“Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
In my 30 years of ministry, one of the most common questions I get from people has been this — “How can I know the will of God for my life?” Sometimes it may be phrased, “Pastor, does God have a plan for my life?” If you have ever wondered about those things, then I KNOW what God’s will is for you right now — READ THE REST OF THIS BLOG!
First, I believe God definitely has a will for our lives. In Ephesians 5:15-17, Paul said, “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Paul clearly says that wise walkers understand God’s will and unwise walkers (foolish) don’t understand it. So I want to be someone who “walks wisely.”
Second, we need to understand that phrase “God’s will.” Whenever you see that in the Bible, it means one of three things.
It may be referring to God’s Providential Will. You will often hear that referred to as “the sovereign will of God.” This is the will of God that is unchangeable — it overrides all human decisions. Certain things are going to happen, and nobody can change that. An example is the death of Christ on the cross. In the Gospels, you find that Jesus’ enemies often desired to kill him, but they never were successful. Why? Because God’s will was for Jesus to die on the cross and that is exactly what He did.
Other times, the phrase “the will of God” might refer to God’s Moral Will. We refer to this as the absolutes of God’s will. There are certain things that are always right or wrong — in every place on the globe, in every circumstance, at all times. The best example of this are the Ten Commandments. It is and always has been and always will be wrong to lie, steal, commit adultery or covet somebody else’s stuff. Our morality is not left to chance or popular vote — God’s Word clearly establishes what is right and what is wrong. There isn’t as much “gray” as many people would like for us to believe.
Finally, there is God’s Personal Will. This is the one we have the most questions about. What does God want ME to do? Do I take this job or not? Do I date this person or not? Do I go to this college or not? These are all things that I wish were spelled out in Scripture, but they aren’t.
“Pastor Keith — how then do I know God’s personal will for me?” First, I KNOW that it is God’s will for us to seek to be “in” His will. The unhappiest person in the world is not a lost person — it is a saved person who is living outside the will of God. The other thing I know about God’s personal will is this…God has given me definite instructions on how to make good choices in my life so that I can be confident that I am doing His will.
My “life verse” is Proverbs 3:5-6. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not only your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” To understand God’s will for my life, I have to do two things and not do one thing.
It says I am to “trust the Lord with all my heart.” God only reveals His personal will to us when we fully trust Him. That means I must have a personal relationship with Him. And the only way I can have a personal relationship with God is through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Once I have that relationship, I can trust God completely for my life.
You see, the biggest problem I have (and I bet you are the same way) is not in FINDING God’s will — it is DOING God’s will. (Can I get an amen from the congregation?) Many times in my own life, I have said “Lord, what do You want me to do?” He says, “Keith, will you DO what I want you to do?” Then I say — “Well, tell me what it is and then I’ll answer.” He says, “Nope — you answer THEN I will tell you what it is.” God will not reveal His will to us until we are completely committed to Him. We must be willing to DO whatever He asks before He even tells us what it is.
So, first I have to trust Him with all my heart. Next, I can’t “lean on my own understanding.” Do you know what God says to me MOST often? “Keith — STOP trying to figure out everything on your own.” The first question I often ask myself is this, “Self, what do YOU think I should do?” STOP THAT! I can’t rely on logic or how I feel in order to make decisions in my life. I can’t trust my feelings. My first plan of attack is to look to God and say, “Lord, what do YOU want me to do?”
Finally, those verses (Proverbs 3:5-6) tell me “to acknowledge Him in all our ways.” That means I am to focus on God and follow Him. When I do that — the Bible says “He will direct my path.”
I can only know God’s PERSONAL will for me if I am following His PROVIDENTIAL and MORAL will. There is enough stuff in the Bible that I do understand that I don’t have to worry about what I don’t understand. In other words — if I will just do what I know I’m supposed to be doing — God will begin to reveal other things to me that I need to do. God is never going to reveal His unknown will to me unless I am doing His KNOWN will. You find God’s KNOWN will by reading the Bible.
God has not given me a crystal ball that I can look in to discern His will for my life. I have something better! I have His written Word. In that Word — I have all the tools I will ever need to be able to do exactly what God wants me to do.
Remember…our problem is not KNOWING God’s will — it is DOING it! Get busy doing what you know He wants you to do today.