The last issue of Peace in the Storm generated more responses than any single issue before it, affirming that none of us are alone in our desire to find the purpose, or God’s will, for our lives. As a matter of fact, the sermon we heard in church on Sunday was simply titled: “God’s Will.” One of the pastor’s concluding verses was none other than Romans 12:1 (“A Living Sacrifice”).
We’re going to conclude this series on contentment with one more look at the topic of living in God’s will, or finding our purpose in life, or whatever you would like to call it. Remember, it’s not as difficult as we try to make it. As the pastor said on Sunday, “Before getting caught up trying to figure out the details and fine points of God’s will for our lives, let’s start with just trying to hit the broadside of the barn.”
In other words, if we’re wandering around feeling lost because we can’t figure out exactly what God has planned for our lives, or if we’re running into brick walls trying to do what we think God has planned for our lives, let’s pause, step back, and revisit the basics. God has actually given us many glimpses of His will throughout the Bible. I wonder if some of those times when we are crying out, “God, show me what to do with my life! Show me what I’m supposed to do!,” God is whispering in response, “Pssst… Open the Book. The answers are in there!”
It’s the truth. All we have to do is open the Bible and read, and then align our lives with His Word. When we do that, we will be well nourished and content. See what Jesus said:
Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus to eat. "No," he said, "I have food you don’t know about."
"Who brought it to him?" the disciples asked each other.
Then Jesus explained: "My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.”
John 4:31-34 (New Living Translation)
When we are doing the will of God, we are satisfied. But then we’re back to the question: what is God’s will? Well, let’s open the Book! Here are a few verses the pastor shared on Sunday:
"If a shepherd has one hundred sheep, and one wanders away and is lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others and go out into the hills to search for the lost one? And if he finds it, he will surely rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish."
Matthew 18:12-14 (New Living Translation)
"For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do what I want. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them to eternal life at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life–that I should raise them at the last day."
John 6:38-40 (New Living Translation)
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God’s mercy upon them, and give thanks. Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, for he wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message that God gave to the world at the proper time.
1 Timothy 2:1-6 (New Living Translation)
God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin. Then each of you will control your body and live in holiness and honor.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 (New Living Translation)
But I don’t need to write to you about the Christian love that should be shown among God’s people. For God himself has taught you to love one another.
1 Thessalonians 4:9 (New Living Translation)
And finally, one last passage:
With the Lord’s authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their closed minds are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They don’t care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed.
But that isn’t what you were taught when you learned about Christ. Since you have heard all about him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness–righteous, holy, and true.
So put away all falsehood and "tell your neighbor the truth"[b] because we belong to each other. And "don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you."[c] Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil.
If you are a thief, stop stealing. Begin using your hands for honest work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he is the one who has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:17-32 (New Living Translation)
Verses like those above, and like Romans 12:1, outline the “broadside of the barn” for us. They show us the undeniable, unquestionable will of God. Perhaps you’ll want to print them out, as I have, to help keep them fresh on your mind from day to day. It’s amazing how well just those few passages can guide us in the various situations we encounter on a given day or in a given week.
When we set our sights on the “broadside of the barn” — the things we know about God’s will — and walk toward it, then, number one, we can be sure we’ll be walking in the will of God. And number two, we’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that this path will take us to the exact places we’re supposed to be at the exact right times. In other words, the question “What am I supposed to do with my life?” will answer itself.
In closing, I encourage you to read the story of Simeon in Luke 2:25-32. In him, I believe we see an example of a life that has been offered as a living sacrifice to God. Luke described Simeon as being “righteous and devout.” What does that mean in a practical sense? Simeon lived in a state of awe toward God, where his thinking, feeling, and acting were wholly conformed to the will of God. By living this way, we see in just these few verses how he was (1) perceptive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, (2) available for the Holy Spirit’s working, (3) patient to wait for God’s plan to unfold, and (4) satisfied when he knew he had fulfilled the purpose God had for him.
When we fully surrender our lives to God, we can expect the same. Enjoy the journey!