The Will of God

April 22, 2013

We have made the will of God into something mystical and foggy. Therefore we are always looking for it, guessing about it, worrying that we missed, etc. I believe that we miss the specific will of God in our lives because we are ignorant or disobedient to His general will. If to offend in one point, is to break the entire law, then we cannot expect God to give us specific directions if we are not following His general ones.
The first things required of all men are that they repent and be saved, as the following verses illustrate:

Matt 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (KJV)

2 Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (KJV)

Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (KJV)

It is clearly evident that He is willing to forgive and save, if we are willing to submit to His will. Unless we obey His will here, we can never expect specific direction to our life. Every person is given the opportunity to fulfill this will when they hear the Gospel. Unless they receive Christ as their Savior they cannot look for any other guidance because they have not fulfilled the first will of God.
We who are saved readily believe this and accept it as His will along with Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Church Attendance, Bible reading, prayer, giving and so forth. Indeed, the Bible is THE will of God. It is full of general and specific directions for our life. We claim ignorance of His will and plead diligently for it when it is clearly before us. One would have to read and exposit the entire Bible to do a proper study of God’s will. I can only touch on a few things in this short study.

John 7:17 If any man will do His will he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
18 He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. (KJV)

So why are we so befuddled? It is because humans tend to demand the mystical or the deeply intellectual. If the truth is too simple we don’t believe it or we believe it halfheartedly. Somewhat like when we say that something is so easy that it is hard. The reason it is so hard is that we have muddied the waters. Christ said that we needed the faith of a child to be saved. We should also walk in that childlike faith to do His will. I believe He wrote His Word so children could understand it. We are at our most mature state when we return in childlike faith and obedience to that Word.

I Cor 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: (KJV)

American Christians appear to have the characteristics of both Jews and Gentiles. We want to have twittering feelings or lightning bolts hit us to know that God is speaking to us. God is often the still small voice (I Kings 19:11,12). We want to find some deep hidden secret in the Word to astonish our minds to know that God has meant this verse for us. God does not want us to skim over His Word (Josh 1:8) and He does reveal deep things to us (Dan 2:19-23), but they are not to be our motive.

I Cor 6:19 What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (KJV)

Our biggest problem is that we are just too willful in our flesh to see that we are to be slaves to Christ. Yes, joint-heirs and the sons of God, but slaves nonetheless when it comes to our present life. Do you see anything in those verses that speak of our inalienable rights or personal freedom? Not hardly! It is the language of slavery. There is not a race or people that have not been enslaved somewhere in history. Americans have enjoyed national and personal freedoms for so long that we have no concept of slavery and what it entails. We do what we want when we want to and no one can stop us. It’s our life, our money, our time, and our right to the pursuit of happiness. And no one can tell us differently.
Note the personal ownership in that thinking. It is ours, ours, ours. Yet, the slave language of the Scriptures tell us that we are not our own, we are bought. Therefore we are another’s. When you belong to someone you have no rights. A slave was told when he could eat, sleep, have a family (which could be taken away, since they were the master’s and not his). The only thing the master could not prevent him from doing was dying but he could choose to hasten that. This is not exactly the kind of lifestyle we are accustomed to or that we would choose. However, once we become Christians, it is the lifestyle ordained for us and it is His will. Are you sure you really wanted to know His will? Remember that we will only know it, if we will do it. If we could only see that our forefathers saw being happy as being blessed of God and their idea of the pursuit of happiness was the freedom to find the blessing of God for our life not selfish abandonment to physical pleasure or amassing wealth. Then we would realize that real freedom only lies in complete obedience to the will of our Master!
The following passage is descriptive of an American’s concept of obedience to God’s will.

I Sam 15:1 Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.
2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
4 And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.
5 And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.
6 And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.
7 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur that is over against Egypt.
8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.
10 Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,
11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.
12 And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.
13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.
14 And Samuel said What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen, which I hear?
15 And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
16 Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.
17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?
18 And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD? (KJV)

When God says all, He means ALL. So what was Saul thinking? Well, he did destroy all the people, except for Agag. After all, it was standard procedure to keep the conquered king at your table for a display. The more kings at your table the greater you were and Agag was Saul’s first. Surely, God did not mean to deprive him of that honor. After all, He was the Lord’s anointed. And of course, God demands a sacrifice and we want to sacrifice so we saved the best from their herds. Besides, isn’t it normal to keep the spoils of war? Hmm, but God said kill all the animals, not just the vile. Why not sacrifice from your herds, Saul? Who causes you to prosper, Saul? You should have been like David who understood that a sacrifice that cost him nothing was not a sacrifice at all. (2 Samuel 24:24)
Too often, we are the same way. We justify our own incomplete obedience by appealing to the culture we live in. After all, God it is the 21st Century. All the other Christians do it. Society approves of it. When God tells you His will, he expects complete obedience, even unto death.

Matt 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (KJV)

Even Jesus, was willing to forgo His own will for the Father’s, how can we do any less? On what basis can we argue that we have a right to say no? None if Christian means Christ like and we call ourselves Christians.

Matt 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (KJV)

Denial of self is the biggest hurdle to overcome to find God’s specific will for our life. We miss so much of the general will because of it. First, we were to consider ourselves slaves and now we are to consider ourselves on the way to death and even dead (Rom 6:7). A dead man has no desires or rights. A man on his way to death may have many desires, but he has no way to fulfill any of them. His strongest desire is to flee the death to come, but he cannot. When self is commanded to die it rebels. Its will to survive is energized and it must be nailed to a cross and killed. Jesus gave up His life, but self will never go down without a vicious struggle. It must be forced to take up its cross (Col. 3:5). Denial of self must be daily and it must happen to fulfil God’s primary will for the Christian. That is why we must be filled with the Spirit because we cannot bring about the death of the flesh or self in the power of our flesh. The Spirit must win that war. (Gal 5:17)

1 Peter 1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy for I am holy. (KJV)

The word holy means sanctified or set apart. We are to be totally apart from this world and be like God. We are physically in the world but not of the world or like the world in philosophy or actions. In our culture, as in all others in the past, to do this means you will seem like an alien or a fool. This is why with the command to be holy comes the promise.

2 Tim 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (KJV)

1 Pet 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (KJV)

Not a maybe, but a shall and persecution is what the self shrinks from most of all. This is why we do not witness when it is God’s will that we always be ready to give an answer. Self may be willing to give up some of its sins and toys, but not to be persecuted. We are told from our early childhood to be popular or successful. We are told things that will help assure our popularity and success. Being a fanatic is not one of them.

1 Peter 4:4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you. (KJV)

That speaking evil of us, the self cannot handle and keeps it from seeking holiness which we are commanded to seek. Is it better to be in fellowship with the world or with God? I would rather hear well done from God and curses from men anytime. I am only spending a few short years here with mortal men and then eternity with God. I can take heat from men.

Heb 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (KJV)

Again, like Saul, we are more than willing to follow peace but holiness, which will bring persecution, is another thing. Oh, we will tolerate some hassle from the lost. After all, we do not want to deny the Lord. How about the saved? If a person really seeks holiness, his biggest detractors are going to be those from the household of faith. Why? Because you will convict them of their sin and disloyalty. You will make them feel uncomfortable in their rationalizations and they will hunt for a flaw in your armor to discredit you more so then even the lost. For the lost expect fanatics to be a little strange and if they respect you, they might even tolerate you. That is not always so with the brethren and it is their disapproval we fear more than anything. Therefore we stay lukewarm and feed the flesh or self.
However, we cannot fulfill another will God has for us because of our lack of holiness.

1 Chron 16:29 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. (KJV)

Psalms 29:2 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. (KJV)

Psalms 96:9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. (KJV)

We always say that when God says something once He means it. When He says it twice, it should really catch our attention. He has said it three times in these passages and in far more places in different ways. No holiness equals no worship. We perform rituals of worship and attend worship meetings, but unless we are holy we cannot worship. Are you fulfilling the will of God? How’s your holiness? It affects His will for you to worship Him.

John 17:17 Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth. (KJV)

One practical way to sanctify yourself is by dwelling in the Word. If truth sanctifies and His Word is truth then the Word is where you should spend your time. It will keep you pure, which is His will for you.

1 Thess. 4:3-7
3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. (KJV)

In our day and age, trying to stay pure can seem like trying to throw a lamb into a mud puddle without getting any dirt on its white wool or trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. Impurity is in the newspaper, on billboards, radio and television, even on the rest room walls. The lure is ever out there trying to suck you into believing that you should just have fun and enjoy. Even with the AIDS epidemic, the media still uses sex to sell everything and to fill up the plots of its movies and TV series.
No matter how difficult, it is still possible by walking in His will. If you confess you are a slave, a dead man on his way to death and are worshipping in the beauty of holiness, you can possess your vessel in a world that seeks to steal it every moment. But you must not despise God’s teachings.

8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit.

Too often we blame our disobedience and willfulness on the messenger. We do not like his style, his appearance, his education, etc, so we ignore the teaching and feel safe. As long as the messenger sticks to God’s Word, it is God we are blaming and despising and not the man. Can a person in this state hope to find God’s specific will?

9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. (KJV)

It is God’s will that we love one another. To love someone means to sacrifice or inconvenience yourself and give of your time, etc. It is more than a worship service handshake. It means to become involved with their lives and seek their good. Again, this means a denial of self.

Matt 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (KJV)

We quote this as the Golden Rule all the time, but do we practice it? More often, we want them to do for us, but we don’t have time to do for them. You could call this God’s will for interpersonal relationships in a nutshell.

Matt 20:26,27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: (KJV)

1 Cor 1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. (KJV)

God wills that we perform humble service and to not exalt ourselves or seek power for power’s sake. Would you wash your brother’s feet? Jesus would. He did the task of the lowliest servant when He is King of Kings. Why are we on such a high horse when we have nothing except what God gave us? Glorify Him and not yourself.

I Cor 4:19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. (KJV)

James 4:15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. (KJV)

We make too many plans without realizing our mortality and God’s sovereign control. His will is that we acknowledge Him as Lord and allow Him to direct our paths. Paul made his plans and even announced them, but allowed the possibility that God may change those plans. If it was good enough for Paul, it is more than good enough for us.

Exodus 20:8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. (KJV)

We are not under law, but God made the Sabbath for man. It was meant to be a day of worship and rest. We should try to keep the Lord’s Day, just that. Just because the stores and restaurants are open does not mean we should frequent them. We complain when people cannot come to services because they work on Sunday. Yet, by our patronage, we keep the shops open and keep people from church. If all those who called themselves Christians, saved or not, kept the Lord’s Day holy, there would be no need of blue laws. The shops would close because it was unprofitable. Without the church crowd, most restaurants would be closed on Sunday. This is to our shame.
Yes, we are not under OT Law, but if by our practice we aid people to avoid church then we are violating the law of love, which is eternal. If by my abstinence of shopping or eating on Sunday brings about one person being able to come to church to be saved or to grow and serve then it is worth it. I have six days to shop and eat. Yes, there will always be some exceptions. At times we need to travel on Sunday and emergencies arise, but generally with a little planning we can get what we need done in those six days. Let me love the Lord and my fellow man to keep Sunday wholly dedicated unto the Holy One.

John 17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (KJV)

This is a will of Jesus that affects our lives and His will shall be fulfilled when He returns for us. God gave us to Jesus when we were saved. Jesus wills that we shall be with Him one day. This is an excellent proof of eternal security. Out of love and gratitude, we should be open to His will and rejoice for the opportunity to fulfill it not fear it or see it as a burden.

Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (KJV)

This is one of the easiest things that God wills for us and it is the one that is most forsaken or ignored. We make up hundreds of excuses to escape the torment of attending church. You may say, well I never said it was a torment. It must be or more folks would be attending and attending more faithfully.
Many believe we live in the last days, which means we should be having more services and better attendance. Instead attendance is dropping and churches are having fewer services. Some churches only meet on Sunday mornings. There is no prayer service or anything else just a one-hour “guess we better do our bit for God” service.
If you cannot perform the simplest of God’s commandments or wills then I would feel safe to say that you are having major problems with the rest of His commands. If the least of the general wills of God is a burden for you then do not expect to receive any specific direction in your life. There is no strength in solitude. We need the brethren; the teaching and times of worship if we ever hope to mature enough to even hear God’s specific will for our life let alone fulfill it.
I can hear the word legalist from some folks. Show me in this passage a loophole for Christian liberty or freedom of conscience and I will be pleased to consider Christmas and Easter or once a month or a quarter attendance as an acceptable part of the Christian experience. You cannot do it for it is not there. This is a simple and direct command that even a child slave can understand. Why cannot an adult slave understand and obey? Why do those who profess love for the Lord have so much trouble with it? Praise God for liberty, freedom, and grace, but the command is still to meet regularly not for your own thrill but to exhort another and in the process find exhortation for yourself. We want to live in His house with all the saints forever in glory but to meet in a house with a few saints here now that’s another story. This ought not to be so, my brethren.

Heb 6:9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. (KJV)

I wish to end with some help in the specific will of God in our lives and like Paul, hope that those reading are sincerely seeking God’s will for their life. I trust you are not one of those whose works will be consumed at the Bema though their soul will saved as by fire.
I have heard these few steps for finding the specific will of God from various places and different men have been given credit for them. I am not sure who originated them. I am only letting you know that they are not original thoughts of mine.
The first step to determine if something is in the specific will of God for your life is to see if it is biblical. Some things are obvious, but then I have heard a lady say that she was a stripper for God. To say that she has missed the boat is an understatement. She has not only missed the boat, but is under the boat being sliced by the propellers. There are honorable professions and there are dishonorable ones and it is never God’s will for one of His children to enter into a dishonorable one.
There are times that when even entering an honorable one may not be His will for you. If you are already under a contract either written or oral and an opportunity arises that would make you break that contract dishonorably then the opportunity is not from God. If the one you contracted with is amenable and releases you from the contract then fine, but to walk out and not keep your word is not His will. (Psalm 15:4) If it is God’s will for you to take the opportunity then God will make the one you are contracted with amenable to release you or the new employer willing to wait until your contract is fulfilled.
In that illustration, I have touched on another step and that is timing or a door of opportunity. If you are fulfilling to the best of your ability and knowledge the general will of God then He will place open doors of opportunity before you. As you are faithful in what He has given you greater responsibility will be given. Just look at the life of Joseph, Stephen or Phillip. They were faithful in what God had given them to do and they were advanced and given greater duties and responsibilities. He that is faithful in a few things will be given greater things. (Matt 25:21,23) Also beware of the children of Israel’s error in not going through the door when God had it open to the Promised Land. They tried to kick it back open after God closed it and suffered loss. It took forty years for that door to open again. Timing is important!!
It is hard to say the next step is prayer because you should be doing this all the time, but for sure after you have seen a biblical opportunity open you should pray. An open door to a good thing may still not be right for you. David had the resources and opportunity to build a temple, but it was not God’s will for him to do so. Had he done what seemed to be open to him without contacting God, he would have made God look like all the other false gods of the other nations around him. God wanted His house to be known as a place of prayer and peace and not war so it took a king that would build it in a time of peace not after a great military victory. Therefore prayer needs to be all through the search for God’s specific will for your life.

Prov 11:14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. (KJV)

You should also be seeking godly counsel. God has provided within His Body wise men and women to assist you in finding God’s will for you. People in your church know you and have seen God mature you and equip you with certain gifts. They would know if the opportunities that you are considering were within your range of gifts and maturity. Most people would not attempt brain surgery if they have never been trained in the field. If you do not have the gifts for the opportunity, you would to well to reconsider taking it.
Also, a gift is not a talent. A schoolteacher may or not be called to be a Sunday School or Bible Institute teacher. There may be some similarities between the two positions but a spiritual teacher needs the spiritual gift of teaching to be effective. A man may have a talent for public speaking but if he does not have the gift and call of a pastor teacher he should not enter the ministry. Solomon’s son Rehoboam sought counsel but from the wrong people and lost most of the kingdom he inherited. Getting the wrong counsel can be as disastrous as getting no counsel at all. Be sure you go to people who have discernment and are spiritual.
Those wise people including your pastor and deacons should confirm the gifts in you and amen your desire to enter into a specific ministry or even a secular career. If they cannot confirm those gifts you may just be setting yourself up for heartbreak though you have zeal and desire. They may also be aware of some things about the opportunity that you do not know and spare you defeat and discouragement.
After that you have done all this you should pray again. If the peace of God is given to you at that time you can proceed to go through the door of opportunity. Yet, even in this you must be open to God closing the door or opening another one as soon as you go through the first one. Sometimes it does take several doors to get to the exact place God wants you. This keeps us from being rigid and trying to lock God in a box. As a disciple, you should just be open to His leading and obedient to the light He gives you along the way.
Just recently, I have had to do the same thing I am advising you to do. I have been involved in some sort of ministry since my conversion in 1975. Yet, when a church recently asked me to review their bylaws and consider becoming their pastor I gave copies to two men that I trust. I wanted to make sure that I did not miss something that should have set my alarms off. When the two men both felt as I did that there were numerous problems and some important doctrinal errors in those bylaws I knew that it was right to turn down the offer. Yes, a pastorate is a good thing and I have been praying about finding one for some time. Yes, I have had my gifts of pastor teacher affirmed by many over the years. Yes, it was a door of opportunity and it came at a good time. Yet, I had no peace about it and my godly counselors did not see it as right for me. Hence that church is still looking for a pastor.

Again, I am not sure which godly man came up with this checklist. Some may have seen a longer list and others shorter. However, do you see that the will of God for your life is no mystery? It is not a twittering feeling or a message written across the sky. Most of what God wills for your life is written in His Word. When you follow His general will or rules of the house He will give you any details that you might need. If you are walking in the way, the still small voice will help you stay on course. Stay in an attitude of prayer and when the door to a biblical opportunity opens in a timely manner pray and seek godly counsel and God’s peace. If all that lines up then God’s will for you may lie through that doorway or at least for you to be willing to pursue it. Let Him lead as you continue to pray and follow Him as a slave, disciple and son. Then you will have a fruitful ministry and fulfilling life come what may. It may not be easy, but it will be in the center of His will and it does not get better than that!!! May you find that center!!!!


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