As we enter into another year one of the most important concerns (or it should be) for Christians ought to be am I doing the will of the LORD.  For most this is a very perplexing question, but you know it need not be.  As a matter of fact this should not be a question at all if we truly are walking with the LORD in faith.  What is at stake believe it or not is our understanding of  what God is doing and our heart condition aligning up with His will for our lives and in the given situation.  Often time we see the sinner prosper and seemingly get over on God (and us) to the point we question God’s ability and even His sovereign will. At times we gnash our teeth in anger when our ways are not accepted or when something ungodly happens in our country like the openness of the gay lifestyle on parade or the daily slaughter of innocent life through the abortions mills that cover America.  We think some day God will get them and we are right, but that day is not today.  David in the Psalms reflects on such a time as this, “In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? 2 For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. 3If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? 4The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. 5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. 6 Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.”  (Psalms 11:1-7) Make no mistake the wicked days are numbered. but that day is not today. Until that day (God has appointed) comes we must maintain the foundations on which we are built  because, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” and we too will be lost. What does it really matter what the evil man does?  What does it really matter what our government says and does? We must have an eternal perspective this earth and life is not our final destination. Do we not believe it?  For those who do not believe it will do and get all they can now even going outside (in word and deed) the will of God. The “righteousness” David refers to is doing the will of God.  Doing that which is right in the eyes of God no matter what the evil man does or says.  You know our spiritual life is far more than the accumulation of information that we gather such as understanding doctrine and the written Word.  Rather, the measure of our spirituality is the result of the accumulation of the decisions that we make during our span of life. When we stand before the Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ the level of spiritual life to which we have attained will be compared not  against our fellow man, but against the LORD’s overcoming life.  Life is never easy  it is a struggle in which we must continually choose what we will do or which way we will go. Because of the many desires that we have (along with the responsibilities that have been placed upon us) at times it may be difficult for us to make the right choice.  As we choose rightly we will become one of the overcomers (word in the Bible for victory) whom the LORD will lift into being seated with Him in His throne at the appointed time. For us to be able to walk in what the LORD has for us (walking in His will for our lives) we must become (a process of self-denial, discipline unto obedience, and correction from God and others at times) a “living sacrifice” and “be not conformed (poured into a mold to harden) to this world.”  Paul (a man who knew something about self-denial, discipline unto obedience, and correction from God and others) lived it so he could write it, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  (Romans 12:1-2) Paul begged (beseeched) the brethren even though they were alive they had to die to their selfish desires and to this world to be holy and acceptable to God.  Now you do not hear that message often being preached, oh no most Churches (but we know we are the church) preach a humanistic sermon of emotions on how to find your destiny in God.  Well the only destiny we have in God is to die on our cross so that the LORD can live through us. John picked up on this message when he lived and wrote, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world .17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15-17)  Yet we love the world and try to exclude only those things we find ungodly while letting everything else into our lives and heart. To be a “living sacrifice” we will have to live different than the world, speak different than the world, and even act different than the world.  I think in some ways the Amish may have some things right, but one thing for sure, “he that doeth the will of the God abideth for ever.”  This is a condition for “abiding for ever” with God.  How can we walk in the plan of God for our lives if we are not walking in God’s will?  With this abiding even darkness cannot move us out of God.       

We were attending a local church and for many months the pastor allowed me to minister on Sunday night until a man in leadership returned from his Florida annual winter vacation who did not have an understanding of the darkness of God, well to make a long story short I was asked by the pastor (he did not want to break his rice bowl or learn anything ) to stop coming to the church.  But did you know there are two types of darkness? The first darkness is that which arises from sin.  It is a darkness that is filled with unhappiness and leads the Christian to eternal death.  The second type of darkness is darkness which the LORD allows within our inward part in order to establish and settle virtue.  This is a happy darkness because it illuminates (revelation) our inward spirit, strengthens it and gives it greater light.  We must never rush out into the spiritual darkness in which we can suddenly find our self in.  It would be well for us to stop all of our frantic running, struggling, and searching and just wait before the LORD.  He will get our flashlight to us.   God provides for us a light in darkness.  This is an anchor which will help prevent us from falling upon the rocks or in a dung heap.  There are some people who do not know God provides a light to walk through darkness.  They go stumbling on and stumbling on and falling into all kinds of unpleasant messes, getting cut and bruised, and crying the blues.  They do not believe there could be a light in such intense darkness. They believe many things which are not true. How readily some believe the suggestions of  a liar and others while being slow to believe the Word of God.  Job wrote, “By His light, I walked through darkness”  (Job 29:3) God gives us a light.  We must see these times of darkness as a time we persevere in our inward pursuit.  It is a manifest sign that God in His infinite mercy is seeking to bring us into the inward path.  How good will be the results if we embrace these times with peace and with resignation.  Such times are for our spiritual growth and development. As we persevere God will give us a light which grows and increases in the midst of darkness. Often it is in times of darkness wisdom and strong love are begotten.  It is in times of darkness not in times of great outward spiritual joy that our self-nature and self-seeking is dealt a mortal blow.  Imaginations, ideas, wanderings, and other hindrances  which give us a distorted view of God and His ways are consumed.  Last of all the Lord uses darkness to purge us of our outward senses; this purging is necessary for our internal progress.  Do not particularly try to seek a way out of darkness and most of all do not stop coming before the LORD as  in our most faithful times and in those times when spiritual riches and blessing were at their highest. Do not try to look for some emotion or even a tender devotion towards God.  We must only express our desire to do His will and to be His pleasure.  Otherwise we will simply go in circles throughout our lives and take not even one step towards our inward goal of knowing Him.  An emotional experience with the LORD must not be our goal for it is not His goal.  If we do then we will succumb to satisfying the desires of our flesh and not choose to rise above these desires to feed our spirit.  The accumulation of the choices that we make is all that we will take with us (that which we have spiritually become) when we depart from this life. If our decisions for the LORD outweigh our self-serving choices then this becomes the level of spiritual growth to which we have attained and will establish the place of our relationship to the LORD for all eternity. Our being an overcomer means that there is a separation between that which pertains to our self-satisfaction and fulfillment and that which is according to the will and purpose of our LORD for us. As we go through life the more decisions that we make toward that which is spiritually edifying the easier it will become to continue making these decisions and we become more detached from all those things that could pull us down. In the beginning, it may be difficult, but it becomes easier as we continue to choose rightly. Our lives in many ways is comparable to walking in a large circular spiral. As we move around the circle and continue to choose that which is spiritually edifying (when we return to our starting place) hopefully, we will be a distance higher than we had been when we first started. If we choose toward self-gratification we will arrive a distance lower than we had been when we first started.  Life may seem repetitive (as it mostly is), but the accumulation of these seemingly mundane daily choices that we make will greatly affect our eternal position before the LORD. Thus we are doing far more than simply going in circles (if we are making positive decisions toward the LORD)  our desire to personally know Jesus will substantially increase and our spirit will become more sensitive to His presence. But, if we give in to carnal desires we will become hardened and indifferent to the LORD and to His presence. We may be struggling, and at times, seemingly losing more battles than we are winning, but as we spend quality time in the presence of our LORD asking Him for the strength to make the right decisions we will be enabled to do so and we will begin to move upward.  There are those who have a spiritual quality that is perceptible to others as their lives radiate an inner peace. This is because they have risen above earthly pressures, temptations, and are making the right decisions. We can be in a storm when everything is calm or we can be calm when everything is stormy.  We can even be alone in a crowd.   It all depends upon where you live. It all depends upon which is gripping our heart, the storm or the faithfulness of God.  There is a place of silence in God that brings us to nothingness.  A place where we have nothing to say.  There are three types of silence:  a silence of words, a silence of desires, and a silence of thoughts.  The first is perfect.  The second is even more perfect and the third is the most perfect.  In the first, the silence of words, there is virtue (strength) that is acquired.  In the second, the silence of desires, quietness is obtained; and in the third, the silence of thoughts . . . this is our goal:  the internal recollection of all of our senses.  To lay hold of the silence of thought is to arrive and abide at the center of our being where Christ dwells. Not by speaking, desiring, nor reasoning we reach the central place of our inward walk that place where God speaks to our inward man.  It is there that God communicates.  Himself to our spirit and there in the inmost depths of our being.  He teaches us Himself.  He guides (in His will) us to this place where He alone speaks His most secret and hidden things of His heart to us. We must enter into this through all silence if we would hear His divine voice within us. Forsaking the world will not accomplish this even nor renouncing our desires, but these we must try to do.  No, not even if we should renounce all things created.  What then? Rest is found only in this three-fold silence, only before an open door where God may communicate Himself to us.  It is in that place He can transform us into Himself.  This transformation of our soul consists not in speaking to God nor in thinking on God, but in loving Him greatly.  And how is this love acquired? By means of perfect resignation of God’s faithfulness to us and this threefold silence.  Jesus said that the Kingdom is within us. The first aspect of the Kingdom is “righteousness.” Thus the righteous decisions that we make will draw us upward toward His Kingdom. When we choose the LORD and place ourselves under His Kingdom rule we place ourselves on a platform called “righteousness.”  Then as we continue to make righteous decisions it will result in our experiencing His abiding presence and having a sensitivity to all that is spiritual. Because we are making the right decisions the favor or the approbation of God will rest upon us. How easy then is it to be in the will of God?  God does not try to trick us or set us up.  Oh no, as long as we are not overtly over in sin (first type of darkness and we know it) then whatever we are doing for God  and where ever we find ourselves this is the will of God for our lives. No pressure on us.  God just then guides us along to keep us on track.  Believe it or not God does not try to make things too difficult, but we seem to.     

 David Stahl