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Sunday, May 22, 2016

God Is Not Hiding His Will For You From You

This is the manuscript of the sermon I delivered at the Church of Divine Guidance, Los Angeles, CA on May 22, 2016, on learning how to seek God's will for you.

Have you ever wondered what God’s will was for you?   When we pray we often, in our prayer say something like  “Your will be done Lord”,  Jesus included that in the model prayer He gave His disciples.  We often pray that prayer, together, in our services here.   
Matthew 6:9-10 (NKJV)9  In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.10  Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
I would often wonder what God’s will was and would ask Him, and still do, whenever I needed to make an important decision that could affect my life and the lives of my wife and children.  It may have been a decision to change jobs, or to relocate, or to buy a home, or some major purchase.  I wanted to make the right decision and I knew that if that decision was in the will of God for me it would turn out for good but if that decision was not in the will of God it could mean disaster…..and some of my decisions  were disasters.
I know that some of you have the same question because you say things like I’m waiting on God to show or tell me what I should do; or you would ask, “How can I know God’s will for me?”; where do I find it; how do I get Him to tell me?
Well what I want to to tell you today that God is not hiding His will for you from you.
First of all, if you are looking for God to help you decide who you should  marry or what kind of car to buy or what to wear to work, school or church then you are probably  not going to get an answer.   God has given us freewill and along with it the ability to think and make decisions.  
2 Peter 1:3 says  His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.
People who always feel the need to hear from God on every decision often live their lives in captivity to doubt and to circumstances, or they just don’t do anything.   That’s the old “faith without works” thing.
When a lot of Christians, many of us included, say they want God’s Will, we may actually want God to confirm what we want to do.  We want God to do our will!  We agree with God on what needs to happen, but we rarely ask how He wants to use us. “Many people trust God only as far as He validates their own plans and dreams.”
One of the scriptures we like to use is
Psalm 37:4-5 (NKJV)4  Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.5  Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.
Let’s say that you see something that you want; a car, a house, winning the lottery, a specific person as a husband or wife.  Well you could take this scripture couldn’t you and speak it, pray it saying your word the Bible says…… and put that thing in it.  
We forget what Jesus said;
Matthew 6:33 (HCSB)33  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
That is delighting in the Lord.
Romans 12:2 says.
Romans 12:2 (NKJV)  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God
The Apostle Paul wouldn’t have said that unless you can know what that acceptable and perfect will is.  What’s His will, His plan for you?  How does He reveal it to you?
Ask These Two Questions
When trying to figure out if we really really want to know God’s will or wonder if we are operating in God’s will or trying to make things happen ourselves and trying to get God to go along, ask Him these two questions.
  1. God, am I trying to do my will or Your will?
  2. God, am I trying to do things under my own power or Your power?
There are four possible responses for these questions;
1.      My will and My own power: Symptoms: alienation, loneliness, butting your head into wall after wall,
2.      My will under God's power: Symptoms: frustration, superstition, anxiety— God won't be manipulated this way, even though many try–including a high percentage of Christians!  This is a danger of those with the gift of faith.  They sometimes  think if they have enough  faith God will do whatever it is that they ask…….won’t happen.
3.      God's will but under my power: Symptoms: burnout, putting God or others on my timeline, overplaying my role, messiah-complex (  messiah complex is a state of mind in which an individual holds a belief that he or she is, or is destined to become the one who saves the day….sort of like the Mighty Mouse song “here I come to save the day”) being judgmental toward others.
4.      God's will under God's power: Symptoms: peace, sense of safety, perspective, poise, energy at the perfect time, just when you need it.
Where do you start in finding God’s will for you?
The place to start is to first realize that God has a great plan for your life.   

Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
He had this plan in mind before you were even born.
Realize that you were created by God, in His image, for a purpose.  Just as God set apart
Isaiah 49:1 (NKJV) 1  "Listen, O coastlands, to Me, And take heed, you peoples from afar! The LORD has called Me from the womb; From the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name.
Jeremiah 1:5 (NKJV) 5  "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations."
and Paul
Galatians 1:15 (NKJV) 15  But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace,
He also has a specific plan for your life.  You can say as David did;
Psalm 139:15-16 (HCSB) 15  My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. 16  Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all ⌊my⌋ days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.
God had all of your days written out before you were born. You aren’t a mistake going somewhere to happen. You haven’t been placed on this earth by chance. Where and when you were born, the parents God gave you, your personality, and everything else about you was orchestrated by God for a specific purpose.  One word of caution though, since we have free will, you can’t assume that God’s will is automatically going to come to pass in your life.   
I know that sounds sacrilegious but, God’s will for every person doesn’t always come to pass.   Here’s an example;
2 Peter 3:9 (HCSB) The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.
God wants everyone to come to repentance and be saved, but not everybody does or will. God also wants everyone to be healthy, but people, even Christians are still sick. God wants everyone to find and walk in the purpose He has for them, but everybody won’t.   That’s not God’s fault.   He has given us freewill so we can, and often do, make decisions  that are outside God’s will for us.  When we do the consequences can be severe.  The most serious of those decisions  is the one to not repent and be saved.  It’s the same with other decisions outside God’s will for us although the circumstances are not as severe but many can last a lifetime.  I’ve made some of those bad decisions and I’m suffering the consequences to this day some of them are going  to last until I go to be with the Lord if He doesn’t come back first.  
God has a specific plan for you but you’re responsible for discovering and then following it.
Once you realize that you are the one responsible for discovering God’s will, the next step is to start seeking it. God’s not hiding His will from you. But you’re going to have to do some seeking to find it.

There are three Primary types of God's Will:
1. Revealed Will
The revealed Will of God is what He has made known to us through His Word, the Bible.  That’s why it’s so important that you read, study, and know what’s in the Bible.  Some people  call the Bible God’s instruction, or user's manual for mankind.  
When we study, not just read, we will know his revealed will. God has clearly revealed to us His decrees, commands, calls, to be saved, sanctified, filled with the Spirit, and to obey His precepts.  A few examples are;
Exodus 20:1-26 (Ten Commandments)

Ephesians 5:15-21 (NKJV)15  See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,
16  redeeming the time, because the days are evil.17  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.18  And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,19  speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,20  giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,21  submitting to one another in the fear of God.  
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 (NKJV)3  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;4  that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,5  not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;6  that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.7  For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.8  Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.   

1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 (NKJV)12  And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you,13  and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves.14  Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.15  See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.16  Rejoice always,17  pray without ceasing,18  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.19  Do not quench the Spirit.20  Do not despise prophecies.21  Test all things; hold fast what is good.22  Abstain from every form of evil.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NKJV)1  Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,2  for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.3  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  

2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV)9  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

These things are crystal clear.

2. Determined Will
This refers to God’s sovereignty and control. God's "determined will includes His plans for the world. As the sovereign ruler, He is in total control- no government rises to power and no physical ailment occurs unless He allows it. He is determined to carry out the plan that He developed long before creation.

Romans 13:1-2 (HCSB)1  Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God.2  So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves.  

Proverbs 21:1 (HCSB)1  A king’s heart is like streams of water in the LORD’s hand: He directs it wherever He chooses.

Isaiah 46:10 (NKJV)10  Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,'

Romans 8:27-30 (NKJV)27  Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.28  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.29  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.30  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Ephesians 1:3-12 (NKJV)3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,4  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,5  having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,6  to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.7  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace8  which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,9  having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,10  that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth--in Him.11  In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,12  that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
We know very little of His "determined will" because He has not revealed it to man. We can anticipate those things he has revealed like Christ's return and judgment.

Acts 1:9-11 (NKJV)9  Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.10  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,11  who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

2 Corinthians 5:10 (NKJV)10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Hebrews 9:27-28 (NKJV)27  And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,28  so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Much of what we do know about God’s determined will comes from our study of the Bible and our experiences.   These things have been determined and will happen nothing can change them.  

3. His Specific Will for Each Believer
When we know God’s revealed Will and respect His determined Will, then we can start to discover His specific will for us.  God reveals Himself in many different ways using His Word, other people or circumstances and  the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t just happen.  It does take practice and some discernment.
How Do We Find God's Specific Will?

The following are excerpts from a resource written by Charles R. Swindoll titled "How Can I Discover God's Will"
1. God leads us through His written Word.
As the psalmist said:
Psalm 119:105 (NKJV) 105  Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
Whenever you see the phrase "This is the will of God" in Scripture, you can count on it: that's God's will. (we read some of those today  1 Thessalonians 5 18  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you) You also know that to disobey is to reject His Word. Other clear indications of His leading are the precepts and principles in Scripture.
Precepts are clearly marked statements, such as "Abstain from sexual immorality." That's like saying, "Speed Limit 35." What is speeding? Anything over 35 miles an hour. That's a precept.
You will never, ever go wrong in consulting Scripture. Just be sure you pay close attention to the context. Don't use the "open-window method," letting the wind blow across the pages of your Bible and then closing your eyes and pointing to a verse and saying, "This is God's leading on that." If you do that, you could end up with "Judas went away and hanged himself" as your verse for the day! Don't go there.
2.  God leads us through the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Philippians 2:12-13 (NKJV) 12  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13  for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV) 9  A man's heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.
You should always make plans, in fact Jesus tells us to do that;

Luke 14:28-30 (NKJV)28  For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it--29  lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,30  saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'

So make plans but stay open. By doing so, you may well sense inner promptings from the Holy Spirit steering you.

Isaiah 30:21 (NKJV)21  Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.
That inner prompting is crucial, because much of the time we just can't figure it out.
When all's said and done, you'll say, "Honestly, I didn't figure this thing out. It must have been God." The longer I live the Christian life, the less I know about why He leads as He does. But I am absolutely confident that He leads.
3. God leads us through the counsel of wise, qualified, trustworthy people.
This does not mean some guru in Tibet or a serious-looking stranger at the bus stop. This refers to an individual who has proven himself or herself wise and trustworthy and, therefore, qualified to counsel on a given matter. Usually, such individuals are older and more mature than we are. Furthermore, they have nothing to gain or lose. This also means that they are often not in our immediate family. (Immediate family members usually don't want us to do something that will take us away from them or cause us or them discomfort or worry.)

Proverbs 11:14 (NKJV)14  Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

Proverbs 12:15 (NKJV)15  The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.

4. God leads us into His will by giving us an inner assurance of peace.
Colossians 3:15 (NKJV) 15  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
God's inner assurance of peace will act as an umpire in your heart.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)6  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The will of God for our lives is not some high-sounding theory; it is reality. We have looked at some of the ways God leads us into His will. Now comes the bottom line: we have to live out His will in the real world.
Doing God's will demands a decision. And that decision requires faith and action. You can't see the end, so you have to trust Him in faith and then step out. You have to act. Faith and obedience are like twins; they go together.
Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

The Will of God has more to do with controlling our hearts and desires than what we do in our planning and ideas.  It comes down to our willingness and attitude that we must be a servant of Christ. It is to let Christ, through His Word and Spirit, mold and shape us to His Glory and purpose, and remain in this relationship! We will know the Will of God more intimately as He reveals it, helping us to learn and grow. As we grow close in our experience with Him, His Will unfolds in His perfect timing!

What if you miss God's will?
Making a poor decision doesn't mean we're forever out of God's will. That's part of the beauty of Scripture: It has story after story of people who make bad decisions, but God still uses them mightily. Just look at Abraham and David.

Genesis 12:10-13 (NKJV)10  Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land.11  And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, "Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance.12  Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, 'This is his wife'; and they will kill me, but they will let you live.13  Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you."

Bad decision.  God had told Abraham earlier in the chapter to one place but there was a famine so he took it upon himself to go to Egypt.  Then he lied.  He did other things to like listening to his wife and sleeping with her servant so that he could have a son and help God out by having an heir through which God’s promise for a heir could happen.  

We all know about David’s affair with Bathsheba and the problems that caused.  

They both did some things that were clearly wrong, but God worked through them to accomplish great things. God can use all of our decisions, whether they're right, wrong, or neutral.  Now there are consequences for all of our actions and that includes the times that we miss God’s will.  Abraham’s actions are still seen in what’s going on the the Middle East between the Jews and Arabs.  David’s first son with Bathsheba died, his family was a mess he had son that killed his brother and later rebelled against his father, David.  

The great thing though is that your story doesn’t end with the consequences.  They may still be there but the story doesn’t end.    Go to 1 Samuel 12:16-22

1 Samuel 12:16-22 (NKJV)16  "Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes:17  Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves."18  So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.19  And all the people said to Samuel, "Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves."20  Then Samuel said to the people, "Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.21  And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing.22  For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name's sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people.  

It was God’s will that His people, Israel, look only to Him for guidance and direction, but they wanted to be like the nations around them and have a king.  That was missing God’s will for them.  Then Samuel asked God to show them some of the consequences of their decision.     He sent thunder and rain and the people became very afraid, in fact they thought they were all going to die.  Here’s the advice that the bible gave them and gives us when we miss God’s will.  

Don’t be Afraid

1 Samuel 12:20 (NKJV)20  Then Samuel said to the people, "Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.

You messed up, the consequences are real. But it’s not over. Trust in God. To live in fear is to deny daily the love and mercy of God.

1 John 4:8-9 (NKJV)8  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.9  In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

Worship the Lord With All Your Heart

Can you love God through your failures? That’s really all he wants. He knows that obedience comes from genuine love. Just keep worshipping! Mistakes and all.

Psalm 116:1-5 (NKJV)1  I love the LORD, because He has heard My voice and my supplications.2  Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.3  The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow.4  Then I called upon the name of the LORD: "O LORD, I implore You, deliver my soul!"5  Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful.


1 Samuel 12:21 (NKJV)21  And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing.

Turn around and turn away from whatever it was that brought you to this place. Don’t go back to the choice, but also don’t go back to the “guilt of the choice”. Move forward physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

The Lord Will Not Abandon You…You’re Special

1 Samuel 12:22 (NKJV)22  For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name's sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NKJV)11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.12  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.13  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Romans 8:28 (NKJV)28  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

You are not powerful enough to really mess up God’s will for you.  

He is able to incorporate our obedience and disobedience into His purposes, and re-mold things accordingly.

So is it possible to miss out on God's will for your life?  Yes.  But if you are in that place, you are only one act of confession and repentance away from being re-aligned with God's will.

If you have never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior then God's will for you is that you do that so that then you can know the plans that He has for your life.  Here's all you have to do.  Pray this prayer right now.
“Dear God, I am a sinner and need forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ shed His precious blood and died for my sin. I am willing to turn from sin. I now invite Christ to come into my heart and life as my personal Savior.”
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