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Finding or Missing the Will of God
By David A. DePra
Does God have a will and purpose for your life? And if He does, is it possible for a Christian to MISS the will of God? What would cause such a disaster? And more importantly, how does a Christian FIND the will of God? How can we KNOW what Godís will is for us, and the path to finding it?
What IS the will of God for the life of a Christian? That is the first question if we are to discover how to find it.
Christians often speak about, "the will of God for our lives," as if it is a THING that is separate from God Himself. It is almost like we think that once we get SALVATION out of the way that we need to move into a separate arena called, "Godís will." And to many of us, we think Godís will is a job, marriage, ministry, or other venture. But this thinking really isnít the way the Bible approaches life in Christ.
Up front, we do need to understand that, YES, God does have a purpose for our lives. He does have HIS WILL. God cares about where we work, who we marry, and everything else about our lives. So nothing I am going to say ought to leave any other impression. But all of those things do NOT form the core of Godís will for any life. They do not. And until we see that, we are never going to come into the Truth on this matter.
So what IS the will of God for us? If not all of those things, what is it? Well, the will of God is not a THING or an IT. The will of God is actually a Person. The will of God for each one of us is JESUS CHRIST.
Now, what do I mean by that? I mean that when you were saved, Christ came to dwell in you through the Holy Spirit. But that merely BEGAN your new life. Your salvation was finished at that point, but your relationship with God was just beginning. Godís goal is now that you grow to KNOW Christ, grow to become like Him, and come under the dominion of the Holy Spirit.
Everything else in the Christian life is governed by this purpose of God. Everything. Your job, your family, your church, and all else, is not THE goal of God, but are unto the goal of God, who is Christ. All of those life issues are tools in the purpose of God unto eternal issues. This doesnít mean God takes any of those things lightly. He does not. But it does mean that God has a priority. And unless we get the same priority, we are not going to understand what He is doing, let alone be able to walk with Him.
Christ in us
Actually, this brings definition to one of the most oft-quoted passages of scripture:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom 8:28-29)
Paul tells us that God works all things together for good in the lives of those who are called according to His purpose. Then he tells us that purpose: Christ. He says that Godís purpose is that we BE FORMED TOGETHER with Christ. Thus, in a nutshell, we are being told that what God brings into our lives Ė or withholds Ė is unto that purpose of forming us together with Christ. God will take job, family, and all else and use them as tools in our lives unto His eternal purposes in Christ.
Now, once we see this, it answers a great many questions. First, it tells us a reason why many of us get out of Godís will. It is not necessarily because we have committed great sin, or forsaken the Truth. No. All it takes to get us off the track is to make THIS LIFE our goal. Once we do that, we are immediately working counter to the way God is working.
You see, God says that we need to make CHRIST IN US, and our relationship with Christ, our goal Ė and to allow Him to use everything else as a servant to that. But what we usually do is turn this around. We make the things of this world Ė not bad things, but GOOD THINGS Ė our goal, and try to make Christ a servant to that. This can get us out of the real will of God.
To illustrate, we need only quote the words of Jesus. He gave us, in one passage, Godís purpose, and how we can best enter into it on the right basis. He said:
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that ye have need of all these things. But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Mat 6:31-33)
The kingdom of God is the RULE of God. Practically speaking, the kingdom of God is CHRIST IN US through the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "Seek the kingdom first Ė in everything." In other words, seek Christ first in everything. "If that is your goal," Jesus says, "then God is free to add to you everything else that He sees will serve Christ in you, and Christís rule over you."
All of this really boils down to something quite simple: Never separate THINGS FROM GOD from GOD HIMSELF. Never make, "Godís will," something that is separate from GOD HIMSELF. Never seek God for blessings, as something separate from God Himself. No. Christ IS the will of God for you. Christ IS the blessing of God for you. And it is only as we seek FIRST Christ, that God will add to us the THINGS that serve this purpose.
But again Ė this also tells us how we get off the track. Instead of seeking first the kingdom, and allowing God to add to us all those things that serve the kingdom, we seek first all those things, and think that God is going to add to us the kingdom. He cannot. He wonít.
Why? Because if God gave us all the things we think we want, we would not continue seeking His kingdom. I dare say, we would not even KNOW to do so. Furthermore, for us to receive many things apart from the rule of Christ in us is dangerous to our spiritual life. God knows that we can only be trusted with the things of this world if we possess them UNDER HIS RULE. And we cannot unless we are FIRST seeking His rule and order in our lives.
Thankfully, God knows how easy it is for us to get off the track. He knows how earthbound we can be. Thus, He has promised that even if we do get off the track that the Holy Spirit will be continually seeking to get us back on. Those who have strayed often donít know it. It is often not on purpose. But the Holy Spirit will always be working to bring us on into the purpose of God.
If Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom, then we can be sure that God is seeking first the kingdom for us. Otherwise, there would be contradiction. No. Even if we are not seeking first the kingdom for ourselves, God is seeking it for us, and thus, will do what is necessary to bring us back on track. This is His faithfulness.
The Inward Kingdom
When I talk about the kingdom within, or about seeking first the kingdom, many Christians do not understand. You hear it all the time, "Giving money to ministries or my church is what it means to seek first the kingdom." Or other misconceptions are present when people talk about this. But the fact is, you can give millions to charity without ever seeking first the kingdom of God. So what does it really mean to seek first the kingdom?
To seek first the kingdom means to seek first CHRIST. It means that whatever I am presently involved in, I am seeking first, yes, the will of Christ -- but more than that, I am seeking Christ Himself. I am saying to God, "Lord, I know that there is something in all of this that You intend me to discover about Your Son. You want to change me through this situation in a way that will set me free to walk with You. I know that all of this is intended to reveal to me Christ, enlarge me in Christ, and set me free in Christ. And nothing is going to stop me from coming into that."
This will, of course, mean faith and obedience. It will mean surrender to God. It will mean a continual pushing through to the purpose of God Ė even if I donít know what that is at first. But instead of demanding that I must have what I want, and instead of working things towards that end, I will seek first what God wants Ė yes, as His circumstantial will in my life. But more so, I will seek what God wants to do IN ME Ė through those circumstances.
Godís will in my life is more than circumstances. If we could only see that. Failure to see it brings confusion. Godís will in my life is CHRIST Ė through the circumstances. God allows or brings about circumstances in order to get me to where I will come into a greater relationship with Him.
How easy it is to look at circumstances and conclude from them what God is doing Ė and to be DEAD WRONG. And yet we operate like that all the time. We move in a certain direction in life, thinking it is Godís will, and when it turns bad, we conclude that we either missed the will of God, or that God never cared. The Truth is, the disaster we have on our hands may be exactly where God has lead us Ė because His goal is CHRIST IN US through the disaster. But often we donít understand because we tend to think that Godís goal was a happy circumstance. Or perhaps circumstances actually turn out great! How easy it is to conclude that we must be in Godís will because they have turned out great! And yet this may not be the case at all. It is entirely possible to have happy circumstances and great prosperity, and yet never have any consciousness at all of Godís goal of CHRIST! Christians do this all the time.
Watch Christian television. Continually what is preached is a message of health, wealth, and prosperity for Christians Ė and all of it is usually tied to whether you give THEM money. But aside from the fact that the Bible never teaches what they teach, listen closely to what these people are promising. They are promising THINGS from God Ė but almost never mention one thing about finding Truth in Christ. We are never told, "Seek first Christ Himself, and God will add to you all that you need." No. We are told, "Plant your seed into this ministry, and God will give you a harvest." Where is Christ in all of this?
I say it again: You cannot seek THINGS from Christ apart from seeking Christ Himself, and expect God to bless you. If you do, God may bless you for a time or a season because he loves you. But in the end, you will have to be adjusted to Godís plan and purpose. God absolutely wants to bless each and every one of us. But He wants to bring those blessings on His terms, which is the only way that His blessings will truly BE blessings! He wants us to seek CHRIST HIMSELF first, and then, because we have our priorities right, He will be perfectly free to bring the blessings.
What I am talking about is a way of life in Christ that runs absolutely contrary to human thinking. It requires FAITH. It means that I believe that I can trust God to worry about my basic needs, because if I seek first Christ, all those needs will be provided. And yet what greater freedom could there be than to remove fear and worry from our vocabulary, because we know that if we seek Christ first, that we not only get Christ, but everything else we need will be added to us?
With that, we really come to a rather obvious conclusion: If we see Christ first, the reward is that we find Christ. And all things will be added unto us. But if we seek first, "all of these things," then we may obtain them through our own devices. But we will never find Christ in the way God intends. Thus, how can you miss the will of God? Only if you miss Christ Ė by seeking first all of the things of this world. And how do we FIND the will of God? By finding Christ Ė by seeking first Christ. Iím not sure how more simple things could be.
The Contradictions in Life
According to the Bible, and certainly the faithfulness of God demands this, it is not possible to seek God without finding Him. But you know, there are lots of times when we seek God but seem to find only disaster. We are now beginning to see some reasons why.
First of all, have we any idea what it means to find Christ? Iím talking, of course, not about salvation, but about the on-going revelation of Jesus to us as Christians. To, "find Christ," means to find the Truth. It means to be made compatible with the Truth Ė to come under the kingdom. Can we see that this is not simply a matter of learning Bible verses? No. It is a matter of a total adjustment happening IN ME.
But that is the END of the process. How about in the middle? If you are seeking first Jesus Christ, you are likely starting out quite unadjusted to Him. That is normal. Thus, in order to get from that point, unadjusted, to where you are adjusted to Christ, there is going to need to be some major upheavals to your thinking and living. That wonít come easy. In fact, it will seem like everything is falling apart Ė for you are being blasted out of your comfort zone. Now, during this time that you are, "in the middle," so to speak, you look at your circumstances, you might easily conclude that you have missed the will of God. But this is not necessarily so at all. The disaster you have on your hands, and the unrest you have inside of yourself, may be evidence that you are, in fact, in the process of FINDING the Christ you are SEEKING.
What I am talking about here is a process where a person is brought into a relationship with Jesus Christ that will change them forever. You donít come into that by simply reading Bible verses. You have to live, surrender down to death, and stand in faith. It will cost you. But during the time this is happening, you may think you missed the boat. No. You are just going through a storm.
Again and again we must remember: Godís goal is NOT your comfort, convenience, or anything else except JESUS CHRIST. This does not mean you are going to be deprived of everything else. No. In fact, Godís goal of Christ is the MEANS by which you will receive all He has for you. But there must come an adjustment IN YOU. And for that to happen, you are going to have to go through a few difficult seasons.
Never look at your past or present circumstances as indicators of whether you are in Godís will. Godís will for you is to SEEK FIRST JESUS CHRIST. If you are doing that, you are IMMEDIATELY IN GODíS WILL. And frankly, if you had been totally out of Godís will in the past, by not seeking first Christ, then you can turn right now and seek first Christ. It is just that easy and simply to get back into Godís will.
God is not sitting in heaven waiting for us to figure out a THING called His will. Rather, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all Truth, which is a revelation of Himself. Seek HIM for that. And if you do, then Godís will for your life Ė job, family, etc., comes Ė or is withheld Ė as a part of Godís kingdom in your life; Christ in you.
Again Ė the reward for seeking God first is that you get God first, and then all that He has for your life. The penalty for seeking other things first is that you get other things first, to the hurt of the life of Christ in you. You and I reap what we sow. God says, "Seek you first the kingdom of God Ė Christ in you Ė and all else will be added unto you that serves my plan and purpose." God is a good God. How can we lose falling into His hands?
Godís will in our lives is Christ. Thus, we have our answer. How can we find the will of God for our lives? Seek first Christ. How can we miss it? Seek first something other than Christ. Christ, and Godís will for our lives are ONE.
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