Three things about God’s will

Published 11:03 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2016

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

As a pastor, a question I get frequently from people is, “How can I know God’s will for my life?”

Usually when people ask that, they are referring to things like, “How can I know whether it is God’s will to accept this job opportunity?” Or “Is it God’s will for me to buy this house?”

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Those are questions about what theologians sometimes call the individual will of God.

But there is another kind of the will of God in the Bible, and it is what theologians call the moral will of God. God’s moral will is how He commands us to live. We don’t have to guess about what His moral will is, because it is spelled out in the Bible.

For instance, in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, the Apostle Paul says, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances. For this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”

It is the will of God for us to…

  • Rejoice always: For much of my life, I thought of joy as something that just happens, not something that is under our control. But the Bible commands us to rejoice, and to rejoice always.

How is that possible? After all, circumstances are not always good. But Jesus is always good. That is why the Apostle Paul fills things out a bit in Philippians 4:4, when he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

No matter what else is going on, Jesus died for our sins, rose from the dead and is coming again in victory. No matter what else is happening in our lives, if we have trusted in Christ, God has forgiven all our sins, made us right with Himself and adopted us as His beloved children.

Therefore, we can rejoice always, even if our joy is sometimes mingled with suffering.

  • Pray without ceasing: What does this mean? New Testament scholar Robert Thomas describes it as “constantly recurring prayer growing out of settled dependence on God.”

As we grow in Christ, we learn to trust God more and more, and to pray more and more. We learn to immediately pass needs to the Lord in prayer, as they arise throughout the day.

As 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.”

God delights in hearing our prayers, and has the power to answer them. Nothing is too hard for Him. Whether it is a personal need, a need in the life of someone we know, a need in our church or a need of missionaries or unreached peoples around the world, God delights in hearing and answering our prayers.

  • Give thanks in all circumstances: Notice that it does not instruct us to give thanks for all circumstances, but in them.

Even though all circumstances are not good, we can know that God will bring good out of them, as He promises in Romans 8:28 — “We know that God causes all things to work together for good, for those who love Him.”

That is God’s sovereign will. He is in control of all things in the lives of those who love Him, causing even our painful trials to work together for our good and His glory.

Therefore, we can always give thanks.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.