The decisions we make shape our lives. Our choice to get married or stay single, go to college or join the military, have a child or more than one child all gives shape to our lives. The careers we choose, the jobs we take, the jobs we quit, how much money to save and give and spend, whether or not I will go to church or join a small group, start exercising and stop eating potato chips… all these decisions and countless more shape who we are. In some sense, every decision we have made – good and bad – has brought us to where we are today and while we often want to blame someone else for how we got here, like it’s my parents fault or my teachers fault or my spouses fault, when it comes right down to it, we are the ones who made the decision that have shaped us.
I hope that each of us can look back on some good decisions we have made and be thankful. For me, choosing to go to Michigan State University was a good decision and while part of my decision going there was to be part of the Spartan Marching Band (which just appeared in the Rose Bowl and cheered the Spartans on to victory – just had to work that in) what God wanted for me in East Lansing was to find him and that’s what happened and the reason it happened was because I didn’t make the marching band. But that is a whole other story.
Another good decision I made was to move to South Bend Indiana after college and live close to my sister and brother-in-law. Because of that decision I got to spend a lot of time with my niece and nephew and that time and those relationships have been a blessing to me. Going to seminary was a good decision and most days becoming a local pastor seems like it was a good choice – so there have been many decisions that in positive ways have helped make me who I am today. But there other choices I made and we all have made, that maybe were not so good. I’m sure we can all look back and say, if I were doing it all over again – I would do things differently. In my own life, there have been a few of those moments and while I might regret those choices I probably learned something from them and I know God used them to shape my life.
So we can all look back on the good and bad choices we have made and can see how God has used them in our lives, but my desire is to make more good choices in the future. I want to learn how to make decisions that are in line with God’s will and I hope that is part of the reason you are here today as well, to learn how to discover the process of finding God’s will. That is what this series is about – the process we go through to find God’s will. If came today hoping to get an answer to God’s will for your life by the time you leave here this morning, I’m afraid you might be disappointed. It’s not that God can’t speak that clearly to you today, but what I hope happens today is that we begin the adventure of discovering God’s will and that happens by first understanding that God wants to give us his will. God wants to guide and direct us in life.
God is our creator and God loves us unconditionally so as a loving parent God wants nothing more than to direct our path and lead us into the future He has for us. This is what God wants to do and this is what God does. In fact God promises to do this in Proverbs 3:6b God will make your paths straight. Another way of saying this is that God will make our future clear. He will make obvious to us the direction we should go in life – he will make his will known but first we have to understand what we mean by the God’s will. In the Bible there are three different types of God’s will presented:
• The Providential Will of God,
• The Moral Will of God
• The Personal Will of God
and if we want to know the person will of God we have to first understand and follow the other two. So let’s start there
The providential will of God are those thing God will do just because God is God and God has promised to do it. An example can be found in Galatians 4:5-6. So it was always God’s will to send a Messiah to redeem the world. For generations, God’s people may have prayed for God to hurry and send him, but they didn’t have to ask God if he would send one because God said he would do it. It was always part of God’s will
Likewise, today we don’t have to pray and ask God if Christ will come again because God it is part of God’s will that he Christ will return. All through the book of Revelation God makes clear that Christ will return and when he does all people will give an account of their lives. That final judgment is another part of God’s providential will and while we may not like that it is coming, there is no avoiding it. It is part of God’s will.
It’s helpful for us to understand the providential will of God because the more we understand who God is and what God has done in the world and what God’s plans are for the future – the more we can live our lives in line with that will. For example, think about Mary and Joseph. They knew that God was going to send a Messiah so when God came to them and said, I’m going to bring the Messiah into the world through you, they at least knew what he was talking about and could line themselves up with God’s will. So it is important for us know God’s providential will so that we can be part of what God is doing and not stand against it. So we need to ask ourselves, what is God’s will for the world? How has God moved in the past and what has God promised for the future? What are the foundational truths about God that will never change and how do these things become the foundation of our faith? The more we know these things of God the more we will be able to listen and follow God when He speaks.
We not only need to know the providential will of God but we need to know the Moral Will of God and this is all the commands and directions God has already given us and because God has already made these things clear to us we really don’t need to ask him about it. For example, I don’t have to ask God if it is ok to murder my neighbor or commit adultery or steal because God already made his will known about those things a long time ago in the 10 commandments. And we don’t have to ask God if it is ok to lie to the government or disregard the new laws of 2014 that we might not like because according to 1 Peter 2:13-14 we are to follow the laws of our government whether we like them or not.
There are many moral laws that God has given that can be used to help guide our lives. For example, God has told us how to handle our money. God is clear that we shouldn’t go into debt and live beyond our means. God makes clear that we should not only pay our taxes but we should tithe and give to God want belongs to God. God has also given us clear instructions on how to treat one another in our families saying wives submit to your husbands and husbands love your wives sacrificially. In Colossians 3 God also says, children obey your parents and parents don’t provoke your children to anger or frustrate. We really don’t have to ask God how we need to be faithful in our family relationships because he has already told us and the more we follow God’s moral the more we will be lead into God’s personal will for our lives.
So now let’s talk about the Personal Will of God. God does have a unique and personal will for each of us. The Bible is clear that God has created us and chosen us and given us unique gifts of his spirit to accomplish more than we ever thought possible. Through the prophet Jeremiah God says, I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and give you a future with hope. So God does have a plan for our lives, he has a personal will for each of us but that will is only found when we are willing to understand God’s providential will and follow God’s moral will.
Think of it this way, the providential and moral will of God is the foundation on which God’s personal will for our lives is built or you could say it is the compass that helps us find true north which then helps us find every other direction in this world. So if we want to know God’s will for our lives, if we want to know the direction our path should take then the adventure begins by learning and following God’s will that He has already made known. This is probably the most important lesson we will learn through this series and should be something we remember all through life.
The more familiar we are with the providential will of God
and the more obedient we are to the moral will of God,
the easier it will be for us to discover the personal will of God.
This is where our journey of discovery begins, by learning and following the part of God’s will that has already been revealed, but then we need to take the next step and understand that God doesn’t give us direction for our consideration. God doesn’t reveal his will for us so we can think about it and add it to a list of possibilities we can choose from. God reveals his personal will to us because he wants us, even expects us, to follow it. Andy Stanley says, God does not give us direction for our consideration but for our participation. So from the beginning we have to be willing to say to God that we will follow his will for our lives if he will give it to us. And we can’t fool God in this because God knows our heart. God knows how serious we are He won’t reveal His will until we are ready and willing to follow it. This is made clear to us if we will go back and look at Proverbs 3:5-6.
Look carefully at what it says here, trust the lord with ALL your heart. It doesn’t say trust God with part of our heart or half or it but with all of it and in ALL our ways acknowledge God. The word acknowledge here doesn’t mean to just see or it consider it, it implies that we are focused on it with the intent of following it. IN fact many translations say, in all your ways SUBMIT to God and he will make your path straight. So the key for us is to surrender ourselves to the part of God’s will that we already know, his providential and moral will, and follow it so God can lead us from there. The more we trust and follow and submit to God – the more God can and will lead us into the future.
So discovering God’s personal will begins by understanding God’s providential will and following God’s moral will. God’s promise is that if we will do this, he will lead us. .
In all our ways submit to Him and He will make our path straight
Let the Adventure Begin.
Discovering God’s Will ~ The Adventure Begins
The more familiar we are with the providential will of God and the more obedient we are to the moral will of God,
the easier it will be to discover the personal will of God.
1. The providential will of God are all the things God will do because God has promised to do them. For example, it is God’s will that Christ will come again and that all people will be judged. It is also Gods will to love and forgive us when we turn to him.
• Write out what you know about the providential will of God. What has God promised to do today and into the future?
• Make a list of the top qualities of God’s character that help you trust Him and make you want to seek His will.
2. The moral will of God are all the commands and directions God has already given us.
• Write out what you know to be God’s moral will for our lives. A good place to start is the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20) & God’s will for families (Colossians 3).
• What part of God’s moral law are you violating today?
• Who can help you follow these laws so you can learn more of God’s personal will?
3. The personal will of God is God’s unique plan for your life.
• Do you want to know God’s will for consideration or for participation?
• Memorize Proverbs 3:5-6