Understand the Lord’s Will

Bob RoaneLoving and Trusting God, Wise living

Be very careful, then, how you live (and walk), not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

This post builds on Be Wise, Not Unwise and Make the Most of Every Opportunity

Doing God’s Will

Judy was a dear woman who left this earthly life in 2004 and went to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for eternity. Judy wrote five questions in the back of her Bible and her son read these at her memorial service. The heading says: “What Do I Do?” Here are the questions: 1. Can I ask God to bless it?; 2. Can I imagine Jesus doing it?; 3. Does it help me become more like Christ?; 4. Will it help separate me from the unbelieving world?; 5. Is it the best use of my time, energy, money, etc?

By God’s grace, Judy was a woman of noble character worth far more than rubies. She loved and feared the Lord and she lived to please Christ more than herself. Judy was praised and honored for the life of service she lived.1 Even better, Scripture says: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. They will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”2

Understand What the Lord’s Will Is (Verse 17)

In Ephesians 5:15-17, God warns us not to act thoughtlessly or live mindlessly. We have jobs to do for King Jesus at home and school, in the community and workplace. So we must live by biblical priorities, not by pressures. Or by circumstances that may be urgent, but not so important in the big picture. We are here to serve Christ, to advance His cause, to share His message with others. So we can’t be foolish and silly, like others around us. We must think clearly to understand what the Lord wants us to do and get better at doing it.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 says: For this is the will of God, that you should be consecrated (separated and set apart for pure and holy living). Other versions say: God’s will is that your lives are dedicated and devoted to Him, that you be holy and sanctified. It reminds us of Peter’s words, “Just as God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”3

If we are Christian believers, we are God’s adopted children, so we want to imitate Him. We are Jesus’ servants, so we want to please and follow our Master. We are indwelt and sealed with the Holy Spirit, who calls and enables us to grow in His fruit. Our whole lives are for serving God and other people.

General Things and Specifics

The Lord is most concerned about the kind of person we are, our attitudes and actions, behaviors and beliefs, character traits and patterns of conduct. These are more important than where we live, or work, or go to school. More important than who we help, and visit, and witness to. More important than what we eat, drink, or wear. The Lord is more concerned about changing us than our circumstances. And when we understand that, we see that the Bible is full of answers.

People often ask me about relationships with spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends, enemies, neighbors, co-workers, and church members. Thank God, He has revealed His will on these matters very clearly and fully in the Bible. Don’t forget these classic passages on Christian ethics in the Bible.

  • The Ten Commandments, with explanations in the church’s catechisms.
  • The books of Proverbs and James.
  • Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7).
  • Romans chapters 12-15; Ephesians chapters 4-6; Colossians chapters 3-4.
  • 1 Corinthians 13 is the “love chapter” and we need to read that often.
  • Galatians 5 deals with walking in the Spirit, instead of walking in the flesh.
  • Philippians 4 teaches us how to pray, think, act, and be content.
  • 2 Peter 1 shows us the “the ladder of living by faith” and growing in maturity.

These all deal with Christian living, especially in relationships with others. When, with God’s help, we pursue these things written down in the Bible, we find that most other questions are resolved. Knowing God’s revealed will is not so hard, beloved, if we are teachable. The Lord wrote it down in His book. Doing it is hard, because we are opposed by the world, the flesh, and the devil, but God gives us Holy Spirit power to help us.

Sinclair Ferguson said that our fathers and mothers in the faith seldom talked about finding God’s will. Instead, they aimed at doing what the Lord commands us in the Bible and that answered about 99% of their questions.

What Else?

As we study these clear passages and still need help with specific decisions, then let’s ask God for wisdom.4 Let’s also seek the advice of wise, experienced, and mature believers like Judy who I mentioned above. We were never meant to follow Jesus on our own.5

Proverbs 3:5-6 is very well known, but I gladly repeat it again because it’s so helpful:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Betty Maxfield and Us

Dr. Betty Maxfield worked in the office of Army Human Resources at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Terrorists crashed a jet plane into the building, igniting a huge fireball that filled the corridors with jet fuel smoke and flames. Maxfield was able to escape through a window and be lowered down to safety before her section of the Pentagon collapsed. She said: I should’ve been dead, but for some reason God spared me. Now I can’t go on wasting my life. I need to say thank you to God for my second chance.

Beloved, all of us have been spared from many dangers, toils, and snares. What are we supposed to do with the rest of our days? We can’t waste them. We need to say thank you to God and love and serve Him this new year with greater devotion.

Prayer: Loving Father, Your word is the source of wisdom and godly direction. It is a lamp to our feet and a constant light to our path. Help us to love Your word and meditate on it regularly. Show us Your timeless principles to help us be Christ-like and to live wisely. Help us to make good, solid, God-honoring choices in this life, because the days are evil. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.6

Notes (various Bible translations): 1 Proverbs 31:10-31.     2 Rev 14:13.     3 1 Peter 1:15-16.    4 James 1:5; 1 Kings 3:9; Psalm 51:6; Prov 2:6, 8:17; Dan 2:21; Matt 7:7.     5 Prov 11:14, 15:22, 16:22, 20:18, 24:6, 27:17.     6 Prayer adapted from Natalie Regoli.