It’s possible to know and to do God’s will. Consistently.
A couple of decades ago, the church I was leading walked through the Experiencing God study, and it changed my life. I began to understand that God was more than a subject to be studied but rather a personal, relational God who wanted me to know him deeply and to experience him daily.
I recently completed a seven-part message series based on what the authors of the study refer to as “the seven realities of knowing and doing God’s will.” It’s important to know that this isn’t something mystical. It’s actually quite practical. Further, as the workbook shows, these seven realities are illustrated over and over again throughout both testaments of the Bible in the lives of countless characters.
One fundamental issue that has to be addressed right up front is our understanding of “God’s will.” As a westerner, an American in particular, living in a consumeristic and capitalistic nation that celebrates individualism, I’m inclined to think of “God’s will” only in terms of God’s will for my life.
The problem with this line of thinking is that God, the Creator and Ruler of the universe, doesn’t exist in a way that revolves around me. It’s actually not about me at all. And it isn’t about you either. It’s all about him and his purposes. God is up to some things that are far bigger than anything I’m up to, and there is great joy and satisfaction of stepping out of my naturally self-centered view of the world into a God-centered one.
In other words, there’s a big difference between God’s will for my life and simply God’s will. God’s will is essentially the timeless unfolding of his work of redemption – a work into which he desires to draw and use me. So reject any thinking along the lines of “God, come bless what I’m doing” and instead develop a “God, help me to do what you want to bless” kind of prayer.
If you’re new to the concept of experiencing God personally, here are the seven realities…
1. God is always at work around you.
He never sleeps. He never slumbers. He doesn’t go on vacation or cease to be tuned in. He’s always alive, always active, and always working out his purposes in, around, and through you.
Watch my sermon, God Is Always Up to Something, to explore this reality more deeply.
2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.
In Scripture, God is often portrayed as the one who pursues, the one who initiates and approaches us to invite us into a thriving relationship with himself. He loves you, regardless of whether you believe you’re lovable or not, and he wants you to experience the joy and awe of knowing him personally.
Watch my sermon, God Is Always Pursuing You, to explore this reality more deeply.
3. God invites you to become involved with him in his work.
When you discover this truth for the first time, it’s a bit mind-blowing. God not only forgives us of our sins on the basis of Jesus’ death on the cross and our faith in him, he goes on to include and involve us in his great work of redeeming a lost world back to himself.
Watch my sermon, God Is Always Inviting You, to explore this reality more deeply.
4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal himself, his purposes, and his ways.
We are never left in the dark concerning God’s will. He reveals it through his inspired word, the Bible. He unveils it to us by the presence of the Holy Spirit. We hear him in prayer as he reminds us of his truth. We hear him through the wise counsel of others. We see him at work in our circumstances. Every form of hearing from God must always be submitted to what God has said in Scripture.
Watch my sermon, God Is Always Speaking to You, to explore this reality more deeply.
5. God’s invitation for you to work with him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
When you know what God is doing, and you know how he wants you to be involved in his work, you have a decision to make. And for a disciple of Jesus, the only true option is “Yes, Lord. What’s next?” Saying “yes” will sometimes cost you in the form of time, money, convenience, or comfort. But saying “no” costs even more.
Watch my sermon, God Is Always Challenging You, to explore this reality more deeply.
6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what he is doing.
It doesn’t always mean changing jobs or moving away. But sometimes it does. Saying “yes” to God will always require us to do some pruning in our lives, to orient our hearts more properly toward God and his good news. To join him requires me to worship him and not myself, him and not my own dreams and ambitions, him and not my own comfort and happiness.
Watch my sermon, God Is Always Calling Us to Transformation, to explore this reality more deeply.
7. You come to know God by experience as you obey him, and he accomplishes his work through you.
In other words, knowing God and doing his will is a repetitive cycle. I see and hear him. I decide to join him. I am transformed and I watch him work. When I see him work, I trust him more and decide to join him. Over time, my personal, experiential knowledge of him grows as I obey him.
Watch my sermon, God Is Always Calling Us Deeper Into Himself, to explore this reality more deeply.
Here’s the thing. You can live life entirely for yourself. You’ll never be satisfied. You’ll always wonder who you are and what life is all about. Or, you can begin to see God at work in the gospel and in the world around you, commit to abandoning yourself and joining him, and your life will never be the same! But at the end of the day, it’s up to you. I hope you’ll say “yes” to the God who has been pursuing you throughout your entire life with the wild, life-changing invitation to join him in the work of redemption!
If you really want to go more deeply into the subject of experiencing God, check out the study!