Monday, October 30, 2006

deal or no deal…?

The new weekend series Joe has raised some fascinating questions for me. I would have loved to talk more about this: How would you know if you were in God’s perfect will? No kidding. Here’s a transcript of that part of the message:

“How would you know if you were in His will? The reason to ask is obvious: do you have an assumed picture of what God’s plan for you would look like? Do you think Joseph did?—maybe all of his brothers would be bowing down to him?

How would you know you were in God’s perfect will? Would it mean that life’s circumstances would all be good? Some single people might say they’d be married; some married people might say they’d be single. Would we have more money? Would we have a different job? Would we be happier? Would we feel differently? These are heartfelt questions…I’m not trivializing this. It’s just that when we start thinking about God’s plan for our lives, we can carry a lot of assumptions into it.”

This has really gotten me thinking. What would the internal trigger be—emotionally, intellectually or spiritually—to let you know you were now in “the perfect will of God”? At one level you might say like Paul in his Roman letter: “Who can fight His will?” Sounds pretty fatalistic. If no one can resist God’s will, then no one is ever out of His will. Then again, why are we told to pray “Let Your will be done on earth, like it is in heaven”?

This is obviously a bigger question for bigger theological grey matter than mine…let the Calvin/Arminius games begin. But one thing is for sure: we have to learn to see a bigger picture.

Laurie Beth Jones writes in her little book Jesus CEO:
“One day a man bought a stallion, and all of his friends said, ‘That’s good.’ The next day the stallion ran away, and all of his friends said, ‘That’s bad.’ Two weeks later the stallion returned with a herd of mares. His friends said, ‘That’s good.’ The next day his son broke his shoulder when the stallion threw him off. The friends said, ‘That’s bad.’ The next month war broke out. Because the boy was injured, he could not go to war. The friends said, ‘That’s good.’ The story could go on and on with people judging events as being bad or good when actually all the events are connected and have an impact on each other.”

It’s always been interesting to me that the sheep who were separated from the goats in Matthew 25 never had a clue they were serving Jesus when they took care of the poor, the incarcerated and the stranger. Did they not know how centered they were in the will of God?

In the end, it seems to me like it’s all about two things that are more important than clarity: surrender and love.


  1. great message this weekend. just read an article in Relevant magazine along the same lines. Mark Steele writes, "Hardships will always stimulate personal growth the exact moment we begin to plow through them. But the unfortunate truth is that we don't want to grow and change as much as we simply want to be comfortable. The only way to be comfortable is to pretend."

    wonder if as a Christian there's value in never feeling "comfortable." does comfort keep us from God's will (feeding hungry, healing sick, etc.)?

  2. I have been come to a conclusion over the past year, that bad things happen in GOD's will in order for incredible things to happen. why does is work this way? maybe falling downhill into a valley gives us momentum to get to the top of the next mountain. So why do bad things happen to good people? so God's sovereign will for life can happen. and.........I am stepping off my soap box now

  3. Dave, I could not agree with you more about the clarity thing. It is the one thing I have truly wanted in my life, for years! But God has finally got it in my head that it's just not normally His style. I don't always like it, but there it is. The Call series really brought this home to me. What He wants me to be clear about is sharing His love and being and doing right where I am at the moment. I know I will probably continue to struggle with this for more years to come. Thanks for sharing your heart with us weekly.

  4. Just got a question...
    Was Judas in God's perfect will. Where is he now? No hidden statement here. I'm really just curious to read takes on this.

  5. Great stuff and something I have wondered but never been able to put into words. I am reposting some...more like most of what you wrote on my blog.

    To bad there isn't a light or something over our heads that tells us when we are in the center of God's will. We could be like spiritual Sims.

  6. Rick,

    Here are my thoughts on your question, they are by no stretch authoritative...

    I see the story of Judas' betrayal as analogous to Pharaoh's unwillingness to let the Israelites free from slavery. Pharaoh refused, thus sinning against God, then in Exodus (9:12, KJV), "God hardened Pharaoh's heart" so that when Moses asked for freedom again, Pharaoh again said "no" fulfilling God's prediction that Pharaoh would not listen to them. I think that this shows God uses situations caused by our own sin to work out his plan.

    Our sin is not his plan per se. James (1:14, KJV) tells us that we are tempted to sin when we are drawn away through our own lustful desires and enticed. The story of Job shows us that God allows such temptation, but James (1:13) says that God tempts no one. Further, 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says that God doesn't want anyone to be destroyed; he wants everyone to repent.

    So, where is Judas now? I don't know. I feel that if he believed that Jesus was God, then he is in Heaven because I don't think you can "loose" something that is a gift. It is easy to say that if he was "saved" then he would not have done what he did, but then why do I do some do some of the things that I do?

    In sum, I don't think that his sin was God's will, but I think God used his sin to carry out His will.

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  8. Like in Matthew 25, it seems once you surrender Gods perfect will just happens. It's not like you are even trying, or praying really hard to do the right thing you just do it. It's so much easier for things to just happen than to have to think about what you are doing all the time. Patience is a big part of this, thank goodness I have a lot of that. Thanks for speaking into our lives've impacted my family's life more than you could ever know.
    Thanks to God obviously speaking through Charlie a few weeks ago, I went to see SWITCHFOOT LIVE on Monday, and their life breathing words are even more incredible live. Tons of links and comments in regards to Switchfoot live shows on my blog.

  9. Josh,

    at first look I would say that Judas and Pharaoh's predicament were different. Judas being a believer and Pharaoh not, but I caught myself. It is all about God and Jesus, not about man. thank you for the insight.