Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
January 7, 2011
Chinese luck and the New Year
Not everyone agrees that it’s the new year. China, for instance, has a different ceremonial calendar than ours. Nonetheless, people in Shanghai paid $75 to ring the bell at the Longhua Temple at midnight last week and wish for new-year luck.
We’re learning to begin the new year by Jesus’ priorities. He came to inaugurate the Kingdom of God, that realm where his Father’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. If we would align our lives this year with our Lord’s purpose for us, we must make him our King every day. The Model Prayer teaches us how to pray and live in our Father’s will. We’ve learned to begin each day by enthroning God as our King, seeking his help as we glorify him with all we do.
Now we turn to Jesus’ second petition for us: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). This is an example of Hebrew parallelism, where the second line relates to the first. In this case, the lines amplify one another: God’s Kingdom comes wherever his will is done. He is our King wherever and whenever we are his subjects.
How do we know his will for us?
First we must believe that God does in fact have a plan for our lives. Some evolutionists say that life began as a chance coincidence, with no particular plan or purpose at all. Many postmodernists say that truth is relative, that there is no overriding purpose to life. So, does God have a plan for us, or is life a random coincidence? In the words of Shakespeare, are we “sound and fury, signifying nothing”?
Here is God’s answer: “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). God has a plan for every part of our lives. Romans 12:2 calls God’s will “good, pleasing and perfect.”
Our Father has a specific will for us. It is bigger and more exciting than any we can imagine for ourselves: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Living in his will is the key to living the abundant life Jesus came to give (John 10:10). How can we know it?
You know everything you know in one of three ways: rationally, practically, or intuitively. You do math rationally. You probably operate your computer practically (unless you’re a computer engineer, in which case you do it rationally). You meet people and know that you like them intuitively.
God reveals his will to us in all three ways. He reveals his will to us rationally through Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16) and logic. He reveals his will practically through those in authority over us (Romans 13:1), parents (Ephesians 6:1-2) and spiritual counselors, and circumstances. He reveals his will intuitively as the “gentle whisper” of the Spirit speaks to our spirit (1 Kings 19:12).
Before every decision, opportunity, and problem, pray for God to reveal his will to you and help you to follow it. Surrender to him as your King and choose to serve as his subject, and you will know his perfect will for your life