Summary: This is message 22 in our exploration of James. This message further explores the subject of 'God's will. Specifically what is it and how do we know it.

Chico Alliance Church

Pastor David Welch

“Discerning God's Will Pt 1

We all face decisions every day, all through the day. Some decisions are minor, some monumental. Paper or plastic. Caffeine or decaff. Dark roast, medium roast. Non-fat, 1%, 2%, whole milk. Most items you seek have a multitude of types, brands, colors, prices.

Other times we must make more substantial decisions. Who should marry? Should I marry? Should I stay married? What career should I pursue? What ministry should I pursue?

Some days I experience decision burnout. The more stress we feel, the harder it is to make decisions? My decider gets overloaded. I don’t want to make another decision the rest of the day. God created us with the capacity to make choices. The privilege to reason and choose elevates us above the rest of creation. The Bible clearly illustrates the prominent place of meaningful choice.

God allows meaningful choice and each choice or decision involves a corresponding consequence. Wise choices bring positive results. Foolish choices bring negative consequences. Right choices please God.

Wrong choices grieve God. God allows us to choose actions, we are not free to choose the consequences.

I am free to rob a bank. I am not free to avoid the legal consequences. Every willful action brings a corresponding reaction. I am pro-choice. I must also accept the fact that I have little control over the consequences of my choices.

Many blame God for the evil in our world. Here is how the argument generally goes. If God is all powerful, He could eliminate the evil in our world. If God is all loving, He would eliminate the evil in our world. Since evil still exists in our world either God must either not be powerful enough or good enough. Those who propose such a thesis miss the meaningful choice factor. Since all the evil in our world is a consequence of man’s poor choices, the only way to eliminate evil in our world is to rescind humanity’s ability to choose. God choses to continue to allow people to freely choose good or evil.

Through Jesus, God instills new longings to freely choose good over evil. At full redemption, all God’s children will passionately choose to live godly. For now, we struggle with the old fleshly passions still imbedded in our physiology from birth and the new passions installed in our soul at rebirth.

Paul bemoaned the continual struggle.

Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:16-17

When it comes to choosing to do the right thing, Paul reminds us of the absolute necessity for the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. Victory over the constant pull of the world, the flesh, and the devil involves numerous factors we have considered earlier i.e. the Holy Spirit, regular interaction with the Word, mutual encouragement.

James addressed the folly of making life choices without acknowledging God’s will.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17

This passage instructs us to…

Consider God’s will in every aspect of your life because life is short.

James does not condemn human planning. He condemns the arrogant attitude that fails to recognize the sovereign will of God. We are free to plan all the details like the merchants in his illustration. Time (tomorrow), place (certain city), duration (a year), means (trade) goal (make a profit)

The instruction is to consider and recognize God’s will in your planning. That raises a very important question.

How do we determine God’s will? A book came out some years ago entitled “Decision Making and the Will of God.” The author challenges the tradition view of discovering God’s will. He reinforced and refined my thinking on the subject. I want to share some of that thinking with you today and some next week.

Knowing God’s will is not an option.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17

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