Summary: In order to find the will of God: 1. You have to desire God’s will. 2. You have to do what is necessary to find God’s will. 3. You have to take a step of faith. 4. You have to commit your way to God.
I have a problem when I go to the store. There are just too many choices. I want to do something as simple as buy some cheese, but I have to decide what kind of cheese. Do I want Provolone, Swiss, Cheddar, American, Pepper, Blue, Brick, Monterey Jack, Muenster, Gouda or Brie. I went to Cheese.com and found 652 kinds of cheese. But once I have chosen the kind of cheese I want, there are still many decisions to be made. Do I want a brick, a wedge or sliced cheese? Do I want it cubed or shredded. Do I want it sharp or mild? Do I want it from the Deli or prepackaged? A complex variety of choices is the bane and blessing of the American lifestyle.
There are hundreds of channels on satellite and cable TV. People who come here from other countries are paralyzed by the choices in an ordinary Walmart. Just buying a pair of athletic shoes can be overwhelming. So many choices.
How do you find your way in a world where there are so many choices? A lot of people make decisions according to how they feel. Decisions are largely made on the emotional level. They are guided by what feels like the right thing to do. Others try to make rational decisions. They inspect everything and read all the labels. They spend a lot of time checking out things to make sure they have made the right decision. But how does a Christian operate in the confusing world of choices? A Christian pays attention to their feelings and listens to their mind, but foremost the Christian seeks the will of God. I am not talking about which soap to buy, although how we use our money is often an issue where we should seek the mind of God. Making everyday choices can be difficult, but the bigger decisions can incapacitate us even more. So, this morning, I want to concentrate on the larger issues of setting the course and direction of our lives. When it comes to the major decisions in our lives, we need to passionately seek the will of God and follow the will of God.
If you are going to be a follower of God you will have to be a seeker after his will. The first rule in following Gods’s will is: If you are going to follow God’s will you have to desire God’s will. This sounds so basic, but there are many people who never think about asking what God’s will is in a situation. You will never discover God’s will if you are set on doing what you want to do. You have to be convinced that God’s will is important. You have to understand that if you miss God’s will for your life, you have missed everything. You have ideas about what you want to do and where you want your life to go, but do you long to find God’s will and purpose in your life? Finding God’s will must be more important than fulfilling your own plans. It means, as Paul put it, “. . .doing the will of God from your heart” (Ephesians 6:6).
I recently read about a man who was trying to lose weight. He said, “I am not much given to visions and personal revelations, but recently I had a real experience of the working of God in my life. As you know, I’ve been on a diet. I’ve been pretty good, but what a struggle. The other day I had to go downtown. As I started out I remembered the Daylight Donut Shop. They make some real world class doughnuts. Driving along I thought, ‘A cup of coffee and a doughnut would really hit the spot.’ But then I remembered my diet. So I said a silent prayer, ‘God, if you want me to stop for a doughnut, let there be a parking place right in front.’ Sure enough, seventh time around the block . . ..”
It is possible to think you want God’s will, but you really don’t. You let your feelings overpower and seduce you. Your stubborn self-will rises to the top and vetoes God’s will. There is a story in the Old Testament where the people of Israel were in great difficulty. They were about to be invaded by the Babylonian army and be destroyed. Making the right move was a matter of life and death. The Bible says, “Then. . . all the people from the least to the greatest approached Jeremiah the prophet and said to him, ‘Please hear our petition and pray to the Lord your God for this entire remnant. For as you now see, though we were once many, now only a few are left. Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do’” (Jeremiah 42:1-3). Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the Lord your God sends you to tell us. Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the Lord our God” (Jeremiah 42:5-6). So Jeremiah prayed for God’s direction. Ten days, after the people had a lot of time to discuss the issue, Jeremiah returned with a message from God: “If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down. . . . Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the Lord, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands. I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land” (Jeremiah 42:10-12). That sounds like good news, but the people were afraid and would not listen to the Lord. They wanted to run away to Egypt where they would feel safe, in spite of the fact that Jeremiah warned them not to go. The account says, “When Jeremiah finished telling the people all the words of the Lord their God — everything the Lord had sent him to tell them — . . .all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, ‘You are lying! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, “You must not go to Egypt to settle there. . . . So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord. . . .” (Jeremiah 43:1-2,7). And, true to Jeremiah’s prophecy, the people died in the place where they sought safety. They sought God’s will, and they thought they wanted God’s will, but when it came down to it, they relied on their own wisdom rather than the clear leading of God. They opted for feelings of security rather than the security of doing God’s will. That is the way of the world. The words of Scripture are important here: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).