Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Understanding the Will of God

Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, March 4, 2012

Colossians 1:1-14, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.  For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

One of the subjects that we Christians often talk about is the subject of the will of God.  A lot of times those discussions are theological and highly theoretical.  But, then along the road of our lives we come to those forks, those places where we look to the right, to the left, perhaps even straight ahead and even behind us and wonder, ‘which way should I go, God?  Am I going the direction you want me to go?’  At those points in our journey, we realize that what we need, what we want to know and be sure of, is not some lofty theology, and certainly not some ‘black board theory’, but what we’re looking for is the will of God, His way, His plan, His desire for our lives, in plain English, in black and white and in terms that relate to our specific crossroads situation. 

The will of God, though I am called by God to be a shepherd to this flock, to lead you as He leads me, I want you to know right quick that God hasn’t given to me unique and detailed road maps with each one of your names on them.  I’m not here to be your spiritual GPS, giving you turn-by-turn instructions for each minute of your day.  Hope that doesn’t disappoint you or upset you.  But, listen. 

If you’re a Christian, born again, born of God, then, what?  You have received two marvelous gifts that you must never forget, neglect or take for granted.  What are they?  Number one, you have received His Spirit.  You have been given the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, and, as you allow Him to fill you, to direct and control you, guess what?  You’ll have that guidance!  You’ll have that insight. 

But, then you might say, ‘But, how?  How does the Spirit of God go about leading me, guiding me?’  Here’s the ‘roadmap’.  This Book [the Bible], this incredible expression of the Mind, the Plan of the Spirit of God, is how God’s Spirit shows us the way!  Knowing this Book, I mean, really knowing it, not in some sort of ‘close your eyes and pick a spot on the map’ sort of way, but knowing this Book opens up for you and me the otherwise hidden and unknown ways of the Good Shepherd. 

The will of God, when a preacher or Bible teacher tells you that he is going to teach or preach on the topic of the will of God, a lot of times our eyes glaze over - too deep for me - or maybe we even roll our eyes, as if to indicate, ‘Oh, no!  Here we go again!  Another sermon that has absolutely nothing to do with where I am!’  Well, hopefully, God-helping me, this preacher won’t lose you or bore you today.  Instead, my prayer is that God will use me to teach you some principles about God’s will that are good for all time.  Jot them down, store them away up here and in here, and begin living by them this afternoon, and also, that if you are at one of those forks in the road, you find specific and very helpful advice to put to work today, as you decide which way God would have you go. 

The will of God, first of all, let me set before you this question: ‘What’s so important about knowing the will of God?’  Well, perhaps by now the answer is obvious at least, to a certain extent.  But, let me see if we can’t answer that question specifically from what this passage of Scripture has to say to us. 

How many of you know what a ‘value judgment’ is?  What do I mean by the term ‘value judgment’?  A moment ago I set before you the question: ‘What’s so important about knowing the will of God?’  That question implies that the will of God may or may not be all that important, right?  In other words, in answering that question, personally and, yes, Biblically, we make or will make judgments, evaluations decisions related to its value, related to how significant or in-significant is to us, right?  Now, let me ask you this question: how important how significant, how valuable is something that God wants to give to you?

The way some people go about their lives, the way they use time, talents, resources, money, the way they treat people, some people by their actions and even by their words say, ‘John 3:16, “For God so loved that He gave His only begotten Son…” I can take it or leave it!’  Isaiah 40:28-31, “He (God) gives strength to the weary and to Him who lacks might, He gives power…”  The gift of God, His strength applied to my weakness and weariness, I can take it or leave it.  My friends, that’s a ‘value judgment’, ‘I can take it or leave it.’  That’s an expression of how important or unimportant something God gives or wants to give, really is. 

Now, how does all of that relate to the will of God?  Here’s how.  First thing you need to know, first thing you and I need to store away in our minds and hearts about the will of God, is that it is something God gives!  It is something God gives!  Paul’s prayer that begins in Colossians 1:9, His unceasing prayer and fervent desire for the Christians at Colossae was that they be “filled with the knowledge of God’s will…”  Now, here’s something to ponder: who’s going to do the ‘filling’?  Who’s the Source and Supplier for this input of divine insight? 

Beloved, it’s very clear to me from this passage that the first thing that makes the will of God, knowing the will of God, important, precious, valu-able, is that it is HIS will and that He, and He alone gives it!  Do you agree with me when I say it this way: ‘For the Christian, anything yes, I mean, anything that God gives or wants to give us, is important, supremely significant! 

What’s so important about the will of God, about knowing it, about being filled with it, even as Paul prayed that we would?  Put a star out beside this first one, God’s will is important, infinitely important, because it is HIS will, because He gives it and imparts it to His children!  Am I regarding it that way?  Are you? 

Second principle about the will of God that we ought to keep in mind wherever we are on the ‘map’ is this: God’s will, God gives it to His children, as they desire it, as they search for it like rich, rich treasure, God gives it bundled up with and delivered by means of spiritual wisdom and understanding. 

Colossians 1:9, “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.”

‘Okay, there you go again, Preacher.  Losing me with high-sounding 5 syllable words and phrases.  What do you mean, ‘Spiritual wisdom and understanding’?  Well, imagine it this way: a friend sends you a package in the mail.  It’s a gift of a new toy or tool or gadget, but it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.  What’s the first thing that’s going to cross your mind?  ‘I wonder how this thing works?’  Right?  So, what do you do? 

Well, some of us, the more daring among us, the learn by trial and error folks, say, ‘Well, let’s just plug this in, turn it on and SEE what it does or is supposed to do!!’  But, the rest of us, after we’ve opened our surprise and looked it over, what do we go hunting for?  The directions, right?  The instruction sheet, right?  Now think about it this way: God, the Best Friend and Father anyone could ever have, holds in store a gift for you, it’s His will.  And, unlike the other gadget or gizmo ‘gift’, there isn’t an obvious on/off switch, nor an easily discerned ‘power cord’.  Except for one thing: included in the ‘box’ God sent you is one very important additional item.  What is it?  The Instructions, the Owner’s manual, the Directions on how to plug into and power up the will of God in your life!  (The Bible!)  Take, for example, this letter, this portion of Scripture we refer to as Paul’s letter to the Colossians.  Why do you think Paul plumbs the depths of the reality, the truth as to who Jesus really is in chapters one and two of this letter?  And, why do you think he lays out specific responses to Who Jesus really is in chapters three and four?  The simple answer is this: that awesome Gift, the amazing will of God, through this letter, and 65 other letters and gospels and histories, God says, ‘Here is what you need to know to put My will to work, to plug it in and power it up in your life!’  Going back to our road of life analogy, you remember what the psalmist wrote about this Book, don’t you?  “Your Word, the way, the path seems dark and unknown, Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path!”  (Psalm 119:105)

What’s so important about the will of God?  About know it?  About understanding it?  As I said at the beginning, a lot of times, when a preacher or Bible teacher announces this subject for his lesson or sermon, often times people go to sleep or their minds begin to wander.  ‘What does the will of God have to do with MY life?’  Nothing, of course.  I know that that may be your initial response, but listen, before we close I want you to see how very much God’s will DOES relate to your life and how very practical it really is.  Three things, three purposes or results that knowing AND doing the will of God have to do with you, with where you are on life’s journey: Verse 10, number one, the importance of God’s will, the significance of KNOWING what He desires for your life, has everything to do with whether or not your life will be one that pleases God. 

Pleasing God is also one of those eye-glaze-over subjects, isn’t it?  It is, until you come to grips with this one fact: one day you’re going to die.  One day, maybe real soon for some of us, we will take our last breath, and then what?  Then we meet our Maker, right?  But, what then?  Christians, by the grace of God, will by-pass the Great White Throne Judgment of the unsaved as depicted in Revelation chapter 20.  But listen, my friends, Christians will not by-pass the Bema Seat Judgment Paul depicts in 2 Corinthians 5:10.  He says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one of us [who are in Christ] may receive [rewards for or sustain losses because of] the things we’ve done [or failed to do] in the body, whether good or bad.”  Beloved, knowing and doing the will of God, plugging it in and powering it up in our lives, starting today, IS important and here’s why: because one day we will have to give account for what we did with this ‘package’, this ‘gift’ to the One who gave it to us!  God gives us His will, laid out in places like Colossians chapters one through four.  Why?  So that we might please Him!  So that we might stand before Him accepted or acceptable, not rejected or unacceptable!

Number two, how does knowing the will of God relate to your life?  Colossians 1:10 – God gives to His children, to us, this gift, His will, laid out for us in places like this letter of Paul, why?  That our lives might be acceptable, number one, and fruitful, not full of regrets, not marred and marked by emptiness, with nothing to show for at the end of the day, but fruitful! 

And, then number three: what’s so important about knowing and doing God’s will?  Does this ‘gift’, this heaven sent package truly relate to our lives, today?  Yes, it does.  How do I know that?  Once again, verses 19, 11 and 12:  A life that is acceptable, well-pleasing to God, a life that is fruitful, filled with the fruits, the results of righteousness that come by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:11).  And one more, knowing and doing the will of God, this awesome gift of God to us, here’s how we know how valuable it is: Colossians 1:10-12, it results, God intends for His gift to result in a powerful life, a life of His unlimited spiritual strength at work in us, producing in us, patient endurance in and through life’s trials and causing us to be truly thankful to Him for all He’s done for us in Jesus Christ. 

Colossians 1:9-12, “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”

The will of God, may this prayer of the Apostle Paul be our prayer, our aim, our yearning starting today.

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