The Ultimate Satisfaction: Acts Series #36
The Lord Jesus said on one occasion, “Not my will, but thine be done.” The friends of the Apostle Paul said to him, “the will of the Lord be done.” I wonder if you can say from the very depths of your being and really mean it in your soul—“I want God’s will to be done for my life.”
The Apostle Paul is convinced in his heart that the will of God for Him is to go to the city of Jerusalem. As he makes his journey toward Jerusalem, his friends and those who love him the most have come to understand by the Holy Spirit that Paul is going to face persecution and suffering if he goes to the city of Jerusalem. So, they are troubled by it and tell Paul not to go.
It’s very similar to what happened to the Lord Jesus and His disciples. Along the way, Jesus talked about going up to Jerusalem and he said that He would go up there and be crucified. When his disciples heard that, of course, they loved him so much, this was troubling to them, and it didn’t fit into their plans for the Lord. So, they began to beg Jesus not to go up, but you and I know that it was the will of God for Jesus to go to Jerusalem, to go to Calvary, die on the cross, and be buried in the tomb. Then, three days later come back to be our risen, resurrected Lord!
However, this is one of those passages of Scriptures where we really understand the complexities of the will of God. When we say, “The will of the Lord be done,” you and I know it is not such a simple matter for the will of the Lord to be done. There are complexities involved. Here is one of those examples about the complexity of the will of God in that sometimes good people have differing opinions about what the will of God is.
Paul was convinced that it was the will of God for him to go to the city of Jerusalem. In Acts 20:22, we read, “And now behold, I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there, save that the Holy Spirit witnesses in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself that I might finish my course with joy in the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus to testify of the grace of God.”
You have to get the impression he was convinced that it was God’s will for him to go to Jerusalem regardless of what he would find there. Yet, when we get into Acts chapter 21, his friends are convinced that it is not the will of God. We read in Acts 21:4, “And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days, who said to Paul through the Spirit that he should not go up to Jerusalem.” Agabus, the prophet, tied himself up in Paul’s belt and said this is what is going to happen to Paul when he goes to Jerusalem. In Acts 21:12 we read, “We, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.” Good people differ about the will of God.
There are some people who are convinced that a certain course is the will of God for them, but there are those around them who love them, and they are persuaded that it is not the will of God. Who is right? I think Paul saw his duty and was convinced this was the will of God for Him. I think his friends saw the danger of what was ahead, and they were convinced it was not the will of God for him. In this case, I have to believe that Paul and the Holy Spirit’s writer here, Dr. Luke, are in tune with what God’s ultimate will and plan was for his life. It may be that these warnings and these predictions along the way were just preparing and fortifying Paul for what the will of God would involve in his life.
I want to talk to you about God’s will for your life. The Bible has a lot to say about God’s will for your life. Jesus taught us to pray in the model prayer “not my will, but thy will be done, as it is in heaven.” We are to seek God’s will for our lives. Then, we are to surrender to God’s will. Ephesians 6:6 says, “We are to do the will of God from our hearts.” Then, the Bible says we are to stand in God’s will. In Colossians 4:12, “we can stand complete in the will of God.”
Would you like to know God’s will for your life? Do you know what God has planned? What God wants you to do in your life? That’s one of the main things young people ask. “What is the work that God has in store for me?” Young people are very interested in the will of God, but all of us are. The older you get, you don’t become any less interested in wanting to know what’s God’s plan and purpose is for your life. Sometimes, the older you get, the more you begin to be deeply concerned that you do the will of God in your life. Wouldn’t it be a tragedy to live all of your life and then miss God’s plan and will for your life?
Colossian 1:9 says, “that we can be filled with the knowledge of His will.” Would you like to know the will of the Lord for your life? When a ship is going through the Panama Canal, there are a series of markers. When those markers are all in line with one another, the captain can navigate the Panama Canal. What I want to encourage you to do is to put down some markers. There are some markers I think will be helpful to you in finding God’s will for your life.
I. GOD’S WILL IS TO BE RECOGNIZED TO EXIST
We need to recognize that God’s will is real for us. In Acts 20:14 we read, “the will of the Lord be done.” It’s real. God does have a plan for your life. There is such a thing as the will of God.
When the Lord Jesus saved Paul on the Damascus Road, the Lord said to him, “I will show you how great things you must suffer for my name, and how you will bear my name before kings and Gentiles and the Jews.” God had a plan for Paul’s life. I believe God has a will and a plan for your life.
Let me give you something that will really bless you. The Lord Jesus in Matthew 10:29 made an interesting statement. He is talking about the sparrows. He says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your father knowing it.” Two sparrows sold for one farthing. Now I want to read to you what Jesus said in Luke 12 about the sparrows. In verse 6, Jesus said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten?” Do the math. In Matthew 10, He said, 2 sparrows for one farthing. In Luke He says five sparrows for two farthings. Do you see what Jesus has done? He’s thrown in an extra sparrow. Here is a sparrow that seems to be of such little value that they just throw it in extra without any cost. Yet, Jesus said not one of those sparrows is forgotten before God. He is saying if you find a dead sparrow somewhere it means you have just missed a funeral conducted by God Himself. It means that little sparrow, so cheap, so insignificant that they just threw it in extra—when it dies the God of this universe looks down and says, “One of my sparrows has just died.” If God takes that notice of one little sparrow, God has a plan for you. You are important! God has a will for your life.
When I read there are 100 trillion cells in my body and every one of those cells is going through 18 thousand chemical reactions constantly, I have to believe that God has a plan and a purpose in my life. Thus, do not say there is no purpose for your existence or no reason for your being here on this earth. You are not some colossal accident. You are here by the divine plan and providence of God. He’s got a will for you.
There is another truth you need to recognize. God has a will. You have a will. The Bible says man has a will. You say, “I believe in the sovereignty of God. You don’t have any will, no choice in the matter.” If I understand the Bible correctly the Bible teaches that the sovereign God has chosen to give us a will. He has made us in His own image. God has a will, if we are in the image of God, that means that we have a will. That simply means that God, in His sovereign plan has chosen to give us the ability to choose.
How daring on the part of God to give you and me the ability to choose because that simply means that we have the ability to choose to reject God’s will for our lives. Think about that. You and I can choose not to do the will of God. In Acts 20:14 we read, “the will of the Lord be done.” That simply means that if the will of the Lord can be done, it means also that the will of the Lord may not be done. We can choose.
We read about it all through the Bible. God gave Adam and Eve the ability to choose. God put a tree in the garden. He said you can eat all of the trees of the garden, but this one and you are not to eat of it. He gave them a choice and of course we know what happened. They chose to reject God’s will and when they did, they lost Eden and brought sin into the human family. It’s serious to reject the will of God.
I think about Abraham. God had a plan for him that he would have a special son and his son would be named Isaac. But Abraham rejected God’s will for his life and decided to assert his own will and the result was that he brought into the world Ishmael. As a result of this disobedience, they are still fighting in the Middle East and it all stems back to Isaac and Ishmael because Abraham rejected God’s will.
James in his Epistle tells us about a merchant who had it all planned out. He said, “Today or tomorrow, I’m going to this or that city and do this and I’m going to do that.” The man was probably not an intellectual Atheist, but he was a practical Atheist. He was living as if God had no will, as if God had no plan. So, he asserted his own will and totally neglected the will of God. There are many people in the world like that today. They live their life with not any idea whatsoever that God has a plan and a purpose for them.
There are millions of people, if not billions, living their life with no conscious thought whatsoever about God’s will for their life. They have no interest whatsoever in knowing what God wants them to do. They are just living their life accumulating a few trinkets, toys and some trash in this world. They may become rich and famous and wealthy, but if they never, ever find God’s plan for their lives, they are not what they could have been. And their lives won’t mean what it could have been.
Recognition—God has a will for you and it’s real. God’s will may be rejected. Another truth I want you to recognize about God’s will is that God’s will is always right. In Romans 12;2 the Bible says, “Be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” That means that God’s will for your life is always right.
I don’t know what God’s will is for your life. It may mean that God wants you to be a businessperson. It may be that God wants you to be a doctor. It may be that God wants you to be a lawyer. It may be that God wants you to be a homemaker. It may be that God wants you to be a mechanic. I don’t know what God’s will and God’s plan for your life is, but I do know this, it’s that which would be the most possibly best purpose and plan for your life you could ever know. God’s will will make you happy. You will be satisfied if you do God’s will.
Sir Thomas Lipton was an English sportsman. He sailed ships and won many yachting prizes. But the one he wanted most of all was the American Cup and he was never able to get it. On an occasion, some friends were visiting his home and he showed them all of the trophies of the yachting prizes he had won, and then referring to the American Cup he said, “I would gladly give away all of these trophies for the one I never got.”
I don’t know what trophies you are chasing after in life, but I do know this—when you get them all, if you are out of the will of God, you are basically going to be an unhappy and unsatisfied person. But when you find God’s will, follow God’s will, and finish God’s will, there will be joy and happiness in your life.
I heard about a fiddle player who decided he wanted to play his violin with the people who were playing on television. He would play along with the orchestras. The problem was he didn’t know some of the songs they played. So, while the orchestra was playing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, he just decided to play Yankee Doodle. There was discord.
Some of you are playing Yankee Doodle when God has a symphony for your life. If you surrender to the will of God it will make you happy and bring fulfillment in your life. The Lord Jesus said, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me.” In that particular situation, God’s plan for the Lord Jesus was to meet a poor woman at the well and tell her about the water of life and he was so helpful to her.
II. GOD’S WILL IS TO BE RESOLVED TO BE EXECUTED
In the statement, “the will of the Lord be done,” there is a resolution. When they say the will of the Lord be done, they are resolving that more than anything else in the world, they want God’s will done. They are dedicating themselves to do the will of God.
When Jesus prayed in the garden, “Not my will, but thy will be done,” He was making a resolution to accomplish the will of God. When Paul was on the Damascus Road he said to the Lord, “Lord, what will thou have me to do?” He said in Romans 1, “I am ready.” He was saying, “I am determined to do the will of God in my life.”
This is where the snag comes with many people in this whole matter of God’s will for their life. A lot of people aren’t sure they want to do God’s will. In fact, some people think that the will of God is like going through a cafeteria line. Have you noticed how they put the desserts as the last thing to tantalize and tempt you? There’s the salads and pick the one you like. There’s the meat and you choose. There’s the vegetables and you choose. Last, there are the desserts. A lot of people think that’s the way God’s will is. Somehow God is just going to lay out His will for your life and then you just go through the cafeteria line and pick and choose. No, God’s will is to be done, regardless. If you really want to do the will of God, you don’t have to know ahead of time what God’s will is.
God has a plan for you. Do you want to go with Him? If you and I believe that our heavenly Father loves us and that a sparrow doesn’t fall without Him taking notice of it, and if we believe that God has a beautiful plan and a purpose for our lives, it really won’t matter where the will of God leads us. We know we’ll be in His perfect plan and we know that we’ll be in His perfect purpose. What you and I need to do is absolutely determine to do God’s will.
Determination to do God’s will. Dedication to do God’s will. Have you dedicated your life to doing the will of God? Are you totally committed to it? Are you willing to say today, “I am resolved to do the will of God?” Are you willing to say that you want God’s will for your life? Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else. If God should reveal His will out of heaven for you right now, would you instantly obey it?
The first marker is recognition. God has a will for your life. The second marker is resolution. You may not know God’s will until you are willing to do God’s will. Let me show you a verse that I always share with young people who talk with me about the will of God. In John 7:17, Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.” Which comes first in the verse? Being willing to do His will or knowing His will? If you are willing to do God’s will, then you can know God’s will.
III. GOD’S WILL IS TO BE REVEALED EXCEPTIONALLY
If you recognize God has a plan and a purpose for your life, and if you are resolved that you want to do it, whatever it is. then God will reveal His will to you. The sun will rise. The door will open. The path will become clear. We read, in Acts 21:14: “And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased saying the will of the Lord be done.” As you move through the rest of the book of Acts, it becomes very clear and apparent what the will of God was for his life in that situation.
I’m going to be honest with you. I’ve been serving the Lord for a long, long time. It’s a whole lot easier to look back and say that was the will of God than to look forward and say that’s the will of God.
I can look back now on some decisions I made and at the time I didn’t have 100% assurance, but yet it seemed to me that the Lord had opened up a door. The Bible says, “the steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord.” God will lead you step by step. But, now looking back I can say that was exactly what God’s will was for my life.
Much of God’s will for your life you can already know. God has already revealed much of it in His Word; much of what His will is for your life. God’s will never contradicts His Word. Did you get that? If you think it’s the will of God for you to do something and yet what you are getting ready to do is clearly forbidden in the Bible, you can know that is not God’s will for your life. I want to show you some things that I know right now are God’s will for your life.
First, I can promise you on the assurance of the authority of God’s Word, it is God’s will for you to be saved. First John 2:4 says, “He is not willing that any should perish, but who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” First Timothy 2:4, “It is God’s will that all be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” First John 2:2, “He is the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.” John 3:16 says, “for God so loved the world that … whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” I can say to you on the authority of the Bible that it is God’s will for you to be saved. God has given you the awesome power to choose. You can choose to reject God’s salvation. You can say no to God’s offer of salvation and in so doing by the assertion of your will, you can rob yourself of God’s great salvation. I can tell you that it is the will of God for you to be saved.
Second, I can tell you on the authority of God’s Word it is God’s will for you that you be sanctified. Sanctified just simply means “set apart to the Lord.” In I Thessalonians 4:3 it says, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification that you should abstain from fornication.” God’s will for your life has a negative. We are to say no to everything in your life that would be displeasing or dishonoring to the Lord. But God’s will is also positive. You are saying yes to everything Jesus Christ has for you. You are a “set apart one.” Set yourself apart from Christ and say, “I belong to Jesus. I don’t want to do my will. I don’t want to do the devil’s will. I want to do God’s will for my life.”
Third, God’s will for us is to serve Him. In Acts 4:2, we read, “that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lust of men, but to the will of God.” Live your life to the will of God. Serve God in His will. God has a place of service for you. God has a work for you to do. Is your life about over and you think God doesn’t have anything for you to do? Yes, he does. If God didn’t have anything for you to do, He would take you on to heaven right now. I don’t believe you can die until God decides for you to die. I think God has a plan and God has a purpose for your life and if you are in the will of God, you are immortal until God’s plan is carried out in your life.
The Bible says in Acts 13, “David served his own generation by the will of God.” He started out as a shepherd boy. How could he ever have dreamed that God’s place of service for him was to sit on the throne of Israel. But God had a place of service for him. Maybe you’ve been looking for a job and you can’t get one. Maybe you’ve had some rejections and some turndowns, and you are getting discouraged. If you surrender to the will of God, God will just keep moving you on and He’ll open the door one of these days and you’ll get the job God intended for you to get. Then you’ll say, “This is a whole lot better than the one I wanted.”
The Lord told Elijah to go down to the brook. The ravens will feed you there. Then, the Lord told him to go over there where the widow woman is. She will feed you there. “There,” is where God’s purpose for your service is. He’ll put you there if you’ll be willing to let Him lead you. God has a purpose for service.
D. L. Moody was working in a shoe store. He had almost no education. A man came to the shoe store, went back into the stock room where young D. L. Moody was and led him to Christ. D. L. Moody began to talk and teach Sunday School lessons. He started a Sunday School for boys and girls and every Sunday morning he would get on his donkey and ride around to the houses of the boys and girls and if they weren’t ready, he would go in and help them get ready. If they hadn’t had any breakfast, he would get them some breakfast. Then, they would follow Moody on his donkey to Moody’s Sunday School. The papers in Chicago called him Crazy Moody. But Crazy Moody built a Sunday School of over 1000 boys and girls. Before it was over, he founded the mighty Moody Church which still exists in Chicago. Before it was over, he started a printing business (Moody Press) to get out the Gospel in inexpensive literature. Before it was over, he preached the Gospel on two continents. Before it was over, there was a mighty school, The Moody Bible Institute named after him. Before it was over there was a series of radio networks (The Moody Network) all over the country. When Moody died they put on his tombstone, I John 2:17, “he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”
When we get hooked up to God’s will, we get hooked up to something that will last forever. Suzie Parker was a young lady who felt called to be a missionary to China. At her commissioning service, Suzie’s Dad got up and asked to say a word. He said, “I’m not a speaker and I don’t know how to talk. But I just want to say that nothing I have (and put his arms around Suzie) is too good for my Jesus.” Suzie made her way toward China. However, she never made it to China. She became tragically ill, died, and never got to the mission field. At her funeral service, her Dad got up by her casket and said, “I want to say it again. nothing I have is too good for my Jesus.” At that service, 30 young ladies surrendered to go to China as missionaries. The ultimate satisfaction is clearly knowing what the will of God is and the faith to fulfill it!