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Elkmont Baptist Church
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How Can I Know or "Hear" God's Will for My Life?
Finding God's Will
May God bless you all!
This is not a bad question, and it is not easily answered today when so many voices are trying to tell us what to do with our lives. We get directions from the governments we live with, our job and/or school authorities, the church, friends, and of course, at home. Many times these don't seem to fit together, and it can be confusing to have to make decisions based on all of the advice we get. So how do we cut through all the noise and get a pure signal from the Lord?
John 14:15: "If ye love me, keep my commandments."
Ok, any questions? Pretty simple, huh?
But I want to know what kind of career to seek, or who I ought to marry, or if I should quit my job and look for another, or if kissing on the first date is ok, and tons of other questions. (By the way, dating is Not in the Bible!)
Well, if you love Christ - simply start doing His will (God's will) by keeping His commandments. How does that help me answer my specific questions?
The top layer of our onion is like a sheepfold fence. As long as we are in the sheepfold, we are safe. When we step out of the fold without the shepherd's permission, we are in danger of wolves and thieves destroying us. If we are to know God's will for our lives, we must start by knowing the limits He has established for us for our protection. It does no good to ask questions that you already know are outside the boundaries of the sheepfold - the commandments of our Lord. For example, why even bother to ask if going to a movie that violates Biblical principles is ok? Of course, it isn't ok. It is outside the sheepfold fence. When you ask to, or contemplate doing something that violates a commandment of Christ - you have stepped out of the will of God and are doing that which is right in our own eyes (Judges 21:25).
When you step out of the fence God has provided - you have said to God - "I don't care about what you want - I am going to do what I want." That attitude is a lot like a city without walls - indefensible. Proverbs 25:28: "He that
no rule over his own spirit
without walls." Without walls - like without a
sheepfold fence - no protection.
If you have that attitude - on of always looking over the fence or leaving the sheepfold because you are doing what you want to do instead of trying to do what Christ would have you to do - then: (1) you don't love Christ (even if you say you do), and (2) you will never get to the second layer of this "God's will onion", and you will not know God's will for your life.
I said it was simple. If you love Christ - keep His commandments. Oh, you don't know His commandments? That would be like not knowing where the fence is, or even if you are in the fence. That is where our journey in getting to know God's will for your life starts - in searching out and learning what Christ's commandments are, and how you may live within their boundaries. Oh yeah, I also said it would be very hard to do because our old sin nature doesn't want to live within that sheepfold. It always thinks that the grass is greener outside the fold. But that is where our journey starts - learning the simple boundaries of the Scriptures - the commands of Christ. Memorizing and meditating on His Word is an excellent way to peel the top onion layer.
Find the sheepfold and get inside the fence.
2nd Lesson on Knowing God's Will
Ok, how about the second layer of the onion?
I like to think of the second layer as "group specific." Whereas all the commandments of Christ make an excellent sheepfold "wall" - some verses are specific to certain groups of people and provide guide paths for us within the sheepfold. For example, in the first Proverb, there are several references for "my son." Hey, I'll bet that would be an excellent book to study of I were a son or daughter in my early years.
You see, the second layer of the "God's will onion" is all about discovering guide paths through the sheepfold by finding those verses that pertain to my life or situation. These will change as we journey through life, but their lessons and guidance should stay with us forever. So how do I start peeling this onion layer? Here is an example:
2 Timothy 2:15: "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
Simple, isn't it? Just study God's Word. Find the guide paths. But how can I recognize them? If I find a path, how do I know it is one I should take? Good question. First, paths have sides or shoulders. When you walk a path, it is well trod, and the grass is generally gone from the path giving it definition. The shoulders or sides of the path define where NOT TO GO. Look again at the larger passage in 2 Timothy:
2 Timothy 2:14: "Of these things put
Lord that they strive not about words to no profit,
(Now there is a place we should not go - striving with vain (profitless) words - this is definitely a "shoulder" to be avoided.)
2 Timothy 2:15: "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (This is clearly the path we are to trod. At the end of the path we will have become a pleasing workman of God who knows how to use the Word and understand its application - and we won't stand before God ashamed that we go off the path.)
2 Timothy 2:16: "But shun profane
vain babblings: for they will increase unto more
ungodliness." (This is clearly the other shoulder. We are not to go there. Stay on the path and avoid stepping off into this kind of speech/words, for they will cause others around us to stumble off the path as well.)
2 Timothy 2:14-16 (and more verses that surround it) is one of many "paths" in Scripture that God has put there for us. They are well defined and often have two clearly defined shoulders for us to avoid, so that we know when we are starting to step off the path. This one happens to be about what we study. (Do you meet the requirements as one who has to study? Then this path is one you need to take.)
Are you a mom or dad? - then find those paths that pertain to you. Are you married or single? - there are paths defined for you. Are you a student? - then reread 2 Timothy. Are you a citizen? - then start with Titus and find those other verses regarding good citizenship. Church member? Lots of instruction for church members. Got a job? There are a lot of paths for you to research. Got a particular affliction? The Psalms and Proverbs may contain the paths you need to walk.
Find the sheepfold, and get inside the fence. Now find the paths that describe who you are and what you are going through, and study them - walk them.
3rd Lesson on Knowing God's Will
We looked at the top layer - John 14:15: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Keeping His commandments is like staying within the safety of the sheepfold walls. Outside the fold, we are in danger of wolves and thieves destroying us. To know God's will for our lives, we must start by knowing the limits He has established for us for our protection. Memorizing and meditating on His Word is an excellent way to peel the top onion layer.
The second layer of the "God's will onion" is all about discovering guide paths through the sheepfold by finding those verses that pertain to my life or situation. These will change as we journey through life, but their lessons and guidance should stay with us forever. For example: 2 Timothy 15, and guide paths often have shoulders - places NOT TO GO.
That leaves for us
in the Word. Special verses that jump out at you when God
is trying to give you an answer to prayer or direction in your life,
utterances by a living voice - as opposed to a written word. Example: when I was praying about some large sums of money - I was impressed by a verse that included the phrase: "took joyfully the spoiling of your goods" (Hebrews 10:34). God was weaning me off the love of money. Another time I prayed bringing my children into His name - for it is as a strong tower (Proverbs 18:10) - and that day my daughter was hit by a car going over 45 mph (and only had bruises). But
normally only come to
those who are walking in the sheepfold and staying on the right path for themselves.
We all want to hear from God. We want to know His will for us, but we regularly reject the most obvious will for our lives there is - that of His already written Word. Why should He tell you what career to seek when you aren't seeking Him or following commands He has already given - like don't be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14; paraphrase), or "the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6:10). If God has set clear parameters around you already and you are ignoring them, why should you expect a special revelation that only pertains to you? If He can't trust you to obey His written commandments - why give you more?
Perhaps the hardest step in seeking God's will for your life is simply to start trusting in the Word that we already have - the Bible. Stop picking and choosing what you want to believe, or what you want it to say, and accept the whole council of God. Begin with the commands of Christ as found in the Four Gospels - like "love one another" (John 13:34), or "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). How about "Take my yoke upon you" (Matthew 11:29), or my house shall be a house of prayer (Matthew 21:13) (you are God's house you know . . .).
We are all on a journey. Some of us are trying to walk in the sheepfold; others of us are longingly looking over the wall, and many of us are over the wall and walking in the world's ways. Where are you? Where do you want to be?
John 14:15: "If ye love me, keep my commandments."
in remembrance, charging
We will treat this like the peeling of an onion, moving down a layer at a time until we get to a core position - better able to discern God's will for our lives. Let's start with the top layer - the simplest, but also the hardest.
John 14:15: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Do you love Him?
to the subverting of the hearers."
- a series compilation