Category Archives: God’s Will

Jesus following God’s will

God’s will

Luke 22:41  And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

All throughout the earthly ministry of Jesus we see Him obeying the Father’s will.  Not once did Jesus ever go against the master plan set out by the One who sent Him.  Though it would cost Him His life, He followed through to the end, carrying out every single step that had been ordained.  He took His obedience to the cross, dying for the sins of man.  And He’s our example.

We can never be perfect, never get it all right.  We’ll never be sinless like Christ, following the Lord’s will in every single thing He calls us to do.  But that’s the point.  We can’t do it, so Jesus did.  We were never going to be able to live perfectly within God’s will, but Christ has enabled us to seek after God’s will in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Everything Jesus did, all that’s recorded in Scripture and all that’s not, was for the greater plans of God.  He knew that even though it was painful to bear, the will of the Father was for the good of all mankind.  He gave up His will for the Father’s.  And aren’t you glad He did?

Following God’s will

God’s will

1 Peter 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

The “how” of knowing God’s will is most easily summed up by discussing prayer and reading God’s Word.  The “why”, however, is really the more difficult to fathom.  It isn’t enough to say “because God says so”.  Ultimately, that is enough because He is God and we ought to follow His commands, but the answer doesn’t satisfy us deeply.  We want to know why God has something specific in mind for us to do.

God’s purpose in all things is to bring glory to Himself.  That, to some, sounds very selfish and gives reason NOT to follow God’s will if He’s just going to be doing whatever He wants for His own attention.  They’d say, “If I acted that way, people would think I was completely arrogant and selfish and they’d want nothing to do with me”.  Yes, that’s true…but you’re not God.  You’re flawed and make all sorts of mistakes.  And when you want personal glory, it’s for the wrong reasons and without just cause.  God though, God is perfect and holy.  He deserves the glory and when He gets it, it’s for the right reasons.  It actually benefits us for Him to receive glory, it’s not just selfishness.

In fact, it’s better for us to suffer if it’s God’s will, than to do whatever we want if it’s not.  He has the best intentions in mind for us and knows exactly what we need.  He’s sovereign, but He’s good.  He’s not out to get us like some crazed egomaniac that will stop at nothing to see Himself worshipped.  He cares for us and loves us and that’s all considered as He wills certain things to take place.

Why should we do God’s will?  Because He knows better than us.

God’s will is good

God’s will

Romans 8:28  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

What God has called us to do (His revealed will) and His plan for the world (His secret will) are both good.  This may seem like it is unnecessarily stated, but to many this is a worry.  Sometimes we shy away from seeking the will of God because we think He’ll call us to do something that’s harmful or won’t be for our own benefit.  In doing so we miss out on His blessing because His plans for us are for good, not for harm (Jeremiah 29:11).  We’re scared to do what God wants because we don’t view Him as good.

But God is good.  His intentions are good and His plan is good.  All things that take place to fulfill His will are good, whether it seems so at the time or not.  It may be painful for a moment in time to go through what God is willing, but ultimately it is for good.  With that in mind, it’s much easier to desire God’s will and to want to carry it out.  We can remain steady in the knowledge that He’s not out to get us and has a plan that brings about good and it will motivate us to take steps of faith.

If God calls you to something, don’t be afraid.  Follow His calling because He knows what the final result will be.  He sees what we don’t see and knows what we don’t know.  He’s powerful enough to make things happen and good enough that we can trust Him.

God’s will is carried out by us

God’s will

Ephesians 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Here we break from speaking of God’s revealed will to speaking of God’s secret will.  This means not just the desires of God, but the plan of God that will come to pass by whatever means He chooses.  When we refer to the revealed will, we mean that God has called us to do certain things and we should follow them.  The secret will, however, describes the things that God has planned out before the creation of the world, the events and occurrences that He determines.

God generally carries out His will by means of people.  While He has all the power to just make things happen on His own, He acts as more of a conductor who orchestrates the events rather than just making them happen by supernatural methods.  We have choices in life and those choices lead to consequences.  God sees to it that whatever the outcome, it coincides with someone else’s choice to bring about what He wills.  Though He typically doesn’t force our hand, He does make things happen through our actions. And yes, at times He does intervene to provide the proper choices are made.  This is hard to grasp, but consider the many accounts in the Bible where God stepped into a situation to bring about a particular result.

When we follow God’s (revealed) will, we work towards His (secret) will.  Doing what He calls us to do leads to us playing a part in His plan, not only for our own lives, but in the overall plan He has.

What is God’s will?

God’s will

Romans 12:2  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

We Christians speak a lot about “God’s will”, but what does that even mean?  What does it mean to do God’s will?  Is this some sort of mysterious code language for something?  Or is it a very real thing that we can know and follow?

First, there are two types of God’s will:  His “revealed” or moral will and His “secret” will, or providential government of all things.  The differences between the two are best left to a Bible study rather than a devotion, but we will be speaking of the revealed will for our purposes.  This is what God wants of us or expects of us.  When we speak of looking for God’s will in our lives, this is the “revealed” will He has spelled out for us in His Word.

We may tend to think of what God wants from us personally as His will for us, but we sometimes overlook the will He has in general.  Because of this tendency, we may look for specific signs or circumstances that will tell us what God wants from us or what our next move should be.  It may be that He will give us those signs, but most often, whatever the issue is, God has already spoken on the matter in His revelation to man, the Bible.  If we’ll look there first, we’ll often find what God’s will is in the area we’re seeking answers.

Many people spent much of their time keeping their eyes open for the signs they’re expecting and yet skip right past the Bible as a means for finding out God’s will for their life.  We ought to first check God’s Word before looking for signs.  Let the Holy Spirit do the discerning.  The answer is likely right in front of us if we’d only stop looking so hard.

Overcoming the World

1 John 5:1-5   Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Our faith is the victory that has overcome the world.  And what is it that comes from faith?  Good works.  A natural response to faith is obedience.  When we know God and experience His love for us, we want to keep His commandments and follow everything He says to do.  If we remain faithful in this, nothing can stop us.

This passage says that everyone who has been reborn overcomes the world.  Are you overcoming the world?  Have you taken the time to actually evaluate whether or not you’re overcoming the world?  What does it even mean to overcome the world?  Does that mean we don’t ever fall into temptation or that we don’t sin?

Sadly, most of us don’t think in terms of victory when we look at our lives.  We’re not operating in our spiritual gifts or showing any fruit out of the faith we proclaim.  Some of us aren’t even showing love to our fellow Christians, let alone to the people out in the world.

But we’ve been equipped.  We’ve got the victory already if we’ll just do the next thing God calls us to do.  That’s what obedience is.  It’s not some lofty, unachievable goal.  Obedience is doing the next thing God calls you to do.  And when you’ve done it, do the next thing He calls you to do.  Then the next.  Obedience is a lot like walking.  It’s one foot in front of the other.

Walk in victory, knowing that Jesus has already won the battle.  The odds are in your favor.  You can’t lose.

What path will you choose?

Genesis 24:57-58 They said, “Let us call the young woman and ask her.” And they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will go.”

Sometimes in life we’re given a choice.  A path is laid out before us and we have the choice either to walk down that path or to take our own path.  Which way we decide to go can change our destiny and affect many others.

We often hear “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” because those men were called by God and given a promise.  But the very same God also called Rebekah to take part in fulfilling the covenant He made.  When Abraham’s servant left Canaan to find a wife for Isaac, he found Rebekah because he had prayed for God to show him which young woman had been chosen.  Yet the choice of whether to go with the servant was left up to Rebekah.  Though her family and the servant believed God’s hand was in all of this, they let her decide.

With three simple words, “I will go,” Rebekah made a choice that would have a profound impact.  It was through Rebekah that Jacob and Esau would be born, two men who were critical to the plans God had.  Her obedience to God was more than she could have even known.

What path has been laid before you?  What way has God called you to follow in obedience?  What might happen if you choose His way over your own?  There’s only one way to find out.

 

This devotional is derived from a sermon message by Matthew J. Cochran.  Listen to the sermon here:

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Who, or What, Can be Against Us


“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) How often do we forget that promise? Perhaps it’s not forget in the traditional sense. After all we remember what the words are, and we may even utter them quietly to ourselves, searching for some sort of comfort when things start to get tough, but, when we look around, we have a hard time really and truly grasping not necessarily what it means but how it applies to our current situations. After all, if God is for us, should it really be this hard? Can’t it just be that much easier? Why can’t it be that much simpler than it is?

That’s the struggle though, isn’t it? It doesn’t come from God’s promises but from seeing how it is actually working in our lives. The words, they aren’t all that hard to understand, but how they apply, how they can possibly be true, that’s the real difficulty that we face. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” At times it just seems like pretty much everyone or everything and the burden, it is too much to bear as we search for the purpose and meaning in it all, as we seek the answers to why it has to be the way it is when the we know God is there, but we can’t figure out how He is there.

We’re not the first to face that question. What were the words of the Elisha as the army’s surrounded the city and it seemed as if all had been lost? “‘Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’” (2 Kings 6:16) In many senses we can all be like the servant who cried out, seeing the insurmountable odds, “Oh no! My Lord, what shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15) We don’t necessarily see the army of the living God, standing there in front of us, we don’t necessarily see the miracle of His power and glory between us and our real struggle, our real adversity, because we are so focused on all the ways everything has or can go bad, on all the ways that it has or can go wrong. Yet, what we need to be focused on is faith. After all, if it is truly what is hoped for and yet unseen (Hebrews 11:1) then our salvation and our defense is truly at hand even when it is the least clear to us.

We are reminded by the words of the Psalmist, “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 118:6) More aptly we should be remember it is not just “What can mere mortals do to me?”, it is also a question of “What can this mere mortal world do to me?” No matter how many times it seems like it is there to knock us down, no matter how many times it may seem like it is there to break us, no matter how often the Devil may come to us, roaring like a lion that is seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8) God is there to heal us, to strengthen us in the love afforded to us by His goodness and mercy. (Psalm 147:3) After all, if He so loved each us, if He so loved the world that He would not even withhold His precious son from us, (John 3:16) letting his precious blood be spilled for us and for our sins then what really will He let touch us, what really will He let destroy us.

Each step of the way, in all that we are and all that we face, God really is there to stand for us. Sometimes it just takes letting go of the things that we think we know, remembering God’s wisdom and understanding surpasses even our own, and letting His invisible hand take hold of us, rising from the places we cannot see to stretch over us to protect us, to ensure that nothing that really and truly can rob us of His peace and comfort if we trust in Him will overtake us. Yes, that is a hard leap of faith to sometimes make when everything seems to be going against us, but then it is a question of how much hope do you truly put in the Lord and do you trust the promises He offers unto you as an undeniable truth for your life.

Take a moment in your day today, look at the struggles and the challenges that are weighing on you. Close your eyes, and search for God’s love for your life. It is there, and it is ready to make you more powerful than you ever thought possible if you just let it. No matter what hardship or difficulty life may offer, they fall if you stand firm in the Lord. It just takes the strength and the power He has already given to you and that you perhaps aren’t yet aware that you have. Then will you rest easy in the blessings of His promises for you.

Want and Need

What we want isn’t always what we need and what we need isn’t always what we want. That is perhaps one of the most difficult lessons that God teaches us in our lives as we struggle with purpose and meaning, searching for a reason, wondering to ourselves if He is even listening. Sometimes we just, well we have this image in our head of the way things should be or ought to be and it becomes such a prevalent thought that we can’t picture it any other way. Other times it’s that we look around and we can’t seem to understand why it is the way it is when we know it should be different, even if we don’t necessarily know how or why that should be the case.

It’s the question of divine purpose that so often gets to us, that so often weighs us down as we know what we want or how we want it, and yet, as we do, we have a hard time reconciling it to what God knows that we need in our lives. The thing about it is that we’re not even trying to be that terribly difficult, we aren’t trying to make it that much harder, we just want to know why it is the way that it is, we want to know what the plan and the design of it is, and we don’t necessarily get why it has to be the way that it is.

The deepest questions of who we are, and who we need to be, of where we need to be, they aren’t ever questions that come simply or easily. We don’t just become people, we grow into them. Perhaps, along the way or path is changed or altered, it might be that it we are affected, even shaped by the interactions we have with others, sometimes our road is hard, sometimes it is easy, but any way that you look at it, it doesn’t just happen overnight where, one day, we are suddenly who we are at this very moment in our lives. So why would it be any different with a God who knows how we grow, how we evolve as a person, how we learn and we change with time? Why would He make the answers clear to us in a way that He knows would be unclear because it was given without any thought or consideration to who we are and how we became that person?

What God promises us isn’t an easy path, nor a simple one in any way but to our salvation through Christ Jesus. (Romans 5:8) What He does promise is that, through the fires and the floods, through the dangers and the perils, He will be there for us and with us, (Isaiah 43:2) never leaving us or abandoning us. (Joshua 1:5) What He tells us is that what we need, in those times when we question the purpose and the plan of it is all, is trust and patience, because those who trust in the Lord will find His goodness (2 Samuel 7:8) and those who are patient with Him will find their strength and purpose, uplifted in His love. (Isaiah 40:31) This is the wondrous miracle of His hand in our lives even as we find ourselves questioning where He is when we want the most.

Remember, it is not our wanting that exalts us, it is God, our Heavenly Father, and God alone who does that. (Psalm 46:10) It could be, at that moment, we don’t quite get how He is exalting us, but it’s only when we put those feelings behind us, when we let go of them, in the blessings of His hope that He lets us be of one mind with Him, (Romans 15:5) to see as He sees, making more and more apparent the glorious nature of the lessons He is teaching us to become as we need to be as He makes all things possible to us through the power of His grace made perfect in Christ through us. (Philippians 4:13)

Take a moment today, and look at your life, look at what you are struggling with, what is challenging you. Take the time to look at what you have laid at God’s feet, the burdens you still feel weighing on you, and instead of mistaking want for need and putting what you want out there, say to God, “Lord, show me as You will, teach me as You must so I can be as You intend for me to be.” Let go not just of the struggles but of the wants and the desires you have in them, and make it about what the Lord, your blessed Father, intends for you and let Him, in trust, patience and hope, guide you to where you must be.

It is only then that you will find the true path to the peace you are seeking, the only way you will find the true reconciliation of your will with God’s to the glorious ends of the love He has for you as He makes it about you rather than you making it about yourself.

What if God Doesn’t Care

Sometimes it’s hard not to wonder if God actually even cares.

I mean we know He does, or, at the very least, we think He does. It tells us in Scripture He does, and what are the words to that children’s song? “Jesus loves me, this I know, because the Bible tells me so.” After all, if He cared enough to create us, if He made the promises that He made, assuring us that they are the same, that His love, bound to us through Christ, is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) there has to be something to the idea that He actually cares. Yet, sometimes it feels more complicated than that, does it? Sure it’s the faith of a child that saves, making way the path to Heaven, (Luke 18:17) but we don’t stay children forever, eventually we put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11) and adult problems follow us.

During those times God can seem so far distant, He can seem so far removed as we pray for a sign, for any sign that He still sees us, that He still contends with our cause, that He still cares. There are those times when, for as much as we know that He is there, we just don’t seem to feel it, at least not like we did, at least not like we should, and it’s hard. More than anything else it hurts as we just want so badly for Him to make His presence to be known, to let us know He’s still there, that He still sees us. If there is a Hell, if it is being removed from the presence of God, then those moments sure seem like they are as close as you can get to it on earth, aren’t they?

The thing about it is that, whether we feel His presence or not, whether we see His hand or not, God is there, and there isn’t a moment, a second, an instant where He doesn’t care. (Matthew 6:25-34) We know this not just because the Bible tells us that He loves us, that He is always there for us, that He cares for each of us individually with hope and grace, mercy and faith, but because He is the God who gave His only Son as the great sacrifice to wash away our sin and our guilt, to chase away all those problems big and small that would keep us separated from Him. (John 3:16)

You see, this temporal existence is the last great battlefield, and the Devil, our old adversary, he does everything he can to prove to us that Hell does exist, not just as a spiritual plane but as physical one too, and that this, right here is it. After all, if he can convince us that God doesn’t see us here, if He doesn’t see our pain and our anguish here, then is there really a God, is there really a Heaven or a Hell beyond any of this or is it just a moral argument devised millennia ago? After all, for as much as it can be made to feel as much like Hell as it can, our existence this side of Paradise can’t really be made to feel as splendid as Heaven itself, for however close we may wish or want it to be.

It’s not that God doesn’t care, or that He doesn’t understand. It’s that it’s easier for us to believe that He doesn’t see it than it is for us to accept the truth: amidst this life there are going to be struggles and hardships that seem like they are more than we can handle, there are going to be things in it that are going to cause us so much pain we don’t necessarily know what to do, and yes, God doesn’t necessarily stop them from happening. Why? Because even through them He has a plan for them, He has a lesson He teaches us (Jeremiah 29:11) and He knows nothing the Devil can throw at us is more powerful than we are when we put our hope, our faith and our trust in Him. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Just because we know something is painful now doesn’t mean it can’t lead to something amazing in our future now if we let God show us what it means, just like we can’t know if God takes something painful from us now it can’t lead to a greater pain or a deeper anguish in the future. The nature of faith has to be in the trust, as we put everything we don’t know in the hands of a God who does.

Never for a moment believe that God doesn’t care. He does, and, even in your hardship He is sparing you from some greater challenge, some greater hardship, waging a perpetual battle against sin, death and the Devil for you. He is doing it in ways we can’t understand and can’t conceive, and all He asks of you is a little bit of faith as He guides you through it all. It’s here then that we realize that when we can’t see God or hear Him we need to rely on our other senses, on a greater spiritual sense to find Him. When we do, we know then not only does He care for us, but that He also carries us. It’s then that though that purpose may be lost on us for the moment, we are drawn to the greater moments nearer to eternity when all purpose is revealed to us.