Twenty years ago, I resigned my position as a youth pastor at an influential church in my city to land a job in the outside world. But after going through five jobs over the next year, I was pretty discouraged. And pretty unemployed.
So in-between a couple of those jobs, a friend at church asked me, “Mike, how is the job hunt going?”
“Well, Johnny,” I began. “I’m seeking God’s will about my next job.”
“It’s funny you should say that,” he replied. “A few years ago, I was out of a job too. And when a friend asked me about my job situation, I gave the same answer. But you know what he said to me?”
“Tell me,” I answered.
“I’ll never forget it—he said, ‘You know, Johnny, sometimes you just need to get off your knees and get a job.’”
I walked away from my conversation with Johnny with a stinging sensation inside, but I also realized I just needed to get a job.
Finding God’s will for our lives can be quite stressful.
But if you join me today in our daily Bible conversation, you might get a little more insight into determining God’s will for your life.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
2 Chronicles 1:1-3:17. King David has now died and Solomon assumes the throne. You’ll notice that the Chronicler seems to ignore many of Solomon’s shortcomings—a notable departure from the writer of 1 Kings. The Chronicler’s intent is to present David and Solomon as the golden age of kings, and a model for other kings to follow.
Although this may give the appearance of revisionist history, the people already knew the rest of the story. The Chronicler’s intent is to trace the highlights of David’s and Solomon’s reigns in order to communicate what a godly king looks like.
The conversation between God and Solomon in his dream closely resembles Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33. God asked Solomon what he wanted in order to govern Israel. Solomon replied that he wanted wisdom and knowledge. God then promised to grant his request—and give him unparalleled wealth. Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
We then read that the temple was built on Mt. Moriah—the location where Abraham offered his son Isaac to God (Genesis 22). But consider as well that this was also the location where God’s wrath and grace met after David’s poor judgment resulted in a terrible plague—and God relented. Lastly, this was also the place where baby Jesus was dedicated to God (Luke 2).
Romans 6:1-23. After describing the totality in which the follower of Jesus is forgiven, Paul asks an important question: “Does that mean because we’re forgiven, we can live like hell?” (That’s the Klassen paraphrase) He answers by saying that if Christ truly lives in us, the desire to sin will be gone.
Before Christ, we were slaves to sin, Paul explains. But now that the power of sin has been broken, we no longer need to live as slave to sin. This doesn’t mean that you’ll no longer sin, but it does mean that the grip of sin has been broken.
If Christ is a part of you, if he resides in your deepest place, then his death on the cross and resurrection has become yours. Kind of like living vicariously through him.
Then Paul offers a better way: “Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness” (verse 19).
Rather than live as slaves to sin, we are now free to live as slaves to righteousness.
Psalm 16:1-11. Verses 9-11 suggest that David was in danger, which prompted him to take a closer look at his security. In the midst of his vulnerability, he takes refuge in God and confesses that apart from God, he has no good thing (verse 2). He then says, “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup” (verse 5). The literal translation is, “Lord, you are my portion and my cup.” In other words, God is everything he needs.
One other phrase jumps out at me: “You will fill me with joy in your presence” (verse 11). When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the temple separating the Holy of Holies was torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). No longer would the presence of God be limited to the high priest who entered the Holy of Holies once a year.
As a result, the presence of God has been made available to all of us. In one respect, the Holy Spirit now lives in every follower of Jesus. But also, at times in my life I have encountered a unique presence of the Holy Spirit that overwhelms me with joy. I can’t offer a formula for people replicate it, but I can encourage you to seek it. God promises “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
Proverbs 19:20. “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise” (verse 20). We reveal the state of our hearts by how open we are to advice and instruction (which sometimes comes in the form of criticism).
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
In my younger years, I used to obsess over discerning God’s will for my life. At times, this obsession became so central to my thinking that it virtually paralyzed me.
Am I marrying the right woman?
Am I pursuing the right job?
Should I share about Jesus with a coworker?
Not only did it dominate my thinking, but it dominated the thinking of other believing friends like me. But my greatest fear was this: what if I stray outside of God’s will for my life?
Into this obsession we read: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (verse 21).
Did you notice the last part of that verse? The Lord’s purpose prevails.
While God wants us to prayerfully draw close to him and seek his guidance, we can rest assured that his will for our lives is being done. To paraphrase a quote from the theologian Karl Barth: “The will of God is the road that is walked.”
Think about Jesus’ words in John 10:11: “I am the good shepherd.” He isn’t the bad shepherd who lets the sheep stray off into danger. He guides us and leads us, even when we fail to realize that we’re being led.
Whatever road you have chosen to walk, somewhere, somehow, God is going to guide you toward the road he wants you to walk.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- What does slavery to righteousness look like in your life?
- According to Paul, the power of sin has been broken in your life. Is that hard to believe? Why?
Have you ever encountered a time when the presence of the Lord filled you with joy? What happened? How did it feel? Did it change you? How?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.