Faith Friday: Living in The Will of God

Yes, it’s Easter! But rather than an Easter devotional, this is a practical devotional about doing life with God on a daily basis, because that is what we do when we call Jesus our saviour. Last time we looked at submitting to God’s plans. Today we’re going to delve more specifically into living in the will of God.

Every morning I like to say two things to God. Well, a lot more than that, but these are the two that I make a point of praying:

  1. “Please help me to understand your Word and your voice today.”
  2. “What do you want me to do today?”

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.Isaiah 55:8‭-‬9

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Although I get up at a reasonable hour in the morning, I am not a morning person. Anyone who’s been around me in the morning knows that their chirpy comments are most likely to be met by a grunt or grumble. And questions? The Husband has often been on the receiving end of this phrase: “No morning questions!” It takes me a while to get going. My brain is already listing off all the things I ‘need’ to do for the day and the things I didn’t get done yesterday and wondering what the weather’s going to be like and this collides with procedural memory as I pull curtains, make breakfast, let the cats in, try to wake up the males of the family, try to remember if I had a shower yesterday or not or if we have enough water now so I can have a shower every day again and all the while dragging my body around the house like a sloth with squinty eyes and a dead leg. Then comes breakfast and God. Both are my daily bread, essential to getting me going in the right direction. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Speaking of sloths, how’s this?

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.Romans 12:11

If I don’t start the day with God, I’m in danger of being a sloth all day in the things that really matter. I’m in danger of getting things done that I thought were important, while neglecting the things that God had in store for me, things that were actually worthwhile and weren’t going to leave me feeling burnt out or regretful. It’s not that God is going to stomp on all the things we want to do, but he does want us to do what he wants us to do.

If we fully submit to God, what’s going to happen? Is he going to make us do horrible things? No. Because God is good. And he is love. Hopefully most of us understand that God’s plans for us are not horrible. But sometimes we still get a bit nervous asking God what he wants us to do. Why? There could be a few reasons:

  • Fear – we’re afraid of what God might make us do.
  • Selfishness – we have things that we want to do and we want to do them.
  • Pride – we think we don’t need to ask God what to do.
  • Sin – we’re caught up in something we shouldn’t be doing and we’re avoiding God’s response to it.
  • Circumstance – we’re tired, sick or dealing with a tough life event and we don’t think we’re in a place to handle God ‘telling us to do stuff’.
  • Apathy – we’ll spend time with God later.

So what does God say about all this?

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11

When we feel like God’s going to make us do horrible things or stop us from doing the things that we need to do it’s either our sinful nature, ‘the flesh’, getting in the way or it’s the enemy at his game. Or both. Satan plants those thoughts in our minds. God’s plans are not horrible. They are good. When we’re full of the Holy Spirit we’re fully capable of doing anything God asks of us. He knows what we need to do in any given day and he knows what we don’t need to do as well. We cannot be all things to all people. That’s Jesus’ job. God doesn’t expect us to change the world in one day but he knows each small step he wants us to take in a day, that, when pieced together over many days and years, along with those of our fellow Christians, will change the world to bring him glory.

So, how do we know what God’s will is for us each day? Let’s keep reading Jeremiah 29.

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:12-13

1 ) We call upon him.

I think of this as being in-the-moment throughout the day. When we call out:

  • “Thank you Lord for…”
  • “God help me with…”
  • “God, what do you want me to do here?”
  • “Holy Spirit, what should I say to this person?”

This is when we’re in the middle of doing things and something comes up that requires us to give thanks, to ask for help, to ask for wisdom. We can call out to God anywhere, anytime. This is walking with God during the day. To “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) doesn’t mean we have to sit and pray all day long, it means we talk to God throughout the day, whatever we’re doing.

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.Psalms 16:8

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:2

2) We come and pray to him.

We stop what we’re doing and come to God. This one can be difficult because there are so many distractions, so many things to do. We have to use self-discipline to put on hold what we want to do for a little while, even if it means getting up earlier in the morning. Don’t buy into the excuses about why you’re too busy for devotional time with God. David managed to spend time with God when he was on the run from King Saul out in the wilderness. Most of us are fortunate to not have someone hunting us down with the intention of killing us. If you want Jesus to be in charge of your life, make the steps to put him in charge. If there was ever a time to be stubborn it is this: stubbornly defend your quiet time with God. Make space for quiet time with him. Get rid of distractions. Teach your children that this is your special time with God. God will hear us as we talk to him. Then it’s our job to listen.

We ask him, “What do you want me to do today?”

Sometimes, he will answer immediately, with a word that comes into our mind. Examples I have had are:

  • “Rest.” — Ooh, that’s a hard one for me.
  • “Spend time with your son.” — Ok, I have to set aside some of my task pile to spend quality time with my child.
  • “Clean.” — What?! But surely there must be more important things to do than the housecleaning that I know I need to do but am trying to avoid…”
  • “Talk to ‘this’ person”.

It is often surprising what God will say, but boy, is he smarter than we are. Sometimes we need to wait for longer and just be still with God. And sometimes we won’t hear much, until later. Like when God brings someone from a cult to your door and you know you have to actually speak to them about Jesus instead of politely making them go away. And then you have to call upon the Holy Spirit to tell you what to say because you don’t know the right words to say but you know he knows what he wants you to say.

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.Proverbs 16:1

But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God…Psalms 73:16-17

3) We seek him.

We looked at seeking in the last devotional, but here is a little bit more.

Praise God and thank him.

Ask God for his direction.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.Psalms 25:4‭-‬5

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord! I have fled to you for refuge. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!Psalms 143:8‭-‬10

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!Psalms 90:17

Read the Bible, the Word of God.

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord , God of hosts.Jeremiah 15:16

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So what is the outcome of doing these three things – calling upon, coming to and seeking God?

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:12-13

  • He will hear us.
  • We will find him.

When we start each day focused on God’s plans before our own, he will listen to us. It’s not just a one-way thing, it’s a relationship in which we and God talk to each other. We will find his will for us – maybe some of it immediately, some of it a bit later and still more much, much later. Over time we start to see some of the beautiful patterns that God weaves in and out through our lives and the lives of people who we’ve encountered or done life with. Because in the end, it’s not just about you. Yes, God loves you, but he also loves every single person in the world. As one of my church leaders likes to say, there are people waiting on the other side of our obedience.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.Colossians 1:9‭-‬12

Questions

  • What are the biggest distractions to you spending time with God?
  • How can you overcome those distractions?
  • Which of these reasons for avoiding asking God what he wants you to do hits a button with you?
    • Fear
    • Selfishness
    • Pride
    • Sin
    • Circumstance
    • Apathy
  • Have a chat to God about these things and ask for forgiveness if you need to.

 

All Bible verses are from the ESV (English Standard Version), 2016.


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