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   and Founder:

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Entries in God's Will (2)

Tuesday
Jun132017

How To Run without Looking Back

In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, I want to encourage readers to run the race of life wisely, and especially without looking back!

How are you running the race God gave you?"

Pause. Think. Read on.

I hated field hockey. As a junior high student, I didn't like anything about it—the endurance running (with my asthma), the craziness of scrambling after the ball, and especially all those swinging sticks!

But I remember one game in particular where I really blew it and suffered embarrassment for days.

My stance was fine, my Indian dribble fair, and my slap shots sufficient. But my coach repeatedly yelled, "Stay focused, Dawn. Quit looking back."

Pretty good advice considering I froze and looked back every time I heard the pounding of footsteps behind me. Whenever I had the ball "corraled" and girls rushed toward me from behind, I tended to spin around and get out of the way to avoid being run over!

My athletic sons would shake their heads in embarrassment if they could time-warp to see me back then.

One day, when the stampede of girls behind me once again scared me to death, I spun around, lost my footing and fell awkwardly, spraining an ankle and hitting my head. Sprawled on the grass, little birdies spun around my head, tweeting. (Back then, those were life's original "Tweets.")

Not exactly a star player.

I never really liked those wayward hockey sticks either. Or bruised knees (when players somehow missed my shin guards).

Like I said, I hated field hockey.

But that "looking back" thing? I still do it. In life.

I look back when I live with regrets, compare myself to others, or lose focus.

Life, unlike a field hockey game, isn't optional. And I don't want to stay stuck in fear. I want to grow in faith.

The Lord wants me to learn, grow and run my race well "to get the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24).

So ... what am I DOING about that "looking back" problem?

1. I'm dealing with regrets biblically.

I know I can't go back for life re-dos. Looking back is fruitless except as I take my past to the Father and allow Him to redeem it (Isaiah 44:22).

When we confess our failings and leave them with the Lord, His forgiveness, mercy and grace allow us to move forward with God-confidence and fresh obedience (1 John 1:9).

The Lord will keep refining us as we run our race (Psalm 66:10; 1 Peter 1:7). It's His work, and He will perfect us (Psalm 138:8; Philippians 1:6).

2. I'm learning to compare myself only with Jesus.

My sidetracking temptation in playing field hockey was to idolize the best players. When I did that, there was never any real progress—at least not as far as I was concerned.

The truth is, my coach didn't want me to become Beth, Angie or Mary. He wanted me to be the best Dawn possible.

That's what the Lord wants for all of us too.

It's so easy in Christian circles to compare ourselves with women who have it "all together for Jesus," forgetting they have their own struggles—their own weaknesses, sometimes hidden beyond our view.

The Lord simply wants us to live in the ways and for the purposes He created us, all "to the praise of His glory."

Earthly comparisons are foolish (2 Corinthians 10:12). But finding out God's purposes and imitating Jesus in pursuing those purposes—that's wisdom.

3. I'm learning to focus on the Father's will.

  • The goal isn't to look back and regret what might have been.
  • The goal isn't to look around and constantly strive to be better than others.
  • The goal is to finish the race God sets before us in ways that please Him.

We will desire to be obedient. Holy. Wise. Purpose-driven. Loving and compassionate. Serving in kindness. And we will allow the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in us as we follow hard after the Lord.

The goal is to imitate Jesus and align ourselves with what our Father God is doing (John 5:19).

We accomplish this goal in the power of the Holy Spirit—not in our own strength, and certainly not with our own agenda (Zechariah 4:6; I Corinthians 2:4).

As Dr. Charles Stanley wrote, "Spiritual power is the divine energy God is willing to express in and through us and the divine authority needed to carry out the work God has called us to do... God will not place you into a position or ask you to accomplish a task for which He will not fully equip and enable you." *

So we are empowered, equipped and enabled; but our FOCUS is crucial.

The look is important:

  • Looking back, we'll stumble around in painful regret.
  • Looking around, we'll be distracted and hindered.
  • But looking forward and up toward the Lord, there is sure hope for progress in Christ.

Let's think more biblically, and run our race with a God-centered focus.

Running with wisdom, we're less likely to take a tumble!

Are you living with regrets? Comparing yourself to others? Unfocused or confused about the goal? Ask the Lord to help you clear direction from His Word and empower you to finish well.

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Field Hockey graphic courtesty of keithjj, Pixabay

* Charles Stanley quote, here.

Thursday
Jan152015

Searching for God's Will

Author and speaker Ava Pennington is a Bible teacher whose heart’s desire is to drive women to the scriptures and help them focus on God. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she helps us learn how to discover God’s will.

“I love a good mystery … unless I’m searching for God’s will in a particular situation,” Ava writes.

And yet God’s will often seems to be a mystery, doesn’t it? I know I (Dawn) would like His will to be easier to discover. Maybe you would too?

Ava continues…

  • Should I take that job?
  • Is he the right man for me?
  • Which house should we buy?

God’s will doesn’t have to be a mystery, but first we need to begin with another question.

Do we really WANT to know God’s will for our lives? What if God’s will is for us to persevere with an insufferable boss? Remain in a loveless marriage? Serve as missionaries in Bangladesh?

Some things are God’s will for all of us.

Isaiah 43:7 says we are created to display God’s glory. Anything that doesn’t bring Him glory cannot be His will for us.

We also know God wants “all people to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). We glorify God by living in a way that reflects this relationship.

The apostle Paul said, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

God’s will for our lives is also found in transformation by renewing our minds to prove his will (Romans 12:1-2).

But what about gray areas not spelled out in the Bible? Should you take a new job? Marry that Christian man? Buy the house? God said, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you.…” (Psalm 32:8).

The answers may not seem clear at first, but if we’re seeking God’s will, He will reveal it through:

1. Prayer - Regular time in prayer is a must for the child of God. But few of us stay on our knees after we’ve made our requests. Instead, we end our prayers and we’re out the door, unmindful of the Holy Spirit’s prompting. Our iPods, car radios, or racing thoughts drown Him out.

Tip: The next time you pray, stay on your knees and listen as the Lord speaks to your heart.

2. The Bible - The Bible has answers, but they may not be spelled out. For example, it won’t tell you what car to buy, but instead, provides stewardship principles about giving, saving, debt, and spending.

Tip: Study God’s Word to identify spiritual, emotional, financial, and relational principles.

3. Circumstances - Christians often look for signs of God’s leading. If a door opens, it must be God’s will, right? Maybe not. God may lead by creating opportunities, but He isn’t the only one who opens doors. Satan also manipulates events (John 8:44). 

Tip: The next time you’re tempted to act because a door opens or closes, remember circumstances are only one piece of the puzzle.

4. Counsel - Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Still, we must choose counselors wisely.

Tip: Instead of seeking those who tell us what we want, seek mature Christians whose lives reflect God’s principles.

5. Confirmation - If we’re seeking God’s will unreservedly, praying and listening, reading His Word for applicable principles, and seeking godly counsel, God will give confirmation. He does so by giving us peace through His Holy Spirit.

Tip: Peace doesn’t mean the absence of trouble. Times of obedience to God’s leading are often times of greatest attack by Satan.

As we seek God’s will, we’ll see that it’s not mysterious and it’s not a destination. God’s will is the life we live as we walk with Him!

In what area are you searching for God’s will today? Will you commit to seeking His will, not as a destination, but as a way of life?

Ava Pennington’s newest book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Kay Arthur, founder of Precept Ministries. She has also written numerous magazine articles and is a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers (AWSA) and the Christian Authors Network (CAN). Ava also teaches a weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class of 175+ women. She is a passionate speaker who engages audiences with relevant, enjoyable presentations. Visit her at AvaWrites.com.

Graphic Image adapted, courtesy of stockimages / FreeD