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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

God's Will 4 Me?

Have you ever wondered what God's will for you might be? I have. In fact I've spent a great deal of time throughout my life wondering, yearning to know God's will for me. It always seemed like some eternal secret that I was desperate to get access to. I think it is like that for many people too.

I have friends and acquaintances who will tell me they have no clue what God wants them to do. They'll claim that He doesn't speak to them, and explain that they feel as if they are waiting patiently --- and it is God who stubbornly refuses to reveal His will for them to them.

Now I don't judge those people; I've spent most of my life being one of them. But no more. It finally dawned on me (and I'm sure the Holy Spirit was one with the "dawn") that God has generously revealed His will for me in full detail. The cool thing is, He's done it for you too!

We are told to read our Bibles. We're often told to study them to know God and His will for our lives. I suspect that most of us hear that as some sort of rhetoric, and don't fully have that expectation of Scripture. But if we sit down and really read the Bible, we can find that God has revealed His will for us in great detail.

Consider, for example, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). "Have no other gods before me. Don't worship anything else. don't misuse the name of the Lord. Keep the Sabbath. Honor your parents. Don't murder. Don't commit adultery (even in your mind, as Jesus pointed out). Don't steal. Don't testify falsely (lie). Don't covet." You see, these are pretty clear and straightforward. They are God's will for your life! Moreover, Jesus backed up every single one of the Ten Commandments in Matthew, Mark and Luke. There can be no question what God's will for my life is.

But it certainly doesn't start there. In Genesis, we are told God's will for our lives. "Be fruitful and multiply. Rule over the earth and the animals (Genesis 1:28). It is not good for man (or woman) to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Separate from your birth family and become one with your spouse (Genesis 2:24)." To be clear, from the very beginning God was revealing His will for your life in intricate detail!

It certainly doesn't end in the Old Testament either. All the way through New Testament, God has been busy giving us detailed instructions about how to live our lives. Consider Romans 12. "Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. Don't conform to the patterns of this world (i.e., don't belong to your culture). Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (i.e., be of a new mind, shaped by God). Don't think of yourself more highly than you ought. Think of yourself with sober judgment according to the measure of faith God has given you. Serve in your gifts, completely. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony (peace) with each other. Do not be proud. Be willing to associate with people of lower social status than yourself. Do not be conceited. Don't repay evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right, in a way that everyone can see that you did. Live at peace with everyone, as far as it depends on you. Do not take revenge, but leave room for God's wrath. Do not be overcome (overwhelmed) by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Good heavens! Did you know that God had such explicit instructions for you? Did you know that God wanted to provide you with such direction for your life? And let's be honest here - this reads like a checklist for the day. I can list these things out, tape them to my bathroom mirror and check it every morning to see what my game plan for the day needs to be. God is that simple. Notice that He doesn't make broad, sweeping generalizations. These are specific instructions.

Take James 5:16. (No, really, take it!) "Confess your sins to each other, and pray for each other so that you may be healed (of your sinful ways)." It's clear what we're to do - confess our sins to another piece of flesh. Elsewhere the Bible tells us to confess our sins to God as well, so this is the second thing we're to do with our sin. What sin? All of it! Imagine that, God has even given us explicit instructions on what to do with our sin! It might seem a little presumptuous of God - to think that His people would have any sin. But then again, God probably knows us better than we think!

Are you seeing the point? We really have no excuse when it comes to knowing God's will for my life. We like to think that God has called each of us to nearly immortal greatness. We want His will for us to be revealed in some miraculous way (like maybe a burning, talking bush). We'd like to think God created us to be a great doctor, teacher, pastor, mother, etc. But folks, those are the things we do in the longer term scheme of life.

God may indeed call you to become a great teacher or preacher, or a great doctor or nurse. But He will first call you to get the little things done right on a day-to-day basis. Don't miss that point. And let's face it, if we aren't reading our Bible regularly and taking note of the detailed instructions God is providing there - then our ignorance about God's will for our life is self inflicted. Don't miss that point either!

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