out how to shake the feelings of gloom or meet the day’s shadows with eyes on the unseen. I know what I must do (I must trust the Lord!), but some days I find my courage waning and my heart growing faint.
While we will always battle this flesh until our souls rest in their eternal home, God has provided a shelter and hiding place through the minutes and hours of our days. And that hiding place is His name….
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
In Hebrews 11, we read of those “of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38). “By faith,” they conquered kingdoms, obtained promises, and put foreign armies to flight, but they also were stoned, sawn in two, and killed with the sword. Destitute, afflicted, and mistreated, these souls are that great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us.
And then I start to look a bit more closely at that list of faithful men and women, and I see Sarah, a woman who laughed with incredulity upon hearing the promise of God and then lied and denied it when the Lord asked why she laughed. And how did Rahab get into the “Hall of Faith?” She was a prostitute. David made the cut to be on the list, and he was both an adulterer and murderer.
I could continue through the list, pointing to the souls listed and pointing out what the Bible says about their flaws and faults, and it would only serve to bring the message home more sweetly: their lives witness to faith in the Promised Messiah, the Savior of needy, sinful men and women.…
The greatest regret I have in my life is relationships broken by my poor handling of criticism. For many years, I felt unjustly accused and misunderstood by those close to me, and so, I was indignant and heartbroken by what I felt were unfair accusations.
With incredulity, I asked myself for years, How could they say those things or think that way about me?
But God has been relentlessly shattering my arrogant heart and puncturing every weeping wound with the beauty of his good news. The gospel breaks the chains of guilt and pride, enlightening dark and shadowy strongholds of self-righteousness and self-promotion.
The raw truth of the gospel — that Christ died for my sins, that he was buried, that he was raised for my justification, and that he always lives to make intercession for me — helps me to make sense of my violent reactions to criticism. It teaches me how to respond to criticism, whether or not I believe it’s warranted….
If you’ll wander with me down memory lane a bit, I’d like to introduce you to the 16-year-old-me. Of course, it goes without saying that I was younger then (and thinner), and it was a really exciting time of my life. I was “on fire” for the things of the Lord, I was disciplining myself spiritually and physically, and, as a side note, I knew how to parent everybody else’s kids (I wish the me-now could figure out where the me-then got all her answers…!). I was about to graduate high school, and I couldn’t wait to see what God had in store.
I wanted to peer excitedly just over the horizon to peek into what God was going to do with my budding talents and abilities. But I sure would have been surprised and confused had the 16-year-old-me been able to glimpse the calling that God was placing on my life.
The 16-year-old-me would never have pictured the path the Lord would direct for me in my twenties and now in my thirties. My twenties were hard years spiritually, full of questioning and frustration. My idea of how I would serve God and what that would look like was crumbling. I didn’t know I’d be such a mess, and I didn’t know that God was not going to use me in the ways I had thought that He would….
Recently I was standing beside my newborn daughter’s crib, cradling her in my arms and rocking her back and forth. I was trying to soothe her down for a little nap, and I was suddenly so overcome with glad emotion that God had made this barren woman a mother….again.
As I swayed gently with her in the dim light, I began to sing softly to my Heavenly Father, filled with joy and marvel at this precious pink bundle that He had given to me.
I was singing and humming and began to be caught up in worshiping the Lord:
“Holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, worthy is the Lamb who was slain!
Highest praises, honor and glory, be unto Your name…be unto Your name..”
Before I could finish these words, I stopped singing.
How many days had it been since I had read my Bible? I hadn’t made it to church yet since the baby was born. I was wearing pajama pants and a shirt covered in spit up….from yesterday, I think. I had been wrestling with those crazy postpartum hormones (and losing), and I’d lost it (again) with my husband and my preschooler.
Until I could get myself together a bit more and find the wherewithal in this season of newborn-fog to spend time confessing my sins, and until I could get back into the scripture and spend time in prayer, I had no business worshiping before the throne of the Lord God Almighty. I was in no way worthy to echo the words of that song that the throng of heaven cries out in worship before Him who is seated on the throne (Revelation 4:8-11).
I would have to pay penance for my stumbling and sin. Some time would have to elapse before I could freely and unashamedly approach the Father in worship and praise. I would have to come to the Lord as a slave rather than as a son, for I had lost the privilege to enter His presence with emotion, affection, boldness, and joy….
My family recently buried the most beautiful, confident, and gracious woman I have ever known — my dear grandmother. She is my hero and role model, and I pray to have even a portion of the grace and honor and loving influence that she possessed. But, I know a little secret about her that the average friend in her sewing club, the neighbor who received her Morning Glory Muffins, and the visiting revival pastor might not have ever guessed: she laughed at the future.
My grandmother had known and tasted first hand the Valley of the Shadow. She knew God, and she knew grief. She knew that He was faithful and that His love and grace was enough.…