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Have You Missed God's Perfect Will For You?
Have you ever felt that you missed God’s perfect will and are now stuck forever living in Plan B or even Plan Z? Perhaps you think you should have married someone else or chosen a different career path. Over the years, some of us may have made choices that directly contradict God’s word. Other times we have tried hard to discern God’s will, but at times still end up unsure, questioning whether we made the right decision.
Discerning God’s will can be much simpler than we often perceive it to be.
Let me share with you three things that we already know about God’s will.
God tells us what to BE. Although we might not know for sure what career path God wants for us, there are many passages in the Bible where God clearly tells us what His he wants us to be. Throughout His Word tells us to be loving, forbearing, patient, kind, forgiving, generous, thankful, fruitful, humble, obedient, faithful, self-controlled, pure and a myriad of other descriptions of character traits that He’d like us to develop. God tells us directly and specifically what we are to be or become.
God tells us what to DO. The Bible already tells us a great deal already about what we are to do as Christ-followers. He tells us that wherever we are we are to pray without ceasing, to give thanks in all things, to love our enemies, to bless those who hurt us, to speak the truth in love, to spread the gospel, to help widows and orphans, to encourage one another, to submit to one another, to glorify God, to bear one another’s burdens, to overcome evil with good and more.
These Christ-like character qualities are to become the attitudes and actions of the Christian who wants to be holy and thus be in God’s will.
God Permits Personal Choices Within The Wisdom of His Word. Making personal choices is often the where we struggle the most. Do I become a doctor, lawyer, or a missionary? Should I take this new job or not? These type of decisions are often made using a combination of God’s word, wisdom, the counsel of others and personal preference. If hardship and suffering accompany our choice, we start to question whether we have made an awful mistake and missed God’s will.
Sam was offered a wonderful job opportunity with a new company in California. He prayed about it, had the endorsement of his wife and kids and other good friends and believed that God was giving him the green light to accept this new job. After only five short months the company went out of business and Sam and his family were left with no income, no benefits and a lot of bills. “I really thought I heard the Lord tell me to move,” Sam said as he scratched his head bewildered. “How do you ever know what God’s will is or if you’re making the right decision?”
Like Sam, most of us look at temporal things—like success, personal happiness and good results in order to confirm that our decision was in line with God’s will. Had Sam’s company continued to prosper, Sam would have not have doubted his decision as God’s will. No one who is happily married has second guessed whether she married the right person. We believe that if our choice is in God’s will then good results or blessings will follow. If bad things happen, we conclude it is because we must have stepped out of God’s will.
But is this thinking Biblical? The apostle Paul thought he was doing God’s will but ended up being shipwrecked (Acts 27). Perhaps knowing God’s will isn’t discerned by looking at the temporal benefits of a decision but in looking at the eternal results.
Is it possible that Sam discerned God’s will correctly after all? Sam was to move to California with this new job, but not for any temporal pleasures he might have attained with a great job and a secure income. It was God’s will that Sam move to California because he knew that the hardship that would come would build into Sam and his family’s life, the character qualities of Jesus.
When we believe that God’s preeminent will is to conform us to the image of Christ, then any decision that we make, God can and does use for that purpose. This does not mean we should throw caution to the wind and make reckless choices. However, we need never fear that if we have made a decision that results in difficulties or hardships, whether because of foolish decision making or because we stepped out in faith believing something was God’s will but now everything has gone wrong, that God’s will has been thwarted.
God can and does bring us back to Plan A—his best plan for our lives because he never deviates from that plan, no matter what decisions we make. He tells us in Romans 8:28 and 29 that He will cause all things, the good decisions we make and the bad ones to work together for our good for those of us who love God. That promise has no time limit.
There are no Plan B’s, He who has begun a good work in us, will finish it (Philippians 1:6).
If you’d like more help in understanding this process, a portion of this teaching was taken from my book, How to Live Right When Your Life Goes Wrong.
My Wife Say's I'm Controlling? Is She Right?
Question: My wife says I’m manipulative and controlling. I don’t think I am. Let me give you an example. We have been separated for about a year, but recently we were out to dinner. While we were sitting there, she was friendly to some other patrons (policemen who she knew). She wasn’t flirting but I felt slighted and insulted that she was ignoring me. I told her how I felt and she accused me of being controlling. Is that true? I don’t see it?
Answer: First, let me applaud you for even asking the question. Most people when given that kind of feedback totally ignore or discount it. The fact that you are asking the question suggests that you might be open to the possibility that it’s true, even if you don’t see it.
Manipulating and controlling behavior are often subtle and hard to prove in the moment. They become much more obvious over time. If we just take this one incident, you might find it difficult to see your behavior as controlling. (Tweet this)
I think most people feel a little uncomfortable when they are out to eat with someone and that person has an extended conversation with someone else and does not include us, whether it is in person or on a cell phone or even texting.
So the only way we can truly answer this question is to examine your patterns over time, especially in relation to your interactions with your spouse. As you do this, you may begin to see a pattern of manipulative and controlling behaviors emerge.
Most people who use these kinds of behaviors don’t usually recognize them as wrong or harmful, it’s just the way they have learned to cope with uncomfortable or painful emotions or ways they’ve learned to get their own way or what they want from others. Underneath these dysfunctional behaviors are usually attitudes of entitlement as well as unrealistic expectations of how others should be or how they should treat you.
For example, perhaps you felt insulted at the restaurant because you believed that you were entitled to your wife’s undivided attention and anything less than that meant that she wasn’t interested in you or your conversations. Ask yourself were you attempting to control her friendliness with others by making her feel guilty about “slighting” you.
Or you may believe, “A wife should never talk with other men, even as friends. If she does, that means she doesn’t love me or I’m not most important.” Again your response to her indicates that you had some expectations of her to give you her undivided attention the entire time you were together. You didn’t say how long she was engaged with the policeman, but was it extensive or just a few minutes?
Here are other ways people manipulate and control others. Read through the list. Perhaps you will recognize using these methods to get your way.
Argue: You don’t take no for an answer but rather continue to make your point over and over again until she wears down and finally agrees with you. The underlying message is it’s not okay for her to disagree or have her own opinion.
Begging: “Please? Please? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease? Continuing to ask, beg and plead until she changes her mind. The underlying message is she is not allowed to say no.
Bargaining: “If you do this, then I’ll give you….. A bribe to get her to do or not do what you want. You use favors as a means to manipulate her into doing something that she would not have wanted to do otherwise.
Guilt Trips: You might say, “You’re not following God or you’re being an unsubmissive wife or God hates divorce or if you really loved me or our children you would…..” The message here is that if she doesn’t do what you think she should do, God will be upset with her or you won’t be able to handle it or she is not a good/godly person.
Micromanaging: This is usually in the areas of time and money where one person makes the other person feel like a subordinate employee or child. She is not allowed to make her own decisions or handle her own life without asking your permission.
Misquoting or Twisting: “You said……” when in reality the person didn’t say it that way but you twist what they said to suit your own purposes. For example, “You said we were going to get back together soon, when what she really said was, “I don’t know if we can get back together soon.”
Playing Holy Spirit: We are all tempted to do this when confronting someone with his or her sin. But it is not our job to convict or change someone else’s behavior to line up to what we think it should be. When we see someone caught in a sin or trespass, we can try to restore such a one in a spirit of humility and gentleness (Galatians 6:1) but if we try to hold someone accountable to a change that they have not initiated, we are attempting to play God in his or her life.
Promises: I will do anything, just ……… Whether or not you keep your promise is irrelevant. You use a promise to get her to do something you want her to do.
Punishing actions: Using physical, sexual, economic, or verbal pressure, abuse or tactics to punish her for not doing what you think she should do. You might stop paying the bills, close the bank account, curse at her, call her names, accuse her of things, tell friends and neighbors untrue things about her to teach her a lesson for not doing what you want her to do. You feel justified because she did something “wrong” and won’t change or stop or admit she was wrong.
Irritation or Silence: I am so bothered or angry that you won’t do what I want that I won’t speak with you or treat you kindly until you change and do what I want.
Threats: Threatening to leave, to hurt one’s self or others, to hurt something she loves like her pet, her parents, her children, her stuff if she doesn’t do what you want her to do.
Some of these patterns overlap and many are used in conjunction to try to get another person to do something we think they should do or to stop doing something that we don’t want them to do. When we do that we try to control their behavior and often their thinking. That is not our role or responsibility and when you do this you will not have the intimacy or love you desire.
If you see yourself in these examples, that’s a good start but it usually doesn’t result in permanent changes unless you invite your wife and others to tell you when you fall back into them. Then it is your responsibility to learn how to tolerate the uncomfortable emotions that you may feel when she disagrees with you, doesn’t want to do what you want her to do or wants to do something different, in a mature way.
Have You Missed God's Perfect Will?
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How To Live Right When Your Life Goes Wrong
LESLIE ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS
My Wife Say's I'm Controlling? Is She Right?
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How To Live Right When Your Life Goes Wrong
Despite the abundant availability of both self-help books and Bible study materials, many of us find it difficult to apply what we learn, to make that long head-to-heart journey of change.
When we are faced with life's daily trials, our responses often lack the Christian maturity we desire--showing us clearly just how far we have to go. Is it possible to achieve a deeper, more permanent change of heart? Author and counselor Leslie Vernick says yes. Now, through one practical, simple-to-understand and easy-to-remember model, you can!
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