Have you ever wondered what God wants from you? Sometimes I get caught in that rut. As the saying goes, a rut is formed in the mud. I don’t want to be thinking in the mud. I want my mind and focus to be clear.
How to Get Out of the Mud and Clear Our Heads about What God Requires
Overthinking is the enemy of simplicity, and the gospel is simple. God wants a relationship with you and me. He has done everything to make that possible. But once it is established, what then?
God spoke to His people in the Old Testament through the prophet, Micah. He clearly stated what He requires.
“He has told you, O man, what is good—
and what does the Lord require of you,
but to do justice and to lovemercy,
and to walk humbly with your God?”
Micah 6:8 (emphasis mine)
Surely, He wants more than that. He wants mission work and tithing and sacrifice, right?
He wants our hearts to be willing to act when He prompts us, yes, but so much of what we feel we must do comes from our own imagination. If we read the above verse in context, we get a clearer picture.
“With what should I come before the Lord,
and bow down before God on high?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
“He has told you, O man, what is good—
and what does the Lord require of you,
but to do justice and to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God?”
Fast forward to the New Testament. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of that day. They were so obsessed with pleasing God, that they turned the Ten Commandments into over 600. I’m sure anyone who observed their lives was impressed with their fervency.
Everyone, that is, except Jesus. He had some harsh words for them. He was unimpressed with all that they had set themselves on doing, because they were neglecting the things they had been told to do.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You tithe mint and dill and cumin, but have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done without leaving the others undone.”
Matthew 23:23 (emphasis mine)
If I want to offer my service to God, out of the kindness of my heart – or even out of a misguided sense of duty, He will accept it. He will use it. But He will not take it in exchange for what He has already told me He requires. Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with Him by faith.
As the new year rolls around, I want to make sure I’m making the main things my main things. As I think about the goals I want to accomplish and the person I want to become, I will be keeping Micah 6:8 in focus. God has told me what is good and what He requires. He has made it clear.
My friend, do you have a relationship with God? Are you stuck in a rut wondering what He requires of you? First and foremost, He wants a relationship with you. He wants you to get to know Him in a personal way.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
From there, He will show you the purpose for which you were created. He will guide you into doing justice, loving mercy, and walking with Him in humble faith.
We cannot expect that, in the end, our good will outweigh our bad and He will be pleased. He has given us His Word so we will know what He wants from us. He isn’t interested in accepting our offering in place of what He has said.
Are there things you need to get right with Him as we head into this New Year? Maybe some efforts to abandon and others to embrace? The time is now to get out of the mud and clear our heads about what God requires.
“Thus says the Lord of Hosts: Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion, every man to his brother.”
Do you like curry? I am such a fan! I like Thai curry, Indian curry, Hawaiian curry, and whatever category fits the casserole recipe I shared in this post a couple of weeks ago. I like red, yellow and green curry. I like it with chicken, beef, pork or any combination of veggies. I just like it!
But, if you had asked me, before today, which curry color was my favorite, I wouldn’t have had an answer. I’ve never eaten them side by side to really taste the difference. So, to celebrate a raise my husband recently earned at work, he took me on an epic lunch date. We ordered all 3 colors of curry from a local Thai restaurant so we could share and compare. Which do you think we enjoyed the most?
I got a chance to discriminate on my epic lunch date of share and compare: Which color is the best Thai curry? Food for thought…
Before I go any further, I want to put forth something that is really on my heart and related to this topic enough that I can’t seem to keep writing without acknowledging it. In the same way that I appreciate all types of curry and have never put them side by side to compare, I appreciate all colors, sizes and shapes of people. I am fortunate to have friends and family of all kinds and I believe we’re created and loved by God equally. Our ability to see everyone that way is our victory as a society.
Color discrimination is ok for curry, but not for people!
Never in my lifetime, until just recently, have I been asked to notice differences and treat people according to them. These days, we’re encouraged to put people back in categories. In America, I’m being asked to favor businesses owned by some and not others. Merit is diminishing as the defining criteria for school acceptance or employment. And we’re pressured to shame people again. It’s backwards. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects all people against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
Robert Fulghum wrote a book called All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. I’m not sure about that, but I am pretty sure most of what harms us to know, we’ve learned after kindergarten. There is a children’s song which says:
Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black & white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world
God made all colors of people He and loves us all the same.
It is child-like simple. God made us all. Every single one of us. He loves each of us, no matter our physical or mental capabilities or characteristics. He wants a relationship with us all, no matter which way we lean politically, or sexually. He died to save us, regardless of how we identify or how we struggle. The only thing that can keep us from His love is our choice to reject it.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38, 39
God wants to help us live, without discrimination, in true unity with Him and other people
We must come to Him just as we are- sinful, prideful, shaggy, stinky, imperfect. If we wait until we are more presentable, we’ll never get there. He’ll wrap His arms of acceptance around us, no matter what, and then, by His grace, mercy and love, start to clean us up. He will create a new heart within us. He will help us see like He sees, want what He wants, and love like He loves… without prejudice, bitterness, or discrimination.
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
Alight – thank you for allowing me to share what was weighing on my heart as I was talking about comparing the colors and flavors of curry and discriminately choosing my favorite. I think God was impressing this lesson upon me as I enjoyed the epic lunch date with my husband. I mean, even the Thai chicken salad was a conglomeration of different kinds of things – fresh, fried, colorful, sweet, tangy… all served together and appreciated in harmony.
My lunch date was definitely “food for thought” but we did choose a favorite color of curry!
I think the truth, which was reinforced during our epic lunch date of share and compare, was more important than our discovery of which was our favorite color of curry. But we did make a decision. And, surprisingly, we agreed. Even our kids, who enjoyed our left-overs, numbered their preferences the same way we did.
Yellow is our favorite, with its deep, dark, earthy sweetness. Red closely follows yellow, with its lighter and brighter flavor. Green curry is delicious, and none of us would turn it down if it were offered on its own. But given the choice to discriminate between the three, we concluded that yellow is the best Thai curry for us.
Do you like curry? Do you have thoughts about discrimination of foods or people that you’d like to share? Is Jesus ministering to your heart and mind on the matter?
Do you think God has moods? I believe I could make a Biblical argument to say that He does, but I would also have to concede that they must be different from mine, because He is unchanging. My moods can change me from hour to hour. And my moods change the way I hear things. When I’m feeling confident, I might hear someone make a negative observation about me and process it as humor or sarcasm. But if I’m in an introspective mood, I am more likely to hear it as criticism and beat myself up over it.
When two people get together to converse, they each bring a mood. It’s no wonder discussions can veer so desperately off track. And when a group of people get together, it is nothing short of a miracle that communication happens at all!
But there is an upside to mood changes. I can read the Bible every day for as long as I live and receive it differently each time. So much of what I understand and take away is based on the mood I bring to the table.
Is weariness a mood? What do you call your attitude when you look ahead at your life and can’t quite see a break in the clouds? Unfortunately, but honestly, that is the mood I was in when I took my lunch break today. I was feeling the pressure of an already-tight budget, which has had some new and unexpected columns added to it lately.
I often scroll blogs and social media while I eat, but today, I recognized the desperate need for a mood change and decided to read my Bible instead. I came across this verse, which I’d read many times and never really noticed. Today, it stood out like it was in a pop-up book.
“Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.”
The first thing I realized about this verse was what it does not say. It does not say to pursue prosperity. Instead, it says to pursue righteousness and love, and in so doing, I will also come across life and prosperity and honor. I could feel my mood changing already! I know that God’s definition of prosperity does not necessarily mean money. I also know that when God prospers someone, they have everything they need. When God fills a person to the brim with contentment and joy, for example, a tight budget is of no real concern.
I realized I’d inadvertently listened to the philosophy the world offers, and it had affected my mood. The message of society is to pursue riches and positions of honor in order to be loved and have a good life. But God met me in my weariness and encouraged me that the very choice to read my Bible was the best thing I could have done. It may have been inadvertent but, by going to Scripture to soothe my mood, I was pursuing righteousness and God’s love. And that, my friend, turns out to be the very thing that will ultimately lead to fulfillment and joy and prosperity.
Have you noticed that you see, hear, or recognize things differently based on your mood? Have you been desperate for a mood change? Have you unwittingly bought into the world’s backwards prescription for prosperity? Let’s turn ourselves around and pursue that which God promises will be the ultimate mood and game changer!
“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.”
“Blessed is the one… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.”
Please not another User Guide, Operating Manual, Assembly Instruction, or Training Handbook! My eyes gloss over at the very mention of these things lately. Are you with me? I was recently asked to read a safety workbook, and take a test on it, before I could handle a piece of equipment. I read the first few (of 51!) pages several times, trying to bring my brain to a place where it could process the information without context. I quit several times. Can you relate? Sometimes words are just words when there is no framework from which to understand them.
Conversely, I got the chance to handle a new machine in the lab yesterday. My boss explained its purpose, gave me a quick demonstration and then let me operate it. With only a few minutes of hands-on exposure, I understood how it worked, what I could use it for, and why it will be beneficial for what I do every day. As she was walking away, my manager said she’d send me the paperwork for this apparatus. I realized, happily, that this was not another user guide to dread. The difference was that the words had already been brought to life for me this time.
Isn’t this a great real-life example of the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives? Before we accept Jesus, the Bible can be a hard read. Although it is not another user guide, it can feel that way when we try to process it with an inadequate frame of reference. But once the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us, He shows us how it works. He helps us to internalize its truth and illustrates the benefit it adds to our daily lives. He brings living color to the black and white words of Scripture.
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
What is your learning style? Are you, like me, willing to read just about anything provided it is not anther user guide? Or do you enjoy written work instructions? Is there someone in your life who makes the mundane fun? Do you find the Bible boring, or can you see God’s glorious intention for you leaping off the pages and into your soul? How does this resonate with you? I look forward to your thoughts!
“Your call will become clear as your mind is transformed by the reading of Scripture and the internal work of God’s Spirit. The Lord never hides His will from us. In time, as you obey the call first to follow, your destiny will unfold before you.”