Summary: Understanding the will of God.

"Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do." Ephesians 5:17 NLT

Sadly, a lot of Christ followers live their lives without following this biblical advice.

Often, we don’t want to go to the trouble of finding out what God wants us to do. Or, if we already know God’s will, we simply choose to ignore it because our thinking is twisted.

But understanding and doing God’s will is not a bad thing! It is the best thing that can happen to us!

1. The will of God is good for me.

Growing up our parents told us vegetables were good for us and we didn’t believe them.

Leann Birch, a developmental psychologist at Penn State University, ran an experiment in which she took a large group of kids and fed them a big lunch. Then she turned them loose in a room with lots of junk food.

"What we see is that some kids eat almost nothing," she said. "But other kids really chow down, and one of the things that predicts how much they eat is the extent to which parents have restricted their access to high-fat, high-sugar food in the past: the more kids have been restricted, the more they eat."

Birch’s study also discovered one reason this happened: the children on restricted diets believed the junk food tasted good primarily because they had been told that junk food was bad for them!

[Citation: Mark Galli, managing editor of Christianity Today; source: Malcolm Gladwell, "The Trouble with Fries: Fast Food is killing us. Can it be fixed?" The New Yorker (3-5-01)]

We adults don’t eat junk food anymore because we know it’s bad for us right? Wrong. We still eat junk food sometimes even though we know its not good for us - but its quick and easy and tastes good.

Most of us have enough sense to know however, that in the long run, junk food ruins our health. It is the good food that is good for us.

God’s will is like that.

No it’s not always easy at first. Sometimes doing the will of God can actually be difficult. Like Daniel in ancient Babylon or Simon Peter in front of the Jewish council - we sometimes run risks doing the will of God. But in the long run its like eating our veggies - it’s good for us.

And after a while, we realize that vegetables actually taste good!

Doing the will of God may be an "acquired taste" but it satisfies and meets our spiritual needs. Our spiritual health is strengthened by doing what God wants us to do.

We read our Bibles and pray; we worship and witness; we give our time, talents, and treasures to God’s work - not because it’s always easy at first, but because we know it’s what God wants us to do. We forgive others who have wronged us. We love instead of hate.

News has recently surfaced that Todd Beamer, the hero who helped overtake the terrorists on the ill-fated flight that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, repeatedly prayed the Lord’s prayer and asked Jesus for help before saying "Let’s roll".

The Lord’s prayer says we should forgive others just as God has forgiven us. That’s doing what God wants us to do. It couldn’t have been easy for Todd Beamer - but it was best.

Which leads to the next benefit of doing God’s will:

2. The will of God is good for others.

Todd Beamer’s heroism saved the lives of countless others.

Doing the will of God is like that.

When we do the will of God, not only do we benefit, but others benefit as well.

Our self-reliant, self-sufficient society often loses it’s way here. We place such a high premium on "rugged individualism" that we often overlook the effects our actions have on others.

The Scriptures call for balance. Each of us needs to "bear our own burden", (Galatians 6:5) but we’re also commanded to "bear one another’s burdens". (Galatians 6:2)

We have personal responsibility, but we also have community responsibility. When we do the will of God it blesses the lives of others.

Take Abraham for instance. All the nations of the earth were blessed because he did what God wanted him to do! (Genesis 22:18 - "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.")

Abraham didn’t do what others wanted him to do, in order to please God. He did what God wanted him to do, in order to bless people!

The Bible doesn’t teach us to be people-pleasers. It teaches us to be God pleasers, and by so doing we become a blessing to others!

Jot that down and think on it some more later.

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