Discernment. A fancy word that means to know what’s true and right. It should guide our decisions, including how we spend our time. But the world is so full of activities, and things to experience. And many of them are indeed good. So how do we gain this discernment as we fill out our calendars?
As believers in Christ, we already have discernment within us. But like a muscle, it needs strengthening. Slowing our pace, making room for God and seeking His leading are just some of the “training exercises” we can do. In time, you’ll begin to better sense what your answer to an invitation or opportunity should be.
“Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.”
John C. Maxwell
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
“… Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
For me, focusing on the word “in” here adds deeper meaning to this verse. It means that no matter what I’m experiencing at any given moment – whether a good or bad situation – I can find something to thank God for. If I’m struggling, that can be a real challenge. So, I have to make the decision to look beyond my feelings to find the blessings. When I do, I always find at least one – which usually leads to more!
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
It may sound strange, but I have found that there is a strong connection between being thankful and having more peace in my life. I’ve discovered that lifting up praises to God on a regular basis calms my spirit in two very special ways:
1. It reminds me that God has done so many amazing things for me already. I can see His love for me and concern for every part of my life.
2. It reminds me that God has been faithful to keep His promises to me. I am reassured by His presence and the knowledge that He is always near.
“From them we’ll come songs of Thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be distained.”
Giving God praise corporately is so important. He loves to hear the praises of his people, and there’s a special quality to joining with others in lifting him up. I always feel encouraged as I see brothers and sisters in the faith worshiping right alongside me. And I love knowing that our Lord Delights in blessing us as we obey His call.
“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.“
I’ve found that sharing what God has done is a powerful worship tool. Sometimes I mention how God has answered a prayer or guided me through a difficult situation. Other times I pass along what I’ve seen Him do in another person’s life. Either way, the testimony leads me to giving my Heavenly Father thanks and praise, and blesses those who hear it. Then many times, the worship becomes contagious!
“The hearts of the giver makes the gift dear and precious.”
“ Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.“
2 Corinthians 9:7
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.“
2 Corinthians 9:11
This verse reminds me of what I call “the worship cycle”. It starts with God, who graciously showers His love on us. Experiencing His goodness is meant to lead us to respond both by thanking Him and showing others a glimpse of that Godly love. Giving to others in His name has the potential to start a ripple effect that multiplies the praises God receives. What an exciting cycle to be a part of!
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
1 Corinthians 12:4-7
I always feel encouraged by this passage. It is such a wonderful reminder that each and every kind of gift and talent is needed in the Body of Christ. All our unique passions and skills not only come from the same source – our generous God – but are meant to be used to further His Kingdom. So there’s no room for comparison or competition, and no reason to feel less valuable. We are all an important thread in a beautiful tapestry that God is weaving together!
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 11:1
I’ve heard it said that following Jesus is simple, but it’s not easy. The longer I’ve been on this faith journey, the more I understand what that phrase means. It isn’t hard to discover what God wants – it’s clearly stated in His Word. What can be difficult, as I’ve experienced myself, is making the decision to consistently do what God wants. That’s why I so appreciate those brothers and sisters in Christ who, like the Apostle Paul, have given me a living example to go by. I hope that as I mature I’m helping to show others, too.
“Jesus came to announce to us that an identity based on success, popularity and power is a false identity- an illusion! Loudly and clearly he says: ‘You are not what the world makes you; but you are children of God.”
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
1 John 3:1