This past Sunday I shared on the peace of God. The title of the message was, “How to find God’s will for your life.” Some folks missed it and because we don’t record our messages, I thought I’d share it here. I have been challenged to practice what I preach this week, as a barrage of stressful issues confronted me. This is the basic outline of the message, I hope it blesses and helps you through stressful times as well.
Point #1 – God has a revealed, and unrevealed will.
– His revealed will is plainly understood in scripture. He doesn’t hide it, He gives very plain instruction for us to know His heart and His ways. We don’t need to pray about whether we should follow His revealed will or not, we simply have to do it if we want to be obedient. Some examples of His revealed will include:
a) Holiness. God wants us to be a holy people, not defiled by the world. This includes sexual purity, something that, especially for men, is a regular fight to maintain. Consider this verse in 1 Thes 4:3, “This is the will of God, your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” Pretty clear, revealed to us to follow if we want to be a Holy, set apart people, without which we will not see the Lord (Heb 12:14).
b) Prayer. God wants us to be a people that commune, walk, talk, and abide with Him. He wants us to pray at all times, with different types of prayer, from mediation, quiet surrender, worship, petitioning with passion, with a spiritual mind becoming aware of Him in every place. Consider Eph 6:18, you don’t need to ‘pray about’ whether God desires this and instructs this to be evident in your life, you simply need to obey and make this a reality. God’s revealed will.
c) Faith. God wants His people to be filled with living Faith. Faith that is aimed at, and finds it’s source of hope and trust in Jesus Christ and all that He’s accomplished for us. Without faith it’s impossible to please God. God is moved by believing hearts, yet opposed to those that choose unbelief out of hardness and pride. Many scriptures reveal God’s heart that this is true.
These are just a few examples of God’s revealed will. We are so often concerned about God’s unrevealed will, the ‘gray areas’ in our daily lives, that we can overlook the obvious and more important Revealed things of scripture. We want to know what job to take, when we should do a certain thing, who we should date or marry, what church is the right one for me… these are important questions, but should never be approached as separate or more important in our lives than whether we are fulfilling God’s revealed will for us, today, right now! In fact, I would suggest that it’s impossible to truly walk in God’s unrevealed will or desire for our lives unless we are practicing those things already revealed. These are the things that God cares about, if we don’t, why do we think God will overlook our disobedience and help us figure out the things we care about? The revealed things of God are centered around a real, sincere relationship with the Father, out of which flows an ability to discern and walk in His ways.
What about the Unrevealed will of God. Does it even exist? Does God, right now, desire you to do ‘this’ or ‘that’. Is there a set plan, or has God provided you the freedom to choose your own path? I believe scripture clearly reveals God has planned things, but not all things. Part of the nature of freedom is that we truly are free to choose or reject God’s ways. When the bible speaks of God’s will, what does it mean? I see it categorized into two primary uses: 1) God Pre-Planning Events and 2) God Desiring or Wanting. I’m not going to get into Pre-Determination here, another day! I think however we too often miss the Desire and Want of God. Scripture is filled with God’s desires, what He truly wills or wants and yet has not secured or Pre-Determined.
Consider this verse in 1 Peter 2:4 as God, “who desires all to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Do we believe this occurs, that all hear the Gospel message and believe it? Of course not. Does God still desire it? Yes! We don’t really speak this way in our day. When I want something to take place for example, I don’t say, “I will that I would have a juicy steak today”, but rather, “I really would love a juicy steak today.” The fact is I want a juicy steak, but there are several factors that may prevent me from having it yet it’s still my will.
This is what I believe happens in the heart of God as revealed in scripture, He longs to gather Israel like a mother hen and her chicks, but they are not willing. It’s not that God isn’t willing, but stubborn, unrepentant hearts prevent God’s will from happening by rejecting His will or desire. We shouldn’t consider God’s “will” as always being done, all the time, this thinking is a result of forced systematic theology trying to make sense of the Sovereignty of God and the Freedom of Man. God’s will is not being done every day (His desires), yet those things God wills to happen specifically (His determination) will be accomplished perfectly, without fail. It’s in trying to discern and follow the hidden will or desire of God that I find myself trying to navigate towards, or ‘learn’ most days.
Most likely, this is where where you find yourself often as well. We understand and are, by the grace of God, living out the revealed will of God, yet stuck in situations that aren’t so clear. We cry out for God’s will to be done, for His help to navigate us through complicated (to us) situations. We truly want to please God, we want to make decisions that bring Him joy and glory. We want His desire for our life, or what God would choose for us, because we are confident tin God’s character and He ultimately has our best interest at heart. It’s in these times and trials that we can call upon the help of God and utilize some neat gifts or principles to help us.
The heart of Paul (who didn’t have the New Testament by the way), expresses it this way, “Trying to learn what pleases the Lord.” Eph 5:10. It was Pauls desire to grow in his understanding of what pleases God, beyond what is plainly read in scripture, in practical situations, at all times. He prays this way for the Colosian church, “that you be filled with the knowledge of His will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding..” Paul knew God was real, He cared about guiding and leading His people, to be IN their lives and situations and we needed to grow in our understanding of God’s heart, and that it was possible!
What to do when we don’t understand the Un-Revealed Will (desire) of God:
1- We pray. We seek God to fill our hearts and minds with His will.
2- We get counsel. I’ve not yet met one person who perfectly discerns God’s will in every situation. Those that think they can are proud and foolish. Scripture encourages counsel, there is safety in it, and ‘needing’ the advice of mature brothers or sisters in Christ shows necessary humility. Lone ranger Christians that pray and move without counsel, particularly those closest to them, are impulsive and embrace an unaccountable mindset.
3- The Peace of God. This is an amazing blessing from God that guides, warns, and helps us learn God’s heart so we can follow in it. I am astonished at the amount of scriptures dedicated to the peace of God, please, take some time to look them up below and be blessed by them as I have. If you have sin residing in your heart, the peace of God is a powerful ally in the war against hidden sin. The lack of peace moves us to prayer and humble confession.
In summary, the Peace of God does the following:
– instructs our hearts
– calms the storms of anxiety and stress.
– protects our minds
– gives us sleep and rest
– is an attribute of the Kingdom (righteousness, peace and joy)
– helps us discern the unrevealed will of God (or desire of God).
Scriptures on the Peace of God:
Jesus is the Prince of Peace. His life, death and resurrection was to restore Peace with God. You are no longer an enemy of God, you are His friend because Jesus has secured peace. The enmity between God and men has been resolved in Christ, you today can walk in complete peace with God. He fills us with Peace so that we can be His embassadors of Peace, becoming His peacemakers. He wants us to, as recipeients of this peace to live at peace with all men. To pursue peace, embrace it, and share it.
When we are stuck in stressful situations, filled with fear or anxiety, what do we do? Do we spend countless hours thinking and stewing about? Have we formed our own mechanism or habit to deal with those issues that bombard our heart and mind? Do we find ourselves praying only to be thinking once again about our problem? Living with and in the Peace of God is tough! It’s about continually laying down our burdens (for He cares for us!) and staying in the Peace of God. I am far from perfecting this, but I believe I’m growing. I live more often than I used to with the Peace of God. I wrestle now to stay in it, and refuse to linger in stress or leaning on my own logic within difficult decisions. I believe God has given us this powerful peace in the soul to help us navigate through our lives, it’s a subtle way God has connected with us through His Holy Spirit, yet if we’re not aware of it, it has very little effect.
If you are facing difficult challenges or decisions today, like I am and scripture doesn’t plainly reveal God’s will or desire in that situation, I encourage you to spend time in prayer. Ask God to fill you with His will, bring peace toward the decision you need to make, regardless whether it’s a decision that is personally beneficial to you or not, and obey God in faith. Peace isn’t the absence of problems in your life, but a reality that’s bigger than your temporary problem or challenge, He wants to be your Peace in the storm right now.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Thanks for checking in,
Bruce & Deb
missionaries | rzhyschiv, ukraine