Aligning Yourself With God's Purposes

I'm continuing with the Testing God series and have completed the second step in the process: Studying God where He is and has been. That step is fairly involved. If you've been keeping up, then you understand that it begins with the study of God's Word, the Bible. But, first, let's back up a bit.

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Here are the posts I've written in this series so far, in order of the writing:

Now we've come to the third step, which is aligning yourself with God's purposes. This is an important step because it really gets to the heart of testing God. God's plan is an intricate plan, but simple in its elegance and beauty. It's absurd, but practical. It's hard to believe, but easy to put faith into. The practical wisdom for daily living it offers is easy to understand, but difficult to execute. God's purpose, for our individual lives, for our collective existence, and for all creation is the most important thing any of us should consider but is often the furthest thing from our minds. So what is it, and how do we get in on it?

The First Step to Aligning Ourselves With God's Purposes

Before we can align ourselves with God's purposes, we must first understand what those purposes are. If you want to travel any distance--in space or time--you've got to know two things: Your point of origin and your destination. Where are you, and where do you want to go?

For instance, if you want to get from Los Angeles to New York, you've got a lot of different options. But in order to arrive at New York safely and on time, you've got to make a plan, and that plan needs to include a mode of travel and a route. If you're driving, for instance, you might decide to take the most direct route, which would require you to leave Los Angeles by I-10 E and pick up I-15 around San Bernardino. That will take you into Utah where you'll pick up I-70. Eventually, somewhere around Nebraska, you'll hop onto I-80 and it's clear sailing--except for traffic patterns and perhaps a few construction projects. You might call this exercise in using America's favorite death trap "aligning yourself with America's roadways."

Humor aside, if you want to align yourself with God's purposes, you must first understand those purposes, just as you would need to understand the network of roadways in order to make a trip from Los Angeles to New York.

There are three very important things one must do in order to understand God's purposes. Each of these three things are a part of the previous step--Studying God where He is and has been.

  • Study the Bible - Studying the Bible is important because it is the most complete exposition into the mind of God that man has. It is not exhaustive, but it is comprehensive. It's a story, more or less, of God's plan from the beginning of everything (Genesis) to the end of the everything (Revelation). While it is the most comprehensive resource available to us regarding God's purposes, some parts of it are difficult to understand. That's why we cannot rely on it alone, but we must rely on it as a start.
  • Prayer - Prayer is a direct pipeline to the mind of God. It allows us to inquire of God, pursue God in its purest relational form, and, in a sense, understand God from the inside out. Just as you would converse with an old friend to learn that friend's most ardent desires and deepest expressions of human sentiment, conversing with God allows you to gain a deeper understanding, a more personal understanding, of God's deepest expressions.
  • Fellowship - We humans are fallible. God is not. And while it is God's purpose for each of us to know Him personally and deeply, we often fail. For that reason, it's important to fellowship regularly with others who are on the same path, those who, like you, are seeking to understand God, know God, and align themselves with His purposes. This is necessary because all of us are at different points in the journey. Some are further along while others are just starting. Those on the path can encourage one another, teach one another, and help refine each other's understanding throughout the journey.

The other parts of studying God may be helpful, but these three parts of that step in the process are absolutely essential. I will now turn to each part and explain the necessary components of them individually.

Studying the Bible

The purpose for studying the Bible is to understand God's plan for His creation. In the book of John, first chapter, we learn that in the beginning was the Word, and that Word became a man. Everything that was made was made through him. This Word was none other than Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity.

If we read a little further into the book of John, we read where Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

I encourage everyone to start with the book of John if they are new to reading the Bible. It's simple reading and gets to the heart of God's message to man very quickly. Jesus Christ is the center, the crux, of God's plan and His purpose for life. As we study the rest of God's word, that should become clearer to us. Through prayer and fellowship with others, it will. But we must start somewhere. My recommendation is to start with the book of John. Throughout the book, you'll learn what you need to know about Jesus Christ as the son of God to set your mind straight about the rest of the process. If you stumble over this part, or you simply can't buy the premise, you won't get far with the rest of the process. It's an absolute necessity, in testing God, to accept His gift to you through Jesus Christ. If you can't do that, you may as well stop here.

Praying to God

There are parts of the Bible that you'll find difficult to understand. Everyone bumps into it, sooner or later. In fact, you can study the Bible all your life and not completely understand it. Every time I read a passage, I come away with a different, and often better, understanding of something than I ever have before.

Because the Bible is difficult to understand, if we're going to have any hope of understanding it at all, then we've got to pray about it. We must ask God to help illuminate the scriptures for us.

In John 14:26, Jesus promised his disciples that God would send the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit, or the Advocate, will "teach you all things" and "remind you of everything I have told you." In Acts, chapter 2, we read where the Holy Spirit descended upon all those who had gathered in one place. Christians call this the day of Pentecost, and it ushered in the church age. Today, when new believers express faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside them and guides them, teaches them, comforts them, and even helps them pray.

Prayer helps us understand God, but it isn't all about asking God for favors. We pray so that we have a better understanding of who God is, what His purposes are, what His plan for our lives is, and how we can better serve Him. All of that is encompassed in the task of aligning ourselves with God's purposes. Prayer helps us understand those purposes so we can align ourselves properly.

Fellowship With Other Believers

The Christian life is all about understanding who God is and what His plan for us is. He is perfect; we are not. Because we can often fall out of alignment, fail, stumble, go astray, or simply rebel, we need the disciplined influence of other believers in our lives to help us. God speaks to us through the Bible and through prayer, but He sometimes also speaks to us through others. In fact, He will often send us someone who can confirm what we think we are hearing in prayer or reading in scripture.

The most perfect test of God's will and purposes is when we consult all three of these resources--the Bible, prayer, and other believers--and they all agree. When that happens, you can bet that you're hearing a revelation from God.

Aligning ourselves with God's purposes begins with understanding those purposes. If you wish to do that, you must study God's Word, pray to Him that He will reveal to you His true heart so that you can abide by His wishes, and fellowship with believers in God's Son so that they can help you in your journey, encourage you, and assist you as you struggle against the powers that seek to lead you away from God. As you seek an understanding of God's purposes, you'll begin to desire, more and more, to align yourself with them. You'll soon learn that things you once thought were important are no longer important to you and new interests arise that allow you and impel you to further learn more about your creator and align yourself with His purposes. It's a different kind of living, but one worth every step of the journey.

You can read the story of how I came to faith here.

What's your story? What have you learned about God and His purposes? Please share in the comments below.

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Posted via | The City of Neoxian

Posted via | The City of Neoxian


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