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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

God's Will Does Not Have to Be a Mystery

There are certainly times God refuses to tell me what He is up to. Some things are on a need-to-know basis. There are times that He tells me what to do only when I need to know. However, God's will is available to any Christian who is willing to listen and do His will.

I have heard of some pretty strange ways that people are discerning God's will. They flip coins, read fortune cookies and wait for any number of events which they have prescribed to indicate the will of God. For example, I once heard of a couple who said that God's will for their life together would be determined by whether or not they could get married on a certain day. They go to the courthouse to get married and its closed for Columbus Day. Was this really God? Evidently not since they went back the next day and got married.

Random events are not good ways of discerning God's will. They are exactly what we call them: random events! This methods leads Christians to carry a pocket full of coins rather than the filling of the Holy Spirit. It leads them away from God because they blame and credit God for things He had nothing to do with. It ruins their witness as people see how many terrible decisions are being made simply because "the Lord told me." It removes responsibility and the sense that God has given the Christian.

No, the Scriptures are plain about God's will. In fact, we are foolish if we do not know God's will.

First, there is His undeniable declared will. Things like being faithful to your spouse, being honest, working hard and worshiping Him are written in His Word. No one should ask God whether or not there is a time to be unfaithful to his spouse or tell a lie or any of the things He has prohibited. These things are indisputable.

Second, there are things which are done in the spirit of His Word. A Christian has permission to drink alcohol but may refuse to do so because of his witness. He may take a job which pays less because of his witness to another. These are not prescribed or declared but they are within the spirit of the Word.

Third, there are those things which are clearly God's will but cannot be determined solely by the Word. These are the things that most Christians struggle with. Determining God's will requires that the Christian humble themselves before God, be filled with the Spirit and make a commitment to wait until God reveals His will.

I had done a couple of ministry jobs before I was called into the ministry. Many people told me that God was calling me but I had to know this for myself. I did not tell God how He would indicate His will to me. I just began to pray.

I was sitting in church taking notes when the pastor said, "What if it was the last time I was called into the ministry and I refused?" He was saying this of himself. However, the Spirit clearly, almost audibly, said, "I am calling you." It really scared me. I wanted to know whether or not this was the Lord. The pastor offered an altar call and I left the building.

That week I made an appointment with the pastor. He asked me if I liked what I was doing. I was teaching school and I loved it. The pastor knew that many people go into the ministry because they hate what they are doing. They just don't know what else to do.

He also asked if I could continue to teach school. Then, came the "aha" moment. I said what was in my heart. It had to have been placed there by the Spirit. I said, "Not as long as I know I am called to the ministry." I never doubted my calling from that moment. In fact, I always looked back at my calling when the ministry got tough. I can't do anything else. It is God's will.

Knowing God's will does not make you an exalted Christian. This would be like exalting a hammer or a screwdriver because they have completed what they were made to do. God's will should reside in the Christian because he has humbled himself, quit resisting the filling of the Spirit and diligently sought His God.

A Christian knows God's will through the Spirit. God may employ prayer, other believers, His Word and circumstances but it is the Spirit who  reveals His will.

God does not hide His will. He makes it clearly known to those who are willing to find it.

Ephesians 5:15-18 (ESV)
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,  16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

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