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Tag Archives: God’s will
I have a friend who has a favorite quote that he has to use often. He plans out his week, prioritizes things and works his plan. All week long people come to him and ask him to stop what he’s doing in order to help them. They give excuses and sob stories to try to get him to stop what he’s doing so he can work on their project. Some will even invoke the boss’ name to try to get him to work on their stuff. “The boss says you need to work on this right away.” He’s learned that rarely has the boss ever asked him to stop what he’s doing in order to do an immediate request. So his normal response is, “A lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on mine.” He then adds them to his list and gets to them later.
Being around him and watching people beg, barter and demand he do their project now always gets me to thinking how often I treat God that way. “God, if you get me out of this, I’ll do better next time.” “God, please! I need you to do this right now! Hurry!” “God, your Word says you have to do this and you can’t be untrue to your Word, so do it in Jesus name!” Sound familiar? I’ve prayed every one of those prayers in the last couple of weeks. I try to paint God into a corner in order to get Him to give me what I want. If that’s the on,y time we’re talking and that’s how I’m treating Him, there’s a spiritual maturity problem on my end. The phrase, “Thy will be done,” often comes to mind in those moment when I want it to be, “My will be done.”
In Psalm 69, David starts his prayer off, “Save me, O God! The water is up to my neck; I am sinking in deep mud, and there is no solid ground; I am out in deep water, and the waves are about to drown me” (GNT). He’s clearly in an emergency situation as he describes throughout this Psalm. However, in verse 13, his tone changes and he prays, “But as for me, I will pray to you, Lord; answer me, God, at a time you choose.” Instead or telling God when to help or even how to help, a sign of maturity is asking God to help in His time and in His way. I often wonder how many of my prayers go unanswered or that I don’t recognize the answer because I tell God how and when to answer, but those aren’t what His plans are. Jesus started the Lord’s Prayer giving God permission to have His will be done. Since He was teaching us to pray, let’s focus on the words we use in our prayers to make sure we’re asking according to His will and not ours.
I’ve known many people in my life who have followed the call of God only to return when hard times hit them. I call it the Jonah effect. The thought process goes like this. If they really were following God’s call then they would see whole cities saved as Jonah did when he finally went to Nineveh. They go, they show up, and everything works out perfectly. However, when they’re faced with constant obstacles and apparent set backs, they feel like they went the opposite direction from God’s will. Therefore, they feel they need to quit and go back to square one.
Think about Moses for a minute. I think we can all agree that in Exodus 3 and 4, God called him to go to Egypt and set His people free. So why didn’t Pharaoh just release them the first time Moses asked? Why did Pharaoh make their workload harder? Why did the people whom Moses was trying to get set free urn on him? Because there will always be resistance when you’re in God’s will. The enemy is unwilling to just surrender territory he has built strongholds in.
When you and I face obstacles and challenges while following God’s voice, we shouldn’t turn around and go back home. We should stay and fight the spiritual battle in front of us. We need to put on the spiritual armor that God laid out for us in Ephesians 6. We need to be prayed up and dressed for battle expecting a fight whenever we are following God’s call. We shouldn’t expect an easy road just because we are following God’s call.
More often that not, those obstacles in our way tend to be people. Moses had Pharaoh, David had Saul, Elisha had Jezebel, and you may have someone too. I think it’s important to remember that Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (NLT). The people who stand in our way are not the enemy. We must fight the enemy who is behind the scenes if we are going to win the victory. It may take some time and a lot of effort, but God called you to that particular battle for a reason.
Don’t be like so many who run when there’s trouble. Don’t fall for the Jonah Effect. If you’re facing resistance, and it appears that people are blocking you from accomplishing God’s will, look behind the scenes. Your battle is not with that person or people. Your true battle is with the enemy behind the scenes. Fight on your knees, but still show up to accomplish God’s will day in and day out like Moses did. When he faced resistance, he went back to God each time looking for help. Moses fought his way to victory and so will you if you don’t get discouraged and turn around.
Most of us confuse God’s will for our lives with God’s direction for our lives. We wonder what His will is when really we’re asking for His direction for our individual life. If you’re wondering what God’s will is for your life, here are some verses to help you know it.
1. God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 NLT
2. For such praying is good and right, and it is pleasing and acceptable to God our Savior, Who wishes all men to be saved and increasingly to perceive and recognize and discern and know precisely and correctly the divine Truth.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 AMP
3. Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD ’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to GOD! Run from evil!
Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG
4. So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:15-20 NLT
5. But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what GOD is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.
Micah 6:8 MSG
6. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [or be] fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs, but be transformed (changed) by the entire renewal of your mind by its new ideals and its new attitude, so that you may prove for yourselves what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect in His sight for you.
Romans 12:2 AMP
7. Be happy in your faith and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); Be unceasing in prayer, praying perseveringly; Thank God in everything no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks, for this is the will of God for you who are in Christ Jesus the Revealer and Mediator of that will.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 AMP
8. So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
Colossians 1:9-10 NLT
9. Do not forget or neglect to do kindness and good, to be generous and distribute and contribute to the needy of the church as embodiment and proof of fellowship, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Hebrews 13:16 AMP
10. What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.
Philippians 2:12-16 MSG
I Samuel10 gives us the account of Saul being anointed King of Israel. After Samuel anointed him, he spoke prophetically over him. He told him very specific things that would happen on his way home. The scripture says that everything Samuel told him would happen, happened. When he finally got home, his uncle asked him where he had been. He told them he went to see Samuel. The uncle knew who Samuel was and asked what he was told by him. Saul only told him the parts that Samuel prophesied about. He didn’t mention he had been anointed King.
I’ve always wondered about that. Part of me thinks that since he had just been anointed, he would want to tell everyone. He knew that Samuel would be coming in seven days to tell him what was next, yet he kept quiet. It could be that he was still in disbelief because the vision was so great. He failed to realize we serve a great God who gives great vision. The vision God gives each one of us is greater than our ability. We can’t accomplish His vision for our lives on our own. We have to trust God as much as He trusts us in order to accomplish it.
When Samuel arrived as he promised, he gathered the people of Israel together to tell them what God had said. He reminded them of all the great things God had done. How He had delivered them, how He had rescued them and how He had cared for them throughout there history. Then in verse 19 he said, “But today you have rejected me and have asked me to give you a king. (GNT)” The people knew God had cared for them, but they wanted a person to deliver them, not God. They wanted a person to rescue them, not God. They wanted a person to care for them, not God. I believe it’s because they knew they could manipulate a person and not God. They wanted to do their will, not His.
We try to manipulate God into doing what we want. We offer Him things if only He will answer our prayers. We pray, “God, if you do this one thing for me, then I will…” Those type of prayers don’t seek God’s will, they seek our own. When Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, He didn’t try to manipulate the Father. He prayed, “Not my will be done, but yours.” If we are ever going to get to the place where we fulfill the vision God has for our lives, we are going to have to move from a “My will be done” attitude to a “Thy will be done” one. We have to let God have His way with our lives instead of us trying to convince Him to let us live them our way.
Saul struggled with that mentality from the first day of being king to his last. He could never let go of his will and fully embrace God’s. Ultimately, he lost the kingdom to someone else. His legacy wasn’t what it could have been because he couldn’t submit fully to God’s will. The same attitude dwells in each one of us, but that doesn’t mean we have to obey it. The same mentality tries to guide our lives, but we can beat it. We must pray as Jesus prayed, “Father, not my will, but yours be done.” When we pray that and lIve it, God will accomplish the greater things He promised.
Whether it’s to change jobs, buy a car, move, decide on where the kids will go to school or stay put, we want to know the will of God. Somehow, it seems elusive or we are afraid to make the wrong decision, so we don’t do anything. Other times, we feel like we know what God wants us to do, then we step out and do it only to fall flat on our face. Most believers want to know the will of God for their decisions, but struggle with knowing His will. Romans 12:2 says, “,,,But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (NLT)”
The first thing we have to do in order to know the will of God is to allow Him to transform our minds by changing how we think. The Amplified version says we are to be changed by the entire renewal of our mind, by its new ideals and new attitude. The first question to ask is, “Have I let God have control of my mind in order to transform me?” If we don’t allow Him to change us by the transformation of our mind, it will be very difficult to know the will of God. Surrender of our inner voice is key here.
If you haven’t allowed God to transform your mind or you are in the process of doing that and you still want to know, you can use Gideon’s method to know God’s will. In Judges 6:36-40, Gideon wanted to be sure God called him to save Israel. As he prayed, he laird a wool mat outside and said, “If dew is on this fleece only and the floor is dry, then I will know.” It happened. In case it was a fluke, he did it the second night only opposite, the dew was on the floor and the fleece was dry. If you want to be sure what God’s will is, ask for Him to show you in a way that you will know it is something only He can do. When I buy a car, I ask for it to be below a certain price, a certain interest rate over a certain period of time. If two out of three are met, I don’t do it.
Another way to know God’s will is found in Colossians 3:15. It says, “The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make…(GNT)” When all else fails, ask for peace. If there is peace, let it guide you into the decision. If there is no peace, let it take you away. I often pray, “God, if this is your will, I pray that you would give me peace. If it isn’t your will, give me unrest and uneasiness.” Another scripture tells us that God gives peace that passes understanding. God’s will is often frightening to us, but we can have His peace in knowing that’s what He wants from us. Let His peace be your guide.
My final thought on finding the will of God is this: Let His will overpower yours. When God says, “No” when we were hoping for a “Yes”, it’s ok. It simply means there is another avenue or path that we can’t see or God may want us to walk down the hard path to build our faith. When it comes to God’s will, His “No” is as good as His “Yes” because it is His will. You may not like it or understand it, but when you let it overpower your will, you will find that peace you’ve been looking for. You will know that you are in God’s will no matter how bad things might get. Having that assurance will help you to carry out His will in your life no matter how the enemy attacks you. Knowing the will of God can be tough, but it can be done.
What are things you do to help you know the will of God?
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God.…
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
-T. S. Eliot, “East Coker”
I read these words in Philip Yancey’s book “Disappointment with God”. I was going through a brutal spell in my life. If you’ve read the book, maybe it helped. But it didn’t help me. In fact it just made me feel worse for all the people referenced in the book as well as for myself.
Why do bad things happen to generally decent people? I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever understand this side of heaven. It might be better if I stopped asking. But there are few things that haven’t escaped me. Maybe they were rungs on the ladder that kept me hitting rock bottom. Here they are:
I’m not in control. Even if I was, I don’t know what’s best for me.
It’s true – and actually this struck me when things were going well. What do you do when the things that happened by “chance” turned out better than your carefully laid plans? This had been the case a couple different times and while I was overwhelmed with gratitude, it eerily bothered me. When my tides turned, I realized that it goes both ways. In the end, I’m not God. I don’t know what’s best for me, I can’t see the big picture of God’s plan for me and I can’t control all the outcomes in my life. Living by faith means accepting both the good and the bad and realizing both are temporal. Accepting the fact that life isn’t fair helps too.
Take responsibility. Don’t sabotage myself.
If you’ve ever wondered if your life could get any worse, let me clear that up for you real quick. The answer is always yes. That may sound like a morbid thing to say, but the truth is that we’re always one decision away from making things much worse. And when things aren’t going well, we’re in the DANGER ZONE. Think about it: if you’re stuck in a crummy job, you are only one decision away from not having a job at all. If your marriage is going poorly, you are only one decision or one conversation away from a further setback. If you aren’t married and wish you were, you are one or several decisions away from creating a lot more misery for yourself and others.
It’s tempting to say that “God wills” my circumstances to be what they are and then act like a victim. But actually we’re usually our own worst enemy. Proverbs 19:3 says, “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord” (NLT). When the chips are down, the temptation is even stronger to make foolish choices that add to our pain. We can’t always control our circumstances, but in every situation, we always have a choice of how to respond. And that means we have the responsibility to make a good choice, no matter how good or bad circumstances are.
Realize my pain will be able to be used in a positive way in the future.
If someone had said this to me when I was down, it would’ve brought me up real fast… swinging. That’s not what I wanted to hear. But unfortunately, not “just anyone” said these words. They came from Viktor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, recounting his experiences as a Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz. They were also shared by psychologists to the survivors of the PanAm Flight 73 hijacking in 1986 as they prepared to board their next flight.
Those folks have “cred” in my book. I may not like the message, but I can take it coming from them. When I’m hurting, the last thing I want is “some perspective,” but even so, they’ve had far worse than me.
If you’re in pain, there is a sense in which you’re alone. Proverbs 14:10 says, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy” (NLT). No one else can walk your path for you and you may not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know I couldn’t. When we’re stuck “in the waiting,” as Eliot’s poem says, we likely won’t be able to see the redemption in our circumstances. It’s only by faith that we can believe that this too shall pass.
My wife made some comments last night about how the book of Judges ended. I decided to open it up and read there today because it has been a while since I’ve dug through that book. I started in chapter 20 and found something I know I’ve read before, but now have a new perspective on. The story she was referring to was there. An Israelite had been traveling through the country and was in Benjamin’s territory. The men of the city came to them, raped his wife and killed her. He let the other 11 tribes know what happened and they came to his defense.
When the city and tribe of Benjamin wouldn’t give up the men who did this, the other 11 tribes sent word for their armies to come to the city to deal with it. Around 400,000 warriors showed up. They prayed and asked God which tribe should be out front in the attack. God responded with Judah. They went to attack and lost. They came back to God and asked, “Should we attack them again?” God replied, “Yes! Attack them.”
The next day, they went to battle again and got whipped. They came back weeping and crying. They fasted the rest of the day and asked God one more time if they should attack or should they call it quits. God said, “Attack! Tomorrow I’ll give you victory.” They went out the next day just as before. The army of Benjamin came out full force to attack, but this time was different. The army of the 11 tribes was victorious to the point they almost wiped out the entire tribe of Benjamin.
What I saw was that God gave them the go ahead to go into battle and they lost. Twice. They were in the will of God, there was no sin in the camp and they still lost. They didn’t just lose. They were humiliated. Their army of 400,000 was beaten twice by an army of less than 30,000. Plus, they had God on their side telling them to attack and to go into battle. When they went to God each night, He didn’t give them a reason that they lost. He just told them to go attack again. I’m sure their faith was shaken by the third day when they approached the battlefield.
Just because we’re in God’s will it doesn’t mean we won’t suffer loss. Even if we have God’s exact words to do something, we may not get the result we thought we were going to get. He may not tell us why we are suffering in the place He told us to go. We may feel humiliated about our circumstances and wonder what other people are saying. Doubt can come in and say, “Are you sure you heard God? Why did God bring me to this place just to let me be defeated?” Guard your mind against those thoughts and do what the army did each night.
They returned to the presence of God day after day. They continued to listen to His voice. They still followed His directions even though it had meant loss before. They also entered into a fast to ask for His favor. Then God said, “Tomorrow I’ll give you victory.” I don’t know when your “tomorrow” is, but I do know if you’ll keep trusting and obeying what God says, tomorrow will come. Victory will be yours. This time of loss will end and you will once again be restored and bring restoration to others.
Have you been in that place where you felt like God wanted you to do something, but were unsure? Maybe you felt the timing was off or the conditions weren’t right. God often calls us to do things in His timing, not ours. If we wait for things to be just right, we will never get them done. He is looking for obedience.
In my life, when I’ve felt that tug, I have stepped out in faith at times and done what was asked. There were other times where I missed the mark and immediately felt the regret of not doing it. I let that opportunity pass me by without acting.
In Matthew 14, Peter had an opportunity to step out in faith. His opportunity shows us three things that we can do when we are asked to step out.
1. Make sure it’s God asking
In the middle of a storm, Jesus came walking to the disciples on the water to comfort them. When they saw him coming, it scared them. Peter said, “Lord, if it’s you, ask me to join you.” When the Lord told him to come, Peter did as he was told.
Life often presents opportunities for us to step out in faith. Many of us recognize them, but won’t act without checking with God first. I’m a firm believer that it is scriptural to ask God to show you if something is His will. Gideon set mats outside his tent to test if he was hearing God. If you are unsure if God is asking you to do something, ask Him to prove it.
2. He stepped out of the boat
If we wait for the right time to step out of the boat, we will never move. When Peter got out of the boat, the waves were crashing against the boat and it was raining hard. Conditions were not ideal for him to step out. God doesn’t wait for things to be perfect to ask us to step out. It’s when we are in a storm or someone else is that we are asked to step out of the familiar and into the unknown.
A minute before Peter stepped out, he wasn’t even sure that it was Jesus who was asking. As a seasoned fisherman, he knew that his survival rate was minimal if he wasn’t able to walk on water. He took the step anyway. If your faith doesn’t defeat your logic, you will never get out of the boat. There were 11 others in the boat who listened to fear and logic. They will never know what it’s like to walk on water.
3. Stepping out doesn’t mean things will go perfectly
After getting completely out of the boat, Peter began to sink. Even in our greatest acts of faith, we still run the risk of failure. It is not one step Jesus asked Peter to make. It was multiple. Getting out of the boat was step one. We have to understand that while taking that first step is important, it’s not the last step of faith you are to make.
When Peter began to sink, he knew what to do. He called out for Jesus to help him. Jesus reached down and lifted him up. If you are sinking on step two wondering what is going on, call out for help. Jesus is there waiting to help you accomplish what He asked you to do.
What is it that God is asking you to do? If you can accomplish it on your own will and strength, it is not an act of faith. What is keeping you in the boat? Don’t let fear and logic keep you in the boat. First, make sure it is what God has asked you to do, then step out in faith.