Three teenagers who had good fathers were discussing what their fathers expected of them. Without their realizing it, their conversation made the subtle shift from what their fathers expected of them to what it took to keep their fathers happy.

The first teen said that it really wasn't too hard to keep his old man happy. If he cut the grass without being asked, if he kept the car clean without being told to, and if he didn't run with the wrong crowd, his Dad was happy.

The second teen said that it was harder to keep his old man happy. He had to make at least Bs in all his classes, he had to put half of all the money he made in savings for college, and he had to be very careful never to get home later than curfew. If he did that, his Dad was happy.

The third teen said that his Dad wasn't like their Dads. His Dad expected him to be honest in everything he did no matter where he was or what he was doing. He expected him to act responsibly in anything he did. And his Dad constantly stressed the importance of developing good attitudes. His Dad was happy when he could see him developing himself.

But the fact of the matter was this: all three fathers basically expected the same things of their sons. It was not the wills of the fathers that were different. It was the perceptions of the sons that were different.

If you asked three Christians what God expected of them, you might think that they had three different spiritual Fathers. One might say that if he came to worship on Sunday morning, if he always put something in the contribution, and he didn't cause any problems in the church, God was happy.

The second might say, that if he came on Sunday for Bible class, worship, and evening assembly and came Wednesday night, read his Bible regularly, and prayed at least three times a week, God was happy.

The third might say when he was concerned about helping people know Jesus, helping the congregation grow spiritually, and about maturing as a godly person, God was happy.

Are we looking at three different wills of God, or are we looking at three different perceptions of the will of God?

  1. Every Christian is in agreement that all Christians should do the will of God.
    1. I would be amazed if one Christian here this morning would even hint that it was not necessary to do God's will.
      1. When Jesus taught his disciples the model prayer in Matthew 6:10 he told them to pray, Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
      2. In the same sermon, in Matthew 7:21, Jesus declared, Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
      3. In Matthew 12:50 Jesus said again, For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.
      4. Jesus said of himself:
        1. In John 4:34--My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to accomplish His work.
        2. In John 5:30--I can do nothing of my own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
        3. In John 6:38--For I have come down out of heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
      5. Absolutely nothing confirmed the truth of those statements as profoundly as did Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane.
        1. Jesus understood clearly the moment of his execution had come.
        2. God wanted Him to surrender His life; He did not want to die.
        3. Yet, he prayed, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as You will.
      6. Just as God's will played the supreme role in Jesus' life, Paul wrote this to the Christians at Rome in Romans 12:2: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
    2. As I said, we are all in agreement that we should do the will of God.
      1. But what is it?
        1. We want an "it" that is very specific, very identifiable, very concrete.
        2. Then we can feel okay because we did "it," and God has to be happy with us if we did "it."
      2. But that is the problem--the will of God is not an "it."
        1. The will of God cannot be confined to a list of things to do--not a short list, not a long list; the will of God is much more than a list.
        2. The will of God cannot be confined to a set of rules; the will of God is much more than a set of rules.
        3. The will of God is not the right set of commandments; the will of God is much more than a set of commands.
        4. Lists and rules and commands are too simple, too limited to encompass the will of God.
      3. Certainly there are lists and rules and commands in the will of God for us, but each of those and all of those are just a part of the will of God, and they may not even be the primary parts of God's will.

  2. Well, when I am talking about the will of God, just what am I talking about? I am talking about three things.
    1. I am talking about God's desire to extend forgiveness and salvation to every person on this earth.
      1. God put in motion the things that must happen to bring a Savior to this world from the moment that Adam and Eve sinned.
      2. For thousands of years God worked to bring that Savior.
        1. He was determined to make the forgiveness of all people possible.
        2. No matter how unbelieving or evil people became, God refused to give up.
        3. He endured every imaginable human failure to bring us that Savior.
      3. God created that Savior through the horrible execution of His own Son.
        1. He let people kill His sinless son.
        2. He let His sinless son be covered with all the evil people committed.
        3. He even withdrew His presence from the son that He loved dearly, the son who was doing exactly what He wanted him to do.
      4. He raised that son from the dead never to die again to prove His own power and to present us with a Savior more powerful than death.
      5. It was, it is, it will forever be the will of God that the whole earth know that we have a Savior.
    2. When I talk about the will of God, I am talking about God's will for all those people who accept that Savior.
      1. He wants all of those people to understand that they are His sons and daughters.
      2. As God's own children, He wants us to function as:
        1. A healthy body wherein every part does what it can do to enable the body as a whole to accomplish God's purposes.
        2. A community that learns to care about each other by learning about God's love for us.
        3. A family who has healthy relationships, who nurtures and encourages each other.
        4. As servants who serve Him in the deepest love and respect.
      3. It is God's will that we become a people who find life in the Savior and that people be ruled by love, consideration, kindness, compassion and mercy.
        1. Romans 12:9-21 describes God's will for us as a people:
          1. We love genuinely.
          2. We hate evil and cling to good.
          3. We are honorably devoted to each other with brotherly love.
          4. We are diligent, fervent people who serve the Lord.
          5. We take care of fellow Christians.
          6. We share each others' joys and sorrows.
          7. We refuse to take revenge.
          8. We defeat evil by doing good.
          9. That is the will of God for us as a congregation.
        2. Ephesians 4:25-32 describes God's will for us as God's people:
          1. We don't deceive people.
          2. We are not ruled by anger.
          3. Instead of stealing, we work honestly to take care of ourselves and to help others.
          4. What we say is always a blessing to people.
          5. We do not resist God's spirit as we seek to increasingly become God's people.
          6. We are committed to see that bitterness, wrath, anger, confusion, slander, and malice do not exist among us.
          7. We are just as determined that kindness, tender heartedness, and forgiveness live as natural expressions among us.
          8. That is the will of God for us as God's people.
    3. When we talk about the will of God, we are talking about God's will for us individually.
      1. If I am God's child, I personally surrender myself to God's will.
      2. God's will for our individual lives is not identical; His will for each of us is very individualistic, very personal.
        1. For Jesus, God's personal will for him was execution on a cross--but that is not His will for all of us.
        2. For Paul, God's personal will for him was to be a missionary to non-Jews (Acts 26:15-18)--but that is not His will for all of us.
      3. God's will in our individual lives includes:
        1. The kind of husband and wife we are.
        2. The kind of parent we are.
        3. The kind of son or daughter we are.
        4. The kind of boss or employee we are.
        5. Our honesty, integrity, and kindness.
        6. Our concern for people.
      4. God's will for you as an individual may be:
        1. Letting God through Jesus help you deal with what you need to deal with in your personal life.
        2. Letting God through Jesus heal the wounds and scars in your life that were inflicted by evil.
        3. Letting God through Jesus help you grow up, spiritually mature, so you can be useful in God's purposes in the congregation or the community.
      5. For some it focuses in special challenges and purposes.
      6. For some it focuses in recovering from the devastation of evil and helping others recover.
    4. Again, the will of God is not an "it."
      1. It is not merely attending assemblies.
      2. It is not merely taking communion.
      3. It is not merely reading your Bible and praying.
      4. It is not merely being a member of the church.
      5. Does the will of God include those things? Absolutely!
      6. But the will of God is far, far more than those things.

It is urgent that each of us understand that the will of God is seen in God's concern that the whole world learn of its Savior. It is urgent that we see that the will of God is seen in His desire that all who have accepted the Savior function together as a healthy body, a healthy community, a healthy family. It is urgent that we all see that the will of God is seen in His desire for Jesus Christ to literally rule and direct our personal lives.

Please do not make the mistake that those teenage boys made. Don't reduce doing the will of God to merely attempting to make God happy. The will of God is not about learning how to keep God happy. The will of God is about learning how to let Jesus Christ live in us.

Why should we be concerned about the will of God?
Because God loves you as you have never been loved by anyone else.
How can He love us?
I don't know; I am just thankful that He does.

Think about the Crucifixion of His Son to know just how much He loves you.

No situation will ever exist in your life that is too complicated for Him to improve.

If you surrender to His will, He will bless you eternally.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 1 June 1997

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