God wants you to help carry out his will for you:
Moses did everything just as the LORD commanded him. – Exodus 40:16
God told Moses how to build the tabernacle, and Moses delegated jobs in order to do it. God allows people to participate with him in carrying out his will. Your task is not just to sit and watch God work, but to give your best effort when work needs to be done.
Asking for God’s guidance:
At the LORD’s command they encamped, and at the LORD’s command they set out. They obeyed the LORD’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses. – Numbers 9:23
The Israelites travelled and camped as God guided. When you follow God’s guidance, you know you are where God wants you, whether you’re moving or staying in one place. You are physically somewhere right now. Instead of praying, “God, what do you want me to do next?” ask, “God, what do you want me to do while I’m right here?” Direction from God is not just for your next big move. He has a purpose in placing you where you are right now.
Can’t change it:
Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come, let me take you to another place. Perhaps it will please God to let you curse them for me from there. – Numbers 23:27
Balak took Balaam to several places to try to entice him to curse the Israelites. He thought a change of scenery might help change Balaam’s mind. But changing locations won’t change God’s will. We must learn to face the source of our problems. Moving to escape problems only makes solving them more difficult. Problems rooted in us are not solved by a change of scenery. A change in location or job may only distract us from the need for us to change our heart.
No human scheme can prevent it:
But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between sections of his armour. The king told the chariot driver, “Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I’ve been wounded.” – 2 Chronicles 18:33
Micaiah prophesied death for Ahab (18:16, 27), so Ahab disguised himself to fool the enemy. Apparently the disguise worked, but that didn’t change the prophecy. A random Aramean arrow found a crack in his armour and killed him. God fulfils his will despite the defences people try to erect. God can use anything even an error, to bring his will to pass. This is good news for God’s followers because we can trust him to work his plans and keep his promises no matter how desperate our circumstances are.
God works his will through people:
he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:13-14
After the decree to kill the Jews was given, Mordecai and Esther could have despaired, decided to save only themselves, or just waited for God’s intervention. Instead, they saw that God had placed them in their positions for a purpose, so they seized the moment and acted. When it is within our reach to save others, we must do so. In a life-threatening situation, don’t withdraw, behave selfishly, wallow in despair, or wait for God to fix everything. Instead, ask God for his direction, and act! God may have placed you where you are “for such a time as this”.
In making Xerxes discover Mordecai’s good deed:
That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. – Esther 6:1-2
Unable to sleep, the king decided to review the history of his reign, and his servants read to him about Mordecai’s good deed. This seems coincidental, but God is always at work. God has been working quietly and patiently throughout your life as well. The events that have come together for good are not merely coincidence; they are the result of God’s sovereign control over the course of people’s lives (Romans 8:28).
Can Satan persuade God to change his plans?
And the LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going to and fro in it.”
Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no-one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” – Job 2:3-6
Can Satan persuade God to change his plans? At first God said he did not want Job harmed physically, but then he decided to allow it. Satan is unable to persuade God to go against his character: God is completely and eternally good. But God was willing to go along with Satan’s plan because God knew the eventual outcome of Job’s story. God cannot be fooled by Satan. Job’s suffering was a test for Job, Satan, and us – not God.
Seek it first:
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I shall not be shaken. – Psalm 16:7-8
It is human nature to make our own plans and then ask God to bless them. Instead, we should seek God’s will first. By constantly thinking about the Lord and his way of living, we will gain insights that will help us make right decisions and live the way God desires. Communicating with God allows him to counsel us and give us wisdom.
Our true purpose:
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. – John 6:37-38
Jesus did not work independently of God the Father, but in union with him. This should give us even more assurance of being welcomed into God’s presence and being protected by him. Jesus’ purpose was to do the will of God, not to satisfy Jesus’ human desires. When we follow Jesus, we should have the same purpose.
Doing it doesn’t guarantee comfortable life praying for:
And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born – Luke 2:3-6
The government forced Joseph to make a long trip just to pay his taxes. His fiancée, who had to go with him, was going to have a baby any moment. But when they arrived in Bethlehem, they couldn’t even find a place to stay. When we do God’s will, we are not guaranteed a comfortable life. But we are promised that everything, even our discomfort, has meaning in God’s plan.
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven. – Matthew 6:10
When we pray “Your will be done”, we are not resigning our selves to fate, but praying that God’s perfect purpose will be accomplished in this world as well as in the next.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him. – 1 John 5:14-15
The emphasis here is on God’s will, not our will. When we communicate with God, we don’t demand what we want; rather we discuss with him what he wants for us. If we align our prayers to his will, he will listen; and we can be certain that if he listens, he will give us a definite answer. Start praying with confidence!
Seeking it for your children:
Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favour of him. – Matthew 20:20
The mother of James and John asked Jesus to give her sons special positions in his kingdom. Parents naturally want to see their children promoted and honoured, but this desire is dangerous if it causes them to lose sight of God’s specific will for their children. God may have different work in mind – not as glamorous, but just as important. Thus parents’ desires for their children’s advancement must be held in check as they pray that God’s will be done in their children’s lives.
Prayers must be in line with:
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” – Matthew 21:22
This verse is not a guarantee that we can get anything we want simply by asking Jesus and believing. God does not grant requests that would hurt us or others or that would violate his own nature or will. Jesus’ statement is not a blank cheque. To be fulfilled, our requests must be in harmony with the principles of God’s kingdom. The stronger our belief, the more likely our prayers will be in line with God’s will, and then God will be happy to grant them.
You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. – John 14:14
When Jesus says we can ask for anything, we must remember that our asking must be in his name – that is, according to God’s character and will. God will not grant requests contrary to his nature or his will, and we cannot use his name as a magic formula to fulfil our selfish desires. If we are sincerely following God and seeking to do his will, then our requests will be in line with what he wants, and he will grant them. (See also 15:16; 16:23.)
Comes from God’s Spirit in us:
And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. – John 20:22
There is life in the breath of God. Man was created but did not come alive until God breathed into him the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). God’s first breath made man different from all other forms of creation. Now, through the breath of Jesus, God imparted eternal, spiritual life. With this in-breathing came the power to do God’s will on earth.
What to do when seeking it:
Paul and his companions travelled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. – Acts 16:6
We don’t know how the Holy Spirit told Paul that he and his companions should not go into Asia. It may have been through a prophet, a vision, a inner conviction, or some other circumstance. To know God’s will does not mean we must hear his voice. He leads in different ways. When seeking God’s will, (1) make sure your plan is in harmony with God’s word; (2) ask mature Christians for their advice; (3) check your own motives – are you seeking to do what you want or what you think God wants? – and (4) pray for God to open and close the doors as he desires.
Must accept all that comes with it:
Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” – Acts 21:13-14
Paul knew he would be imprisoned in Jerusalem. Although his friends pleaded with him to not go there, he knew that he had to because God wanted him to. No-one enjoys pain, but a faithful disciple wants above all else to please God. Our desire to please God should overshadow our desire to avoid hardship and suffering. When we really want to do God’s will, we must accept all that comes with it – even the pain. Then we can say with Paul, “The Lord’s will be done.”
God lets us choose against his:
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is for ever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Furthermore, since they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practise them. – Romans 1:24-32
These people chose to reject God, and God allowed them to do it. God does not usually stop us from making choices that are against his will. He lets us declare our supposed independence from him, even though he knows that in time we will become slaves to our own rebellious choices – we will lose our freedom not to sin. Does life without God look like freedom to you? Look more closely. There is no worse slavery than slavery to sin.
Doing it guarantees eternal life:
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honour and immorality, he will give eternal life. – Romans 2:7
Paul says that those who patiently and persistently do God’s will find eternal life. He is not contradicting his previous statement that salvation comes by faith alone (1:16, 17). We are not saved by good deeds, but when we commit our lives fully to God, we want to please him and do his will. As such, our good deeds are a grateful response to what God has done, not a prerequisite to earning his grace.
May be for you to stay where you are:
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. – Ephesians 6:19-20
Undiscouraged and undefeated, Paul wrote powerful letters of encouragement from prison. Paul did not ask the Ephesians to pray that his chains would be removed, but that he would continue to speak fearlessly for Christ in spite of them. God can use us in any circumstances, we should also pray that God will accomplish his plan through us right where we are. Knowing God’s eternal purpose for us will help us through the difficult times.
©Dodgson’s Sanctuary Church, KingsWay, 1973.