15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Eph 5:15-17, KJV)
What is the “will of God”? Or more directly, what is God’s will for our lives? What is it that lies deep within the heart of God that He passionately desires for His people to have or become? In my opinion, I believe that the will of God can be summed up into three words, those three words, in order, are salvation, sanctification, and appreciation or thanksgiving.
In the 6th chapter of John, starting at the 36th verse, Jesus explains what the will of God is to the crowd (READ Jn. 6:36-40). In verse 38 Jesus tells the crowd that He came to do the will of the One who sent Him. This would make us wonder then, what is the will of the One Who sent You? In the next two verses Jesus happily explains what that is. The will of the One Who sent Me is this Jesus says, that He not lose any person given to Him by the Father who sees and believes in Him and that He be sure and give those persons eternal life and raise them up at the last day.
As I have stated, I believe that first of all the will of God is the salvation of man. This is not a new thing, the salvation of man, God did not all of a sudden decide to start trying to save the world; no…and contrary to what some may believe, it did not start with Jesus becoming a man——although that is the very reason for which He did become a man…that through Him man might be saved from his sins and the wrath of God to come. God decided, after Adam & Eve sinned in the Garden, that He would get man out of the mess that he had seemingly gotten himself into. When God told the serpent that the Seed of the woman would bruise his head, what He was saying to Adam & Eve was ‘I’ll save you; I’ll get you out of this mess.’ When God told the Israelites that He would raise up another Prophet like Moses He was saying that help is on the way. God’s will for our lives, the deep desire that God has for the life of every person is that they be saved. In John 3:16 Jesus says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” In saying that what God was actually saying was this, ‘It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, if you believe in My Son I’ll save you.’ God wants to save people, and He wants to use those people to save others. He doesn’t want to see anybody die in their sins and have to be punished for eternity; He wants them to live, that is why it is important for us to share our faith with unbelievers. Salvation is not only for the Christian, believe it or not, but it is mostly for the sinner. In the gospel according to Matt. chapter 9 verse 12, Jesus states that He did not come for the righteous but for the sinner, that they might repent. Listen to how God feels about the unsaved. (READ Ezek.18:20-23, 27, 28, and 32). In verse 23 God poses a rhetorical question… “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” For those who know God personally, the only sensible answer is, ‘Not at all’, because you know very well that as God Himself stated to Moses; He is merciful. He is longsuffering. He is compassionate; gracious, and forgiving—-surely He wouldn’t want to see the very people whom He created in His image die in their sins. He desires “…all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1Tim. 2:4). That is the heart of the God that we serve. That is the very thing that God wants to see happen for all people. He desires all men to be saved.
Secondly, the will of God is also the sanctification of all His people; those who have been saved. 1 Thess. 4:3 says, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…” God’s will, His desire is first for man to be saved and then once he is saved to have him separate himself from the world and the lust of it.
To be sanctified means to be set apart from the world and its desires and to be set apart to God for His glory. According to Nelson’s Bible Dictionary sanctification is “the process of God’s grace by which the believer is separated from sin and becomes dedicated to God’s righteousness”. In Paul’s letter to Titus Paul writes, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world…” Listen to how the New Life Version reads: “God’s free gift of being saved is being given to everyone. We are taught to have nothing to do with that which is against God. We are to have nothing to do with the desires of this world. We are to be wise and to be right with God. We are to live God-like lives in this world.” “We are to have nothing to do with the desires of this world.” The Bible reminds us that at the end of the world God is returning for a people without spot, blemish, or wrinkle (Eph. 5:25-27), these flaws come from Christians trying to live double lives——holding on to the things of the world while trying to take hold of the things of God. The way that these flaws tend to come about is when we (as Believers) let the things of the world into our holy places and it begins to choke the Word of God inside of us which says; “…come out from among them, [and separate yourself”]. We must be either hot or cold…not lukewarm. So, how can we sanctify ourselves? Where do we begin if we truly want to be set apart from the world and dedicated to the righteousness of God? Turn to the 17th chapter of the Gospel of John, starting at the 13th verse (READ JOHN 17:13-17). In His prayer Jesus says to the Father, ‘Don’t take them out of the world; but set them apart from the world. Let there be a noticeable difference between those who have Your words and obey them and those who do not obey Your word’. How?
‘… through Thy Truth; Thy Word is Truth.’ It is through obedience to the Word of God that we are set apart from the world. According to an article posted on TheologicalStudies.org entitled “Americans and the Bible”,
“Most Americans own a Bible. In fact, 92% of households in America own at least one copy. Of those households that own a Bible, the average number of Bibles is three. This includes not only the homes of practicing Christians but hundreds of thousands of atheists as well. 2 Although most Americans own a Bible, use of the Bible varies significantly. In a poll taken by the Gallup Organization in October, 2000, 59% of Americans reported that they read the Bible at least occasionally. This is down from 73% in the 1980s. The percentage of Americans who read the Bible at least once a week is 37%. This is down slightly from 40% in 1990. 3 According to the Barna Research Group, those who read the Bible regularly spend about 52 minutes a week in the scriptures.”
92% of Americans own a Bible that 37% of Americans admit to reading at least once a week, and of that 37% those who read the Bible regularly only spend an average of 52 minutes a week in the Word. And we wonder why the world is looking at us and saying that we are no better than they are. Without the word of God convicting us, directing us, and educating us our chances of being set apart from the world are almost impossible. There must be a noticeable difference inside of the Christian community. Nowadays we are too focused on trying to look like the world, all in the name of evangelism, and not focusing on being like Christ. Those of us who have a desire to live our lives daily in the will of God should seek to look less like the world and more like Christ. Let the world know that being a Christian is different; that there shouldn’t be any worldly similarities between us and them. Examine your heart and answer these questions, “How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols?” There is none. The will of God is that we be set apart from the world to God. “Sanctify them by Your Truth; Thy Word is Truth.”
In light of the two things that I just mentioned about what the will of God is; the fact that God wants all people saved from their sins and the coming wrath of God, also the desire that God has for those who are saved to be separated from the world, our attitude toward God should be one of appreciation or thanksgiving. 1 Chronicles 16:34, 35 say “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise.” The act of giving thanks is probably one of the hardest things for us as humans to do because it forces us to lift our focus off of ourselves and to place it on someone else. It challenges us to make somebody else the hero. When it’s time for praise reports, how often do we hesitate to offer our appreciation to God for all that He has done for us? It’s almost as difficult as extracting teeth. Why is it that we do not see the value of the blessings that God gives to us? But when it’s time to take prayer request everybody has something that they want God to help them with; something they want God to do for them and God is saying ‘Hey, can I get a thank you at least?’ The Bible tells us that when we approach God we should “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name (Ps. 100:4, KJV)”. Every time that we come to God we should come with a gift, we should come announcing how great He is just thinking about going to Him in prayer; think about it, all God has every done for us is love us, that’s why King David said that “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night (Ps 92:1-2, KJV)”. God is a constant help in time of trouble standing ready to rescue us if we so need Him to, He says call out to me in times of trouble and I will hear, if anybody deserves a pat on the back its God. If we feel the need to boast about anything or anyone, it should be God. New Unger’s Bible Dictionary says that thanksgiving is “…gratitude for all the benefits of divine Providence, especially for the general and personal gifts of redemption”. Unger goes on to say that charis is the term most used to express this kind of gratitude or appreciation. Charis he says, is the grace of God in Christ which operates within the soul of the Believer as a principle and then goes back to God in gratitude. Now, what does it mean? It means that God, through saving our lives, redeeming us, even blessing us with breath, health, eyesight, hearing and saving us from an eternal torment by grace through Christ, God gives us a gift that then influences us to turn around and give to Him a gift that the Bible calls “… [a] sacrifice of praise, [i.e.], the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” As Christians this is not something that we do because it looks or feels good, not at all, “This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you…” Paul says, that “In every thing give thanks” 1 Thess. 5:18, KJV.
“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.”
—Margaret Cousins, associate and managing editor of Good Housekeeping for 17 years
Have you ever done something nice for someone and they didn’t say thank you? How did that make you feel? Not so good right? You may have felt mad, upset, or hurt; you may have even wished that you hadn’t been so kind to that person. Well think about God, He created everything that we see and He even created us to be and look like Him.
“… there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them.”
—G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), author
Don’t expect God to keep giving you stuff that once you have it you no longer see the value of it. This is what God says that He passionately desires from His children——-that we just show a little appreciation. “It is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you…” (1 Thess. 5:5:18, KJ