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Jack Graham - How to Know God's Will for Your Life

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    Jack Graham - How to Know God's Will for Your Life
TOPICS: All In, God's will

All in for the Lord Jesus Christ! And Romans 12: 1 and 2 speaks of this all in relationship, because He is all in with and for us. He said: "I beseech you, brothers, by the mercies of God that You would present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God who is your spiritual worship, and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind", and here is our verse and our topic for today, "That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God". How do we know God's will? How can we do God's will, because knowing and doing the will of God are inseparably linked. Now, lest you think this is simply a message for someone younger than you, let me remind you that the will of God is for everyone, both the senior and the student, both the octogenarian as well as a child. God's will is for all ages and all stages in life.

And no matter where you are in the conundrum of life, God has a will, God has a purpose. We don't want to waste a single day of our life from birth to death and into eternity, and we know that the ultimate purpose of life is to find, follow and fulfill God's will in our lives for His glory and in His power! Really, this is all about lordship. People talk about the will of God and they have formulas and secrets and ways to get to the will of God. Some of these are good. But ultimately it's a lordship decision. When you determine that Jesus is your Lord, that He truly has your life, you say, "Lord, you can have my family, you can have my finances, you can have my time, you can have my talents, you can have my present, you can have my future, you can have it all, Lord! I'm holding nothing back. And there's not a corner, there's not a crevice, a nook or a cranny that I'm holding back from You. Lord, I'm Yours! All my heart, all my life belongs to You"!

And if you dare to say that, I promise you the will of God will begin flourishing in your life as you seek Him and know Him and find Him day after day. It's the lordship of Christ. David Livingstone was a great missionary in the nineteenth century. He left England, he went to Africa and gave his life in service to Christ there. When he died they took his body back to England for burial. But they left his heart in Africa. They removed his heart from his body, and African Christians now because of the influence of David Livingstone buried his heart in the African soil. That's all in! Where is your heart? Is your heart, is your life all in? Because this is the way we pursue the will of God. My outline for the message is very simple if you're taking notes. It is pursuing the will of God, it is proving the will of God, it is practicing the will of God. Pursue the will of God for your life. Why? Because He is working His will through your life. You are His workmanship.

Ephesians 2:10 says "We are His workmanship created in Jesus Christ unto good works that we should walk in them". They have been created even before we were born that we should walk in them. We are God's masterpiece. The word in the Greek language is poema which means poem or masterpiece or work of art. Have you ever heard of the French expression piece de resistance? You like my French? piece de resistance. Well, it means "the best of". If you're having a meal, the piece de resistance is the best part of the meal. If you're looking at a room and there's furniture, the piece de resistance is the most beautiful piece in the room. If you're looking at art the most beautiful piece is the piece de resistance. Well, God has a piece de resistance, the best and it's you! You are His workmanship in Christ. You are the masterpiece! And He has begun a good work in you. And what He has begun He will finish in you, Philippians 1:6, "He who began the good work in you will perform it, will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ".

I know we're not all there yet. None of us are there yet. Please be patient with me; God is not finished with me yet! But we are the piece de resistance! We are the best! We are the work of His hands! We are the height of God's creation! Superior to the angels! We are not a highly evolved animal. You are created by the hand of God! And in Christ there is a new creation where the old things and the old life and the old ways are passed away and everything has become new. You are made for a mission with Him, paid for by a purpose because of Him. And He has a plan for your life today, from here to eternity, today and every day of your life. It's an unfolding plan of God for you, from the womb to the tomb and beyond.

David wrote about this in Psalm 139. And this is in the New Living Version: "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-How well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. And every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed". You are a masterpiece. This is why we believe so strongly and work so strongly for the sanctity of life. You're not an accident or an incident, you're not a mere product of conception; you are a divine plan created by God Almighty! Made for this mission in life. And even before you were born God had a plan. Of the prophet Jeremiah 1 it says "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, (and what was true for the prophet, is true for every person in Christ) and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations".

You are a part of the Lord's plan. And therefore, pursue His will above all else in your life because it is good and perfect and accepted. I had a little slogan, a maxim that was in my room as a college student which simply said, "God would choose for you what you would choose for yourself if you knew what to choose"! And God gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him. God knows what He's doing. You say, "Well, if I'm a masterpiece it doesn't seem to be working all that well. I don't see myself as a masterpiece. I see myself basically as a mess up". Well, God specializes in mess ups! He's the divine potter that takes broken lives and the pieces of our lives, and when we give them back to Him, He takes them and He makes a masterpiece out of the mess. God sees you for what you can be. Not just your flaws, your failures, your foibles, the mishaps, the mistakes, the miss steps, all the imperfections!

When I look at my life I can see a lot of imperfections in my life. But God looks at us in Christ and He sees not what we are, but what we will be as He continues to fashion us and make us after the image of Jesus. That's pursuing the will of God. That's the pursuit you want, to be more and more like Him; to make yourself pliable in the hands of God. He's working in your life. And God sees you for what you can become. It's going to take some time but when God gets finished with you and you stand before Him complete in heaven, it's going to be incredible! Because you will be like Jesus! The Bible says: "He makes all things beautiful in His time". And that includes you. It includes your situation.

Romans 8:28 is still in the bible right where it's always been, written in the covenant of the blood of Christ this promise, "For we know that all things work together for the good to them who love the Lord, to those who are called according to His purpose". Those who are made by Him and fitting into God's plan for their lives. You see, all things, not just such things or select things or good things or bad things or funny things or foolish things, all things! God as the Master Craftsman, the workman is weaving and working this tapestry of life in us. And every story and every situation in our lives is a part of God's plan and God's purpose. We should never forget that no matter where we stand in this life today, God is at work in us if you'll simply allow Him to do it.

You wouldn't have thought much of Simon Peter when you first met him. He was a loudmouth, hot tempered, chaotic individual. Rather selfish, and self important. And yet Jesus looked at him in front of, in full view of the disciples one day, and said, "You're Peter but from this day you are the rock". The disciples must have sneered and snickered. Peter a rock? Anything but a rock! He's so unstable! But Jesus saw beyond the moment and saw the man for what he could become. When Peter later denied the Lord-one of the greatest sins in the Bible, three times Peter denied that he ever met Christ, warming his hands by the fires of the enemies of Jesus. While Jesus was on trial, Peter denied Him, and he went out; he wept bitterly. He thought it was all over. But Jesus found him after the resurrection and restored him and renewed him. Why? Because Jesus saw what he could become. He didn't see him for what he was or what he did, but for who he could become. And because of that Peter became the powerful preacher on the Day of Pentecost and the might Apostle of the faith! Jesus looks at your life with all of its mistakes and moments and missteps.

The psalmist said, "The steps of a man are ordered, orchestrated by the Lord, and though he fall he will not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholds him with His strong right hand". He's got you in the palm of His hand, and He's working in you. Pursue this will because it's good, it's perfect. Some people think, "Well, I don't want to do the will of God because I know, I just know if I say, 'God, Your way, my way.' Lord, if I say 'Whatever you want me to do, wherever you want me to go', you're going to send me on the backside of nowhere. I'm going to be a missionary for the rest of my life". Well, you might be a missionary. But probably not. God's most likely going to use you right where you are, doing what you're doing for His glory; making a difference. But it all begins when you say, "Lord, I'm pursuing you; I'm pursuing Your will for my life". And then proving the will of God. He says, "that you may be able to prove what is that good and perfect and acceptable will of God".

It's a word that means to discern or discover; to test. In some ways you can discover the will of God in your life is just test the will of God, and start doing what's right in front of you. Because frankly God's not all that interested in what you're going to do in the next ten or twenty years right now; He's interested in what you're going to do in next 15 minutes. Are you going to do the will of God today? Right now? By aligning your will with His will. This is how you prove and test the will of God. By aligning your will with His will. Jesus did that. When He was just 12 years old in the temple, He said, "I must be a part, I must be about My Father's business".

Throughout His days on earth Jesus obeyed the will of the Father. And when it came to the end, nearing the cross, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, crying out to God, sweating drops of blood in preparation of the cross, in the surrender of His life to the cross, Jesus said, "Not My will, but Thy will be done". No, it was hard, it meant a cross, it meant the salvation of you, me, all who trusts in Him because Jesus obeyed the will of God. And just let me say the will of God is not always easy but it's always best, it's always good, it's always perfect, it's always acceptable. And the safest place, the securest place on the face of the earth is centered in the will of God for your life. The happiest place on earth is knowing and doing God's will for your life. And so you begin aligning your life with the will of God.

You say how do I do that? By praying and offering your life. We talked about being a living sacrifice. That's what it means. Pulling ourself upon the altar of surrender each day! And there we pray and we say, "Lord, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven in my life". When we pray we're not trying to change God's mind; we're seeking to find God's mind. When we spend time praying and seeking God, then we begin proving the will of God, we begin testing and discerning the will of God. Again I say, God gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him. So align your will to know and do the will of God. I repeat, knowing and doing are the same. Don't expect God to show you the way, show you the will if you don't intend to do it! I mean, don't pray like this, don't say, "Lord, tell me what to do and if I want to do it, I'll decide whether or not I'm going to do it or not". No! You come with a blank check and sign your name, and say, "Lord, fill in the blank"!

So, do God's will today! Do God's will today! Obey and trust Him today! Obey God today and trust Him with every tomorrow in your life. That's the way we align our will with the will of God. That's the way we do the will of God today! God cares about the decisions we make. He does. He cares about what we do and He's given us plenty of instruction and inspiration to do His will, from small daily decisions to big life-altering choices. Some things are self evident. He gives us principles. I mean we shouldn't have to pray whether or not you're going to get the flu shot or not. The Scripture says in Ephesians 5:17, "Don't be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is". It was Billy Graham who once said, "If you are ignorant of the Bible, you'll always be ignorant of God's will".

So this is why we read our Bibles, systematically study our Bibles. The Word of God is living, breathing, sharper than a two-edged sword. It cuts through the very sinews of our lives, our bones, our breath, belongs to God! The Word of God fills us! Now God has a universal will, those things that are always true for everyone. For example, it is the universal will of God that everyone be saved. The Bible says that God "is not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance". I can tell you for sure this day if you're watching online, if you're watching on television, if you're in this room right now, and you don't know Christ as your Savior, it is God's will that you be saved today! He already gave His Son! He died on the cross, He rose again, and right now, "today is the day of salvation". That's God's will. You don't have to pray about that; you don't have to wonder about that. It's a no-brainer. God said it. "God is not willing that any should perish".

There's also the moral will of God that is universal. The Ten Commandments, God gave these commandments for our benefit, for our blessing, so that we would know how to live and play within the rules. Do not lie. Do not steal. Do not commit adultery. Do not murder. Do not covet what your neighbor has. These are all for the blessing of life and humanity. This is the bedrock of all human law. These are moral imperatives. These are commandments from God. And so they are to be kept. That is God's will that we keep His commandments! First Corinthians 6:18 says, here's a commandment, "Flee sexual immorality". So you don't have to pray whether it's right or not, whether I commit adultery and leave my wife! It's never right to disobey the Word of God! It's never right to choose to disobey God. And listen to this: God will not take us one step further than the measure of our obedience to Him. I'm going to say that again, God will not take you one step further in your life than your measure of obedience to Him.

There are areas of your life, if you're living in disobedience to God, don't expect further revelation, better illumination to do something else until you stop where you are, make that right under the lordship of Christ, and then expect God to start moving again in your life. Do the will of God today! So much of God's will is in God's Word. And if you will be in the Word and then listen to the Spirit. Be willing to obey Him whatever the cost, and trust Him with every result. That's how we know the will of God. As a young man one of the first verses I memorized was Psalm 119:105: "Your word, O Lord, is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path".

And I began as a boy and as a teenager and throughout my life to listen to God's Word and look for the light that was on my path and to walk in His word, to walk in His will. Because to walk in His word is to walk in His will! To walk in His word is to walk in His will and in His wisdom. This is God speaking to you today. God speaks in His Word. You're hearing it. God may speak through a messenger like me today. God speaks through Christian brothers and friends. God speaks in church. That's why we should gather in church, to hear from God! Listen for the still small voice. God rarely shouts at us or writes it in the skies, the stars. But He whispers to us in the still small voice. In order to hear a whisper what do you have to do? You have to get up real close. The Bible says, "Draw near to God and He'll draw near to you". So you get real close and you listen and the Spirit of God will speak to you and whisper His will.

You say, "Okay, it's getting weird now, pastor". No, it's not getting weird. The Bible says "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the children of God". There's the objective word of God that we read, and God will never prompt you to do anything outside His Word, outside His will that He's revealed in His Word. I already said that, right? But as you get in the Word and God's Word gets into you, then comes this whisper. Call it a holy instinct, as some have. Call it a holy hunch, I don't know. Call it an inspiration, call it a prompting, but I can tell you throughout my life I've heard that voice.

You say, "Well, is that just for preachers who have a special tune-in to God? You have a special link to God"? No, that's for everybody. Someone came up to me after the service today and said, You know, I've talked to a lot of my friends about Christ and they're always saying, "Well, how do you know the will of God? How do you really know the will of God"? And he said, I always say, "Well, do you know your wife? Could you order on a menu for your wife"? I'm thinking about that. I think I can. I'm pretty sure I can. I mean if you know your wife you know her likes, her dislikes. You know what she loves and what she doesn't love. Why? You spend time, you know her! You know what your husband wants, what your husband is like. Why? You spend time together!

And when you know God, you spend time with Him, you hear the voice and you hear the Word and the will of God. Check it out in God's Word. Check it through some godly friends and counselors, but I'm telling you if you will listen and look to Him, God leads His dear children along. And that means then we practice the will of God, just do it every day. Get up every day and say, "Lord, not my will, but Thy will be done". Again, success is not just knowing but doing the will of God in your life.
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