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Psalm 47

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet. He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted! (ESV)

God's Will for My Life

Wednesday of Pentecost 14

17 September 2014

Everybody wants to discover "God's will for my life." Unfortunately, that almost always has to do with external performance on the part of the person discovering that will. If I could just figure out what the will of God is for my life, everything would be coming up roses." People who think this way, if they are being externally successful, conclude that this must be God's will for their lives. If their business is turning an astounding profit, or they are able to move into a better neighborhood, or their children are faithful, obedient, and good looking, they presume that this must be God's will for their lives. If, however, they suffer business reverses, they have to buy a smaller home, and one of their children suffers a congenital disease, this must not be God's will for their lives. How wrong-headed this is, because it equates our external conditions with God's grace. If God is giving me what I want, then it must be His good and gracious will. What has happened to God's grace if my external conditions are poor? Has He abandoned me? Does He despise me? These are good questions.

 

God's will toward me must not be equated with the external conditions or my experiences. Otherwise, we will be uncertain of God's attitude to even His beloved Son, who suffered degrading torture and horrible death on the cross at the hands of wicked men. On the basis of His experience, He should have been unable to call God "My God," yet His cry of dereliction remained a cry of faith. Why? How? First, Jesus declined to believe that what He was experiencing disclosed the attitude and heart of His Father toward Him. He believed that the Father would never let His holy One see corruption (Ps 16:10), no matter what He felt. No, God's attitude to me must not be limited by my attitude toward the world or even toward God. 'If we are faithless, he remains faithful - for he cannot deny himself' (2Ti 2:13).

 

If I cannot discern the divine will through the world, my feeling, or my experience, how can I know what is God's will toward me? The divine Word reveals the divine will. What is external to me tells me of His good and gracious will and impresses that will in my heart, so that I know God's will. It is written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt (Mk 9:12). It is written that He should suffer for us. Here is where and how I know the divine will: "It is written." Here is where I learn that God's Son died to mollify God's anger by taking into Himself my sin and wickedness and by offering Himself in my place as the perfect substitute for me and my sins. If this shape and teaching is impressed upon my heart, then truly I have the mind of Christ. Believing in Christ and trusting Him for salvation is having His shape cut into our lives, like a die would cut and emboss an Olympic medal. It implies suffering, of course, but in that way we are shaped like Him in His death and life. How can I know God's will for my life? Since God's will for my life is that I believe in the One whom He has sent (Jn 6:29), it is pretty simple, because God has told us His will for us in His Word. 

 

Martin Luther

 

"Paul indirectly censures the false apostles, as though he were saying: 'Through the gospel I truly gave birth to you. But those corrupters and distorters came and fixed a new image in your heart, not that of Christ but that of Moses, so that your trust no longer rests on Christ but on the works of the law. This is not the true form or the form of Christ, but an alien and completely demonic form.'  Neither does Paul say: 'I am again in the anguish of childbirth until my form be formed in you.' No, he says: 'until Christ is formed in you.' That is: 'I am laboring in order that you may acquire the form and likeness of Christ again, not that of Paul.' With these words he censures the false apostles again. They abolished the form of Christ in the souls of the believers and made up another form, namely, their own. 'They desire to have you circumcised,' he says, 'that they may boast in your flesh' (Gal 6:13).

 

"The apostle also speaks of this form of Christ in Col 3:10: 'Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.' Therefore Paul wants to restore the image of Christ in the Galatians. It had been deformed or distorted by the false apostles. It consists in this, that they feel, think, and want exactly what God does, whose thought and will it is that we obtain the forgiveness of sins and eternal life through Jesus Christ, His Son, whom He sent into the world to be the propitiation for our sins and for those of the whole world (1Jn 2:2), so that through the Son we might acknowledge Him as our Father, who has been placated and propitiated. Those who believe this are like God; that is, they think of God altogether as He feels in His heart, and they have the same form in their soul that God or Christ has. This, according to Paul, is to 'be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness' (Eph 4:23-24)." 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 4.19
 
Prayer

Lord Christ, give us Your mind that we may have You impressed upon our hearts. Keep us from seeking Your will in our own experiences. Help us to seek You where You may be found: in Your divine Word. Amen.

 

For Joel and Melissa Hibbard and their family as they move to Charlotte, NC, that the Lord would bless them in their sojourn and settle them in a home that is a sign of our heavenly home

 

For Dr. Thomas Aadland, Professor at Matongo Theological College, Kenya, as he prepares men for the office of pastor and women for the office of deaconess, that the Lord would grant him strength and wisdom in his labor

 

For all those who are preparing for district conventions in the LCMS next year, that they might receive strength for their labor of love in service to their community

Art: Crucifixes  Uppsala Cathedral (medieval)

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