This is another great letter from Pastor Mike Martin in Ohio
Someone asked me recently, How do you know Gods will? They were facing a major personal decision and wanted to make sure their decision was in concert with God’s plans for them. It is a great question and an important one. There is no hard and fast method for determining God’s will, but there are some key ingredients.
First, we can judge by God’s word. God will not ask us to do something contrary to the Scriptures. Another key step is to actually talk to God and listen for the answer. You know that as prayer. The answer may come in many different forms, some of which are listed below. Make sure to ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s great communicator, comforter and guide.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit doesn’t speak but you feel a nudge in a certain direction. At other times the Spirit speaks loudly and clearly! As you begin to make a decision, you will either feel a sense of peace or still be ill at ease. Simple peace just means the conflict is over. You can be at peace with the world which means you are in conflict with God. You are looking for God’s peace. You know it is God’s peace if the decision doesn’t make sense in the world’s terms but you still, inexplicably, have peace (e.g. leaving a six figure job to do a menial, low paying mission job).
Godly counsel is another voice God uses. This needs to be from people qualified in determining God’s voice in whom you have trust. The more people you have to counsel with, the better it is. As you ask and listen you will hear an emerging theme. Pay close attention to that leading. Circumstances can play a part but should never be taken exclusively. God opens and closes doors. If a door is closed, perhaps you are being lead to self-examination in order to deal with something that God wants you to resolve. It may be unresolved sin, the conquering of a habit or attitude or the subjugation of your pride. Conversely, if a door looks closed and it suddenly opens, especially through miraculous provision, it can be an indicator of God’s guiding.
There are also some introspective questions to ask. Is there an option which will clearly bring more glory to God than another? Am I running from something or running toward something? I find that God has never asked me to do something easy that I am comfortable with. After all, I am already doing what I am comfortable with or else I wouldn’t be doing it! If the path outlined contains risk and/or sacrifice that is a good indicator. I am not talking about being irresponsible or reckless, but following God’s will is always a little scary and exciting at the same time. Will following one path cause me to abandon commitments and leave others high and dry? If so, is God asking you to sacrifice by staying, or asking you to leave them in God’s holy hands so they, too, can discern the divine will?
I have two final thoughts on discerning God’s will. Sometimes, even after going through a lengthy process covering all the items mentioned above, it seems like you are not getting any answers back. In reality sometimes it doesn’t matter which course of action you choose. God may not be indicating a preference because BOTH choices will be blessed. In such a case just make a choice and go for it with all your heart, soul and strength. Also, rest assured that making a mistake in discernment does not automatically mean you will incur God’s displeasure. God is a God of grace, even in this process. If you make a mistake, repent and learn from it. In these situations, I find comfort in Romans 8:28. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love;
Do your best and watch and learn about God and the Godly ways.
Published in the August Faith Walk, Faith Presbyterian Church, Findlay, OH