At any Christian bookstore one of the most sought out sections has to do with knowing God’s will. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. “ (1 Thess. 5:16-18) Is that it? All of it? Certainly desiring God’s will is a good thing. But isn’t it broader than what’s quoted above? Isn’t there greater detail? More specifics? Perhaps less mystery?
We are encouraged by God’s word through Jeremiah 29:11 saying “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Though we understand that God then was speaking to “his people,” the nation of Israel, in Old Covenant verses, it would be hard to imagine his redemptive plan, his character or his will to be restricted by time or culture from what he has preserved for us through the completed work of scripture. I believe the key to discerning his will is captured by what shortly follows Jeremiah 29:11 . . . that is verse 13 saying “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Emphasis mine)
Allow me to prime our spiritual “pumps” with a few scriptures to prepare us to dig into this weighty and essential subject of knowing and appropriating God’s will. (I already know one “post” will not suffice to treat this subject fairly. There will be more to follow.) For this, we need wisdom as we seek wisdom. Immediately I am reminded of what is said as an offer and warning in James 1:5-8. 5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Do you get that? God says when we need wisdom we are to come and get itand he will gladly give his wisdom to us generously and kindheartedly. He doesn’t think “here comes John or Jane again, such dummies. I have tried to instruct them on this before and here they are, back again with the same need. Will they ever learn?” He doesn’t despise us in our ignorance and weakness, he welcomes us! How patient and unlike us many times when our children don’t ‘get it’.”
But verse 6 says when we come and ask, we are NOT to doubt that we will receive, but to ask in faith, trusting that God will respond. What does that “feel” like you ask? I don’t know. “We are to live (walk) by faith, not by feeling (sight).” (2 Cor. 5:7) We ask in faith, suppressing any doubt, and step away to take appropriate action and make the right steps knowing that God has promised to guide our way, our judgment, our actions and our words. Second guessing will not do. We must believe we received what we came for, or “that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” (James 5:7) That’s a strong caution!
We don’t have to understand how God works in response to our request for guidance. This is a trust issue. In faith, we may just have to ask, trust, grit our teeth and believe we have what we asked for, choosing to believe God’s word is true rather than our senses or doubts the enemy rifles at us. Can we feel a little bit silly responding in trust? A little naïve? Yep! So what! It happens to the best of us. Choose faith over doubt. This honors God and paves the way for other “trust victories” we will need. File away as a default position this very important passage in Proverbs 3:5-6: (Emphasis mine) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t rely on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will direct your paths.” Think About It. More next week.