Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Discerning God’s Will

 

Judging by my Duck-search results, nearly every single preacher, pastor, rabbi and priest in the country has at one time or another written a study guide or given a spoken teaching — either a sermon of the classical type or a podcast — addressing the discerning God’s will in our lives and the world. John Piper, Tony Evans, J.I. Packer, Henry Blackaby, Benjamin Nunez… the list is gigantic.

I’m quite sure that a lot of the material is both insightful and written with the most benevolent intentions, and some of these entries I have even read, watched or listened to. But, it seems to me they might just be overthinking the question. A couple of more important authorities stated it more succinctly. From the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 12:

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

See? Love God with all you are and even can be. Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s the will of God. Knowing it is that simple.

Or from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 28:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Once again: Knowing what God wants? Easy.

Or there’s this, ultimately from the same author:

The Prophet Micah, Chapter 6:

With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

So, act justly, walk humbly with GOD — not without him — and love mercy.

This “knowing the will of God” thing? It’s easy. It’s doing the will of God that is hard.

There are 22 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member

    Hartmann von Aue: This “knowing the will of God” thing? It’s easy. It’s doing the will of God that is hard.

    Oh, sure, bring up the acting on it part.


    This conversation is an entry in our Group Writing Series under August’s theme of Will. We still have ten openings if you have anything to say about will, wills, some guy named Will, or anything else you’d like to sandwich into the theme. (But no hotdogging it?) Our schedule and sign-up sheet is waiting for you.

    • #1
    • August 11, 2018, at 7:18 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  2. ST Inactive
    ST

    Some people forfeit their right to mercy.

    • #2
    • August 11, 2018, at 7:32 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Mark Camp Member

    Agree with everything you said. What Arahant was saying is clear, and I agree with it too. The way it was said was very funny! But what he said is as sad as death itself.

    • #3
    • August 11, 2018, at 8:13 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. harrisventures Coolidge

    Walk humbly? What about the part where it’s God’s will that I get rich?

    Micah 6:8

    • #4
    • August 11, 2018, at 8:46 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  5. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I generally agree with you. What G-d wants from us is not far from us, or available only to academics or seers. It is in the text – to love one another, be kind, to seek holiness, to invest in the timeless…and to always continue to see our relationships (with G-d and man) as ongoing and ever-growing partnerships.

    • #5
    • August 11, 2018, at 9:32 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  6. Quake Voter Inactive

    Simon Templar (View Comment):

    Some people forfeit their right to mercy.

    That’s where the “act justly” comes into play, right? It’s “mercy for the many”.

    • #6
    • August 12, 2018, at 5:13 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Quake Voter Inactive

    Beautiful post. It sticks to your mental and moral ribs. And so well timed on this Sunday morning.

    • #7
    • August 12, 2018, at 5:18 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Simon Templar (View Comment):

    Some people forfeit their right to mercy.

    Quake Voter (View Comment):
    That’s where the “act justly” comes into play, right? It’s “mercy for the many”.

    C.S. Lewis, The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment (highly recommended):

    Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful. That is the important paradox. As there are plants which will flourish only in mountain soil, so it appears that Mercy will flower only when it grows in the crannies of the rock of Justice: transplanted to the marshlands of mere Humanitarianism. it becomes a man-eating weed, all the more dangerous because it is still called by the same name as the mountain variety.

     

    • #8
    • August 12, 2018, at 6:04 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  9. Jim Chase Member
    Jim Chase Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Amen, brother, and thank you.

    Peace and grace,

    Jim

    • #9
    • August 12, 2018, at 7:37 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. TreeRat Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue: This “knowing the will of God” thing? It’s easy. It’s doing the will of God that is hard.

    Oh, sure, bring up the acting on it part.

    Or, there’s the Leftist approach: knowing is enough; you can delegate the implementation.

    • #10
    • August 12, 2018, at 7:50 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hopefully, someone can point me to the source for this: there is justice, which you deserve, mercy, which is better than you deserve, and grace, which you can’t deserve.

    • #11
    • August 12, 2018, at 8:18 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  12. GrannyDude Member

    I love those verses, Hartmann. 

    They are so simple—genuinely simple, not simplistic. And at the same time, they present the biggest challenges we face as human beings. 

    • #12
    • August 12, 2018, at 8:34 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  13. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    @percival, I just found this on Google; is it what you were looking for?

    “Justice is getting what you deserve.
    Mercy is not getting what you deserve.
    And grace is getting what you absolutely don’t deserve.
    …… benign good will. unprovoked compassion. the unearnable gift”

    ― Cathleen Falsani

    • #13
    • August 12, 2018, at 10:06 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    @percival, I just found this on Google; is it what you were looking for?

    “Justice is getting what you deserve.
    Mercy is not getting what you deserve.
    And grace is getting what you absolutely don’t deserve.
    …… benign good will. unprovoked compassion. the unearnable gift”

    Cathleen Falsani

    Probably. The “can’t” might just have been me interpolating it slightly.

    • #14
    • August 12, 2018, at 10:50 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Boss Mongo Member

    Not sure I’m savvy enough to discern my own duplicitousness when it comes to nailing down God’s Will. I just know that when I stand to be judged, as flawed and fallen as I am, I hope to hear one thing:

    • #15
    • August 12, 2018, at 5:14 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  16. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Imagine that you were given a trillion dollars and spent every penny. Could you repay it? Imagine that debt was forgiven. 

    God gives us life, family, talents, an endless universe of wonders (any part of which could be studied for a lifetime, from the human body to varieties and intricacies of sand), and particular attention to each person in love. And we forget Him. We second-guess Him. We disobey His simplest requests. We abuse His works. 

    No one deserves mercy. Not one. It is an unfathomable gift. 

    Like so many of His wonders, the center of it all — love — is something simultaneously at hand, simply accessible to mere children and idiots, yet so deep and nuanced and varied in expression that after a thousand generations we continue to stumble and muddle it and misunderstand. Love is a tear and a laugh, a whirlwind and the ground beneath our feet. Love is an impossible thing we do every day. 

    It’s so simple. But I beg God every day to leave aside the measuring stick. 

    • #16
    • August 12, 2018, at 5:34 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  17. harrisventures Coolidge

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    No one deserves mercy. Not one. It is an unfathomable gift.

    Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

    • #17
    • August 12, 2018, at 9:36 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Not sure I’m savvy enough to discern my own duplicitousness when it comes to nailing down God’s Will. I just know that when I stand to be judged, as flawed and fallen as I am, I hope to hear one thing:

    Best. Movie. Ever.

     

    • #18
    • August 13, 2018, at 1:36 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    Imagine that you were given a trillion dollars and spent every penny.

    Do that 21 times and you’re a Congressman.

    Good post. I think when some talk about “God’s will” they are looking to Him as more of a fortune teller. We want some special instructions from God when we haven’t really followed the instructions He already gave us.

     

    • #19
    • August 13, 2018, at 6:27 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  20. M1919A4 Member
    M1919A4 Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I always think of the prayer of “humble access” when I consider the Lord’s mercy:

    We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

    Church Publishing. Book of Common Prayer. Church Publishing Inc.

    • #20
    • August 14, 2018, at 9:26 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Boss Mongo Member

    @m1919a4, you prayer prompted thoughts of one of my favorites. Realize, as one who bears slavish devotion to the Church of Rome, we’re allowed to pray to Angels and Saints and whatnot. Some of lessor churches accuse us of idolatry, but I beg to differ. As a military guy I see no theological friction with The Big Man establishing a Chain of Command and a Staff, and giving each the right to intercede with Him on those specific matters as delegated. Makes no sense? Eh, works for me. 

    Prayer to Saint Joseph

    Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

    Oh St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your divine son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

    Oh St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while he reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss his fine head for me, and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen

    “I dare not approach while he reposes near your heart.” Makes me a little verklempt, every time.

    • #21
    • August 14, 2018, at 2:37 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  22. Arahant Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):
    As a military guy I see no theological friction with The Big Man establishing a Chain of Command and a Staff, and giving each the right to intercede with Him on those specific matters as delegated.

    Love it.

    • #22
    • August 14, 2018, at 5:36 PM PDT
    • 1 like

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