24th Sunday After Pentecost: Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way
Man's greatest honour and privilege is to do the will of God. This was what the Lord Jesus taught His disciples. He once said that only “he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 7:21). He also said that His true family, one that goes beyond flesh and blood, were those who did the will of God (Matthew 12:50). This emphasis was duly passed on by the apostles to their generation. Peter declared that God sets men free from sin so that they can His will. He said, “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2). Paul asserted that believers are created anew in Christ Jesus so that they can walk in a path God has already mapped out for them. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10). He therefore exhorted the Ephesian Christians to not “become not unwise, but understand what is the will of God.” (Ephesians 5:17). And in our epistle reading for today we hear Saint Paul, “He cease not to pray for them, and to beg that they may be filled with the knowledge of Gods will, in all wisdom, and spiritual understanding.” (Colossians1:9). And later in chapter 4:12, he told them that his co-worker Epaphras “was always labouring fervently for them in prayers, that they may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” The apostle John taught that “the world passeth away, and the concupiscence thereof: but he that doth the will of God, abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:17).
Acts 13:22 seems to imply that David was called "a man after God's own heart" because he desired to do all Gods will. David was not a perfect man. He committed many sins, some very serious ones, for which God had to punish him severely. Yet God forgave him and found pleasure in him because basically David wanted to do all of God's will. This encourages us to believe that in spite of all our imperfections, we too can be men and women after God's own heart - if only our hearts are set on doing His will.
The New Testament urges believers to walk as Jesus walked, following His example.
The guiding principle of Jesus' entire life and ministry was to do the will of His Father. He never moved until His Father told Him to. And when He did move, neither the threats of His enemies nor the pleadings of His friends could stop Him from doing what His Father required of Him. His daily food was to “do the will of the Father that sent me, that I may perfect his work” (John 4:34). As men crave for food to nourish their bodies, He craved to do the will of the One Who had sent Him. Every believer should have a similar hunger to fulfill all the will of God. How easy it is to pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven," and then to do just as we please, without seeking God's guidance in our daily lives.
The Bible teaches that God has a specific plan for each of our lives, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus in good works, which God hath prepared that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10). He has planned a career for us, chosen a life-partner for us and even planned where we should live and what we should do each day. In every case, His choice must be the best, for He knows us so well and He takes every factor into consideration. It is wisest then to seek His will in all matters - major as well as minor.
Many have made shipwreck of their lives by failing to seek the will of God right from their youth.
It is indeed "good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth" as Lamentations 3:27 says. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus invites us to take His yoke upon us. What does it mean to take the yoke? Oxen that are used to plough fields are kept together by a yoke upon their necks. When a new ox is to be trained to plough, it is yoked together with an experienced ox. The new one is thus compelled to walk in the same direction and at the same speed as the older ox. This is what it means to take the yoke of Jesus upon us. We shall have to walk with Jesus in the path that pleases Him, never rushing ahead to do anything without His leading, nor lagging behind when He calls to some new step of obedience. Few understand this meaning of the yoke. Fewer still are willing to accept it. The ox is forced by its owner to take the yoke upon its neck. But Jesus invites us. There is no compulsion here. How foolish we are to reject this invitation!
We would rather take the heavy yoke of our own self-will with its accompanying frustrations, defeats, and regrets, than the light yoke of Jesus that brings true liberty and deep rest!
We read of Enoch that he "walked with God" (Genesis 5:22) - i.e., he did not rush ahead nor lag behind, but walked in God's appointed path as one under the yoke - for three hundred years. As a result, God testified that He was pleased with Enoch's life (Hebrew 11:5). This is the only way that we please God - by living and moving under His yoke, in His perfect will. Only in this way will we be able to stand before Him without regret when He comes again.
It is possible for a believer to miss God's perfect will for his life. Saul was chosen by God to be king over Israel, but eventually as a result of his impatience and disobedience, God had to reject him. True, he remained on the throne for some years more, but he had missed God's will for his life. Solomon is another example. He pleased God in his earlier years, but fell away later through marrying heathen women. Twice in the New Testament we are exhorted to take a warning from the example of the Israelites who perished in the wilderness. God's perfect will for them was that they should enter Canaan. But all except two of them missed God's best through unbelief and disobedience (1 Corinthians 10:1-12; Hebrews 3:7-14). Many believers have similarly missed God's perfect plan for their lives through disobedience and compromise - often in marriage or in the choice of a career.
Each of us has but one life.
Blessed is the man who like Paul, can say at the end of it, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7).
In one paraphrase of I John 2:17 says,"The world and all its passionate desires will one day disappear. But the man who is following God's will is part of the Permanent and cannot die".
"Live life then with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life, but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days. Don't be vague but firmly grasp what you know to be the will of God" (Ephesians 5:15-17).
In Conclusion, how do you figure out what the will of God is?
Let me quickly give you 6 guidelines that I learned.
First, commit your decision to God. Make it a matter of regular prayer, asking God to guide you and make His will known to you.
Second, read the Scriptures. Does the Bible give any direct guidance about the decision you are facing? Does any principle in the Bible apply to your situation? Did anyone in the Bible ever face a similar decision, and, if so, how did they deal with it? (We can even learn from the wrong decisions some of them made.)
Third, understand your circumstances. God isn’t only working in us; He also is working around us. Often God guides us through our circumstances.
Fourth, seek godly advice. God has given some people a special gift of wisdom, and when we face a decision, it’s often helpful to seek their counsel.
Fifth, trust the Holy Spirit’s guidance. When we honestly seek His will, God often gives us an inner conviction or prompting to confirm which way He wants us to go. The Bible says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear the voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).
Finally, trust God for the outcome. Once God leads you to make a decision, don’t draw back. Instead, trust His leading, and believe He goes before you – for He does. The Bible says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Remember: God loves you, and He wants you to know His will. Seek it . . . discover it . . . and then do it. His way is always best.