“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done."-C.S. Lewis
Israel had just been delivered from centuries of servitude in Egypt. God’s will for the nation was that the people leave Egypt forever and enter into the possession of the land of Canaan. Each step of the journey was planned by God. They were to follow in the way the Lord led them. The Israelite's were to follow God's plan, not their own. Their plan may have been as straight shot from Egypt to the Promised Land Instead, but God's plan led them out of Egypt and then southward, far from the normal routes, to Mount Sinai ! The longest way around was to be the shortest way home. Many times when it comes to walking with God the longer route may not be the fastest, but it is the best. Because Israel followed God's plan, not their own, they exemplified three important things.
First, was desire to follow God's will. The Israelite's were able to follow God because they desired to do so. In each moment they could see the direction He wanted them to go as He directed by a cloudy pillar and they desired to follow it. Secondly, they had discernment in doing so. The people of Israel could discern God's will because of what they saw and knew of Him and how He was directing them. Thirdly, they wanted to see His will done, they actively participated in it. The pillar of cloud and fire continued to supernaturally lead the Israelites and while the path was not the easiest, it was worth it because God was guiding them there. They not only knew God's will, they did it.
.What is the relevance of this for today? God guided Israel, but does He guide Christians? He does! Just as God gave the Israelite's direction, understanding, and assurance, He does the same for believers who follow Him today!
If a person wants God to lead them they must allow Him to do so. Why should God show His will to a person someone determined to do their own? Psalm 25:9 says “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way”. God’s guidance is also summed up by Solomon in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths”. We must desire to follow His will and resist doing our own. Many Christians who profess to want God’s will for their lives really only want God to endorse their own plans, ambitions and ideas. There are a lot of people who say they want God's will for their lives, but only want to follow their own. Do you really desire to know God’s will for your life, are you talking the talk with no intention of walking the walk?
How do you discern the will of God? Here are three steps that are helpful in the process of discerning the will of God in our lives.
In Psalm 119:105 it says “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”. God speaks to believers primarily from His Word. The Bible contains insight for every possible thing a believer may want to know. For example if a Christian wants to marry a non-Christian Corinthians 6:14 gives insight on this situation stating that God forbids an unequal yoke. Anything that is sinful, that is contrary to the Word of God and is against the Holy Spirit, is prohibited for a Christian. The light of Biblical revelation is one which shines steadily. It is always there. It is our responsibility to become familiar with what God has said. Wherever the Word of God applies to our lives, its authority is absolute. It is useless to look to God for further guidance when He has already revealed His will about a given subject or situation in His Word. Hence the value and importance of a consistent daily time with God. If we want to live in the will of God we must first know how to do so, and that is what the Bible is for, it is a guide for God's will in Our lives.
Paul tells us in Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God”. The Holy Spirit, indwelling the Christian, constrains or restrains them from doing certain things. An outstanding example of this can be found in Acts 16:6-12. This intuitive, inward guidance does not come suddenly, nor does it come without thoughtful, prayerful exercise of soul in the presence of God. Prayer will help clarify God’s will. It is important to remember thought that the flesh can influence the heart of a Christian. It is easy to receive a false impression. Such impressions are usually very strong and urgent at first but, upon thinking them over, they become more uncertain and sometimes absurd. On the other hand, inward impressions from the Holy Spirit are very gentle and unassuming at first but, by being put to the test, become fixed and established. False impressions invariably insist on haste with the urge, “You must do it now, or never!” Not so the gentle inward leading of the Spirit of God. David says in Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the Lord”. Impressions from God will bear patient investigation and will survive contradictions from friend and foe alike. Impressions from the flesh are usually evasive and impatient at the thought of investigation. Those from God are open and free from deception. Patience will clarify God’s will, and the best way to exercise this patience is in prayer. An excellent piece of advice is, “If you don’t know what to do—don’t do it!” Most of our mistakes come from being in too much of a hurry, but, once the issues are clear, then action must be firm and decisive.
Circumstances are helpful in determining God’s will, but by themselves, can be deceptive. What looks like an open door of opportunity might lead to disaster. God may not always take us where we want, but He will always take us where we need to be. Lot chose Sodom because it looked like a golden opportunity for him. Abraham was content to let God overrule circumstances (Genesis 13:7-18). Later on in the story we learn Lot was fooled by outward appearances. On the other hand, obstacles in the way of a desired may be Satanic hindrances or they may be put there by God to test our willingness to trust Him. How, then, can we be sure? Again, patience is the key, God usually leads one step at a time.
While there is no single rule for guidance, we should learn to watch for the convergence of the three truths we have been discussing—Biblical revelation, illumination and confirmation.
In Acts 26:19 Paul’s testimony to King Agrippa, when describing how God had spoken to his soul, was this: “Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision” . To know God’s will and to refuse to do it is to invite disaster. God is too wise to make any mistakes, too loving to be unkind and too powerful to be thwarted. God does not want us to follow Him because He is a control freak, God wants us to follow His will because He knows what is best for us. God wants the best for us, not the worst. We can trust Him implicitly for His will is as Romans 12:2 says “good, perfect and acceptable”. God says in Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go: I will guide you with my eye".
Think about what Abner said in 2 Samuel 3:17 when he sought to bring over the ten tribes to David’s side. He said, “You sought for David in times past to be king over you: now then, do it!”. Consider, too, the wise advice given by the Virgin Mary in John 2:5 to those who sought her intercession. She pointed them to the Son of God and said, “Whatsoever he says unto you, do it”. At the same time Paul said in Romans 1:10 that he might be permitted in God’s will to go to Rome and preach the gospel there. “Making request,” he said, “if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you”. The phrase “by any means” was a blank check and God filled it in at a very high figure as the book of Acts records. Paul meant every word of it. God's will was better than Paul's will, and so Paul followed Him because of it.
We write a blank check only for those we really trust. We sign the check and hand it over with the words, “You fill in the date, you fill in the amount. I can trust you implicitly.” Will you give God that right in your life? Will you seek His will, determined to do it at all costs, once that will is known? If so, then, do it!
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