Summary: How much do you want to know God’s will?
In the opening pages of his autobiography, An American Life, Ronald Reagan writes, I was raised to believe that God had a plan for everyone and that seemingly random twists of fate are all a part of His plan. My mother - a small woman with auburn hair and a sense of optimism that ran as deep as the cosmos - told me that everything in life happened for a purpose. She said all things were part of God’s plan, even the most disheartening setbacks, and in the end, everything worked out for the best. If something went wrong, she said, you didn’t let it get you down: You stepped away from it, stepped over it, and moved on. Later on, she added, something good will happen and you’ll find yourself thinking - "If I hadn’t had that problem back then, then this better thing that did happen would’nt have happened to me."
After I lost the job at Montgomery Ward, I left home again in search of work. Although I didn’t know it then, I was beginning a journey that would take me a long way from Dixon and fulfill all my dreams and then some.
My mother, as usual, was right.
Ronald Reagan is right, God does have a plan, a purpose for each one of us, But it is more than unsure twists and turns, it involves God’s purpose as revealed in the Bible and God wants us to know and experience it.
The early Christians faced all kinds of choices as they struggled and wrestled with how to live out their faith. And Paul offers one such group some very important advice about how to do so. We read it in Colossians 3:1-16
Read the passage.
I first preached from this passage at the age of 22. It was the last Sunday of the 1970’s. I was heading into my final semester in college and wondering, "What it the world was I going to do after college?" Of course, I also wrestled with a deeper question, What is God’s will for my life?"
This passage began to help me see some larger and very important issues related to God’s will that had more to do with who I was than what I was going to do.
Our fourth and fifth key in seeing and hearing God more clearly in our lives has to do with our prayer life and our conduct, our behavior, and there is a link between the two - they are a part of God’s will for our lives.
After I graduated from college in 1980, things looked bleak. I did not possess a business or science degree. I had a degree in English.
After spending time working at a church campground near Terre Haute, I had previously determined to move to New Jersey and serve with a a pastor in the town of Dover about 60 minutes west of New York City. I spent a week there. Homesickness was a part of that time, but I was not successful at getting a job and the pastor was a very regimented, not rigid man, who rose early and went to bed early.
As I look back at that time, I have to wonder, what if I would had gotten a job and stayed out there? How different would life be for me?
In this passage we have just read, there are three important parts to God’s willall of which have to do with some kind or type of change.
Paul writes in the opening verses of this chapter, "Set your sights (priorities, perhaps?) on the realities of heaven. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think about things down here on earth."
If we are going to know and experience God’s will in wonderful and overwhelming ways, then we need to pray that God would begin to change the way we think - about ourselves, others, and Him.
Paul wrote in Romans 12:2 ’let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.’
Paul says the same thing to the Colossians. Our thinking influences and shapes our priorities and our choices. How’s your thinking?
The second is change of character.
In verses 5 through 9 Paul writes of our character and the changes that are expected of us if we choose to follow Jesus. The hard thing about this listing is that it is’nt hard to understand - it is really straight forward.
The list includes habits that are very common in life, attitudes that are always ready to be used when we are emotionally or social threatened in some way. Paul’s use of negatives - ’get rid of,’ ’don’t,’ ’put away,’ make " the point clear - If we are going to see and hear God clearly then these things must be let go of.