God’s Will # 1 (God’s Will vs Our Choices)

Many people think that whatever happens is the will of God. While God is sovereign, not everything that happens is the will of God. People have choices in life, and many times, the things that are happening in their life are not according to the will of God. Sometimes, the things they are experiencing are a result of poor choices that they have made. It is not that this is God’s will, but rather their poor choices.

How do we find God’s will? First, we are to pray for God’s will on earth to be done, not our will but His will. Like Jesus, we have to pray for the Father’s will to be done. We should pray with our minds and pray with our spirits. The Spirit of God intercedes for us according to the will of God, so praying in the Spirit is an important way to pray.

Second, we must present our lives to God as living sacrifices. When we die to self, and do not lean on our own understanding, He makes straight our paths. We have to learn to do God’s will, not our own will. One of the requirements for pastors is that they are not self-willed. Pastors are examples, so they are to model for the church this principle so that everyone lives according to God’s will, not their own.

Third, we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We renew our minds by reading, meditating, and applying the Word of God in our lives. We find the will of God contained in the Scriptures. When our minds are renewed by the Scriptures, we can prove the will of God in our lives. When we look intently at the word, as if looking in a mirror, God uses it to transform us.

God’s will is good, acceptable, and perfect. When things are not good, acceptable, and perfect, let’s not say this was the will of God. Let’s go back and examine our ways, renew our minds with the Scriptures, and begin to prove God’s will in our lives.

God’s Will # 2 (Specific versus General)

Frequently I come across people wanting to know God’s specific will for their lives. They want to know what job or career they should pursue. They want to know what church to attend. They want to know who to marry. These are important aspects of God’s will for each of us. But, I find very few people asking about God’s general will for their lives, which is extremely important.

In Acts 21, Paul is on his way to Jerusalem. It was God’s specific will for his life to go to Jerusalem, be arrested, turned over to the Gentiles, and go to Rome. I doubt if any of us have been called to go to Jerusalem, get arrested, and sent to Rome. It was God’s specific will for Paul, and only applied to him. God’s general will applies to everyone, while His specific will applies to specific individuals or groups of individuals.

Following God’s will is one of the marks of a believer. In Mark 3:31-35, people told Jesus that His mother and brothers were looking for Him. He looked at those sitting around Him and replied, “Behold, My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” Doing the will of God was proof of being a follower of Christ. God expects believers to live for the will of God. In 1 Peter 4, we are exhorted to arm ourselves with the same purpose as Christ, so as not to live for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. In 1 John 2:16-17, those who live for the lusts of the flesh are of the world, but those who do the will of God abide forever. God expects us to live for the will of God.

Where do we discover God’s general will for our lives? We find it in the Scriptures. Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 that we are not to be conformed to the world, but we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind that we can prove the will of God, which is good, acceptable, and perfect. We must fill and renew our minds with God’s word, and then apply His word in our lives. When we do that, we will prove the will of God in our lives.

God’s Will # 3 (General Will Of God)

God wants us to live according to His will. He has taken some steps to help us discover and live according to His will. First, He has given His word to us to help us discover His will. Second, Paul tells us in Romans 8:26-27 that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God. The Holy Spirit, who is God, and knows the mind of God, knows God’s will for our lives and prays accordingly. God has also put parents, pastors, and brothers and sisters in our lives to help us know God’s will. He has purposely given us relationships to help us stay on course.

God also wants us to be assured that we are following the will of God. In Colossians 4:12, Epaphras labored in his prayers for the Colossians. His goal was that the Colossians would stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. We should spend time praying for God’s will in our lives, and we should also follow the example of Epaphras and pray for one another that we will be fully assured in all the will of God. (See Matthew 6:10.)

We can also be fully assured in the will of God when we are living according to God’s word. God is very straightforward in His word about His will for our lives. Consider the following parts of God’s will for our lives.

  • God’s will is for us to be sanctified. (1 Thess 4:3-7)
  • God’s will is for us to have a godly sorrow that leads to repentance. (2 Cor 7:9-11)
  • God’s will is for us to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in everything. (1 Thess 5:16-18)
  • God’s will is for us to submit to those in authority. (1 Peter 2:13-15)
  • God’s will is for us to give generously to Him and to His workers in the ministry (2 Cor 8:1-5)
  • God’s will is for us to serve others with a sincere heart. (Eph 6:5-8)
  • God’s will is for us to suffer for righteousness. (1 Pet 4:19)

God’s Will # 4 (Revealed Through The Prophetic Word)

In Acts 11:27-29, prophets prophesied of a coming famine, so the church in Antioch took up a collection for the relief in the saints in Jerusalem. In Acts 13:1-3, the Leadership Team at Antioch received a prophetic word to send out Barnabas and Paul to the work that God was calling them to do. In Acts 16:9-10, Paul was in Asia to preach the gospel, but the Holy Spirit did not permit them. Instead, the Lord gave a prophetic vision to Paul of a man in Macedonia asking for help. He concluded that God was calling them to go to Macedonia and preach the gospel there. Those are just three quick examples of how the Lord communicated His will through the prophetic word.

Paul also had prophetic words given to him about the suffering, bonds, and imprisonment. People in every church begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. They did not want him to suffer. But, the Holy Spirit had already given Paul prophetic guidance for the next few years of his life. He was to go to Macedonia, Achaia, Jerusalem, and then to Rome. Paul weighed and judged the prophetic words that he received against what the Lord had spoken to him. He used the prophetic words as confirmation in his life.

There have been a number of times in my life that God has communicated His will in my life through prophetic words. Many years ago, I was sitting down in a Wednesday night church service, and the Holy Spirit spoke very clearly to me about going to another church in town. I was an associate pastor at the church I was currently attending and had helped the church grow from about thirty people to over five hundred. Karen and I had been there for eleven years. It was difficult for me to go to another church, and I cried for months. However, God confirmed the prophetic word to me a number of different ways. God knew that the other church was where we needed to be for a short season, and that He was getting ready to send us out afterward.

Over eight years ago, the Lord spoke to me about planting a vineyard in the East Mountains. Karen and I prayed about it, and the Lord confirmed it through a prophetic word given to us by a woman that we had never met before, and have not seen her since.

In 2 Peter 1:19, God says, “so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” We need the prophetic word in our individual lives and in our churches. We should earnestly desire and pray for the prophetic word to be released. We should also seek to pay attention to the prophetic word as to a lamp shining in a dark place. We should write down and keep the prophetic words that we receive. Periodically, we should review these prophetic words and pray over them. Peter tells us that we do well to pay attention to these prophetic words.

God’s Will # 5 (Revealed Through The Urim and Thummim – part 1)

One of the most important things we can do in life is to follow God’s will. In the Old Testament people relied heavily on the priests to let them know if something was the will of God or not. Kings would go to the priest or prophet and inquire of the Lord about whether they were to go to war or not? Part of the priestly attire was the Urim and Thummim. The Urim and Thummim were put inside the folded pocket of the breastpiece of the priestly garments. The priests would use the Urim and Thummim to determine the will of God. What were the Urim and Thummim? Most scholars believe that they were two stones that were like dice. They would give an answer of yes or no. Some decision was always going to be made when the priest used the Urim and Thummim. (See Exodus 28:29-30.) This week, as we look at the will of God, I want to focus on the Urim.

The Urim (Strong’s H224) means light. God has always used light to govern and give direction. In Genesis, we find that God made the lesser and the greater lights. The greater light governed the day and allowed man to see what he was doing, and where he was going. The lesser lights, the moon and stars governed the night. Sailors have used the stars for navigational purposes for thousands of years. God made a provision for us to have light at all times. As priests today, God wants us to be full of His light.

The root word for Urim means fire. The fire of God indicated the presence of the Lord, and the priests were careful not to allow the fire or light in the temple to go out. The presence of the Lord was to help the priest make right judgments and decisions. When we need to have an answer, we need to get in the presence of the Lord. We need to seek Him in prayer and fasting and worship. We need to get in His presence so that we can ask Him for our answer.

God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps 119:105). To discover God’s will for our lives, we need to seek guidance from the light of God’s word. He promises to lead us by His light. God’s presence is with us in the Person of the Holy Spirit. And, the Holy Spirit often uses God’s word to guide us. He will bring a Scripture to mind to help make decisions.

God’s Will # 6 (Revealed Through The Urim and Thummim – Part 2)

God often revealed His specific will in situations through the Urim and Thummim.  The priests in the Old Testament carried the Urim and Thummim in their pockets. Thummin means perfections or completeness. God wanted the judgments that the priests made on behalf of His people to bring them to holiness, maturity, and completeness. God is a holy God and wants His people to be holy. He wants us to be perfect as He is perfect. He wants us to be mature and complete.

The New Testament is no different. God still commands us to be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. The Lord says that He who began a good work in us will perfect it or complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6). Our High Priest is still interested in bringing us to that place of perfection. Our High Priest will use the difficult times in our lives to bring us to that perfection. Consider what James says, that endurance should have its perfect results and that we would be made perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. That was the design and purpose of the Thummim (James 1:2-5).

As we try to discern the will of God for our lives and consider the different paths and options, we need to look at what will cause us to become more like Jesus. What will produce in us more holiness and righteousness? What will cause us to be complete and mature? Often it is not the easiest path that produces more holiness and maturity. In Romans 5:3-4, Paul tells us that we exult in our tribulations because they produce in us, perseverance, proven character, and hope. When Jesus was praying in the garden, He asked the Father to remove the cup from Him. He did not want to suffer on the cross. However, He said, not My will, but Thy will be done. Jesus understood that His suffering on the cross for our sins was the only way to forgive us and sanctify us. It was the only way to produce righteousness and holiness in us. He understood that this was God’s will for Him and for us.

God’s Will # 7 (Humility and Submission)

I love to plan, and I believe the Scriptures clearly instruct us to plan the activities and events in our lives. I believe that we should seek God’s will and direction in our lives, and then make plans accordingly. We find In James 4:13-17, we find two important and sobering truths about planning and God’s will. We need humility and submission when trying to follow God’s will.

James introduces this by speaking to those who would say what they intend to do. “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” In Proverbs 16:1, we find that the plans of the heart belong to the man, and in Proverbs 16:9 that the mind of a man plans his way. It is wise to plan our ways, and God has given us the responsibility of planning our ways. We should be clear about our plans and intentions.

James says that we do not know what our lives will be like tomorrow and that our lives are like a vapor that vanishes away. Essentially, he is telling us that unlike God, we cannot see the future, and second, that our lives here on earth are temporary. James finishes the passage by saying that our boasting is arrogant and evil. James is not contradicting the wisdom given in Proverbs; he is just giving us a proper perspective. We do not see, know, and understand everything. Only God sees and knows the future. We need to have a humble and sober estimation of ourselves and our plans. We also need to submit our plans to the Lord.

James gives us an alternative way to declare our plans and intentions. “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord will, we will live and also do this or that.’” When we go back to Proverbs 16, we find that what James says lines up perfectly with the wisdom of Solomon. The second half of Proverbs 16:1 says, “but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” In other words, God has the final say about things. We should pray and discuss our intentions with the Lord with an attitude of humility. Second, we should submit our plans to the Lord. The second part of Proverbs 16:9 says, “but the Lord directs his steps.” God gives us the responsibility to plan our ways, but He directs our steps. We should make plans, but we should be humble in making and declaring them, knowing that we are limited in our understanding. Second, we should submit our plans to the Lord, ultimately seeking His will to be done.