Decisions are made through a process of settling a dispute or doubt, making a judgement or determining a preference that brings us to a conclusion “by giving victory to one side.”* Decisions are made in the soul of our being, where our will, emotions and mind reside.
Major life decisions affect the projectory of our life outcomes and the people we encounter along the way. The impact can be enormous when you think about it from the perspective of eternity.
In 1904 a spiritual revival swept across Wales, England and a particular Welshman accepted Jesus and the missionary call to travel to India to a remote village known for its violence and savage head-hunters who prided themselves in displaying as many heads he had collected. This was a sign of their marriageability – the more heads a man had, the more eligible he was.
One tribesman heard the gospel and accepted Jesus as his Savior against much opposition from the tribal chief. After being brought before the entire village the chief demanded that this tribesman stop following Jesus or his children would be killed. “No, I have decided to follow Jesus, I am not turning back,” replied the man. His children were killed.
The chief went on to threaten the man to stop following Jesus or it would cost him the life of his wife. “Thou none go with me, I still will follow, no turning back,” replied the tribesman. The chief killed his wife.
Left alone after witnessing the murder of his children and wife, the angry chief demanded a third time for the tribesman to stop following Jesus now at the threat of losing his own life. “The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back, no turning back,” replied the man at the cost of his own life.
With the entire village witnessing this ordeal and this one tribesman willing to sacrifice all that was dear to him to follow Jesus, one by one the village people began to make the decision to follow Jesus and eventually the tribal chief bowed his knees to follow Jesus.
God is eternal, our time on this earth is not. Jesus came to make a way for our relationship with God to be restored to His original, eternal plan. Jesus took our place on the cross and made restitution for our sins, completely wiped them away by the shedding of His blood, making a way for those who would choose to believe in Him, granting eternal life in the presence of God. Forever.
I was 14 years old when confronted with this soul decision. By Gods grace I knew in my heart that I needed a Savior, that I didn’t know enough (and never would) to do life on my own. I’m so grateful for my life journey that brought me to a place of settling the struggle and doubt in my heart at that time. This song of the ages propelled me to the altar to proclaim my decision to follow Jesus.
“I have decided to follow Jesus…no turning back, no turning back…Though none go with me, I still will follow…no turning back, no turning back…The world behind me, the cross before me…no turning back, no turning back.” (Author Unknown)
This one tribesman’s decision is still reaping a harvest today. Who could have known but Jesus the ripple-effect of his decision throughout time, the world and the lives that would be impacted and the souls brought into the eternal loving arms of God.
Searching for peace in life is a common goal shared by the human race. It can become a life long journey that leads us astray on many misguided paths that seem attractive to our pursuit.
The bible tells us that there is one way to finding peace, happiness and rest for our weary souls and it begins with seeking the will of God. One great man of God said it this way: “Follow the will of God, and happiness and peace and rest will come. The way of obedience is always the way of blessing.” (D. L. Moody, The Overcoming Life, 1896)
Making peace with God brings peace to our souls. The only way to God is through Jesus Christ, His Son. If you have become weary in your search for peace Jesus invites you to come to Him to receive rest.
“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give your rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
This is the will of God and those who obey His will enter into blessed living. This blessed living is not without trials and suffering but we are promised to never go it alone. Jesus promised that He would never leave us or forsake us. (Matthew 28:20)
Those who follow the will of God are promised triumphant living throughout their lives no matter the circumstances that try their faith. With every triumph of faith we take on more of the fragrance of Christ. This is blessed living.
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)
When we humble ourselves and submit to the teachings of Christ we enter into blessed living. Jesus beckons us to come under the obedience of His teachings and promises to be gentle in His approach. He knows how fragile and needy we really are.
“Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)
Jesus is Peace.
At a very young age I became aware of my mother’s inner strength and wisdom in navigating the deep valleys of life. Her challenges as a mother of eight children with the added burden of a difficult marriage would either ‘break’ or ‘make’ her as a wife and mother.
Her dilemma must have caused deep soul-searching and the tension of daily choices that would shape and mold her world and ours forever. She was and still is a mother of influence. Her life and relationship choices were filled with love for family, a servant’s heart, self-sacrifice, humility and patience that rested in the hands of her God for all outcomes. She exhibited a rarity that is hard to find today, a life of integrity, an unwavering faith and trust in God who brought her and her children through the turbulent waters of life.
“And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3)
My mother’s wisdom and influence shine brightly in my life and the family that God has blessed me with. May you and I follow in her footsteps, passing down to our children love for family, a servant’s heart, self-sacrifice, humility and patience that the brightness of God would continue on.
“Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:31)
A spiritual giant of a man that we’ve all heard of at one time or another once said “When the heart sees what God wants, the body must be willing to spend and be spent for that cause alone.” Oswald Chambers was a man completely abandoned to God, he understood what it meant to be a true follower.
A true follower accepts the authority of another and obeys by placing himself in submission to the instruction or orders given. As a Christian we have been asked by God to:
“…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
In other words, I must offer up my life, give it away as a living sacrifice in order to truly fulfill God’s purpose for my life. I have been made holy and acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. This is my spiritual worship, a reasonable response to God’s amazing grace deposited into my life.
How does this look in my daily walk and growing relationship with my Heavenly Father? And how will I know that I am fulfilling His purpose and will in my life? We are to follow by setting ourselves apart from this world by renewing our mind with His Word, accepting the tests that come our way that God will use to give us wisdom and discernment to know His will. All this by living in the world and yet apart from it.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
Only then can the heart begin to see what it was created to be spent for.
Forgiving one another is very hard to do and yet God has asked us to do it for our sake more than His. I have discovered that the struggle of forgiving has much to do with perspective and approach.
But first, lets take a look at the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant told by Jesus in Matthew 18 about a king who wished to settle his accounts with his servants. There was one servant who owed him ten thousand talents (~$6 billion in today’s terms) and could not pay. His master determined to sell him with his wife, children and all that he had in order for payment to be made. The servant fell on his knees, pleading for patience and mercy and it says:
“…out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.” (Matthew 18:27)
Now this is where we come into the story. The same servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (~$12 thousand in today’s terms) and began choking him while demanding “pay what you owe.” (vs 28). Needless to say, word got back to his master who summoned him and said:
“You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:32,33)
The servant was delivered to the jailers until he could pay all his debt. In this parable we are the servant and God is the Master. Jesus goes on to tell us that forgiveness must come from the heart.
The Apostle Paul gives insight on the approach. After reminding us that we are God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, we are to put on:
“compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:12,13)
God offered forgiveness to all for a debt we could not pay. He gave His Son, Jesus in compassion and kindness for our lost souls.
Who do you most identify with? The wicked servant who refused to forgive or with God who has forgiven you and only asks in return that you do the same for those who owe you a debt? Mercy for mercy.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay’, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
Aim for the blessed life and forgive!
Have you ever experienced a blessing just because you believed what someone said? As a child my mother spoke often of my potential in life and I believed her. Although at the time I didn’t have much to show for what my life would become, I knew that her opinion was sincere and from the heart. I also knew that she believed that nothing was impossible for God.
After Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel announcing the birth of Jesus she set out to visit Elizabeth who was six months pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth was a picture of faith and God knew that Mary needed to be encouraged and affirmed in what was being asked of her. She probably had no idea of the depth of affirmation that she would receive from Elizabeth.
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45)
Mary believed the message sent from God by the angel Gabriel that she would conceive and bear a son who would be great, the Son of the Most High, the Savior of the World.
Mary asked in faith how this would come about, knowing that she was a virgin and the angel Gabriel explained. Then she submitted herself to the process that God had chosen.
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your word.” (Luke 1:38)
Her blessing began with believing in God’s promise, submitting to His process and trusting Him to fulfill His words.
What has God promised you? Whatever the circumstances He gives us faith to believe and will bless us as we submit to His process towards fulfillment.
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.” (Psalm 62:5)
Our life in God is filled with purpose and He promises to lead us toward the timing of its fulfillment while using every season of our lives.
Queen Esther could not have imagined that God was mindful of every turn that her life took toward fulfilling His divine purpose.
“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b)
Esther’s story gives a glimpse into the sovereignty of God and how He works through life circumstances beyond our control to fulfill our purpose.
Although orphaned at a young age, then torn from the only family that she had ever known and cast into a year long beauty preparation before being presented to King Ahasuerus, her reputation of “…winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her,” (2:15) preceded her with the King.
Esther’s trust in God with the outcomes of her life, “Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, ‘and if I perish, I perish’.” (4:16b) and her humility and obedient response to Mordecai, her uncle and father figure, made her an ideal candidate as God’s vessel to deliver the entire Jewish race at that time!
“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
Are you trusting God with the direction of your life? When we trust and obey with contentment we can be assured of not missing God’s timing, placement and fulfillment of our purpose on this earth.
“The Lord is at hand, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7)
Desires come from the heart. They seem to be shaped from a combination of experiences, purpose, talent and inspiration from the world we live in and shaped by influencers that grab our heart. Described as “to wish or long for; crave, covet; to ask for; request,” desires can lead us in many directions.
King David prayed in the Book of Psalms for God to teach him to live wisely by making him aware of the brevity of life on earth.
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
Living a life focused on God Desires can save us from wasting a ton of time chasing after the wrong desires. Pursuing a desire that does not align with God’s best for our lives prevents us from experiencing and fulfilling our highest purpose in this life. In the end we want to be able to proclaim as Jesus did to His Father in heaven when His end was near in the Book of John:
“I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do.” (John 17:4)
How can we know that our desires are God desires? We can begin by following His instruction to delight ourselves in Him, to give great joy or pleasure in desiring to know Him and learning about all His ways. When we decide to shape our lives around this encouragement God promises to give us desires that lead us toward accomplishing the deepest desires of our heart and His. This is the joy of purpose living!
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)