• Tony Birkhead

Wisdom Week - 6



God wants you to know His will for your life more than you want to know it!


INTRODUCTION

What are your thoughts when some says, “you need to find the will of God for your life”?

Imagine you got a phone call from heaven and Jesus wanted to have lunch with you. What questions would you ask Him about your life?

KEY SCRIPTURE

Proverbs 16:1-9

To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue. 2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord. 3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. 4 The Lord works out everything to its proper end—even the wicked for a day of disaster. 5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. 6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided. 7 When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them. 8 Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice. 9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Read Proverbs 16:1-9.

How would you feel if you knew you couldn’t make a wrong decision?

What kind of freedom would it give you to know you can’t make a wrong decision?

Do you ever feel confused when trying to discern God’s will? Why or why not?

According to these verses in Proverbs, God is the one who directs our lives and our decisions. How does that knowledge help you?

Read Romans 12:1-2.

Paul encouraged his readers to offer themselves as living sacrifices to God. What does it look like practically to do this? How is doing so an act of worship?

Why is it easy to conform to the behavior of the world? In what areas of your life might you be doing so?

What are some of the ways God renews our minds? What are some of the obstacles that stand in the way of your daily transformation?

How did Paul describe God’s will for us? Does His will always seem good, pleasing, and perfect?

Paul wanted the Roman believers to be transformed by God, which happens when we allow God to renew our minds through His Word and the influence of the Holy Spirit. God’s will is that we would become new people who daily sacrifice our lives to follow His will. God’s will is good and pleasing and perfect. Many times it does not feel that way, but in the end, God wants what is best for us, even if we don’t see it at the time.


MOVING FORWARD

  • THE 4 THINGS PASTOR TONY ASKED US TO CONSIDER ABOUT DISCOVERING GOD'S WILL:

#1 - Use your brain to make a wise decision

#2 – You will very rarely ever be 100% certain. That’s ok.

#3 – God wants you to trust Him with the details.

#4 – When the time comes, make the best decision you can and leave the results to God!


  • What are some things in your life you need to lay down and let God transform so you can trust Him more?

  • Share with someone your biggest obstacle to trusting God?


PRAY TOGETHER

Thank God for guiding your life and ask Him to have His will in your life even if it means it’s not your will.


COMMENTARY

Proverbs 16:1-9

Verse 1 As we read this, it teaches us a great truth, that we are not sufficient of ourselves to think or speak any thing of ourselves that is wise and good, but that all our sufficiency is of God, who is with the heart and with the mouth, and works in us both to will and to do, Phil. 2:13 ; Ps. 10:17 . But most read it otherwise: The preparation of the heart is in man (he may contrive and design this and the other) but the answer of the tongue, not only the delivering of what he designed to speak, but the issue and success of what he designed to do, is of the Lord. That is, in short, 1. Man purposes. He has a freedom of thought and a freedom of will permitted him; let him form his projects, and lay his schemes, as he thinks best: but, after all, 1. God disposes. Man cannot go on with his business without the assistance and blessing of God, who made man’s mouth and teaches us what we shall say. Nay, God easily can, and often does, cross men’s purposes, and break their measures. It was a curse that was prepared in Balaam’s heart, but the answer of the tongue was a blessing.

Verse 2 We are all apt to be partial in judging of ourselves: All the ways of a man, all his designs, all his doings, are clean in his own eyes, and he sees nothing amiss in them, nothing for which to condemn himself, or which should make his projects prove otherwise than well; and therefore he is confident of success, and that the answer of the tongue shall be according to the expectations of the heart; but there is a great deal of pollution cleaving to our ways, which we are not aware of, or do not think so ill of as we ought. The judgment of God concerning us, we are sure, is according to truth: He weighs the spirits in a just and unerring balance, knows what is in us, and passes a judgment upon us accordingly, writing Tekel upon that which passed our scale with approbation—weighed in the balance and found wanting; and by his judgment we must stand or fall. He not only sees men’s ways but tries their spirits, and we are as our spirits are.

Verse 3 It is a very desirable thing to have our thoughts established, and not tossed, and put into a hurry, by disquieting cares and fears,—to go on in an even steady course of honesty and piety, not disturbed, or put out of frame, by any event or change,—to be satisfied that all shall work for good and issue well at last, and therefore to be always easy and sedate. The only way to have our thoughts established is to commit our works to the Lord. The great concerns of our souls must be committed to the grace of God, with a dependence upon and submission to the conduct of that grace (2 Tim. 1:12 ); all our outward concerns must be committed to the providence of God, and to the sovereign, wise, and gracious disposal of that providence. Roll thy works upon the Lord (so the word is); roll the burden of thy care from thyself upon God. Lay the matter before him by prayer. Make known thy works unto the Lord (so some read it), not only the works of thy hand, but the workings of thy heart; and then leave it with him, by faith and dependence upon him, submission and resignation to him. The will of the Lord be done. We may then be easy when we resolve that whatever pleases God shall please us.

Verse 4 That God is the first cause. He is the former of all things and all persons, the fountain of being; he gave every creature the being it has and appointed it its place. Even the wicked are his creatures, though they are rebels; he gave them those powers with which they fight against him, which aggravates their wickedness, that they will not let him that made them rule them, and therefore, though he made them, he will not save them. That God is the last end. All is of him and from him, and therefore all is to him and for him. He made all according to his will and for his praise; he designed to serve his own purposes by all his creatures, and he will not fail of his designs; all are his servants. The wicked he is not glorified by, but he will be glorified upon. He makes no man wicked, but he made those who he foresaw would be wicked: yet he made them (Gen. 6:6 ), because he knew how to get himself honour upon them. See Rom. 9:22 . Or (as some understand it) he made the wicked to be employed by him as the instruments of his wrath in the day of evil, when he brings judgments on the world. He makes some use even of wicked men, as of other things, to be his sword, his hand (Ps. 17:13, Ps. 17:14 ), flagellum Dei—the scourge of God. The king of Babylon is called his servant.

Verse 5 The pride of sinners sets God against them. He that, being high in estate is proud in heart, whose spirit is elevated with his condition, so that he becomes insolent in his conduct towards God and man, let him know that though he admires himself, and others caress him, yet he is an abomination to the Lord. The great God despises him; the holy God detest him. The power of sinners cannot secure them against God, though they strengthen themselves with body hands. Though they may strengthen one another with their confederacies and combinations, joining forces against God, they shall not escape his righteous judgment. Woe unto him that strives with his Maker, ch. 11:21 ; Isa. 45:9 .

Verse 6 How the guilt of sin is taken away from us—by the mercy and truth of God, mercy in promising, truth in performing, the mercy and truth which kiss each other in Jesus Christ the Mediator—by the covenant of grace, in which mercy and truth shine so brightly—by our mercy and truth, as the condition of the pardon and a necessary qualification for it—by these, and not by the legal sacrifices, Mic. 6:7, Mic. 6:8 . How the power of sin is broken in us. By the principles of mercy and truth commanding in us the corrupt inclinations are purged out (so we may take the former part); however, by the fear of the Lord, and the influence of that fear, men depart from evil; those will not dare to sin against God who keep up in their minds a holy dread and reverence of him.

Verse 7 God can turn foes into friends when he pleases. He that has all hearts in his hand has access to men’s spirits and power over them, working insensibly, but irresistibly upon them, can make a man’s enemies to be at peace with him, can change their minds, or force them into a feigned submission. He can slay all enemies, and bring those together that were at the greatest distance from each other. He will do it for us when we please him. If we make it our care to be reconciled to God, and to keep ourselves in his love, he will incline those that have been envious towards us, and vexatious to us, to entertain a good opinion of us and to become our friends. God made Esau to be at peace with Jacob, Abimelech with Isaac, and David’s enemies to court his favour and desire a league with Israel. The image of God appearing upon the righteous, and his particular lovingkindness to them, are enough to recommend them to the respect of all, even of those that have been most prejudiced against them.

Verse 8 It is supposed that an honest good man may have but a little of the wealth of this world (all the righteous are not rich),—that a man may have but little, and yet may be honest (though poverty is a temptation to dishonesty, ch. 30:9 , yet not an invincible one),—and that a man may grow rich, for a while, by fraud and oppression, may have great revenues, and those got and kept without right, may have no good title to them nor make any good use of them. It is maintained that a small estate, honestly come by, which a man is content with, enjoys comfortably, serves God with cheerfully, and puts to a right use, is much better and more valuable than a great estate ill-got, and then ill-kept or ill-spent. It carries with it more inward satisfaction, a better reputation with all that are wise and good; it will last longer, and will turn to a better account in the great day, when men will be judged, not according to what they had, but what they did.

Verse 9 Man is here represented to us, 1. As a reasonable creature, that has the faculty of contriving for himself: His heart devises his way, designs an end, and projects ways and means leading to that end, which the inferior creatures, who are governed by sense and natural instinct, cannot do. The more shame for him if he do not devise the way how to please God and provide for his everlasting state. But as a depending creature, that is subject to the direction and dominion of his Maker. If men devise their way, so as to make God’s glory their end and his will their rule, they may expect that he will direct their steps by his Spirit and grace, so that they shall not miss their way nor come short of their end. But let men devise their worldly affairs ever so politely, and with ever so great a probability of success, yet God has the ordering of the event, and sometimes directs their steps to that which they least intended. The design of this is to teach us to say, If the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that (Jam. 4:14, Jam. 4:15 ), and to have our eye to God, not only in the great turns of our lives, but in every step we take. Lord, direct my way, 1 Th. 3:11 .

Romans 12:1-2

12:1. Paul urged all believers to present themselves as a “living sacrifice.” Such language must have clashed immediately in the minds of many. The common understanding was that only the first and best animals were fit to be offered as sacrifices. The sacrifice Paul had in mind was radically different. Jesus had given Himself as the once-and-for-all Sacrifice for sin on the cross. Believers thus were to live in light of Jesus’ all-sufficient sacrifice, bringing glory to God. The idea of Christians’ presenting their “bodies” as a living sacrifice harked back to the discussion of the body being dead to sin because of the life-giving presence of the Spirit (see 8:10). To live by the Spirit is to offer oneself completely and daily as a “holy and pleasing sacrifice.”

Paul further explained that living as a holy, pleasing sacrifice was a believer’s “spiritual worship.” The word rendered spiritual also can be understood as meaning logical or reasonable. The Greek word translated worship often was used to refer to carrying out religious duties or services. Thus Paul taught that in light of God’s gracious redemption (by the mercies of God), living as a sacrifice was the logical and pleasing way for Christians to serve God.

12:2. As Christians, we’re also to please God with our minds. The temptation is to go along with the dominant attitudes of the “age,” to adopt the prevailing cultural worldview characterized by self-worship (sin). The apostle urged his readers to reject worldliness and “to be transformed by the renewing of the mind.”

The phrase be transformed in the Greek is a present passive imperative form. This form suggests three important truths. First, the present tense describes a continuing action. Transformation of our thinking and attitudes is an ongoing, lifelong endeavor. Second, the passive voice indicates that the indwelling Spirit is the Source of our transformation. We can’t transform ourselves but rather must be transformed. Third, however, is the truth suggested by the imperative that we must consciously place ourselves at the Spirit’s disposal for transformation to happen. The Spirit will not transform us against our will.

The result of having our minds renewed by the Spirit is to grow in our ability “to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” The word translated “discern” literally means to prove by testing. Christian living is not about emptying the mind—as some religions claim—but rather about thinking intelligently and logically in accordance with God’s ways. God wants His people to know what pleases Him because by living according to His ways we will experience the most abundant life possible (see John 10:10).



DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE


HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?


DAY 1

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

Do you know God has a mission for you today? He has one for me, too. We are his workmanship—which means he saves us only through his power. This also means we are being changed to become more like Jesus through his power, as well (Rom 8:29). So, what kind of people do you think God is molding? He is making Kingdom builders. He is making us into people who bring glory to his name. He is making us into gospel missionaries everywhere we go. And also people who long for his presence. You and I have God-ordained works waiting for us to walk in today. Notice the balance between two words: work and walk. We’re not being called to work, or perform, this mission out of our own power… We’re called to walk in them.

In today’s verse we learn that God works in us that he might work through us. Through these words of Paul, God is making a promise to us. That if we watch, listen to Holy Spirit, and follow his leading, God will accomplish his mission through us. Do you desire to be used by God to build his Kingdom? Then today is your day—just like everyday is. There are works prepared for you to walk in.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 2

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

We spend a lot of time thinking about God’s plans for us. While this is definitely a good thing, it’s easy to have the attitude: “It’s all about me.” It is true that God cares about every intricate detail in our lives. Jesus said that even the hairs on our heads are numbered (Luke 12:7). And after all, when compared to God, everything is small. But should we expect that the main purpose of God’s plans is to make us happy right here, right now?

Jeremiah’s message in today’s devotional verses is radically different. Jeremiah wrote to a group of people held captive. They were ripped from their homes and now live in exile. He was reminding them that although they’re not where they expected, God has not forgotten them. Even amidst this insanely hard situation, God’s plan will stand. As Jeremiah knows very well, God’s plans are always good. God hasn’t forgotten them.

Just a few verses earlier, we see a big part of God’s plan for them is to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile” (Jeremiah 29:7). In other words, God wants them to know his plans are not just to benefit them personally. God is also telling them that he is not removing them from the situation immediately. He does promise to restore them; but it’s not coming quickly. Instead, it’s 70 years out, when many of them will be dead. God is letting them know they can move forward, because in the eternal picture, God’s justice will prevail and everything will be made right.

Today, in the midst of difficult situations, God wants us to know he has a plan and purpose. He also wants us to know that as we submit to his plan, he will use us to bless the world around us. The key still remains during both good and difficult times: You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 3

The shepherds are senseless and do not inquire of the Lord; so they do not prosper and all their flock is scattered. 22 Listen! The report is coming—a great commotion from the land of the north! It will make the towns of Judah desolate, a haunt of jackals. 23 Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps. 24 Discipline me, Lord, but only in due measure—not in your anger, or you will reduce me to nothing.

Jeremiah 10:21-24

A blocked opportunity can be a useful tool for teaching. God wants to mold us into His image, and He can use anything—including something we desire—to do so.

Closed doors prevent mistakes. Just because a path is clear doesn’t mean it’s the one God intends for us to follow. Sometimes we won’t have the information we need to make a wise decision, so He blocks the way. The Holy Spirit knows the whole road map for our life, so we should follow Him.

Closed doors redirect our walk. God won’t leave a willing servant with nothing to do. Closed doors can result in better fruit, more satisfaction, and greater glory for Him.

Closed doors test faith and build perseverance. Waiting for the Lord is hard, but it’s a means by which we can learn wisdom, patience, and trust.

Closed doors buy us time. We aren’t always as prepared as we’d like to think. God may temporarily hold shut an opportunity for service until we’re ready.

Despite the many references to closed doors in this devotion, the real message is that God opens doors for us, and they lead us in the best possible direction. His path is perfect, and if we stay on it, we will live a life of service, satisfaction, and glory for God.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org

DAY 4

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.

Colossians 1:3-6

Have you ever listened to a radio station only to hear soft static over the music? If you adjust the tuning, you can usually get clear reception. The Christian life works much the same way. We sometimes make decisions and then experience a vague yet nagging sense that all isn’t well. I call this “spiritual static.”

Most Christians aren’t surprised that God wants them to know the difference between truth and error. However, many have not considered that He also equips us to choose between what is good and what is best. Satan at times reveals something that appears good to us just before God sends His best. Too often, we jump at the former and miss the latter. But those believers who cultivate spiritual discernment recognize the Holy Spirit’s warning to wait—such “static” says an opportunity might look excellent, but it’s not right.

Prayerful, grounded believers will let the good opportunity pass so they can wait on the best. They will pray and trust until their heart receives God’s assurance. Life is full of uncertainty and doubt, but our relationship with Jesus doesn’t need to be. He offers spiritual discernment to all who seek His will.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org

DAY 5

Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5:17-18

In addition to being a believer in Jesus Christ, another prerequisite for knowing the will of God is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Why do I say that? Ephesians 5:17–18 tells us, "Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit."

I can’t do the will of God without Him helping me each step of the way. And that must begin with having my sin forgiven by God and being filled with His Spirit.

What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? Does it mean that every day, you need to have an emotional encounter with God? No. It means that every day, you simply pray, "Lord, fill me with Your Spirit." You may feel something. Or you may feel nothing. But if you pray that, believing it, then God will give you what you need.

It is sort of like fueling up your car. You can’t run forever on one tank of gas. In the same way, we need our lives to be refueled by the Holy Spirit.

The Greek term, "be filled," from Ephesians 5 means "to be constantly be filled." So it is not a one-time event; it is something that happens again and again. It also is a command. Through this verse, God is effectively saying, "I order you to be filled with the Holy Spirit." That is God’s will for you.

When is the last time you prayed, "Lord, fill me with the Holy Spirit"? God’s will is for you as a Christian is to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Adapted From: http://harvest.org


MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9

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