DAY 23: GOD'S WILL

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We are on Day 23, and today we will be discussing God's will. This topic is a very complex matter to address. There are many layers to unfolding the will of God. Therefore, as a new, or maturing believer I want to focus on one aspect of God's will today, that is, how our relationship with God helps us to understand God's will for our lives. This is not an attempt to answer all aspects of God's will.

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from people. The question often goes something like this: "How do I know God's will for my life?" or "What is my purpose in life?" I believe these two questions are asking the same thing. Very simply, God created us to be in a relationship with Him. We must also take into account that since the fall of man happened, it has complicated things since we all have been called to be a part of the rescue mission. I want to reiterate, that this is a very difficult topic to address in just a few paragraphs, but I think it's important to build some simple frameworks behind this concept.

To Follow God's Will Starts With Genuine Faith & Commitment

As we have read about in Day 3, our practice of faith matters in our daily lives. Faith not only pleases God (Hebrews 11:6), but genuine faith propels us to a place where commitment to God comes naturally, not forced. That is why verses like Proverbs 3 are so helpful.
 
Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and He will make your paths straight.

In verse 5 the word "trust" communicates belief or faith in God. Next, the phrase "with all your heart" expresses the thought of a full commitment to your belief or faith. After that, it says, "Lean not on your own understanding." This helps the believer to identify that when we have genuine faith, we shift our priority from trusting ourselves only to trusting God fully. Starting in verse 6, it says, "in all your ways submit." This again pushes us to be fully committed and surrender our thoughts, ideas, desires, etc., before the Lord. If we do this, there is a promise that follows at the end of verse 6, "He will make your paths straight." Making our paths straight means God has full control of every part of our lives; therefore, we are in a posture of active listening and willing to be obedient to what He says to us. If all the conditions that we just talked about are met, this enables God to show us His will and purpose for our lives.

As you can see, this verse helps us as Christians to identify the connection between our faith and commitment and God's will. This again is why personal commitment within the believer matters. I pray that you are seeing that your faith is more than just a prayer to Jesus, it's a commitment. It's vital that we understand our role within our faith, and that our level of commitment to God is what unlocks maturity within our faith. Now, with that said, other variables play into the growth and maturity of our spiritual lives, but without commitment, we will never see it.

God’s Will, Not Mine

Next, I want to share a verse that completely transformed my understanding of the topic of commitment. When I was in high school, I read this verse, and it wrecked me (in a good way). In Matthew 7:21-23 it says,

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!

Let's break down these verses before we get to the heart of the matter. What stands out to most people is the phrase "Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom.” This means that not everyone who believes in God will be saved or will enter the kingdom of heaven. You might ask, well, how is that? Looking back at a verse we have used several times in the last 22 days, James 2:19, says, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder." Just because someone believes that God exists doesn't mean they "really" know God. Matthew 7:21 targets and reveals a common misconception, that belief in God is everything. When you accept Jesus, you first believe in your heart, and then you confess with your mouth that He is the Son of God and that He arose three days later and beat death. Lastly, to accept Christ in your life, you are acknowledging Him as King of your life, ruler of your desires, will, emotions, actions, and thoughts. It's a surrendering of one's life to God. Mere belief in God is just one aspect of real faith. You are handing over your life to God because you know that what He can do in your life far outweighs anything you can do within your own strength.

In the second half of verse 21, it says "But only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." The part to pay attention to is the "will of my Father". Only God knows what His will is, meaning, what He desires to accomplish for His glory. No human can break down the depth or understanding of how exactly that will play out. So to accomplish the will of the Father requires that we know the Father, intimately. This is why on the diagram that you see every day you find "Relationship" at the top, because a relationship is really that important. That is also why we have spent the bulk of our time together understanding our relationship with God. God's will for your life, individually, will look different from your friend, family member, or pastor. We cannot inherit the will of God from others, nor borrow from others' experiences to understand His will. There are no patterns or shortcuts. The Father's will for us is developed solely through a relationship over a lifetime with Him. As you mature, stay close to Him in your relationship, and be obedient to what He calls you to, and I can assure you that you will not miss His will for your life.
 
In verse 22 it shows these amazing "works" being done, like casting out demons, miracles, and prophesying. At first glance, it looks like these people are spiritual leaders because of what they are doing in the name of Jesus, but verse 23 clears that up quickly. It says, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers." You might be asking yourself how they can be doing those types of works, and Jesus says He never knew them. Again, please remember that we talked about faith and actions on Day 3. The idea of "doing the work of ministry" or being a good person doesn't save us; it is what Christ has done for us. The interpretation of this passage shows us that there seems to be an underlying motive behind the individuals doing these works. They were doing things in the name of Jesus, to have influence and elevate their importance, and build up their ministry on earth. The reason they were able to do signs and wonders is because God's word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11). Behind the scenes, God knew their heart. They were far from Him, only seeming to be good spiritual leaders on the outside, but evil within their intentions and desires to glorify themselves. God is more concerned with what is going on within us. Our motives matter and hold the highest importance. (Matthew 15:8)

God’s Will Is Not A Destination

Lastly, I think some view God's will as a destination or title, meaning once they marry that person, or get that specific role, they are finally in God's will. Your profession and relationship status is simply one aspect of God's will, being worked out, in your life in real time. God's will is not a destination nor a title. Rather, I would like to think of God's will as a journey. Eugene Peterson has a book titled "Long Obedience in the Same Direction." and honestly, that title alone, speaks to how one should pursue the will of God in his or her life. The way to understand God's will is a journey of consistent and faithful obedience, trusting, and being in a relationship with God throughout your life. It's simple to understand, yet very difficult to accomplish.
 
Please don't misunderstand, there will be tough seasons in your life, or moments you mess up and miss it, or you find yourself unfaithful to God. I don't want you to feel like you have to "earn" heaven; that is simply not true. Jesus has already done the work on your behalf. Again, what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7 was calling out to those with false motives, using God's name to benefit themselves. There were a lot of religious leaders misguiding people because they didn't "really" know God.

To wrap this section up, we need to think of it like this. Just by hanging out with friends or family, we do get influenced by them. We start to like what they like, talk as they talk, and do as they do. In the same way, true salvation turns us to God and within that personal commitment, we get to know Him. The more we know Him, we will see a change in our desires, actions, and lives. We will become more like Jesus (1 John 2:4-6) and our lives will align with His will.

VERSE OF THE DAY

Matthew 7:21-23

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!

Today's Questions

Additional Resources

Book - Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will
- Kevin DeYoung : Click Here