Guidelines for knowing God's Will One of the basic problems when seeking the will of God is the sometimes subconscious doubt we have, whether the will of God is best for us. Satan often tries to portray God as a spoilsport. Things happen that are hard for the human mind to grasp. This causes us to question whether we can really trust God with our money, future, life etc. We should be convinced that God's will and way are the best for us. That is something we can and must believe and cling to with all our heart. God has a good plan for our lives and that will never change and He will never act unfairly or in any way which is inconsistent with His Nature. To get to know the will of our Heavenly Father you can follow the following guidelines in your own life: • The saving of souls. It is the will of God that people should be saved. Unsaved people often seek the will of God for various matters and find no answer. The salvation of an individual is more important to God than any other matter. Thus we must get right with God first before asking anything else (2 Pet.3:9) Your salvation is God's will. "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance." • Your sanctification is the will of God. In 1 Thess.4:3 it says: "It is God's will that you should be sanctified." Anything that prevents you from living a Holy life or that hinders your dedication to God is not God's Will. Any decision you take that will adversely affect that sanctification is not the Will of God. • Confess and repent of conscious unconfessed sin and seek God's will with a pure heart. God hates sin. He has made provision for us to be cleansed from our sin because that is His Desire for us. The Word of God. The Holy Spirit will never lead you contrary to the truths of God's Word. Beware of using certain verses as guidance from God unless confirmed in other ways. Being prepared to submit yourself to god's guidance is a basic prerequisite. There is no point in asking what God's Will is if you are not prepared to do it. Do you really desire to do God's Will with your whole heart (Matt.6:33; John 4:34)? Choose with your will to do God's Will. Pray and say to the Lord: "Father I choose with my will to do Your Will." "But seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well? (Matt.6:33) food" said Jesus, "is to do the Will of Him who sent Me and to finish His Work" (John 4:35) It is important to stand on neutral ground when you are looking for the will of the Lord. This means that you will have to come to the point where you can tell the Lord that you are prepared to do his will, whatever that may be. You must forsake your own preferences and objections in the matter and be as neutral as humanly possible. Live in close fellowship with God. It is normally relatively easy to know the will of the • • • • Lord when you live close to Him. Be dedicated to Him (Rom.12:1-2) "Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will" • Wait upon God. It means to take the matter continuously in prayer to God. Isa.28:16 says: " ... the one who trust will never be dismayed." God has his own time. Don't try to move faster than God. God knows exactly when to reveal the answer to you. Trust Him. While waiting upon the Lord you must search your heart to ensure that your priorities are right. You need to determine whether it is still the Lord's will which is most important or merely the things you want from Him. God allows us to wait in order to test our hearts and also to prepare us spiritually for His answer. To wait upon the Lord does not mean to do nothing. It means that you must still be active: consider, debate, search, listen, evaluate and study the Scripture because this is all part of waiting upon the Lord. Complete trust. Proverbs 3:5-6 says. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart" James 1:6-8 says the following about a person who prays but doubts in his heart: "That man (who doubts) should not think he will receive anything from the Lord." Pray with the assurance in your heart that the Lord knows exactly what you need and that He will reveal it to you at the right time. Always act in the light of the knowledge you have. We sometimes want to know detail of God's will in detail before we do anything. More often than not we can proceed without knowing exactly what the Lord's ultimate objective is. Take the yoke of Christ upon you. Take a look at Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light". • • • To take his yoke upon you is: o to learn from close contact with Him o o to be guided in the right direction by Him to move at the right pace with Him • Consider the circumstances. Interpret things in a spiritual way. Remember that Satan tries to prevent us from doing God's will by placing obstacles in our way (1 Thess.2:18). However God can also use circumstances to lead you. Don't look at circumstances only for guidance, though. For we wanted to come to you - certainly I, Paul did, again and again - but Satan stopped us." • The wisdom of counsellors. Share the matter with other people who are spiritually minded and whose opinion you trust. You will often find confirmation and guidance in their reaction or advice" "The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice"(Prov.12:15). "For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisors make victory sure"(Prov.11-14). "For waging war you need guidance and for victory many advisers" (Prov.24:6). • Ways in which others were guided. Study in Scripture in Church history and in missionary biographies the ways in which God guided His servants. Look at Acts 10 for an example. Put out a fleece. When it is hard to discern between personal feelings and confirmation of the Holy Spirit ask God to do something objective outside of yourself as an indication of his will. See Judges 6:37-39 in connection with Gideon's fleece. However, don't allow signs to prescribe to you. The Lord exceptionally uses this way of guidance only as an exception. The Holy Spirit must guide you clearly when asking for such a sign from the Lord, otherwise it can happen that you will "force" the Lord to answer you. Draw up a balance sheet. It helps to write down the pros and cons concerning a decision and weigh them one against another. It often happens that the answer become evident when you write the pros and cons down. Share with a prayer group or partner. It is a good idea, especially when the decision will have far reaching consequences to share it with someone who will stand with you in faith before the Lord until God's will has become clear. Be obedient to spiritual principles. In some situations guidance is not even necessary because the matter can be handled according to Biblical guidelines, e.g. "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority" (Heb.13:17) "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs" (2Tim.2:4) "Do not commit adultery" (Matt.5:27-28) Scripture is so clear about many things that we do not have to look for the will of the Lord for those matters. It is there very clearly stated already. • The gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Holy Spirit that work in you can also be an indication of the work the Lord wants to do through you. "If a man's gift is prophesying .. if it is serving .. if it is teaching .. if it is encouraging .. if it is contributing to the needs of others .. if it is leadership .. if it is showing mercy .." (Rom.12:6-10) Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the Same Spirit to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit to another miraculous powers to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit and He give them to each one, just as He determines" (1Cor.11:7-11) • Guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit confirms what God wants you to do by means of an internal assurance. • • • • 'Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts ..." (Col.3:15) But be alerted to the peace that may come only because of the lack of tension after a decision was made. • Beware of the flesh! Beware of decisions that are in line with abundance, convenience and human desires. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit" (Gal.4:24-25) • Don't avoid the cross (1 Pet.3:17). The difficult way is often the correct way. God's ways are not our ways. Don't back away from humiliation and suffering. Beware of unnecessary self-chastisement or abstinence from certain things. There is no spiritual law that says that a Christian should suffer. "If any one would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matt.16:24) • Beware of counterfeits. Satan has deceiving spirits. The good is often the enemy of the best. Beware of being side tracked to a less important goal. "So the twelve gathered all the disciples together and said: "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of The Word of God in order to wait on tables .. but we will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word" (Acts 6:1-6) "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons" (1 Tim.4:1) • The world can mislead! When the Bible refers to "the world", it is more concerned about the system of the world than the world as a place. Beware that your decision is not influenced by desire for position, security, promotion, a career, or family pressure (1 John 2:15-17; Luke 14:26) "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters - yes, even his own life - he cannot be My disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26-27 "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world" (1 John 2:15-17) • Be aware of rational thinking. It is possible to use natural wisdom to rationalize. Proverbs 3:5 says: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" God gave us an intellect to use but our thoughts must still be submitted to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the authority and truths of the Word. • Resist fear. "Perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18) Having God as a loving Heavenly Father ensures that we will experience ultimate fulfillment and purpose when we submit to His Will. We must dread being outside His perfect Will. Resist any fear and unbelief that hurries you and causes you to be impatient. • Weakness does not disqualify. Sometimes Christians rebel against God's Will because they feel unable to do that which He has called them for. If God has called you, He will see that you are able to do that which He has called you for. "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength" (Phil.4:13) "But He said to me, "My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor.12:9) • Walk in faith. Be prepared to walk in faith. If you know God has spoken then the only way is onward. "... but the righteous will live by his faith... "(Hab.2:4) • Pray and ask God what His Will is. We will often do anything but ask God what His Will is. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Matt.7:7). If we want to know what the will of the Lord is, it is important to live in the correct relationship with God and to reason with clear and basic biblical principles in mind. We must uphold the basic truths of Scripture and reason accordingly. The follow are a few principles in Scripture that are unchangeable and that are basic guidelines in almost any situation. • The saving of souls. It is the will of God that people should be saved. Unsaved people often seek the will of God on various matters and find no answer. The salvation of an individual is more important to God than any other matter. Thus we must get right with God first before asking anything else (2 Pet.3:9) The saving of our souls is the primary will of God. "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance." It is God's Will that we should surrender to Him completely. Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God's Mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of Worship" (Rom.12:1) • It is God's Will that we should love everybody (also the unsaved). "Love your neighbour as yourself" (Matt.22:39) • It is God's Will that we should do good works. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do". (Eph.2:10) • It is God's Will that we should grow spiritually. For this very reason, make every effort to add to our faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to • perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; kindness, love" (2 Pet.1:5-7) • It is the Will of God that we should submit ourselves to the authorities. and to brotherly Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God" (Rom.13:1) • It is God's Will that we should grow spiritually through suffering and temptation. "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hop. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by The Holy Spirit whom He has given us" (Rom.5:3-5) • It is God's Will that we should be filled with The Holy Spirit and that we should follow Him and not our own selfish desires. "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with The Spirit" (Eph.5:18) • It is God's Will that we should protect the right of the poor and that we should have mercy on the oppressed . "Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked" (Ps.82:3-4) It is God's Will that we should forgive those who have offended us and truly love them. "But love your enemies, do good to them and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:32-36) • It is God's will that we should be satisfied with what we have got and not yearn for earthly riches and possessions. "But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation ..." (1 Tim.6:8-10) • Add the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 to the abovementioned and in many cases you will immediately know what the Will of God is. The following questions together with the abovementioned guidelines will help you to arrive at a clearer answer for different situations. Answer the questions one by one for yourself and also perform the tasks. Not all the questions are necessarily relevant in every situation. • • Draw up a balance sheet of the positive and negative aspects concerning the matter for which you want to know God's Will. Are you aware of any conscious unconfessed sin in your life. If so, leave all else and ask • the Lord's forgiveness and sanctification and break with that sin. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Does the Bible say anything about that specific matter? If so, write down the principles about the matter from Scripture for yourself. Do you find any direction from your circumstances? Will you obey God unconditionally when you know what his will is? Are you on neutral ground concerning your own feelings? What light do you have on this matter? Write it down and act accordingly until God further reveals his will. If you have no light and there is nothing else that you can do, then wait upon God for guidance. Do you know of a trustworthy fellow believer whom you can consult on this matter, or perhaps somebody with whom you can discuss it and who can pray with you about it? Think about the gifts and talents God gave you. They can be indicative as to what God's will is for you in this matter. Before you come to a final decision determine whether you have positive peace about the matter. Do not do anything if you have the slightest doubt about it. How do you think Jesus would have acted in this situation? What would He have done? Ask yourself what the consequences of your decision will be. Will others benefit from, or be harmed by it spiritually? Will you benefit from or be harmed by it spiritually? If you judge this matter in view of eternity would it influence your decision? Will you feel the same in fifty years time and will it be as important then as it is now? Are your motives selfish or do you really have the Lord's glory in mind? Are you trying to manipulate God and/or are you trying to prescribe what you want from Him? Will the Lord be glorified by your decision or will it harm his Name? Will you be able to say: "I am doing it in Jesus' Name?" Will it influence your decision in any way if you take into consideration that you will have to give an account of this to God one day?