Conntecting the Dots

How Can We Know God’s Will for Our Life?

I often hear people ask, “What is God’s will for my life?” Asking that question hoping to discover details such as where we should live, what career we should pursue, and who we should marry, can put us through a lot of stress. Focusing too long and hard on it can result in fear—before long, we’re afraid to make a decision or take a step lest we make or take the wrong one.

Perhaps the better question to ask is, “What is God’s will?”

Ultimately God’s will is to redeem a broken world by bringing mankind into right relationship with Himself through Jesus Christ and for us to then enjoy intimacy with Him.

Intimacy with God grows when we seek Him daily. It deepens when we apply His words to our lives—when we not only hear what He says, but we put it into practice. It sweetens when we learn to recognize His Spirit’s voice as He directs, comforts, teaches, encourages, and convicts us.

Simply put, pursuing God and learning to truly know Him is His will for your life and mine. Everything about us flows from that relationship. The more we discover who He is, the more we love and trust Him. The more we love and trust Him, the more able we are to hear His voice, and the more willing we become to follow wherever He leads even when it doesn’t appear to make sense.

I’ve been reading Experiencing God by Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King. I did the Bible study nearly twenty years ago, and it changed my life then. Reviewing it is really blessing me. Today I learned something I hadn’t thought about until now.

In John 14:6, Jesus says He is the way. I’ve always thought of that statement in terms of His being the way to salvation and eternal life. Indeed, He is that. But there’s more: Jesus is also the road map for discovering the details about God’s will for our lives. When we make our relationship with Him our priority, following Him day by day and staying attuned to His voice, He will show us the way we should go. We needn’t get overly concerned about the details because He’s got those covered. He’ll show us one step at a time, on a need-to-know basis.

So—do you want to know the way you should walk in regards to a specific situation? Are you faced with a decision and want to make the right choice? Make knowing Jesus your priority and then trust Him to show you the way. His love and care for you was settled on the cross, and He will always lead you along the best path.

#bgbg2  #KnowingGodsWill

Arrow Prayers — Short but Effective

Conversing with God doesn’t have to be formal or complicated. Sometimes it resembles what we call an “arrow prayer”—brief and pointed. Here’s an example, taken from Nehemiah’s life:

“The king asked, ‘Well, how can I help you?’ With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, ‘If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried’” (Nehemiah 2:4-5).

Nehemiah had a split second to pray before he responded to the king’s question. What might his arrow prayer have said? Perhaps it was, “God, give me the right words,” or “Help!” Maybe it was a compressed version of a request he’d prayed months before—“Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me” (Nehemiah 1:11).

I shoot arrow prayers regularly. It happens often when I’m traveling by plane and a spiritual conversation opens with a fellow passenger. On one instance a woman beside me said, “I’m on a personal quest. I’m searching for peace. Have you found it?”

I shot an arrow prayer: “God, give me the right words.” I launched into answering her question trusting the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts and my mouth.

I shoot arrow prayers when driving down the highway. “God, safety.”

I shoot them when I feel completely exhausted: “God, strength.”

I shoot them when I don’t know how to pray: “God, help.”

Our prayers needn’t be long and sprinkled with big words in order for God to listen. They just need to be heartfelt, honest expressions of our need for His involvement in our lives. Sometimes arrow prayers are all we can muster and that’s okay. God hears and answers even the briefest cries for help.

#bbg2  #Prayer  #ChristianDevotions

God’s Word Changes Lives!

Our Polish evangelistic camp ended last weekend and we bid tearful goodbyes to those who attended. It never ceases to amaze me that relationships can run so deep in such a short time period.

On the last morning, one gal gave me a big hug and whispered in my ear, “Thank you for coming. Thank you for opening my eyes to the truth.”

This woman attended the daily Bible lesson that I facilitated, and she blossomed like a rose. The Holy Spirit did a good work in her heart as we read and discussed God’s Word. It was like she came alive before our eyes.

God’s Word is indeed alive and active and sharper than a two-edged sword. When we read it with a heart open to learning, it reveals wrong thinking we’ve believed. It corrects and directs us. It teaches us the truth about who God is. It shows us how to live in a way that fulfills His purpose for our lives and brings Him pleasure.

The importance of spending time reading and studying Scripture cannot be over-emphasized. It’s a treasure entrusted to us by the Author Himself and for which men and women over centuries have literally sacrificed their lives.

What a privilege to bring God’s Word to Poland—a country which forbid its citizens to read the Bible until the late 1960s. Some people ask why we return year after year to this land. The answer’s easy—because God’s called us to communicate His love to these people. He wants them to know that He created them for relationship with Himself. Putting His Word into their hands and exploring it with them is a primary means of accomplishing His desire.

For those who prayed for our camp ministry—thank you. Prayer is the hard work, and God honored your labor.

International Messengers has two North American offices—one in Iowa and one in British Columbia. Together we could use more than 300 men and women to help host camps like this across post-Communist Europe every summer. Recruiting for next year’s teams begins now. Would you consider participating next summer? Perhaps you, too, could witness the light come on in someone’s eyes as they read God’s Word for the first time. Contact our office if this tugs at your heart, okay? Get questions answered, pray about it, and see where things lead from there.

Perhaps next summer a new friend will whisper in your ear, “Thank you for coming. Thank you for opening my eyes to the truth.”

USA office – https://www.internationalmessengers.org

Canada office – https://im-canada.ca

#bgbg2  #SummerMissions

How Has God Helped You?

Happy Monday, all!

I’m a bit preoccupied this week with helping to host an evangelistic family camp in Poland, so pardon the lack of a written blog. In its place, I’m sending you a verse on which to meditate this week.

How have you seen God help you in the past? Recall His faithfulness by listing the ways in which He’s answered prayer, provided for you, and protected you. Perhaps you could make this a family project, or share this idea with a friend and set a date to share your list with each other. No doubt, as you recall God’s faithfulness, you’ll have every reason to sing for joy!

Know you are loved,

Grace

Can We Count on God?

“I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word” (psalm 130:5).

What does it mean to count on someone? It means we place our trust in him. We have confidence that he will help us.

On Wednesday morning I counted on a particular friend to show up at our place at 7:30 AM. Gene and I needed a ride to the Vancouver airport, and we trusted him to fulfill his promise to drive us there. He showed up early, and he dropped us off at YVR in plenty of time to catch our flight.

I counted on pilots to fly us safely to Frankfurt and Berlin. They fulfilled my expectations and provided a boring flight. Boring is good on airplanes!

Today our team is preparing to receive about 100 campers. I’m counting on them to use their giftedness to make the program a success and to demonstrate Christ’s love to the campers. I have full confidence that they’ll exceed my expectations.

I’m so thankful for trustworthy people, for those who do what they say they’ll do. Not everyone’s like that. I’ve known people to shirk responsibility, pursue their own interests at others’ expense, and make promises they never intend to keep. They leave others in a lurch, hurt, disappointed, or frustrated.

But God never shirks His responsibility toward us. Neither does He make promises He doesn’t intend to keep. He is completely trustworthy. What He says He’ll do, He will do. We can put our hope and trust in His word. Here are a few things for which we can count on Him:

  • He forgives us when we confess our sins
  • He’ll never abandon us
  • He offers a fresh resource of faithfulness every morning
  • He gives us wisdom when we ask for it
  • He provides for our physical needs
  • He comforts us when we grieve
  • He honors us when we walk humbly before Him
  • He fills and controls us with His Holy Spirit
  • He’ll send Jesus back someday

What other things can you identify?

“Heavenly Father, we praise You because You are completely trustworthy. We’re counting on You to give us wisdom for today, to provide for our needs, and to protect us from the evil one. We’re counting on You to direct our steps and our conversations. We’re putting our hope in Your word because You are faithful. Amen.”

#bgbg2  #ChristianDevotions  #Wisdom  @CAN_AuthorNews  @biblegateway

Seeking Wisdom is Good, But Something Else is Even Better

How many “aha” moments can a person have in a short period of time? I feel as though they’re coming at me from every direction. Each time they hit me, I wonder why I haven’t noticed these truths earlier. Learning never stops, nor should it!

The speaker at the family Bible camp I attended earlier this month preached from the life of David. One day he compared David with his son Solomon and made this observation: David was a man who sought God, but his son Solomon sought wisdom. David was considered a man after God’s own heart, but Solomon was undone by his love for foreign women.

The speaker encouraged us to follow David’s example—to seek the Lord above all else. This morning I read David’s advice to Solomon when he commissioned him to build the Temple:

“Now my son, may the LORD be with you and give you success as you follow his directions in building the Temple of the LORD your God. And may the LORD give you wisdom and understanding, that you may obey the Law of the LORD your God as you rule over Israel. For you will be successful if you carefully obey the decrees and regulations that the LORD gave to Israel through Moses. Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or lose heart…Now seek the LORD your God with all your heart and soul.”

(1 Chronicles 22:19 NLT)

Here’s my latest aha moment: David counseled Solomon to seek the Lord with all his heart and soul because he knew that wisdom, strength, and courage would be natural outcomes if he kept first things first.

I’m not saying that seeking wisdom isn’t a good thing. It is. Scripture commands us to be wise as serpents. We need to learn from others who have lived victorious and effective Christian lives. We need to learn from history’s mistakes lest we repeat them. Seeking wisdom is good. But it’s not as all-important as seeking intimacy with the Lord.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength,” says Mark 12:30. When we keep first things first, other things follow: “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

When we make God our focus and give Him first place in our lives, then everything else falls into place. Loving and knowing Him is the key to wisdom, strength, and courage. It makes us ultra-sensitive to sin in our lives and to the Holy Spirit’s gentle promptings. It’s the source of peace, contentment, and joy.

Seek wisdom but sow time and effort into seeking the Lord’s face more. Delve into His Word, develop ongoing communication with Him, and allow His Spirit to fill and control you, and you’ll reap wisdom.

#bgbg2  #ChristianDevotions  #Wisdom  @CAN_AuthorNews  @biblegateway

3 Reasons to Live Grumble-Free

How easy it is to grumble! When winter hits, we complain about the snow or—where I live—the rain. When summer arrives, we whine about the heat and the watering restrictions.

If our workload overwhelms us, we might complain about having too much to do and not enough free time. But if we lose our jobs, we grumble about having too much time on our hands and not enough money to pay the bills.

If we live in cramped quarters, we might complain about not having enough space. But if we live in a large house, we whine about the amount of housework it requires to stay clean.

Please don’t ask me why I chose those specific examples. That’s far too personal! Anyway, as I thought about this topic today, I came up with three reasons for why believers should strive to lead a grumble-free life:

  • It’s our God-given mandate.

Philippians 2:14 says, “In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing.” Not much room for argument there.

  • It sets an example.

Philippians 2:14,15 continues, “… so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them.”

A grumble-free life shows others that we’re content with God’s control over our circumstances. We convey the message that He is trustworthy.

  • It reflects God’s character.

1 Chronicles 17:6 reveals God’s words to King David via the prophet Nathan. “I have never lived in a house, from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until this very day. My home has always been a tent, moving from one place to another in a Tabernacle. Yet no matter where I have gone with the Israelites, I have never once complained to Israel’s leaders, the shepherds of my people. I have never asked them, ‘Why haven’t you built me a beautiful cedar house?’”

If anyone has reason to grumble and complain, God does, especially when He looks upon mankind and the manner in which we treat Him. And yet He refrains. Instead, He teaches us to develop contentment and to practice gratitude and praise.

The next time I catch myself grumbling, I’m going to call to mind these three reasons for not doing so. Better yet—I’ll try to remember these reasons so that catching myself won’t be an issue. Maybe I’ll even make a fridge note that says, “Grumble-Free Zone.”

#bbg2  #StopGrumbling  #GrumbleFreeZone

Let Jesus Teach You

This morning I read a familiar verse in my quiet time—“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls’” (Matthew 11:28,29). I’ve read this passage hundreds of times, but today the words Let me teach you fairly popped off the page and into my heart. Consider this…

When we don’t know how to pray, Jesus says, “Let me teach you.”

When we don’t know which path to choose, Jesus says, “Let me teach you.”

When we don’t know how to respond to a difficult person, Jesus says, “Let me teach you.”

When we don’t know how to tackle a God-given assignment, Jesus says, “Let me teach you.”

When we don’t know how to parent a strong-willed child or respect our spouse, Jesus says, “Let me teach you.”

When we feel like saying, “I just don’t know what to do,” let’s remember the promise Jesus made to those who follow Him: “But when the Father sends the Counselor as my representative—and by the Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you” (John 14:26).

He teaches. We listen, receive His words, and then we obey.

Easy, right?

Well, maybe for some. For others, not so much. We might argue, throw a tizzy fit of sorts, and cling to whatever measure of control we think we own, but doing so gets us nowhere. Let’s be honest. God is God, and we are not. Why insist on relying on our own smarts when His knowledge and wisdom far surpass ours?

Jesus knows when we feel confused or at a loss. He says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens…let me teach you.” And then He makes a promise: “You will find rest for your souls.”

Rest. Sounds so, so good. No more striving to solve the problem. No more struggling to find the perfect strategy. No more straining to discover the ideal solution.

Jesus knows the answer to every question with which we wrestle. Let’s seek Him first before making a regrettable blunder. Let’s listen for His response, and let’s let Him teach us and then commit to doing whatever He says.

#bgbg2  #ChristianDevotions  #JesusKnowsTheAnswer

Let the Banquet Begin!

In a couple of weeks I’ll board a Boeing 747 and fly to Eastern Europe again: Vancouver—Frankfurt—Berlin, followed by a five-hour ride to our final destination in Poland. My husband and I will lead a team of volunteers to host an evangelistic English-learning family camp. Each day consists of a conversational English class, a Bible study based on the parables of Jesus, an afternoon workshop, and lots of relationship-building activities including sports, skits, crafts, hikes, games, and lots of casual conversations over coffee.

The week climaxes on the last evening. Everyone dons their finest outfit. The children perform songs they’ve learned during camp, and each adult and teen camper receives a certificate to acknowledge participation in the English classes. But that’s not all.

The evening begins with a banquet. Platters of thinly sliced meats and cheeses adorn a buffet table. Bowls containing vegetable and potato salads add to the menu. Baskets containing breads and rolls, dishes filled with berry jam, and plates heaping with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers await their plunder. And then comes dessert: trays laden with watermelon, grapes and oranges, and three-tiered serving dishes stacked with delicacies baked with lemon, chocolate, coconut, vanilla custard, and more.

The banquet’s a highlight for all. An air of joy and celebration fills the hall. Festivity rules.

A feast of a different sort comes to mind when I think about the Polish banquet. Psalm 23:5 says, “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.”

Imagine—the Lord prepares a feast for those who love and trust Him, and He does so in the presence of our enemies. What enemies might those be? Well, perhaps they’re the enemies of our soul. Maybe they’re the forces that threaten to sink us or knock the wind from us. Forces such as fear, grief and disappointment, insecurity, shame and guilt.

God spreads a banquet for His kids, and He forbids our enemies to ruin the fun. Envision Him standing at the entrance to the hall, arm extended with His hand like a stop sign in the enemy’s face. “Don’t even think about it,” He says. “You’re not invited. You’re not welcome here.”

I enjoy the Polish banquet once each year, but the Lord’s banquet begins afresh every morning. The table’s laden with forgiveness, peace, joy, love, and purpose. I open my mouth and He fills it with these good things. He satisfies my hunger and quenches my thirst. Every day, day after day after day…the supply of divine delicacies never ends. Surely my cup overflows with blessings.

Will you partake of the banquet with me?

#bgbg2   #GodPreparesABanquet  #Psalm23

Relearning a Faith Lesson–and Needing Craft Suggestions!

Do you ever feel as though life is one l-o-n-g lesson in learning? If so, welcome to the club.

Just when we think we’ve mastered the art of trusting God for finances, bam! A situation lands in our lap that reveals how much we still need to learn.

Just when we feel like we’re the poster child for patience, we grow tired of waiting for God to act in answer to our prayers and succumb to the temptation of lending Him a hand.

Just when we feel as though we’ve surrendered our family’s well-being into God’s care once for all, circumstances arise that strike fear into our hearts yet again.

And so it goes. We learn faith lessons. Then we learn them again. And then we relearn.

Learning is a good thing when we grow from the lessons. Acknowledging that we don’t know it all is also good. When we’re honest with others about our current learning curve, we can then offer mutual encouragement and pray for one another.

Let’s be honest with God, too, humbly admitting that we don’t know it all. Let’s be open and teachable. Let’s place ourselves at the Master’s feet and invite Him to teach us whatever we need to learn.

Let’s maintain a heart like David’s when he wrote, “Show me the path where I should walk O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you” (Psalm 25:4,5).

That’s a good prayer for me today as I (re)learn the need to trust God for the details of an upcoming mission trip to Poland. Specifically—planning women’s crafts. I just learned that the Polish gal who’d planned to lead this activity cannot come to our camp after all. That puts the responsibility on our team, and we leave in less than three weeks. We’ll have to do last-minute research, buy, and pack supplies. And we won’t know the actual number of women for whom to plan until a couple of days prior to departure.

I’ve done more than 15 mission trips. Planning crafts is not my forte, and I always find this stressful, especially when other women on the team admit the same thing. And yet, despite our weakness, craft activities have always gone well. Why, then, do I worry?

I’m relearning to trust God even in the little things. And I’m praying, “Lead me by your truth [the truth is—He is faithful]. Teach me to trust and to rest in You, for You are the God who saves me [and who knows how many women will attend the camp and what crafts they’ll enjoy most]. All day long I put my hope in you.”

What lesson are you learning—or relearning at this time?

Do you have any nifty craft ideas for about 30 women? Crafts need to be completed in less than two hours. Or one craft could take up to four hours, over two afternoons. Supplies need to be lightweight. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

#bgbg2  #RelearningFaithLessons  #ChristianDevotions