Will of God

Posted by | June 27, 2018 | Ministry | No Comments

Last week, my family and I got an opportunity to vacation at my parents’ house in Fort Myers while they were out of town. We had a few friends visit us, and loved looking at all the pictures Mom and Dad have on display. Talk about a walk down memory lane! We had my brother and his bleach-blonde afro, my lightning bolt beard shaped into a chinstrap, and lots of pictures of my baseball playing days.

That last one immediately got me thinking about how my dad would sit in the stands and every time I would make a play, I would look to see if I was pleasing him. “Dad? Are you proud of me? Am I doing what you want? Is this good, dad?”

I started thinking about my own boys. Ford asks me the same question all the time: Is this good daddy? I wondered to myself what pressures I put on them. Do they know that I am proud of them? Do they know that I am pleased with them?

In some way, we all want this: we want to know what we do is acceptable and pleasing to our Heavenly Father. We ask Him, “Is this good?” just like I did with my earthly father, and Ford does with me.

Today, we are going to be looking at a few sentences that Paul, an early church leader wrote to the church in Rome — a church that’s a lot like Shift. Paul was writing about ways we can discern how God, our heavenly Father, feels about what is pleasing to Him.

Let’s look at what Paul writes in Romans chapter 12, starting in verse 1,

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.

Paul wants to show us how we can discern God’s will and know His desire for our lives…he continues,

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. -Romans 12:1-2

First, I think we need to fight for a little clarification here. Let’s try to get to what the Will of God actually means, which I believe is one of the most challenging things to understand about the Christian faith.

There are two things people tend to get confused about when it comes to the Will of God. Let me try to help us understand the difference and then look at the implications of what this means for our life.

Sovereignty of God – Sovereign essentially means that God has the power, wisdom, and authority to do anything He chooses within His creation. God is in control of all things.

Will of His Desire – This is what God commands us to do. But obeying God is ultimately a choice we get to make. We can follow His will, or we can disobey and fail to do what His desires are for our life. This the crux of what Paul is talking about here in Romans 12: The will of God’s desire for us.

God wants to share His will with us and for us to learn to discern what to choose. God doesn’t force us to do what He says is best. That would make us like puppets walking around on earth. It’s up to us to choose to do His will, and of course, like our earthly father, God desires that we choose to do what He says.

Paul emphasized this in a different way in his letter to the Church of Thessalonica:

Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s WILL for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t stifle the Spirit. Don’t despise prophecies, but test all things. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. -1 Thessalonians 5:18

When my alarm went off at 4:30 this morning, I should have jumped out of bed rejoicing. Why? I got to see another day.

See, Paul understands what God wants for us: to live life and rejoice always, being thankful and praying all the time, no matter what life throws at us. He wants us to do good and stay away from things that are evil. So, what does it look like to trust God and choose to obey His will?

To really dig into what this means for us, we need to break down the Paul’s verses I mentioned earlier. This gives us some insight into the choice to give my life and my will to God. Paul gave us four things that we need to be reminded if we are going to live the will of God.

Paul writes in Romans 12 verse one…

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.

The choice to give your life and will to God first leaves no room for us to be passive. He says, “I URGE you to present.” That’s an active command! I like to consider the word present in another way: like a present, a gift, that God gives us. Something we don’t have already.

We can drill down to identify some of these mercies easily. First, God identifies the problem — there are no perfect people. Next, God offers a solution in His son Jesus, who took our place, as long as we believe. This way, God is not seeing imperfect people, but rather His perfect son.

Then, God is looking for a response. And we cannot be passive in this decision.

Secondly, we have to remember that true worship isn’t just singing songs, it’s the way we live.

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. – Romans 12:1

Worship means using our minds, hearts and bodies to express the worth of God and all He is for us in Jesus. This isn’t discounting singing songs to God — we love rocking with our worship band on Sunday morning. But our life, the way we live and treat others, is sacrificing our own will so we can follow God’s will.

Paul continues:

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. -Romans 12:2

Paul is emphasizing the conforming affect that the world has on us, including what we watch, who we hang out with, and the responses we make. I mean, all I have to do is turn on the news for 5 minutes, and it changes my mood. Negative, argumentative, cruel thoughts just don’t make you want to rejoice, do they?

Paul also includes conversations we have in his warning. Think about the voices you’re allowing to speak into your life. Who are you spending time with? Before you take this the wrong way, God doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hang out with certain people — quite the opposite: Jesus was a friend of sinners. What this means is that the people you spend the most time with should lift you up, encourage you, and make you feel like rejoicing, not drain your spirit.

That’s why we tell you the best thing you can do is a join a small group you can do life with!

Paul also points out that the actions we take reflect how we’re following God’s will. Is what we say, what we do? Are we walking the walk, not just talking the talk? Most of us have a notion of how we believe we appear to others, but let me ask you this: is the person you are at work the same as you are on Sunday? It should be.

I encourage you to be that person that others look at and think, “What’s their secret? Why are they so happy all the time?”

We’re not perfect people, and we can expect correction, but who we receive this correction from matters in this context. When a friend or mentor corrects you, do you think, “I don’t have to take that from you” or do you say, “I can accept the truth in this”? When you’re spiritually mature, you can let the right people speak into your life and provide corrections that will help you stay on the right track.

The next part, transforming your mind, is how you’ll really be able to discern the will of God. So, how do we transform our mind? I really think it’s simple but challenging way to live. Trust me, because my mind is a pretty crazy place to transform.

The first step is prayer. Start having conversations with God, and work to listen to what He has to say to you. He yearns to hear from you, I promise.

The second step is read scripture. Don’t just take my word for it. Open your Bible and read His word for yourself. We even make it super simple for you with our S.O.A.P. reading plan! If you’re not reading the Bible, you won’t know if what other people tell you is accurate. People default to manipulation and there are thousands of people out there who will try to twist scripture for their own benefit. Reading the Bible will give you confidence to say, “I don’t agree with what you’re saying.”

The last is to love people. Go against the culture and just love them. Love the ones who are easy to love, and especially love those who are hard to love.

So, the question is: are we willing to choose the will of God’s desire? Because the choice is your Calling. Want to know the calling God has for your life? Choose the will of God’s desire, because that choice is your calling, and will direct your next moves.

Jesus once had some religious leaders and lawyers trying to trick him into describing God’s will for all of us…but His response changes everything for us.

37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command.39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

What are we called to do? I can sum it up:

Love God. Love people. Love yourself how God created you.

I often get asked how I knew I was called to be a pastor. The truth is, I never wanted to be a pastor. I don’t feel like I was necessarily called to it. I do feel called to love God. I do feel called to love others. I am called to make disciples. I just learned that the most effective way to reach people for Christ in our culture is to start new churches. So, that is how I became a pastor.

I’m throwing this out to you today: Do you choose to commit your life and will to Jesus Christ’s care and control? Saying yes to that question will change your life.

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