Monday, December 7, 2009

For His Name Sake by MaryBeth Whalen

"He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." Psalm 23:3b (NIV)

Dear Lord, please show me Your will for my life.

Dear Lord, please let me know what direction I should go.

Dear Lord, I only want what You want. I just wish I knew what that is.

Have you ever prayed a prayer that sounded something like these? If you are like me, the answer is yes. Today's verse offers powerful truth that I had missed in spite of reading it many times. How often I had prayed for God's guidance and direction—yet still wanted my own way. I broke the verse down into three parts to better grasp the wisdom it contained:

He guides me: As followers of God, we want Him to guide us. We only have to do it on our own for a little while to realize that we are inept in finding the right way. Many of us have come to God after making an unholy mess of our lives. We have fallen before Him and asked Him to show us a way out of the mess. We are grateful for His promises to be our Shepherd who lovingly guides His sheep. We begin to follow Him, grateful that someone else is lighting our way.

In paths of righteousness: If God is leading us, we can trust that He will only direct us in paths that are right in His eyes. If we are tempted to walk down a path that we don't have peace about or is contrary to His character and Word, then that is a red flag that the path is not the right one. We can trust that He won't lead us down the wrong path. We just have to keep seeking His direction through prayer, godly counsel and His Word.

For His name's sake: To me, the crux of this verse is contained in this phrase. Why does God guide us in paths of righteousness? For His name's sake. He wants the way we take to directly reflect on Him. To bring Him, not us, glory. To make His name famous. To make our lives a living witness of His goodness, so that others are brought to Him. For that reason, He will always direct us to make holy choices—not necessarily the easy choices or the fast choices. If we submit to Him, we will find that He guides us to make the best choices. Not because we are the best, but because He is.

This simple verse served as a huge wakeup call for me. As I sought God's will for some decisions I was making, I had made the answer all about me. I needed to be reminded that, always, always, always, it needs to be about Him. My prayers were changed from "What should I do?" (a very me-centered prayer) to "What will bring You glory?" I had to shift my perspective from my humanness to His holiness. He will certainly direct me where I need to go. But I need to remember the reason as I seek that direction.

Dear Lord, my prayer today is reflected in this verse from Your Word: Please guide me in paths of righteousness for Your Name's sake. I want my life to reflect Your glory. I trust You to make that happen as you guide me in ways that are right in Your eyes. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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