Charles Stanley - Looking Deeper Into The Will of God
It's most reassuring to realize that God has a specific plan for your life. For each one of us. It's not the same plan, but it's all for each of us all designed for what He had for us in mind, no exception. We might not understand how God can work in the way He works all over the world, but He does because He's God. He's not left anybody out. We might try to understand some things that happen we can't understand, but He has a plan for our life and He intends to fulfill that if we're willing to trust Him and obey Him. And those two things are absolutely essential. Whatever God has in mind, whatever He had in mind when He allowed you to be born, and come into this world trusting and obeying Him were two key issues.
So, ask yourself the question, people who know you, would they know you as someone who trusts God, who obeys God? Someone who attempts to walk in His will? Or do they just know you as a person who sort of just does whatever comes naturally, and you want to be happy, and you want to be successful, and you want to fit into the ways of the world. God did not allow you to be born just to do any old thing you wanted to do. That wasn't His plan. And many people will live their whole life and never ask the question, what is God's plan for my life? What's His will for my life?
Once you begin to ask that question, that takes you deeper and deeper into the whole perspective of God's purpose in your life. And when I think about that, I think about one verse, found in the hundred and third Psalm because the question comes is that, well how can God do this, that, and the other, and so forth? Hundred and third Psalm and the nineteenth verse. You ought to mark this verse in your Bible if it's not marked. He says, "The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all". Look at that. "His sovereignty rules over all".
That is, no matter what's going on, God is in charge and He's in control. It may look like He's not in control, but He is. We listen to all the news and ups and downs and ins and outs and, "I'm for this and I'm for that, and I'm opposed to this, that, and the other". Where is God in all this? Right where He's always been. He is in control. He will let us do things at times that are foolish, that are disastrous, destructive, but oftentimes He stops us. And sometimes we have a hard time believing that God is involved in anything the way people are acting.
So, when I think about these verses and His sovereignty, I think about what Jeremiah said to God. He said in that thirty-second chapter: "Ah Lord God. Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for you". Now, if you and I believe that everything was within the reach of God and the power of God, and nothing in too difficult for Him, we would operate a little differently. We wouldn't doubt some things. We would be willing to claim more of His promises, for God is in charge. He is in control. "His sovereignty rules over all".
So, no matter what's going on in the world, God is still in charge. The problem is so many people don't believe that. And watch television once in a while and I think, "How pitiful". And on and on and on it goes, till you finally have to get up and cut it off, and ask the question, "Lord, has anybody heard about God"? Has anybody heard about Jehovah, Yahweh, Elohim in the Old Testament, the God of all gods, the only one true God? The God who has all power to do all things. Anybody believing in Him, trusting Him, or waiting upon Him for direction? If you listen and watch and do not read the Word of God, you could get very, very discouraged.
So, the title of this message is "Looking Deeper Into the Will of God," and I want to talk about first of all, the three major distinctions in God's will, the three categories. And the first is God's predestined will, those things He will do: irresistible, unchangeable, unconditional. That is, things that God can do by His power and His love, and things that nobody can stop. He is in control. He is the sovereign of the universe. His predestined will, which means predestined, He's already determined some things. This world may look like it's swirling around out of control, but God is in control of whatever's going on.
And then, of course, there's God's moral will. His moral will would be explained best in the Ten Commandments. God has a moral will. You shall not steal, lie, commit adultery and on and on, the Ten Commandments. And all through the Scriptures there's some things that God has forbidden. Does that mean they can't happen? No. It means that it is not the will of God for them to happen. It's not best for them to happen. It's costly for them to happen. It's disastrous for them to happen. Because He is a God who gives us freedom and liberty up to some degree.
This moral will is where we get in trouble. We decide we want to do things our way, when we want to do it. We can explain it away. And yet, when we violate the Ten Commandments, we violate the teachings of Jesus, there is a price to be paid. And there is no substitute for obedience. And there is no one greater than God. And when I listen to some of the things that, that people are saying about we're going to do this and we're going to do that, there is a God who ultimately determines what you will do and what you will not do. He allows disobedience and rebellion, but only at a price. Sin does not come cheaply. Rebellion toward God is not cheap.
And I listen to people talk about what they're going to do and this and all the things that are happening and they want freedom to do this and that and the other with no sense of responsibility toward the sovereign God of the universe. We're all responsible to Him whether we like it or not. And then of course there's God's desired will, those things that He desires for us. His desired will for us, well let's begin with salvation. God desires that we are saved. He desires that we be baptized. He desires that we walk after His will. He desires that we learn to pray and learn to follow His teachings of Scripture. It's His will that we learn to obey Him early in life. It's His will that we learn to listen to Him, follow Him and acknowledge that He is the ultimate guide in life.
So, in order for me to be obedient, I need to know what His will is. How am I going to know what His will is? Where am I going to find out? You listen to the true Word of God and you read the Word of God and you believe the Word of God. If you want the truth of God, if you want to know how to live out your life, in order to be obedient, you've got to know the Word of God. So, don't raise your hand, naturally. When I say that, I'm trying to cover for you. How many times this past week did you pick up the Bible and read a verse?
You have seven days in a week, twenty-four hours a day. You have many things on your schedule that you have to do. Many things that you don't have to do that you want to do. You don't work all time, you have free time. How much of that free time did you spend asking God, "Lord, what about this? Should we buy that house? Should we buy that automobile? Should I allow my son to go to college here? Should I allow my daughter to go out with this guy? Should I allow my son to be a part of that club"? In other words, when is the last time you asked the One who knows the answer to everything about His will? What does He want?
Would you not agree that God will always want what's best for you? How many of you believe that, say amen? He'll always want what's best for you. You really believe that, then why don't you ask Him? Why do you make so many decisions without asking Him? Watch this. He has a will, a purpose, a plan. He knows what's best for us in every single circumstance of life and He invites us to ask Him. Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you. God is willing to show us His will. This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He's going to hear us. And if we know that He hears us, we know that we have the petitions that we desire of Him.
Then why not get in the Word of God and find out, "Lord, what would You have me to do in this particular situation? What does obedience require of me"? Does this fit the will of God or does it not? And the reason people are in such deep debt is because they spend without asking the will of God. Listen. This is a major issue in this country. Indebtedness is a major, major issue. And you say, "But what's that got to do with the Bible"? Well just start reading and you'll find out. God has a lot to say about money, and not being in debt. And so, when you think about one sin leading to another. God has a will for us. His will is always best for you. It's always best for you. His yes is best, His no is best, because He wants what's best for us. And so, when we think about the will of God - the will of God is God's best plan for us.
Now you say, "Well, my life is sort of mixed up and I don't know where to turn next". So, let me give you one other division of the will of God and that's His personal will for your life. And we can divide that into three categories. And first of all, that's His intentional will. That is, what did God have in mind for you? I don't know who your parents were, how they raised you. But what did God have in mind for you? Think about that for a moment. His intentional will. What did He have in mind before you were ever born? What did He have in mind about your education? What did He even have in mind, for example, about the spiritual gifts?
When you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you were gifted with the ability, talents, and skills to do whatever God wants you to do. And when you think back early in your life, you were thinking about, "When I grow up I'm going to be this and I'm going to be that" and so forth. Did you ever ask God what He wanted you to do? You say, "Well, how do you know what God wants you to do"? And if you're sitting here and you don't know the will of God for your life, maybe you never asked Him. Think about this. Did you ever get on your knees and say, "God, I don't want to waste my life. I want my life to count. And if I want my life to count, and if You're going to help me and answer my prayer, I've got to pray the right thing, so what is it You want me to do"?
Very, very few young people today will talk to you about the will of God for their life because they never gave it any thought. That this God who is sovereign over the universe has a plan for your life. Did you as a parent ever sit down with your son or your daughter and say, "Well, let's talk about one of the most important things in your life". Well, what is that? They're maybe thinking about their education, no. What's the most important thing in your life? The will of God. And I'll tell you this is the truth, not maybe, the truth.
Every night I was at home with my family, from the time my children were born, I prayed over their bedside with them. They had no idea what I was talking about. That God would show them His will for their life very early. Watch this. We wait too late to do the most important thing. The most important thing they'll ever learn, what's the will of God? And so, when you think about it for yourself, in your vocation, for example, if you go look for a job, that you just look for a job or you just say, "Lord, what do You want me to do"?
Now think about this for just a moment. The right person to ask, first of all, is God. "Where do You want me to work? What do You want me to make? How do You, how do You want me to invest my life"? Think about this. As, as the days go by, your time and my time's ticking away. You don't think it is? When you get my age, you realize it's ticking away. You don't stop. You don't quit. You don't worry. You don't fret. You trust God. You're going to make every day count. But do you realize that God has a plan, that He has an answer for all these questions that you have?
And so oftentimes questions that we should bring before Almighty God. We just make the decision. Watch this carefully. Because we make decisions based on limited human knowledge and on emotions that oftentimes are way out in left field. And oftentimes to please somebody else. The only person I am obligated to please according to the Word of God is Almighty God. I'm obligated to please Him, want to please Him. Smart thing to do, the wise thing to do, is to please God. Watch this, if you know Him, you know this. He only wants what's best for you. Amen? But you see, many parents can't say that. They want what looks the best for their friends and neighbors that their children are driving this or wearing that. We ruin them.
The will of God is one of the most important things in your life. But you say, "Well, what should I ask God about"? Everything. In other words, what is it that's so unimportant I don't have to talk to God about? So, what is He saying? He has a will for our life and this will, we have his intentional will for our life. His circumstantial will for our life which is what? His circumstantial will is this. So, I messed up here, but I get my life straightened out with God and surrender my life to Him and we get a new start. Why is there a circumstantial will? Because God knows us, and He knows we'll fail. He knows we'll make wrong decisions at times. He knows we are human, as we say.
And so that's His circumstantial will. Does He cast us out? No. And we live in our circumstantial will with less, oftentimes, accomplishing less, being less satisfied, less happy, less peaceful, less, less, less because we don't stop to ask Him first. Now, when we stop to ask Him, He's willing to correct it. Some things He'll correct, some things He won't correct because of the circumstances. And so, his circumstantial will is here I am, here's the mess I've made, this is how far I've come. Now Lord, what do You want to do with me at this point?
And listen, there's God's immediate will. That is, what does He want you to do right now in your life? What's His will, today, in your life? You can't change yesterday, but you can certainly make a difference for tomorrow, because tomorrow is a privilege. Is an opportunity, and God is with you. His immediate will. What's His immediate will for what He wants you to do, today? For example, let's turn to James, for a moment, and let's look at this passage. In the fourth chapter. Look at this thirteenth verse: "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.'"
Doesn't that sound like people today? Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to make it big. "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a like a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead now, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.' But as it is, you boast in your arrogance, all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to himself it is a sin".
So as you look at your life, ask yourself the question: What about how you spend your time? What about how you spend your money? How about who your friends are? Relationships? The things that you buy? Your testimony. You say, "Well, God isn't interested in little things". Like what? God is personally interested in what you think, what you say, what you do, how you look, how you operate. And so, you're not living in a vacuum, you're living in a world inhabited in your spirit by the living God who has equipped you and will equip you to do His will every day, all day, if you're willing to surrender your life to Him, and yield to Him. What your potential is at this point in your life, only God knows, but it's probably a whole lot larger than you think it is.
You say, "Well, I've made so many mistakes". Who hasn't made mistakes? Different kinds of mistakes, and this mistake may be tragic to somebody, and this person's mistake may be lots more tragic than this one. That's not the issue. The issue is, "God, in this direction, it's You and me, God. Whatever in my life is missing, what is it Lord? Wherever I've blown it, show me where it is. Whatever I need to confess and repent of. Whatever I need to surrender to You I've never surrendered. God, I want Your best in my life".
Ask yourself this. When you turn around and look back over your life, from the time you were maybe a little before you were a teenager or thereabouts, look back over your life, what would you change? We'd probably all change something. Right? We'd all change something. Look back over your life: what would you change? Second question is this. Why did you come this far thinking that somehow you could make it without God? And think about this. Whenever you did trust your life to the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and you were baptized and joined the church, did you surrender your life to the Lord then?
When I think about this, it overwhelms me, that Holy God, who is the sovereign of the whole universe, loves me enough to show me His will and to show anyone who's willing to ask. Are you willing to trust God where you are, with who you are, and your mistakes here and your successes there, the things that are good in your life, the things are not, are you willing to say to Him, "Lord, You know all about me. You know how I really messed it up. I'm asking You to forgive me of my sins and I know I don't have years and years and years to make it up. But Lord, would You help me to spend the rest of my life the way your circumstances being what they are. Would You help me to live the rest of my life the way You want me to live it"? Would you tell Him that?
Don't be trapped by the devil, who's... watch this, the devil says, "Too late, too late. Just ignore this sermon. It's too late". It's not too late as long as you're breathing, to get right with God. And your opportunities may be gone, but there may be more opportunities than you realize. There may be ways that God can use you, you never even thought about it and the reason you didn't think about it, you didn't ask Him about them. I'm saying to you don't give up. You ask God to show you, "Lord, circumstances being what they are, I've wasted this part. Your circumstances here, but God, You'll forgive me, You promised to. So, Lord, what's the next step in my life? My life, is as what it is. What's the next step, God"?
Would you be willing to say to Him today, "Lord, the next step in my life, I'm going to take it. Whatever You tell me to do, God, I'm going to do it". Would you be willing to tell Him that today? Do you trust Him enough to tell Him that whatever He requires of next, you're going to do it? Do you trust Him enough to do it? Or do you sit here and listen to this and think, "Yeah, but you don't know my circumstances". Nobody knows everybody's circumstances. I'm just asking are you willing to trust God?
All of us need to trust Him, whatever's going on in life. You have the privilege, you have the privilege to talk to Holy God who has all power and all love and all authority, who will take you where you are and do something in your life you probably would never imagine. But are you even willing to give Him yourself just to see what He'll do. What will God do in your life if you fully surrender your life to Him? I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Do you have the courage to say:
God, I believe You have a will for my life. I know You're not pleased with how I've been living it out. But today, I'm asking You to forgive me. I could blame some folks, God, but I'm not going to blame anybody. I'm asking You to forgive me. And starting today, when I walk out the doors of this church, I'm walking out surrendered to Your perfect will, whatever that is. I'm going to do whatever You say and I'm going to believe, God, that because You're an awesome God of love and kindness and goodness and reconstruction, You'll take me and You'll do what's best in my life from this point on.
Wow. What an awesome difference God can make in your life, if you're willing.
And Father, how grateful we are that You are a forgiving God, cleansing, reconstruction: all the good ways that You work in our life. And I pray that every person who hears this message will be deeply convicted, deeply inspired. For some it will be deeply painful. But honest enough to surrender themselves to You and see what You'll do for the rest of their life. Oh God, that's my prayer, for the rest of their life. What will God do for the rest of my life and Father, You're just full of surprises. We know that's true. Full of wonderful surprises. Maybe we don't think we're worth it or nobody cares, but we know that's not Your attitude. You're just waiting for us to say "Yes, Lord" for You to start Your reconstruction in our life that'll change us forever. And that is my prayer today, in Jesus's name, amen.