“He’s so full of the Holy Spirit, he won’t drink a cup of coffee unless God tells him to.”
Years ago, that’s what someone told me about a Christian leader he was all fired-up about.
Wow! I wish God spoke with me that way. Then I could be sure I understood His will for my life. No worries. No mistakes. 100% sure of God’s best for my life. That’s what God wants.
❯ HOW GOD GUIDES US
We all wish God’s guidance came as a voice from heaven from time to time. I know I do.
Moses had the burning bush. Gideon had his fleece. Elijah heard an audible voice. Daniel had dreams. Mary spoke with an angel. John and Paul had their visions.
Why not us?
We all want God to speak to us, to guide us. We all want the comfort and confidence of hearing, “this is the way, walk ye in it.”
But the plain and simple truth is that God usually doesn’t guide us with the miraculous. A survey of all the great Christian lives since the 1st century would show that 99.9999% of the time God guides His people in the same way He guides all people and nations: through providence, not miracle; through the ordinary, not extraordinary.
I’m pretty sure that Christian leader never received a sign from heaven when it was time for his next latte.
I’m not saying God can’t guide by extraordinary means. (No one wants to put God in a box.) And, it’s not that He’s arbitrary about giving guidance—sometimes miraculous, sometimes not. Neither is it that only super-spiritual people get a miraculous word from the Lord. It’s just that truly miraculous guidance always seems to be associated with moving the great story of redemption forward in some significant way. And that story has, essentially, been told in full. So, unless you’re a Patriarch, or Prophet, or Apostle, or personally associated with one of them (and we aren’t), then it’s probably unwise to ever utter the words, “God told me…”
❯ CONFUSION ABOUT GOD’S WILL
Right about now you may think this sounds like a new heresy, or an old, cold, dead religion. You have your own stories of how God did these amazing thing to lead you at a crucial time. You know God spoke to you.
I believe you. I have those stories, too. But you must admit that those strong inner promptings from the Holy Spirit, and those divine appointments, fall far short of the miraculous. And, more to my point, you know these are the exception in your experience, not the rule.
Does this mean God doesn’t want to make His will plain to us?—Not at all. Scripture rules out that possibility (See Psalm 32:8; Proverbs 3:5-6; and James 1:5.) God’s guidance is real. We just need to learn to perceive it in the way He gives it.
Well then, if God isn’t likely to make His will obvious with signs and wonders, visions and voices, how can you and I know what His will is? I think the first step is to clear away some of the mistaken beliefs we have about God’s will for our lives.
Here’s some of the mistaken beliefs about God’s will that I’ve had to unlearn myself.
❯ EIGHT MISTAKEN BELIEFS ABOUT GOD’S WILL
1. God’s will is this mysterious thing that you can get or lose.
False. God’s will is what everyone experiences every moment of their existence. Searching for God’s will? You’re living in it. (See Psalm 115:3; Job 12:9-10 and any of the hundreds of other Bible verses about God’s control of the affairs of men.)
2. God only reveals His will to people who really, really, really, want it bad enough. You have to earn it.
False. God is good, and makes His will plain as day for everyone to understand. That’s why we’re all responsible to Him. How does He do it? Read on…
3. God only reveals His will in miraculous ways.
False. God most often reveals His will and gives you guidance in ordinary ways: studying Scripture, hearing a sermon, conversation with friends, thinking through an issue, reading a book, seeking counsel, making a pros/cons worksheet.
4. Understanding God’s will means finding out what God wants you to do in every circumstance you face.
False. God wants you to make your own choices. He wants you to learn how to make wise, biblically-informed, God-honoring choices which are motivated by your desire to glorify Him. (Tim Keller has a terrific sermon on this topic called, “Your Plans; God’s Plans”.)
5. When you are faced with a choice, there is never more than one option that is God’s will for you.
False. Multiple options may be within God’s will. There isn’t just one right person to marry. There isn’t just one right career, or college, or ministry. Your motive in the choice, your commitment to honor God in the choice, is far more significant than the choice itself. (See Romans 12:1-2.)
6. If your choice didn’t turn out well, you must be out of God’s will.
False. It’s your motive and obedience, and when necessary, repentance, that matter to God. He oversees the outcomes to accomplish His good purpose in your life, regardless of how well the outcomes suit you.
7. If you make a wrong, or even, sinful choice, you could forfeit God’s will permanently.
False. God’s will is inviolable; He does all He wills. That means His will for you succeeds in spite of your sins and failures. Repent when you must. Then don’t fear; just trust His sovereign, providential, merciful, fatherly care for you. (See Philippians 4:6-7, and this post on God’s will and your big, stupid mistakes.)
8. The Bible doesn’t tell you enough to know what God’s will is for you.
False. God’s will for all the biggest issues of your life are clearly revealed in Scripture. Scripture is the sufficient rule for your life and faith. It informs the daily decisions you make by forming the foundation of your outlook on life.
⟩ Who will you serve and worship?
⟩ How will you spend your life?
⟩ How will you treat your fellow man?
⟩ How can you receive God’s mercy?
That covers practically everything you’ll ever need to know about finding God’s will for you. (See Deuteronomy 29:29; Micah 6:8; Acts 4:10-12; and Acts 17:29-31.)
❯ GOD’S WILL AND OUR MISTAKES
Are you worried about how your choices, mistakes or sins may affect God’s will for your life? I know how that feels, and I wrote this post for you. A lot of people visit our blog because they’re worried about how their big, stupid mistakes affect God’s will. They find Average Us by Googling phrases like:
⟩ “I lost my destiny because of silly mistakes”
⟩ “Does God help us when we make mistakes?”
⟩ “Can God correct our mistakes?”
I really hope these two posts give you hope and point your thinking in a new direction. I hope you can learn something from our blog about how God’s faithfulness, providence, sovereignty, and forgiveness relate to your mistakes.
And one more thing…
If right now you’re still thinking, “Yeah, but what does God want me to do?” Here’s what I try to do…
❯ HOW TO
FIND DO LIVE IN GOD’S WILL
1. Grow ever more aware of how dependent you are on God’s grace, help, strength, wisdom, guidance, and love.
2. Study Scripture for the rest of your life to get guidance on the big picture of life.
3. Commit yourself to obedience to God in all things.
4. Eliminate God-dishonoring (disobedient) options from consideration.
5. Pray for guidance when needed, expecting God to answer through any means He pleases, including ordinary means.
6. Weigh the pros/cons of the alternatives you see.
7. Seek the perspective of appropriate counselors.
8. Examine your motives.
9. Make a decision.
10. Submit your plans to God.
11. Follow through on your decision in a God-honoring way.
12. Trust God for the outcome (whether good or bad).
13. Learn a bit more wisdom in the process.
Alas, you’re average like me. And we will make mistakes, some of them big and stupid. But never fear. Hope in God. He is great, even when life, even when your mistake-prone life, isn’t.
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8 thoughts on “Practically Everything You’ll Ever Need to Know About Finding God’s Will for Your Life”
It’s Michelle Blackwell. Remember me? How are you? I wanted to respond to this post because I thought it was incredible. Once again I’m impressed with your “average” (*smile*) advice along with references to the word. Keep it coming, I find that this blog is not only good but also refreshingly necessary.
I hope all is well.
Thanks! ~ Michelle
Thanks Michelle! Honored that you stopped by. Thanks for reading and sharing. Grace and peace, Lon
Praise God!!!! This is extremely relevant for me right now. I actually wandered over to your blog via an old post you have about leaving Pentecostalism written about 2 years ago. For the most part I am in the process of doing the same. I am leaving a non-denominational Charismatic church that is super small (40 people) with the church government of an Apostle/Prohphet. Now that God is leading me out of it you can easily see how such a combination leaves little room for checks and balances. I guess like many who join charismatic churches I entered this church at a time of crisis and stress and always felt that they had so much faith and experienced God so powerfully. Prior to that I was a Seventh Day Adventist. What I am learning now is that I went from a serious doctrine filled denomination to a serious experience filled denomination. In the past 2 years it has been “bare bones” Christianity that has always resounded deepest in me. Apologists like Ravi Zacharias and the 5 solae. I am looking for a place where people believe that Christianity is only rooted in believing Jesus is the Son of God and the Word. A place were people are mindful that an experience, how much you know or how you live your life is a function of reading the Word and not what undergirds Christianity. A place where people are conscious that because of our humanity, especially my own, it’s easy to get lost in doctrine but we must have some boundaries or checks and balances.
I am really grateful for your post. “God’s will” is an elusive super detailed concept among Charismatic Christians that must be confirmed by a gift of the Spirit (prophecy, dream, supernatural ocurrence). While I am still a continuationist I believe the true evidence of the Holy Spirit are the fruits of the Spirit and not the gifts. I interpret 1 Cor 13 in that Paul was saying that the gifts are dynamic and not always around (tongues will cease, prophecy will fail, including prophets), but love the first fruit listed in Gal 5 will never fail, it’s static. I believe the gifts are alive but everyone doesn’t have all the gifts especially tongues. And that the ones done openly in Charismatic Churches should be a private prayer language. In 1 Cor 14 Paul then says that tongues is a sign for the unbeliever. Because back then the tongues that manifest most of the time was an earthly language? Why aren’t Pentacostals/Charismatics evangelizing to people who speak another language by miracuously speaking the persons language? Which is what it was at the time of Paul, an evangelical tool. In my church if God hasn’t shown our Apostle what you see then it can’t be “true”. At the same time I am leaving in a spirit of love because I see people who sincerely want to be close to God and people that I too sincerely love.
Please keep me in prayer. Blessings to you and your family.
Wow, I’m super grateful for such an elegant and eloquent comment about your spiritual journey. I liked reading that you’ve recognized some destructive errors in your church experience, not necessarily by trying to show beliefs/practices as right or wrong, but by learning what the true core and basis of Christianity is: the confession that Jesus is the Son of God crucified for our sins, risen for our justification.
Thank you so much for sharing and reading. Grace and peace, Lon
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This was a heartbreaking post to read (no disrespect to your path thru life), because I think it gives so much concrete credence to the sense so many have that God is “mysterious and removed” from modern life. I know you have your views and experiences, but this post will cause many to think that they are subject to the same beliefs and experiences you listed in this post.
I am in an “uncommon” placement, granted, but the LORD Almighty is present in EVERY single thing in Every moment. We forget how to see and hear; to discern and identify.
I have seen the LORD remind me of His Presence in the most microscopic of ways, as well as those too big to fathom the scale of, and I assure you: many just pass right by, oblivious, their noses stuck to their tech devices.
If you want to see and know God and your heart is true for Him: ASK. Keep asking! He doesn’t expect all will come to Him. He has read the Old Testament and knows better (lol), but you might win Him over with your earnest devotion, to believe you want to walk His way.
He DOES move in the miraculous. I have seen it every day. I agree that some won’t ever see Him or get on direct connection, per se, and that may be part of their soul progress, but always choosing and earnestly seeking the highest way is the best bet you have to get into His grace as His Devoted Change Agent.
You may not have had those experiences, but I can assure you, He is Ever Present for those paying attention. Sunrise. Sunset. All in between. He is truly everywhere. Where can one look where He is not?
He is there for the birds but not for you? Really? That doesn’t strike you as odd?
Beware the words of the deceiver. Follow the real Father, not the Father of Lies. Most people KNOW when they are making the wrong decision. They do it anyway, and then lament.
Rather, Repent. Stay Earnest. Keep Asking! Power off and tune in to Him.
We must do whatever we can to help others understand He is near and accessible…or we will reap the consequences for turning away His potential converts.
We mustn’t let a limited experience limit Him in His experience to others.
“What is impossible to God?”
Well Kyle, all I can say is thank you for sharing your perspective with humility and kindness. However, I’ll stand by these recommendations since they intend to promote trust in God’s sovereign care and guidance even when He is silent. Grace to you, Lon.
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