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How God Reveals His Will
All the passages below are taken from Max Lucado’s book “The Great House of God,” published in 1997 by W Publishing Group.
WERE THE SCENE not so common it would be comical. Two heavy-hearted disciples slouching their way home to Emmaus. By the slump in their shoulders, you’d never know today was Resurrection Sunday. By the looks on their faces, you’d think Jesus was still in the tomb. “We were hoping that he would free Israel,” they lament (Luke 24:21 NCV).
As if he hasn’t! How could you be so close to Christ and miss the point? Jesus has just redeemed the world and they are complaining about Rome? Jesus came to deal with sin and death-—and they want him to deal with Caesar and soldiers? Jesus came to set us free from hell---and they want to be set free from taxes? Talk about a miscommunication! They missed the revolution!
I made the same mistake last month. The revolution I missed was nothing like the ones the disciples missed, but I missed it just the same.
The New England colonies were never the same after the Boston Tea Party. Europe was never the same after the Battle of Normandy. The church was never the same after Luther hammered his ninety-five theses on the Wittenburg Door. And my life will never be the same now that e-mail has entered our office.
The avant-garde thinkers on the church staff had been lobbying for this change for months. “Just think,” they would say, “just move the cursor and click the mouse and the message is sent.”
Easy for them to say. They speak Computer-ese. Not me. Up until recently I thought a cursor was a person with foul language and a mouse was a rodent you trapped. As far as I knew, logging-on was the job of the lumberjack and a monitor was the guy who asked you what you were doing roaming the halls during class.
How was I to know that interface was a computer term? I thought it was slang for a slam-dunk. (Interface, baby!) Forgive me for lagging behind (or is that “logging behind”?), but a fellow can only handle so much. It happened overnight. I went to sleep in a simple society of sticky-notes and awoke in a paperless culture of e-mail. You can imagine my confusion as everyone started jabbering in this new vocabulary. “I e-mailed you a memo I found at www.confusion.com. Why don’t you download your bat.file in my subdirectory and we can interface on the internet?”
What was wrong with, “Did you get my note?”
I miss the old days. I miss the bygone era of pen touching paper and sticky-notes on my door. I long to see handwriting again and to use the “while you were out message” as a coaster for my coffee cup.
But change was inevitable and, digging my heels in the carpet, I was pulled into the netherworld of e-mail. Partly because I was busy but mostly because I was stubborn, I procrastinated learning the system. Every day the computer net mail beeped to alert me about incoming messages. And everyday the number increased. “Max Lucado has 10 unread messages in his box.” “Max Lucado has 52 unread messages in his box.” “Max Lucado has unread messages in his box.”
Finally I gave in. After being carefully tutored and mastering the correct double click of the hamster (I mean the mouse), I found myself gazing inside a room full of information, all waiting for me. There was a letter from Africa, a joke about preachers, a dozen or so announcements about meetings (I had missed—oops!). Within a few minutes I was updated, informed and, I’ll admit it, enlightened. As much as I hate to say so, it felt good to get the messages again.
Which is similar to how the two men on the road to Emmaus must have felt. They, too, had missed out on some information. They, too, were confused. They’d missed more than a memo on a committee meeting, however. They’d missed the meaning of the death of Jesus. What should have been a day of joy was to them a day of despair. Why? They didn’t know how to understand God’s will.
They aren’t alone. More than one of us has spent hours staring at the monitor of life wondering what direction to take. We know God has a will for us. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NCV).
God has a plan and that plan is good. Our question is, how do I access it? Other people seem to receive guidance; how can I? One of the best ways to answer this question is to study the story of these two confused disciples on the road to Emmaus. And I know no better time to answer these questions than now as we enter into the next room in God’s Great House and pray, “Thy will be done.”
Just down the hall from the chapel is a room uncluttered by televisions, stereos, and e-mail-infected computers. Envision a study with bookshelves lining the walls, a braided rug on the floor and an inviting fire in the hearth. In front of the fire are two high, wing chairs, one for you and one for your Father. Your seat is empty, and your Father motions for you to join him. Come and sit and ask him whatever is on your heart. No question is too small, no riddle too simple. He has all the time in the world. Come and seek the will of God.
To pray, “Thy will be done” is to seek the heart of God. The word will means “strong desire.” The study is where we learn what God desires. What is his heart? His passion? He wants you to know it.
Shall God hide from us what he is going to do? Apparently not, for he has gone to great lengths to reveal his will to us. Could he have done more than send his Son to lead us? Could he have done more than give his word to teach us? Could he have done more than orchestrate events to awaken us? Could he have done more than send his Holy Spirit to counsel us?
God is not the God of confusion, and wherever he sees sincere seekers with confused hearts, you can bet your sweet December that he will do whatever it takes to help them see his will. That’s what he was doing on the road to Emmaus.
Everybody else was on-line, and they were on foot. They saw the death of Jesus as the death of the movement, and they packed their bags and headed home. And that is where they were going when Jesus appeared to them. How sweet is the appearance of Jesus on the road. Let a lamb take the wrong turn and miss the pasture and our Shepherd, unwilling to let him wander too far, comes to guide him home. How does he do this? How does he reveal his will to us? You might be surprised at the simplicity of the process.
THROUGH THE PEOPLE OF GOD
The first mistake of the duo was to disregard the words of their fellow disciples. God reveals his will through a community of believers. On the first Easter, he spoke through women who spoke to the others. “Today some women among us amazed us. Early this morning they went to the tomb, but they did not find his body there. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels who said Jesus was alive” (Luke 24: 22—23 NCV).
His plan hasn’t changed. Jesus still speaks to believers through believers. “The whole body depends on Christ, and all the parts of the body are joined and held together. Each part does its own work to make the whole body grow and be strong with love”
(Ephesians 4:15 NCV).
While I was driving to my office this morning, my eye saw a traffic light. The sensors within my eye perceived that the color of the light was red. My brain checked my memory bank and announced the meaning of a red light to my right foot. My right foot responded by leaving the accelerator and pressing the brake.
Now what if my body hadn’t functioned properly? What if my eye had decided not to be a part of the body because the nose had hurt its feelings? Or what if the foot was tired of being bossed around and decided to press the gas pedal instead of the brake? Or what if the right foot was in pain, but too proud to tell the left foot, so the left foot didn’t know to step in and help? In all instances, a wreck would occur.
God has given each part of the body of Christ an assignment. One way God reveals his will to you is through the church. He speaks to one member of his body through another member. It could happen in a Bible class, a small group, during communion, or during dessert. God has as many methods as he has people.
That, by the way, is why Satan doesn’t want you in church. You’ve noticed, haven’t you, that when you’re in a spiritual slump, you head out to Emmaus, too. You don’t want to be with believers. Or if you do, you sneak in and sneak out of the service, making excuses about meals to prepare or work to do. The truth is, Satan doesn’t want you hearing God’s will. And since God reveals his will to his children through other children, he doesn’t want you in a church. Nor does he want you reading your Bible. Which takes us to another way God reveals his will.
THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD
The disciples disregarded the Word of God. That was their second mistake. Rather than consult the Scriptures, they listened to their fears. Jesus corrects this by appearing to them and conducting a Bible study. We’d expect something a bit more dramatic from one who had just defeated death---turn a tree into a dog or suspend the disciples a few feet in the air. But Jesus sees no need to do more than reacquaint his followers with Scripture.
“You are foolish and slow to believe everything the prophets said. They said that the Christ must suffer these things before he enters his glory.” Then starting with what Moses and the prophets had said about him, Jesus began to explain everything that had been written about himself in the Scriptures. (Luke 24:25—27 NCV)
Through the words of the prophets, he used Scripture to reveal his will. Doesn’t he do the same today? Open the Word of God and you’ll find his will.
This is God’s will, that I should raise up those he has given me. (John 6:39 NCV)
It is God’s will that you be born again, that you be “born not of the will of flesh nor of the will of man but of God.” (John 1:13 NCV)
It is not God’s will that one little one perish. (Matthew 18:14 NCV)
It is my Father’s will that everyone who sees the Son and believes on him should have eternal life---that I should raise him at the Last Day. (John. 6:40 NCV)
It is his will that the world be saved. Knowing that, then, my task is to align myself with his will. Anytime I find myself choosing between two roads I must ask, “Which road will contribute more to the kingdom of God?”
Sometimes it’s obvious. There is no way, for example, that pornography advances the cause of God. It’s beyond reason to think that embezzlement enhances the kingdom (even if you tithe on your take). I would take issue with the person who justifies her drug addiction as a way to draw nearer to the mystical side of God.
Other times it’s not as clear, but the question is still helpful. Forced to choose between two professions? Will one allow you to have a greater impact for the kingdom? Torn between two churches to attend? Will one afford you a greater chance to glorify God? You wonder if this person is the spouse for you? Ask yourself, Will he or she help me bring glory to God?
His general will provides us with guidelines which help us
understand his specific will for our individual lives.
THROUGH A WALK WITH GOD
They begged him, “Stay with us; ... it is almost night.”
So he went in to stay with them. (Luke 24:29 NCV)
We also learn God’s will by spending time in his presence. The key to knowing God’s heart is having a relationship with him. A personal relationship. God will speak to you differently than he will speak to others. Just because God spoke to Moses through a burning bush, that doesn’t mean we should all sit next to a bush waiting for God to speak. God used a fish to convict Jonah. Does that mean we should have worship services at Sea World? No. God reveals his heart personally to each person. For that reason, your walk with God is essential. His heart is not seen in an occasional chat or weekly visit. We learn his will as we take up residence in his house every single day.
If you were to take a name at random out of the phone book and ask me, “Max, how does Chester Whomever feel about adultery?” I couldn’t answer. I don’t know Chester Whomever. But if you were to ask me, “Max, how does Denalyn Lucado feel about adultery?” I wouldn’t even have to call her. I know. She’s my wife. We have walked together long enough that I know what she thinks.
The same is true with God. Walk with him long enough and you come to know his heart. When you spend time with him in his study, you see his passion. Welcome him to enter the gateway of your soul and you’ll perceive his will. By the way, did you notice that curious action of Jesus found in verse 28? “They came near the town of Emmaus and Jesus acted as if he were going farther.”
Doesn’t Jesus want to be with the disciples? Of course he does. But he doesn’t want to be where he’s not invited. Ever the gentleman, our Lord awaits our invitation. Please note, it was after they gave this invitation that they were “allowed to recognize Jesus” (v. 31).
There is one final way God reveals his will.
THROUGH THE FIRE OF GOD
When they saw who he was, he disappeared. They said to each other, “It felt like a fire burning in us when Jesus talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us.”(vv. 31—32)
Don’t you love that verse? They knew they had been with Jesus because of the fire within them. God reveals his will by setting a torch to your soul. He gave Jeremiah a fire for hard hearts. He gave Nehemiah a fire for a forgotten city. He set Abraham on fire for a land he’d never seen. He set Isaiah on fire with a vision he couldn’t resist. Forty years of fruitless preaching didn’t extinguish the fire of Noah. Forty years of wilderness wandering didn’t douse the passion of Moses. Jericho couldn’t slow Joshua, and Goliath didn’t deter David. There was a fire within them.
And isn’t there one within you? Want to know God’s will for your life? Then answer this question: What ignites your heart? Forgotten orphans? Untouched nations? The inner city? The outer limits?
Heed the fire within!
Do you have a passion to sing? Then sing!
Are you stirred to manage? Then manage!
Do you ache for the ill? Then treat them!
Do you hurt for the lost? Then teach them!
As a young man I felt the call to preach. Unsure if I was correct in my reading of God’s will for me, I sought the counsel of a minister I admired. His counsel still rings true. “Don’t preach,” he said, “unless you have to.”
As I pondered his words I found my answer: “I have to. If I don’t, the fire will consume me.”
What is the fire that consumes you?
Mark it down: Jesus comes to set you on fire! He walks as a torch from heart to heart, warming the cold and thawing the chilled and stirring the ashes. He is at once a Galilean wildfire and a welcome candle. He comes to purge infection and illuminate your direction.
The fire of your heart is the light of your path. Disregard it at your own expense. Fan it at your own delight. Blow it. Stir it. Nourish it. Cynics will doubt it. Those without it will mock it. But those who know it---those who know him---will understand it.
To meet the Savior is to be set aflame.
To discover the flame is to discover his will.
And to discover his will is to access a world like none you’ve ever seen. (69-79)
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