Friday, September 5, 2014

Knowing the Will of God -- Easier than We Think

I was listening to a preacher talk about knowing God's will for our lives.

For a long time, I was frustrated with these statements, unsure about what to think.

From churches to self-help groups, I was pulled apart by so many people, each with their own opinions regarding the will of God in our lives.

The Bible has the answers for all problems and questions, including questions about the direction that we should go in our lives.

"15See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." (Ephesians 5: 15-21)

Knowing the will of God is all about wisdom, and we find wisdom in Christ:

"But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:" (1 Corinthians 1: 30)

The same preacher also talked about finding satisfaction in our lives, and that if we find ourselves in a rut, then we are not doing the will of God in our lives.

The more that I listened to this take on finding, following, then fulfilling the will of God, the more I realized that many of us misconstrue God's will. Moreover, we tend to overthink the issue, as though God's will is a specific road map, which we may follow or fail to follow, and if we miss God's Plan A, then we have to settle for Plan B or C.

What did Jesus say about life?

File:Wappen Fessenbach.png
Notice how the branch hangs on the vine. We do not bear
fruit in and of ourselves
"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10: 10)

and then

"1I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." (John 15:1-8)

While many of us want to figure out God's will, it is quite clear that Jesus is interested in us bearing fruit for Him. Yet even when we hear this, there is this tendency to think that we bear fruit for God in our own efforts.

What did Jesus clearly say above? "Apart from me, you can do nothing."

Jesus did not say, "Apart from me, you can do nothing great", or "You can do no miracles."

He said distinctly: "Apart from me, you can do nothing."

For too many of us, including myself, I would think of God's will as something distinct, i.e. outside of us, and that I had to find it through my efforts.

What does the Bible say about God's will in our lives?

"12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2: 12-13)

We need to understand this part in light of the previous verses in this chapter:

"5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2: 5-11)

We have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2: 16), and we have his standing and glory (Ephesians 1: 3-6; 2: 4-6)

He gave up everything so that we may have everything through Him (1 Corinthians 3: 21-23), and thus we can work out this great salvation. All of it hinges on knowing what He has placed within us and bless us with.

He is working within us, and guides us by His peace:

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." (Colossianss 3: 15, NIV)

We have this peace because we have been justified in Christ from all things (Acts 13: 38-39):

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." (Romans 5: 1-4)
Jesus is Our Good Shepherd. Sheep don't worry about where
they are going because they truth the Shepherd leading them.
(Source: Jonathunder)
We can have a confident expectation of good in our future because of God's love for us. We do not understand this love from the inside, but by looking outside, understanding all that Jesus has done for us and continues to do for us at the right hand of God the Father.

So, instead of focusing on what specifically He wants us to do, since we labor by His laboring in us (Colossians 1: 29) and we do all things by the grace of God working in us (1 Corinthians 15:10), ket us follow the directions which Paul laid for us:

"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." (Ephesians 1: 17-23)

Notice that Paul did not say "Pray for knowledge of God's will for you," but rather prayer for an understanding of the great inheritance which He has given to you.

In the third chapter, Paul prays:

"16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." (Ephesians 3: 16-19)

Paul wants us to allow Jesus to be at home in us, that we identify with Him fully.

It's about the love of Christ for us, and this love in turn causes us to abide in Him all the more, and thus we bear much fruit.

I take exception with many preachers who give the impression that we have to do something with our lives.

We cannot water down this stunning reality -- we do not have life in and of ourselves. He is our life (Colossians 3: 4)

For this reason, Paul writes to the Romans toward the end of his epistle:

"1I 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)

Our minds are renewed as we read the Word of God and see more of Jesus, for we are as He is (1 John 4: 17)

We have His Spirit, His anointing in us today, as well, and He has given us all knowledge to know all things:

"20But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things." (1 John 2: 20)

and then

"But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." (1 John 2: 27)

John makes it clear: "teach you all things". Not just spiritual things, but all things. Do you believe that?

When you accept this as true, then understand that He operates by peace in our lives (Colossians 3: 15), and that He is already working within you both to will and to do for His good pleasure), the issue then is no longer about knowing God's will, but trusting God when we venture forth into the path that He calls us to.

This lack of trust was the stumbling block for the Israelites after they left Egypt. God had told them exactly where they were going -- a land flowing with milk and honey.

This lack of trust caused the disciples to question whether Jesus cared for them or not while a storm was raging against their boat (Mark 5)

The issue then is not so much trying to figure out where we are supposed to go, but trusting that God is bringing us there and will bring us through.

If He spared not His own Son, beloved, but gave His Son to redeem, restore, and promote us to His own right hand. will He not freely give us all things with Him?

1 comment:

  1. Here is a perfect statement on God's will for us:

    "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." (3 John 2)

    Our soul prospers as we walk in the truth of the Gospel, the grace of God who has put away all our sins and granted us His life and standing through Jesus!