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God’s Will: How to do it

the will of god

I grew up in the Midwest–the great state of Ohio to be exact. If you have ever been to the Midwest or know someone from there, you know that mid-westerners have a few quirks and crazy traditions. One of the greatest traditions is the card game, Euchre. Now, I never thought Euchre was weird or abnormal; but rather, a well known, everyone plays it, type of card game…that is, until I went to college in the northeast. At college I quickly became aware of the fact that not everyone knows what Euchre is, let alone how to play it! And sometimes I think that is exactly how believers feel with God’s will. They don’t even know what it is, let alone how to do it! So I want to offer some help on this topic, which is why today I am addressing the subject of God’s Will and how to do it in three steps–Distinguish it above all else, Deem others above yourself, and Delight yourself in it.

The first step in doing God’s will is Distinguishing it above all else. To distinguish God’s will above all else we must first read God’s Word daily. David tells us in Psalms to “meditate” (think about, dwell on) God’s word both day and night (Psalm 1:1-2). In other words, God’s word should be on our minds and hearts all throughout our day, at all times. But Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 that the purpose of this “meditating” is transformation (being changed from the inside out), not just conformation (being pressed into a mold by external pressures). And it is only by a continual dwelling on God’s word, that we can be transformed (Colossians 3:16). But to distinguish God’s will above all else we must also trust God’s Word completely. We must believe and live as though it is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true and good to revive our souls, make wise the simple. It is righteous altogether (Psalm 19:7-9). We must believe and live as though God’s word and God’s Spirit working through His word, can sanctify and make us holy (John 17:17). We must believe it makes us competent and equips us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). And we must believe and live as if  everything for life and godliness has been granted to us in God’s Word (2 Peter 1:3). So if we are going to do God’s will, we must first Distinguish His Word above all else, by reading it daily and trusting it completely. Jonah

The second step in doing God’s will is Deeming others above ourselves. To do this we must first consider others as more important than ourselves. Paul reminds us of the greatest example of this when he draws our attention to Christ (Philippians 2:5-8). We must think and reflect the actions of Christ, who thought nothing of Himself, being God, but became a man to die a cruel death in our place. But we must also consider the battle between our “rights” and the well being of others (1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1). God calls us not to do everything that we are “free” or “allowed” to do, but to consider the repercussions it could have on others. All of this caution and restricting ourselves for the betterment of others finds its greatest reason in the death of Christ (1 John 3:16-18).

imagesHowever, we must not only consider others as more important, but we must also consider others input. We must recognize that our hearts can and do deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9). The person easiest to trick and deceive is often ourselves. Proverbs repeatedly calls us to remember and recognize that it is the fool who is right in his own eyes, and because of this often isolates himself for his own self-seeking pleasure (Proverbs 12:15, 18:1, 15:22, 13:20). And Paul reminds us that we all need to make sure we seek “wise” help and company (1 Corinthians 15:33). So if we are going to do God’s will we must also be Deeming others above ourselves, by considering them more important, and considering their input.

The third and final step in doing God’s will is Delighting yourself in it. David tell us in Psalm 37:4 that if we “Delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart.” In others words, when our greatest desire is for God, His will, and His glory, we will get our desires, because our desires will match God’s. But to do this we must first, delight in the joy of God’s will (1 Corinthians 10:31). Everything we do must be done to God’s glory and for the joy of seeing Him made much of. Secondly, to delight in God’s will we must delight in the freedom of it. This freedom is a freedom from sin and death and to obedience and righteousness and eternal life (Romans 6:6-7, 14, 17-18). Thirdly, delighting in God’s will means we will Delight in the security of it. Being in God’s will and doing it faithfully means we no longer fear the punishment of judgment because judgment has been dealt with through perfect love (1 John 4:18).

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We now seek not to avoid judgment but to enjoy love. We can freely choose and enjoy a plethora of options without fearing missing God’s will or being punished for the wrong. This is true because the judgment we once feared and wanted to avoid, has been dealt with by perfect love…Jesus Christ’s substitutionary atonement on the cross of Calvary, where He became sin for us, so that we might be the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). So to be doing God’s will we must be Delighting in it by delighting in the joy, freedom, and security of it.

Inevitably, I found a few other mid-westerners while in college who knew the game of Euchre and enjoyed playing it as much as I did. But the greater joy was teaching my future bride and other friends not just what the game was but how to play it. And I believe that God has exponentially greater joy when believers not only realize what His will is revealed in His Word and but also obediently and faithfully do it.

I pray that this post and series has been not only educational, but enjoyable in your understanding and practice of God’s will in your life. If you missed the first post “God’s Will: First Things First“, or second post “God’s Will: Three Wills of God“, or third post “God’s Will: What is it“, you can check them out here.

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God’s Will: What is it?

the will of godWhere should I go to college? What should I major in? Who will I marry? Where will we live? Should I change careers, jobs, or locations? All of these questions are ones I have either asked myself or had others ask. However, as a Christian there is one question that quintessentially summarizes all of these inquiries. That summarizing question is: What is God’s will for my life? Most believers and even some unbelievers have probably asked this question at some point in their lives. So what is the will of God really? Can we know it? Is it something different for each person? Before diving in, I must clarify that much of the content below is adapted from John MacArthur’s book, “Found: God’s Will”. While I leaned heavily on this book, it was and is ultimately God’s Word that reveals God’s will (Colossians 1:9; Ephesians 5:17).

First, God’s will is that man Be Saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4). These verses indicate that it is God’s will and desire for all men to be saved. This will of God is described as good and pleasing to God. Salvation is at the heart of God and is thus His will and desire for each and every person. He desires such because it not only pleases Him, but is good for us. The eternal life God wishes for all to participate in is clearly revealed in God’s Word (2 Peter 1:3). God desires people to be saved so greatly, that it is the very reason He is patient in carrying out His wrath and final judgment on the earth (2 Peter 3:9). So God’s will is first that we be saved.

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Secondly, God wills that man Be Spirit-filled (Ephesians 5:17-18). Now, this cannot happen unless the first part of God’s will (salvation) has become a reality in our lives. God’s Spirit indwells all those who call Jesus Christ Lord and Savior (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). But once we are saved, God wills that we be not only indwelt by, but also filled with the Holy Spirit. From the context, we see that Paul is comparing the effects of the Spirit to the effects of alcohol. When a person is drunk all his inhibitions are gone because he is controlled by the alcohol. This is the idea of the term “filled”; it means to be controlled by something, to be dominated by it. The believer is to be dominated by God’s Spirit by dwelling on God’s Word (Colossians  3:16). So God’s will is that we be Spirit-filled.

Thirdly, God wills that man Be Sanctified (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8). The word “sanctified” simply means to be separated from sin and evil and set apart unto God. In this passage, Paul is speaking to the Thessalonians with regard to handling their bodies in a God-honoring way. As believers, the Thessalonians (and by way of application, us as well) were not to act like the world (unsaved culture) around them. They were not to take advantage of someone else for their own good and pleasure. Instead they were to control their bodies and sanctify themselves to God. This was to be done and can only be done as God’s Word is read, studied, and applied to our individual lives. So God’s will is that we be sanctified.

Fourth, God wills that man Be Submissive (1 Peter 2:13-15). This is definitely one of the two hardest concepts for those of us who live in a Western culture to understand and live out. Peter was writing to believers who were spread throughout the Roman empire (which was known for not being so nice to Christians). It was also during this time that slavery was prominent, and there was no such thing as “labor laws” in place. So the Christians to whom Peter wrote would have had a much more difficult situation in which to live out an attitude of submission. Yet the Apostle did not stutter or hesitate to record God’s will for believers. They were to submit to government, rulers, and even parents (Ephesians 6:1-3). God’s desire in this aspect of His will is simple…to silence critics to Christianity and make people ask why. It was all about God getting the glory. So God’s will is that we be submissive. More

Fifth, God’s will is that man Be willing to Suffer (1 Peter 3:17). This is the second of the two hardest aspects of Gods’ will for us Westerners to follow. We love our comfort, our ease, our pleasure, and our entitlement.  Ask us to suffer and we quickly turn the other way. But notice that in this part of God’s will it is not stated that suffering will be for all. Instead it is stated that we should be willing to suffer, “IF” that be God’s will. But Scripture also tells us that if we desire and obey in following Christ there will be persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). It is in this suffering that we partner and share in Christ’s suffering (Philippians 1:29). So it is God’s will that we be willing to suffer.

Sixth, it is God’s will that man Be Saying thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). In a culture built on entitlement, this may in fact be a lost art form. It is rare to find someone who recognizes that everything they have is ultimately a gift from God. And in a world that is broken and battling it is difficult to find things in which to rejoice. But according to these verses, a believer is to rejoice ALWAYS and give thanks in ALL circumstances. If honesty is the best policy, then I would be going against that policy to say that in every  condition of life I find it easy to give thanks and rejoice. But notice God does not say to give thanks only when life is easy or comfortable. Why does God believe thanksgiving is possible even in the darkest of days? Because real thanksgiving is not a result of circumstances, but of contentment. And contentment is a matter of the heart. God’s will is that we be saying thanks.

So there it is, God’s will for your life: Be Saved, Be Spirit-filled, Be Sanctified, Be Submissive, Be willing to Suffer, and Be Saying thanks. “But…” you say, ” that does not tell me who to marry, where to go to school, where to live, what job to take, or give me the answer to my current tough situation. Truth is there is one more piece and directive in God’s will. And you are going to love this.

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If you are Saved, Spirit-filled, Sanctified, Submissive, willing to Suffer, and Saying thanks, God tells you this one last thing in Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in God and He will give you the desires of your heart”! In other words, if you are obeying God’s will as revealed in God’s Word, DO WHAT YOU WANT!

This was the third lesson in the “God’s Will” series. If you missed the first post “God’s Will: First Things First“, or second post “God’s Will: Three Wills of God“, you can check them out here. Stay tuned for the conclusion of “God’s Will” next week with “God’s Will: How to do it?”.

God’s Will: Three Wills of God

the will of godWhat has been considered the best selling toy of all time? It has sold more than 350 million worldwide. It has won the German Game of the Year for Best Puzzle. It was invented in 1974 and was originally called “The Magic Cube”. Still not sure? This puzzle toy was invented by Erno Rubik. It’s the Classic Rubik’s Cube. The six-sided, nine-colored, puzzle game reached the height of popularity in the 80’s but is now used mostly for speed competitions.[1] But imagine “the Cube” sitting on a table with you and three friends around that table viewing the game. You may view all blue squares, while one friend sees all white squares, while yet another perceives all red squares.  Why the different sights? Shouldn’t you all be seeing the same thing? Not exactly, because you each have a different perspective on “the Cube”. A similar thing is true when we discuss the will of God. While God has one will, it does have three differing aspects: God’s will of Decree, God’s will of Desire, and God’s will of Design.

First, God’s will of Decree is just that, God’s will that He has declared from eternity past (Isaiah 46:9-10). It encompasses all the decrees of God that He has proclaimed from the beginning. This will of God is that which is going to happen and cannot be stopped. It is also known as His secret will (Deuteronomy 29:29). While the entirety of God’s secret will is not revealed, man is still responsible to plan according to what is revealed and to allow God to ultimately work His will (Prov. 16:9). So God’s will of Decree covers all that He has declared to take place from eternity past. last-will

Second, God’s will of Desire includes all that God desires, but that He does not necessarily cause to happen. This includes items such as the salvation of all people (1 Timothy 2:3-4) and all children not perishing (Matthew 18:14). It is this will of God that allows some things to take place, even though sinful and wrong, for His glory. Take for example the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17). In this recording of Jesus’ line, we see names (and more importantly the stories behind those names) that reveal sin and actions that God is not pleased with and do not align with His “will”, yet somehow uses to bring about His glory through the birth of His Messiah, Savior, and Son. He does allow somethings that he does not desire, giving man freedom of choice (Mark 3:35, 2 Peter 3:9).

Finally, God’s will of Design is that will original to God’s design in creation (Ephesians 5:17, 1 Thessalonians 4:3). This will of God is that which He wrote and willed into the very design of everything He created. His will of Design can be obeyed or disobeyed. This will of God is revealed to us specifically in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and includes things such as sexuality, authority, etc. The Bible tells us that this will of God was not produced by man, but by God’s Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). This will gives us guidance to follow in our lives (Psalm 119:105). It is God’s will of Design that is written in the very nature of creation as revealed through His Word.

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While seeing one side of a Rubik’s Cube may give you the idea that it is all one color, there are always five other sides to “the Cube”. The truth is that God’s will is similar to “the Cube”, not in the sense that God changes His will depending on how we see it, but because we do not have as full a perspective on things as the Creator. He is the one who has a perfect will for His glory. But there are three different perspectives or aspects of that will: Decree, Desire, and Design.

This was the second lesson in the “God’s Will” series. If you missed the first post “God’s Will: First Things First“, you can check it out here. Stay tuned for the continuation of “God’s Will” next week with “God’s Will: What is it?”.

[1] – Information taken from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubik%27s_Cube) accessed October 27th, 2013.

God’s Will: First things First

the will of godWhat will I be when I grow up? Where will I go to college? What type of job will I have? Where will I live? Who will I marry? All of these questions and more were ones I remember asking myself all throughout my teenage years. But amongst all of the questions that I pondered during those years, there was one that I just could not shake…”What is God’s will for my life?”. That question was one that I dwelt on an awful lot. And to be truthful, from time to time I still think about it. However, I have recently once again realized I am not the only one who has asked or is asking this question. So what is the answer? Well, stick around the next few weeks as we work through this question and flesh out an answer that is both biblical and practical.

Before diving headlong into this series, we must first understand three truths: God’s Dominion, Man’s Dependence, and Our Desire.

When truly asking God about His will for our lives, it is important to stop and remember whose will it is…God’s. And by definition God is the ultimate authority and ruler of the world (Job 38:4-7); He is the One who has Dominion. God possesses dominion first and foremost because He is the Creator. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). As Creator He made everything good (Genesis 1:31). Being the good Creator means that God is also the Sovereign over all of His creation. In other words, God owns everything and needs nothing (Psalm 50:10-12). God is the only eternal, everlasting, and independent being of the universe. More

If God is the independent Creator, that means man lives in constant dependence. We live in dependence upon God for our existence. God is the one who made and gave authority to man (Genesis 1:26-27). In other words, the life we have and the authority we have is from God. However, we are not perfect supervisors. We only get to chapter 3 in Genesis before man messes up the responsibility he has been given. And as a result of that sin, sin and death spread to all mankind (Romans 3:10-18, 23). That is right–every homo sapien that has, is, or ever will walk the face of the planet is a sinner deserving death (Romans 6:23). Therefore, the fact that we live and have being simply shows the dependence we have on God each and every day (Acts 17:25, 28). In light of this, there is a great chasm to be spanned between our desires and God’s.

God’s desire is for good in all of His creation, but our desire is always for something other than God’s goodness. This creates the first problem when pursuing and wishing to know God’s will for our lives. Truth be told, our desires do not match the desires of God. Therefore, we must cultivate in our hearts the desire to be cooperative and to be submissive in order to know God’s will. Because we are sinful at our core, our desire is to do things our own way; however, Jesus teaches us that our will and desire must be for God’s will to be done (Matthew 6:8-10). In order for us to desire to be cooperative with God and His will, we must be submissive. The only way we can truly pursue submission is to recognize that it is God who made us and teaches us, not the other way around (Isaiah 40:13-14).

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So before seeing God’s will for our lives, we must recognize God’s Dominion, Our Dependence, and where Our Desire must be. But the problem is we cannot desire cooperation and submission to God on our own. That is why God had to create a way to transform our hearts and desires. The only way He could do that was to eradicate the sinful way we relate to Him. In other words, a payment had to be made for our sin. But the only acceptable sacrifice was perfection. (Insert, climactic music here) Bad news: no human being could be a perfect sacrifice, we all have sinned. So what did God do? He paid the penalty Himself, by sending His Son Jesus Christ in our place (2 Corinthians 5:21; John 3:16-18; Philippians 2:6-8).

It is only when we see that God has Dominion, we are utterly Dependent, and that our Desire must match His that we can begin to know and pursue His will for our lives. Stay tuned for the continuation of this series next week!

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