Introduction: One of the most distinguishing characteristic of Lord Jesus Christ is that He always practiced what He preached during His earthly life on this planet earth. John 8:29 (ESV) makes this point very clear, that goes like this: “And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him." Jesus adds one more truth here: God’s presence will be with those who do His will. One should realize the preciousness of God’s presence; for wherever the Almighty God is present, there will not be lack of any good thing, whether its protection, provision, guidance, honor, grace or anything else.
But how are we to know God’s will? The Bible (God’s Word) talks about His likes and dislikes. Hence, it is our responsibility to study the Bible, know His will for any given situation and obey accordingly.
Let me highlight 7p’s that the Lord has prescribed in His Word to those who are desirous to know His will. Relevant quotes are given wherever necessary.
The above verse clearly says, to know the perfect will of God, we should change our thinking pattern. It obviously means, we should change our thinking from being worldly-based to Scripture-based. In other words, we can choose either worldly way of thinking or Scriptural way of thinking, but not both ways of thinking; as the consequences or rewards that follow will be different for both the ways. Some of the marks of worldly-based thinking are, not being content with what the Lord has given and craving for more, being possessive of possessions, proud of the position in the society, trying to exalt, trying to come up by hook or crook and so on. On the other way round, Scriptural-based thinking shows itself in being content in the Lord, finds pleasure in giving or sharing with the needy, humbly considers others better than themselves; waits for the Lord to help to come up in life and so on. This kind of change or transformation will take place in a person if one sincerely commits to the Lord Jesus. Only then, one can know the will of God.
2. Personal life-style: As per Mark 12:14 (GNB) ‘some people came to Jesus and said, "Teacher, we know that you tell the truth, without worrying about what people think. You pay no attention to anyone's status, but teach the truth about God's will for people. . . .’
Those people mentioned above were actually Jesus’ critics. Even such people valued and declared His teachings to be priceless as it talked about God’s will without any bias. But how are we to respond to the critics of Jesus’ teachings? 1Peter 2:15 (ISV) gives the answer, where it says: ‘For it is God's will that by doing right you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.’ As per this verse, by doing right or doing well or by our good behavior, we can silence such people. In other words, it is the responsibility of professing believers to authenticate to the world, the tremendous authority, holiness and power of the Holy Scriptures through the Bible-based life-style. In this context, no one can say, “I will live my life, my way.”
Please read the following extract:
Years ago the communist government in China commissioned an author to write a biography of Hudson Taylor with the purpose of distorting the facts and presenting him in a bad light. They wanted to discredit the name of this consecrated missionary of the gospel. As the author was doing his research, he was increasingly impressed by Taylor’s saintly character and godly life, and he found it extremely difficult to carry out his assigned task with a clear conscience. Eventually, at the risk of losing his life, he laid aside his pen, renounced his atheism, and received Jesus as his personal Savior. Whether we realize it or not, our example leaves an impression on others. (www.Bible.org)
“A clear conscience is absolutely essential for distinguishing between the voice of God and the voice of the enemy. Unconfessed sin is a prime reason why many do not know God's will.” - Winkie Pratney
Yes, it is the nature of God to be holy and He commands His children to be holy likewise. In the above verse, sexual purity is demanded- a vulnerable area of attack by the devil. Thus, anyone leading an immoral life and still professes to have God’s presence with him/her, is actually a person living in deception. Samson was in such a deception when he thought he could fight his enemies, the Philistines, just like how he has done the previous times, being unaware of the fact that the presence of God had left him due to his uncontrolled behavior towards the opposite sex, that resulted in his eyes being gouged-out followed by his untimely death – the consequences he could not evade (Judges 16:20-30). This is the consequence of choking God’s presence out of our lives – plain destruction. Therefore, if anybody thinks they are too smart in covering up secret sins, sugar-coat cunning attitudes, secretly lead a cruel or violent life, pamper jealously - whether secretly or openly, derive pleasure out of the suffering of others or indulging in any such deeds, cannot escape the consequences, as the Scriptures says, the Lord takes the crafty by their own craftiness and bring them to justice.
“God is interested in developing your character. At times He lets you proceed, but He will never let you go too far without discipline to bring you back. In your relationship with God, He may let you make a wrong decision. Then the Spirit of God causes you to recognize that it is not God's will. He guides you back to the right path.” - Henry Blackaby
4. Passing test: 1Thesselonians 3:3 (GNB) says: “so that none of you should turn back because of these persecutions. You yourselves know that such persecutions are part of God's will for us.”
The devil does all he can to block people from knowing God’s will. Even if His will is known, he will do all he can to deviate them from obeying Him. Hence, we are commanded in the Scriptures to hold-on to the will of God despite distractions and obstacles.
Read the following extract:
Let me tell you a story of a man you know. He is called by some 'a man of sorrows.' He was born into a poor family in 1809. His mother died when he was 9 years old. He ran for state legislature when he was 22 – lost. His fiancées died when he was 26. He marries at the age of 33 – she suffers from sever depression. He ran for US Congress at the age of 34 – lost. At 39 he ran for congress again – lost. At 41 his second oldest son dies. At 46 he ran for US Senate – lost. At 47 he ran for Vice President of the
– lost. At 49 he ran for Senate again – lost. By this time most people would have given up. But he wasn’t like most people. He dared to be different and at the age of 51 he ran for President of the US and was elected. His name – Abraham Lincoln. Many may not know – but he was a devout Christian. He set himself apart, did not give in to criticism or disappointment. He dared to be different. (Sermoncentral.com) United States
“In all things seek to know God's Will and when known obey at any cost.” - Jonathan Goforth
5. Prayer: 1John 5:14 (ISV) says: ‘And this is the confidence that we have in him: if we ask for anything according to his will, he listens to us.’
Many pray to God and expect an answer from Him. But the above verse says, He will answer our prayer if we pray according to His will. Therefore, knowing God’s will comes first, then praying accordingly makes our prayer effective, though not all issues are addressed in this order.
"Nowadays Christians appear to treat prayer as a means to accomplish their aims and ideas. If they possessed just a little deeper understanding, they would recognize that prayer is but man uttering to God what is God's will." - Watchman Nee
Matthew 26:39 (GW) says: After walking a little farther, he quickly bowed with his face to the ground and prayed, "Father, if it's possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. But let your will be done rather than mine."
In the above prayer, said just before His arrest that lead to His crucifixion, Lord Jesus, esteemed the will of the Father over His will – a tremendous lesson for us to follow – to accept God’s will, brushing aside our own will or wish, for He alone knows what is best for us.
“Pray till prayer makes you forget your own wish, and leave it or merge it in God's will.” - Frederick W. Robertson
6. Praising: 1Thessolonians 5:18 (KJV) says: ‘In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.’
Whoever thanks God in any situation, however unpleasant it may be, in obedience to this commandment, expresses faith in Him – a requirement to please Him.
Read the following extract:
Scottish minister Alexander Whyte was known for his uplifting prayers in the pulpit. He always found something for which to be grateful. One Sunday morning the weather was so gloomy that one church member thought to himself, "Certainly the preacher won't think of anything for which to thank the Lord on a wretched day like this." Much to his surprise, however, Whyte began by praying, "We thank Thee, O God that it is not always like this." (Daily Bread, August 26, 1989.)
“In almost everything that touches our everyday life on earth; God is pleased when we're pleased. He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our maker's praise without anxiety.” - A.W. Tozer
7. Purpose of existence: 1Peter 4:2 (GNB) says: ‘From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God's will and not by human desires.’
Living our life being controlled by His will should be the motivating reason for our existence. It implies we should be willing to change according to the knowledge of the Scriptures we acquire. The Scriptures say, if anyone just listens to the Word and does not follow it, will be like a person who builds his house upon sand – he can’t stand storms (problems). Even if God’s will look or seem to be very hard to take it, it’s the one and the only best plan for us. Once, we tune our lives to be controlled by His will, we will surely be blessed and will be a blessing to others. But, if any one will not accept the will of God or too careless to hold-on to it, end up being a loser.
“The surest method of arriving at the knowledge of God's eternal purposes about us is to be found in the right use of the present moment. God's will does not come to us in the whole, but in fragments and generally in small fragments. It is our business to piece it together and to live it into one orderly vocation.” - Frederick W. Faber
Consider another extract:
Bob Mumford in 'Take Another Look at Guidance', compares discovering God’s will with a sea captain’s docking procedure: A certain harbor in Italy can be reached only by sailing up a narrow channel between dangerous rocks and shoals. Over the years, many ships have been wrecked, and navigation is hazardous. To guide the ships safely into port, three lights have been mounted on three huge poles in the harbor. When the three lights are perfectly lined up and seen as one, the ship can safely proceed up the narrow channel. If the pilot sees two or three lights, he knows he’s off course and in danger. God has also provided three beacons to guide us. The same rules of navigation apply—the three lights must be lined up before it is safe for us to proceed. The three harbor lights of guidance are: 1. The Word of God (standard). 2. The Holy Spirit (witness). 3. Circumstances (providence.)
Isn’t this a very practical instruction on how to be sure about God’s will? The following quote says something similar.
“When we want to know God's will, there are three things which always concur: the inward impulse, the Word of God and the trend of circumstances. Never act until these three things agree.” - F.B. Meyer
Conclusion: The Lord delights so much in watching people accept His will that He declared in Mark 3:35 (ISV) : ‘For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."’ Brother or sister of Almighty God! Can there be a greater designation that anyone can achieve in this world?
As per 1Corinthians 1:1 (ISV), Paul introduces himself to the church in Corinth this way: ‘From Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God . . .’ How true it is that one’s very calling into any venture has to be according to the will of God. In Acts 18:21 (ISV) we read: ‘As he told them goodbye, he said, "I will come back to you again if it is God's will." Then he set sail from Ephesus.’ Here again, we read about Paul, who told a group of believers in Ephesus that he would come back to them only under one condition, that is, if God wills. Yes, our desires should be molded into accepting the will of God in all matters, however big or insignificant they may seem to be.
Logically, who gets the revelation about God’s will for their lives (in finer detail, for that matter)? Those who are passive or active? ‘It’s easier to steer a moving vehicle than a stationary one’ so goes a common saying. Yes, the Lord guides those who are willing and doing something for Him. Consider the following passage where we read about how Paul and his friends were finally led to Macedonia when they were actively involved in God’s work.
Act 16:6-10 (CEV) says: 'Paul and his friends went through Phrygia and Galatia, but the Holy Spirit would not let them preach in Asia. After they arrived in Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not let them. So they went on through Mysia until they came to Troas. During the night, Paul had a vision of someone from Macedonia who was standing there and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us!" After Paul had seen the vision, we began looking for a way to go to Macedonia. We were sure that God had called us to preach the good news there.'
Consider the following examples:
Being open to God’s guidance without holding-on to our past helps us in not missing out on His wonderful plan and purpose for our lives.
Please read the concluding illustration:
Wordsworth, in one of his poems, tells about a bird that was carried from Norway by a storm. It fought hard against the gale in its effort to win its way back to Norway, but all in vain. At last it yielded to the wind, and instead of being carried to destruction it was borne to the warm shores of England, to the green meadows and forests. So when we try to fight against God's will we are making efforts which will come to naught, and are doing so to our own injury and loss. But if we willingly accept God's will, it will be for our good; we shall be borne on to blessedness and joy.—John T. Montgomery, M. A. (www.moreillustrations.com)
Yes, there is grace of God in yielding to His will.
Matthew 7:21 (KJV) says: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Behind our lives the Weaver stands,
And works His wondrous will;
We leave it in His all-wise hands,
And trust His perfect skill.—Selected.