How Can You Know God’s Will?

I received some questions that our mentors hear from time to time and thought I would address them here. The first one was “How Can I Know God’s Will?”

Other similar questions might be: Can I really know God’s will for my life? Do you think God really has a plan for me? How do I know that what I’m doing is God’s will? Does his will change?

Without reservation, I believe God has a plan for our lives! However, living day to day can feel like visiting a major city for the first time without a GPS or map. Sometimes we just feel unsure of what direction to go or what to do. We would like God to write us a message in the sky telling us what to do.

What do we normally do when we get lost or disoriented? Asking directions is usually what gets us back on track. I just gave a truck driver directions this morning, he had received confusing instructions about where he was going. After talking with him for a while I discovered where he needed to go and was able to give him clear directions on how to get there.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could meet with Jesus like that and ask for directions. As Christians we have a personal guide and map as we try to navigate through life. The Holy Spirit is our guide and the Bible is our map. That is what we need to look to, to know God’s will for our lives.

God tells us this in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plan I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

If we want to know God’s will for our lives, we need to look to God’s Word. Much of God’s will has already been revealed through the Bible. For example in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 it says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified (holy): that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like those who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.”

  • God’s Word reveals His will for our attitude in certain situations: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:18
  • God’s Word reveals His will for how we should handle critics:For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.” 1 Peter 2:15

The purpose of the Bible is to reveal God’s character, and express His deep love for us. We can be certain that God’s purpose and vision for our lives will never be contrary to His revealed character. For instance, it is not God’s will to sin in anger, to disregard human life, to neglect children or your spouse or to be rudely impatient.

Revealing God’s will in our lives is a process. We wish He would just tell us who to marry, where to work, how to raise our children and how to have healthy relationships. The problem is, even if He would do that, we often would not listen and still do things our own way. The Old Testament is full of stories demonstrating that.

That is the journey we are all on, learning from mistakes and painful experiences in life. Without those difficult, hard times, we would not be growing to be more like Jesus. Here are some stages along the way to knowing God’s will for our lives:

  1. Obey God’s Word – We should not ask God to reveal His will and then decide after He reveals it whether or not we will obey it. If we take that approach, we will miss out on God’s best for us. In order to obey God’s Word, we need to know God’s Word.
  2. Ask God what His will is for us – Prayer is vitally important is this process. Psalms 143:10 says “Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your spirit lead me on level ground.” God will not always reveal His will immediately even after you pray about it. However He will reveal as much as we need to know at that time. Prayer often changes us not the circumstances. A mark of a mature believer is praying for God’s will to be done and really meaning it. Maybe His will is for you to change!
  3. Recognize that His Spirit bears witness – The Holy Spirit lives in us to help us with the decisions of life. He interacts with our spirit so we can know that we are in the center of God’s will. One benefit of the Holy Spirit living in us is peace. When we are doing God’s will, we can experience peace, even when a storm is raging around us.
  4. Pay attention to circumstances – God opens and closes doors. Because we are His children He promised to direct our steps. Life is not a series of accidents, based on chance or happenstance. We are not some insignificant blob. The Bible says “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 He did not say some things, He said all things – God speaks and directs through life’s circumstances. So ask yourself, What does God want me to learn in this circumstance.
  5. Have a relationship with the body of Christ – A key element of our process or spiritual growth is our relationship with a local church. Having close relationships with other believers is vital in following God’s will for our life. God often speaks through other people.

If you are facing some difficult decisions in life or are trying to find God’s will for your life, here are five simple things you can do:

  1. Read the Bible – God will never ask you to do anything contrary to His Word
  2. Pray – Ask Him for direction, peace, wisdom, discernment, courage.
  3. Ask your self and those close to you if there is peace in going this direction. Peace not relief from pain or difficulty.
  4. Is a door clearly open, do you have an opportunity to do something good. Or are you trying to force the door open on your own?
  5. Seek other Christ followers to affirm whether this situation is God’s will. Ask for honesty not for agreement or sympathy.

If you have done all five of these you should have a pretty clear indication of whether this is God’s will or not. If one of these is not in agreement, you should consider that a yellow warning light from God. Maybe it’s not against God’s will, but it may be the wrong timing.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

When you are in the midst of a really difficult situation you can feel helpless and hopeless at times. The old saying of being between a rock and a hard place describes many peoples lives. So what do you do when you find yourself in the midst of a divorce? Or what do you do when you find out your spouse has been unfaithful? What do you do when one of your children is making horrible choices? What do you do when facing financial hard times? What do you do when someone you love dies?

If your a follower of Christ this is what God wants you to know. “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end- Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior… So don’t be afraid: I’m with you. Isaiah 43:2-5

Here are four practical things to do while in over your head, in rough waters or between a rock and a hard place:

  1. Forgive yourself – Most of us find it very difficult to forgive ourselves for messing up. We beat ourselves up over and over again. That usually leads to a downward spiral. Remember that God forgives and forgets, and He will give you the grace to forgive yourself, too.
  2. Forgive those who’ve hurt you – Forgiveness is the one power you always have over someone who hurt you. Forgiveness means canceling the debt and letting them off your hook. They still are on God’s hook, let Him deal with them. Forgiveness is a huge step toward healing and wholeness.
  3. Take your time, go slow – When your hurting, it is never a good idea to make major decisions. You’re riding an emotional roller coaster and that is never a good time to move quickly. Don’t get into new relationships if you have a freshly broken one. When you are in difficult circumstances seek wise counsel, surround yourself with healthy Christian friends and be patient. Healthy people make healthy choices, so spend time reading God’s Word, praying, seeking counsel, and allowing yourself to be made whole.
  4. Start giving back – This can be a hard thing to do, because when your in the midst of crisis you don’t feel like serving others. However, becoming more like a servant is one of the best things you can do to get your mind off your problems and onto God and wholeness. “Your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn His face from you if you return to Him.” 2 Chr 30:9. Knowing that God will not turn His face from you if you seek Him, helps you to comfort and serve others.

So no matter what your going through, God is with you. The choices you make while in the midst of turmoil will become part of your story. Choosing to forgive yourself and others, going slow and being patient and serving others will pay dividends in the end. It will lead to good fruit and a healthy heart.

How Teachable Are You?

My grandfather told once when I was younger that he found my name in the Bible. I was a little surprised and asked him where it was. He said it was in the book of Daniel, a King by the name of NebuCHADnezzar. That was the first I had ever heard that name and it has stuck with me for a long time.

I recently read about this King again and learned some interesting things about this ruler of Babylon. He was one of the most arrogant leaders in history, self-centered and full of pride. He viewed himself as god and looked at the kingdom of Babylon as something he created.

God gave this king a vision of a huge tree, chopped down by an angel. The tree represented him. God took away his kingdom in an instant even as he was bragging about what he had accomplished. God drove him into the wilderness, where he lived like an animal, living in caves and dirt shelters. He stayed there until he recognized God as the supreme ruler of the world. He finally submitted to God, gave up control and became teachable.

Being teachable is one of the most important qualities a person can have if they want to be successful. After Nebuchadnezzar submitted to God he began a new life as King , here are some things he did to develop a teachable heart:

  1. He used grateful words – he express appreciation and blessing for God’s grace and mercy. I am sure he also used kinder words with the people around him
  2. He had a hungry mind – He wanted to grow personally in character, faith and as a leader
  3. He developed a Big-Picture perspective – He began to see things from a bigger God perspective
  4. He was dissatisfied with how things where – He was not content with the status quo
  5. He had a humble heart – He no longer viewed himself as the most important person
  6. He was real – this caused people to start to follow him. He became a magnet for high level leaders.

How teachable are you? Do you prefer to just tell people what to do? Are you willing to learn from anyone? Here are a few ways you can improve your teachablity factor:

  • Don’t believe everything people say about you – Don’t get distracted by your achievements and the accolades of others.
  • Watch how you react to mistakes – Do you admit when you make a mistake? Do you apologize or make excuses?
  • Ask questions and take notes – When you meet with people try to learn something from them. Find out about them and don’t talk so much about yourself.
  • Try something new – When was the last time you tried something for the first time? Challenges stretch us and make us better.
  • Work on your area of strength – Read, talk to other people that do what you do, search the Internet for people you can connect with to learn from. Improve in the areas you are strongest. Keep stretching.

If you are a teachable person, you will always be in demand, because you will always be changing and growing. those are the type of people that become leaders and have influence and can change the world.