|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES
|DOING GOD’S WILL
Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King
I AM REVEALED
Mar 03 2013
“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work,” Jesus told them. (John 4:34)
DOING THINGS FOR GOD
After Claude King graduated from seminary in 1984, he and his wife set out to fulfill their dream of
becoming “tentmaking” church planters in Gwinnett County, Georgia. As a seminary student, Claude had taken all the
church planting and evangelism classes he could. He spent eighteen months developing plans to begin churches all
over the county. But everything went wrong. In a period of only 2 percent unemployment, Claude and his wife could not
find jobs. Having exhausted their meager savings and with debts mounting daily, they had not even gathered a nucleus
of interested people to start a church. Devastated, Claude moved his family back home to live with parents. He had
wanted to reach people for Christ. He sought to expand the kingdom of God. He was willing to work hard. Yet
the result was failure. For a while, he was bewildered as to why God had not blessed his efforts.
Then in 1986, God crossed my path with Claude’s. He had taken a job as an editor for a Christian publisher, but his
heart was still in church planting. As Claude and I talked, the Lord revealed that his efforts, though admirable, had been
misdirected. Claude had been making his own plans and trying to enlist God to bless them. God had been waiting for
Claude to surrender his life to Him, making himself available for God to accomplish His divine purposes. As Claude
changed his perspective, he immediately began to see the difference between man-centered and God-centered activity.
Claude volunteered to help his local association of churches in church planting. But this time Claude did not develop his
own plan. He simply shared with the churches in his association the need for new church plants and then watched
to see what God did next.
Within three months, Claude received word from fourteen communities requesting new churches. Two years later, there
were six new congregations with full-time pastors and the beginnings of a seventh church underway.
Claude saw that God could do more in a week than he could accomplish in years of his own effort. He also came to
realize that he had been so busy attempting to do things for God he had not spent time enjoying fellowship with
God. As Claude coauthored Experiencing God with me, he experienced God using his life in ever-increasing measure.
The more he drew into a close relationship with God, the more God began to accomplish through Claude’s life.
THE WRONG QUESTION
Jesus considered God’s will to be His highest priority (see John 4:32-34). Following God’s will is also important for you.
Often when people want to know God’s will, they will ask, “What is God’s will for my life?” As one of my seminary
professors, Gaines S. Dobbins, used to say, “If you ask the wrong question, you are going to get the wrong answer.”
“What is God’s will for my life?” is not the best question to ask. The better inquiry is, “What is God’s will?” Because
people are naturally self-centered, we tend to view the whole world – even God’s activity – in terms of our own lives. Of
course, we want to know what we should do and how events will affect us. But that is actually an inverted
life-perspective. Once I know God’s will, then my life gains its proper perspective, and I can adjust my life to Him and to
His purposes. In other words, what is it that God is purposing to accomplish where I am? Once I know what God is
doing, then I see what I should do. My focus needs to be outward on God and His purposes, not inward on my life.
Now that does not mean God has no plans for your life. He certainly does. He created you, and He knows how your life
can reach its maximum potential. The Bible says He wants you to live an abundant life and to be filled with divine
joy. But the plans He has for your life are based on what He is doing in the world around you. He has a larger purpose
in mind for all humanity. His desire is for you to become involved in what He is doing to bring salvation to others.
Discovering God’s greater plan helps you know what He wants to do through you.
DON’T JUST DO SOMETHING
We are an industrious people. We always want to accomplish something. The idea of doing God’s will sounds exciting.
Once in a while, someone says, “Don’t just stand there – do something.” Sometimes individuals or churches are
so busy carrying out plans they think will help achieve God’s purposes that they don’t bother to find out what He actually
wants. We often wear ourselves out and accomplish little for the kingdom of God.
I think God is crying out to us: “Don’t just do something. Stand there! Enter into a love relationship with Me. Get
to know Me. Adjust your life to Me. Let Me love you and teach you about Myself as I work through you.” A time will
come when action is required, but we must not short-circuit the relationship (Psalm 37:7). Your relationship with God
must come first. Out of your walk with God, He accomplishes His plans for our world.
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because
you can do nothing without Me.” (John 15:5). Do you believe that without Him you can do nothing? Sure, you can keep
yourself busy. You can immerse yourself in activities, programs, meetings, and events, but they will not have any lasting
value for God’s kingdom. The apostle Paul warned that one day every person’s work would be tested by fire to see if it
was done according to God’s will and divine power (I Corinthians 3:13). The activities God will commend in the final
judgment will be those which He initiated. If you are experiencing a time of spiritual dryness in your life, you may
be trying to do things on your own that God has not initiated. However, when you abide in Christ, you will be amazed at
what God accomplishes through your life.
God wants you to gain a greater knowledge of Him by experience. That’s what abiding in Him will do for you. He wants a
love relationship with you, and He wants to involve you in His kingdom work. He alone can initiate His plans. He wants
your involvement, but you cannot do it for Him. When you believe Him and do as He directs, then He will accomplish His
work through you.
Jesus had advice for those who wearied themselves trying to do things in their own strength: “Come to Me, all of you who
are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle
and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-
A yoke was an instrument built for two oxen to work together in tandem. Often farmers would pair up an experienced
animal with a younger ox. Thus the younger one could learn from the seasoned animal. Jesus’ invitation is for you to
join up with Him – to walk alongside Him and follow His lead. When you labor where He is already at work, He
accomplishes His purposes through you. The experience is not meant to be exhausting or burdensome, but exhilarating
and fulfilling. Sadly, the chronic ailment of Christians today is burnout, particularly among pastors and those in Christian
ministry. They grow weary doing things for God in their own strength. Yet Jesus promised that those who
walk alongside Him and work with Him will find rest for their souls. God has more than enough knowledge, power, and
resources to accomplish whatever He desires. Our involvement – at His invitation – is a privilege that should invigorate
us and keep us close to Him. If you are worn out or stressed by your “Christian duties,” perhaps you are not properly
yoked to your Master.
GOD PURSUES A LOVE RELATIONSHIP
Some people have suggested that God gives us general directions and then turns us loose to work out the details of our
lives. I disagree. God’s intention is to have a love relationship with each of us. We get ahead of ourselves when we try
to discern a life plan up front. Some folks want the security of deciding if they will be a businessperson, a
school teacher, a preacher, or a nurse. They want to know if they should settle in their home country or go to Japan for
decades or move to Argentina. But God doesn’t necessarily lay everything out that way. He may place you in one job at
one location for an extended time, but God’s assignments come on a daily basis. You should always be open to
whatever He has for you – even if it’s not something you could have foreseen.
God calls you to a relationship in which He is Lord – where you are willing to do and be anything He chooses. If you
respond to Him as Lord, He may lead you to do things you would never have dreamed of. If you don’t follow Him
as Lord, you may lock yourself into a job or an assignment and miss something God wants to do through you. I’ve heard
people say things like: “God called me to be a _____, so this other opportunity couldn’t possibly be His will.” Or “My
spiritual gift is _____, so this ministry couldn’t be God’s will for me.” We tend to seek things that keep us
comfortable, but God is not restricted by our fears. He sees beyond our current limitations and is constantly leading us
to grow into the person He knows we can become.
Nowhere does the Bible teach that God gives us a life plan and then abandons us to work it out. Rather, the pattern and
emphasis in Scripture is a daily walk with Him in which He gives new assignments and then works through us to
accomplish them. That is what a spiritual gift is – a supernatural empowering to accomplish the assignment God gives
Don’t focus on your talents, abilities, and interests to determine God’s will. Instead, seek God’s will and watch Him equip
you for whatever assignment He gives. I have heard so many people say, “I am good at _____; therefore, it must be
God’s will.” That kind of thinking is self-centered. Since Christ is Lord, your attitude should instead be: “Lord, I will do
anything Your kingdom requires of me. Wherever You want me, I’ll go. Whatever the circumstances, I’m willing
to follow. If You want to meet a need through my life, I am Your servant, and I will do whatever you ask.”
THE FARMER WAS MY MAP
For twelve years, I was the pastor of a church in a city surrounded by farming communities. One day a farmer invited me
to visit him at his home. His directions went something like this: “Go a quarter mile past the edge of the city, and you will
see a big red barn on your left. Go to the next road, and turn to your left. Take that road for three-quarters of a mile.
You’ll see a large poplar tree. Go right for about four miles, and then you will see a big rock…” I wrote all of this down,
and only by God’s grace did I eventually manage to find the farm!
The next time I went to the man’s house, he was with me in my vehicle. Because there was more than one way to get to
his house, he could have taken me any way he wanted to. This time, I didn’t need the written instructions. You see, he
was my map. What did I have to do? I simply had to listen to him and do what he said. Every time he said “Turn,” I did
what he said. He took me a new way I would not have discovered on my own. I could never retrace that route by myself
because the farmer – my map – knew the way.
JESUS IS YOUR WAY
Often people approach knowing and doing God’s will this way: They ask, “Lord, what do You want me to do? When do
You want me to do it? How shall I do it? Where shall I do it? What will the outcome be?”
Isn’t it typical of us to ask God for a detailed road map before we are willing to set out on the journey? We say, “Lord, if
You would just tell me where I need to end up, then I’ll be able to set my course and go.” You might even decide you
won’t move forward until God tells you ahead of time the details of what you will face. But that is not the way God led
people in the Scriptures.
The Lord doesn’t send us off like an errand boy. He intends to accompany us on the journey. He wants us
to continually heed His voice and go with Him one day at a time. As long as we walk daily with Christ, we will always know
where to be – right beside Him – and will always end up where He wants us to be. Jesus did not say:
He did say, “I am the way” (John 14:6). Jesus knows the way; He is your way.
Can you trust God to guide you as the farmer led me, pointing out each turn along the route? You might say, “No, Jesus
doesn’t direct people specifically like that.” But He does! The Bible is full of examples where God guided His people
precisely. Perhaps you have been taught – or concluded – that you have to take control of your own life and do
the best you can. But your life is too valuable to waste by trusting your own best thinking. You are human and prone to
making mistakes. God alone is perfect and infinitely wise. He knows the future. He is all powerful. Your life is in far
better hands when you surrender it to God and His leading.
When you get to the place where you trust Jesus to guide you one step at a time, you’ll experience
tremendous freedom. But as long as you rely on your own judgment, you’ll worry every time you must make a decision
that you might take a wrong turn. I know several people who were so immobilized with worry that they spent years in
limbo of indecision, all because they didn’t believe God would really give them specific guidance. But God does not want
us to live in anxiety (see Philippians 4:6; I Peter 5:7).
When I focus on my relationship with God, out of that divine fellowship God shares His heart with me. When
God speaks, I respond to everything He tells me daily, and He gives me plenty to do to fill each day with meaning and
purpose. When I do what He says, I am in the center of His will, and He can use my life to accomplish His purposes. My
primary concern should not be, “What should I do with my life tomorrow?” but rather, “What does God want me to do
today?” As you follow Jesus one day at a time, He will keep you in the center of God’s will.
ABRAHAM FOLLOWED GOD ONE DAY AT A TIME
Abraham walked by faith and not by sight. In the following passage, read about the call of Abram to do God’s
will. Watch to see how much detail he was given before God asked him to follow.
you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I
will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be
blessed through you.
So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he left
Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated, and the people he had
acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan. (Genesis 12:1-5)
God said, “Get out of your country.” How specific were the directions? He gave Abram this much detail: “to the land I will
show you.” That is all God asked Abram to do. God promised to do the rest. Abram had to move all of his possessions
and family day by day waiting for God to show him where he was going. Would you be willing to follow God’s directions
for your life with so little detail?
FEW DETAILS AT FIRST
God often calls people to follow Him without giving them all the details at the beginning. That is certainly the pattern in
Scripture. Many times, as with Abram, God invites people to follow Him step by step. If God were to give you a specific
plan for your life, you would likely put your focus on the plan rather than on Him. God does not want your life to depend
on a plan or an income or a person or anything else. He wants you to trust Him.
Throughout Scripture, God seldom gave the same amount of detail to each person as He revealed His will. God told
Moses much of His plan before Moses returned to Egypt. On the other hand, God told Abraham to begin moving,
and He would provide further details along the way. God gave extremely specific instructions to Ananias about where to
find Saul and what to do to heal him (see Acts 9:10-19). Yet Jesus would not even tell Andrew where He was staying for
the evening (see John 1:39). In every case, however, people had to remain close to God for their guidance.
For Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Paul (see Matthew 4:18-22; 9:9; Acts 9:1-20), God gave minimal details about their
assignments. He simply said, “Follow Me.” Jesus said: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all
these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:33-34). God wants us to enter each day seeking Him. Out of that
relationship, we will experience Him guiding our lives.
EXPERIENCING GOD, by Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King, Copyright 2008, B&H Publishing Group.