The Will and the ways

“Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he (Paul) would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.” (Acts 21:14) In other words, it’s like they threw up their hands in–not so much resignation–but release.

“Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down…” (Hebrews 12:12)

Paul had to tell the them that they need not worry about him being brought to Jerusalem to stand trial for his faith. Jesus said as much would happen: “And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.” (Matthew 10:17) Paul stands as the penultimate example of laying down one’s life for God’s purposes. Jesus obviously being the ultimate example: “And it came to pass, when the time was come that He should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51)

Notice the resolve of these two men to carry out the Will of the Lord for their lives. This is one of the many reasons why we pray the Lord’s Prayer. (Matthew 6:10, emphasis mine) “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven.” It really is that simple by the way. Trying to divine God’s will any other way than being led of His Spirit through your natural (not sinful, of course) inclinations, will result in unnecessary frustration and perspiration. Sweat, by the way, is a sign that you’re doing it in your own strength: “they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat.” (Ezekiel 44:18)

Or, “Thou shalt not sweat it”, as my dad would say.

Ephesians 5:17 says “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” Simple enough. Didn’t think I had to be told this, but okay. Stop for a moment and ask yourself if you really understand the will of the Lord. Now there’s a challenge. Oftentimes in church, we hear references to God’s will as being inscrutable and unknowable. Something that maybe we’ll get to glimpse when we reach the hereafter. But Paul says to “understand what the will of the Lord is.” That’s pretty plain. “And the Lord said, shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” (Genesis 18:17) We seem to be skirting the borders of a deep and complex issue here. Where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Do we really want to know God’s will? I can’t tell you the specifics. I can quote scripture and lace topics together. The real struggle comes when you think man, I really wish I knew what God wanted me to do with my life. That is rough. And if you find yourself in a position where you wonder if you are where you’re supposed to be, take heart. No amount of physical relocation is going to get you any closer to God. It’s certainly not God’s will that you shrug off all responsibility and go to the most austere foreign mission field as a means of proving yourself to Him. It’s a heart issue. If you wonder about quitting your job, or breaking up a relationship, and think that wherever it is that you perceive greener grass is going to satisfy the longing you feel where you’re at now, please slow down and relax. And whereas the grass really is greener in Heaven (Heard a preacher say that once, said it was eight times greener. He’d been there…), the grass is probably a sickly brown color anywhere else.

Consider these simple exhortations of Paul from 1 Thessalonians (5:16-18):

5:16 “Rejoice evermore.” Throw up your hands. No, not in resignation and despondency, but in release and worship. Shut yourself in and worship God. He’s due our worship, adulation and love all the time. That’s what’s happening in Heaven as we speak. “In earth as it is in Heaven.”

5:17 “Pray without ceasing.” Our  Life is a prayer. Whether we’re talking to God in our native tongue, or directing our thoughts to Him in whatever wordless manner. Or whether we’re listening silently. It all can be directed up to Him in a state of humility and supplication. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

5:18 (And here’s the kicker) “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” God accepts gratitude in whatever form we give. And it’s in all things. Not for all things. Because not everything’s from Him. With these three things: rejoicing, prayer and gratitude, we’re able to understand and subsequently walk in God’s perfect will. And we’ll be able to say with Jesus, “for I do always those things that please Him.” (John 8:29)

It’s all a matter of remaining connected to God throughout our day.

See, I think that if we’re fretting over the fine details of living in the will of God, then we’ve missed the first thing about “walk[ing] in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). Paul says in Romans that “the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” All activities of the interior. All activities that are resonant with the heart of God. And if we’re in tune with the heart of God, then we’ll be available to be used of Him to fulfill His purpose on this earth.

“Whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8)

“I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. (Psalm 118:17)

“For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” (James 4:15, emphasis mine)

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