Knowing the Will of God

When people first accept Christ as their Savior, they have a desire to please God by doing His will, in other words doing what He wants them to do. We all want to know the will of God as it relates to our lives. Many times we pray and say that we want God’s will to be done.

In the model prayer that Jesus gave his followers, it says:

 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,  your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13(NIV)

For us to know God’s will for our lives, we must sacrifice our bodies.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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 12:1-3 (NIV)

Paul’s Epistle to Thessalonica Paul explains a ‘living sacrifice’ as becoming ‘sanctified’. When we are sanctified, there a certain things that we avoid so we can do know God’s will. One should note that the things we should ‘avoid’ are called ‘sin’.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;  that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,  not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;  and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 (NIV)

Before we were even born, God knew we would be inclined toward sin. And because we are inclined to sin, God gave us the Holy Spirit. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that keeps us from sin, not our own power.

Because our power to overcome sin comes through the Holy Spirit, we are warned not to quench the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19(NIV): Do not quench the Spirit. When we try to live by our own strength, we are quenching the Spirit.

In 1 Peter 4:1-11(NIV), we are given these instructions on how we should live if we want to know the will of God.:

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:1-11(NIV)

If a person wants to know God’s will, God must be number one in their lives. The ten commandments teach us that there is only one God and we are to worship Him only.  We are not to let anything interfere with our love of the God. We are to love Him with all our heart.

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (NIV)

When we pray for God’s will, are we truly seeking glory for God or for seeking glory for ourself?

There is another aspect of knowing God’s will that is also important. When we ask for God’s will, we must also act on that will. Sometime we keep asking for God’s will until we can justify doing it the way we want to do it, rather than the way God wants us to do it. The Bibles says we act in faith, not on emotional feelings.

In Habakkuk 2, it tells about Habakkuk waiting on the Lord to answer a complaint of the people.

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Habakkuk 2:1(NIV)

God answers Habakkuk with some instructions for Habakkuk. God makes this statement in verse 4. “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.” Habakkuk 2:4(NIV)

Knowing God’s will for our lives is not based on our personal feeling. We may pray for God’s will for an eternity, waiting for a feeling that may never come. There is a point at which we must step out in faith. It is a point at which we take the truths God has given us and step out in faith, believing God’s truths.

Paul refers to Habakkuk, when Paul says:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,  just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17(NIV)

Knowing God’s will for our lives is not complete until we take that step of faith. When we take that step of faith, we have Godly peace in knowing that our action is God’s will.

James says it this way:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. James 1:5-7(NIV).

In other words, when we seek God’s will for our lives, we must act in faith without doubting God’s will for our lives. If we are waiting for a feeling, it may never come, but when we step out in faith God gives us peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27(NIV)

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIV unless otherwise noted.

Love Your Enemy

The Bibles says in Jude 1:18 that “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.” Jude 1:18-19(NIV)

It is obvious that we are in the end times. However, God didn’t give us this information so we would know when the end was near. The reason he gave us this information was to warn us about the scoffer’s ability to separate us from God.

This is what God said we should do:

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude 1:20-23(NIV)

How are we doing?

This passage doesn’t say that we should write snide comments and cartoons about the scoffers, like we see so often on the social media. It doesn’t even say we should avoid them. It says we are to LOVE them!

Here is behavior God wants from us.

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:27-36(NIV)

God loves us so much that he even gave us the power to love our enemies. However, we can only do it through God’s power given us through the Holy Spirit.

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 1:24-25(NIV)

Next time you hear a pastor give this benediction, think about what it really means. God is with us! It is only through His power that we will be able to endure to the end!

 

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIV unless otherwise noted.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Most of us in the United States have just completed our Christmas celebrating and are now getting back to our normal routine of life.

I personally think it is a great idea to celebrate Christmas just before the new year starts. Because Jesus came to earth as a baby, lived on earth, and was victorious over death, many things have changed.  In Ephesians 3 Paul talks about the ‘mystery’. The mystery is fulfilled because of Jesus.

You ask, “What things have changed?”  Well, here are a few:

1.  Because Jesus came to earth and ministered, everyone becomes eligible for eternal life with God. Because of God’s grace, salvation is now available to everyone, not just to the Jews. We are undeserving of eternal life, but because of God’s love for us, He made it possible for us gentiles to have salvation.

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17(NIV)

2. When I sin, I don’t have to go to the priest to have my sin forgiven. In the Old Testament, this could only take place once a year. If I committed a sin the day after the priest had sacrificed for my previous sin, I would have to wait another year with the guilt of my sin. Now Christ has become our priest and is available instantly. When I confess my sin, I am forgiven! I don’t have to wait for the right time of year to seek forgiveness. In addition, I do not have to make a blood sacrifice because God has already made that sacrifice for me.

Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord.” Exodus 30:10(NIV)

3.  Also, in the Old Testament times, people had to work for their salvation. God gave the people laws that they had to observe, feasts that they were to have, they had to observe special days, they even had to marry their sister-in-law if their brother died. But now we do not have to earn our salvation. God has given us salvation through faith and not because of our works.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10(NIV)

4.  Because of Jesus ministry on earth, I have been given the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament times, the Spirit of the Lord was only given to certain people. And it could even be taken away from those people if God so chose.

When Samuel anointed David to be king, David received the Spirit of the Lord.

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.     1 Samuel 16:13(NIV)

A few verse later, we see that God had taken the Spirit of the Lord away from Saul because of Saul’s disobedience. God spoke to Samuel the prophet and told him that He regretted making Saul king.

I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night. 1 Samuel 16:10 (NIV)

This was difficult for Samuel to accept. In fact he cried out to the Lord all that night.

1 Samuel 16:14-23 tells about what happened when God took the Holy Spirit away from Saul. (Please note: the Spirit of the Lord and the spirit from the Lord are not the same)

14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.

15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”

17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”

19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”

23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. 1 Samuel 16:14-23(NIV)

When Jesus was preparing the disciples for His crucifixion, he told them that His Father would give them an advocate, a comforter that would continue to minister to them just as Jesus ministered to them.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you.

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:23-27(NIV)

What more could we ask for?

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Roman s 8:32-39(NIV)

Happy New Year!