Foundations: What Every Christian Ought To KnowFebruary 27-March 3
How to Discover God’s Will for Your Life
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
Matt DeHann writes: The fog was as thick as pea soup. Visibility was limited to a few feet, and the lake was as smooth as glass. The only sound to break the silence was the laughing of a loon across the lake. I rowed for an hour around the shore, trying to catch fish in different areas, but the fish weren’t biting! So I decided to go back to my cabin for a cup of coffee. I was at the mouth of a small inlet, which I knew was directly across the lake from the cottage. So I set out across the lake on a straight course (I thought) toward the dock.
The minutes went by—and after an hour I was surprised when I arrived back at the mouth of the little stream from which I started. I had been going in a circle in the fog. I was so sure I knew where I was going, but after an hour I had gotten nowhere! If I had only taken my compass—instead of relying on my own sense of direction. (Our Daily Bread)
God’s will gives us direction for our lives. There are times when we can’t simply trust our own sense of direction in life. Trusting God to direct your paths is trusting that God’s will and plan for your life are better than your own. The author of Proverbs calls for trusting God with all your heart. If it is only half-hearted trust, it’s not really trusting Him.
Pastor Jim said, “You will never be more fulfilled, you will never be closer to the Lord, and you will never be more productive in your Christian life than when you are obeying God’s will.” Why do you think this is true? What things may keep you from trusting God with “all your heart?”
Thank God for having a plan for your life. Praise Him for seeing through the fog when He gives you directions. Ask God to grow your understanding of His will for your life.
There Is A Lot of Confusion About God’s Will.
1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Acts 9:1-2 (ESV)
A university student was seen with a large “K” printed on his T-shirt. When someone asked him what the “K” stood for, he said, “Confused.” “But,” the questioner replied, “you don’t spell “confused” with a “K.” The student answered, “You don’t know how confused I am.” (Source Unknown)
In Acts 9, Saul didn’t realize how confused he was. Saul believed he was doing God’s will by persecuting Christians. From Saul’s perspective, the followers of Christ were apostate Jews who threatened to corrupt Judaism. Saul’s religious fervor devoted himself to stopping this new faith. His religious fanaticism is seen in his request to the Sanhedrin to extradite and punish believers who had sought safety in Damascus. God would eventually set Him straight.
Pastor Jim shared several myths people have about God’s will. When have you blamed God for something that was actually a result of your misunderstanding His will?
Praise God for His desire to clearly reveal His will to you. Ask God to show you any myths you believe about how He works.
You Can Have clarity Concerning God’s Will
6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. Acts 9:6-9 (ESV)
Harry Truman enjoyed telling about the man who was hit on the head at work. The blow was so severe he was knocked unconscious for an extended period of time. His family convinced he was dead, called the funeral home and asked the local undertaker to pick him up at the hospital, which he did. Early the following morning, this dear man suddenly awoke and sat straight up in the casket. Confused, he blinked several times and looked around, trying to put the whole thing together. He thought, “If I’m alive, what in the world am I doing in this soft, satin-filled box? And if I’m dead, why do I have to go to the bathroom?” (H. Truman)
Saul needed clarity about God’s will for His life. Saul experienced a conversion that changed him from thinking he was running his own life to wanting to let God tell him what to do. God gave him clear instructions in Acts 9:6 and told him He would tell him what to do next.
There were multiple steps Saul needed to take in following God’s will. Often God will not tell you what to do next until you complete the last steps He told you to take. Is there anything you know God has already asked you to do that you have not completed? What’s holding you back?
Thank God for the areas of His will where you have clarity. Ask God to give you the next clear and simple step He has for you in following His will.
How Do I Discover God’s Will?
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8 (ESV)
Elizabeth Elliot tells of two adventurers who stopped by to see her, all loaded with equipment for the rainforest east of the Andes. They sought no advice, just a few phrases to converse with the Indians. She writes: “Sometimes we come to God as the two adventurers came to me — confident and, we think, well-informed and well-equipped. But has it occurred to us that with all our accumulation of stuff, something is missing?
She suggests that we often ask God for too little. We know what we need–a yes or no answer, please, to a simple question. Or perhaps a road sign. Something quick and easy to point the way. What we really ought to have is the Guide himself. Maps, road signs, and a few useful phrases are things, but infinitely better is someone who has been there before and knows the way. (Elizabeth Elliot, A Slow and Certain Light)
In Isaiah 58:11 God promises to be our personal guide when Isaiah writes, “And the Lord will guide you continually.” God promised in Psalm 32:8 that He would keep an eye on His children as they journey through life. God personally guides us through His Spirit, His Word, Prayer, and circumstances.
Pastor Jim talked about God’s prevailing will, permissive will, and personal will. What are examples of each of these that you are currently following?
Praise God for His watchful eye over your life. Ask God to continue to give you an awareness of His constant presence in your life.
It Takes Courage To Obey God’s Will
22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. 23 When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, Acts 9:22-24 (ESV)
Often when we ask for a person’s signature, we will call it their “John Hancock.” This is because of the fifty-six signatures on the Declaration of Independence, one stands out above the rest. That signature belongs to John Hancock. He was the first to sign the declaration and he signed it in a large and legible script so that the King of England could read his name without using glasses.
Mr. Hancock wanted it to be very clear where his allegiance lay. His commitment to his country was so clear that when King George III offered amnesty to all who would cease fighting, John Hancock was among the select few who were left out of the offer. Has your signature let your King know of your dedication and commitment to Him? (Houston Chronicle)
Saul’s actions made his signature clear to God and others. When Saul stepped into the will of God for his life, he was also stepping into conflict. The religious Jewish leaders of the day wanted him dead because of his faith. But God gave Saul the strength and courage he needed to walk in the will of God.
When has obeying God’s will for your life required courage? How do you find the courage of God when you need it?
Thank God for choosing you to be part of His will. Ask God to give you the courage you need to obey His will no matter what.