Every true follower of Jesus Christ says he wants to do the will of God, yet most Christians think of God’s will as something that is imposed on them — something distasteful and difficult that they are forced to do. They picture God demanding that they give in to a hard set of rules and conditions: “Do it my way or you’re on your own!” How very wrong they are.
When a believer knows the glory of doing the Lord’s perfect will, he embraces it with joy and hope. To embrace means “to clasp, as in your arms” as an expression of love and affection. God’s will is not just for ministers or deeply spiritual saints, but for all his children. The New Testament exhorts us, “[God makes] you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight” (Hebrews 13:21). God desires that you enter into his plan and will today.
The early apostles had one desire for all the churches — that every member know God’s perfect will and embrace it. Paul wrote of a brother named Epaphras “who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ … always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12). Epaphras knew God had a perfect will for everyone in the congregation and that if they entered into it, they would find joy and have their needs met.
Christ told his disciples, “I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30). “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (6:38).
There was never a moment in Jesus’ life when he wasn’t aware that his purpose on earth was to do the will of the Father. And this ought to be true of you as well. Once you embrace the will of God, something incredible happens—Jesus manifests himself to you in new ways!
“I will take you as My people, and I will be your God” (Exodus 6:7).
God desires for you to know him! He wants to teach you to recognize his voice above all others. He revealed and manifested himself to his people, the children of Israel, over and over again — through great deliverances and miraculous signs and wonders — and yet they still did not know their God.
“For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know My ways’” (Psalm 95:10). God was saying, “In all of this you never really let me be God. You still did not know how I work!”
Beloved, God is still looking for a people who will let him be God to them to the point that they truly know him and learn his ways. We are like Israel in that we have witnessed miracles, experienced manifestation of his presence and had our prayers answered. We trust God in most areas of our lives but our faith always has boundaries and limits. There may be one small area that you block off where you don’t really believe God is going to undertake. Your doubt hinders God from being all that he wants to be in your life.
Dear reader, I cannot say whether you really know God as He desires you to. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal that. But let me share with you what God has revealed to me about how I have hindered Him from truly being God in my life: by not resting in his love for me.
It is time for you to rest securely in the love of God! You must stand up and say, "I won't accept the devil's accusations — because I'll never be worthy anyhow. All my worth comes through Jesus! He has cleansed me by His blood."
You see, you can't let Him be God to you unless you let Him love you!
When the enemy comes in like a roaring lion, don't panic — just rest. Say, "God loves me — Jesus loves me. I know and believe in His love!" Let Him be God to you by showing Him you will rest in His love. Accept it — and enjoy it. God is best at being God to you when you allow Him to shower you with His love.
Temptations are coming at you and you notice your resistance is weaker. God’s Word seems uninspiring and your prayer life is weak and anemic. Even your affection for Christ is strangely dimming. What is going on? You may be falling into spiritual lukewarmness — but don’t despair. There is hope for you! The Savior is working on your behalf to pluck you from dullness of spirit and light a fresh fire in your spirit.
How good to know that Jesus has made his cleansing provision available not only to the hot but also to the lukewarm and the cold. He is available to wash away sin from any of us. We are not only forgiven but Jesus imputed his righteousness to us. It is important for every Christian to search their heart for lukewarmness — being assured that his Holy Spirit within us gives us power over sin.
Some of the hallmarks of a lukewarm Christian are prayerlessness; lack of interest in God’s Word; disobedience; little regard for the lost; neglect in gathering with other believers.
Jesus speaks to the lukewarm church in Revelation 3:15-16: “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Christ is talking specifically about the church in Laodicea which had become very complacent in their faith. But it is also a clear warning to every generation within the church.
Even though Jesus has a distaste for lukewarmness, he offers grace to whoever will respond to his warning. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne” (3:20-21).
Jesus wants your full affection! Don’t take God’s offer for granted, but search your heart. Your heart is precious to him and he has promised to bring you back to himself if you have wandered away.
Paul and Barnabas were part of the first missionary team ever to go out. These two men experienced powerful, fruitful ministry together until a sharp disagreement occurred that would shape both of them going forward.
After Paul’s dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus, he preached Christ in the synagogues and people were amazed (see Acts 9:20-21). But when he went to Jerusalem and “tried to join the disciples … they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple” (9:26). Paul had killed Christians before his conversion and some believers thought he might be faking. But God had strategically placed a seasoned man of God named Barnabas in Paul’s path: “Barnabas took [Saul] and brought him to the apostles … [and] he was with them at Jerusalem” (9:27-28). So it seems that if there had been no Barnabas, there may not have been an Apostle Paul.
A disagreement between Paul and Barnabas occurred when Paul wanted to revisit the cities where they had ministered on their missionary journeys. A good idea on its face, but the two couldn’t agree on who would accompany them and “… the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another” (15:37-39). These brothers in Christ separated and we don’t hear anything more about Barnabas until six years later (see Galatians 2:13) — and the reference to him is not complimentary. We can only imagine something settled in his spirit that caused him to walk away from his original calling. Perhaps he had unrealistic expectations or he held a grudge that caused a crippling wound in his spirit. Whatever it was, Barnabas ended up in a really bad place.
You may occasionally have a sharp disagreement with someone in your life but Paul said, “If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down without dealing with your anger or you give a foothold to the devil” (see Ephesians 4:26-27).
The only thing that truly heals wounds is forgiveness. Whether you are the offender or the offended, the blood of Jesus covers the sin. How wonderful to know that the Lord is quick to forgive and he will work forgiveness in us if we will allow him to.
Pastor Tim pastored an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years before serving at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years. He and his wife Cindy presently pastor in Lafayette, Louisiana.
The devil does everything in his power to make his voice heard in this world. At one point he even had the audacity to interrupt Jesus while the Lord was speaking in the synagogue: “Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, saying, ‘Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth?’ … But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet, and come out of him!’” (Mark 1:23-25).
Satan had only one purpose in mind when he cried out loudly in the voice of the man and that was to send fear through the entire congregation. He wanted every person within the sound of his voice to believe he had power and authority.
Peter warns believers that Satan will come to them with a loud voice, trying to bring fear: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). If Satan is making his voice known in these last days, showing his power to the masses of lost souls, how much more important is it for God’s people to know their Father’s voice? Don’t think for a moment that the Lord is going to sit by and remain silent while Satan roars. Isaiah said, “The Lord will cause His glorious voice to be heard” (Isaiah 30:30).
From Genesis onward through the New Testament, God made his voice known to his people. Jesus used the example of the Good Shepherd: “The sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out … he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger” (John 10:3-5).
During your time of prayer you may wonder, “How can I distinguish the voice of God? How can I be sure it is God speaking?” One key factor is not to depend on the voice of another person, no matter how much you admire his or her teaching. Go directly to the Lord and commune with him. In his presence, shut in with him alone, you will get to know him — his fragrance, his ways, his heart. And you will learn to know his sweet voice!