Finding God's Will? Pt 5

Finding God's Will?  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:36
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Criteria For Finding God’s Will
God has an individual will for each Christian and that His direction can be discerned.
God’s leading never contradicts Scripture rightly understood
The person who wishes to know God’s will must be willing to do God’s will (obedience to God’s will already known)
God’s will is always for Christians to fulfill their duties
The remaining criteria in this study are less straightforward. They are more subjective, though not at all less important that the objective criteria we have already covered.
Employing these more subjective principles of Scripture requires wisdom and a sense of balance. Because of this, one important criteria is essential!

Pray About It

To receive wisdom from God we have to ask for it. Thankfully, if we ask God for wisdom we will receive it generously!
James 1:5 ESV
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Since wisdom is necessary to discern God’s will, the process of seeking God’s direction must be bathed in prayer.
How important is prayer in finding God’s will for our life?
Why didn’t we start with this principle then? Shouldn’t it be at the top of our list?
Criteria For Finding God’s Will
God has an individual will for each Christian and that His direction can be discerned.
God’s leading never contradicts Scripture rightly understood
The person who wishes to know God’s will must be willing to do God’s will (obedience to God’s will already known)
God’s will is always for Christians to fulfill their duties
Do we have to pray for God’s direction in any of the above principles? In these objective truths from God’s Word, His will is already revealed. It is settled in black and white. We determine God’s will not by praying for divine guidance, but by reading the Bible!
Examples: Should you pray about the following situations?
Should we embezzle money from our employer?
Should we abandon our spouse?
Should we covenant with a local church in membership?
Should we evangelize and testify of God’s grace in our lives?
Why not? Because in all these matters God has already told us what His will is.
Why does it say about us if we pray about matters that God has already told us His will? We have not been paying attention to God! If we had been paying attention, we would already have our answers. These are not matters that require discernment.
We do not need to pray about these things, what do we need to do? Obey God’s will as we already know it!
“If we pray about such activities, we reduce piety to a game and Christianity to a show. In effect, we are mocking God—and God refuses to be mocked (Gal 6:7).”
Galatians 6:7 ESV
7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
What is the appropriate time to pray for God’s direction?
When Scripture by itself does not give us clear guidance. Then we must come to our Father and humbly ask for wisdom that we do not possess in ourselves.
Should we pray about small everyday choices?
What toothpaste should I buy? Should we have green beans or Brussels sprouts tonight? No-
How do we handle these smaller matters?
Proverbs 3:5–6 ESV
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
We ask God to direct our paths, and we prayerfully commit the keeping of our ways to Him. As the normal decisions of life come our way, we roll along with them and simply make the choice that seems best at the moment, trusting God to oversee our determinations.
What kind of decisions should we seek God in prayer about before moving forward?
Choices that have serious consequences. When we want to make the best possible choice for ourselves and others in our lives. Those are the times when we need wisdom that is from above.
James 3:17 ESV
17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
Those are the times when we absolutely must seek God’s guidance.
How long should we spend in prayer about these kinds of decisions? If we are perplexed we might spend days or weeks in prayer about a serious decision.
If it is a decision that affects our families, then we should ask our spouses and perhaps other family members to pray with us.
We might even ask our church family to pray for us.
We might even commit ourselves to fasting so as to give ourselves more fully to prayer.
James 5:16 ESV
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
The prayer of a righteous person has great power.
So, we follow all of the above: pray individually, invite our family to pray with us, invite our church family to pray with us, we fast and pray. If I put all of that together then, like a magic formula, God will give me my answer?
We should not expect pray to function like a magic formula to secure personal revelation from God!
We should no expect the answer to be written in the sky or to become audible to the ears of our soul. We should expect no signs and we should trust no sudden, overwhelming convictions!
Why not? Why should we not trust sudden overwhelming emotional “convictions”?
“Such things are too easily counterfeited—and powers other than God know how to produce them.”
How will God answer our prayers then? The prayer for guidance will be answered through the exercise of wisdom, judgement, and discretion.
That is where the subjective criteria come in. Exercising wisdom requires us to appeal to several sources and to weigh several consideration. We will look at these in the remaining studies.
Application Questions:
Should we pray about every single decision that we make, such as which brand of toothpaste to use or which cereal to eat for breakfast? Why or why not? If so, how should we pray?
What kind of decisions do you regularly pray about? Why do you pray about these and not others?
If you were facing a major decision, do you have people who you would ask to pray with you? Would these people be different, depending on the nature of the decision?

Inform Yourself

Pastor to teacher example (pp. 32-33)
In order to discern God’s leading we should seek to gain as much information as possible about the situation.
The Bible is full of examples and principles that merge God’s will with adequately-informed judgment. Examples?
Joshua 1:2 ESV
2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.
Joshua 2:1 ESV
1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there.
Why did Joshua send spies? To investigate the land and to gather as much information as possible.
Deuteronomy 19:15 ESV
15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.
2 Corinthians 13:1 ESV
1 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
Those who hope to pass wise judgments are obligated to gain information from multiple witnesses.
Proverbs 19:2 ESV
2 Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
Acting without knowledge is not good.
Proverbs 18:13 ESV
13 If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
A person who makes a pronouncement without listening to the facts is a fool.
Illustration: choosing a plumber to install drinking fountains. What if we only got one bid?
Ignorance is never a virtue in finding God’s direction. God does not usually lead in a vacuum. He uses factors to create in us an impression of what His direction might be.
The more attention we pay to these factors, the more likely we are to understand what God wishes us to do. One of the most important facts is information. By learning all that we can about our decision, we are giving God something to work with as He leads.
Consider a man who is contemplating a promotion or a new job that will require him to move to a distant city. What information should he seek to gather?
What will his new responsibilities entail?
Who will he be working with?
Learn all he can about the city (opportunities and problems)
Search in advance for churches in that city (visit them if possible and talk to their pastors)
How will his new co-workers perceive him?
How does his wife fell about the move?
His children?
How people feel is an important part of the decision
What rule should we follow for gathering information? Is there a set list for every circumstance?
We must gain as much relevant information as possible before the choice has been made.
Informing yourself is necessary if you intend to exercise due diligence when making decisions.
What about Christian leaders that dismiss the exercise of due diligence by denouncing it as “human wisdom”?
Luke 14:28 ESV
28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
Too many Christian leaders have wrecked ministries—and people’s lives—because they did not bother to inform themselves before announcing it to be “God’s will.”
What about people who refuse to gather information and make decisions blindly claiming, “I’m living by faith”?
Too many people have said, “I’m living by faith,” when what they meant was “I’m following an impulse and doing it blindly.”
Illustration: I was criticized for not building the new auditorium sooner. I was not stepping out in faith.
Ignorance is not faith. Ignorance does not foster faith. Ignorance is not a substitute for faith. Ignorance is never a virtue. Instead, information is a tool that the faithful use whenever possible while seeking God’s direction.
1 Samuel 20:21–22 ESV
21 And behold, I will send the boy, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you, take them,’ then you are to come, for, as the Lord lives, it is safe for you and there is no danger. 22 But if I say to the youth, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then go, for the Lord has sent you away.
David trusted God to deliver him from Saul, but he also trusted the information that Jonathan brought him.
God places us in positions in which we have to make choices. In those choices He certainly knows what direction is best for us, but He does not simply tell us what to do. Instead, He uses those decisions as opportunities to grow us in maturity and wisdom.
Maturity and wisdom involve the capacity for sound judgment. For that reason, seeking God’s leading usually requires the exercise of sound judgment. The simple truth is that informed judgement are usually sounder that uninformed ones.
Do you want God’s will? If you are already yielded to Him, obeying Him, fulfilling your duties to the best of your ability, and praying about your choice, then the next thing you need to do is to inform yourself. The information you gain may be exactly the instrument that God uses to disclose His direction in your life.
Application questions:
What sort of information might you need to make a choice about a career? About purchasing a home? About choosing a spouse? About choosing a church?
What sort of information should a church have before deciding to relocate or build a building? Before deciding to start a school? Before deciding to call a pastor?
How could you legitimately gain the information that you need for the above choices?
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