Living in the Will of God

Posted by colin on October 18, 2010 under From the pastor | Comments are off for this article

 How can we know what God’s will is? Is it even possible to know what God wants us to do in any given situation?

In one sense, God’s will is already known and is clearly spelled out for us in the Bible:

“… the Lord has already told you what is good, and this is what he requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, NLT). We know that God has called us to show forth His love in our lives in works of service towards our fellowman and in sharing the good news of the gospel. But how do we translate this instruction into the practical actions of our every day lives? Out of all the people we come into contact with, whom should we be serving and how? When is the right time to speak up on the subject of the gospel, and when should we remain silent? The book of Proverbs advises us both to answer a fool according to his folly, and to not answer a fool according to his folly (Proverbs 26:4-5). How can we know how to apply this advice in a particular situation?

The apostle Paul provides the answer in Romans 12:1-2: “And so, dear Christian friends, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.”

Paul is telling us that we can know God’s will – His good and pleasing and perfect will – if we offer ourselves up as a living sacrifice to God. This is not a one-time offering that we make. This is an ongoing commitment to surrender our lives to God, to continually say, “Not my will, but your will be done.” In every situation we face we seek to do that which will bring glory and honor to God, not to ourselves. The second point that Paul mentions is to allow our minds to be transformed. We commit ourselves to this process of transformation by studying God’s Word (Ephesians 5:26).

Jesus demonstrated this way of life in the way He lived. Speaking prophetically through the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, Jesus said, “The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know what to say to all these weary ones. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me, and I have listened. I do not rebel or turn away” (Isaiah 50:4-5).

Jesus was totally committed to seeking and doing the Father’s will (John 6:38). Each day – morning by morning – He sought God’s will. Each day He submitted Himself to that will and acted on it. Too often, when we are prompted to do some act of kindness or to say something, we draw back in fear of what the other person’s reaction might be. Jesus, in His humanity, experienced these same misgivings, but He could say, “I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.”

We see an example of how Jesus put this into practice in the book of John. Jesus sat resting by a well near the village of Sychar in Samaria while His disciples went into town to buy provisions. While He was there a woman of Samaria came along to draw water from the well. The Jews did not have any dealings with the Samaritans, so Jesus could have chosen to ignore her in keeping with the custom of the day. Or He could have chosen not to speak to her for fear that someone might come along and be upset that a Jewish man was bothering a Samaritan woman. Or, He might have decided to remain silent out of fear for how the lone Samaritan woman might react when approached by a man in an isolated environment (it was the middle of the day and no one else was around).

In spite of all these reasons for not speaking to this total stranger, Jesus chose to engage her in conversation. The woman was shocked that a Jewish rabbi would speak to her (John 4:9). His disciples were equally shocked when they returned from the town (vs. 27). But Jesus was not concerned about their reactions. His concern was “to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work” (vs. 34). He engaged her in conversation and was able to share the good news of salvation with her. As a result of His obedience to the will of the Father, not only did this woman come to believe in Him, many people in that village became believers through her (vs. 41).

God has called us into this kind of relationship with Himself. He has invited us to come alongside Him and participate with Him in what He is doing in the world (I Corinthians 10:16). How are we going to respond? Are we going to step out in faith that God is leading us? Or, are we going to draw back in fear? If we are seeking His will and not our own, and are seeking to be conformed into His image, we can trust that He will fulfill His promise to make His will known to us. Of course, we will make mistakes from time to time, and say and do things that are not God’s will, but if we are earnestly seeking His will through prayer and Bible Study, and stepping out in faith to do what He leads us to do, the process of transformation can take place. We can begin to know more fully God’s good and pleasing and perfect will for our lives. And when we do make mistakes, we can take comfort in the fact that God is able to use even our mistakes for His glory.

This is the exciting, abundant life that God has called us to – a life lived in union with Him, participating with Him in the work that He is doing. Are we going to respond? Or, are we going to hold back?

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