“So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.” (Romans 12:1-2, CEB).
This meditation is a hands-on lesson in how God works in our lives. Give it a try.
- Take a blank sheet of paper and in the middle of the sheet of paper write in large letters:
- Then in the top left-hand corner write in smaller letters:
- Fold the paper in half folding the bottom half behind and to the top so that the words are still showing.
- Then fold the paper in half folding the right half behind and to the left so that the words are still showing.
- Again, fold the paper in half folding the bottom half behind and to the top so that the words are still showing.
- And, again fold the paper in half folding the right half behind and to the left so that the words are still showing.
- You should now have a small square of paper in your hands that is 1/16th of the original paper size with the words printed on it: GOD’S PLAN FOR MY LIFE. These words probably fill or almost fill the small square of paper in your hand.
Here’s the point of this exercise:
We like to think of God’s will as something that is being revealed a little at a time. It’s like something we discover as if it is unfolding before us.
Actually, finding God’s will is more like folding than unfolding. It’s more like the displacement of our own will in favor of God’s will. It’s a place God leads us, not a place we discover.
“We aren’t like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites couldn’t watch the end of what was fading away… All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:13,18,CEB).
The Old Testament story of Moses’ practice of veiling his face that the Apostle Paul is referencing in these verses is found in Exodus 34:33-35. The Old Testament story is one of my favorites because it’s theologically rich and yet, counter-intuitive.
Moses periodically entered into the presence of God at the Tent of Meeting. When he left the Tent of Meeting and returned to the people, he fastened a veil over his face. It seemed that Moses hid his face so as not to scare the already fearful Israelites with the shining glory of God that was reflected on his face.
But, that’s not really the case!
“If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10, ESV).
How do you handle problems when you encounter them? Do you get angry, frustrated, or depressed? Do you keep them to yourself or do you complain to your friends or family? Do you blame God for your problems? Why did God let this happen to me?
While God doesn’t cause all our problems, God does use our problems to build our character! So, if the small problems get you down, if you constantly complain about all your problems, then God probably needs to do some more character-building with you.
“Early in the morning Jacob took the stone that was near his head and set it up as a marker. He poured oil on top of it and named the place Bethel…Then Jacob made a vow: ‘If God will be with me and watch over me on this journey, if He provides me with food to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God. This stone that I have set up as a marker will be God’s house, and I will give to You a tenth of all that You give me'” (Genesis 28:18-22, HCSB).
Jacob was on a journey to Haran and at the end of one of the days during his journey he stopped and camped outdoors.
That night God appeared to Jacob in a dream of a stairway that started from where he was and reached to heaven. Angels were ascending and descending the stairway. In the dream God transferred to Jacob all the essential elements of the covenant He had established with his grandfather and father, Abraham and Isaac.
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven…Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1, 4, NLT).
When we practice the spiritual disciplines of giving, praying, and fasting we are cultivating a quality of life that helps us develop an authentic relationship with God.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit…I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” (John 15:1-2,5, HCSB).
These verses contain the last of seven “I am” declarations made by Jesus in John’s Gospel. “I am” is an allusion to God’s name by which God identified Himself to the Israelites: “God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).
“Then David inquired of the Lord: ‘Should I go to war against the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?’ The Lord replied to David, ‘Go, for I will certainly hand the Philistines over to you.’ So David went to Baal-perazim and defeated them there and said, ‘Like a bursting flood, the Lord has burst out against my enemies before me.’ Therefore, he named that place the Lord Bursts Out. The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off.” (2 Samuel 5:19-21, HCSB).
Have you ever had an emotional outburst caused by stress or anger or even joy? In the stories of King David recounted in 2 Samuel 5 and 6, we see this sort of behavior displayed by God.