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Is it God's will for you to read this? (1)

Several people have asked questions regarding God's will for their lives.  These questions fall along the lines of "How specific and detailed is God's will for my life?" and "When I have to make a decision about something, how can I be sure what God's will is?"

I attended an event one time where the audience was told that we were not there by accident, it was God’s plan for us to be there that evening.  If by that they meant that God had given us the freedom to choose and we had chosen to be there, I would have agreed.  But that’s not what was meant.  What was meant was that God had somehow arranged for us to be there so that we (effectively) didn’t have a choice.  I wanted to get up and walk out to make a point but I thought I’d just write about it instead. :)

They had the same thing in mind that one author did when he wrote in the forward of his book,  This book is dedicated to you.  Before you were born, God planned this moment in your life.  It is no accident that you are holding this book.”    

Well, I suppose that’s a fairly effective (and manipulative) way to sell a book (although you’ve probably already guessed it made me put it right back on the shelf).  Still, is that the way it works –-- God has planned each moment of our life out from attending fund raisers to picking out books?  If so, how does this mesh with free will?  Or, is it even accurate to speak of free will if everything in our life is planned to such a degree?

There are those who speak and think of God’s will in this way.  They believe that God has an exact plan for anything and everything in our life.  Whenever they are confronted with a decision of any kind, they always talk about finding out what God’s will in the matter is.  Is that how it works?

Paul didn’t think so.  Listen to what he had to say in regard to some of the decisions he made (emphasis mine):

·         So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in  
      Athens. (1 Thessalonians 3:1),
·         But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker
      and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.
      (Philippians 2:25),

·         If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me. (1 Corinthians 16:4).

It seems pretty clear that Paul understood God’s plan for his life in regard to these things.  It was God’s plan that he weigh his options and make a decision! 

I don’t mean to suggest that it is this way with everything –-- I think the Scripture makes it clear that God has planned out certain things (our redemption through Christ was planned before the foundation of the world – 1 Peter 1:10-20).  But with most things (choosing where to live, who to marry, what school to attend, etc.), God wants us to use the guidelines He has given in His word and make our own decisions –-- that is His plan!  We don’t honor it by abdicating our responsibility. 

In the Scriptures above, Paul is making decisions about missionary work, sending someone back home, and financial aid to others.  All of us would agree that these were significant matters.  But Paul explicitly tells us that he (or they), made the decision as opposed to a situation where God intervened to show him what He wanted done (see Acts 16:6-10).   Does it make sense to you that God would allow Paul to make his own decisions on these matters and have an exact plan for what you or I should be doing next Tuesday night?

And why does all of this matter? 

God's will (2)

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