This is the third blog of a three part miniseries within the Back to Basics series on How to Know the Will of GOD. We believe that this topic is too encompassing to limit to one blog post within the Back to Basics series. Click here to read part 1 & 2 of this miniseries.
The sport of baseball has always held a close place in my heart. My closest grandfather played professionally and then coached high school baseball, so around our house, baseball was king. I was blessed to be able to play growing up and all through college and learned a lot of life lessons from just being on the diamond. One of those life lessons was practice. In my twenty plus years of playing baseball, I practiced more than I actually played in a game. Whether that was with the team or individually, practice is what dominated 90% of my athletic career. I specifically remember my senior year of high school and how important this concept of practice was. I had just come off a terrible season the year before and my batting average was somewhere in the low 100’s (That’s not very good for you non baseball readers). My dream of playing in college looked like a nightmare and even the coaches didn’t have much faith in me. I only had one option: get better or ride the bench my last season of high school ball. That winter I dedicated myself to getting better. I set up a batting cage in my families garage and banged ball after ball until my hands were filled with callouses and the walls filled with holes. What happened that following season was remarkable to the coaches, but to me it was expected. My average went up by 200 points, I won the starting job back, and towards the end of my senior year, I received an offer from a college to play baseball. How did this happen? Was it good luck or an accident? No. It was practice. Practice, practice, and more practice. Finding the will of GOD for your life works the same way. With scripture, prayer, and practice, we are constantly moving towards GOD’s purpose, plan, and destiny for our life. Paul writing to the Romans put it this way:
“Instead, passionately answer God’s call to keep yielding your body to him as one who has now experienced resurrection life! You live now for his pleasure, ready to be used for his noble purpose.” Romans 6:13 TPT
Yield in this verse is what sticks out to me. In agricultural terms yield means what the land or crop can produce. For example: The land yields corn. How does the land produce the crops? Does it magically appear? No, the farmer has to sow the seed in order for the crops to be yielded. When the farmer puts the seed into the ground, he doesn’t see anything for quite some time, but does that mean the seed isn’t producing anything. If we could go beneath the surface and see the seed in action, we would watch how the seed slowly opens and finally pokes through the ground. How long does it take? Sometimes weeks or months. Practice finding the will of GOD works just like the seed that is planted into the ground. Sometimes we don’t always see the fruit of what we are doing, but beneath the surface (or in the spiritual realm) our seeds are beginning to take root. 1 John 3:7 describes this process as practice:
“Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.” I John 3:7 NKJV
How do we become just like Jesus? Practice righteousness. How do we know the will of GOD for our life? Practice righteousness. What is righteousness? Just doing what the word of GOD says. Jesus made a distinction between practicing good and bad in Matthew 7:21-23:
“But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” Matthew 7:23 NLT
The New King James Version uses the phrase, “you who practice.” So, if we can practice breaking GOD’s laws, surely we can practice walking in the will of GOD. I know practice isn’t very fun sometimes, but the Bible is clear that knowing the will of GOD is not some instantaneous action, but it is a walk of practice. And we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Just like the farmer who plants a seed or me banging baseballs in the garage, knowing the will of GOD for our life is a walk in faith. Our prayer for you is that you will allow GOD to direct your steps as you practice knowing Him more and learn to walk in His ways. Remember, your walk starts with scriptures, it’s solidified in prayer, and then it’s walked out in practice.
This is the second of a three part miniseries within the Back to Basics series on How to Know the Will of GOD. We believe that this topic is too encompassing to limit to one blog post within the Back to Basics series. Click here to read part 1 of this miniseries.
“And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.”
Luke 11:2-4 KJV
I love the poetic way the King James Version translates the Lord’s Prayer and the circumstances surrounding Jesus teaching His disciples to pray. At this point in Jesus’ ministry, He had healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, faced down Satan in the wilderness, calmed storms, and walked on water—and through all those miracles, what did the disciples what to learn? They could’ve asked Jesus anything—“teach us to heal the sick” or “Show us that walking on water thing again”—but instead of miracles, the disciples asked, “Teach us to pray.” Why? Because they saw that the power in Jesus miracles were first directed and established in prayer. Before Jesus took 2 loaves and 3 fish and fed 5,000, He prayed over the food. Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He prayed to the Father. Before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed in the garden. What is the pattern we see from Jesus? It’s more than just that he prayed, but it's that Jesus prayed before He did anything. I believe He was following what Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3:6:
“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:6 KJV
How did Jesus know the will of GOD for His life? It started with prayer. In our last blog post, we talked about finding scriptures in the Bible that speaks directly to your future (Click here for that post) and Jesus being the ‘Word made flesh’, knew what the scriptures said and now He was praying over those scriptures to allow GOD to lead Him on those paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3). Our prayers and communion with GOD are the gateway that lead us onto those paths that have been designed for us. In the Proverb referenced above, the word “acknowledge” in the Hebrew literally means to know or learn to know. When we dig down into the original language it changes the whole dynamic of what the writer is trying to say. It’s not, “GOD I acknowledge as I make these paths,” its more like, “GOD I want to know you more and through knowing you I am moving along the right paths.” Another scripture puts it this way:
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT
We can try and establish our own path and our own destiny, but it is ultimately GOD who makes the final determination on where and what we should be doing in this life. Whether or not we follow in that path is up to our communion and fellowship with the Creator of our destiny. And how do we come to know or learn to know the Creator more? Prayer. It’s that open communication and dialogue with the One who made everything from the grass to your beating heart. Jesus understood this principal and that is why He walked in such power and purpose. Yes, He was GOD’s son, but He was also fully man. Your power, your purpose, your direction, is found through the same door Jesus used—Prayer.
Now lets put the first blog post and this post together. If you are wondering what GOD’s will for your life is, start with finding scriptures that define what His purpose for you is. Next, use those same scriptures in prayer and read them aloud to GOD. You’re not reminding Him, but you are declaring those over yourself.
If you wonder how to start, pray this prayer:
I come to you in the name of Jesus and just want to say thank you for creating me and giving me a purpose. Your word says that, “you lead me on paths of righteousness for your names sake,” and I am thankful that you are leading me on those paths. Father, I know that you have given me the mind of Christ and because of that, I know that I have wisdom for today and for my future. Continue guiding my steps and establishing my paths. My will is to do your will. In Jesus mighty name, Amen.
This is the first of a three part miniseries within the Back to Basics series on How to Know the Will of GOD. We believe that this topic is too encompassing to limit to one blog post within the Back to Basics series.
“How do I know the will of GOD for my life?” I feel like we all ask this question at sometime or another. Oftentimes, we ask this question when we are in transitions in our life—graduating college, loss of a job, moving from one city to another—transition creates questions and this question is life changing. I remember asking myself this same question when I was younger. Am I following where GOD wants me to go? Did I go to the right college? Did I pick the right major? Am I dating the right girl? The list goes on and on and on. Today, I have the same questions, but in a different context: Am I in the right career? Am I being the best husband and father that I can be? What more does GOD have for me? Is Anchor Movement making an impact? How do we grow our ministry in integrity and purpose? All great question, but all needing specific answers. I’m sure that your list doesn’t look very different from mine. What’s amazing about GOD’s desire for your life is that it never ends. No matter your age, occupation, or situation, GOD is passionate about seeing you become everything He created you to be. What I have found for me is that GOD uses three simple ways of revealing what His will is for my life and that is what I want to share with you today starting with the first.
You find GOD’s will through His word
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psalms 119:105 NLT
The word of GOD is the first place we should all begin when we are searching for the will of GOD in our life. The Psalmist said in the scripture above that GOD’s word is a lamp that guides our feet and a light to show us the way. GOD has given us His word so that we can “find” our way through the stories and scriptures woven throughout from Genesis to Revelation. When I was injured playing football in junior high, I looked for every scripture and story on healing that I could find in the Bible. What was I doing? I was finding the lamp that would guide my feet and light my path. When you question what GOD’s will for your life is, start by looking for scriptures that speak promises into your future. One of my favorites is Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
Another great promise for your future is found in Psalm 23:
“He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” Psalms 23:2-3 NLT
Jesus speaks directly to your future in John 10:10:
“My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10 NLT
What do all three of these scriptures have in common? They are promises directly spoken over your life and your future. What GOD has done in the past, He will do again. GOD did not forget about your life among the millions of others who are longing to know what His will is for them as well. GOD has a specific purpose, destiny, and assignment for your life and the scriptures illuminate this in Psalms 139:16:
'You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.' Psalms 139:16
GOD has already laid out for you days that fulfill His exact purpose for your life. The Bible speaks of things you can do to shorten your life (Psalm 55:23) and things you can do to lengthen your life (Proverbs 10:27), but before you were born, GOD had the exact perfect purpose laid out for you. The problem is, we as humans mess up the plan. We try to do things our way or we veer away from GOD for a certain season of our life or we run away from GOD until our life is complete mess. But GOD is merciful and He is always calling us back into that original purpose that He laid out before we were ever born.
If you want to know what the will of GOD is for your life, you have to know what the Bible says about your future. More than just going to Heaven when you die, there are scriptures throughout the Bible that speak directly to your past, present, and future. In prayer one time, I questioned GOD about his pick of Matthew as a disciple. Don’t get me wrong, I like Matthew, but in ancient days tax collectors were seen as some of the scummiest people in Judea and Matthew was a tax collector. When Jesus called him to be a disciple, Matthew didn’t hesitate for one second; he immediately followed Jesus and left behind his business of collecting taxes. When I asked GOD about this He said, “I’m not into looking at past, but I’m into looking at potential.” GOD is the GOD of potential. Your life is not defined by where you are today or where you’ve been, but it’s defined in the potential that awaits you in the future. GOD’s will for your life looks different from everybody else because you are uniquely different. Don’t give up just because you see somebody else on top of the mountain and you feel like you’re in the valley. Hebrews 13:5 from The Passion Translation puts it like this:
For hasn’t he promised you, “I will never leave you alone, never! And I will not loosen my grip on your life!” Hebrews 13:5 TPT
GOD hasn’t given up on your life nor has He forgotten about your life. As we will discover in parts 2 and 3 of this miniseries, GOD wants to see you develop into your calling; first through His word and then through prayer and practice. The first step begins with searching out scriptures that define what GOD says about your future and then believing what GOD says. Our prayer for you today is that GOD will illuminate in His word the many promises that define your future. Allow those scripture to penetrate deep into your heart and be the firm foundation in your search and engagement in GOD’s will for your life.
When I was younger one of my favorite things to do was to ride my bike. My family and I lived in a neighborhood that had big open roads, little traffic, and lots of hills to really get some speed. As I grew older, I continued to enjoy riding, but now my real joy is in teaching my daughters how to ride their bikes. My daughter Brooklyn is learning right now and there’s not a day that goes by where she doesn’t want to take her bike around the block. She has graduated from the parent pushed bike to now being able to peddle and steer herself. There’s only one problem when she rides: she always wants to look back at where she has come from instead of looking forward. When she does this, her bike almost immediately veers off into the grass or the gutter and her progress forward is stopped. At this, Brooklyn sheepishly looks at me and I pull her out of the grass, give her a little boost forward, but it won’t be too long until she is back in the grass again.
What happens to Brooklyn while riding her bike is something that happens to Christians many times throughout their walk with GOD. Brooklyn is excited about her progress and how fast she is riding, but there is still a glance back to where she has come from and that instinctively puts her into the grass. Often times, these crashes or detours into the grass will deflate her excitement about riding her bike and daddy will end up carrying her and the bike home. While here at Anchor Movement we have explored the “Back to Basics” series, I felt compelled to write this blog about not looking back at where you have come from, but to keep looking forward. Im not saying that we don’t want to be grateful for what GOD has done for us in the past, but what I see in our world today is individuals who can’t seem to get past their past so to speak. Why are we as a society and Christian people having so much difficulty with past experiences and present circumstances? I believe it’s because we aren’t keeping our eyes focused on what is in front of us. Too many times we get encompassed with the things that have happened to us in the past or what is happening to us in the present and we don’t allow GOD to heal those wounds and help us move forward.
I know life is hard and I realize that it can be cruel, unfair, and uncontrollable. I don’t take for granted anyones past experiences and what they have had to endure or go through in this life. Within 4 years of marriage my wife and I lost her mother to a tragic accident and a baby in the womb at 13 weeks. In between all of that was the normal struggle for any newly married couple trying to figure out life together. I can’t explain why tragedies happen. I don’t know why GOD doesn’t intervene to save innocent people from terrible misfortunes, but I do know what His word says:
“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed." Isaiah 43:18-20
What I love about this verse of scripture and the picture it paints is that even in our wildernesses and wastelands, GOD is making a way. But here is the thing about being on a path—we have to keep moving forward. GOD is making a way through our past circumstances and present trials. Psalm 23 verse 4 says that “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” We have to keep moving through where we are and where we have been. Just like Brooklyn needs to keep looking forward in order to stay on the sidewalk, as Christians we must let the past stay in the past and move into new levels that GOD has for us. What GOD has planned for you in the future is bigger than anything that has happened to you in the past. Mistakes you have made, poor decisions by others—nothing can separate you from your GOD given destiny.
Our encouragement and prayer for anyone reading this is that you will keep moving forward no matter where you are in life. GOD has not left you or abandoned you, but in reality He has made a way for you “through the wilderness.” Looking back will never propel you it will only eave you paralyzed in paralysis. Remember what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church:
"We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 TPT
Over the next several weeks and months, Anchor Movement is going to focus on a series called “Back to the Basics” where we answer and define what it actually means to be a Christian. We want to answer some of the questions that new and old believers have in their walk of faith. Some examples include, “How to study the Bible,” and “Why should I go to church.” If you have a question you’d like us to answer or explore on the blog, go to our connect page and leave your response or visit our Instagram page here and leave your response in the comments.
This week I had a few spare moments so I turned on ESPN to catch up on the daily sports news. For me, it’s a slow time of the year when it comes to sports. College football starts in 1 month and college basketball doesn’t start until November, so most the sports news right now is who is signing where and who got injured in practice, but on this day what I saw was something very different. Sitting for an interview on live TV was 10 time NBA All Star, Olympic Gold Medal winner, and 2003 Final Four MVP Carmelo Anthony. As a college basketball fanatic and all around basketball fan, getting to watch Carmelo from his National Championship at Syracuse in 2003 all the way through his NBA career has been amazing, but this interview was different. It didn’t take long to realize that instead of promoting the many accomplishments of Carmelo Anthony, the real reason for the interview was to answer all the questions surrounding his last few years on the court. As the discussion dived deeper into the misses and mistakes, you could almost see and feel Carmelo replaying those missteps on live TV. As a fan you never get to see the human side of the athletes we watch on TV, but in this moment I could see the vulnerability and humility of a man who has defined himself by the game in which he plays. At one particular moment, Stephen A Smith who is interviewing Carmelo, begins questioning the contracts Carmelo has signed and the teams that he has played for. As the camera focuses on Carmelo you can see him second guessing some of the directions that he had taken along his journey in the NBA, but sitting here now, 15 years later, there was nothing he could do to change the past. As I sat and watched, my mind went to a discussion Jesus was having with his disciples in John 16:13:
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13 NKJV
I know it’s hard to feel sorry for someone who has had the opportunity to play professional basketball for 15 years and make over 150 million dollars doing it, but I did feel sympathy for Carmelo in this moment. You could hear the regret in his voice with some of his answers and see the desperation in his eyes for just wanting to play one more season. The “what could have beens” for him in this interview were championships, wins, and contracts but for me watching the TV I thought of all the memories I wish I could go back and change. Many decisions that I made were not harmful decisions, but could have been easier. For many of you reading this, you might never step foot on a basketball court, but you will step into a specific career or direction for your life. Wouldn’t you like to know that GOD is guiding you in all your decisions? I kept thinking about John 16:13 as the interview went on and I just couldn’t shake the thought that “what if we allowed ourselves to be led completely by the Holy Spirit?” Would we have these moments where we second guessed many of the decisions we made over the last 15 years? Would we look back on decades of our life and wish we could have done something different?
If you read the rest of John 16, Jesus is basically saying goodbye to his disciples and giving them guidance for when he is gone. In just a few short hours, Jesus would be standing before Pontius Pilot and his crucifixion would be at hand. Jesus knew that His time on Earth was winding down and in the short amount of time He had left, He gave the disciples a game changer when it came to living the rest of their lives. Of course, we now know Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit and the guidance that comes from being led by Him. As Christians, we have a huge advantage in this life because the GOD who created the entire universe lives on the inside of us and wants to lead us into all truth. We don’t have to wonder what direction we should go or decision we should make. The scripture says that “He will guide you into all truth” and “He will tell you things to come.” If He is telling us and guiding us, that means we need to ask and listen to what He is saying. Too often in our lives, we feel pressured to make an immediate decision and that ends up costing us in the future. Instead, let’s slow down and listen for the voice of the Holy Spirt. Let’s take some time to be still and listen to our Creator and really come to know where He wants to guide our life. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” GOD’s thoughts toward you are for peace, blessing, and hope, but we have to be listening. GOD wants to guide you and tell you the future of your life, the only question is, “Are you listening?”