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 Click To Tweet
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 Click To Tweet
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.