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Determining the Will of God

Recently I reread the life story of George Muller who, in the mid-1830s, cared for over 2,000 orphans in England – all by faith in God. Muller was a known as the man who got answers to his prayers. Before he died, he had listed in his journals over 50,000 answers to prayer.

When asked how he determined the will of God on any matter, Muller listed the following steps he believed were necessary:
     1. “I get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to any particular matter.”
     2. “I do not leave the result to feelings or simple impressions. That can make one open to great delusions.”
     3. “I seek God’s will through, or in connection with, his Word. If you look to the Spirit without the Word, you open yourself to delusion.”
     4. “I consider providential [God-controlled] circumstances.”
     5. “I ask God in prayer to reveal his will to me.”
     6. “I make sure I have a clear conscience before God and man.”
     7. “Every time I listened to men instead of God, I made serious mistakes.”
     8. “I act only when I am at peace, after much prayer, waiting on God with faith.”

Those who walk by faith, seeking only God’s perfect will, are often sorely tested and tried. More and more in my own life, I am finding out how important diligent prayer and Bible reading are. Sadly, not many of God’s people pray diligently nowadays. Instead, there is much TV viewing and very little of waiting on God.

When I give myself to prayer, my faith rises. And when I feed on God’s Word, my confidence in his power to lead and help me increases. The Lord becomes my banker, my advisor, my attorney.

May you find him doing the same for you.

Rejoice in the Lord!!

Down through the years, one of my favourite songs by Ron Hamilton has been “Rejoice in the Lord.” Ron wrote this song back when he first was diagnosed with cancer in his left eye. Though Ron & Shelly did not understand all that God was doing at the moment, through that difficult and trying time, they learned to commit themselves to God’s gracious hand and let Him do what He knew was best. Of course, looking back now, everyone can see that God was preparing the Hamilton family for a lifetime of musical ministry to children – our children through “Patch the Pirate.” As I listen to Ron give his testimony, it is clear that he would not change one step of the way of his life and he is careful to give God the glory, rejoicing in the Lord.

“God never moves without purpose or plan, When trying His servant or moulding a man. Give thanks to the Lord, though your testing seems long; In darkness, He giveth a song.

O rejoice in the Lord, He makes no mistake. He knoweth the end of each path that I take. For when I am tried and purified, I shall come forth as gold.”

Times of trial are not meant to be enjoyed, but they are meant to be understood. While we may not always fully comprehend what God is doing at the moment, we can understand that God never works on a whim or with randomness, but with purpose to shape us, cleanse us, and prepare us for greater things.

James 1:2-4

2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

1 Peter 1:7

7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

When I go through times of testing and trial, I try (not always succeeding) to ask the Lord to help me see His hand as He works to purge me, strengthen me, and clarify His plan for my life. And if I cannot see His hand, to at least continue to trust Him, knowing He has promised to never leave me or forsake me. When I do this, He enables me to face each new day and new challenge with a sense of His purpose and trusting my life to His care.

“Now I can see, testing comes from above; God strengthens His children and purges in love. My Father knows best, and I trust in His care; through purging more fruit I will bear.”

This is the ultimate goal in God-allowed trials. To bring us to the place where can bear more fruit. The testing, the trials, the learning to depend upon Him all work together to make you and me more productive in God’s harvest field.

What trials have you passed through of late? Have they helped you grow in your relationship to the Lord? Have they brought maturing in faith, strengthening of resolve, and humility of spirit? Remember that God allows these times of trial to make us better, not bitter. And when we experience our spiritual fruitfulness increasing, then we, too, can join in singing, “O rejoice in the Lord, He makes no mistake. He knoweth the end of each path that I take. For when I am tried and purified, I shall come forth as gold.”

Scheming or Trusting?

Genesis 12:1 "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:"

A simple test to tell if you are walking by faith is if you are living without scheming. Scheming is trying to accomplish things or trying to get things through your own manipulations and devices. Scheming is the opposite of trusting. We see in Abraham a man of great faith-most of the time. But there are times when even Abraham resorted to scheming instead of trusting.

In the first part of Genesis 12, Abraham receives his first test of faith. The Lord told him to leave his homeland and go to a land of His (God's) choosing. God didn't spell out the details to Abraham; instead, He simply says, "I will shew thee." Abraham passed this test with flying colors-he chose to walk by faith. Hebrews 11:8 says, "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." I am sure he felt a fear of the unknown, but he chose to trust God and obey. We know from Scripture that God took care of Abraham and greatly blessed him for his obedience.

In the very same chapter, though, we see another instance in which Abraham's faith was tested. This time, instead of trusting God in the face of fear, he chose to resort to scheming. His fear was real-Sarai, his wife, must have been very beautiful, because Abraham feared that Pharoah would take her for himself. Pharaoh might even have him killed in order to steal away Sarai.

Abraham's scheme was to have Sarai tell a "half-truth": that she was only Abram's sister-not his wife. Did his scheme work? Well, he wasn't killed. Pharoah took Sarai and gave Abraham all kinds of livestock and servants in exchange. In a small sense, I suppose we could say that it "worked" for Abraham. But in the much greater picture, Abraham would have been much better off to have trusted God, letting Him take care of his needs. When Abraham schemed, he settled for less than the best. Pharoah was taking care of him, instead of God-and Pharoah had his wife! In the end, the Lord graciously rescued Abraham from the mess he had gotten himself into.

Yes, its true that you can sometimes get what you think you need by scheming instead of trusting. But when you scheme, you give up God's best! The troubles and fears that we face in life can either bring out great faith or great failure. Does great faith come by mustering up as much faith as we can? No! Great faith has nothing to do with how much faith we have; great faith has everything to do with Who our faith is in.

If our faith is in ourselves, we will settle for a life of scheming and frustration. If we place our faith in God, we can see Him work in ways we would have never thought possible. This does not mean that you sit back and do nothing, but it does mean that you work, depending upon God to do what you cannot. Today you have a choice: when your faith is tested, will you scheme or will you trust?