"SWEET WILL OF GOD"
"As servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart" (Eph. 6.6)
INTRO.: A song which encourages us to submit to the will of God and do it is "Sweet Will of God" (#427 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #549 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed both by Lelia Naylor (Mrs. Charles H.) Morris (1862-1929). The song was first published in Songs of the Century, for Missionary and Revival Meetings, edited by George D. Elkderkin, John R. Sweney, and William J. Kirkpatrick. The copyright was originally owned by Henry L. Gilmour, but it was renewed in 1928 by the Nazarene Publishing House. Mrs. Naylor also produced many other well known songs, such as "Let Jesus Come into Your Heart," "I Know God’s Promise Is True," and "Sweeter Than The Years Go By."
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Sweet Will of God" appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2, both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3, both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; and 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. Today it can be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise, all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
This hymn is obviously intended to motivate us in bowing to God’s will and obeying it.
I. Stanza 1 emphasizes the decision
"My stubborn will at last hath yielded;
I would be Thine and Thine alone.
And this the prayer my lips are bringing:
‘Lord, let in me Thy will be done."
A. Our wills are often stubborn and must be yielded to God in obedience: Rom. 6.13-19
B. Only in this way can we be Christ’s: 1 Cor. 3.23
C. Thus we must make the same decision that Christ Himself made, that God’s will should be done instead of ours: Lk. 42
II. Stanza 2 emphasizes the reason
"I’m tired of sin, footsore and weary;
The darksome path hath dreary grown.
But now a light has risen to cheer me;
I find in Thee my Star, my Sun."
A. Ultimately, the honest heart comes to recognize the weary and heavy-laden nature of sin: Matt. 11.28-30
B. Like the prodigal son, he realizes that the path he is on has grown dreary: Lk. 15.13-19
C. Thankfully, God has caused a light to rise to cheer us in that Jesus Christ is the Sun of righteousness who is risen with healing in His wings: Mal. 4.2
III. Stanza 3 emphasizes the benefits
"Thy precious will, O conquering Savior,
Doth now embrace and compass me;
All discords hushed, my peace a river,
My soul a prisoned bird set free."
A. We need to allow God’s will to embrace and compass us in everything that we do: Jas. 4.15
B. When this is our attitude, God’s peace will hush our discords and bring peace like a river: Isa. 66.12
C. Also, our souls will be like a prisoned bird who has been set free: Ps. 124.6-8
IV. Stanza 4 emphasizes the desire
"Shut in with Thee, O Lord, forever,
My wayward feet no more to roam;
What power from Thee my soul can sever?
The center of God’s will my home."
A. It should be our desire to be shut in with the Lord in the sense of abiding in Him: Jn. 15.5-7
B. If we determine that our feet will no more roam, then there is no power that can sever us from the Lord: Rom. 8.38-39
C. Thus, we must make the center of God’s will our home by being crucified with Christ and living by faith in Him: Gal. 2.20
CONCL.: The chorus continues to stress the importance of following God’s will:
"Sweet will of God, still fold me closer,
Till I am wholly lost in Thee;
Sweet will of God, still fold me closer,
Till I am wholly lost in Thee."
As we live from day to day upon this earth, heading ever more swiftly towards eternity, we choose whether to walk in our own way, which is the way of death, or to conform ourselves to the "Sweet Will of God."