Tag Archives: Will of God

A Joyful Heart and the Will of God

Peninsula Community Church

A Joyful Heart and the Will of God

November 19, 2017

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

For those who are passionate followers of Christ, one of the issues that concerns us is knowing  God’s will. What is His will for me personally? What does He want me to do? Here in this passage, Paul presents an argument for one aspect for understanding God’s will. Specifically, this passage focuses on three primary aspects of our attitude and mindset toward life and the issues we encounter. We see here that he commands us to rejoice always. We must pray continually. We must give thanks in every circumstance. In so doing, we fulfill the will of God. Today and next week, we will review these three principles to understand how they apply to our life.

For today, let us look at the command to rejoice always. Rejoice! Always! When you hear that what is your initial response? If you are like me, you might ask a few questions. First, Paul, do you really mean that? Do you know what I am going through? Do you know what I have experienced? Paul, if you knew all that I am going through, you would understand that I cannot rejoice with all that is going on in my life right now. You must know that my situation is different! But that is the paradox of this command. Rejoice always! Rejoice when things are going great. Rejoice when things are turned upside down. Rejoice when things are normal. Rejoice and keep on rejoicing. In our natural self, this seems impossible and may seem like a contradiction but through Christ we are empowered to rejoice in every circumstance.

Because of Paul’s command to rejoice always, you might look at Paul with a bit of disdain. You might think that he is disconnected from reality. But listen to Paul’s own words in regard to what he experienced in his ministry. Paul stated Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).

Did you get that? Paul had been beaten five times. He had been beaten with rods three times. He was shipwrecked three times. He faced all kinds of dangers where ever he went. He had experienced hunger and thirst. He had gone without food. He experienced extreme heat and coldness. Every day he carried with him the anxiety of leading the churches he was given. I think we could agree that Paul had suffered his share of difficulties. And yet, this was the same Paul who commanded us to rejoice always. For us, while we may not have experienced anything to this degree, when we do have difficulties, and it can feel like a beating and an attack.

So with all that Paul experienced, how could he rejoice? How could he call us to rejoice? What was his rational for such a command? As you study Paul’s life, you will find that he issued this command because he understood that his joy was a not response to his experience or his circumstance, but was a response to the One whom he served. The fact is, he could rejoice because he knew who he served and all that Christ had accomplished on his behalf. He recognized that his strengthen came from God. The truth is the work of God within us allows us to face difficult times with a heart of rejoicing.

With that in mind let us make a couple of observations about rejoicing. First of all, joy is a matter of the heart. It is based in the truth that I can trust God in every area of my life. Therefore, an attitude of rejoicing is an outcome of trust. When we trust, it is much easier to rejoice in all things. Trust is the confidence that all things will work out for God’s pleasure. That is why Paul could state 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). When we trust God with our life, we will be less likely to complain and to grumble about the issues we encounter. When we trust God, we will be more faithful to His purposes.

Listen to the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 1:8-12. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. It is through this passage that Paul details the reason we can rejoice in Christ.

Paul was convinced, no matter what came his way, he could endure and he could do so with a joyful heart, because he was convinced that God would keep what had been entrusted to him. The word convinced carries the idea having been settled in one’s mind of a truth or an outcome. You see rejoicing is not just a feeling, it is a truth that supports our reaction to life’s difficulties. Paul could rejoice and could encourage others to rejoice because he had settled in his mind that God would come through for him. To understand this, we must look at the meaning of the word in the original Greek. The basis of the word convinced means “to trust” or “to be worthy of trust.” The word also means “reliability” or “certainty.” It is the root of the word “faith” or “to have faith in.” You see when we trust God and we have a certainty that He has our best interest in mind, we will be convinced Christ will complete His work in us.

How do we develop our trust in God? We read the Bible and allow the bible to change our hearts and our outlook on the future. In Scripture, we find so many who we were in deep trouble but each time God made a way for them to escape. We pray. That is why Paul also commanded the church to continuously pray because it is through prayer that we focus our attention upon the one who can help us navigate whatever we are facing. Lastly, we share testimonies with one another because it is through our testimonies that we overcome and therefore that gives us hope. The result is that we have the power to rejoice in every circumstance not as a feeling but as a truth.

Secondly, this is not some sadistic or head in the sand view of God but rather it is seeing our circumstances through the eyes of God. Rejoicing is not just an act of positive thinking nor is it the denial of the truth. Real faith begins at the point of truth and reality. So we do not rejoice just to rejoice but we do so because we are confident of the power of Christ to see us through every circumstance of our life. Too often, we develop a stoic approach to life where we will not allow ourselves to be effected by the issues of life.

This does not not mean that we dance through life proclaiming that I am rejoicing! We do not communicate that I am happy when the world is falling apart around us. That mindset does not help us but in fact most often causes us to complain and gripe rather than rejoice. To deny the issues of life does nothing to move us forward in faith. In fact, it harms us and keeps us from experiencing the healing of God. So this is not a command to negate emotions and refuse to acknowledge those emotions, but rather is it to envelop those negative situations with a mindset of joy that is based in a unswerving trust in God.

Thirdly, Paul realized that it is easier to rejoice when we have an eternal perspective about life. Again, listen to Paul’s words. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Why is an eternal perspective important? It is important because the trials we experience now are limited in their impact when we compare our total existence to eternity and the glory that is to come. It is important because the things we seen and experience are transient. They are in flux and cannot be trusted but God can be trusted in every circumstance. What is a problem today will cease to be a problem tomorrow. The difficulty we face today will be the answered prayers of tomorrow. Th absence of hope will the intervention of the Holy Spirit in days to come.

John Piper had this to say about joy. Our joy is based in the knowledge and acceptance of knowing that our sins are forgiven now and that we can experience the kingdom of God now. That knowledge sustains our ability to strive toward a future entrance into His eternal kingdom. Our joy is a result of not what we experience but what we hope for. It is anchored in a life and a way of existence that has been promised to us.

Fourthly, our joy becomes a testimony to God’s grace in difficult times. In effect, our joy becomes a tool for evangelism and a witness to the power of God. we do not deny the existence of difficulty, but we embrace the power of God to help us endure every difficulty. You see too many Christian’s today want people to believe they do not have any issues. Somehow, they believe that it detracts from who they are. Somehow they believe that it diminishes who God is. But the opposite is true. People are looking to know that the God we serve is real. People want to know that this stuff works. Having a realistic view of God, and the joy that comes from knowing Him, we become witnesses of how to negotiate life to the fullest.

As we close, we must know that joy is not manufactured. It is a result of who we know. It is a result of His work in us that is being worked out through us. In knowing Him, we are strengthen and we are filled with a joy which is an attitude of being convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. That is worth rejoicing.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Walking in the Will of God

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. 

 

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