“Your Will Be Done – On Earth as it is in Heaven”
October 2, 2011 LORD’S PRAYER STUDY WEEK 3
SCRIPTURE: Exodus 32:7-14 and Matt 26:36-45
QUOTE - The will of God will not take you to where the grace of God will not protect you. Unknown
Today our topic is one of the most wondered about aspects of God – God’s will. We pray those words, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” so easily – but do we realize what we are saying – what we are asking??? Actually – what we are agreeing to? I believe God has every right to expect that if I’m praying for his will to be done – if YOU are praying for his will to be done - we mean we want his will to be done in OUR LIVES.
I think I said last week, this is no prayer to pray if you want your life to remain the same!
One question that is often asked is “How do I KNOW what God’s will is?” If I want to do his will – how do I know what it is? There’s a great answer to that in our book, Power Praying. I’ve learned in many other contexts the same ideas – and I agree with David Chotka – that God gives us several resources that work together to help us discern God’s will – its not just guesswork – and while Scripture IS one of those resources – it is NOT in the way that I’ve heard it done, sometimes.
The story goes that there once was a man who used Scripture to seek God’s will for his life. He would open up his Bible, put his finger on the page and read whatever verse his finger pointed to - so that he might obey it. One day, as this man was going through a particularly difficult time with his family, he sought the Lord for guidance. Opening his Bible and pointing, he found his finger resting on the second part of Matthew 27:5, which read “Then Judas went out and hanged himself.” Puzzled by the Lord’s directions, but still desiring a word from God, he called a “do-over” and flipped to another page, where his eyes fell on the latter half of Luke 10:37: “Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” Chalking it up to coincidence, the man decided to give his method one last chance. Saying a quick prayer, “Lord, show me your will,” he flipped the pages and inserted his finger between two of them, pointing to the end of John 13:27. There, staring up at him, were these words: “‘What you are about to do, do quickly,’ Jesus told him.”http://www.newlife-glastonbury.org/blog/2010/01/19/and-god-said-go-hang-thyself/
Not the Best method of Bible study and Life application, is it? But it IS a valid – and an important question – HOW DO we know what God’s will is – since we’re praying for it to be done – and God wants US to be the agents through whom it GETS done – how do we know we’re on the right track? 3:00
The 1st thing to think about is – we DO know very much about God’s will – God has given it to us in the WORD of God – the Bible. There are many instructions on how God wants us to live – how we are to treat one another – whether young or old – parents/children – church – community, employer/employee – friend or enemy – so we can START with those things we KNOW are God’s will.
Many wise teachers & preachers have said, and the author David Chotka agrees, that when desiring to DO God’s will - we begin by Doing the GENERAL will of God until God’s specific will is revealed to us. Along with that we can say – as we seek God’s will – his individual will for a person will NEVER contradict the clear direction of God in Scripture. Listen to this example;
Paul writes, in Rom 14:20-21; 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat;
21 it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister1 stumble.2 (Rom 14:20-21 NRS)
You could use this method with many questions that come up in our lives – for many times we agonize over what God’s will ‘might be’ when, if we would only apply the basic instructions in the Bible – the 10 Commandments - and the spirit behind each one, and Jesus’s 2 Commandments – Love God above all else – and love others as you love yourself – there would be no question for us.
In addition to this basic starting point – there is additional wisdom that can help us to discern God’s will in certain circumstances:
p. 113 Power Praying : Over years of seeking to know what God wanted done (with many false trails along the way) five steps have regularly provided helpful guidance.
They are as follows:
· The Word of God - we can certainly narrow down the realm of direction from the general instructions God gives us – It would NEVER be God’s will for you to repay evil with evil – to retaliate against someone who’s ‘done you wrong.’ It would never be God’s will for you to get involved with a shady business deal.
· The Witness of the Holy Spirit - As you pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you – you may feel the witness of the Spirit - PEACE in your soul – or the Spirit may lead you to Scripture that speaks directly to you AND/OR . . .
· The Workers in God’s kingdom – The Spirit can lead you to trusted Christians who can pray with you and provide someone to ‘talk it through’ with. To find such a person, he/she should be . . . a person;
o saturated in the Word of God ,
o open to the leading of the Spirit and
o sensitive to God’s flow of peace.
o a person with no vested interest in the decisions…
Pray together - Let him/her ask you probing questions and talk it through until, together, you come to a place in which the peace of God resonates in both your souls, indicating that this decision is pleases God.
There should be a sense in which the Word of God is in harmony with this decision. The sense of leading in the soul of the seeker is peaceful and clear. There should be a consensus; that the Word and Spirit together with your Spirits are pointing in this direction. With all these in place, the last two steps can be taken.
· The Worship of God - At this point, a decision to proceed with a direction is taken. The outflow of this process should be “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”—praise, worship, and a release of intimacy with God in the souls of all concerned.
· The Will of the believer - Once the decision is taken, you set your will to live with the consequences of whatever decision is taken. . . . Thankfulness will be the calling in the times when the decision is tough. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17). Page 115
One reality we need to recognize is; Knowing God’s will & liking it are not the same - By the time Bobby arrived, the football game had already started. "Why are you so late?" asked his friend. "I couldn't decide between going to church and going to the football game. So I tossed a coin," said Bobby. "But that shouldn't have taken too long." said the friend. "Well, I had to toss it 35 times." http://www.jokesclean.com/ChristianJokes/
If we’re Serious about God’s will in our lives – the truth is – sometimes we won’t like what we’re told. Our NT Scripture is the ultimate example of ‘praying through” – hearing, knowing what God’s will is – THEN needing the strength to DO it – when it isn’t pleasant.
prayer in the
38Then He said … My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that [c]I am almost dying of sorrow. Stay here and keep awake and keep watch with Me. 39 … He threw Himself upon the ground on His face and prayed saying, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will [not what I desire], but as You will and desire. 40And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, What! Are you so utterly unable to stay awake and keep watch with Me for one hour? 41All of you must keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42Again a second time He went away and prayed, My Father, if this cannot pass by unless I drink it, Your will be done. 43 … again He came and found them sleeping, …44 …. He went away and prayed for the third time, using the same words. 45Then He returned to the disciples and said to them, Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of[d]especially wicked sinners [[e]whose way or nature it is to act in opposition to God].
THREE times Jesus asked his Father God if there were any other way – and yet he KNEW this was the plan – he had known it since he left heaven – but at this moment – the humanity in Jesus was agonizing over God’s will – and as I said – he ‘prayed through,’ Got up from his prayer and Judas came with the guards and arrested him.
Another example in Scripture of praying and accepting God’s will even when the answer is NOT what we want – is Paul’s description of the ‘thorn in the flesh,’ (2Co 12:7-10 NRS) . . . to keep1 me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.2 8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9 but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power1 is made perfect in weakness." So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. . . . ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
There are many speculations as to what Paul’s problem was – its probably God’s intention that we DON’T know – because what matters is – Paul’s prayer was answered, “NO” – God did NOT take it away – so Paul would remain humble and God’s power was seen in him.
It is only when we understand that God’s will is ALWAYS the best – EVEN when the answers are ‘NO’ or “NOT NOW – NOT YET” – those ARE answers – just not what WE wanted.
ANOTHER important aspect of prayer is that when we pray - God’s ultimate will can’t be changed – his provisional will can be altered by prayer based on God’s character – and his promises to us!
That is the example in today’s OT Scripture. This is an area that is not totally clear – but what we see in the Scripture indicates we CAN pray for God to ‘change his mind’ in certain circumstances – based on his promises and character.
When Moses was on the mountain with God –receiving the commandments – the people got tired of waiting – tired of waiting for Moses to finish talking with GOD!!! How impatient they were – asking Aaron to make them a ‘god’ out of gold – so they could bow down to a man-made statue of a cow – as if that really was a god! How quickly they reverted to the ways of the Egyptians, under whom they slaved for 1oo’s of years.
God had just told them the words of the Covenant God was working out with Moses – back in Ex 20 – the commandment was not hard to understand: 3 you shall have no other gods before1 me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation1 of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exo 20:3-6 NRS)
No wonder God was angry – angry enough he
told Moses he was going to kill them all – and start over with Moses and his
family! But Moses cared so much for the
people – AND for the reputation of God to the people who lived in the area –
who were watching this relationship between God and
Moses implored God to relent – he reminded God of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, - as well as how it would look to the indigent tribes if God had rescued ‘his people’ only to wipe them out in the desert! (Exo 32:7-14 NRS)
11 But Moses implored the LORD his God, and said, "O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, . . . . Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. . . . 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, 'I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'"
And God listened to Moses’ prayer – v 14 And the LORD changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.
We could also look back further – to
Abraham – when God told him he would destroy
IF we read through the Bible to get the
“Big Picture” of what God is about – who he is – what - life is all about – It is about our loving
Creator God – who created the Universe and humanity as the pinnacle of creation
– made to be in a loving covenant relationship with God. Our 1st parents
rebelled against God and broke the original Creation covenant. God then made a covenant with Noah, then with
Abraham, then with Moses & the nation of
They would be a “kingdom people,” a nation set apart to show how good God is!
The OLD Covenant was described by God this way; hear the LOVE in God’s words: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:4-6, NASB, emphasis added)
Later, through the prophet Jeremiah, God
describes the NEW Covenant; “Behold,
days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will make a new covenant with house of
Not only would the law be written within by His Spirit’s presence, but when the people of God were truly in love with God Himself, the Lord would restore the Promised Land: And more description from Ezekiel;
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers, so you will be My people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:26-28, NASB, emphasis added)
The promises made to
So while we are here on earth as “the church,” the ‘people of God,” we pray for, and work for, the kingdom to come – and for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. The kingdom breaks through as the Holy Spirit works in OUR lives as we seek to do his will here and now.
Eventually, one day – when Jesus returns, the kingdom WILL come in power and glory – forever, and as we read in Rev 21:3 ff, This will be the people of God, forever “at home” in who God is, and God Himself, forever “at home” in the people of God, who will shine with His glory forever: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.’” (Revelation 21:3, NASB, emphasis added). P. 146
Let us pray . . .
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