Four Thoughts About Finding God’s Will


Image by Grant Snider


alittlebitgoesalongway asked:

Hi, I have a question for you based on what I read from another post. It said, “If the voice is God’s all three will agree:
 1. The Word of the LORD in the Bible. 
2. The Word of the Spirit in our hearts. 
3. The circumstances of our lives, which have been arranged by God. 
All three must point one way; it is never enough for any two of them to be taken as showing God’s will.” Do you agree or disagree with that statement (scripture references)?

Anonymous asked:

Hey J.S.! How do you know if what you’re doing is part of God’s plan? How am I supposed to know I’m doing the right thing? I just applied for an internship for my favorite company and I’m anxious. Will I get it? Do I simply wait and trust God? Does He approve of it? If not, then how do I know I’m even in the right direction? I can’t tell/feel the difference between making my own decisions and making the ones based on God’s will. Help?

 

I would say it’s pretty good to have a checklist and it’s certainly not less than those things — but finding God’s Will can be pretty dang tough. 

The further I move along in my faith, the more I find that faith is a sticky, grey, messy, murky journey.  While God’s commands are obvious (that’s His moral will), His plan is tougher to discern (that’s His sovereign will). 

What if there needs to be a snap decision and we can’t survey the entire Bible on the spot?  How do we know it’s the Holy Spirit and not our own voice?  How do we interpret “signs” and circumstances?  What if we come between two impossible decisions?  What if both are equally good, or equally bad?

While we could ponder forever on these things, let’s consider some thoughts on His Will.  Please feel free to skip around.

 

1) God’s Will is not necessarily about predicting the future, but about the person you’re becoming.

You’ve probably read Psalm 37:4 before, which says

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Preachers often misinterpret this to say, “If I enjoy God, He’ll give me what I want!”  But actually it means IF you’re delighting yourself in God, He will implant in you His own desires.  Try reading it one more time.

When you are pursuing God, your heart will begin to default to Him.  To make it simpler: if you follow God’s moral will (His Law) you can be sure you’re following God’s sovereign will (His Plan).  If you are becoming the True Self that God has called you to be, then out of who you’re becoming will emerge the doing.

You build a momentum as you follow Jesus, however imperfectly.  So if you have an important decision coming up, try to see what is most consistent with your momentum in Him.

This is actually easier than you think.  Pick the internship that will be an opportunity to grow and fulfill His mission.  Pick the campus where God can best work through you.  If you have two equally good choices, pick the one you like!  If you have no good choices, wait.  Simply ask God, Why this place?  Why me, here?  Is this truly me?  God has an answer.

 

2) God’s Will is not always comfortable.

I hear Christians in a circle say, “I felt peace about that.”  But I’ve never understood what this means.  A peace where the stars aligned?  A peace in my storm?  A peace that feels warm and fuzzy inside?

I actually heard of a pastor who kicked out his wife and shacked up with his secretary, all while saying, “I felt peace about that.”  I mean dude, sometimes God’s Will is common sense.

First Peter 4:12 reads,

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.

We should expect that following Jesus means we lose some friends and to be ridiculed and rejected.  I don’t mean to go after a “poverty gospel” — but if you love Jesus, it won’t be rainbows and puppies.

Following God’s Will isn’t always a romantic brochure. Serving the homeless and being a missionary in Africa are awesome, but not always pretty.  So the real peace is knowing you’re the real thing, that you’re giving your all to Christ, that you’re giving your life away despite what’s happening around you.

 

3) Look for good mentors who will guide you.

In addition to Scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit, seek godly Christ-centered people who are already chasing after God and ask for their wisdom.  It doesn’t have to be, “Hey you, mentor me.”  Just ask questions.  Tons of wonderful, annoying, curious questions.

Good mentors will cast big visions for you, always saying, You can do this.  God will do big things in you.  And if you mess it up, they will be there to say, You’re better than this, so let’s get up and go again.

 

4) The Holy Spirit doesn’t always “speak,” but He confirms in hindsight.

A lot of us expect God reveals His plan in neon lights the second we pray. But God knows we are time-bound creatures who learn by experience, so God’s Will is often confirmed in hindsight.  

Usually the Spirit guides as we are already moving.  Galatians 5:25 says “let us keep in step with the Spirit” — and doesn’t say that God will make a yellow brick road.

So if you get started on a path and you discover you’re not wired for it, it’s okay to move onto something else.  It’s okay to try a few things until you find the right thing.  Sometimes finding God’s Will also means finding what is NOT God’s Will.  This doesn’t mean you can just experiment everywhere, which is why Scripture and mentors are important.

The Spirit is most likely NOT going to be an audible voice and won’t be writing on a wall by a glowing hand.  Usually you know it’s Him during or after the moment is over.

 

Notice in Acts 18 that the Ephesians ask Paul to stay, and he replies, “I will come back if it is God’s will.”  He sails to other places to preach, but eventually comes back to Ephesus and stays for three years.  The way I see it, Paul felt funny about leaving the Ephesians so he came back.  That funny feeling was most likely the Spirit’s prompting. 

This happened to Paul quite a lot — and it will to you, too.  Was Paul 100% sure?  Maybe.  But he was 100% sure he was called to share Jesus, and 100% sure in hindsight that the city of Ephesus had a great need. 

 

I’ve known friends who went to medical school and hated it, so they quit.  They had so much guilt about quitting.  A lot of the guilt was from parents and self-doubt, which I understand — but they had to learn it was okay to quit med school after they went to med school.  They are happier now doing what God has actually wired them to do.

I hope I haven’t exploded your head by now.  Simply remember that just as your parents or mentors or counselors have given you an inner-voice of wisdom, then as you saturate yourself in the Word and fully press into the Gospel, the Spirit will be your biggest voice.  And unlike anyone else, the Spirit is perfectly good, perfectly righteous, and perfectly rooting for you.


— J.S.



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16 thoughts on “Four Thoughts About Finding God’s Will

  1. So true…especially about God giving us the desires. It’s funny how things are different when we read them another way. A lot of people believe peace is this euphoria you get. I see it as knowing God’s presence is there. Often it’s not euphoric at all. Usually I know God is calling me to do something when I get this burning conviction. It’s like this little push and I know if I don’t do what he tells me to I will feel miserable. Often I feel uneasy and nervous until I’ve done what he said to do. Then I feel relief. I know the Lord deals with everyone differently but that’s one way I know.

    When Chris and I were dating I fasted and prayed about getting married. I never fast because I get sick but this was just too important. Before I fasted I was thinking of calling it quits but after I fasted I felt the Lord say “give him a chance”. Our relationship picked up a lot after that. Chris really opened his heart to me. Now there were silly things here and there that I believe the Lord did just because he knows me so well. Like going to a bookshop and finding someone had put a “Chris” bookmark behind my “Amber” book mark. There were several little signs like that. I actually had a dream Chris would ask me out the night before he did and at that time I was interested in someone else.

    Our wedding got put off for two months because I felt the Lord saying to wait. Just this burning feeling. At first I was scared the Lord was calling it all off. But in hind sight it was perfect because we would’ve gotten married and he would’ve immediately have went to training for a month. We didn’t know that at the time. Even our wedding was a miracle. There was a hurricane that weekend. It only drizzled once during our ceremony. We had a hard time getting our marriage license. Our youth minister required us to have premarital counseling. We had three couples to counsel us because he didn’t approve of one and the second didn’t work out with us. The army forgot to pay us rent money but someone at our new church in a new city paid it for us until we got back pay. Seriously, with all the stumbling blocks nothing should’ve worked but God had his hand in every thing.

    Things aren’t perfect and war messed us both up in ways. Also physical ailments and my Dad dying etc…we’ve had some doozies to deal with and many in the first year of marriage. We’ve changed and it’s not as charming as the beginning. But I know that if God had not led us then we would not still be together. He still leads me every day. When I’m angry I hear the Spirit whisper (figuratively) “Forgive”. And there’s that burning again. Sometimes I want to argue with the Lord and pout but I can’t ignore him. Not everyone has such conviction but I believe anyone can pray for it. In fact, when I first became really committed to Jesus I asked him to always keep me close and to never let me get too far…no matter what it takes. That is one prayer he has always answered and sometimes the burning conviction feels too hot and the trials that bring me back to my knees too hard. In the moment I sometimes wish I had never prayed that but in hind sight I am so glad God honored it.

    Another long comment….sigh. Lastly, something my Dad always said has stuck with me. He said that God has a perfect and a permissive will. His perfect will would be that we don’t sin but his permissive will gives us the choice to sin. Either way because God is all knowing he can and will work out his plan either way we choose. He can make any path we choose bring about his purposes. That’s one reason I believe predestination and free will work together.

    God bless bro!

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    1. I really think you should turn some of these comments into blog posts! You’re always so honest and insightful. I was reading your story and my heart started pounding to find out the ending, hah. Thanks again for always sharing your heart. I bet many could relate if you posted this on your blog. Just sayin’ 🙂

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        1. Amber, I think I’m going to archive your comments on my blog and then send them to you as a .doc file. You’ve shared some really awesome things which I think you should keep and even post on your blog. 🙂

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          1. lol not sure if this means I write too much or not :). My blog’s purpose was originally for my book though it’s turned into an everything I like blog. So I have people that read just for the virtual worlds part and others to see crafts. Jesus is in every part of my life and I pray that shows. But I keep the lengthy Biblical messages to Wednesdays. I’d like to write more on those days but I don’t because honestly those posts take the most time. On here I’m just conversing with fellow believers. On my blog I want to balance my experience with scripture and I’m talking to people who aren’t necessarily wanting to hear spiritual things depending on what part of my blog they like. So I have to think of the audience. Plus some aspects of my life I feel fine sharing with a believer I somewhat know but not with a stranger and or unbeliever. So my inspirational posts usually take several hours to write because I’m finding scripture too. Though I have had a few short inspirational posts. I don’t want to be a stumbling block in what I say. So I’m careful. I stick to the gospel presentation and obvious things. I know my comments are often as long as a post (sorry about that) but it’s more like conversing with a friend whereas my Wednesday posts are kind of like giving a sermon or presenting a testimony in front of hundreds. Make sense?

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          2. Yes! And I didn’t mean to imply your comments are too long. I love your insight! I think just as a journal for yourself, it would be cool to see some of what you’ve written. Your words are often astounding, to the point where they could be their own blog posts for you. If anything, you would have tons of cool material for Wednesdays! Think of it as a favor from me. Feel free to continue sharing your insight here too, no matter how long. The more, the better!

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          3. Lol thanks J.S. 🙂 Your posts inspire me. You always hit on subjects that need to be talked about but aren’t often talked about in the church. God bless bro!

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  2. I was struggling with finding God’s will when I had to make an important decision last month. I read a book entitled “Making Decision based on The Book” and it helped me a lot. Most of the ideas are those mentioned on your post, following God’s moral will, God’s sovereign will, finding mentor to help us, etc. But there’s also one more thing; that is whatever decision you make should exercise the talents and gifts that God had invested in your life.

    At the end, I had to make the decision that will exercise the talents and gift that God had invested in me. I have not yet feel at peace with my decision, but I know I am doing the right thing. I just have not accept the fact that this decision is what I have to take eventhoug it is not what I really want.

    Thanks for sharing JS. you are a blessing!

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  3. Thank you JS. you know sometimes i just wish i could have a handwriting on the wall or something. lol. Seriously though, God’s leading for me has been a bumpy road of learning stuff. But then i realize, the more i live the day to day life of obedience and faith, somehiw, i find myself making the right decisions. I am gradually learning to understand when my mind and desires are itching for something. i have bungled it so many times especially in relationships and friendships but i recently learnt to not jump at every relationship that looks “good” and “meets the criteria”. This blog post of yours is another material i am grateful to read and i have learnt more things from it.

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  4. Amen. I definitely think we in the church sometimes have the idea that God has a set in stone, step-by-step plan for us, and if we fall off of it there’s no turning back. I don’t think God wants us to be so anxious over day to day life, but like you said wants us to be giving ourselves over to the renewing of our minds and hearts. Then we will be within His will.

    Good stuff, as always. I thank God for your posts, they give such good insight into the tough matters of faith.

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