Written Sermons & Bible Studies

Misgivings of Grace #3, The Will of God

Today, we will talk about how we can know the will of God in our lives. It can seem like an elusive desire that we can never figure out. In our hearts we say Jesus’ prayer, “Not my will but thine,” but we don’t always know what that means.

I want to assure you; the will of God is not elusive.

Scripture tells us clearly what the will of God is. I will share several verses today to illustrate how clearly Scripture communicates the will of God. Scripture tells us what to do to be in accordance with God’s will. Let’s get started.

Micah 6:8

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

Amos 5:24

Take away from me the noise of your songs;
I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
24 But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

To be in God’s will, we must do justice and love kindness. God requires it of us. It is good. God values justice and kindness over our worship and praise. If we fail to do justice and love kindness, our worship and praise is not welcomed. if we strive to be just and act kindly, we are in God’s will.

Luke 7:48-50 is the end of the story of the woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her hair.

Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke uses the story to speak to the early church and tell them that this woman who is outside the boundaries of society has been forgiven, and that her faith saved her. Jesus then says farewell with what became a common early church blessing, “Go in peace.” Luke tells the church leaders that people like the sinful woman in the story are now members of the Body of Christ. They need to accept them as members. The patrons of these churches need to provide outcasts with the protection of a family. This is what justice and kindness look like.

God’s will is that we seek out the outcast and sinner. We welcome into the Place of Grace family those who are unloved and cast out. God cares for them and so should we.

Romans 1:17

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”

God’s will is that we live by faith. Through faith, we accept the grace offered to us in Christ, and we respond with gratitude. We live by faith and not by works. We grace others with works of kindness and service in response to Christ’s amazing gift.

Galatians 3:26-29

For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

God’s will is unity. We are not alone as Christians. We are diverse but not divided. We have a large family of all who have accepted Christ. We belong to the body of Christ. We are united in Christ.

Romans 2:1

Therefore, you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.

God reserves the right to judge, and God’s will is for non-judgmental followers.

To judge others takes us out of God’s will. Judging non-believers is futile because they do not follow Christ. They have no reason to be judged by Christian standards, and our witness can be harmed when we step in and judge. Judging our brothers and sisters in Christ is off the table too. We may not like it, but Christ forbids us from judging others. If we do, we face the same judgment we place others under.

Romans 2:7-9

to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. 9

God’s will is that we focus on him. By patiently doing good and serving others, we are not self-seeking. We bring honor and glory to God from whom we receive eternal life.

Revelation 3:15-16

“I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

God’s will is that we are passionate, committed followers of Christ. I have a little chihuahua that I pass on my walk with Hazy. That dog is committed to barking at Hazy and me when we walk by. He sits in the front window of his house and watches us pass. He moves with us down the sill of the window and barks until we are well past. He is so committed to telling us off and protecting his house that he barks as loudly as he can. In truth, he is not very scary. Yet, committed? He gives 150%. When he barks his front legs come off the sill, and he rises to about 45 degrees. Everything that little dog has is given to barking at us.

When it comes to following Christ, are we as committed as that Chihuahua to being in God’s will. God wants our commitment. Christ wants us to draw close to him.  God wants us to be hotly in pursuit of following God’s will consistent with Scripture.

Let’s recap what we know now about God’s will:

  • Do justice and love kindness
  • Welcome the outcast
  • Live by faith and serve with gratitude
  • Be gracious and non-judgmental
  • Be united in the body of Christ
  • Do good to bring honor and glory to God
  • Be wholly committed to following Christ

Look at that list. And there’s more of God’s will in Scripture. What does this list say about the character of God? May we reflect that character in all that we say and do.

Now that we know what God wills us to do, the question is how do we do it?

I have been married to Jan for 37 years now. Jan has her “Will of Jan.” If I want harmony in the house, I have to comply with the “Will of Jan.” The “Will of Jan” has some basic rules; Put the seat down, take out the garbage, kill all crawling critters in the house, make time to talk with her about her day, do the cooking, love football, be romantic, pick up the dog poop, let her visit her family and be 100% committed to our marriage. Some of these “Will of Jan” items leave little room for creativity. Putting the seat down or taking out the garbage require no creativity. Kill any crawling critter takes more creativity. Do the cooking or be romantic are places where my heart and creativity come most in to play. She appreciates how I comply with the “Will of Jan” given my free will. If I follow the “Will of Jan” life just works better. To violate these rules spells discord and an unhappy wife. I do not want an unhappy wife.

When figuring out how to comply with the will of God in all circumstances in our lives, we have free will to make decisions, according to our values and conscience, and we seek to address each situation with a love like Christ. Most importantly, God has given us the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance.

Philippians 1:9-11

And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10 to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11 having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Scripture doesn’t really tell us how we are to do it. Scripture gives us a great deal of latitude when it comes to how. I think it’s easy to get caught up in following a code of law or set of rules when we strive to follow God’s will. It’s not that clearcut. What Scripture does tell us is to follow our conscience informed by the Holy Spirit, a close prayerful life with Christ, and alignment with Scripture.

When Jesus walked the earth, he gave us a perfect example of following God’s will. He loved justice and kindness. He welcomed outcasts to follow him. He called sinners to be his disciples. He lived in deep faith and relationship with God his Father. He never let worship, praise or following the Torah get in the way of loving people. He followed his conscience. He did not judge others. He was not self-seeking, but always did the will of his Father in heaven.

When Jesus followed God’s will, he was criticized by the Pharisees and put to death. When we follow the will of God true to our own conscience, there will be a horde of critics. Yet only two critics matter-yourself and the Holy Spirit. You will be conflicted if you have violated your integrity. The Holy Spirit will convict you if you are out of God’s will. God gives you the ability to decide how to live out God’s will in your life. Your decision making will reflect the Holy Spirit’s individual message and guidance to you. God speaks a message to you, and it is only for you. Personal integrity is important in the process because you will hear the Holy Spirit through your values and convictions. God works with us and not against us. When you follow the will of God consistent with your convictions and values, you will make your unique contribution to the Kingdom of God.

Let me give an example. Let’s say one Christian has a personal conviction that eating meat harms the environment and becomes a vegan. They may believe their decision is a form of justice according to God’s will. Another Christian may be a dairy farmer, stewarding God’s creation to provide milk and meat for people. They may believe their decision is righteous by serving others – also in God’s will. They are called to be in unity, and both in good conscience are contributing to God’s Kingdom.

In Romans 14:1-3 Paul addresses groups of believers that differ on matters of conscience and calls them not to judge each other.

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. 2 Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3 Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them.

For Paul, it is not a matter of which group worships God correctly. God cares that each group accepts the other and does not judge or despise the other. It is important that the group with more freedom honor the group with stricter codes of conduct. In all relationships between the different Roman churches, the main point is a respect for each other and the protection of each churches’ unique sense of integrity and moral foundation.

Scripture provides us with clear guidelines as to God’s will. Scripture says do justice and love kindness. But it doesn’t say how. We can choose how we do justice and love kindness. We can disagree greatly about what that means for us. We honor each other’s integrity following Christ and the Holy Spirit. We remain unified as the Church, and we love one another. One last and very important Scripture verse:

John 13:34-35

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

This week, examine your decisions and ask if you are in God’s will found in Scripture. Vow to live by values and convictions consistent with walking humbly with your God. Do justice and love kindness. Offer a haven for the desperate and a family for the outcast. Live by faith and do works of kindness. Refrain from judging non-believers or believers. Commit yourself to your journey with Christ, sharing his love with all the believers here and his grace with the community around us. Amen.

About Pastor Tim

Tim Holmes

Senior Pastor

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