Posts Tagged ‘Certainty’


Most people are on guard when they spend private face time with their Pastor. Especially if you are a bit older and have been in church a few years. You may have known a pastor who used your or a friends situation as a sermon illustration. You may have experienced the judgmental statements of a pastor. So we normally treat a visit with the pastor as an interrogation at the local police precinct. We watch what we say and what we do. We make sure everything is put up, nothing lying around that shouldn’t be.

Personally I would rather visit people when they are lying on a gurney waiting to be operated on. They tend to be more honest. You can tell if they are anxious. Transparent honesty is such a rare thing anymore. We wonder about our politicians, our church leaders, our teachers. We grow up learning to question people in authority, exactly because we have seen so much dishonesty

I know some of you question the truth of God’s will. To most everyone under the age of 35, the subject of God’s Will is strange, foreign, and for the most part irrelevant. They believe that life (shit as the saying goes) happens. God rarely has anything to do with it.

Let me assure you, whatever your concept about the importance of the will of God, what you think is not truth. We are easily deceived into believing any old lie the world or the devil wants us to believe. What matters is the Word of God!

This Word is Life, not just for after you are dead, but it is Life NOW! It is health, it is forgiveness, it is peace, it is hope, it is safety, it is security, it is the most powerful force this world has ever know. I can say this because this word says that Jesus Christ is the Word. No other person in the Universe ever lived a sinless life, ever faced Satan one on one and defeated Him, ever stared death in its face and defeated it! If you fail to give your life totally to Jesus Christ, you are robbing yourself of real Life. You are robbing yourself of the very presence of God! You are robbing yourself of ever being a part in the will of God. You may think you know God, but you are believing a lie. Your mind is dark, you are confused and stumbling over the falsehoods of your mind. One day instead of waking to an eternal life of joy in the presence of God, you will wake in the agonies of Hell, screaming in torment for all eternity, ever sorrowful because you knew the truth but you rejected it. There will be no second chance.

WHAT IS GOD’S WILL FOR ME?

We are looking at what the will of God for me is. And number one, the will of God for you is to know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. He doesn’t want part of you, even three quarters of you. He doesn’t want to be just one of your beliefs, and share space with Hinduism, Buddhism, humanism, or even you ism. He must be your GOD! Anything less and your mind is fooling you. You are lost in a lie. You will never know God’s Will. This is because you put your will first.

So what is the will of God for me and for you? It is to Put Him First! It is to Trust completely and confidently in Him.

Now I know you are thinking how much easier it would be if you could sit down at Applebee’s and have a nice long lunch with Jesus. I assure you that the football playoffs would not be the topic of conversation. Who is going to win the Super bowl would be the farthest thing from your mind. You would want to know what He thinks of your life, if you are going in the right direction. You would want clarity on His will for your life. You would want to know what you should be doing for Him.

If life was only that simple. So many decisions we must make. We make decisions and then our decisions make us.

  • Should I go to college? Which one? What should I major in?
  • Should I get married? Which one?
  • I can’t stand my job. Should I look for another, or should I just quit and hope something pops up?
  • A friend of mine wants me to share a place with him. Should I? Should I live at home?
  • I’m getting ready to retire? Can I afford to? Where should we live?
  • We have two children. We’re thinking about having a third. Should we have another one? Or should we think about adopting?
  • I feel like God is wanting me to go into the ministry. What does He want me to do? Missions, Youth, Pastor?

Here is how I taught my six children the importance of knowing God’s Will. I told each of my children that in order for them to get married, they had to go to college. I also did not want them to go to state colleges. I also wanted them to live on campus.

No state college because I wanted them to apply to colleges that were a bit more difficult to get into, so it made them work harder on their grades. Live in the dorms because I wanted them to grow up faster, face decisions on their own, what types of friends were best for them, how to manage money, how to do laundry, all the things they need to learn to live on their own.

So our children moved away, Pepperdine in Malibu, University of Denver, Emory in Atlanta, Mid America Nazarene,  Rockhurst, Texas Christian University.

It would have been much easier if I had just told them to go to KU, or if God had just sent a chorus of angels singing Pepperdine, Pepperdine! Instead I went with them to the College Fairs and we tried to see which colleges fit what their plans were. They had to apply and then wait to hear if they were accepted. They had to seek God in their decision. We prayed abouth where they were going to go. We also studied the colleges based upon they wanted to do with their life. They had to ask tough questions. That’s what it takes to have our eyes open to God and His Will.

I wanted my kids to learn something about KNOWING direction in life. I wanted them to learn Four simple things about discovering direction and God’s Will.

1) Honoring Parent’s is Really Important

What your parents desire is one of the greatest indicators of what God’s will is. If you are rebellious toward your parents, you are rebellious toward God. Anything you do in that state, no matter how righteous or well-intentioned, will be without God’s direction.

2) Make Decisions That Require The Lord

Jesus said to walk the narrow path. God always wants us to be in places where we must rely on Him. We are not made to live on easy-street. So put yourselves in places where you MUST rely on God for direction.

3) Finish What You Start

(The two youngest both started at one college and then after the first year transferred. That’s OK, because they still graduated. Four of my kids earned advanced degrees. They learned to finish what they started. I did not accept quitting, or delaying, or figuring out what they wanted to do.)

4) Life Has No Entitlements-No Guarantees

They are the key to becoming anything in this life.  There is no guarantee they will get a job, that Dad will always provide for them when they goof up, that there will be an automatic income, automatic retirement. They are the key to what life gives them. They need to have goals, ambitions, desires for the future. They can’t just sit around and hope the government will provide for them, or their parents, or a rich uncle. They need to look to themselves. Life is about becoming Men and Women of Character. It is by our Character that we accomplish anything in life.

NO MOANING OR GROANING ALLOWED

Sometimes moaning and groaning about not knowing God’s will is just an excuse for laziness, or selfishness, or stubbornness. God has probably been shouting at you through the authorities in your life but you don’t like what they are saying, so you are holding out for a better option.

God doesn’t operate that way. He doesn’t tolerate continual laziness, he doesn’t tolerate selfishness. And he certainly doesn’t tolerate disobedience. God will never drag you or browbeat you into obeying Him. If you chose to do what you want to do, so be it. You will have your chance to explain yourself at either of two judgments- the Great White Throne or the bema seat.

Did my kids make mistakes? Of course they did. I made mistakes when I was in college. I was even kicked out of Bible College. Would we have made those mistakes if we had gone to the college that God wanted us to go to? IT DOESN’T MATTER! THERE ARE NO DO-OVERS, ONLY DO-LEARN!

One More Thing:  Why because of a few failures would I think God had intended me to go to a different college? (or get married to someone else, or work somewhere else or _________?) How do I know that God wanted me to go to a different college? I don’t. I know that at the time I went to the college I thought would be according to His will. Was I 100% sure? NO! I had been accepted at another that would have offered a better education, more freedom. But I believed God wanted me to go to that college. The thing about the college I went to was that God used it to build character in my life because no matter the problem, I responded with humility and a willingness to learn from my mistakes.

We are such quitters in America! As soon as we experience problems we think we made a mistake. It can be our job, our marriage, the college we go to. I looked at going to another college after I was kicked out, but I believed God wanted me to finish what I started, and I did. I am so glad I did. God doesn’t like quitters either. He doesn’t like people who run away from their problems or their marriages or whatever is causing them fits at the time. Blessed are all those who ENDURE!

No matter where you go to school, or don’t go to school, or work, or marry, what defines you is not your education, or your spouse or even your job. What defines you is your character. What kind of man or woman am I becoming. That is God’s will for you-to become a man or woman of character. A man of character will always stand in the gate.

Here is what GOD values:

Psalms 11:7 The Lord is Righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His face.

I don’t care what my kids do in this life, as long as what they are doing develops their character and their righteousness. If that happens, I know they will behold the face of God! The same is true of each of us.

God brings this truth to our hearts through His Word to us:

  • Psalms 36:10 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
  • Psalms 140:13 “The upright shall dwell in your presence!
  • Prov 2:21 For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it!
  • Prov 3:32 The devious person is an abomination to the Lord, but the upright are in His confidence!
  • Prov 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them
  • Eccl 7:29 “I have discovered that God created people to be upright (or virtuous) but they have each turned to follow their own downward path.” NLT (ESV -made people upright, but they pursued many schemes.)

From these verses we discover the first truth of Knowing God’s Specific Will for Your Life:

TRUTH #1.  GOD’s Will for You is to be UPRIGHT!

If this is God’s Will for you, whatever you do will always work toward that end. No matter what happens in your life, you will be given the opportunity to walk uprightly before God. The way you respond to the events, the snubs, the hurts, the heartbreaks, your stupidity, your foolishness, your transgressions, will determine the state of your heart. Everything that happens in your life, good, bad, ugly, beautiful, is either a stepping stone toward an upright heart, or a stumbling block that will keep you from God’s presence and power in your life.

God doesn’t care how you appear to the world. You may think it is all about your profession, your house, your property, your car, but NO God prizes those of Upright Heart. All that stuff will be burnt up. God’s eyes run throughout the entire earth, looking for those whose heart is upright toward Him.

You are never as Upright before God as when your are before Him in humility and prayer. Being Upright does not refer to your physical stature but the condition of your heart!

WHAT ABOUT OUR FAILURES?

Will you make mistakes? Yes! Were they God’s Will? Maybe, maybe not. But as long as you allow God to teach your heart, God will work His will in your life.

God uses earthen vessels, and yes, cracked and broken vessels, so that the Excellency of the Power might be of Him and not us!

So God  uses our mistakes, even our failings to conform us to the uprightness of His Son. Now there is a caution as to the patience of God. If you keep making the same mistakes, watch out! Stubbornness will keep you from God’s Will.

Remember what happened to the Hebrews wandering in the wilderness!

FOUR MORE VERSES TO CONSIDER…

When you read the Proverbs you immediately notice a strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God over our personal decisions. Let’s look at four verses that help us see how God works in, with, through, and sometimes in spite of our decisions to accomplish His will in us.

Proverbs 16:9-“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” (HCSB)

The word used for determines is “kun, pronounced koon”. It is has a much stronger meaning than the way the KJV translates. The KJV uses “directs” which gives us the idea that God directs our steps along a path, but where we step is up to us.

The word kun is much stronger than that. It speaks of God’s control of every detail of the universe. It pictures the action of setting in place or erecting an object.

God determines and establishes your steps.

You can make your plans, you can have your life mapped out step by step, but in the end, God determines every step you take. You can only tack so far. Pretty soon you have to go with the wind.

Proverbs 16:33-“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” ESV

Casting lots was used in the Old Testament to determine God’s will. God even prescribed ‘casting lots’ to determine which tribe got which parcel of land when they had conquered Canaan. We believe it involved different colored balls or rocks, mixing them together, and then seeing which one fell out of the bag first. In that sense casting lots is like rolling dice. It appears to be a random act of chance. But God is behind those colored stones. He determines which one falls out of the bag first. This means that there are no “accidents” in life, no “random” events, and no such thing as “luck.” Even seemingly meaningless things fit into his plan.

To paraphrase Forest Gump, ’Life is like a roll of the dice, but God is in charge of how the numbers come up.”

Proverbs 19:21-“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

“You can make all the plans you like, but God gets the last word.” His purpose always prevails. Some translations say that God’s purpose shall stand. Most of our plans don’t stand. They are like the leaves that blow away in the autumn wind. But when God determines to do something, He will do it! There is no if ands or buts about it. Abraham knew that God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Why else would he keep lowering the number of righteous. God saw Abraham’s heart, and so He rescued Lot, but His purpose prevailed.

You can make all the 5 and 10 year plans you want, but just remember this. God always gets the last word. Better learn to be flexible. O, and another bit of advice, never tell God NO.

Proverbs 20:24-“A man’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?”

What this verse is really communicating can only be understood by understanding the Hebrew words. The word translated “man’s” comes from the Hebrew word gibbor, which refers to a mighty warrior, or a great leader. Solomon is saying that even the steps of a mighty man are directed by God. The word “anyone” in the second phrase comes from the Hebrew word “adam”, which is the generic word for man. The meaning is, “If God directs the steps of mighty men, how then can an ordinary man understand his own way?” The answer is, he can’t!

That’s the whole point of the verse. We’re like a man stumbling around in the darkness, bumping into things, tripping over ourselves, trying to find our way forward. We can’t say for sure where we’ve come from, where we are right now, or where we’re going to be tomorrow.

Only God sees the big picture of life.

So these four verses lead us to the next rule of knowing God’s Will for your life:

TRUTH #2: GOD IS GOD AND YOU’RE NOT!

Understand this and you’ll be OK. Forget this and you will keep lapping Mt Sinai.

When we forget that rule, we think that we’re in control of our own life and that everything depends on us. So we obsess, we hyperventilate, we try to control everything and everyone around us, we worry over all our decisions, and we spend hours fussing over the minutiae of life.

What a relief to realize that God is God and you’re not. Now you can rip that big “G” off your sweatshirt. You don’t have to play God anymore and you don’t have to try to control everything around you. You can sleep well when you realize that God is God and you are not.

Corrie Ten Boom was having trouble going to sleep one night because she was so worried about the affairs of her life. She tried praying but it didn’t help. Finally, the Lord said to her,

“Go to sleep, Corrie. I’m going to be up all night anyway.”

But I know there are some of you who would confess you need help. You are saying “Pastor Jim, I’m still needing some guidance about God’s Specific Will for my life. Can you give me any help?”

SHOULD I MARRY LYDIA?

When I was asking God if I should ask Lydia to marry me, I said, “God, give me a sign from your Word”. I prayed, and then I dropped my Bible on the desk so it would open to an arbitrary page. I looked down and the first verse my eyes came upon was Acts 16:14. Sure enough, there was her name Lydia. I thought, boy, you are good God.

“One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira (I thought, boy God you are really good, because she had a Chihuahua named Tyra.) a seller of purple goods (her favorite color was purple), who was a worshiper of God. Amen God, she must be the one. But then my heart sunk as I read the rest of the verse. “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul!Oh No! She’s going to marry some Paul guy!

Just kidding. I made this up to demonstrate this: If you wait for circumstances to tell you what to do, you open yourself up to being deceived. Satan can appear as an angel of light. Satan can even arrange circumstances to get you to do what He wants.

There was a woman coming to our church in Edgerton. She seemed very spiritual, very enthusiastic about God. I visited with her and was asking about her salvation experience. She shared with me that she had grown up going to church (not Baptist) but had fallen away through the years. Just a few months prior she was lying in bed when a bright light filled the room and she saw a miniature Jesus standing on her bed by her feet. She felt a warmth come over her and she knew from that vision that she was saved. I thought it was a very interesting story, and she seemed to know all the right answers as we talked more. However, as time went on she stopped coming to church, (she got upset about some piddly thing someone had said about her friend) and we still remained friends, but she fell back into her lackadaisical attitude toward God. Was she saved? All I know is that if she was depending upon that vision to save her, she could be very disappointed come judgment day. We are saved by Faith in the Word of God.

This leads me to some practical principles for knowing the Will of God for your Life. Never depend upon circumstances to guide you, never put your hope in a miniature Jesus standing on your bed.

PRINCIPLE #1:USE THE LIGHT, WISDOM AND INTELLIGENCE THAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU TO MAKE WISE DECISIONS.

Sometimes people talk as if you shouldn’t use your brain at all but should wait for some mystical sign from God. I know the Bible says, “lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5), but that doesn’t mean to throw your brain away either. It simply means submitting your will and your mind to God and what He wants to do. But you will still have to study the different colleges, etc, do legwork, use your experiences and the wisdom He builds into your life. God will use all of that to show you what to do.

Peter was miraculously rescued from prison hours before he was to be beheaded. Acts says an angel opened his cell, made the chains fall off of him, walked him right past the first and second sentry checkpoints, out the huge iron gate and finally out into the street. But then the Bible says “immediately the angel left him.” The angel didn’t even tell Peter where to go after that. In fact, Peter wondered if it was all a dream. What did he do next? Did he kneel down and say God, what do you want me to do? No, he used the good sense God had already given him and got out of their quick!

I have a friend that told me he was out to dinner with one of these “serious Christians” and when it came time for desert, this “serious Christian” had prayer to ask God what they should get. Do you really want to go before the throne of God for something so insignificant?

If you need to make a major decision, don’t wait for the angels to knock on your door. Use your head, study the situation, gather the facts, talk to your friends, seek godly counsel, and then submit it all to the Lord. Get yourself in a place where you wait for Him, with no personal pressure about what you secretly want.

I know from experience that often we give it to God, but we secretly have a desire to do so and so. So we wait just a bit, and when He doesn’t give us any clear direction, we do what we want to anyway. He knows your heart-and will let you do it anyway.

that’s what happened to the Hebrews in the wilderness. They said they would follow God, but they secretly wanted their old fleshly Egyptian lives. Psalm 106:15 “God gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul” Sometime we get what we want, but God sends leanness to our soul, hoping we realize we don’t need that fast sports car or huge house or Rolex watch. (Believe me, I know of what I speak.)

PRINCIPLE #2: SINCE YOU CAN’T SEE THE FUTURE, DON’T EXPECT 100% CERTAINTY.

I understand that if you are facing a life-changing decision–a potential marriage, a cross-country move, a new career, which college to attend, whether or not to begin chemotherapy–you want to without a shadow of doubt that you are doing what God wants you to do.

But  too often that leaves us paralyzed by an inability to make a decision. My youngest son would always take the longest time to decide what to order at a restaurant. We are not talking about, ‘come back in a couple of minutes’. We’re talking the rest of us are finished eating before he is ready to order. I’m happy to report that with our prayers and working with him, he is much better at making decisions. He can order with the rest of us.

I understand if you have trouble deciding what to do.  Some decisions are so important they can’t be left to chance, or be made in a moment. Some of us have the personal philosophy:

“When in doubt, don’t.” If you aren’t sure about the new job, don’t take it, don’t make the move, don’t say yes, don’t make any decision with less than total certainty.

But is that good advice? Is that the way God works?

LOOK AT THE HEROES OF OUR FAITH

  • Did Noah know all about the flood? No, but he built the ark anyway.
  • Did Moses understand what it meant to lead God’s people out of Egypt? No, but he said yes when the Lord called him.
  • Did Abraham have a road map? No, but he left Ur of the Chaldees anyway.
  • Did Joshua know how the walls were going to come tumbling down? No, but he marched around Jericho anyway.
  • Did Gideon fully grasp God’s plan to defeat the Midianites? No, he doubted it from the beginning, but God delivered his people anyway.
  • Did young David have a clue of what was to come when Samuel said to Jesse, “This is the one”? No, but the Spirit of the Lord came upon him anyway.
  • Did Jehoshaphat know how God was going to defeat the Ammonites? No, but he put the singers at the front of the army and sent them out to battle anyway.
  • Did the three Hebrew children know how they would be delivered?
  • Was Daniel totally sure the lions would welcome him dropping in on them?
  • Did Peter know he could walk on water?
  • Did Paul know what would happen when he finally got to Rome?

We could add a hundred other examples from the Bible!

NONE OF THESE GREAT HEROES OF THE FAITH KNEW THE OUTCOME! THERE WAS AN ELEMENT OF DOUBT, BUT THEY DID IT ANYWAY!

The life of faith means living with uncertainty even in the midst of doing God’s will.

That’s the whole point of Hebrews 11. Those great men and women didn’t know the future, but they trusted God anyway, sometimes in the face of great personal suffering. And because they kept on believing when circumstances turned against them, they received a great reward.

Too many people want what God has never promised–100% certainty before they will act. So they wait and dilly-dally and they stop and start and hesitate and ruminate. They might as well be transformed into a stupid cow or sheep. They refuse to go forward because they are waiting for 100% certainty. That’ why I believe that it is rarely God’s will to give you 100% certainty. That will leave faith out of your life every time.

PRINCIPLE #3: GOD WANTS GUIDABLE PEOPLE WHO WILL TRUST HIM (EVEN WITH THE DETAILS).

Are you GUIDABLE? I didn’t say GULLIBLE. I said G*U*I*D*A*B*L*E.

Guidable People are also teachable. Guidable people look to God and not to themselves. They understand that after they have done all they can, it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

  • Like Young Samuel, they say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant heareth.”
  • Like Isaiah they cry out, “Here am I, Lord, send me.”
  • Like the Lord Jesus they pray, “Not my will but thine be done.”

Guidable people always receive guidance from God! Always. Why? Because God always speaks loud enough for a willing ear to hear. Are you a guidable Christian? Or do you still feel like you have to be in the driver’s seat of life. If you are struggling with this, let me suggest these two simple prayers:

  • “Lord, let your will be done even if it means that my will is not done.”
  • “Lord, right now I’m not sure I want to do your will. But I am willing to be made willing. Do whatever is necessary to change my heart. Amen.”

PRINCIPLE #4: WHEN THE TIME COMES, MAKE THE BEST DECISION YOU CAN AND LEAVE THE RESULTS WITH GOD.

When the time to decide comes, when you’ve thought about it, prayed about it, talked it over, sought godly counsel, researched your options, looked at the circumstances, searched the Scriptures, and waited on the Lord, when you’ve done everything you know how to do and the moment of truth comes, take a deep breath, close your eyes if you need to, and then just go ahead and make the best decision you can make.

When you’ve done that, there’s one other thing to do-leave the results with God. Remember he’s God and you’re not. His purposes will stand.

I’ve already said that he wants you to know his will more than you want to know it. Knowing God’s will is His desire for your life. If you truly want to know and do God’s will, He will show you.

Jerry Sittser, author and professor at Whitworth College writes: “God has enough trouble getting us to do his will, without making it hard to find.

You are probably thinking, well, he lives in an Ivory Palace, has a comfy professorship. What does he know about finding God’s Will? How much faith does it take to be a college professor? A few years back Jerry was confronted with a horrible tragedy that no man wants to experience. He was in a car accident, and there on the side of the road, one by one, he held his Mom, his wife and his four year old daughter as they died in his arms. Following that tragedy he wrote with honesty and candor about the despair that threatened to overwhelm him-but amazingly never did. He survived because he believed in the ancient Christian doctrine of grace. He believed in grace because he lived it. And he named the book he wrote, “A Grace Disguised.”

He writes, “. . . Though I experienced death, I also experienced life in ways that I never thought possible before—not after the darkness, as we might suppose, but in the darkness. I did not go through the pain and come out the other side; instead, I lived in it and found within that pain the grace to survive and eventually grow. I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it.”

If you are willing to be guided by God, you will discover that he will lead you step by step by step. Even through tragedies. His Grace is truly amazing. It not only carries you to the cross and into the loving arms of your Savior, but it carries you every step of your life. All that is required is the same thing that led you to ask Jesus into your heart.

VALLEY OF DECISION

To know the specific will of God for your Life requires you to go to the Valley of Decision.  If you have never gone there now is the time. In this valley you must discover the faith that God wants you to have that is the beginning point of living in the will of God. The beginning point is believing by Faith that there is a Mighty, Eternal God who cares intimately and particularly about you and what happens in your heart and life.

If you can take that step, the battle is over, all that remains is for you to submit your will to His. Every day you pray as Jesus instructed:

May your Kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

How is God’s will done in heaven? It is done by the angels!

Psalm 103:20 says, “Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!”

When you pray for God’s will to be done on earth, you are telling God you want to obey His Word. It means giving up control of your own life. Oftentimes we’re scared that if we give God control of our lives, He’ll mess it up somehow. We wouldn’t say it that way, but that’s how we really feel.

More than once I have heard people say, “Pray for the opposite of what you want, because God always gives us the opposite of what we ask for.” Or they say “don’t tell God what you won’t do, becasue then that is what He will want you to do” We laugh when we read that because it seems so absurd. But many of us secretly wonder if it isn’t true. We’ve all known the frustration of unanswered prayer. Either God calls the shots or you call the shots. Either He is in control or you are in control. It’s not easy to pray like that because it means giving up control of your own life. But you aren’t really in control anyway. It only seems that way.

Bob Pierce is the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, Christian relief organizations that helps millions of people around the world. He was probably the most unlikely man to found and lead such large organizations. He didn’t have much education, he butchered the King’s English, and he lacked many social graces. In fact, he called himself a second-rater. When asked the secret of his life, he said that in his early years as a Christian he had prayed like this,

“O God, I give you the right to change my agenda any time you like—and you don’t have to inform me in advance. Amen.”

That’s the kind of prayer God can answer because it’s based on the truth that God is God and He has the absolute right to do whatever He wants. Many of us are unhappy because we’re fighting God at the point of His sovereignty. We’ve never surrendered our agenda to His control. When You Pray “Your will be done” you are trusting God to do what’s Best for You!

Many of us have gone through periods when we doubted that God wanted the best for us. Perhaps you are doubting even as I speak.

GOD HAS PROVEN HE WANTS WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU

God has SHOWED each one of us that He wants what is best for us. He showed us how serious he was when he sacrificed His only Son on the Cross. He showed us how Powerful He is when He raised Him from the Dead. He assures us that that same power can be ours. Power to conquer, power to overcome, power for joy, power for forgiveness, power to become like Jesus Christ.

Do you want that power? You knew what you had to do to receive Jesus as your savior-you had to humble yourself, admit you were a sinner, worthy of death, but rescued from sin, death and satan by the death and resurrection of God’s only begotten son, Jesus Christ.

If you can pray “Jesus, forgive me of my sins, please be my one and only Lord and Savior”, how hard is it to humble yourself again and say “Father, not my will but thy will be done?” Or did you simply ask Jesus into your heart to benefit your supposed eternal life? If you were motivated by selfish concerns and not by the fear of Eternal God, perhaps that is why you are unwilling to seek HIS WILL for your life! Perhaps you should check your heart condition!

WE MUST BE WILLING TO LET GO OF THE CUP

Jesus asked if the cup could be removed, but He never asked not to do the will of His Father. Quite the contrary, Jesus was quite open about ONLY doing His Father’s will. But the fact that He asked if the cup could be removed meant that it might have been possible to do His Father’s Will without the cup. However, God said, “No, you must drink of the cup of My Wrath!”

There is an amzing revelation about the Will of God in these verses. In order to do the Will of God we must be willing to let go our our ‘CUP’. So many times I have heard people say, “I want to do God’s Will as long as it means doing this, or having this, or not moving there.” We always seem to have conditions that we want to hold on to if we consider doing ANYTHING for the Lord.

God will show you, as He has me, that doing the Will of God means being willing to let go of whatever ‘CUP’ we are holding onto. In fact, God will often knock the cup over and even break it in order to get us to let go.

What are you struggling with right now? What are you holding on to so tightly that it almost makes your hands hurt? What is it that you are afraid to give to God? Whatever it is, you’ll be a lot happier when you finally say, “Your will be done” and open your clenched fist. But you’ll never know until you let go.

C. S. Lewis said there are two kinds of people in the world, and only two kinds: those who say to God, “Your will be done” and those to whom God says in the end, “Your will be done.” Which kind are you?

A Simple Prayer

Here’s a simple prayer that may help you loosen your grip on the things with which you are struggling:

O Lord, Your will be done–
nothing more,
nothing less,
nothing else.
Amen.

As always, if you pray that prayer you will be called upon by God to be part of the answer. When we pray, “Your will be done,” God will hold us to our word. The path will be straight if we let Him direct us, or the path will be filled with potholes and dead man’s curves if we stubbornly refuse His direction.

Your will be done …

  • in my life
  • in my family
  • in my finances
  • in my career
  • in my children
  • in my dreams for the future
  • in my words
  • in my friendships
  • in my world.

Are you brave enough to pray that God’s Will be done in your life? Are you brave enough to seek to know His will? Are you brave enough to stand in His presence! If you walk in His Son, Jesus Christ, you will never fear!

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Journey 2010 is about a church whose people Live in the Will of God. In order to even begin to know the will of God, we must understand what will always frame His Will. Scripture is very clear on what we must have in order to begin to discern the will of God. In fact, Living in the Will of God will always involve these three components:

1.  Eternal Life

Jesus defined eternal life for us. It is not a prayer you make, nor religious activities you may do. It involves a relationship- “and this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3. Eternal life involves KNOWING God and His Son Jesus Christ. Not one or the other. BOTH must be known. Know the Will of God will always involve knowing Him, and as such will always involve having eternal life.

In the midst of this circle of truth is God’s Will:

To Know God’s Will You must Know God. To Know God you must have Eternal Life. To have Eternal Life, you must know God. To know God’s will is to know God.

2.  Wisdom

Listen to God’s Word on Wisdom:

  • that their hearts may be encouraged…to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. … Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, Colossians 2:2-6
  • that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, Ephesians 1:17

Both of these verses are found in prayers of the Apostle Paul. So overwhelmed was he that as he was writing, he was moved to prayer for those who would be reading his letters. He wanted them to know that in Jesus Christ is all wisdom. He prayed that God would open our eyes to see this by giving us the Spirit of revelation in knowing Jesus Christ. In order to know Jesus we must walk in Him. He must be the focus of our life, our learning, our everything.

Living in the Will of God will always involve walking in Jesus Christ. Living in the Will of God will always involve KNOWING Jesus Christ. This is how we have WISDOM, for Jesus Christ is our WISDOM!

  • Wisdom is “seeing Life from God’s Point of View.” Knowing God’s Will will always involve seeing Life from His point of View. After all, it is His Will!
  • Wisdom will always involve more of Jesus Christ in your life, for in Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Living in the Will of God requires wisdom, for wisdom opens our understanding to God’s point of View. If you believe that God knows so much more than you about your life and the lives of those around you, then you will want His wisdom, you will want to see things from His viewpoint. Now since living in the Will of God involves Wisdom I need to point out how you get wisdom. It doesn’t automatically come to a Christian. The reason is that we tend to be self-focused and selfish by nature. James Gives this advice about getting wisdom:

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.

You must want to see life from God’s point of view badly enough that you are willing to take your eyes off yourself, take your eyes off this world and focus your being on God and what He has for your life. If you ask for wisdom, if you ask to live in God’s will, yet part of you wants this or wants that, contrary to God’s righteousness, then you will not get wisdom from God. You will not see life from His point of view. You will continue to be like the waves of the sea, tossing to and fro, wandering apart from God’s will. Wisdom from God and knowing God’s Will requires the same desire-a Life that is in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ and His righteousness must become the Love of your life, the desire of your heart and soul.

If you are still self-focused and concerned only for your life, why should God direct your life? After all you only want Him to benefit you! But remember, God’s Will is ALL ABOUT HIM and what HE wants!

3.  Faith

Living in the Will of God involves pleasing God. And Hebrews 11:6 says without Faith it is impossible to please God. By faith Moses left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. Hebrews 11:27. Faith allows us to See God and what He wants to do with our lives.

Faith in your life will do Two Things:

  1. Faith will allow you to see God behind everything that happens in your life.
  2. Faith keeps you in a place where you are not sure what will happen next.

If you can see the road ahead you don’t need to Trust GodLiving in the Will of God will always involve eternal life, wisdom and faith.

WHERE DO WE START?

In order to know what the Will of God is, we must know what it isn’t. Here are four common Falsehoods about the Will of God:

FALSEHOOD #1: God Wants Us to Know the Future

This is the biggest mistake we Christians make with regard to living in the Will of God.

Just because God has led a certain way does not guarantee the end result. We keep trying to look down the road so we can figure out the direction God is taking us. The road ahead is always dark at times. There is NO WAY we can know how things will always turn out. There is a reason why God requires FAITH to please Him, because Faith is what brings God into the unknown

It is rarely God’s will for you to know your entire personal future. God doesn’t light the entire road. He promises just enough light for your step ahead.

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”

The ancient Jews would carry small oil lamps that gave off one foot power of light. That meant they only had enough light to see one step in front of them. To see the way, they had to take a step. The light would then reveal the next step.

This verse pictures a man in total darkness walking along a dangerous trail. There is no moon in the sky. Darkness clings to him. His only light comes from the lamp he carries with him. When he takes that step, what happens to the light? It goes forward one more step. The light is not bright enough to illuminate even ten feet ahead.

Let’s face the truth–we want to know the future. At least we think we do. We want to know what is going to happen next year, so we can be ready in advance. But God doesn’t play that game with us. The Bible says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Does he know what will happen tomorrow? Yes, he does; but he’s not telling anyone else about it. Or to put it in familiar terms, does God have a blueprint for your life? Yes, he does; but there is no blueprint room where you can go to get a copy!

Suppose God were to offer you a folder with the details of your life (and for your loved ones also) for the next 10 years. Would you take it? You first impulse might be to say yes. But suppose I add this provision. You can’t change anything you find in that folder. Would you still take it? I can tell you that I would run the other way. Life is much better lived one day at a time.

Does God know what you should be doing on January 17th, 2020? Yes He does. But all you get to see is January 17, 2010.

God wants us to trust Him for each and every STEP we take. Jesus said to pray for our DAILY Bread.

He reveals His will one step at a time, so we must trust him moment by moment.

FALSEHOOD #2: The Will of God is Known with 100% Certainty

Many people believe they must be 100 percent certain of God’s will before they make a decision. I can understand their thinking. After all, if you are facing a life-changing decision–a potential marriage, a cross-country move, a new career, which college to attend, whether or not to begin chemotherapy–you’d like to know in advance beyond any doubt that you are doing what God wants you to do. There are two problems with this point of view.

First, sometimes we think we know God’s will with 100 percent certainty only to find out later that we were mistaken. Second,becasue we believe we must be 100% sure, we end up paralyzed into inaction. We are afraid to do anything, so we end up doing nothing. Some people live by the creed: “When in doubt, don’t.” So much of doing God’s Will requires simple obedience without total understanding. Every great Hero of Faith faced a time in their life when they obeyed God without 100% certainty of the outcome. I have always been challenged by Abraham who immediately obeyed God’s command to kill his son Isaac. The scripture says that he knew God could raise him up, but I can imagine there was doubt haunting his mind as they trekked up the mountain. He obeyed, and it became righteousness to Him. So many of my mistakes and failures resulted in my righteousness as I turned to God in total dependence. If I had not failed I would still be that arrogant, self-centered snot-nosed kid I was in my early twenties. God’s mercy is so great!

We see this principle illustrated in Acts 16. When the Apostle Paul and his team left Troas, they sailed across the Aegean Sea in response to a vision of a man saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (v. 9). When they got there, they found a woman named Lydia. But what about “the man”? He was nowhere to be found. Later on Paul and Silas were arrested, stripped, flogged, and thrown in jail. That night during an earthquake, they led their jailer to Christ, then baptized him and his whole family. The next morning Paul and Silas were released and escorted out of the city by the town leaders, who were glad to see them go. It’s a strange story. In many ways it appears that Paul failed in Philippi. After all, he was in trouble almost from the moment he arrived. Where is the great church he came to establish? But from God’s point of view Paul did exactly what he should have done. He followed God’s leading–God gave more light–Paul took another step and waited for further developments. Step by step, through twists and turns and unexpected means, Paul did what God wanted him to do, even though it wasn’t what he expected to do when he arrived in town.

GOD’S WILL MEANS TESTINGS AND TRIALS

Have you seen this before? (Maybe on those House Flipping Shows?) A couple (after much prayer and seeking God’s Will) buys an older house only to discover that it was in much worse shape than they had expected, costing them many thousands of dollars more to restore. One such couple even consulted with God about the home they would restore. After all kinds of setbacks, the wife wrote this letter:

Seeking God’s will has never caused me much difficulty in the past (partly because I didn’t always!), but when we were in the throes of trying to decide about buying this house, we both prayed long and hard that we would have a clear sense of direction and guidance from the Lord or at least a sense of peace about a decision if it were the right one. Because of the many troubles we’ve had while living here, I had convinced myself that we made the wrong decision and were paying for it in a big way.

Resentment started to taint my relationship with God. Why would He allow us to make such a terrible mistake (expensive one too!) when we spent so much time asking Him for his guidance? Only in the last few weeks have I felt that God does indeed want us here. Our difficulties in getting in here were not God slamming the door shut, but rather him holding it open just wide enough for us to squeeze through. Our difficulties in buying the house now seem like good training for the battles while we’re in it. I have discovered that the outcome of our decisions does not retroactively affect whether it was God’s will!

That final sentence is crucial. “The outcome does not retroactively affect whether it was God’s will.” That’s exactly right. Doing God’s will means taking the next step–whatever it is–without a definite promise about the end result. Many times you won’t have 100 percent certainty; but when the moment comes to decide, you must make the best decision you can, trusting God for the results. Sometimes you’ll know more, sometimes less; but living by faith means taking the next step anyway.

FALSEHOOD #3: The Will of God is My Happiness

Millions of Christians buy into this false idea. They believe that their happiness is God’s supreme goal for them. That sounds good, doesn’t it? “God wants me to be happy.” “God wants me to be fulfilled.” “God wants me to be successful.” They make it all about themselves. They push what God wants aside, and create their own fantasies. This falsehood has been used to justify all kinds of stupid and selfish behavior. I have had supposedly good Christian men tell me “I’m not happy with my wife. God has brought another woman into my life and we are very happy together. It must be God’s will that I should divorce my wife and marry this other woman because God wants me to be happy.”

The French have a word for that kind of thinking: BullCrap!

If your personal happiness is not God’s highest goal for you, then what is God’s will for your life?

  • It is God’s will for you to be holy.
  • It is God’s will for you to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
  • It is God’s will for you to do good works for the kingdom of God.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

First Thessalonians 4:3 states God’s Will very plainly: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” To be “sanctified” means to be made holy. It refers to the life-long process whereby God shapes you, through a myriad of experiences both positive and negative, into the image of Jesus Christ.

Here’s the Bullet Point: He uses the very worst things that happen to us in order to conform us to His Son.

Romans 8:29 says, “Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” That is the will of God for your life. He wants you to become like Jesus Christ. Whatever makes you like Jesus is good. Whatever doesn’t make you like Jesus is bad. And God is fully committed to shaping your life day by day into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Most of us know about Corrie Ten Boom. During World War II she was taken from her home in Holland to a prison camp and later to the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp in Germany. There she and her sister, Betsie, were held, and Betsie eventually died. Corrie Ten Boom was released—by a Nazi clerical mistake—just before the end of the war. In her book “Tramp for the Lord”—she reflects on God’s leading:

Looking back across the years of my life, I can see the working of a divine pattern which is the way of God with His children. When I was in a prison camp in Holland during the war, I often prayed, “Lord, never let the enemy put me in a German concentration camp.” God answered no to that prayer. Yet in the German camp, with all its horror, I found many prisoners who had never heard of Jesus Christ. If God had not used my sister Betsie and me to bring them to Him, they would never have heard of Him. Many died, or were killed, but many died with the name of Jesus on their lips. They were well worth all our suffering. Faith is like the radar which sees through the fog—the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see.

How can going to a prison camp be the will of God? It can’t be if God’s will is that you should always be happy and comfortable. Yet going to a prison camp can be the will of God for you if it makes you more like Jesus Christ and gives you opportunities to share the love of Christ to people that would never hear it otherwise. That’s the biblical perspective.

Will God’s plan for you and me always bring immediate worldly wealth and success? No, but God’s plan will always bring peace and joy and fulfillment, even in the midst of sorrow and suffering. Our duty is to follow the Lord wherever he leads us. And when we do that, we find a deep joy in him. The path of obedience leads to a joy the world cannot match.

FALSEHOOD #4: The Will of God is Hard to Know

Many folks think God’s Will is something you have to go to the Oracle to discover. Only after this journey or that experience. My brother who has struggled with drugs most of his life always used to say “If only God would give me a sign.” It was like he wanted a bolt of lightning to strike him before he would get his life right with God. Some people want a visible message from God. Like a God Postcard that reads, “Dear John, Buy the White Toyota. Signed, God.” Or they fear that one night, while they are watching Monday Night Football, God’s will flash His Will across the TV, but we missed it because of a potty break. Or they worry that they have sinned too much and have blown their only chance to do God’s will.

God doesn’t operate that way. He simply says Trust Me, Know Me. Wait on Me.

  • God wants you to know his will more than you want to know it.
  • God is more committed to showing you his will than you are to discovering it.

When you give your will to Him, he will take complete responsibility for getting you from here to there step by step.

  • God has said, “Never will I leave you” (Hebrews 13:5). And He won’t.
  • He also said, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go” (Psalm 32:8). And He will.
  • He also promised, “Surely I will be with you always” (Matthew 28:20). And He is.

We think that God’s will is hard to find. The biblical perspective is quite different. God will reveal his will to anyone who is willing to do it. Sometimes He makes us wait. But He will always show His will to those willing to do it.

YOU WILL KNOW WHEN YOU ARE WILLING TO TRUST & OBEY

God will usually show you His will and expect you to do it, because you told Him you would. He doesn’t give you choices. There is no Plan A or B or C. He doesn’t say, what do you think of this and allow you to say maybe I will or maybe I won’t. Do you have another plan God? This one looks too hard.

HE WILL SHOW YOU HIS WILL WHEN HE KNOWS YOU ARE WILLING TO DO IT.

There is an old hymn called ‘Workman of God’ written by Frederick Faber (wrote Faith of our Fathers):

“Workman of God! O lose not heart, But learn what God is like; And in the darkest battlefield Thou shalt know where to strike.

Thrice blest is he to whom is giv’n the instinct that can tell that God is on the field, when He Is most invisible.”

Nothing will sustain the servants of the Lord in hard times like knowing God’s character. And as the hymn (and life itself) makes clear, you don’t “learn what God is like” by going to seminary and memorizing the attributes of God. You learn what God is like in the darkness of the night, when you feel overwhelmed and burdened and full of fear and uncertainty. Ironically you learn that when you feel most alone, God is nearest to you. So make it your goal in life to know God.

LEARN WHAT GOD IS LIKE:

  • Learn his holiness.
  • Exult in his mercy.
  • Ponder his patience.
  • Consider his ways.
  • Meditate on his goodness.
  • Remind yourself of his justice.
  • Rest on his faithfulness.
  • Linger at the foot of the cross.
  • Take up your cross
  • Memorize his promises.
  • Pray the psalms back to him.
  • Testify to his kindness.
  • Declare his glory.
  • Defend his honor.
  • Be silent before his judgments.
  • Become His Servant

Get to know the Lord. Nothing matters more than this. When I gaze into my future, I see some things clearly, but there are a lot of gray fuzzy areas. Faith allows me to say as Job did so confidently:

“He knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (Job 23:10).

  • My Abba Father knows the way that I take even when I don’t.
  • My Abba Father knows the way that I take even when I can’t see clearly.
  • My Abba Father knows the way that I take even when I get lost.

Walking in Jesus is a journey whose destination lies somewhere beyond the horizon. Even when we think we’ve arrived, we haven’t. Even when we think, “Aha! I’ve made it at last,” life suddenly changes and we take a sharp bend in the road. But the journey itself ought to be enjoyed. And we should use it to learn what God is like. If you are struggling with this concept of God’s Will, I urge you to start praying this simple little prayer when you awake each morning:

“Heavenly Father, you are in charge of everything that will happen to me today–whether it be good or bad, positive or negative. Please make me thankful for everything that happens to me today. For the sake of Jesus, Amen.”

This prayer is powerful because it doesn’t change anything outside of you, but it will enable God to change everything inside of you. Your circumstances won’t change, but your attitude will. Your heart will start to listen to God. Your eyes will begin to see Him in your circumstances. You will find yourself beginning to know Him as your “Abba Father”, your dear loving daddy. And He will always guide those who hold His hand.

Are you ready to Journey with God in 2010? Why don’t you tell Him right now!