How To Find God’s Will

 

 

Two resources to help you find God’s will in your life.

Here is a snippet from Kevin DeYoung’s book from last year, Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will. or How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc

“Simply put, God’s will is your growth in Christlikeness. God promises to work all things together for our good that we might be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29). . . . God never assures us of health, success, or ease. But He promises us something even better: He promises to make us loving, pure, and humble like Christ. In short, God’s will is that you and I get happy and holy in Jesus.

So go marry someone, provided you’re equally yoked and you actually like being with each other. Go get a job, provided it’s not wicked. Go live somewhere in something with somebody or nobody. But put aside the passivity and the quest for complete fulfillment and the perfectionism and the preoccupation with the future, and for God’s sake start making some decisions in your life. Don’t wait for the liver-shiver. If you are seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you will be in God’s will, so just go out and do something.” (pg 61)

Secondly, here is a sermon by John MacArthur which gives you biblical guidelines on finding God’s will in your life. As DeYoung, MacArthur’s sermon is also a very liberating understanding on this issue. It is worth listening.

Knowing God’s Will Listen | Download | Read

via Theoblogy: How To Find God’s Will.

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Song for Reflection

I stand amazed at your love for me
That lonely night in Gethsemane
This sinner’s heart can’t help but thrill
To hear you pray Father not my will

Chorus:
What depth of love, what reach of grace
O how my grateful heart now aches
To sing it louder the refrain
Jesus died my soul to save

Atonement full, applied to me
The blood that spilled at Calvary
Has swallowed all my sin and shame
Now reconciled, in Jesus’ name

O such pleasure, o such pain
The Father’s wrath and fury laid
On Christ whom saints and angels praise
Jesus died my soul to save

Come you broken bound by sin
Let your weary journey end
Come and lay your burdens down
Where mercy rules and peace abounds

What can wash away my sin
Nothin’ but the blood
What can make me whole again
Nothin’ but the blood

The Importance of Christian Thinking

7 quick points on Christian thinking…………

(1) Do you ever engage your brain to think, study your bible, or stop and have BIG thoughts about God, Jesus, the gospel, your salvation? You should…..: “The Christian mind is the prerequisite of Christian thinking. And Christian thinking is prerequisite to Christian ACTION.”- Harry Blamires

(2)Why?–> “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NLT)

(3)God’s opinion on learning in the school of Christ—> “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7

(4)How? –> “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”-James 1:5 (NLT)

(5) Get This —-> “ We need to understand that Jesus is a thinker, this is not a dirty word but an essential act” Dallas Willard

(6) But! —-> “We need to ask ourselves “What do i intend to do with my knowledge about God, once I’ve got it? For the fact that we have to face is this: that if we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited. The very greatness of the subject matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and grasp of it; and we shall look down on those whose theological ideas seem to us crude and inadequate, and dismiss them as very poor specimens. For, as Paul told the conceited Corinthians ‘knowledge puffs up…the man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to. [Our] supreme desire should be to know God’s truth in order that [our] hearts might respond to it and [our] lives conformed to it. [To know God better is to enjoy God more- thats why so many Christians dont enjoy God…they haven’t yet begun to KNOW Him” J.I. Packer

(7) Recommended Reading:

1)The Christian Mind- Harry Blamires

2) The Gospel and the Mind- Bradley G Green

3)The Passionate Intellect: Christian Faith and the Discipleship of the Mind- Alister McGrath

4) Think! The Life of the Mind and the Love of God- John Piper

Belgic Confession 24: On Sanctification

In this series we had previously looked at Articles 21,22 and 23 of the Belgic Confession. These 3 articles surveyed the Atonement, the Rigtheousness of Faith and the Justification of Sinners respectively. It may well be worth having another look at those articles to reaffirm in your head what they state. All 3 have come under attack by members of the emergent community such as Brian McLaren and Steve Chalke. The great thing about these articles is that the authors fully submitted themselves to the authority and teaching of the Bible. Cultural pressure and the desire to be accepted can lead us into many errors so it is extremely important that we continue to look to the Bible to see what it says about particular doctrines. Today we look at sanctification. Louis Berkhof states that,

“Throughout his life, from the moment of his regeneration and conversion to the moment of his final elevation to heavenly glory, the Christian, by virtue of his union with Christ’s death and resurrection and through the power of God’s word and Spirit dwelling within him, will necessarily experience progressive sanctification, this process to be understood negatively in terms of putting to death the deeds of the flesh which still remain in him and positively in terms of growth in all saving graces” (Berkhof, Sytematic Theology, 533)

 

So God’s sanctifying work is seen in the growing Christlike character, increasing love for God and people, and the fruit of the Spirit (John 14:2; 15:1-16:33; Gal 5:22-25; James 2:18). “The best evidence of true salvation is not having raised a hand or prayed a prayer, or having been baptised or christened. Instead, the true test of an authentic work of God in one’s life is sanctification as God continues the moral transformation he began in regeneration.” (Grudem et al, Bible Doctrine: An Overview, ESV, 2533) Sometimes this progress is slow….very slow. Other times it is fast…instant. God works differently in each person. His work is DEFINITIVE yet PROGRESSIVE. Where sanctification is entirely absent in a person’s life it must be asked whether that person has truly been born again. I’ll hand you over the Belgic Confession now to see what it says!

Belgic Confession: Article 24

We believe that this true faith, produced in man by the hearing of God’s Word and by the work of the Holy Spirit, regenerates him and makes him a “new man,”^57 causing him to live the “new life”^58 and freeing him from the slavery of sin.

Therefore, far from making people cold toward living in a pious and holy way, this justifying faith, quite to the contrary, so works within them that apart from it they will never do a thing out of love for God but only out of love for themselves and fear of being condemned.

So then, it is impossible for this holy faith to be unfruitful in a human being, seeing that we do not speak of an empty faith but of what Scripture calls “faith working through love,”^59 which leads a man to do by himself the works that God has commanded in his Word.

These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable to God, since they are all sanctified by his grace. Yet they do not count toward our justification– for by faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do good works. Otherwise they could not be good, any more than the fruit of a tree could be good if the tree is not good in the first place.

So then, we do good works, but nor for merit– for what would we merit? Rather, we are indebted to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he who “works in us both to will and do according to his good pleasure” ^60– thus keeping in mind what is written: “When you have done all that is commanded you, then you shall say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have done what it was our duty to do.’ “^61

Yet we do not wish to deny that God rewards good works– but it is by his grace that he crowns his gifts.

Moreover, although we do good works we do not base our salvation on them; for we cannot do any work that is not defiled by our flesh and also worthy of punishment. And even if we could point to one, memory of a single sin is enough for God to reject that work.

So we would always be in doubt, tossed back and forth without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be tormented constantly if they did not rest on the merit of the suffering and death of our Savior.

^57 2 Cor. 5:17 ^58 Rom. 6:4 ^59 Gal. 5:6 ^60 Phil. 2:13 ^61 Luke 17:10

The Art of Divine Contentment

“Discontent is to the soul as a disease is to the body: it puts it out of temper and much hinders its regular and sublime motions heavenward”. So said the English Puritan author Thomas Watson.

Over the next few weeks we will be exploring the idea of Christian contentment. Just what exactly is it and what should it look like? How important is it in the Christian’s life and what effect does true contentment have upon the Christian? I have chosen “The Art of Divine Contentment” by Thomas Watson as the text for this series as it is one of the best available on the subject.  Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson share this view, stating in their mammoth ‘introductory’ book “Meet the Puritans” that, “Godly contentment is a theme missing from many pulpits today. A serious reading of this treatise…..would do much to fill this void”.

Before we begin to think about Christian contentment, let’s learn a little bit about Thomas Watson.

Watson was born in Yorkshire, England (c 1620), had a pretty normal upbringing typical of that era and eventually went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1642 from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He was a dedicated scholar, who wrote many books. Some of his best works, alongside our chosen text, include,

–          All Things for Good– A work based on Romans 8:28 that God works all things for the good of the Christian. “If someone asks, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” or “How can I know if I am called by God?,” offer them this book. Its chapters on the love of God, effectual calling, and the purpose of God are especially helpful in understanding Romans 8:28.” (Beeke & Pederson, Meet the Puritans)

–          The Beatitudes–  An exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

–          A Body of Divinity– This is Watson’s magnum opus; his most famous work. In this book Watson follows the question and answer format of the Westminster Shorter Catechism and offers up 176 sermons on the essential teachings of Christianity. One reviewer on Amazon.com says “This book needs to be bought, understood and appreciated. My hope is that it will soon sell like wild-fire spreads.” I couldn’t agree more with that assertion! Buy this book and read it!!

–          The Godly Man’s Picture– In this book Watson describes 24 marks of a godly man including “moved by faith,” “fired with love,” “prizes Christ,” “loves the Word,” “is humble,” “is patient,” and “loves the saints”.

–          The Great Gain of Godliness– Despite having a catalogue of 12,000 books in His library, this is one that Spurgeon wished he had. “This volume would be a great find if we could come at it, for Watson is one of the clearest and liveliest of Puritan authors.” The book is Watson’s exposition of Malachi 3:16-18 and in it he aims “to encourage solid piety an confute the atheists of the world, who imagine there is no gain in godliness.” A  fantastic little volume which combines rich spirituality, nourishing doctrine, and sane practical wisdom coupled with fascinating illustrations and a very pleasant style.

–          The Lord’s Prayer– Initially this was a companion to ‘A Body of Divinity’ but can be read alone without it. Watson continues the question and format method of ‘A Body of Divinity’ in an attempt to explain the petitions of Jesus’ model prayer.

–          The Ten Commandments– Watson’s third volume on the Shorter Catechism which examines the 10 commandments and the moral law as a whole. An extremely valuable work.

Watson was a Presbyterian and expressed his strong Presbyterian views during the Civil War. He was imprisoned in 1651 for his part in a plot to restore the monarchy to the throne however was released and reinstated in 1652. In 1662, due to the Act of Uniformity (a parliamentary act which made all churches adhere to the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and Church of England practices) he was ejected from his pastorate. However, Watson continued to preach in private- in barns, homes, and woods- whenever he had the opportunity.  He then ministered alongside a fellow Puritan giant, Stephen Charnock, at Bishopsgate, until Charnocks death in 1680. He continued to labour until his health failed. He died suddenly in 1686 while engaged in private prayer.

His depth of doctrine, clarity of expression, warmth of spirituality, love of application, and gift of illustration enhanced his reputation as a preacher and writer. This has made him one of the most popular and accessible Puritan writers for the modern reader. Do yourself a favour and get some of his books. You will be enriched and encouraged in your faith if you do so.

Next in the series: An Introduction to Christian Contentment

What should we look for in a church??

In the consumer-driven age in which we live it is the customer who has all the power. I mean, think about it. We can choose what TV we want to watch, when we want to watch it, how we want to watch it (High Definition or standard definition). We can choose what radio stations we want to listen to, what electrical products we want to buy, what magazines we want to read, what food we want to buy, what friends we have on facebook and on and on we could go. The “customer is always right” is the marketing ethos of the 21st century, however is the customer always right when it comes to church, or rather is the layperson always right?

You see we naturally imbibe certain mindsets/worldviews from the society and culture that we are immersed in and I am wondering if this “consumer is always right” thing is becoming a sub conscious mindset of us Christians? I’ve heard stories of new pastors being told by laymembers “remember who pays your cheque” when they tried to implement biblical changes to the organisation and running of the church. What the church member meant in saying this was basically “if you do something i don’t like i’ll not be giving the money in to pay your wages mate”. This is a classic example of a church member thinking they have some sort of superior choice over the pastor/elders in relation to how the church should be run. There are many mumblings and grumblings today about how people want church to “be done”. Some of these are justified, for there are churches out there that are dying who continue to insist upon holding to the unbiblical traditions of men, pushing away the younger generation in the process. However, there are also churches who are trying so hard to be hip and relevant that they have completely abandoned the New Testament teaching about what a church should be. They almost act as if the New Testament is completely silent about how church should be done.

In his book ‘The Paradox of Choice- Why More is Less’ Barry Schwartz highlights this consumeristic phenomenon sweeping through our churches today. He observes,

“We are unwilling to regard religious teaching as commandments, about which we have no choice, rather than suggestions, about which we are the ultimate arbiters. We look upon participation in a religious community as an opportunity to choose just the form of community that gives us what we want out of religion

If our mindset as Christians is focused on the self, what we want out of Christianity, the only thing that will happen is that we will grow more and more discontented with our churches and with our walk with Christ. God does not exist for us….we exist FOR HIM. He has given us his word, the Bible, whose authority we are to sit under, not twist or ignore to suit our own sinful desires. So when it comes to “doing church” just what does the Bible teach about how we should do church? Well, to be sure, there are some grey areas, areas which the Bible is silent on, such as what clothes to wear, what instruments to use, what programmes should be run etc. However there are certain areas that the Bible is clear about. The guys at 9 Marks Ministries have, in my opinion, hit the proverbial nail on the head when it comes to this issue and below is a list of the 9 aspects or duties that they believe are vital for a church to be a healthy New Testament church. Have a look and see what you think…..

  1. Expositional preaching. Does the pastor preach God’s Word, or his own ideas? Does he allow Scripture to set his preaching agenda, or does he pick topics by some other criteria?
  2. Biblical theology. Does the church openly confess key biblical doctrines? Do the leaders consistently teach sound doctrine?
  3. A biblical understanding of the gospel. Does the church clearly proclaim the good news about what Jesus Christ accomplished for sinners in his death and resurrection? Consistently?
  4. A biblical understanding of conversion. Does the church teach that people must be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:1-8)? Does the church teach that in order to become a Christian, a person must repent of sin and trust in Christ, both of which are ultimately gifts of God?
  5. A biblical understanding of evangelism. Does the church preach the gospel to non-Christians and encourage its members to do the same? Does it understand that it’s our responsibility to preach the message of salvation yet God is the only one who can do the saving?
  6. Biblical church membership. Does the church take membership seriously by seeking to ensure that its members faithfully attend? Does it encourage members to fulfill the biblical “one-anothers” with each other?
  7. Biblical church discipline. Does the church lovingly, patiently practice church discipline?
  8. Biblical discipleship and growth. Does the church expect and equip its members to grow spiritually? Does the church encourage its members to disciple one another? Growing as a Christian should be normal, not exceptional.
  9. Biblical church leadership. Is the church led by godly, qualified men? Does the church look to Scripture to determine its leadership structure?

CCEF- Biblical Counselling for the Downcast

Leave me alone, I just want to be by myself. What’s the point in going on any longer? Why me? Why do I have to be the person to be treated like dirt? Why can’t I find somebody to love me? Why did God make me this way, I mean couldn’t he have made me better looking, more athletic, more funny, more likeable, more desirable? I don’t want to live any longer but I don’t have the guts to kill myself. I’m lonely, afraid, heartbroken. Why God why?! These are but a few of the statements people make when they are depressed, hurting or seeking to overcome addictions. Having gone through periods of depression myself I can relate all to well to those who feel this way. All seems hopeless, as if the circumstances of life will never change. It has become almost burdensome rather than enjoyable to live so the logical conclusion for many is to end their life to make the pain and sadness go away.

I have a deep concern for many in the church today who suffer in silence as I have done in the past. There appears to be few options that are readily available for Christians to receive sound, biblical counselling. Who should carry out Biblical counselling? The church? Parachurch organisations? If the answer is the church then who in the church? The pastor? Elders? Members of the congregation? Of all the things I would like to see become more prominent, more visible in the church is is the availability of regular biblical counselling. There is still a lot of taboo, shame and embarassment surrounding the idea of attending counselling and I believe it is one area that the local church needs to work to improve upon because there are many people out there suffering in silence and nobody should have to suffer in silence.

Thankfully I am not alone in my concern. The Christian Counselling and Educational Foundation (CCEF) is a Christian counseling and educational ministry located in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who are attempting to restore Christ to counselling and counselling to the local church. They state that,

“CCEF exists to Restore Christ to Counseling. We have a passion for personal change that is centered in the person of Christ. We have seen him bring significant change to individual lives. This passion is our heritage and heartbeat, and it leads us to constantly revisit the question, “How do the riches of the Gospel impact my life and my efforts to help others?” Everything we do flows from our desire to equip Christians to live and love in a Christ-centered way.”

“CCEF also exists to Restore Counseling to the Church. We believe that the body of Christ is God’s primary context for change, the community God uses to transform his people. CCEF’s mission is to equip the church to be this kind of transforming community. We see ourselves as an extension of the local church, and we want to serve and promote its ministry.”

I highly recommend checking out the CCEF website (click on the link above) to view some of their resources but for now why not watch the two short videos below on Addictions and Depression by Dr Ed Welch, one of CCEF’s leading counsellors. If you feel you cannot talk to anybody in your local church then the CCEF website is a great place to start the healing/counselling process. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Recovering True Biblical Masculinity

I come from a cavalry family, as in horse soldiers. My great-grandfather was a cavalry scout in the frontier West. My grandfather commanded the Army’s last horse cavalry regiment (in 1938, believe it or not). At that point, our family switched from horses to tanks, and both my father and I served as tank officers. Suffice it to say that I possess a fair amount of cavalry paraphernalia. In fact, I am writing this at a desk beneath a print of a horse cavalryman firing from his saddle.

Of all the great cavalry movies, none holds a dearer place in my heart than John Wayne’s classic, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Portraying Captain Nathan Briddles, a grizzled Civil War veteran who is facing the end of his career, the Duke is a walking cornucopia of manliness. When I was a young armored cav officer, I not only watched this movie roughly a thousand times but absorbed much of its ethos. Anyone who has seen this movie can tell you that Captain Briddles’ approach to manliness can be summed up in two words: Never apologize! Over and over again, he grills his hapless lieutenants, always with the same emphasis: “Never apologize, Mister!” I am afraid that I took this counsel a bit too much to heart, with the result that my early 20s were a little more obnoxious than they needed to be.

When I became a Christian, however, I learned that not every manly saying in John Wayne movies should be adopted. “Never apologize” may sound great in theory, but in practice it can combine with a man’s sin nature to make him overbearing and arrogant. As I became more familiar with Scripture, I learned about two different words that do a far better job of summarizing how a man should live. These are: “work” and “keep.” Taken together, these two words serve as a summary of the Bible’s mandate for masculine behavior. Men are called to be men, fulfilling our calling before God in this world: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). Our calling in life really is this simple (although not therefore easy): We are to devote ourselves to working/building and keeping/protecting everything placed into our charge. What exactly do these two words signify? Let’s take a few moments to look more closely.

Click here for the rest of this article by Richard Phillips

Free Gospel Materials

If you would like to receive some free materials about the God who created you, the good news of Jesus Christ, and what it means to be a Christian please email me at; grantdunlop59@hotmail.com or leave a comment on this page leaving your full name, postal address and email address. It would be my great delight to provide you with free resources to help you in your search for truth.

Resources that will be posted to you on request include,

1. Ultimate Questions- John Blanchard“Life is full of questions. Some are trivial, some more serious — and some tremendously important. Even as you read these words you may have questions about your health, your financial situation, your job, your family or your future.

But the greatest, the ultimate questions, are about God and your relationship to him. Nothing in life is more important than this. Good health, financial stability, secure employment, a contented family and a hopeful future are all things that people want. Yet even these are temporary and eventually pointless unless you have a living relationship with God, one that is clear and certain — and will last for ever.”

2) For Your Joy- John Piper

This small booklet addresses several key questions about God and us that everyone needs answers to. Jesus, the greatest being in the universe, is not just calling you to come, but calling you to come for your joy!

3)Quest for Joy Cd- John Piper

4) A copy of the Gospel of Mark- Mark is the shortest and most fast paced of the four Gospels.