May 6, 2017

Knowing the will of God

An important question for Christians is how to know the will of God. Some of it is easy. For instance, if my options are forgiveness or getting even, the Word of God is clear; I’m to leave retaliation to God.

But sometimes two or more choices are morally okay. How then will I know which one is God’s will? Or does He care? Some say He works out His purposes no matter which choice I might make. Yet this answer is not always helpful.

Besides trying to plan life under God, doing His will is an important issue because it marks me as one of God’s people. Once Jesus was speaking to a group of people and his mother and brothers stood outside asking to speak to him. When someone told Him they were there, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”
He then pointed to His disciples and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:46–50)
Being identified as part of God’s family is important to me so I spend daily time reading the Bible, which is the best source. Besides being clear on moral issues, it shows me the importance of having the right heart before I even go looking for what God wants me to do. In John 6, some people came to Jesus and asked Him about doing the works of God: He replied, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:29)

First things first. If I want to do the right thing, I must believe the right thing. That is, if it am going to do the will of God, I must believe in Jesus, trusting Him alone and not my own understanding.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
I was going to note more things about God’s will, but at this the Holy Spirit stopped me with reminders of those times when trusting my own understanding led me away from God’s will and the tough lessons learned as He brought me back on track. The main method involved inner agitation, often very severe. Walking with God produces peace of heart, and when that is gone, it is like losing a dear friend.

Making moral decisions usually involve objective truth that is clear from God’s Word. Making decisions that involve choices that are not good/evil often involve subjectivity, a topic many theologians do not like to discuss. However, God uses emotions as He speaks into our minds and hearts.

When He speaks in direct ways, the Bible uses a Greek word ‘rhema’ which means “a word spoken for the need of the moment.” Those who have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and are in His family also know His voice. The result of hearing Him this way can be summed up by saying, “I just know.”

Still, this can be presumption, a bit scary, and even dangerous. My strong ‘I wants’ can have the same certainty, but when that happens, the first test is going back to the question about who I am trusting. Is it me, my own understanding, my own feelings? If it is, eventually conflict with the Holy Spirit will also show up, and I will realize that I’ve somehow slipped off the path of God’s will and am walking without His direction or approval.

Fortner says that God reveals his will to those who seek it by the revelation of his Word, the inner witness of his Spirit and the acts of his providence. He may also reveal it through the wise counsel of godly people, but not always. Rhema is an odd experience in that what God says may make sense to me but be foreign to others.

Yet as today’s devotional says, when God, by his Word, his Spirit and his providence tells you to do something, you will know it. God never calls anyone to do anything without also giving the assurance of his will in the matter at hand. Consider Jesus when He said, “Not my will, but thine be done.”

Jesus, I know that seeking Your will is not to be taken lightly. Most of the time You make it easy and I can live as a little child, happily and without questions regarding what I must do. However, as Paul prayed in Colossians 1:9, I’m grateful that when needing to know Your will becomes vital, You will fill me with “the knowledge of Your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” as I fall on my face before You.

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