Tag Archives: Waiting on God

Self-help Part 2 – Determining God’s will

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In Self-help Part 1 I talked about the quote “God helps those who helps themselves”.

The main points were:

  • This quote is not from the Bible,
  • We shouldn’t and can’t really help ourselves outside of God’s plan, and
  • We shouldn’t sit back and do nothing while waiting on God to make His move.
  • Finally, the quote was updated to the more correct “God helps us to help ourselves

So the question still remains:

How do we know what God wills us to help ourselves with?

The issue of doing God’s will is a challenging one for a lot of people, myself included. I’ve been asked by at least two friends recently how we can tell what God wants us to do. I personally have never heard God explicitly say “Beloved child, do X” That would make life super-easy, but would result in no maturation on our parts! For me personally, I have a few principles I try to apply in determining what God wants me to do in a situation:

  1. If the Word explicitly says what to do, do it.

    This one is pretty easy in terms of knowing if what you are doing is right or wrong. Knowing what is right is easy, doing it is tough! Often I know what is the right thing to do but don’t feel like doing it. We should try not to live by our feelings though, but by our principles. For example: you might not feel like being nice to a person who hurt you deeply, but God’s word says to love your enemies. No matter how much this person hurt you, shower them with love (note God isn’t asking you to go out of your way to be nice to the person or to even like the person, just to love them and be a good neighbour if and when the situation arises.)

  2. Let peace decide.

    If you don’t have peace about doing something, don’t do it. I like the amplified version of Colossians 3:16

    And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually)
    in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds,
    in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live].
    And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].

    Whenever I have a tough decision to make, and I really am torn about what to do, I look for that feeling of peace. You may not like the decision but it’s the right one when God sends peace after making it. The last part of the verse is important too. Continue to be thankful no matter what situation you are in. Thank God for all the things that are right in your life instead of focussing on the difficulty of your decision.

  3. Pray for wisdom specific to the situation.

    Here’s a prayer that is guaranteed by God to be answered once we ask in faith.

    If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. – James 1:5-6

    When I have no idea what to do in a situation, when I’m unsure about something, or when I feel totally lost, I always pray for specific wisdom. For example, I’m in the process of preparing a huge document but did not know where to start. I asked God specifically for wisdom concerning where to begin and how much time to spend on each part of the project. Thankfully, my prayer was answered almost immediately. However, this verse does not say when God will send his wisdom. Sometimes you may actually need to go through a process to gain that wisdom. The process is useful because you learn and mature along the way, which is usually preparation for future promotion. Other times you miraculously just wake up with an answer. In both cases, God will grant you wisdom in perfect time once you prayed faithfully.

  4. Loving God, loving yourself and loving others.

    This one is just a bonus. Sometimes we just don’t have the answer. We have no idea what to do. In some difficult situations, I have felt like the Bible does not say something specific to my situation, no decision seems peaceful, and I’ve prayed for wisdom but have not received it yet. The situation thus becomes a waiting game and an exercise in patience. What do I do while waiting? I go back to number 1…

    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40

    If you are going to do what is right, it hangs on loving God and loving your neighbour. While waiting for answers from God, take your mind off the situation by going out and doing something nice for someone. Be a blessing to a person in need, or a person close to you that you might be taking for granted. In my experience the answers usually come when you’re distracted in being kind, which is a double reward.

    I hope this helps with the tough decisions coming your way!
    Angie

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Self-help Part 1 – God helps those who help themselves

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“God helps those who help themselves”

I trust many of us have heard this saying, and probably use it subconsciously or deliberately as a life principle. I have been thinking about it a bit more critically as despite popular belief it is not a quote from the Bible yet  it is often thrown around in Christian forums as if it was the word of God itself!

First, the extreme interpretations:

Extreme 1:

God won’t help you if you don’t help yourself first.

I believe this is directly contradictory to Scripture, especially the gospel of grace (unmeritted favour from God). We do not have to perform tasks to earn credit in God’s bank of blessings and help.

Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation.
However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly,
their faith is credited as righteousness.- Romans 4:4-5 

Moreover, as believers, we should trust that God will help us at the times when we cannot help ourselves (which is all the time).

But he said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you, 
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”…
– 2 Corinthians 12:9

For example, when the 75 year old impotent Abram was told he would be a father of nations, his barren wife Sarai did not believe she would be the mother of these nations but she did believe God’s promise. So she set out to “help God”.

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children.
But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar;
so she said to Abram,
“The Lord has kept me from having children.
Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
– Genesis 16:1-2

In the end, many years later, Genesis chapter 21 says

 Now the Lord was GRACIOUS to Sarah as he had said,
and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised.
– Genesis 21:1 (emphasis mine).

God’s grace, not Sarah’s scheming, helped Sarah! God did not help Sarah because she “helped herself”, He helped her despite helping herself!

Lastly, we cannot really help ourselves without God enabling us. This is explicit in the gospel message from John.

“I am the vine; you are the branches.
If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; 
apart from me you can do nothing.
– John 15:5 (emphasis mine)

English: "A Helping Hand". 1881 pain...

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Extreme 2:

Helping yourself is ungodly and we should sit back and wait on God.

 I believe that this is also contradictory to the Word; Specifically, the “sitting back”, not the “waiting”. There is merit in waiting on God. There are many scriptural references to patience but the one that comes to mind is:

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
– James 1:2-4

Patience is important for our maturity. It takes a really mature and humble person to truly believe that “God’s timing is better than mine” (*my struggle*) and to wait expectantly.

On the other hand, there is no merit in doing nothing at all while waiting. Think of a good waiter in a restaurant.

While he is waiting for your order, he busies himself serving other customers (blessing others), maybe he’ll pour you a glass of water (service) or converse with you about the options (prayer) until you finally at the right time place your order (God’s order in your life). A waiter who disappears in the back for a smoke break will probably miss when you are ready to order, but a waiter who genuinely serves well and expects your order, will be ready for that order… and may even get an unexpected tip!

A Waitress taking a breakfast order at Kahala ...

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So we’ve dealt with the extremes of the quote “God helps those who help themselves”. We’ve found that we should not and cannot truly help ourselves without God; neither should we sit back and do nothing. While waiting, we should pray and serve God and others genuinely. Though it leaves to be explored how do we know what actions we should take, which I’ll discuss in Part 2!

Thinking about the extremes, though, has inspired me to modify the quote:

“God helps us TO help ourselves!”

Have a great day,

Angie

Quote

“God’s way isn’t to make everything okay. God’s way is to give us strength to endure and the vision to see that our circumstances – no matter how dire or grim – are never as big as He is.”

Still Standing: 8 winning strategies for facing tough times by James Merritt

I’m reading this book now amongst others.
It’s a light read (I’ve laughed through many passages) and very encouraging. 
Pick it up or check it out from your local library if you can.

Angie

“God’s way isn’…

Waiting on God

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shadows and reflections

There always comes a time in life where you have to wait on God. Whether it’s waiting for a result, waiting for a directive or waiting through a season. Waiting on God is not easy. It’s hard to let go of the reins, it’s hard to wait for a long time for a sign and it’s hard to resist the temptation to just do it your own way. Here are a few of the thoughts I had about waiting on God.

  1. Joy, patience and prayer I’ve been waiting (very reluctantly I might add) through a challenging season. I was talking to my mum yesterday and she said to me “If you say you are trusting God, then you are flying in his face when you walk around moping. So look on the bright side. Even though the message may hurt sometimes, God is in it and he is allowing it for a reason”. And it’s true. I am not really trusting God if I continue to worry and cry and be miserable just because God wants to teach me something through a painful situation.

    Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12It’s no coincidence that while I was at church, praying or reading my Bible, I always felt better. I was only using one of the three elements of the above verse. Despite remaining prayerful, I was letting my self be unjoyful and impatient with God. I thank God that my faithless attitude was not making my prayers ineffective, but I’m sure if I continue with this negative mindset my prayers would have become faithless and go unanswered.

  2. Relinquish control In the early days, when Abram was over 75 years old (Gen 12:4), God promised him he would have an heir (Gen 15:4). Years had passed and Abram’s wife Sarai remained barren so she suggested that he sleep with her maidservant Hagar. I believe that Sarai did not doubt God’s promise to Abram, but she didn’t believe she was the one to fulfil it and therefore tried to fulfil God’s plans her own way. Confusion is what came out of this situation: Hagar despised Sarai (v.4), Sarai mistreated Hagar (v.6), Hagar and her son Ishmael were sent away (Gen 21: 8-11) and the whole matter distressed Abra(ha)m. All this could have been avoided if they had just let God work His plan. God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor 14:33) and would therefore be clear in what part he requires you to play if any.
  3. God’s time is not your time Still on the above example, Abraham and Sarah were over 100 and 90 years old when the true heir Isaac was born (Gen 17:1, Gen 17:17, Gen 21). This is after almost two decades since that promise was made! God may promise you something now and he is faithful, but he will only fulfill the promise when He knows you are ready for it. God also reminds us not to be anxious while we wait, and again to pray and give thanks during our season.

    Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

So these were just a few of the things I want to keep in mind this week and I hope these reminders have helped you out as well. No matter what you are going through trust God, and don’t just have faith, be faithful!

God bless,

Angie

Related articles
Let go and let God – a survivor who found a blessing in cancer
Five Things I Have Learned Waiting on God (reflectionsofgracehome.wordpress.com)
When God Says, “Wait” (theinnersoulofme.wordpress.com)
How to Cope When the Will of God is Hard (ptl2010.com)