All Things

Beyond John 3:16, one of the best-known verses of the Bible, and maybe John 11:35 if you’re a youngster, what’s one of your favorite Scripture verses? Mine is Philippians 4:13; “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Oh, how many times have I reminded myself of that verse during some of the most difficult periods of my life. When I didn’t think I had the strength to push forward toward a goal, I would lean on those words. There’s always been comfort in knowing that God was with me. I was not alone. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately.

My pastor, a dear friend and brother-in-Christ, has two words in the Bible that almost always give him pause to add comment. Those are “all” and “therefore.” Pastor often responds when he reads them with, “All means all” and “Therefore means to pay attention, cause what’s coming next is there for a reason.” Congregants usually smile or chuckle softly as we acknowledge his veiled attempts to make sure we’re paying attention. That first one has been on my mind a bunch today. Does “all mean all” in the context of Philippians 4:13?

I love you my friend, but I’ve decided that in this case I must respectfully disagree. I’ve concluded that “all” is conditional. Is everything (all) under God’s purview? Does God see and know, even beforehand, all? Absolutely. There is nothing that God does not see or know. However, in the context of my favorite verse, the word “all” is conditional upon my being in God’s will. Stay with me here friends.

I’m certain that God is with me always, even when He turns His back when I sin. God is always present in my life, whether or not I sense His presence. As certain as I am of those facts, I feel just as certain He will not give me strength to do something that is not in His will for me. Therein lies my dilemma. If I want God’s strength to help me, I must do what God wants. So, how do I manage that? How can I know I’m doing what God wants and not what I want?

God gives you strength to accomplish what He wills for you, not what you will. #Strength #GodsWill Share on X

It all comes down to that one question, doesn’t it? How do I know when what I’m doing aligns with God’s will for my life? There are many great articles on how to learn God’s will for your life. If you need help in that area, let me know and I’ll do my best to help you learn. My focus here is not to reiterate how to find God’s will but to know when you’re aligned with it.

For me, there’s two crucial parts to answer that question: the Holy Spirit’s presence and His gift of discernment. Here is one verse that helped me understand how God gave us these precious gifts to help us live in His will.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house
of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws
in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God,
and they shall be My people.
(Hebrews 8:10  NKJV)

In these words, I came away understanding how He gives us His will for our lives in His word. It is through our relationship with Him we can feel, sense, or discern when we’re living aligned with Him. Before Christ returned home, He promised to give us a Helper (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is that Helper. His constant presence in the lives of true believers serves to guide and direct our lives, attempting to keep us in alignment with God’s will and purpose for our lives. The Holy Spirit’s ability to keep us in alignment directly correlates with our willingness to subject ourselves to His leading. I’ve learned that the less we allow Him to control our lives, the less effective we become.

The Holy Spirit’s gift of discernment helps us to become better attuned to hearing and heeding His guidance. It is through discernment that I can know if what I’m doing aligns with God’s will. Knowing that what I’m doing is what He wants to accomplish through my life. When I’m walking with God through this world more than I’m walking through this world with God, there is a great sense of peace.

It’s when we let God lead we make the most progress in our journey. #LetGodLead #GodsWill Share on X

Often, I try to drag God along with me (i.e., heeding my will instead of His) rather than letting God direct me to what He wants me to do. This past month has been a perfect example. Late spring into early summer seems to be the busy season here at the ranch. Calving, trying to finish up major projects before the Texas heat sets in, haying, and weed control can keep us busy. When writing projects, consulting work, more responsibilities around our home while caring for a loved one, and dog walking ninety-four times per day get added, life gets hectic.

I sometimes say, “Come on God, I’ve got lots to do today” more than asking, “God, what would You have me do today?” How can I tell when that happens? One word. Peace. When I’m going through my day in God’s will, I sense His peace in all that I’m doing. It can be a super-busy day, with a full plate of tasks, but when I’m aligned with His will, it all gets done with a sense of peace about me.

When I do what I want, even if it’s less, I become anxious, frustrated, and overwhelmed—all of which can lead to temperamental fits of selfishness and anger. There’s nothing peaceful about my day when that happens. Oh, I can even fool myself by saying, “I’m doing kingdom work.” But am I? We all fall into this trap now and again and forget how to say “No” and we overreach, over-commit, and over-tax ourselves. We get too busy, doing things we want to do, and we forget Whom we should do things for. When that happens, we have to ask ourselves, who’s leading here, me or God?

Perhaps my friend is right, “all means all” and I can do all things in Christ’s strength when I’m in alignment with His will. I pray you keep yourself in God’s will and His peace fills you to overflowing. You can be certain that you can accomplish more in His strength than in your own. Don’t become too busy to listen to God. He’s talking, we just need to be sure we’re listening.

God’s Blessings

52 thoughts on “All Things”

  1. Oh my! I need this message today and every day. I pray I will always ask God what He wants me to do each day. I pray I will stop focusing on my “to do” list of tasks. I want to serve Him in every word and action. Have a blessed day dear friend! 🙂

  2. This post is packed with conviction and encouragement. The two “tweetable” quotes caused me to stop and affirm the truth and the benefits. Col. 1:17 says He holds all things together. We think of that as the universe. I think of that as including me. He holds me together- why not then respond to His showing, telling, and leading. Thank you, as always for getting my day off to a meaningful start. Blessings,

  3. So much wisdom here as always J.D. peace is always my measuring line. all too often I’ve gotten what I wanted done only to feel exhausted and anxious because I did it my way as Mr. Sinatra would say. I have learned over the years to follow and not try to lead. I don’t get it perfect but I’m a work in progress

    1. As are we all Ms. Ann. While we’re works in progress, what a divine work we will one day become ma’am. For me, that’s what keeps me going; realizing that what I am now (a hot mess) is not what I will become. I think God sees us as we will be, not as we are when we’ve been born again.

  4. J.D., every part of this post is wisdom for us all. We so need the help of the Holy Spirit every day, all day. Earlier this morning, I read, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 13:10a, NASB). Combined with Hebrews 8:10, I am reminded never to take for granted the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to guide, to give understanding, to give strength. What a precious gift we have been given! Thank you, friend, for sharing your wisdom with us all!

    1. 😀 “Popping up like prairie dogs”, you say? I’ve got to remember that one. LOL Thank you for bringing a smile with your wonderful mix of humor and humility ma’am.

  5. Kathy Collard Miller

    JD, excellent examination of a sticky conundrum. I’m so grateful the Lord is gracious to guide us whether or not His direction is absolutely clear. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Ms. Kathy. And you’re right ma’am. We don’t always clearly understand His will for our lives, which is why it’s so important to get regular “heading checks” through prayer and discernment ma’am. He’s sure let me know when I’ve strayed off course in the past.

  6. You have such a way of getting to where the rubber meets the road, Brother, and today’s post is a classic example. All the theological concepts and grand esoteric expositions that drift around in our heads are pragmatically meaningless if they fail in the application process. The call that Jesus extended was not, “Come study my teachings,” or “Come and form a fan club in my name,” or “Come and explore the nuances woven into my stories.” It’s hard to get any simpler than just, “Follow Me,” isn’t it? But simple doesn’t mean easy, either, and your insightful, inspiring, and convicting reminder of that this morning was just the welcome stimulant I needed this morning.
    The questions you referred to sound really familiar, especially the, “Is it me, or is it Him?” one. In digesting the spiritual breakfast you served up this morning, I thought about a frequent experience that happens when Mrs. Diane and I go shopping. I’m usually pushing the cart as we start off walking side by side down one of the main aisles. I just meander along checking out the merchandise and nodding a friendly Tennessee greeting to folks we meet. Then I’ll make a comment to her and be greeted with silence. So, I stop and look around and discover that she is nowhere in sight. She’s turned off and headed down another aisle to pick up whatever it was that we had come there to get. God has graciously invited us to join Him and to be an integral part of carrying out His will in this sin cursed world. It isn’t the other way around.
    It’s a ridiculously simple illustration, I know, but all it takes for me to stay on task when Mrs. Diane and I go to the store is to watch which way she goes. Not doing that with the One I claim to be following is always a recipe for failure. So, thank you for the wake up call. I don’t have the load on me that you do, Brother, but your post this morning reminds me to check my alignment with God throughout the process and be sure I haven’t lost sight of what He wants and why I’m here.
    God bless you for another Scripturally strong and spiritually rich post, Brother. The encouragement you deliver so well once again strengthens our confidence that though the work may feel burdensome at times, the One we serve will not let it be in vain. Our prayers continue for you and everyone in the Cross-Dubya family as you endure those challenges that would be daunting even without the awful heat. May God continue to strengthen and protect each of you and make your work more fruitful than ever.

    1. Thank you for sharing such wisdom with us here sir. You’re right, it’s amazingly simply yet stunningly difficult. I think the difficulty in following Him comes in our requirement to give up ourselves. It’s the surrendering our will for His that is the opening salvo needed to invite Him to work upon us. In the same way that we have to sign the consent form before the medicos can go in and repair or replace a worn out knee joint, etc., we must give our consent for God to do His work on our souls. Great thoughts sir. Thank you!

  7. Thank you for these words of wisdom and gentle teaching. I need to keep them in mind–especially as I head into fall with its additional responsibilities at school and church. I’d never thought of peace as the way to measure my alignment with His will. So good!


    1. Thank you Ms. Tammy. For me anyway, it’s when I’m in step with God that I find my greatest peace and ability to relax and enjoy the ride. Will be praying ma’am as the summer winds down and your activity level heats up. God’s blessings my friend.

  8. When our wills are aligned with God’s, we do find that peace that passes all understanding, J. D. Whenever I find myself getting flustered or frustrated in my tasks, I stop and ask for God’s help and guidance, knowing that somehow, I’ve gotten off-kilter by leaning on myself instead of Him. God is good and faithful to always set me back on track.
    Wonderful reflection today, my friend!

    1. Yes He is Ms. Martha. What’s funny for me is, I see myself like mama used to be at Disney World with the grandchildren. I’ll always see her in my mind’s eye, 100 yards ahead, waving as if to say, “Come on, Come on, we’re going to miss out.” God smiles back and us and bids us to wait until we return to Him and He can lead us on the different path. So often, we want to drive, when in reality, He should probably put us in the trunk. 🙂

  9. I agree J.D. that God’s promises are conditional on us following Him with our lives. Just like Psalm 91. The Scripture says “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High.” This promise is for those who dwell in His presence. Not because God doesn’t love us if we aren’t, but because we put ourselves where He is. That’s where His promises lie.

  10. I love this reminder to look at the Father first before I look at my busy day ahead, to ask what He would have me to today instead of being bossed by my too-long to-do list. I bet His to-do list for me looks much different than my own to-do list!

    1. Love that “Too Long To Do” Ms. Karen. And yes, I suspect that our lists (God’s and mine) do look very different. If the way I am redirected during my morning “God time” and my plans for the day fall to the wayside are any indication, they can be VERY different some days. 🙂

  11. How I need to heed your conclusion. “Don’t become too busy to listen to God.” I must be careful or my to-do lists take priority over God’s will. Thanks for a much-needed reminder, J.D.

  12. Great thoughts here, JD. To my way of thinking, we are all too busy all the time, every single day. Even if I sat in a chair, my mind would be processing, making lists. Busy, busy and far too distracted from the peace he offers. The “all” you mention won’t be perfected until he returns. Until then, we do what we can to walk in the direction he leads, accept his grace for when we don’t. And … where can I get a dog that only needs walking 94 times a day? lol

    1. Amen Ms. Mary. Am convinced that God doesn’t want us to be perfect, but He does expect our best effort. Too many “Christians” today are only willing to give him an hour or so on Saturday or Sunday morning. And for that dog? That’s what I limit Archie to. LOL If he had it his way, that little four-pound furball would live out in the barn. 🙂

  13. Yvonne Morgan

    That is Bill’s favorite verse and mine is Romans 8:28. Both contain the word “all” and I agree with your thoughts. In both of these verses, there is a condition, all things through Christ and all things work together for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. These “alls” are in regards to everything we do for Christ. Great message my friend and thought provoking.

  14. Your words here are so inspirational and encouraging, J.D. This lesson is one that is not easy to learn. I agree with your thoughts, aligning our life and plans with God’s will is about direction in His Word and listening for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and discernment. I often run ahead of God in my day, especially when things seemed rushed or busy. But I’m learning to lay down my agenda and pick up His will. God bless you!

  15. Wonderful words of wisdom again, dear brother. I heard years ago to “Let peace make the call.” It is a great measuring stick to get us aligned with the Holy Spirit who is leading and giving us discernment along our daily paths. I know I’m too busy when bone weariness sets in, especially on these super-hot days. May we all listen well as we sit at the feet of Jesus every morning. After all, sweet communion with our Lord is truly the best part.

    1. Oh, I love that Ms. Karen; “Let Peace Make the Call.” That’s going on my desktop. It sure is ma’am. We’re vintage enough to remember the Folgers jingle from years ago, “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.” As you point out, we need to shout this one instead; “The best part of waking up is letting Jesus fill your cup.”

  16. My dear friend and brother, this is heavy duty, powerful, and true.
    It reminds me of when people say, “Everything happens for a reason,” as though that makes is okay or right. The reality is that, yes, everything does happen for a reason and that reason might be my (your) stupidity and the outcome might not be positive.
    Anyhoo, this is a great post with many powerful lessons and takeaways.
    I shared it once already and now that I finished reading it I’m going to share it again— maybe a few times. It’s SO important.
    God bless you as you continue to walk in His ways, discerning and loving, and encouraging others to do the same.

    1. Thank you precious friend. I’m always amazed at how our gracious and giving God is so patient with us. As someone who has gotten more things wrong than right, I sometimes picture God sighing, shaking His head, and saying, “Not again, come on man!” 🙂 Yet, He steadfastly remains Who He says He is; in spite of what stupid thing I do.

  17. I think you’re right, J. D. Just like when Jesus said, “whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24)—other verses tell us we need to pray according to God’s will for our prayers to be answered. It’s so important to compare Scripture with Scripture and read the whole counsel of God.

    I’ve also been guilty of speeding out to start my day and asking God to bless my plans, rather than asking Him what His plans are for the day. I don’t know why so many lessons have to be repeated before they sink in, but now I try to ask Him to lead and guide and give me wisdom to know what to do when.

  18. This is thought-provoking and deep, J.D. Like you, I try to drag God along with me and my will sometimes too. As if He doesn’t know what I’m up to! Your post convicted, provoked, and stirred my heart.
    Thank you.

  19. I agree, J.D. I can do all things, endure all things, He calls me to. This is not a magic wand we wave over our will. And wisdom shows His will is what anyone in their right senses should want!

  20. “When I do what I want, even if it’s less, I become anxious, frustrated, and overwhelmed.” So true. There’s no peace, no satisfaction, no rest like doing what the Lord gives us to do. His blessing is on that and we can feel the difference, can’t we?

  21. Just the message I need to hear, my friend. I’ve been working on this but still haven’t succeeded in balancing what “I think” I need to be doing for God’s kingdom with what I’m accomplishing. And you read these “I” words here–I’m definitely not doing enough in the way of prayerfully seeking His guidance as to what I “should” be doing for His kingdom. Thank you for your inspiring reminder, J.D. Wishing you a blessed week.

    1. Praying you a blessed one also Ms. Katherine. As I mentioned earlier, there’s some comfort in knowing I’m in such great company as you and others here ma’am. It’s knowing that we all need help at various times that makes it so important to stay connected in fellowship with one another, so we can either lift or surrender to their lifting of you. That’s what Christ modeled His body to be.

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  23. I’ve seen this verse misapplied so often, and I think you’ve done a great job of explaining its main point. In the preceding verses, Paul talked about contentment he found within any circumstance God willed for him. God helped him do “all” when Paul submitted to His will. Great post, my friend!

    1. Yes, as have I Ms. Annie. In its understanding, we find a wonderful promise, don’t we ma’am? Am so very pleased you appreciated the post and always grateful for your sharing and kind words.

  24. I have a frame with a short story beside my kitchen sink that talks about how busy someone’s day is and how they didn’t have time to pray. As it meanders on, they come to the realization that because of how busy their day was, they needed to make sure they spent time in prayer, inviting God to participate in their day. I love that! I so often find myself in that dilemma. It’s kinda like those weeds I read about today (August 2 blog). I have to keep reminding myself to do what I know to do ESPECIALLY when I am really busy.

    1. Amen. It seems that, for some, the busier we become, God is the first thing we push off our plate to make room for that next thing that is “oh so important, NOT.” Great reminder that the busier and more distracted by this world we become, the more we need to spend time with God. One way we can do that is to always invite Him along with us throughout the day, isn’t it? Thanks Ms. Karen. God’s blessings ma’am.

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