To Be Open To Discern God’s Will And Ways
8 Great Guideposts For Discerning God’s Will
Have you ever had times where you do not seem to grow? That your spiritual life seems stagnant? That there is no joy, no peace, no contentment? Maybe it is because you are not discerning God’s will.
Could the reason why so many believers make no progress in their spiritual life is either because they do not walk in God’s will or because they do not know how to walk in God’s will?
They have in their mind so many thoughts, each seeming to be God’s will, that they cannot discern God’s will. Due to their not walking according to the will of God, their spiritual lives remain stagnant.
For those that do not want to walk in the will of God, I would just to remind you of this.
You were bought with a price. The price was the precious blood of Jesus falling to the ground on Golgotha’s hill.Remember how much He loved you. How much He walked in God’s will for you. That love if understood should set you on the path to start wanting to walk in God’s will.
For the rest of us, that struggle to know what God’s will really is, consider these things.
There is only 1 will of God not 3
There is only 1 will of God.
There has been a lot of confusing teaching out there on there being 3 wills of God Romans 12:1-2. The assertion being that The words good, acceptable and perfect show 3 wills of God.
However the rest of Scripture does not teach this and the Bible always interprets the Bible.
The will of God is good.
The will of God is acceptable.
The will of God is perfect.
The direct will of God is that original plan in the heart of God which He wants us to follow.
To try to discern if something is 1 of 3 wills of God only brings confusion and God is not the author of confusion.
Don’t misuse the Bible
We must not take any text of the Scriptures context. The will of God has already been clearly shown in the Bible. All who desire to know the will of God need only search the Scriptures and they shall know His mind on a certain matter.
Many believers, however, will simply seize upon one or two verses in the Bible as the will of God for them and act on it. They do not seek to know how the whole Bible resolves this problem.
This is playing Russian roulette with the Bible. They will open their bible, point at a verse and say this is it. This is God’s will for me, without understanding the context or the rest of biblical teaching.Example, what if a person opened their bible and pointed at the scripture which says tells of Judas hanging himself. Then they turn to another scripture that quotes Jesus as saying “go and do wise”.
Are we supposed to believe it is God’s will for us to hang ourselves?
In our seeking to know the will of God, we must not pluck a text context, randomly choosing and accepting a single verse or passage of verses, in isolation, as the teaching of the Scriptures on a specific issue facing us.
We always need to search out whatever other Scripture passages might teach on the particular issue or subject confronting us. Let us never make a hasty decision.
Follow the peace of God
We should not do anything if there is no peace in our hearts: Col. 3.15 Is. 26.3.
When we are confronted with a difficult problem and we do not know what to do, ask yourself this.
Do I have peace about it?
Now be careful because sometimes our soulish nature will have peace for the wrong reasons. not facing a problem, or because of the relief from stress.
However I have learned that if I have no peace about moving forward, it should weigh heavily, but not totally on my decision if something is the will of God.
Do not let circumstances determine the will of God
Do not assume that just because circumstances work out, or that there is great need, that it is necessarily the will of God.
Many people depend way too much on circumstance confirming the will of God or showing the will of God.
Now I do believe that where God guides, God provides, but just leaning on circumstances to show you the will of God is dangerous.
Look at Jonah. He was running from God, and when he got to Tarshish, He found a boat heading the wrong direction. Are we to assume that it was God’s will for Jonah to go anywhere else but Nineveh?
So just because he found a boat did not indicate that it was God’s will.
Look at Paul when He was planning on heading to Asia Minor to preach the gospel. Was their great need? Had not God been sending them that general direction?
But He was restrained by the Holy Spirit. And it ended up that God sent them to another region.
So circumstances and need are not indicators in and of themselves. Do not make your decision these alone.
Do not determine the will of God solely on a dream or vision
Do not trust a vision or dream alone in discerning God’s will. Visions and dreams are fickle. They can be interpreted widely.
In fact I have found that a vision or dream rarely means what you first thought it to mean. That is because we were the one experiencing it, our objectivity is limited and it takes others to point out things that might be missed by us because of our subjectivity,But you say, “Didn’t Paul get a dream of a Macedonian man asking him to come preach the gospel?” The answer is yes, but was the decision made solely on that vision?
You will notice in Acts 16:10 that once Paul, had shared the dream, that it stopped becoming a one-person thing, and it became a team thing. They sought the Lord, and they concluded that it was God’s will.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Do not assume that your way has to be God’s way. God’s will quite often will be outside our preconceived idea of how God works. He loves to prove that He is God and not limited to your box.
Example, when I came to this church one of the things the former pastor was concerned with is people who wanted to have more traditional worship music.
Now I pastor a Vineyard church, which has as a group of churches, have prided themselves in how contemporary our music is. In fact it is a Vineyard value.
But we are the only church in our town. I asked him if he had considered having 2 services. 1 contemporary and one traditional.
He looked at me the thought had never crossed his mind.
We can sometimes miss the will of God because of our own prejudices and preconceived ideas about how God works. I remember the days that guitars and drums were called of the devil and couldn’t be God’s will. Do you?
Take your time discerning God’s will
Do not rush! Let the will of God unfold. You do not know the future but He does.
I spent 8 years waiting for God to place me back into ministry. Many times I was tempted to do it myself by starting a church. But I was determined to let God work it out.
I had the ability. I knew how to do it, because I had done it twice before, but I chose to wait.Many times we are just Saul in the Old Testament where he had been told by Samuel to wait until he arrived to give the offering to the Lord. Saul waited a little bit, but then thought He would help God out and gave the offering himself. And just as he was finished, who shows up? You got it! Samuel.
Saul was impatient and did not trust God to make it all work. He had to help God out a little. Do not give into the temptation of helping God out.
Have a tender heart waiting to hear from God
Finally don’t be such as stubborn donkey as I have been so many times that it takes the rod of correction to set you on the right path.
Don’t be so self-centered, self-willed, and self-directed that God has to bring trial and tribulation on your path in order to get your attention.
Do you need Balaam’s donkey to speak to you?
Or are you as the servants at the wedding of Cana, who did what Mary told them to do, which was, “Whatever He tells you to do, do it.”
Have a tender heart, willing and waiting to hear the voice of Jesus speak softly to you. Go and fill the pots with water.
Did you realize that no one at the wedding knew where the wine came from other than Jesus and the servants? I want to be one of those servants that knows where the wine comes from!
Understanding God’s Will Is About Relationship
Understanding and knowing the will of God is much more about relationship with Jesus than it is about methodology.
What I have given to you here is some tips that I have learned.
Please do not use this as some sort of checklist.
Incorporate it into your own personal relationship with Jesus.
Ponder each one and let God start showing you His only will for your life!
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Learn to Discern the True Way From False Ways, and Welcome Jesus
Hello brothers and sisters of Spiritual Q&A:
In the last few years, the pastors and elders often told us, “Now all sorts of disasters have occurred and the prophecies of the Lord’s return have basically been fulfilled. This shows that now is the end of the last days and the critical time for the return of the Lord.
However, all manner of heresies and false ways will appear to deceive us as well, so we should watch and pray and adhere to the name and the way of the Lord.
If someone is preaching that the Lord has returned, we should refuse to listen to, read, or get in touch with it, lest we be deceived and thus be abandoned by the Lord.
” But some believers in God said, “If we do not listen to, read, or contact it for fear of being deceived—giving up eating for fear of choking, can we welcome the Lord?” So I want to ask a question: Is it right that we close our door and wait alone for fear of being deceived? What are your opinions on this question?
Hello Brother Guangming:
This question you’ve brought up is crucial, because it is connected to whether or not we can welcome the Lord. In fact, it is also the confusion of many brothers and sisters in the Lord. Now let’s have a fellowship about this question.
Things That Come From God Make Us Firm and Courageous; Fear Comes From Satan
It is a fact that all manner of heresies and false ways will appear when the Lord comes again in the last days. At such a critical time, for fear of being deceived, we refuse to listen to and read anything related to the Lord’s return, or contact anyone who preaches the Lord’s return.
In this way, although we won’t be deceived by false ways, we could easily miss the chance to welcome the true God at the same time. This is Satan’s plot. We believers in the Lord all know that God is almighty and that everything in the world is in God’s hands. Jehovah God said: “And lest your heart faint, and you fear for the rumor that shall be heard in the land” (Jeremiah 51:46).
2 Timothy 1:7 also says: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” From these verses, we can see that what God gives us are strength and courage, rather than timidity and fear. Fear doesn’t come from God but from Satan. The God we believe in is the only true God, and He is the greatest among everything.If we have God’s care and protection and have the presence and leadership of the Holy Spirit, is there any need for us to be afraid of being deceived? As long as we sincerely believe in God, rely on and look up to God, we will obtain God’s leadership and guidance and be able to discern between true and false and right and wrong.
If we dare not listen to the message about God’s return because all manner of heresies and false ways will appear in the last days to deceive people, aren’t we being fooled by Satan? Haven’t we fallen into Satan’s tricks?
Faith Comes by Hearing, So Only by Seeking and Investigating Can We Welcome the Lord
The Bible said: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). So we must hear the way first before believing in it. Only through hearing the way can we judge whether or not it is the true way and the work of the true God.
Thinking back to the time when the Lord Jesus did His work, the Pharisees widely slandered and condemned the Lord Jesus. They said that the Lord Jesus was not the Messiah and that He broke the laws to heal people and work on the Sabbath, and even blasphemed Him, saying that He cast out demons with the help of the demon king, etc.
Not only did they deny that the work of the Lord Jesus is the true way, but they misled the Jewish commoners and prevented them from seeking and investigating the true way.
But some people, such as Peter, Matthew, Mark, John, the Samaritan woman, and so on, didn’t believe the rumors of the Pharisees, nor did they allow the fear of being deceived prevent them from hearing the gospel of the Lord. Instead, they desired to hear the Lord Jesus’ sermons, and followed and listened to the Lord Jesus wherever He was preaching.
It was because they had a seeking and yearning heart that they recognized that the Lord Jesus’ words are the voice of God and saw the appearance of Messiah. At last they went out from the law, and accepted the work of the Lord Jesus, thus gaining the salvation and blessings of God. Was all of this not because of their going out to hear sermons?
It is mentioned many times in Revelation: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2-3). The Lord Jesus also said: “Seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). The Lord Jesus told us that God would speak again when He returned in the last days.Only by paying attention to God’s voice and actively seeking and investigating can we welcome the Lord’s return. Yet the pastors and elders ask us not to listen to and read anything related to the Lord’s return, or contact anyone who preaches the Lord’s return.
Are they not betraying the words of the Lord Jesus? If we listen to the pastors and elders, how can we welcome the Lord’s return?
It Is Key to Learn How to Distinguish the True Way From False Ways
Now we know that if we want to welcome the Lord’s return, we need to actively seek instead of passively defending. In addition, the most critical aspect is that we must grasp the principles of distinguishing the true way and the false way. Only in this way will we never be deceived.
So how should we discern between them? Let’s take a look at God’s words and see what He says about this: “And so, in distinguishing whether or not it is the true way, above all you must look at whether or not there is the work of the Holy Spirit, after which you must look at whether or not there is the truth in this way.
This truth is the life disposition of normal humanity, which is to say, that which was required of man when God created him in the beginning, namely, all of normal humanity (including human sense, insight, wisdom, and the basic knowledge of being man).
That is, you need to look at whether or not this way takes man into a life of normal humanity, whether or not the truth that is spoken of is required according to the reality of normal humanity, whether or not this truth is practical and real, and whether or not it is most timely.
…There is one other principle, which is whether or not man has an increasing knowledge of God, whether or not experiencing such work and truth can inspire a love of God in him, and bring him ever closer to God. In this can be measured whether or not it is the true way.
Most fundamental is whether this way is realistic rather than supernatural, and whether or not it is able to provide the life of man. If it conforms to these principles, the conclusion can be drawn that this way is the true way.”
From this passage, we can see that if it is the true way, there must be the work of the Holy Spirit. This is the key to distinguishing the true way from false ways. Since it is the true way, it is surely the work of God Himself, and it must be upheld by the Holy Spirit.
For example, when the Lord Jesus was working in the Age of Grace, He was subjected to the frenzied persecution and condemnation of the Roman government and the Jewish religion. However, nobody could hinder God’s work from advancing: The gospel of the Lord Jesus was increasingly prosperous. This was achieved by the work and the leadership of the Holy Spirit.And all those who had followed the Lord Jesus obtained the work of the Holy Spirit. As long as they prayed to the Lord Jesus, they would be filled with peace and joy, and see God’s blessings and leadership.
Because the true way is the work and the word of God in a new age, and is definitely upheld by the Holy Spirit, people who have accepted the true way can enjoy the work of the Holy Spirit, and their faith and love toward God become greater and greater.
If it is not the true way, it won’t be accompanied by the work of the Holy Spirit or upheld by the Holy Spirit, and its followers won’t have true faith or love toward God. We often say: That which stems from God must prosper and that which stems from man must be defeated. Thus, we can discern whether it is the true way according to whether there is the work of the Holy Spirit or not.
In addition, if it is the true way, there must be the expression of the truth. This is because only God is the truth, the way and the life, and only He can give us mankind life and supply us corrupt mankind according to our actual need.
For example, when the Lord Jesus came, He ended the Age of Law and initiated the Age of Grace.
He brought people grace in abundance and bestowed upon them many truths: One can be forgiven of his sins by confessing and repenting; those who are humble, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and who are persecuted in the name of righteousness are blessed and can enter into the heavenly kingdom; one should be tolerant and forgiving of others and love his enemies; one should bear the cross; one should worship God with heart and honesty, etc. These truths are what people of that time didn’t understand, what people needed in life, and the path to practice in the new age. That’s to say, if it is the true way, it can bring people new paths of practice; if it can’t bring people new paths of practice but repeats the previous work and word of God, it is not the true way; maybe it is the old way or the false way, or maybe it is the work of the evil spirit and Satan that imitate God’s past work to deceive people.
What’s more, in weighing whether or not it is the true way, we must look at whether it can enable us to have more and more knowledge of God and whether it can arouse our love for God. As is known to all, when God comes to do His own work, He certainly expresses His disposition and all that He has and is.
After experiencing the work of God, people will naturally gain true knowledge of God. For example, in the Age of Law, God decreed laws to guide man’s life on earth.By experiencing God’s work and guidance, people knew that God is present everywhere; God looks upon the entire earth; God’s disposition is majesty and curse and is inviolable by any man. So, they developed a God-fearing heart. In the Age of Grace, God was incarnated into the world and did the work of redemption of mankind.
Through experiencing the work of the Lord Jesus, people realized that not only is God’s disposition majesty and curse, but also love and compassion. They also saw that not only is God a Spirit but He can also become flesh and humble Himself to be a man. He can talk with people face to face and He is full of love and tolerance….
All the work the Lord Jesus did brought people a new knowledge of God and aroused more love for God within them. Therefore, if it is the true way, it can bring man more knowledge of God and His disposition.
If we grasp these principles of distinguishing the true way and the false way, we’ll not fear being deceived.
The Lord Jesus said: “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6).
The Lord reminded us that if we want to welcome His return, we first need to actively seek and investigate, and need to grasp the principles of distinguishing between the true way and the false way and pay attention to listening for God’s voice to see if it contains God’s utterance. Only by doing so can we be the wise virgins.
If for fear of being deceived we still hold on to our conceptions and do not listen, read, or get in touch—giving up eating for fear of choking, we’ll never be able to welcome the return of the Lord.
Brother Guangming, I hope this fellowship will be useful to you. If you have any other problems, please write to communicate with us!
Spiritual Q&ADiscern the True Way From False Ways
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8 Ways to Know God’s Will
And 3 things to do about it
There is a you-shaped hole in God’s global mission. God has prepared good things specifically for you to do. Yet even if you already agree with those statements, determining the will of God concerning cross-cultural service can be frightening. How do we hear God’s voice? Will he make me do something I absolutely detest? How do I know?
There is no set formula for discovering God’s will. Instead, consider this discovery viewing a constellation. When we look into the night sky, we need to see clusters of stars to view a constellation. Only by looking at the overall group of stars will we see Orion or the Big Dipper. Focusing on one star does not give us the big picture.
In the same way, discerning God’s will involves looking at the big picture. When all of the “stars” come into view, we begin to understand the big picture we call the personal will of God for us. Here are eight “stars” that contribute to this big picture:
1. Biblical guidance
God will never ask us to do something contrary to his Word, but he demands obedience in the clearly revealed things, and obedience to the commission to make disciples may thrust us out.
2. The opinion and counsel of others
Especially older, wiser leaders who know us well. If many people around us commend us on our cross-cultural sensitivity and encourage us to pursue international service, maybe God is speaking through them.
3. Gifts and abilities
God has entrusted us with certain unique personal resources; how will we use them?
4. Opportunities and situations
If our job asks us to take an overseas position or our church leaders invite us on a short-term mission trip, God might be speaking to us.
A veteran missionary once told me that my desire to travel might be God’s way of directing me toward service.
Taking steps of faith in one direction can help us affirm God’s will as he either redirects us or confirms the direction we take. The Student Volunteer Movement taught that we all should take steps toward cross-cultural service until God called us to stay home: “planning to go, but willing to stay.”
While it is not the only star in the picture, it certainly shines brightly. God may use our knowledge of people without Jesus to compel us out.
This certainly motivated Paul (Romans 15:20; 1 Corinthians 9:16-17) and many of the great leaders of missions history.
When Cam Townsend met people who did not have the Bible in their mother tongue, God called him to learn their language and translate the Bible. He later founded what is now the Wycliffe Bible Translators.
8. Miraculous means
In her book on God’s guidance, A Slow and Certain Light, Elisabeth Elliot includes angels, dreams, audible and visible signs, and prophecies as ways that God guided in the Scriptures and how he might guide us today.1
As the big picture starts to get clearer, whatever the picture, we are all called to obey. But how do we get started? Three action steps may help us find out where God might be calling us globally:
1. Start Small
Malcolm Muggeridge writes, “Christianity is not a statistical view of life. That there should be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over all the hosts of the just is an anti-statistical proposition.”2 In other words, our little efforts do matter!
Todd and his friends decided that they could not respond to the more than 20 million people in Mexico City, but they went down to serve through Galo Vasquez, who ministers there, by offering collateral for a no-interest loan program designed to help break the cycle of poverty.
Their efforts at the beginning affected two or three families at the most, but they got started. As their ministry grew, a micro-finance ministry—which is now self-sustaining (i.e., without assistance from outside Mexico)—developed. The English translation of the ministry name? The Good Seed.
A small “seed” now affects hundreds of families.Our small efforts do matter. We belong to the God of the “mustard seed,” who takes the smallest of actions and makes them significant in his economy (see Mark 4:30-32). Tom Sine writes in The Mustard Seed Conspiracy, “God has chosen to change the world through the lowly, the unassuming, and the imperceptible.”3
Start small to investigate how we might be used to serve someone else in our world.
2. Start Here
Involvement with internationals, serving other cultures in our cities, or developing a second language skill can all take place without going overseas. Yet God can use these efforts to prepare us for something international.
Mr. and Mrs. Anderson decided to start building their world vision right at home. Each night they watch the network news together, but their growing world vision caused them to add a new response.
They listen to the news, taking special note of the international reports. During the commercial breaks, they turn down the volume, and they pray together for the country or the issue that was cited.
After praying about famine needs in North Africa, God led them there on an exploratory trip with World Vision.
Dick and Karen—aged fifty-seven—decided they should start right at home to explore the potential of serving overseas in their retirement years. They spent a year getting trained in personal evangelism and another year getting training in cross-cultural adaptation. They have no firm direction yet, but they are making themselves available to God anywhere by starting here at home.
3. Start Now
“These are good ideas. I’ll have to try them out some day when I have the time.”
We will never find out where else God might have us if we procrastinate and never ask. If we are to grow in our vision of God, his world, and our part in it, we need to make it a priority. We need to start today.
The first action we can take is to submit ourselves daily to the Lordship of Christ. If we realize that we belong to him—“bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20)—we will desire to grow in our ability to see the world as he sees it. Our desire to understand and care for our world will arise our relationship with Christ.
Lou and Donna are starting now to ask if God wants them to serve in another culture.In spite of the pressures of being young parents, they tell others, “If we say, ‘Our lives are too hectic to evaluate where God might be calling us internationally’, we’ll develop a pattern of running from that question for the rest of our lives. Life will always be hectic, so we need to be opening ourselves to God’s worldwide plans for us now—even if we think we’re in no position to respond.”
Dr. Ralph Winter, the brilliant mission leader and founder of the U.S. Center for World Mission, stated, “Nothing that does not occur daily will ever dominate your life.” If we do not start now to open ourselves to God as his living sacrifices (Romans 12:1), we may never hear him call us into an exciting opportunity to serve him worldwide.
This article is adapted from How to be a World Class Christian by Paul Borthwick, (InterVarsity Press, 2009). Used by permission of the author.
1Elisabeth Elliot, A Slow and Certain Light (Waco, Texas: Word, Inc., 1973).
2Malcolm Muggeridge, Something Beautiful for God (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1971), 81.
3Tom Sine, The Mustard Seed Conspiracy (Waco, Texas: Word, Inc., 1978), 23.