May 31, 2010
Entering into God's Will
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16- 18 (NIV)
I remember many times in my life feeling desperate to know God's will for me. A lot of people want to know what the will of God is for their life. Usually it's a question we ask while agonizing over a certain decision we're facing - Should I go to this college, or that one? Should I accept or decline this offer? Should I move or stay put?
There aren't any verses in the Bible that answer these questions. Scripture is clear about God's will when facing a temptation to sin, but not so much in the "neutral" decisions in life - like choosing between two equally good choices.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss writes, "…when you go to the Scripture for insight on the will of God, you don't find a lot about things to do, places to go, or people to meet. That's because God's will is not so much a place, a job, or a specific mate, as it is a heart and a lifestyle." She is correct. And some verses nestled in 1 Thessalonians plainly reveal what those heart and lifestyle choices look like: "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (vs. 16-18).
It's easy to read a verse like that - glossing through it with a general feeling of positive agreement - and not really digest the truth of what it says. So let's break it down.
Praying continually and giving thanks are specific actions we can begin today - we can do right now - to position ourselves inside of God's will. Praying our way through our days keeps us continually in touch with God, in synch with Him. When our heart and mind is in synch with God's, we're more open to His leading. The Holy Spirit has access to our thoughts. So prayer is necessary for the person seeking to operate in God's will. It doesn't take hour-long prayer sessions four times a day. Just keep God at the forefront of your mind and keep talking to Him as your day unfolds.
Why is it so important that we also give thanks in all circumstances? (Surely, it's not that God needs to hear "thank you" to feel appreciated.) Giving thanks helps us notice what we have to be joyful about. It also forces us to think about our God: His goodness. His faithfulness. His provision. His sacrifice. Giving thanks for our gifts includes the Giver in our thoughts. And it affords us a right view of Him - one that acknowledges He delights in caring for us, guiding us, and providing for us. That calms our oh-Lord-what-am-I-supposed-to-do worries. We need a right view of God in order to walk in His will.
This verse also instructs us to be joyful every day. That sounds like a hard one some days. But in my experience, praying and giving thanks with regularity goes a long way in developing a heart capable of joy in all circumstances. I want to point out that joy is a fruit of the Spirit. That means it is something produced by the Spirit of God in us. We can't totally produce or sustain it on our own apart from Him. So when we pray, we should pray for joy. And thank Him for supplying it.
The Bible states that it is God's will for you to pray, give Him thanks, and cultivate joy. So no matter which college you go to, no matter which offer you accept, and whether you live here or there, be joyful, pray daily, and give thanks regularly. Could it be that if we focus on these things, the path will unfold before us? Or that He will work all out for good, no matter which choice we make?
That means the pressure of making the exact right decision, or else entirely missing God's will, is off. And that's one thing we can give God thanks for today!
Dear Lord, thank You for your faithfulness and for the loving kindness You've shown me year after year. Please develop in me a heart of joy. I choose to trust You with my life, and to rejoice amidst my circumstances today. Guide me in my decisions today, to Your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Read more, and share a praise or blessing at Rachel's blog today.
The Air I Breathe: Worship as a Way of Life by Louie Giglio
Stop now and talk with God. Praise Him. Give Him thanks. Write out a list of your blessings. Lay any confusion, requests or decisions you are facing at His feet. Then ask Him for joy and peace in Jesus' Name.
Move forward into your day with the supernatural joy and peace of God, and a commitment to pray and praise Him again later in the day.
How often am I in God's will in terms of being joyful, praying and giving thanks?
Have I asked God for a joyful heart lately?
Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV)
© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.
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