Are you overwhelmed? You long to be obedient to the Lord. You want to do what’s right but can’t discern what’s best among the pile of good things you could choose to spend your time on. You want to walk in God’s will for you, fulfill his purpose for you, and know that what you’re doing matters. But the to-do list is long, and your mind is crowded.
I pray that as you read this article, the Lord would use his Word to set you free and reveal his will to you.
I returned from touring Israel on vacation. When I stepped foot in my home, my mind spit out to-do lists as well as a long list of people who asked when I’ll be back. Responsibility slowly began taking away the peace that had taken residence in my heart during the last two weeks.
Then the question: What is most important? What does God have in store for me here in my hometown? How do I live in a way that pleases him and walk in a way that aligns with my ultimate purpose?
Two days later I wrestled with these same thoughts as I sat on a hotel bed across from my mom. Our family gathered in Ohio to celebrate my brother’s college graduation. That morning, mom shared with me her concerns for each of us five siblings, her fears, and her burden of responsibility.
I heard her questions: What is most important? What does God have in store for me at home now that you’re all out of the house? How do I live in a way that pleases him and walk in a way that aligns with my ultimate purpose?
God’s Will Simply Put
My mom sent me a text an hour after our conversation that relieved both of us. It included this simple statement from the Bible.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV, emphasis added)
My mom’s text said, “This is what we need!” She’s right. It’s what every busy woman who loves Jesus needs. The sweet, simple clarity of God’s Word, telling us what’s most important.
God’s will for you and me today, no matter our circumstances is joy, prayer, and thanksgiving.
Let’s think about what this means together.
God’s Will Made Possible
See that phrase at the end of the verse, “in Christ Jesus?” This phrase reminds us that not everyone can rejoice always, pray, and give thanks. Not everyone can live into God’s will as described in this verse. These things are not possible apart from a relationship with God through faith in Jesus. Let me remind you how God has made it possible for us to walk in his will.
Jesus, God’s own perfectly obedient Son, suffered, and died on the cross for all the ways you and I disobey and displease God. Jesus suffered to rescue us from the eternal punishment that is due our joyless, thankless attitudes, and our constant turning away from God. Jesus didn’t just suffer; he rose from the dead! Jesus rose from the dead to give us new hearts and eternal life—a life of restored relationship to God where we love him, want to do his will, and can live in a way that pleases him and brings us ultimate joy.
God’s will for those who don’t know Jesus is that they would be saved and come into a loving relationship with him (1 Timothy 2:3-4). But God’s will for those who have believed in Jesus is joy, close relationship with him, and heart that’s constantly celebrating.
Maybe you have never personally known Jesus. Maybe joy, thanks, and a close relationship with God seem impossible to you. Today, Jesus offers you new life. Ask him for forgiveness, and for the gift of eternal life he promises to give all who trust in him, and you will begin walking in God’s will today (Romans 6:23)! He promises that he will not turn away anyone who comes to him (John 6:37).
If you do know Jesus, rejoice that joy, prayer, and thanks, are possible for you every day! Let’s now talk about these three simple ways to live in God’s will.
Three Simple Ways to Live in God’s Will
1. Rejoice Always
The first way you live in God’s will every day is by rejoicing. Our verse begins with “Rejoice always.” Rejoicing means making the attitude of joy an ongoing action.
Warning: don’t misread this verse. We can read “rejoice always” and assume it means “rejoice about everything.” Life has plenty of sorrows worthy of our tears. God welcomes our tears. But for us who know Jesus, in every moment, and in every circumstance, we have reason for joy. No matter how terrible our circumstances get, there’s always something to rejoice in.
The prophet Habakkuk teaches us how to rejoice always. As he quakes with fear and faces a dismal future he says: “yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:18 ESV).
Habakkuk teaches us to find our joy in the Lord. He is our constant reason to rejoice. He never changes (Malachi 3:6), and so his wonderful character is something we can always celebrate.
God’s will for you begins with what’s in your heart not what’s on your plate. God desires that you would rejoice always. That means he wants you to be full of joy! What a glorious thought!
Each day, if you want to live in God’s will, rejoice! Find joy in who God is, in what he has done for you in the past, and his promises for the future. If joy feels impossible right now, ask the Holy Spirit to give you this rejoicing attitude as a gift, and he will (Galatians 5:22).
2. Pray Without Ceasing
The second way you live in God’s will every day is by having constant conversation with the Lord. This second phrase, “pray without ceasing” doesn’t mean get on your knees and fold your hands all day long. Pray is the fancy word for “talk to God.”
When God tells us that his will for us is to pray without ceasing, that tells us that God’s desire is to be involved in every moment of our lives. As you make decisions, jump in the car and drive places, converse with friends, care for your family, God wants to be part of it all. He wants you to recognize that he is always with you, and never for a moment leaves you on your own.
Sometimes I wrongly believe that God’s will is that I would go about my business in a way that honors him and then at the end of the day look back and be proud of how I behaved myself. I shatter this lie by reminding myself that Jesus died not just to save me from sin, but to mend my relationship with God so that I could enjoy his presence from now until eternity. God wants to be with me!
Friend, God wants to be with you, in everything. ”Thanks, Lord” when you receive help, “help me, Lord” when you’re making a quick decision or doing a task, “Lord, would you please…,” when your day presents a need you can’t meet—are all ways to pray without ceasing.
Each day, if you want to live in God’s will—acknowledge his presence with you in everything you do, by not ceasing to involve him in every moment by prayer.
3. Give Thanks in All Circumstances
The third way you live in God’s will every day is to cultivate thankfulness. “Give thanks in all circumstances” seems to indicate that God wants thankfulness to be a habit in our lives.
To be frank, this isn’t that hard. Yes, there are times when I do not want to find anything to be grateful for. But it’s not hard to find something to thank God for in all circumstances.
One little phrase from the book of Hebrews, talking about Jesus, changed my whole perspective on giving thanks. I’ll share it with you. It says that Jesus is “…sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3 NIV).
That phrase is worthy of a PAUSE. All things are sustained by Jesus’ word. That means if Jesus stopped speaking, everything we know would fall apart. Because of Jesus graciously sustaining the world, I can see. My arms work. The ocean respects its boundaries. Airplanes stay in the sky. The cells in my body hold together. The earth keeps orbiting around the sun.
James tells us that every good and perfect gift is from our heavenly Father (James 1:17). We’re always enveloped in good gifts no matter how hard life gets. Giving genuine thanks to God, even in the hardest circumstances reminds us of the kindness and mercy of the Lord that’s upon us always.
Each day, if you want to live in God’s will, be always on the lookout for reasons to say “Thank you” to the Lord. And have them ready when things get tough.
God’s Will Sets You Free
Ready to face a new day? Clear your mental desk of the to-do list, the decisions to make, and weight of responsibility that accompanies your work.
What is most important today? How do I live in a way that pleases the Lord and walk in a way that aligns with my ultimate purpose in Christ?
Three simple things.
- Rejoice always
- Pray without ceasing
- Give thanks in all circumstances
Because God desires that you have joy, that you know he is with you always, and that you worship him with a thankful heart.
May you experience freedom as you believe God’s Word today.