While every decision, whether or large or small, is going to have its own distinct set of challenges, there are three basic principles that we should apply in every life situation. This does not mean discerning God’s will always be easy, but God does promise to lead us, in his own good time and way, when we apply these principles faithfully!
In one of the most concise, and yet comprehensive, character sketches in the Bible, the apostle John outlines the qualities of a man named Gaius. We might summarize John’s description, in his third epistle, using four of his own well-chosen words: truth, faithfulness, love, and beloved.
Our first and primary obligation is certainly to the local church. The Bible is very clear on the fact that we are to financially support those pastors who minister to us spiritual things, by ministering to their physical needs (1 Corinthians 9:7-11; 1 Timothy 5:17-18). The Scripture is equally plain regarding our obligation to support the poor and needy within the body of Christ (1 Timothy 5:16; 1 John 3:17).
The appointed time has grown very short … For the present form of this world is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:29,31). God himself has set the bounds of this universe, and it will not last forever. Therefore, every day that passes is God drawing the earth closer to its eventual and inevitable conclusion. And not only is this world finite, but our individual time on it is more limited still. As James reminds us, our life is like “mist,” here and then quickly gone.
And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other (Genesis 13:10-11). Abraham and Lot now face the opposite temptation from what they faced in chapter 12, when there was a famine in Canaan; now they experience the equally great challenge of prosperity in Canaan. Interestingly this narrative in Genesis
I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another (Romans 15:14). Paul, writing to everyday and average Christians in the church at Rome, insists that every Christian should be “able to instruct.” Paul gives two criteria for our being ready and able to give the right kind of counsel: being full of goodness, and being filled with knowledge. We can’t help others draw closer to God if we are not ourselves walking closely with God.
Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts… (1 Corinthians 14:1). Christians should desire giftedness. Although any spiritual gift is useless unless it is practiced in love (1 Corinthians 13:1-2), Paul exhorts the saints to desire the spiritual gifts. When was the last time you prayed for spiritual gifts? Spiritual gifts can only come from the Spirit, and so prayer is the best way to pursue them.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father… (Ephesians 3:14). In Ephesians 3:14-19, Paul gives us four specific prayer requests he had for the people of God. And all of them center around the person and work of Jesus Christ: that Christ’s Spirit give you strength, as Christ lives in you by faith, giving you an ever-deepening, familiar knowledge of Christ-love, that you may enjoy the very best, the fullness, of what God has to offer: Jesus!
The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us… (Titus 2:11-12). The grace of God that saves us also trains us. God’s grace teaches us to adorn the gospel with our behavior (Titus 2:9-10), to deny ungodly desires (Titus 2:12), to live well in this present age (Titus 2:12), and to look for the coming of our Savior (Titus 2:13-14).
Did you know that the command “Fear not” is by far the most repeated command in the Bible, across both Testaments? We can so easily paint an inaccurate, unrealistic picture of biblical heroes in our minds. The fact is they, like we, struggled with fear and anxiety about God’s working in their lives. This is of course the only explanation as to why we see this constant refrain throughout Scripture: “Fear not.”
He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41). Have you ever wondered how you can personally participate in world missions, and the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, even while you are punching a clock at your 9 to 5 job, or while you are a stay-at-home mom? A recent survey of new Christian converts in America asked how they came to know Christ. Ninety percent of these new believers said they came into contact with the gospel through family or friends!
Dr. Paul Brand dedicated much of his life to investigating the disease of leprosy in India. Anyone could see that lepers lost parts of their extremities—like fingers, or a foot—but no one knew exactly how leprosy caused this decay in the body. Dr. Brand discovered that leprosy does not actually directly cause this damage. Leprosy prevents the affected part of the body from feeling pain, and so a broken ankle, or injured hand, goes untreated. It is in this indirect way that leprosy causes many other difficulties. Similarly, sin deadens us to the danger we are in.
The fifth chapter of Ephesians opens with the startling, unrelenting admonition to be “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1). The word translated imitators is the same word from which we get our word “mimic.” What a command! “Be like God.” How can we take this in? Where do we even start in such a daunting pursuit as God-likeness?
I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me (Matthew 25:35-36). In Jesus’ famous description of the judgment day in Matthew 25, he describes those on his right hand (the children of God) as those who have personally ministered to Jesus in his poverty, in his sickness, and in his imprisonment.
I recently finished reading through the Bible for the sixteenth time. While this is a personal milestone I’m thankful for, I certainly am not boasting about it. In fact, when I consider that George Mueller, who was converted at the age of 20 and died at the age of 92, read the Bible through 100 times while simultaneously caring for over 10,000 orphans—I am a bit embarrassed and reminded I have a long way to go!