The phrase, ‘the will of God’ was always part of my lexicon. The Christian tradition in which I was raised placed a lot of emphasis on knowing and doing God’s will, not just generally, but in a specifically personal way. In our church, the phrase was used liberally by the pastor, by visiting missionaries, and by people in their testimonies. As I listened, I concluded that God must speak audibly to them, though He never did to me. Never the less, I wanted to know God’s will.
People who were not taught to think in those terms don’t understand the compelling nature of living day to day with the sense that understanding and doing the will of God was of paramount importance. As a Junior in High School, I wrestled with ‘the call of God’ to prepare for pastoral ministry as my career. After an experience which I believed confirmed ‘God’s will’ for me, I applied for early graduation so I could attend Bible college. I can still remember the bemused look on the school principal’s face as I sat in his office, an earnest 16 year old kid, attempting to explain that I felt that leaving High School a year early to start my ministry preparation was “God’s will.” In retrospect, I’m sure Dr. Burgio had little real understanding, though he did support the decision and I left high school after that year to attend North Central in Minneapolis, MN.
Was my early graduation the ‘will of God?’ It surely seemed so at the time, but I’ve learned to be much more discreet in claiming God’s will as the reason for an action or decision. It’s a loaded phrase that is, in my opinion, way over-used by many Christians. I’ve heard the phrase, ‘It’s the will of God,’ used to back up some dubious decisions – from buying a new car, to moving to a new state, to taking a different job, and even getting a divorce!
Does God lead us and guide us? Most certainly.
Does He have a plan and purpose for us as individuals? Yes, He does.
There is no more wonderful way of life to be found than living in the center of the purpose of our Eternal God, guided by the Holy Spirit!
But, knowing His will is not just a matter of finding a verse in the Bible that seems to justify a decision. Nor is knowing His will found in making a decision and then asking God to ‘second the motion!’ God’s will is revealed to those of deep humility. James writes, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:10, KJV) In ‘The Message’ a contemporary translation of the Bible, the passage is compellingly worded. Take a look!
- “So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” (James 4:7-10)
Much of God’s will for our lives is all ready stated in the Word, a matter of open Truth!
The 10 Commandments are an expression of the will of God for all people, in all times.
Jesus’ directive that we ‘love God and love others’ and so fulfill the Law of God, is binding for everyone.
That we dedicate ourselves to God, understanding we belong to Him as a people select for His purposes, is abundantly clear from the Bible. Paul writes that “…this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7, NKJV)
I’m convinced that most of our decisions are conformed to the will of God by observing such generally applied wisdom, yet… there are moments when we need to seek to understand what the will of God is for specific moments. Please be careful. Don’t try to shirk responsibility God has given to you for choosing wisely, by laying claim to ‘the will of God.’ Don’t cut off those who would advise and counsel you by bringing out the big gun, “God told me this was His will.” What can anyone say to that?
God has promised to direct our ways, to lead us into paths of everlasting life – if we are humble enough to let Him!
“Say a quiet yes to God” today. Here’s a Word to meditate on today as you seek to know His will:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV)
Come, prepared to rejoice with us on Sunday. It’s Baptism Sunday, a joyous time of celebrating those who are being incorporated into the Church!
Sunday is Fellowship Sunday at the Assembly.
There will be a Potluck Dinner in the Family Fellowship Center following the 10:45 service.
Bring a dish to share and plan to stay.