When I was a young man of 11, my next door neighbors, the Magyars, had a cute baby boy named Joey. I remember playing with him when he was about 2. One day I learned that he was dying of Leukemia. In fact he died rather suddenly, before he turned 3. What was really strange was that the Magyars and their daughter I was friends with, never spoke of Joey again. When I went to their house I would walk by Joey’s bedroom door, and it was shut, never open. I found out later they never went into his room after the funeral. They kept it exactly as it was the day he died.
This was probably the first time I had encountered death, and it raised a lot of questions? Was God behind this? Did God plan for Joey to die? Why did the Magyars, who were Jewish, get mad at their God? Did they think God had made a mistake? As a young teen I had no answers for them. I had no idea of God or His involvement in our every day lives.
As I grew older and became exposed to God’s Word, my concept of God started to change.
As a free thinking, free will young man I found myself thinking that God has an overall will or plan in mind. However, He leaves the details to us; after all we have a free choice. So much of what happens in this world depends upon us-our faith, our prayers, our evangelistic efforts. In fact, God must rely upon us in His overall battle with Satan. Now Satan will lose in the end, but He is constantly trying to mess things up, to get people to hate or doubt or turn away from God. I know longer think this based upon how God reveals himself in His Word, but I fear this sort of thinking is held by more “Christians” than you realize. I thought this way one time, and I am still tempted to think this way. I would wager that many of you have thought this way about the Will of God.
In Bible College I became exposed to traditional teaching on God. I learned of His:
Immutability: God cannot change in any way and is not able to change.
Impassibility: God is without emotion. God does not experience pain or pleasure. God is not subject to temptation or sin at all.
Omnipotence: God has all power, which includes complete sovereignty over all things.
Omnipresence: God is everywhere and in fact God transcends space and time.
Omniscience: God has all knowledge, including of all past, present, and future events.
These attributes were backed up by verses like these:
- Mal 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
- Num 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
- 1Sa 15:29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.
- Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
God’s Will and “Open Theism”
Back to the way I think many Christians view God. It is actually taking form as a modern day theology called “Open Theism”. It began in the Pentecostal, Assembly of God schools and has spread to Evangelical churches and Seminaries. It makes sense in light of the “me-focused” spirituality many Christians practice.
Practically, open theism makes the case for a personal God who is open to influence through the prayers, decisions, and actions of people. Although many specific outcomes of the future are unknowable, God’s foreknowledge of the future includes that which is determined as time progresses often in light of free decisions that have been made and what has been sociologically determined. So God knows everything that has been determined as well as what has not yet been determined but remains open. As such, he is able to anticipate the future, yet remains fluid to respond and react to prayer and decisions made either contrary or advantageous to His plan or presuppositions.
They give several Scripture passages to make their case:
• Genesis 6:6-7 (KJV) God repents of his decision to make man and destroys mankind with a flood.
• Exodus 13:17 (KJV) And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:
• Exodus 32:7-14 (RSV) And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down; for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves; they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them; they have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, `These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people; now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; but of you I will make a great nation.” But Moses appealed, and “And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do to his people.”
• Isaiah 38:1-5 At that time Hezekiah became very sick; he was almost dead. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to see him and told him, “This is what the Lord says: Make arrangements, because you are not going to live, but die.” Hezekiah turned toward the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Lord, please remember that I have always obeyed you. I have given myself completely to you and have done what you said was right.” Then Hezekiah cried loudly. Then the Lord spoke his word to Isaiah: “Go to Hezekiah and tell him: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. So I will add fifteen years to your life.
So, Is God an unfeeling entity that is rigidly in control of His creation – as in “El Elyon” God Most High? Or is God some fatherly figure who limits His power and knowledge so as to allow trials and hardships for His children so that they will cry out to Him for help – as in “Abba Father”?
This morning I am not going to offer my well formulated opinions about God and the importance of His Will, and whether that will is constantly evolving subsequent to man’s decisions. I am simply going to look at what GOD says about His will in His Word. I think we’ll get a much clearer picture about the importance of God’s Will
Why Should I Seek to Know the Will of God?
We must know the Will of God so we will not be fools!
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:17
We also will be taught His Will if we allow Him. This will lead us to Jesus Christ.
Jn 6:45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—
So – How do I Begin?
Last week we committed to seeing God, to seeing His power, His presence in our life. I banned the can’t word from our church. From God’s Word we see more things we should do to know God’s Will:
Willingness to do God’s Will opens you to Know God’s Will.
- Jn 7:17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
God listens to sinners who desire to do His Will
- Jn 9:31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.
Will of God affects our Salvation
- Jn 1:13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Holy Spirit: acts according to the Will of God
- Rom 8:27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
God’s Word is not by the will of Man but by God’s Spirit.
- 2 Pet 1:21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Is the Will of God an Every Day Thing?
Will of God is in your WORK & SERVICE
- Eph 6:6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,
God’s will determines our ENCOUNTERS
- Rom 1:10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.
God’s Will is SUPREME to man’s
- Rom 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
Will of God determines MINISTRY
- 1 Co 1:1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
Will of God determines your GIVING
- 2 Co 8:5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
Will of God requires DAILY OBEDIENCE
- Matt 21:31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.
Will of God will produce MATURITY AND ASSURANCE
- Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.
Will of God is an ACTIVE FORCE
- 1 Pet 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Will of God includes SUFFERING
- 1 Pet 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
- 1Pe 4:19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
Will of God determines your ETERNITY
- 1 Jn 2:17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
How Important is the Will of God?
- “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. John 5:30
- Rom 9:20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
RELATIONSHIP TO CHRIST
- Mark 3:35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:21
- Rom 14:10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;
- Rom 14:12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
- 1 Co 4:5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
How Can I Know the Will of God?
The Will of God is DELIVERANCE from this Evil World
- And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:39-40
- Gal 1:4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
The Will of God always involves JESUS
- Heb 10:7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’ ”
The Will of God always involves the HOLY SPIRIT
- Heb 2:4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
The Will of God requires ENDURANCE
- Heb 10:36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
The Will of God requires GIVING THANKS in ALL
- 1Thes 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
The Will of God requires TRANSFORMED MINDS
- Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
The Will of God requires SUBMISSION & DESIRE
- Jas 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
The Will of God requires CLOSENESS, CLEANNESS AND SINGLENESS OF PURPOSE
- Jas 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
The Will of God is GOOD WORKS
- 1 Pet 2:15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
The Will of God is DENIAL OF THE FLESH
- 1 Peter 4:1-2 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.
The Will of God requires RESPECT FOR AUTHORITIES
- Rom 13:2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
The Will of God is our SANCTIFICATION AND PURITY.
- 1Thes 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;
The Will of God Requires FOCUSED DESIRE
- Jas 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
- Wisdom shouts in the streets. She cries out in the public square. She calls to the crowds along the main street… “How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? … How long will you fools hate knowledge? Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise. “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered. So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you— when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you. “When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me. For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear the Lord. They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them. Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes. For simpletons turn away from me—to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency. But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.” Proverbs 1:20-33
Knowing The Will Of God Requires His Wisdom, A Desire For His Teaching, Learning From His Correction, Fear And Reverence Of Him.
The Will of God requires DEPENDENCE ON GOD
- Php 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
GOD’S WILL IS ULTIMATE
GOD’S WILL INVOLVES ALL LIVING THINGS
- And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:9-11
This is how important obedience to the will of God is:
And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. Now then make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” Ezra 10:10-11
The Jewish people had to put away their foreign wives and children in order to obey God’s Will. With tears they obeyed. I can’t begin to feel the pain they suffered as they left their wives and children behind. They had married outside the will of God. In order for this beginning to be in God’s Will, they had to firmly adhere to God’s Word. Above all, knowing God’s Will will involve obedience to His Word.
Knowing God’s Will begins with Proper Worship
Now, if you believe that God is so weak that He depends upon you to accomplish His Will, then you go on following that god. For you have just reached down in the mud and molded a little god that will be cute on your mantle, but will have no power to change and affect your life. You are basically putting yourself on center stage, and every now and then when life gets tough, you reach up and grab your god and ask him to do something amazing. After all, He is your god, and he needs you.
Wake up! That thinking is SO contrary to God’s Word!
God doesn’t need you to accomplish His Will. His will has been accomplished through the ages. His Will will continue to be accomplished. He was not surprised by Satan’s revolt. He was not surprised by Eve’s disobedience. He was not surprised by Ishmael being born to Abraham. He was not surprised by Joseph being sold into slavery. He was not surprised by Pharaoh. NOTHING, NOTHING ever surprised God. He works His Will in spite of us, and because of us! That is how awesome God is!
For some reason, He wants you and me! He wants us to tremble before Him in fear and reverence. He wants you to see that you owe everything to Him; you owe your very breath to Him. He wants you to get your life in line with His standards and His desires.
Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. Romans 1:21-23
He doesn’t want you to be a simpleton, wandering this life as best as you can, calling out to Him every once in a while when you get lost. He will laugh at you, He will not hear you. If you don’t want to follow Him in your daily life, why should He think you want to follow Him in the dark emergencies of your life? He knows your heart. He knows you are only turning to Him because all of a sudden you feel powerless or overwhelmed.
God’s will is for you to turn to Him for every breath you take, for every step you take. He wants you to live daily in His presence!
That is why I want us to look at the most profound verses in the Bible, the ones which will open our eyes to Knowing God’s Will in 2010.
- Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
These two verses are among the most beloved in the entire Bible. You may have memorized them in Sunday school when you were a child.
British Bible teacher G. Campbell Morgan said that when he was leaving home for the first time, his father pressed a note into his hand. When Campbell Morgan unfolded it, he discovered it contained just one verse of Scripture: “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Looking back years later, he noted that his father had written that verse with no accompanying comment. No comment, he said, except the comment of his father’s godly life.
Solomon wrote quite simply as the Holy Spirit lead him. There is nothing complex about what he said. These verses can be understood by the simplest of minds. They are comfort to new believers, and they are profound to the most seasoned of believers. These verses cling to our soul because they speak to one of the greatest needs we have – to know the way.
I know this is a basic need, because my wife has revealed it to me. Whenever we are going somewhere new, she will always ask me which way I am going, where it is that we are going. I tell her I don’t know, but just sit back and trust me. That doesn’t work too well with her. She’ll start guessing as we continue driving.
Proverbs 3:5 & 6 are written to all those who like my wife like to know where they are going. These verses must be integral in your life if you are to live in God’s Will as our Journey 2010 seeks.
Five Key Steps to Knowing God’s Will
You may know this verse backwards and forwards, but are you living this verse? Is this your breath? Is this your food for life? God wants it to be!
Have you ever found yourself in a very dark place, not knowing what to do, where to turn, which way was North, South. Perhaps you were stuck with no one to help you out. Suddenly you cry out to God, perhaps with anguished tears, and said, God I don’t know where to turn, what to do, so I’m going to sit right here until you show me the next step.
Well, in these verses God gives us five steps for knowing what direction to take in our life. Let’s look at these five steps are revealed in five key words in Proverbs 3:5, 6.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart.” The word “trust” in Hebrew means “to lean with the full body,” “to lay upon,” “to rest the full weight upon.” It expresses the feeling of safety and security that is felt when one can rely on someone or something else. CWSDOT.
In Hebrew, baṭaḥa expresses that sense of well-being and security which results from having something or someone in whom to place confidence. TWOT.
The Septuagint never uses the Greek πιοτευω “believe in” but with ελπιξω “to hope,” in the positive sense “to rely on God” or πειφομαι “to be persuaded,”
So this trust is not based upon your belief in God, but upon your total confidence in who He is and His care for you. In fact, your knowledge can be imperfect without it affecting your trust. Just as a little child trusts completely in his Mom, it is a part of them, not based upon belief or knowledge.
In fact, the image of the Hebrew Word bāṭaḥ is actually much stronger. It has the idea of stretching yourself out upon a bed or resting on a hard surface. The word means to put your full weight on something. To trust in the Lord is to rest your whole weight upon him–to depend on him completely.
“Lean not on your own understanding.” To “lean” means to rest upon something for partial support. Leaning is what you do when you walk with a cane or hold on to a walker because you are unsteady. This word is used for leaning against a tree or a stone cliff. You lean on something when you are not strong enough to stand alone.
This may mean literally leaning on someone’s arm or trusting in his or her counsel. Ultimately, God should be trusted and leaned on, for He will never fail. CWSDOT
“Lean not on your own understanding.” “Understanding” refers to the mental processes by which you analyze a problem, break it down into its smaller parts, and then make a decision about what you are going to do. Early in the morning when you make a list of all the things you have to do that day, you use your understanding to sort out your priorities. Or it’s what you use on Sunday night when you map out the upcoming week. That’s understanding. You use it any time you plan your life or solve a problem. Understanding is the decision-making ability that God has given you.
When you take the word “lean” and bring in the idea of “understanding,” then add the negative, the meaning is something like this: “Use all your mental powers, but do not lean on them for total support.” Don’t trust in your own ability to figure out your life. Lean instead on the Lord! Rest your weight on Him!
“In all your ways acknowledge him.” This word deserves extra consideration because the word “acknowledge” can be hard to understand. In the Hebrew this word is an imperative–a command. You could translate this by saying, “In all your ways know him.” The Hebrew word means to know deeply and intimately. It’s the kind of knowing that comes with personal experience. It means to know something through and through. For instance, somebody might say, “Do you know the President of the United States?” I would say, “Sure, Barack Obama is the President.” If President Obama walked in the room, I would know who he is. If I heard his voice coming over the TV, I would recognize it. Or if I saw his picture on the front page of the newspaper, I would know it was President Obama. But, I don’t really know him. I can’t pick up the phone and call the White House and say, “Mr. President, this is Jim Tompkins. let’s do lunch this week.” He won’t take my call because I don’t know him personally. I just know him at the level of head knowledge. I don’t know him intimately or on a friendship level.
There is another kind of knowing. My wife and I know each other in a completely different way. We’ve known each other intimately for over thirty-five years. When you live together for that many years, you get to know each other at such a deep level that you actually begin to know what the other person is thinking even as he or she is thinking it. You know what your wife is going to say before she says it. You know what your husband is going to do before he does it. You have a deep, personal, intimate knowledge of each other.
Seen in that light, we might translate verse 5 this way: “In all your ways know God intimately … deeply … personally. When you know God that way in every area of your life, he will direct your paths.”
“He will make your paths straight.” That brings me to the fifth word, which in the King James Version is translated, “He shall direct your paths.” That isn’t bad. But I think the ESV translation is a little better: “he will make straight your paths.” Imagine that you are driving along a road that appears to be impassable. The road winds through the mountains and down into the swamps. It seems to have a thousand switchbacks. As you travel on, you discover that portions of the road are washed out, others are filled with potholes, and still others are blocked by huge boulders. In some places the road apparently becomes a dead end. This is the road of your life. As you look at it, it appears to be covered with boulders and rocks. Some parts of it seem to be filled with potholes; other sections appear to be going nowhere. That’s the way life is.
Here is God’s message to you from Proverbs 3:5-6. If you will know God in every area of your life, he will take personal responsibility to make your way smooth and straight. He will remove the obstacles if they need to be removed. He will fill in the potholes if they need to be filled. He will redirect the detour so that what seemed to be a dead-end turns out to be the shortest way to reach your destination. All you have to do is trust in the Lord. Lay yourself completely on him for full support. Don’t lean for support on your own human understanding. In all your ways know God intimately. He will take the path of your life that seems to go up and down and around and sometimes seems to curve backwards, and He will make your way straight. That’s the promise of Almighty God to you.
Philip Yancey’s Definition
But it won’t always be easy or come quickly. For most of us, most of the time, the exact opposite will be true. Discovering God’s will takes times as the events of life unfold before us, often in ways that seem to make no sense at all. Rarely will we know the whole plan in advance.
As you join me in thinking over the last decade, at first we remember the hard times.
We remember the ones who died suddenly, financial hardships, losing a job, the breakup of a family. Some even think of the breakup of a church family.
Think a little more to the good times. I think of the Lord working it out so I could come here. I think of my children moving out but then going on to find a wife or a husband, and then of starting their own families.
My favorite definition of faith comes from Philip Yancey who said, “Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”
Why did God let things happen a certain way. Why did that loved one die suddenly? Why did Pastor so and so do such and such? Why did your good friend do so and so? Why did your son or daughter do such and such? We want to know why things happen the way they do and why couldn’t things have happened some other way. Why did Job have to go through so much for so long? God never even let Job know why He let happen what happened. Job had all those questions. Job pleaded for a chance to speak with God.
Yet when God finally appeared, Job was silent.
Faith enables us to see God, but it will not provide all the answers. Perhaps in heaven we will fully understand, or in heaven our desire to know will be transformed by our vision of the Lord like Job. By faith we see things that are invisible to others and by faith we believe in advance those things that right now make no sense but one day will make perfect sense because we will view them in reverse.
Believing is Seeing
The world says, “Seeing is believing.” God says, “Believing is seeing.” We believe, therefore we see.
God wants us to live daily in His presence. That requires a daily dependence upon Him. When we believe to the point of 100% trust, God will show us His Will exactly when we need to know!
I have seen this principle in action in my life. One time that comes to me is when I had suddenly quit my job and at the same time chose not to show up at the closing where I was supposed to buy business that I had worked at for almost two years and had built his sales up substantially. I would have been in debt a million dollars (1990 dollars) but I believed the sales could have supported the debt. There were a lot of strings however. It was a dream come true, but that night I had the most distinct impression that God did not want me to do it. So I didn’t. The owner was extremely upset. He sued me, and won an injunction to prevent me from working in the only industry I had worked in for almost 20 years. The impact on our family finances was devastating. I was basically in limbo for 6 months. I tried to find some work, but nothing seemed to happen, so I simply waited. It was anxious waiting of course, but I wanted God’s direction for the next phase of my life. I spent some great time with my wife and family. Went down to my parents in Destin, Fl and spent some great time with them. The last three years had been very traumatic on our family, and God wanted me to take this time to “restore” and “refresh”. With God it is all about the wellness of our soul, for that is life to Him!
During this time God was working, and time doesn’t permit me to tell the whole story, but I was peaceful in waiting upon God. When I needed to know, He would show me. He did just that. At exactly the day we were out of money, out of direction, out of resources, God gave me the job that would determine the direction for my life and my family the next 16 years. When I needed to know, He showed me! That is why my life verse is found in 2 James 1:17- “Always give God one more day to show His power!” (Of course this is a Jimized verse.
The reason you don’t know is because you don’t need to know because if you needed to know, you would know, but since you don’t know, you must not need to know, because if you had needed to know by now, you would know by now, but since you don’t know, you must not need to know because when you need to know, you’ll know. If God is God that must be true.”
That’s how God works, isn’t it? When you need to know, you’ll know. Not one day sooner, not one day later. And if today you don’t know what to do next, it’s because you truly don’t need to know. Because if you needed to know, you would know. If God is God, that must be true.
That’s why the search for God’s will is so exhilarating. When God is leading the way, every obstacle will eventually be removed. The path may have many twists and turns, but in the end he will make your path straight. You have his word on it.
“Bless It All, Lord”
So many people struggle at this very point. The Bible says, in all your ways know God intimately, know him deeply, and know him personally. Know him to that depth. Know him with that kind of intimacy. So often we skip this. When we get up in the morning, we say, “O God, help me. I’m busy today. I’ve got so much to do. Lord, I don’t even have time to pray–so here’s my list. Bless it all, Lord. I’ve got to go.” We throw our list up toward heaven while we run out the door. What we are saying is, “God, here’s my schedule. Please rubber-stamp it with your blessing.” And we wonder why our days are filled with frustration.
Many of us go through life leaning almost completely on our own understanding. We like to be in control. I number myself among that group. I like to know what’s going on. I like to be in charge of my own destiny. This passage is a warning to all of us who lay out life the way we want it and then say, “Here, God, stamp it with your blessing because I am going to go out and do it for you.” God says, “I don’t work that way. Know me first. Put me first in everything, including all your plans, all your thinking, and all your scheming. Put me first. And I then will make your way straight.”
The real secret of knowing the will of God? Here it is: In everything you do, know God.
But we all want a formula. “I don’t like that. Give me a formula. Give me three steps.” Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us that the secret is a relationship with God.
Imagine you are Joe, and you have been dating Amber for nine months. You pick her up Friday night and she asks, “Where are we going?You say, “I don’t know. I want to take you someplace you really like. I wish you would give me a three-step formula so I could figure out where you like to go!”
How do you think Shirley would feel? Of course, she would be angry, upset. She would not so calmly say, “How is it that we’ve been dating every week for nine months and you don’t know what I like and don’t like? Where have you been all this time?”
We want to reduce our relationship with God to a formula. God says, “Know Me. Spend time with Me. Put Me first in every area of your life because when you do that I will take care of all those details.”
Believing is Seeing. Do you Know God enough to Trust Him with every aspect of your life? Or do you just let Him into certain parts? If you refuse to let God know you, it’s a good sign that you are not taking time to know Him. You are not listening to Him. You are not spending time with Him.
Which Way Do I Go?
We’re hung up on the decisions of life. Should I go here? Should I go there? Should I move to Kansas? Should I take the job with so and so? Should I marry Jill or Megan or stay single?
Here is the teaching of this passage stated in one sentence: God is much less concerned with what you do than with what kind of person you are. So when you say, “Lord, should I move to Kansas or take this job or marry this person?” you are asking the wrong question.
The question is not where are you going to go, but what kind of person you are going to be wherever you go. The question is not, who should I marry, but what kind of person am I going to be no matter whom I marry?
While you are wrestling with the question of relocation, God wants to know, “Are you going to be my man or my woman wherever you go or whomever you are married to?” If you decide to put God first in everything, it doesn’t matter where you live or who you marry.
We focus all our energy on decisions. But God says, “Know me and I will take care of the details.” We want specific direction. God says, “In all your ways know me, and everything else will fall into place.”
Most of our decisions won’t matter at all in 1,000 years. What a liberating way to look at life. The next time you face a tough decision, ask yourself, will it really matter in 1,000 years? Ninety-nine percent of what you worried about this week won’t matter three weeks from now, much less 1,000 years from now. In the year 3010 it won’t matter whether you lived in Minnesota, Arizona or South Carolina. But what will matter is that you have decided in all your ways to know God. That is what will really matter. All these trivial, fiddly details that just soak up so much energy will in that day be seen for what they really are–trivial, fiddly details.
As we began our message, we return to our question – What is God’s Will?
To know God in everything. To see him present everywhere and in everything, and to live in total surrender to him. The most important thing is not the decisions you face; the most important thing is your relationship with God. And the closer you get to God, the easier it will be for God to guide you in the way he wants you to go.
So for our friends the Magyars, who struggled with the death of their little boy Joey. Or to anyone who today struggles with where you have been or where you are going, understand that God wants you to know Him in everything that happens in your life. Your love for Him, your trust in Him is the most important thing in your life. You may not like what He has done or is doing, but I assure you, if you commit to Knowing God, He will make sense and reveal His purpose in the past, and He will show you His direction for your life in the future.
“Lord, Here Are My Hands”
Knowing God means using all your energies for him.
- Lord, here are my hands.
- Lord, here are my lips.
- Lord, here are my eyes.
- Lord, here are my ears.
- Lord, here are my feet.
Knowing God means taking all that you have and placing it at the disposal of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Proverbs 3:5-6 ends with a promise: “He will make your paths straight.” God is able to remove the obstacles in front of you. He is able to fill in the potholes and turn a dead-end into a four-lane highway. God rewards those who show regard for him by leading them straight to the right end and removing all the obstacles along the way. We rarely see this in advance. We mostly see the potholes. The boulders block our view. Many times it seems as if there is no path at all. But he will make a way. No one can say how he will do it. There are thousands of ways in which God leads his children. He leads us through delays, detours, miracles, the advice of friends, unexpected opportunities, suddenly closed doors, answered prayer, unanswered prayer, inner impressions, and a still, small voice in the night.
You don’t see it on this side. On this side you see the problems. But when you know God, he leads you step by step. When the journey is done, you will look back and say, “I don’t know how I got from there to here, but I do know this: Jesus led me all the way.”
Doing God’s will often involves great uncertainty and periods of deep doubt.
But if you are willing to do what he wants you to do, he then takes responsibility to reach into the chaos of life and lead you step by step to the place where he wants you to be.
Life is a mysterious journey, full of unexpected twists and turns. The path ahead is a mystery to us all. No one can say for sure what is around the next bend. It may be a smooth road through a lovely valley or we may discover that the bridge is washed out and we have to find a way to cross a deep river. Often the road will seem to disappear or it may suddenly seem to go in three different directions and we won’t know which way to go. But there is One who knows the way because the past, present, and future are all the same to him and the darkness is as the light of day. He knows the way we should go. He promised to direct your path and he will do it. You can count on it.
When you need to know, you’ll know. That is the promise of daily living in His presence. That is what Abraham knew and wanted His servant to know.
Abraham said in Gen 24:40, ‘The LORD, in whose presence I have lived, will send his angel with you and will make your mission successful. Yes, you must find a wife for my son from among my relatives, from my father’s family…
Abraham lived in the presence of God, and so He knew what God could do. When the servant needed to know, he would know!