Walking Points: Reflection Questions and Next Steps
Coming Home: The Yes of Obedience
Pastor Bruce wrote,
“Mary and Joseph are the very first human beings confronted with the reality of Jesus’ advent into our world. Into their world. Two things stand out in each experience. First, obedience is not just keeping the rules or following a code. It is – in essence – an intentional assent to the will of God. Obedience is saying yes to God’s will for e. Secondly obedience is action. It is something that we do; it is not only an interior disposition, but it leads me to specific steps.
Note: this doesn’t mean we have all the answers. It doesn’t mean we know how it’s going to play out. May and Joseph were going on scant information that seemed impossible and likely made their heads swirl. Instead of certitude, they were left with trust. And trust makes a place for the Savior.”
Below are some “Walking Points,” which are questions for reflection and next steps for you to consider taking during this Advent season and beyond. You can use them for your personal devotional time or with others in a small group.
1. When the angel appeared to Mary to tell her the news that she was chosen of God to be the mother of Jesus, Luke 1:29 says, “…she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.”
· What are two or three ways you discern God’s will for your life? Why are those good ways to discern God’s will?
· If you are meeting in a group with others, share with them an experience in your life when you discerned God’s will for your life. Was it hard or easy? How did you go about it?
· Eventually you had to step out in trust. Was that a scary time? Why or why not? What did you learn from the experience?
2. Read Luke 1:30-36. Talk about impossible! Now read verse 37.
· How does knowing who God is enable you to better trust him during tough times.
· What are some ways we can better know God?
· List three attributes or characteristics of God that you cling to during tough decisions in your life. Why did you choose those three?
3. Now read Luke 1:38.
· Spend some time praying privately, or together in your group, for the Lord to fill you with his Spirit to enable you to discern and respond to God’s call in your life, as Mary did.
1 Thessalonians 4:3a – It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…
Not What You Were Thinking… Yet
Today’s devotion will no doubt disappoint you if you came to it with the hope and expectation of learning how to decide what job to take, whom to marry, or where to move. That’s often what we really mean when we say we want to know God’s will for our lives, isn’t it? I am no different.
But quite often those desires turn to despair when it is discovered that God doesn’t tell us in Paul’s letter to the Romans or the Gospel of Matthew that you should indeed take that job, marry that person, or move to that place. And because it doesn’t give us the specifics we want, we sometimes end up frustrated over the apparent “inaccessibility” of knowing God’s will for our lives.
My usual counsel to such troubled souls is to encourage them by letting them know God’s will can be found on virtually every page of the Bible. God is not trying to hide his will from them or playing some sort of shell game with his children. Today’s text gives us an example of what I’m talking about. Paul teaches us in our verse:
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified.
From and For
“Sanctified” is a biblical word which simply means, “to be set apart.” But what does that mean? Set apart from what? Set apart for what? Well first, it means to be set apart from something – specifically, from the world, the flesh, and the devil. It means the fallen, rebellious, autonomous, sinful, patterns of living and idolatry we once practiced are to be repented of, put off, died to, and left behind.
“Sanctified” also means that we are set apart for God. In Christ, God has made us his own. He is now molding us into the image of his dear Son. Thus, he calls us to love, trust, obey, and walk with him daily, that we might become increasingly like him. The Apostle Peter, in his first epistle, quotes Leviticus and reminds us of God’s command to be holy as God is holy. Just a few verses from today’s text, in 1 Thessalonians 4:7, Paul declares, “…God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”
When we hear and receive Christ’s redeeming call and are born anew by the power of his Spirit, we immediately (though imperfectly) begin the process of becoming what God says we already are. God, in a manner of speaking, says to us:
You are holy. Now go and be holy. Go and be who you already are.
To die to yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Christ is what it means to live a sanctified life, one that jettisons the old, fallen self, and instead, puts on Christ as of first importance. It’s a life that immediately seeks his righteousness.
This is God’s will for you. The better you know God, and the more you know of God – his person, work, ways, and word – and the more you pursue them daily and whole-heartedly in your life – the more likely you will be able to discern his particular will for your life: that job to take, that person to marry, that place to move.
Seek first God and his righteousness, and the answers to those other questions will be revealed to you in time (Matt. 6:33).
Holy Father, you have called me to be holy as you are holy. But more than that, you have recreated me in your image and given me your Holy Spirit. Your very holiness dwells within me and I am truly a new creature in Christ. For that I give you my eternal thanks and praise. And yet, I do not always see your holiness in myself – the thoughts I think, the words I speak, the life I live. Please forgive me. I know the reason for my sin and shortcomings are not because you have withheld your resources from me, but because I have neglected to make use of them. I cannot be holy apart from your power and guidance, but you will not cause me to live a holy life without my participation. Please help me Father to pursue a holy life that seeks to know you better with each and every passing day. And as I grow closer to you, know you better, and become more like you, I pray I will better discern your particular will for my life. In Christ I pray. Amen.
This Week’s Prayer Guide
[You can use this prayer guide in your own personal prayer time. However, I encourage you to use it with a group of Christian men. Each week you should spend time praising God for who he is, confessing your sin to him (be specific) as well as expressing gratitude to him for his gracious forgiveness. Also, don’t forget to thank God for the many ways he has poured out his goodness in your life. Then, focus on the following areas of supplication, which will change from week to week.]
Petitions – prayers for yourself
· Spiritual Warfare
· Growth in Christlikeness
· Increasing faithfulness in the spiritual disciplines
· My health
· For my ordinary appointments and activities to become divine appointments and activities.
· Other needs
Intercession – prayers for others
· My Family
· Mercy for those who are poor and hungry
· Justice for those who are oppressed and persecuted
· Love for those who oppress and persecute others
· Peace for those in the midst of war, crime, and violence
· Other needs
Click the image above to learn more about my books for men.