I want to take a rabbit trail that will benefit our process of discovery of God’s will.
On some occasions, and I think this is one, to discover what “must be”, you have to look at what “is not.”
So for this second part of our journey towards understanding God’s will for our life, let’s look at some things that ARE NOT true about God’s will.
You may find some of them a little hard, but, I think you should consider each one carefully.
When we consider what God’s will “is” for our life, we should really consider what “isn’t” God’s will for anyone’s life…
So, here we go…
~God’s will is not meant to frustrate you.
I hear so many believers talk about the Will of God like it’s a bad science test they didn’t know what to study for. I get some of this.
Why would God do this? Do you really believe that when Jesus says, “follow me” he means you will have no idea where you’re going and he will cause you confusion on every side, use vague references and overall just make your life… Well, you know. Jesus may not show you all of the road, but he makes the part you’re on clear.
Listen, I get it, God asks things from us that we’ll never know the end of the journey, until the end of the journey has come. But that’s more of a “big picture” issue that many of us will never know this side of heaven.
But, what about the daily journey. Are we destined to “hope” we get our daily living right and wonder will God reward or punish us?
“God is not a God of confusion.” (I Corinthians 14:33) Paul actually writes that God is a “God of peace.” Did the Holy Spirit misguide Paul when he wrote that?
And yet I hear many believers who talk about God’s will like it stretching rack they’ve been on forever.
I’ve been one who has acted and spoke of the will of God like this.
Read these amazing words carefully… “do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:3)
HIS KINDNESS leads us to him. Not just his judgment.
Do you think that the one who told his disciples “I call you friends” (John 15:15) would turn around and treat them (you) as an enemy?
Although the disciples didn’t always know what Jesus was talking about, they still had his presence with them. He was there to guide them. If you’re a believer, so do you. His Holy Spirit and his Word are there for you daily.
Sometimes people like me, in a pulpit or a Sunday School class, say things like, “God made me …..” whatever… and it was something you didn’t like.
Many say, “I told God I didn’t want to go to Africa, and then he sent me to Africa.” Like God is just waiting to make you miserable.
Every story of God’s will is not the same as Jonah and the whale. God’s not sending you to a city full of people who you hate. He’s asking you to walk with him day by day.
I can say that I understand what some are attempting to communicate, that sometimes God asks us to do things that are uncomfortable. So for those who mean that I give you a nod of agreement. But, why not say that. That God asks us to do some things which are not natural to us and are uncomfortable.
Don’t muddy up the water by saying God will MAKE you do what you’re not wanting to do.
For those of you who seem to thrive on making life seem like God’s out to gut you like a fish and hang you out to dry, stop it!
Yes, stop it!
If you’re someone who has been in church a good portion of your life, you know that story of Abraham.
If you’ve not been in church, Abraham is a name you may know, but you may not know his story. He was asked by God to leave where he lived, and have a baby with his wife who was of an age that she could no longer get pregnant.
Or so Abraham thought. God knew better. God was going to use Sarah and Abraham to have a son that would be a blessing to everyone that lives and lived on the earth.
When Sarah didn’t get pregnant, she and Abraham agreed to let Abraham impregnate their servant girl. I know this is not today’s way of doing things, but it was back in those days.
The servant girl got pregnant, had a child. It wasn’t what God promised, and it caused trouble.
Finally, Abraham and Sarah conceived a son, and the promise was beginning to make it’s way to the fulfillment of what God had told them.
When Abraham was asked to leave home, to trust he would have a son, God knew it would take time to accomplish this. Not because it was a problem that God needed time to work on, but he knew Abraham would need to learn to trust him before moving him on to become a father.
He didn’t ask Abraham to stand on his head and sing “put on a happy face” while he awaited God to move.
He had Abraham (Abram) face things where he had to trust God while going through them, and some of them made him uncomfortable. But, as with us, God wants the result to be obvious HE was the one working out the details.
We may become frustrated because of our struggle to trust and try to “make a child the old fashioned way” by using a handmaiden when your wife was not getting pregnant (circumstances are not going your way). It was clear that God redirected Abraham and Sarah (Abram and Sarai) that it would be that the two of them that would conceive and have a child and that it was not to be done any other way.
One theme you see in most Old Testament stories, except Job’s (different lesson in that one), is that if you are being “hung out to dry”, or face God’s wrath/judgment, your disobedience will be obvious.
In the Old Testament, God often made it clear to the one facing judgment, That he was out of God’s will. Then he would share with them just exactly why he was punishing them. He sent an angel, a prophet or a dream.
So, please, let’s take the “Will of God” off the stretching rack and bring it into the light of God’s work and word.
God isn’t trying to frustrate you.
~God’s will isn’t feeling at peace.
Oh, I know, that’s the “test” for most people. The statement, “I’m at peace with this decision or that action.”
What that really means is that, for whatever reason, your conscience isn’t bothering you or you’re ignoring it.
It’s easy for us as humans to have this happen. Sometimes your conscience, for reasons unknown, is a liar.
Yep. It lies. Jeremiah understood this when he said, “the heart is deceitful.” (Jeremiah 17:9) The “heart” was used for the core beliefs a person had many times in scripture. And Jeremiah says it can deceive.
Then Jeremiah stated this truth, “I…(God)…search the heart and test the mind.” (Jeremiah 17:10)
Let’s face it, there are people who lie on their taxes, real-life God confessing believers, that figure they have the right since their tax money is… WHATEVER… paying for abortions, given to people who don’t deserve it, and a host of other excuses. Each “offense” is a reason to rebel.
And they would say ‘I’m at peace with it.”
What did Jesus say… “Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s.” Did you happen to see what the Roman government did with their tax money? There it was right out in the open… “pay your taxes or die”… Morality was not the order of the day, and the government was often more immoral than the society it ruled.
There are a host of things that believers do, from selling a car they know doesn’t work well and telling the person buying it that it runs like a top. Screaming at the person behind the counter at McDonald’s when your order is delayed or wrong.
And they are “at peace.”
This “comfort” with your behavior, and the attitude behind it, is their belief that the person they are deriding “deserved” it. That is nothing more than saying, “I’m at peace with the way I treated that person.” And we go on our way. All the way back to our Bible devotions and our hymn singing.
Feeling at “peace” or “comfort” with something is not always a good way to determine if you are in God’s will.
~God’s will isn’t determined by the success of whatever we are doing.
Going back to Jeremiah, he was a failure. Isreal was put into captivity, again. It was Jeremiah’s job to tell them it was coming and they should straighten up.
To no avail…
He’d never make it as a pastor or even as a Christian in our current generation of theology. His resume would be cast aside, trashed or shredded.
I have a feeling Jesus’ resume would too.
The “American” way (some other places on this earth as well) of Christianity is to determine if the “Christian’s” level of influence is effective by quantifying it.
If you have a big house, new car, great acting kids, a spouse that fits the front of a magazine cover, you’re “IN.” There is a whole host of wrong beliefs that are embedded into the hearts and heads of so many believers today. “Convictions” that God’s blessing in humanly quantifiable ways means you are in God’s will.
Paul fails your “American success” test. He was arrested and kept away from the churches he started. He was made fun of by many within the Christian community.
He stood with a young pastor (Timothy) who was having his youth ridiculed. Timothy’s critics were trying to reestablish Judaism among these young believers. Telling them to “fit the model.”
This group of ner do wells wanted Timothy to quit sharing the true message if Christ, you’re a sinner, Christ is a savior. The message that you need to place faith in his completed sacrifice and stop trying to be good so you can earn your salvation through rule-keeping.
Paul went as far as to say “the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits…through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared…” (1 Timothy 4).
Paul lived in the “later” times. It was happening right there in Timothy’s church.
We live in the “later” times. It is happening now. There really is no new thing under the sun.
Paul wrote to the church at Galatia… “but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ… if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1)
Which gospel? This one… “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (Jesus said this, it was recorded by his best friend, John)
Does that sound like a new car, new hairdo, new outlook, a positive mindset, and whatever else someone is trying to sell you to believe is what a “Christian” is?
Before I go on, having a new car, house, spouse, etc. isn’t the problem…it’s a problem if you define your stand before the Savior by these things… that is “a gospel that is contrary…”
~God’s will never contradicts scripture…
God will not give you something immoral as his will. He will never ask you to divorce a spouse to marry a more spiritual spouse.
God will not ask you to cheat the government, he actually tells us to submit to authority. He had Paul write that during the Roman rule. Have you ever read about the Empire of Rome? Not quite a moral society. Yet… “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. “ (Romans 13) Instituted by God? The Romans? That’s the context.
~God’s will isn’t something mystical…
Hang in here with me… I know that God is mystical, beyond human reasoning. But since he has shared his “Word” with us, filled us with his “Holy Spirit” and has preserved these for us over the centuries, most of what God wants you to do is pretty clear.
There are those who ask God to help them in some “extra-spiritual way” to know if they should do things that have already been defined by God.
God wants you to get to know him through what he has revealed about himself. It’s the role scripture is to play in our lives. Most times, there is enough to keep us busy without having to keep asking.
Something simple as being unloving to others is so obvious and yet, to “figure out” or even convince yourself that you are in God’s will, you’ll ask God to help you “speak” to someone else in a condescending way and pawn it off as “God’s Will”.
All in the name of being “more like God” or “In his will.”
Prejudice is immoral…
Gossip is immoral…
Hatred is immoral…
Creating conflict between believers is immoral…
God’s will doesn’t ask you to do something that is immoral.
If God says you are supposed to do something, it is in line with God’s morals. If you don’t do the good he’s asked, that is immoral. Sorry. Simple but difficult.
If God says you don’t do something and you don’t do it, you’re moral. If God says don’t and you do it, then you’re immoral. Again, simple, but difficult.
Is God kidding when he says to love our enemies?
Was he just joking when he said to pray for those who persecute you?
He is pretty serious about our willingness to keep the commands he’s given us.
You can’t do something immoral and say, “It’s God’s will.”
Just a little note of hope…doing something immoral, doesn’t automatically disqualify you for heaven. But, it’s still not God’s will.
That’s the list, the “God’s Will” isn’t list…
Just a few thoughts…
So, we’ve talked about what isn’t God’s will…
What it “IS”, is coming next…
Till next time…