Revealed Will

“Dear Lord, is this opportunity of You or my own selfish desire?” Persistent Paralyzing doubt gripped my mind as I agonized in prayer. I relished the thought of finishing my college education and becoming a teacher yet, many uncertainties filled my heart. The realization that the lives of my four children and other family members would be intertwined with each step along the way added to my uncertainty. Classes didn’t begin until the fall and since summer had just began, I decided to dedicate the months ahead to searching for God’s will for my life.

The days and weeks rapidly flew by, leaving me with greater distress as the time approached to register for classes. Although the longing hadn’t weakened, I continued to experience a tremendous lack of peace about enrolling. I felt as uncertain as Gideon when he put out a fleece before the Lord seeking to know if God truly intended to use him to defeat the Midianites saying, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as you have said” (Judges 6:36-38 ).

On the final day of registration, I awoke with the same tormenting doubts. I knelt in prayer beside the bed and prayed a prayer of release. I released all my hopes and dreams of attending college and becoming a teacher into God’s hands. I asked that He completely and totally remove the nagging reservations I felt in my heart as to His direction in such a way it would be impossible for me to doubt His leading. Otherwise I’d refuse to let myself ponder any longer about a college education. I hoped, as did Gideon, that the Lord would not be angry with me for this request and my inability to discern His direction (Judges 6:39 NKJV).

A knock at the front door interrupted my pleading with God. I jumped to my feet, wiping the tears from my eyes wondering who could be at my door that early in the morning. Judy, my neighbor, stood on the porch. “Veda, you’ll never guess what happened,” she said, “It’s about the couch….” Six months earlier, we’d redone our family room, so I’d given Judy and her husband our old brown-plaid couch. “Well, a few minutes ago, I was cleaning it—you know how messy the kids can get,” she continued, “I shoved my hand down next to the side cushion. When I pulled it out, this was on my ring finger.”

She opened her hand. A gold ring rested on her palm. The royal-blue stone shone brilliantly in the morning sun. I knew immediately it was my high school class ring. Two years ago, one of my daughters had gotten into my jewelry box and it had disappeared. I searched everywhere for it. Gone for good, I figured. I stared at Judy in amazement. “It’s your class ring, right?” Judy asked. She went on to say she had cleaned the couch multiple times before but never discovered the ring until that morning.

Stunned, I gazed at the class ring inscribed with my initials. Then I gave Judy a tight hug and slipped the ring on my finger. This was the undeniable confirmation I had sought.  Closing the door, I again knelt in prayer. This time as Gideon had done, I worshiped the Lord for His clear direction. And as Gideon then prepared for battle (Judges 7:15), I prepared to register for college classes. That was 34 years ago. I recently retired after a fulfilling 30-year career in Education.

My heart still overflows with praise every time I recall His divine direction for my life. I now know the truth of Proverbs 3:5-6 as Gideon discovered, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (NKJV).

Trusting in the Lord with all our hearts goes beyond a mere intellectual acceptance of His word. Trusting is a deep reliance on the Lord, a settled confidence in His care and His faithfulness. Click to Tweet.

This trust is depicted in the account of Gideon. It’s necessary for obedience to any of God’s commands or directions. Leaning not to our own understanding will keep us from following our own perceived right course of action apart from God’s guidance or revealed truth.

Questions for Reflection and Application

  1. Think of a time you didn’t seek God for His direction. How did the situation turn out? How would it have been different had you sought for God’s guidance?
  2. How would remembering how God worked in the lives of characters such as Gideon and other Christians such as myself, help you as you struggle with discerning God’s will?
  3. What does the account of Gideon reveal about God’s patience towards His people and His determination to see that His will is accomplished through them?

Prayer of Dedication

Dear Father, may we sincerely seek You with all our hearts. May you prune us of sin and selfish desires that blind us to Your path for us. May you grant us the grace to follow Your revealed word and discernment to trust the leading of Your Holy Spirit. May we worship You for Your guidance and patience as we struggle within ourselves. Amen.      

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My Strength and My Song

Image result for Winter snow path

With terrorist attacks at every turn, the fear of slavery to a foreign power today is common. Although, I think it unlikely  we will come under the control of our neighboring super powers, we may face other situations in which we struggle to trust and not be afraid. You may be required to work or serve under harsh conditions or for a demanding supervisor. You may face a financial challenge due to unemployment or health related issues, or a host of other possible scenarios. 

It may be that you’re held captive to sin and need a savior.

Isaiah, whose name means the Lord is salvation, prophesied during the period of the divided kingdom. His message condemned the empty religious practices of his day and the idolatry into which so many of God’s people had fallen. He prophesied the coming Babylonian captivity of Judah because of their lack of a relationship with the Lord which created fear in the hearts of many of God’s people.

Our scriptures remind us if the people of Israel were to trust God to deliver them from both their opponents and the spiritual consequences of their own sins, we can trust Him to deliver us as well. The question is how will we respond to challenging situations as we wait for God’s deliverance? Will we trust? Will we allow Him to be our strength and our song? Will we share Christ’s message of salvation in our day as did Isaiah in his?

Let’s look at his life of willing service and ask ourselves today, whose story are we writing and what do we want the next chapter to declare?

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2 KJV  (click to tweet)

Dear Father, if there is an area in our lives in which we’ve grown fearful, prune that tendency from our hearts. Use whatever means is necessary to restore our song and renew your spiritual strength.

Going Deeper— Do our recent choices demonstrate a trust in God? If not, maybe today is a good day to trust Him to be our deliverer, our song, and our salvation.

Fruitful Affliction

by Veda Lucas

green trees
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Hated by his siblings, sold into slavery, betrayed by his employer, imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, forgotten days without number, these scenes paint the picture of Joseph’s early life. His story puts a whole different perspective on the retort, “But you don’t know what I’ve been through!”  Joseph’s life portrays the cost of discipleship-unwavering commitment even in the face of injustice.

It’s unlikely any of us will be asked to pay such a price. But, we may be asked to sacrificially give of our time or resources to meet the needs of others we view as undeserving or unappreciative. We may be asked to teach when we rather be taught.  We may be asked to remain silent when we rather shout. We will definitely be asked to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. This is the true cost of discipleship; to refute personal control of our life for Christ’s control.

Yet, this life of discipleship isn’t without reward. Today’s bible verse tells us the rest of the story, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” We can read ahead in the book of Genesis and see how God blessed Joseph with position and power after Joseph relinquished his rights. He allowed himself to be used to write Christ’s story and not his own. Let’s look at Joseph’s life of denial and ask ourselves today, whose story are we writing and what do we want the next chapter to declare?

Let’s examine our recent choices. Do they demonstrate a life submitted to Christ’s glory? If not, maybe today is a good day for us to begin writing the next chapter with His glory in mind. (Click to Tweet)

“… ‘For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.’” Genesis 41:52b

Father, help us today when we struggle with putting our plans and purposes before Yours. Help us to truly deny ourselves and live a life completely committed to writing Your story.

My Eyes Have Seen Salvation

Winter pathway

By Veda Thomas Lucas

Aged and weary, time continued to pass for Simeon as he longed for the coming of the consolation of Israel, the promised Messiah. Yet another day of devout service drifted by while the peace he desired escaped him. The promise that constrained him lay in the revelation that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

While being led by the Spirit into the temple, a sense of expectation overwhelmed him. He contemplated, will it be today my faith shall end in sight? The shuffling of feet, the cooing of a pair of turtledoves and two young pigeons, and the whimpering of an infant held lovingly against his mother’s breast abruptly interrupted his thoughts.

Peering around the edge of the corner, he caught his first glimpse of the baby nestled in swaddling cloths. Afraid to hope, but unable to stifle his enthusiasm, he eagerly approached the young child.

Without hesitation Simeon perceiving the fulfillment of the promise took Him up in his arms and blessed God, and said, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

His patient waiting had brought him to this moment of unshakable confidence in a Sovereign God who cannot lie.  His face radiant with unspeakable joy, he then blessed Joseph and Mary.

“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your Word;for my eyes have seen your salvation….” Luke 2:29-30a

I’ve often pondered what it must have been like to have been Simeon gazing at the face of Christ. Then I realized I had. Not in a literal physical sense but with the eyes of faith at the time of my salvation. As has each person that has accepted Christ as savior. May we celebrate our salvation as we celebrate the birth of Christ this Christmas season. (Click to tweet)

Going Deeper—share your salvation experience with a friend or co-worker. Invite them to accept Christ as their own personal savior this Christmas season. If they are a Christian, invite them to share their salvation experience with you.

Fight or Flight

Sarai desperately wanted a child after many barren years. In her pain she allowed the culture to determine her course. She convinced her husband, Abram, to embrace Hagar, her maidservant in order to obtain children. What Sarai didn’t anticipate was the disrespect she would receive from Hagar after Hagar conceived.

Sarai retaliated harshly against Hagar in an attempt to put Hagar back in her place. A distraught Hagar fled to the wilderness. Although she momentarily escaped the clutches of Sarai, she found herself confronted by the Angel of the LORD. He insisted she return and humbly submit to Sarai’s control.

Hagar could have rejected these instructions and refused to listen further. Instead, she opened her heart to hear all that the Angel had to say. God lovingly provided the solace she sought by letting Hagar know He not only saw her situation, but He saw her as well. The extremely trying conditions she experienced allowed Hagar to come to know God intimately as El Roi, the God who sees . He does see our needs before we are aware we have them. He also sees us when we are weak and hurting.

Maybe you’re where Hagar was and you need to know that God sees you. Ask Him to reveal Himself and His will to you where you are. Remember, He will never lead you in a direction contrary to His word. As we see Him as He is we are enabled to authentically worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’”– GENESIS 16:13

Father, thank you for the situations in our lives that allow you to reveal who you are. May we worship you during those times in spirit and in truth. Amen.

Going Deeper– Is there a situation in your life that has you considering fleeing? Surrender to the Lord and allow Him to give you clear direction.

When Love Hurts

DA38481E-4966-418E-8164-B8AB4875F050By Veda Lucas

Healthy church discipline — it’s a real need we often hide from ourselves as the church, as well as from the world. When we aren’t comfortable acknowledging it’s necessity within the body, we often don’t deal with it well or at all. We become like the permissive parent.

We have biblical guidelines of how to do life but rarely enforce them. We may be uninvolved in each other’s lives, functioning as individual entities oblivious to the impact our actions have on others.

But, in the same sense the Bible teaches that if we love our children, we will be careful to discipline them and if we neglect to do so, we hate our children (Proverbs 13:24). One of the greatest displays of Christian love within our church is that of church discipline.

As we prayerfully and lovingly carry out the instructions of today’s verses we are saying to our brothers or sisters in Christ, “I love you! I don’t want you to continue on the path of disobedience you’re traveling. I don’t want you to face the destructive consequences of sin that are ahead of you if you don’t listen to wise rebuke. I don’t want the spirit quenched in your life or in the life of our church because of un-confessed, unrepentant sin.“

The question is this ― will we love each other enough to practice biblical church discipline? One not directed by a motive of revenge or judgment, but one of love and restoration. Or will we continue to look away, afraid to offend and lose members?

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” – MATTHEW 18:15-17

Father, teach us how to do church life in a way that is the most beneficial for Your kingdom purposes. Help us to love each other enough to practice healthy church discipline. Amen.

 

We Must Go Back

photo of a pathway in a forest
Photo by Artem Saranin on Pexels.com

By Veda Lucas

We all long to hear from God. We yearn to read His Word and have clear direction. Yet, today you may find yourself as I often do, struggling to grasp understanding of the simplest text, increasingly frustrated as you try to discern its meaning or its application to your situation.

I’ve often heard disgruntled Christians give this as an excuse not to read His Word. On occasion, days have gone by in which I’ve coward away from approaching His Word instead of expecting to behold wonderous truths He has promised to reveal to me. I often place conditions on understanding His word, which He hasn’t placed on them Himself. At times I incorrectly tell myself that His revealed truth isn’t for me.

That’s why the truth of today’s verse is crucial. The desire to be obedient to the Word of God is the main requirement in the ability to understanding it. Therefore, if we’re struggling with a text we can ask God to give us a heart that genuinely desires to obey.

If there’s been a prolonged period in which His Word seems dull or incomprehensible due to disobedience, we can ask Him to take us back to the place of disobedience. Then we can ask for forgiveness of our disobediences and for the grace to walk according to His Word. This is a prayer He’s sure to answer because honestly God desires for us to know His Word far more than we do.

“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
‭‭John‬ ‭14:21

Father, may you manifest your Word to us and give us obedient hearts to understand and obey all it requires. Amen.

Going Deeper — Memorize today’s verse. Let its truth encourage you as you study to know Him through His Word.