Meditation on "Do you have a will?"

This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free, compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Hristo Kulichev (Bulgarian, imprisoned and exiled for almost four years for his faith in Jesus Christ), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:

Your will be done. (Matthew 26:42)

There are many believers who put their desires before God's will.  They expect that God will satisfy their whims and wishes.  God did it for Hezekiah, didn't He?

God's will for Hezekiah was:  "Put your house in order."  Instead of obeying God's will, Hezekiah pleaded with God to let him live a bit longer.  God answered his prayer and added fifteen more years to his life because Hezekiah had followed the Lord with his whole heart.  But the extra fifteen years were not a blessing.  Not for Hezekiah, nor for his family or his nation.  It was during those extra years that Hezekiah made a terrible mistake (2 Kings 20:12), showing all his possessions and riches to visitors from Babylon.  God was not honored.  Hezekiah was exalted--not God.

Let us be sons and daughters of the living God whose pleasure it is to do the will of the Father instead of God having to please us.

The greatest blessing for us is not when God satisfies all our desires, but when we obey His will.  Then we will find real joy and full pleasure in our complete obedience to God.

A moment of introspection:  What do we do with a God who wants not only our love and commitment in faith, but also our obedience?  In the garden known as "Gethsemane," or "wine press", our Lord often went to pray either with or without His disciples.  On the fateful night of His betrayal, Christ made the difficult decision to become a doer of the word, when He told God "Your will be done."  As we grow older, wiser, and more like our Lord, how do we not only find pleasure in doing God's will, but take such pleasure to be an instrument of God's divine intention?  I'd like us to consider this question in light of Jeremiah 15:16; that verse describes Jeremiah's own journey to finding and taking pleasure in doing God's will.  Jeremiah starts out by saying, "Your words were found..." Discovering God's Holy Word is the first step in finding pleasure in doing God's will.  The apostle James elaborated on this, when he wrote "Do not merely listen to [or read] the word and so deceive yourselves."  (my clarification:  ours is not merely an oral Bible, but principally a written one.)  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does." (James 1:22-25)  So, finding pleasure in doing God's will leads to blessings in one's life.  Let's look further at Jeremiah's discovery.  "Your words were found...and I ate them..."  He seems to be saying that "I not only read them or heard them, but incorporated them in my life through doing them."  James would agree with Jeremiah.  "Your words were found...and I ate them...and your words became to me a joy, and the delight of my heart..."  Does this sound like a person who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like?  No, Jeremiah not only found pleasure in doing God's will, but he also grasped and absorbed that pleasure as he read and applied what God directs through His Word.  Doing God's will became pleasurable--and blessed.

When we pray the Lord's Prayer, do we "hedge our bet" and pray "Thy kingdom come; my will be done"?  This is another way to look at finding and taking pleasure in doing God's will.  We would never say to God, that our will is supreme.  Just as, to His face, we would never tell Him "No" in answer to His will.  Differently stated, we, growing in stature and grace and in the likeness of our Lord, we would say to God, "Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39b)

If God's will is to be done, what part do we play in helping to carry out His will?  That passage in Matthew 26 comes to mind, along with John 14:12 "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."  We too, then, should be even more willing to do God's will as opposed to our own, to not only FIND pleasure in doing God's will but to GRASP or TAKE that pleasure and experience God's blessing in the process.  In this, according to the apostle, James, we need to be active in our obedience to God's will, not merely passive "and so deceive yourselves." 

In obedience to God, our own good intentions often fall short of the mark.  Someone remarked "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."  A good resource toward re-aiming our priorities and goals to be heavenly-directed, is a book entitled Desiring God's Will:  Aligning Our Hearts with the Heart of God (Author:  David G. Benner; ISBN: 0830832610; Inter-Varsity Press, 2005)  Another good resource is Decision Making & the Will of God:  A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View (Authors: Garry Friesen with J. Robin Maxson; ISBN: 1590522052; Multnomah Press, 2004).

Hristo Kulichev noted aptly that Hezekiah made a big mistake when he showed all his possessions and riches to his visitors, the Babylonians.  In his actions, Hezekiah could have benefited from the wisdom of Jeremiah 9:23-24.  In his action, it was Hezekiah, not God who was exalted.  God warned him of the results of his misguided exaltation, in 2 Kings 20:16-18.

What blessing can we know in obeying God?  John 15:10 says, "If you obey my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father and remain in His love."  One blessing--remaining in Christ's love.  John 15:7 adds "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask anything you wish and it will be given you."  A second blessing--prayer answered by, and attuned to, His will.  In Matthew 12:50, Jesus reveals that "whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."  A third blessing--membership in God's family (this does not refer to the message of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus).  If we live our lives being blessed by God, Christ's ultimate separation of goats from sheep in the end times will reward the ones thus blessed with entry into "...the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." (Matthew 25:34b)  Pretty awesome!

How much do we trust God--and rely on Him in obeying God and His Son's commands?  When we sing, "All to Jesus I surrender; all to Him I freely give", do we mean what we sing?  We offer Him our will, our actions, our feelings, our motivations--all with the intent of doing God's will.  We do so freely and with no divine coercion; we withhold nothing from God.  And we trust Him fully (Psalm 37:4-5; Proverbs 3:5-6; and other references)

Lastly, in what way does memorizing God's Word lead us to the delight of doing His will?  We hide His Word in our hearts, so that we might not sin against Him. (Psalm 119:11)  One who understood the gravity of sin is King David, who wrote after his sin with Bathsheba, "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight..." (Psalm 51:4a)  Any sin is an affront to God, and the more we hide within us God's Word and have it available at all times to guide and to direct us, the less likely we are to stray from the path God has set for us.  In my own life, I find the memorization of God's Word to be a necessity, and to study God's Word with an eye to application helps me understand what it means to "eat" God's Word.  The Holy Bible has been found, and is the joy of my life and the delight of my heart.  Let us not only find but take hold of the pleasure to be found in the communication of God to our hearts and lives, the Bible.  Let us be doers of God's Word and not hearers only.  Yes, we have a will; let's lay it at the foot of the cross and seek God's perfect will in its place.  May we indeed utter, with John the Baptizer, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30 NKJV)

 

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