Posts Tagged ‘God’s will’

I used to tell a joke when I was a child that went something like this…

A vicar and a member of his church were playing golf one day. The church member was having a particularly bad round and as time went on he was getting more and more annoyed. Every time he missed a putt he would shout out “Darn, I missed!!”. As this continued, hole after hole, the vicar was getting very concerned. Again the church member missed a short putt and sure enough shouted out “Darn, I missed!!”. The vicar warned him that this was not a good thing to say and if he said it again God would strike him down. On the very next hole the church member missed a very short putt and just couldn’t stop himself and before he knew it the fateful words “Darn, I missed!!” came shouting out of his mouth. There was a huge flash and a lightening bolt came zooming out of the sky and hit the… Vicar on top of his head, killing him immediately. There was a few seconds pause and then a booming voice came out of heaven “Darn, I missed!!”

This is the view many people have of God. We don’t expect the lightening bolt but we do have an image of God sitting up in heaven just waiting for us to do wrong and punish us for it. We believe that God has set out all these rules and regulations, dos and don’t and now he sits there just waiting for us to muck up. God is waiting like a divine policeman ready to slap the handcuffs on and march us away to hell!! After all God is a God of justice and judgement so why shouldn’t this picture of Him be right? However, my understanding of the character of God is completely different. I don’t believe God sits there with lightening bolts and judgement but with plasters (band-aids) and words of encouragement. I guess it’s a little like a father teaching his child to ride a bike. He gives instruction, he tells how best to do it, he runs alongside us and he encourages us every step of the way. From the child’s point of view we won’t always listen, we’ll have our own ideas, we’ll say “dad, let go of the seat, I can do it!!” and inevitably we’ll fall off. Now, as human fathers and mothers, there is the temptation to shout and say “see!!, if you’d let me help, if you’d done it my way you would have been all right!!” However, on our good days (and God only has good days!) we pick our child up, we wipe away the tears, we put a plaster on the graze and we encourage them to get right back on the bike and try again. God is like us on our very best day, and so much more. He watches us to instruct us, to encourage us, to help us and when we do wrong, when we come of the rails, fall of our bike He is their to wipe away our tears, mend what is broken and restore us in every way necessary. He may have the right to be annoyed, to tell us that we didn’t do what he told us to do. We may deserve to be told off and be sent to the naughty step. However, God is far far more concerned with the hurt we may have done to ourselves than with our disobedience. He doesn’t sit there longing to judge and punish us but longing for the best for us in each and every situation.

 

Just as an earthly father, God has set boundaries for us. Boundaries to protect us and help us. God knows that if we break these boundaries our lives and/or the lives of others will not be as good. God doesn’t make rules so that he can punish us when we break them he makes rules so that we can live life to the full. So God says, look, don’t murder people because if you do they won’t be able to live life to the full but you won’t either. You may be consumed with guilt, you may have to become secretive and even hide away and ultimately you will probably have to spend years without your freedom in prison – now that is hardly being able to live life to the full.

 

I guess it depends how you look at it – some people see them as rules – I see them as pieces of wise advice. It’s up to us whether we take that advice or ignore it. I believe, that at the end of the day, it is us who loses out if we ignore it. God is not going to send a lightening bolt if we do wrong but if we don’t do wrong our lives will be so much better for it.

Cultivate a Heart for God

Do you find yourself increasingly desiring the things God desires? When you look to Jesus do you see yourself reflecting Him a little more than you used to? Do you find yourself now more willing to be willing in areas God is prompting you about?  Let us pray with eagerness “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Ps. 86:11).

When we cultivate a heart for God we produce in us a heart more like God’s. When our heart is more like God’s we desire that which God desires.  Our will becomes more like God’s will.

 

Pray for God’s Wisdom and Leading

If you are unsure what God’s will is in any given situation . . . ask Him! There are numerous examples of prayers for wisdom in the Bible. The following are two of them. James says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul . . . Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” (Psalm 143:8, 10)

It is so easy for us to forget to ask God for wisdom in making decisions; prayer is absolutely essential to this process.

Seek Sound Advice and Wise Counsel

Let’s face it however wise we think we are we’re never as wise as we think we are!!  We might not like to admit it but in most things that are important, we need help. Not many areas of our lives are more important than seeking the will of God and His purposes in our lives and the life of His church.  The book of Proverbs is full of passages encouraging us to bring wise counsel into the process of seeking God’s will. For example: “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise” (Prov. 19:20). Here’s another: “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice” (Prov. 12:15).

I would say that when looking for wise counsel there are two main types to lookout for.

Biblical counsel. Who is someone in my life saturated with the Word of God who can help me discover what the Bible says about my situation?

Experienced counsel. Who is someone who has been in this same situation? Who has special expertise in the area where I need advice?

Examine Your Motives

Earlier we said that the more we mature in Christ, the more we will be able to follow the desires of our heart. But we also need to critically examine our motives, because the blinding effects of sin often keep us from seeing how selfish we can be. The prophet Jeremiah put it this way:

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

It is good to ask ourselves some tough questions. Why are we doing this? Are we being selfish here? Will others benefit from our doing this? Sometimes we can become so preoccupied with finding God’s will that it becomes unhealthy. We either are presented with several options and freeze up (paralysis by over-analysis) or we walk around thinking and talking about ourselves all the time!

Ask God to reveal to you the motives of your heart.

 

One way of doing this would be to pray as David prayed in Psalm 139:23–24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Use Your Head

God created us and gave us a mind to think and to reason with. Now we are not infallible beings or anything, but we possess the ability to think critically about life’s situations. It is good to wait on God’s direction and leading. However, this doesn’t mean that weighing various options or scenarios is unspiritual—far from it! However, we need to learn to use our head wisely and learn to make godly choices in the face of other alternatives. We need to make decisions using a sound mind and this means that our thought process is being renewed (Romans 12:2) and is under the control of the Holy Spirit. It is far better than common sense.

Cultivating a sound mind is part of possessing the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:15,16) as a result of God’s transforming and renewing work (Romans 12:2). We need to surrender to the direction of the Holy Spirit by faith and thus receive wisdom and guidance from God. By contrast, dependence upon man’s wisdom will lead us away from God’s best for us because it is based on self-interest with an undue emphasis on emotions and chance circumstances.

Steps to making a sound mind decision.

1. Pray for wisdom  (James 1:5,6).

2. Be sure you are walking in the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

This includes doing what you already know to be God’s will.  Why should God reveal His unknown will when we’re not even doing His known will?  This also includes being faithful in the small things (Matthew 25:21).  God may want to adjust your life and character in the smaller assignments in order to prepare you for the larger ones.  God develops character to match the assignment.

3. Determine the options in the decision and list the pros and cons for each option.

4. Search the Bible for any relevant principles and commands.

5. Collect available information and godly counsel on each option.

6. Trust God for His wisdom, evaluate the options and make a decision according to His promises in Psalm 37:23,24 and Proverbs 3:5,6.

7. Do not depend on feelings:  God promises wisdom not the feeling of wisdom.

8. Take steps to act on your decision by faith.  Sometimes a step of faith may be to wait on the Lord

Believe That God Is at Work in the Circumstances of Life

God is always at work in the circumstances of life. Sometimes His providence is imperceptible to us; but other times He will reveal His thoughts and ways . . . if we are paying attention.

Be Sensitive to the Leading of the Holy Spirit

This one makes some people nervous. Who hasn’t heard the words “God told me to . . .” and then cringed at what was said next?  We must be reminded that we should be wise as we try to discern whether the Holy Spirit is prompting us or not. We must not ignore Him in our decision-making. Even though this is a subjective process, God could be trying to get your attention; the question is are you listening and open to what He may say?

Now this principle is best understood in light of the previous ways of seeking and we should always test our “impressions” with God’s Word and with wise counsel. The Spirit’s leading is not a trump card to be used selfishly—remember to check your motives.

The disciples of Jesus asked Him how they should pray, in His reply He teaches them what we now know as the Lords Prayer. So, what is this teaching all about? These disciples ask Jesus how to pray and what they get in return is one prayer? Or do they get a template on how to pray? So what do we have? He had been in close communion with His Father and he knew the right way to approach and communicate with Him. The Lord’s prayer is a template on how to commune with the Father. So, let’s have a look…

Our Father

Approach Him with respect recognising the right relationship between God and us.

In heaven

Let’s make no mistake who we’re talking to here, we are approaching the creator God of Heaven who made all that exists. Heaven is out of sight, and a world of spirits, therefore our conversation with God in prayer must be spiritual; it is on high, therefore in prayer we must rise above the world, and lift up our hearts.

Hallowed be your name

Hallowed – to make holy. Holy be your name, Holy is your name. A statement of Worship and statement of Praise. Psalm 100 tells us that we

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. “

Basically worship, praise, thanksgiving draws us into the presence of God. If we want to get God’s attention there is no better way than to praise Him.

Let Your Kingdom come

Let your rule, your reign, commence. Have your way with me. I am your servant. I am willing to be submissive to all you want to do in and through me. I acknowledge you are the King and ruler of my life.

Let your will be done

Not my will Lord, not my agenda, but yours. I want to know your will. I want to pray that Your will in all situations, whether I like it or not, be done. Now, I think this is a massively important point and one we continually pass over. We are so busy telling God what we want Him to do for us and those we know we miss what He might be wanting to do. We come with our shopping lists asking God to heal this person and help that person and give this person money and that person a job etc. etc. and we don’t stop to ask God what he would like to do in any given situation. We need to step back, say God this is the situation, what do YOU want to do in it? Seek God for His will and then ask Him to do it. When we find God’s will and then pray that into a situation we suddenly find God answers. Funny that!!

On Earth as it is in Heaven

We long for Christ to return and for God’s perfect rule to begin. Until then we are told that the Kingdom of God is at hand and we want to experience as much of that reality as possible. We are in the world but not of the world. We live here but are not under its rule. We want to usher in the Kingdom of God, we believe it starts in the here and now and we want that Kingdom on earth to expand.

Give us today our daily bread

So much can be taken from this one little line, in fact you can take it word by word.

Give

We are asking for the kindness of God. We’re not asking for a loan or for something we deserve or have earned we are asking for an unmerited gift from God.

Us

It is a term of inclusion. We’re not just asking for ourselves but for those around us. For those we love and care for.

Today

Here is our sense of urgency. As a new day is upon us we recognise the need for God’s provision. We need God’s provision for each day of our lives whether we recognise it or not.

Our

Here we recognise that we want God’s provision for us – we do not want the bread coming from others or due for others. We acknowledge that there is enough to go round and we don‘t want more than our share. We’re asking God to help us not to be selfish or greedy but to want what God wants to give us.

Daily

Thinking not of tomorrow, but trusting God for that, we ask for what is needed for today. We are aligning ourselves with our parts of the Bible that urge us not to worry about tomorrow but to stay focused on the here and now.

Bread

Here we are asking God for what is needed. Nothing fancy, simply bread. Yes, food to sustain us but also other everyday needs. God knows what we need and He is more than willing to provide that – we don’t need to spell out all our needs we simply need to acknowledge our need of God’s provision.

Forgive us our debts

An acknowledgement of our fallen, sinful nature; that we can be forgiven, redeemed and that God is the one who can forgive us. Taken in conjunction with the previous section the implication being that this is a daily request to continuously and constantly be forgiven. When this is prayed our slate is wiped clean once again.

As we also have forgiven our debtors

A call to duty. What good is it for us if we are forgiven but cannot forgive those who have wronged us? It is a great call to hope that if we can find it in our hearts to forgive those that have done wrong to us – how much more will God, whose forgiveness is perfect, readily forgive us.

And lead us not into temptation

We’ve admitted our sin, asked and received forgiveness and so it is natural that having a clean slate we ask for God’s help to keep it clean and not to err again. We are not saying that we believe God leads us into temptation but acknowledging the guiding hand and power of the spirit to lead us away from situations that may cause us to sin.

But deliver us from evil

We’ve asked for God to guide us away from situations that may cause us to sin. Now we are asking Him for His protection from the one who hounds us, the devil and all his agents. We are also asking for his deliverance from sin itself.

For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever Amen

And so we return to praise and adoration. Telling God what He has already told us. Affirming our hope that God can do all that we have asked of Him and so much more besides.

So Jesus was asked by His disciples how to pray and he gave them the Lord’s prayer. Now I don’t for one minute think that this was something that he came up with on the spare of the moment. We’re not told but my guess is that Jesus had been perfecting this prayer for years. Moulding it, perfecting it and using it as His own.

If you look at each petition they are all petitions that will receive a YES from God. Does God want to give us what we need – YES. Does God want to forgive us – YES. Does God want to deliver us for the devil – YES. God will always answer our prayers. However He will not always answer them in the way we would want. God will usually answer with a yes, a no or a wait! The Bible teaches us that God will give us what we need and whatever we ask, according to His will He will give us. Now, many people translate this as God will give us whatever we ask. So when they pray for a Ferrari and don’t get one they become disappointed and disillusioned. Their translation misses out the important part “according to His will”. The Lord’s prayer gives us a template to use in prayer helping us to pray according to the will of God. When we sincerely pray the Lord’s Prayer God will answer us in the affirmative. God is a God who provides for our needs but not necessarily for our desires. So when we pray we need to bear in mind our needs, not our wants and also have in mind what God may will for a situation.

In any situation that we face, in any situation that we pray about it is always worth praying first to try and discover God’s will for that situation. It is all too easy for us to try to force our will on God when His will is what really matters. If we can discover God’s will for a situation we can then go on to pray with confidence and certainty that He will answer us in the affirmative. Next week we’ll look at this in a little more depth but I just want to leave you with an example to help illustrate what I’m talking about…

 Your best friend gets very ill. Now, it’s our natural reaction to pray for healing. However, God knows the end from the beginning. He knows what is going to happen and what He wants to do in this situation. If it is not God’s will to heal your friend no amount of prayer for healing is going to change his mind. Therefore, it is better to seek God’s will for your friend and pray accordingly. It might be that God will is for your friend to learn something through this experience before God heals Him. Our prayers can help our friend learn that thing quicker and then God can bring about his healing. It may be for some reason or other that healing won’t take place immediately and what your friend really needs are prayers for patience, energy, peace etc. and not prayers for healing. It may be that God, in His wisdom, knows that your friend will not be healed and will in fact die (let’s face it we all die sometime). God’s will may be for you to pray for a strengthening of their faith or for a peace of mind or for their family in this difficult time. There is no point in us continuing to pray for healing when it is not God’s intention to heal. We are just banging our head against a wall which will never move. All it will serve to do is make us disappointed and disillusioned with God. However, if we can discover His will and pray accordingly we will see wonderful results and be encouraged and strengthened in our faith.