Summary: Where are you in relationship to God’s will for Your life today?
“Understanding God’s Will”
October 11, 2009
Open: The subject we want to speak about today is knowing the will of God. How do we know God’s will for my life? It probably the most commonly asked question, “How do I know what God wants me to do?” It’s far easier for me to know God’s will for my wife than it is for my life. That’s the way it normally is, isn’t it? We believe we know what our spouse ought to do, what our children ought to do, what our friends ought to do – but the tough thing is knowing what I ought to do. So today we are going to be exploring this great topic. Now before I even get started I think I need to state a disclaimer - this is a huge topic. This is an issue that is inscrutable – and I’m not going to try to unscrew the inscrutable in the next 40 minutes or so. There is a great deal on this topic that I just don’t know.
God knows us each individually – and intimately – he knows the number of hairs on our head – our hopes – our weaknesses, our directions, our motives – the words we say and think. He knows us. But I do know, nor could I understand everything about him: Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. (Psalm 139:4-6) David is saying I sing your songs Lord, I might be king to your people, but Lord you’re still unfathomable to me. I can’t understand – or explain what you’re doing – it’s too great for me – I can’t reach it – I can’t attain to it.
Yet in Psalm 143 and verse 10 David prayed a prayer that must be the desire of every Christian. David prayed this, Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. (Psalm 143:10) He didn't say, “Teach me to understand your will.” He didn't say, “Teach me to know your will.” or “Help me find your will." He didn't say, “God, please disclose your will, reveal your will, manifest your will.” He said, “Lord, teach me to do your will.” Which carries the presupposition and the assumption is that it was not a matter of information, but it was a matter of obedience. It wasn't a matter of knowing it, it was a matter of doing it.
This is very basic to the life of every believer. Because being a Christian is the affirmation of the Lordship of Christ. Being a Christian is an act of initial submission to the control and leadership of Christ. And so doing His will certainly follows that kind of a submission. Our Lord Himself set the example. No other but Christ has the perfect servant's heart. No greater pattern or model for obedience to the will of God could ever be pointed to than Christ Himself. From the very beginning in His incarnation He made it clear that He has come to do the will of Him that sent Him. And even when that took Him to the agony of the anticipation of the cross as He in the garden poured out in prayer to the Father the feeling of His own soul even at that crisis moment He never wavered from the commitment for it was there that He said, “Not My will but Yours be done.” He was totally and constantly and singularly devoted to his father's will. He lived his life on that commitment. In John 4:34, he said, “I have come to do the will of him that sent me.” Twice again in the gospel of John 5:30, 6:38 he put it this way, “I do not seek my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” When Jesus taught his followers how to pray – he said “Your kingdom come – Your will be done – on earth as it is in heaven” In fact, I would dare say that unless there is a desire in you to do the will of God it is at least questionable whether you are a Christian at all.
- The crazy things people do to try to understand God’s will - In biblical times, pagan religions were all about divination, seeking “signs” to figure out the will of their gods. Priests would cut open animals carcasses and read livers (how would you like that for a career? “What do you do for a living? Oh me? Well, I’m a liver reader.” They would unleash birds and trace their flight and use that as signs to make a decision. People would study the stars and try to find signs in the night sky. Even today in pagan religions (Buddhism) signs are studied to discern what lies ahead in a person’s future. Seeing certain things like a bird taking a bath or a pregnant woman, or hearing a bell ringing or drums playing are a good omen. Hearing certain sounds like a donkey braying, or encountering a snake on a path or seeing a building that has collapsed are considered bad omens. When it comes to making a decision, Some Buddhists will make bread dough and place possible answers in different balls of dough. They will roll the dough around on a plate and the ball of dough that falls out of the plate will supposedly contain the right answer to the problem the person is facing. Some will place a couple of objects in a bowl and put a crab or a spider in the bowl and watch how the creature moves the objects around. It’s totally wild what people will do to try to figure out what “the gods” will is for them. And it’s still very relevant in our culture – I know of places in our communities where you can have your palm read, your fortune told and your tea leaves explored, your tarot cards read or your dreams interpreted – there are plenty of hucksters around who would be very pleased for a price to inform you of how to make your decisions. (voo doo still practiced by moderns – feng shui, numerology – (unlucky numbers), astrology, reading crystals) the idea behind much of this is that divinity is throwing signs your way – trying to get a message to you - hoping you will be smart enough to read the signs and make the decision they want you to make.