Peninsula Community Church
October 27, 2013
Worship – Walking in the Will of God
Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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.
As we look at this passage this morning, we see that as we live as living sacrifices and as we are being transformed by the renewing of our minds, our ability to understand God’s will is increased. While this may be one of the greatest challenges, understanding God’s will is possible. It is my belief that this portion of the text is often overlooked or is given a precursory review because of the grandeur of the preceding verses but this later portion is just as a critical as the previous verses.
Would you note a couple of things about this passage this morning? Notice, if you will, what Paul says here. Notice that God’s will is defined as what is good, what is acceptable, and what is perfect. In other words God’s will is good. It does not mean that it will be easy but it will be good. We will see more of this later in this study.
Notice that he infers that we can discern the will of God. Notice the word “prove” or “test” that he uses here. It is a word that means to test or prove to determine reliability or truth. The fact is one way to begin to discern God’s will is to test what God’s will is. Through testing we confirm and understand God’s will and we can understand what it is not. While Paul does not give us a direct command, we do understand that we can learn to live in God’s will.
We must develop our ability to discern God’s will. Why is this so? We are not called to be living sacrifices just to put a check in that box of our life accomplishments. We are not called to be transformed by the renewing of the mind just so we feel good about ourselves. All this occurs so that we will be able to recognize that we have a purpose and that there is a plan for our lives. That is God’s will.
To test the will of God we lay what we are sensing against the word of God to be assured that what we are being called to do would counter what the word says. Second, we receive counsel from those who are knowledgeable in the area where we are being called. Third, we look to see what God is doing and join him in that effort. This is critical because too often we try to manipulate God’s will for our benefit but God’s will always has our best interest in mind.
The will of God for us can be simply defined as the purpose God has intended for us. This is a simplistic thought but it is one that we so often miss. A great part of God’s will is simply understanding the purpose God has for you. The problem with too many people today is that they lack purpose. They lack a vision for their lives. They fail to possess a forward thinking mentality as they are trapped by the past or held captive by their present circumstances. Their anthem is “there is no hope!” “This is just the way it is!” “Nothing will change!” These are the words of a defeated believer and a believer who does not understand their purpose. These are the words of one that has given up and has lost hope. But that is not God’s plan.
Let me make some observations on this subject. First, God’s will is good. We may not always understand it or even like it in the moment, but it is always good, perfect, and acceptable. The problem too often is that we complicate God’s will. We are afraid that we will be called to some forsaken place where no other human would dare to go. This is not to deny that this will absolutely not happen but that is usually not the case.
The fact is too often we are so busy concentrating on what is yet to come in terms of God’s will that we miss what he is doing in the moment. It is like the old saying that “we can’t see the forest because of the trees.” We tend to believe that God’s will is out there. We believe that it is a destination rather than a lifestyle. I am convinced that if we were to enjoy the blessing of God in the moment and if we were to allow the reformation process to continue on a daily basis that we will be positioned to understand His will even more. In fact, the travail over His will is diminished when we live in the moment and are being transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Too often, we have the understanding of the will of God too hard and too cumbersome. We must understand that God’s will is to be enjoyed and not endured. It is a good, acceptable, and perfect will. When we are being transformed and when we present our bodies as living sacrifices, we will be better equipped to know and understand his will. To a large part this is a result of what we saw last week in Colossians 3:10 and Ephesians 4:24. When we are being transformed we will have a greater knowledge of God. This knowledge will be more based on a relational model rather than a intellectual model. While both is important, the relationship is most important. When we understand God’s will we will know and understand that what I do in this moment is God’s will. If I am faithful now and I am in God’s will then I will be in God’s will tomorrow.
Second, we must discern what we are passionate about. One of the things that I have found about the will of God is that God’s will and my passion are often connected. God has deposited in each of us a passion. Quite often these passions are manifested through the gifts and abilities we were given at birth.
We must note here that there are time where we will be moved by someone or something but that does not mean we are to join the ministry. The problem here is that we will continue to be tossed and move at every new thing that comes along. Let me illustrate this way. I have a compassion for the work that Renee Bach is doing in Uganda. I am so excited to see the results of her faith and her obedience. But that compassion does not lead me to join her in ministry because while I have compassion I do not have a passion to serve in her ministry. There have been times where I have seen people who are reactive emotionally and join ministries when they are moved by compassion but I need more that compassion I need passion to serve God. Too often we are moved by emotion rather than a correct understanding of what God’s will is for them. When the emotion is gone, so is the passion and they now feel trapped in positions they never were to be in to begin with.
Third, there are elements to God’s will that are not negotiable. Salvation is not a negotiable. He wants us all to be saved. He wants us all to live a holy life. He wants us all to be sanctified. He wants us all to understanding His will for us. He wants us all to fulfill His purpose and His plan for our life. These are not debatable. Where we run into problems however is when the decision involves; where do I work? Where do I go to school? Who do I marry? Where do I go to dinner? These are the negotiable elements of God’s will. These are the items that do not need to be discussed or debated.
When it comes to the negotiable elements of God’s will, we must understand that most often it is a matter of common sense. It is a matter of having good information, good counsel, and a sense of what God wants. Sometimes we forget that God has created us with the ability to make choices and those choices should be made with a common sense approach.
Fourth, discerning God’s will is a process where there seems to be failure or things do not go the way we think they should. But when we are in God’s will we can trust Him, His word, and His plan. Look at the disciples who Were commanded to go into their boat to the other side of the lake.
Mark 6:45-52 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Mark 4:35-41 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Notice that they were commanded to go to the other side. God would not have commanded them to go there if he were not going to keep them. This was an opportunity for Christ to teach the disciples to obey God regardless of the circumstances they face. Too often we are afraid to to step out and do anything because we do not know what the future holds. Too often we are afraid of failure. Too often we are afraid that we have problems. The truth is we do not know what the future holds but that does not stop us from proceeding with what god calls us to do. The truth is we may fail but that does not mean that we are a failure nor does it mean that we are outside God’s will. The truth is even in the middle of being obedient to God’s will we will have trouble and problems.