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How You Discern God's Will?
June 10, 2009

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

I pray that this newsletter will find you and your loved ones in the very best of God's health. Today I'd like to share on a topic that many Christians find difficult at times and that is:

How You Discern God's Will?

As Christians we are called to do God's will. But how do we know what God wants us to do? I'll first open up with the most common (and wrong) way Christians determine God's will.

- I need to make a decision. I'll pray that God will tell me what I need to do.

This is wrong. Yet this is the way most Christians figure out God's will. I'll call this method of discerning God's will, "The Pray, Wait then Act" method.

Now before you call me a heretic, there's something fundamentally wrong with that statement. Have you figured it out yet?

Let me show how this type of thinking will get you into trouble.

Let's say I want to figure out how I need to talk to a person that just wronged me. Now, I go to God and pray about it. Now what? God's going to speak to me right? I'm somehow going to magically feel God's will? I'm going to hear that still small voice right? Well let me ask you this, "Are you without sin?" Cause that's the only way you're going to hear God's voice and only his voice.

Romans 7:21 - So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. [22] For in my inner being I delight in God's law; [23] but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

Okay, so let's even assume God is speaking to you, your sinful nature is telling you something different. But, wait, that's not all. Satan is there whispering to you too! Tempting you. So now you have God, your flesh and Satan all telling you to do something. (Note: The three enemies of the believer are Flesh, Satan and the world).

So how do we determine what is from God and what is from our flesh or Satan? What is incomplete with the "Pray, Wait and Act" method? We've made a fundamental error...

We forgot about scripture, which is called, "God's Word".

Going back to my example where someone wronged me and I'm trying to figure out what to do... Do you think any of these verses might help me figure out God's will?

MT 5:44 - Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

1CO 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. [5] It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

MT 18:21-22 - Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

All three of those passages have already told me how I should act. Those passages are God's will. It is God's will that I love and forgive. How much praying did I do to figure that out? None. Now I'm not saying prayer is useless. It's important, just not in the way most Christian are using it in the "Pray, Wait then Act" method. I'll show how prayer fits in it all in a bit.

Look at this, "2 Tim 3:[16] All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, [17] so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Notice how the passage says "equipped for every good work." That means every single situation that you are in, the Bible already tells you what to do. God's Word tells you what to do.

If someone punches me in the face, how much prayer is going to magically open my Bible and point me to, " MT 5: [39] If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."?

So what we have to realize is this... God has already told you what to do. You don't "Pray and Wait" because that's assuming God hasn't told you how he wants you to act. That would mean the Bible is incomplete. If that were the case then the verse would read, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for a bunch of good works. Not all of them. The others you'll have to pray about."

The "Pray, Wait then Act" method, actually neglects God's Word. This means that when someone uses this method, they actually end up doing their own will because God's will is located in the Bible - which they've neglected to check. But because they think the "Pray, Wait, Act" method is the correct way, they think what they're doing is actually God's Will - when really it's their own will. They actually make God into their own image.

So here are five principles to help us make sure we are doing God's will and not our own.

The Five Principles of Discerning God's Will.

Here are the five elements to figure out what God's will for any situation.

#1. Scripture.

Think of it this way. Instead of God speaking audibly to you, He made it really easy and wrote down his words so that we can 'listen' to his commands whenever we wanted.

PS 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Now the Bible isn't going to say if you should be friends with Billy, but it will say the types of friends you should have. It's not going to say if you should date Sally, but it will tell you the type of person you should date (or not date). It's not going to say that you should go to the State University, but it will tell you about calling, finances, responsibility, etc.

But now here's the thing. Just because you know the Bible, does that mean you know what passages to apply to your situation? And even if you know what passage to use, does that mean you know how to apply it?

Okay, I know I'm supposed to treat this person who just wronged me in love, but what words should I say? Should I even say anything now? Should I wait till he's calmed down? This is where #2 comes in.

#2. Godly Wisdom.

James 1: [5] If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Wisdom is "Knowledge Righteously Applied." You can have all the Bible Knowledge possible, and decide not to use it. Satan knows the Bible better than we do yet uses the Bible wrong. So knowing the Bible isn't enough, you have to know how to apply it in your situation.

Wisdom will figure out what words to say to the person who wronged you, or if you should wait till next week, or if you should keep your mouth shut and pray that God will change him. Wisdom will figure out which college to go to. Wisdom is what will say if you should spend God's money on a Toyota Camry or a Mercedes.

Wisdom takes scriptural principals and applies them to a situation by weighing the consequences and choosing the best (most scriptural) option.

Okay, great. But no one is as wise as they could be. So where do you go from there? You get more wisdom from others. Which is our next point.

#3. Godly Counsel.

God did not create us to be alone. He created us in fellowship with one another - often getting wisdom.

Sometimes you get wisdom from parents. EPH 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Other Godly Counsel would be Pastors, Christian brothers and sisters, Scholars, books, reference guides, the internet, Bible Programs, etc.

You, of course, need to use wisdom (element #2) and see if what they are saying matches up with Scripture (element #1).

The next part is actually assumed in all of this but it's worth mentioning.

#4. Open Doors (Opportunities).

If God wants you to go in a certain direction he will open doors for you. Or he will close certain doors.

Rev 3 [8] I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.

Each situation that you face basically is an open door - it's an opportunity. You have to keep your eyes open for opportunities because God wants you to do something. If you're not looking for open doors, then you'll be passing them by - and in essence, you'll be disobedient cause you were too lazy to look, so you ended up not doing what God wanted.

But be wary, Satan can open doors too. That's called temptation. Just because someone offers you drugs, doesn't mean that God opened that door. You must use Godly Wisdom, Godly Counsel and the Bible to determine who opened that door.

#5. Peace of Heart.

If you truly have an open door (#4) opened by God, where you are taking scripture (#1) and applying it (#2 and #3) then you will have a true peace of heart (#5) about it. Now I'm not talking about just being comfortable with your actions - because we can feel okay with our sin. I'm talking a true, God given peace. Peace in the midst of adversity, not just in fun or good times. Long lasting peace with God that we are doing the right thing.

Therefore in closing, discerning God's will is correctly applying God's Word to your situations. We cannot possibly attempt to ask for God's guidance when we neglect his Word and it's application.

So how should you pray? You should be looking up scripture that applies and pray for wisdom, that you can apply scripture to your situation. Pray for Godly Counsel. Pray that God would open your eyes to opportunities.

It is now then we stop discerning God's Will by doing the typical "Pray, Wait then Act." Our method now becomes, "Take God's Word and Apply it."

ROM 12:1 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. [2] 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.

May God richly bless you and your family.

John H Maru

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