Knowing the path God has for us is one of the most rewarding tasks we can have. What are we going to do, where are we going to go, and how will we do it. This is a key element of our Christian experience, to be our best for God's glory. So we need to use our noggin to determine God's plan, along with these other steps for a six-fold attack plan!
Here are some practical insights into discerning God's will:
First, we need to be cultivating our times with God by quiet times, Bible reading, and most important - prayer. This builds our relationship with Him and cultivates trust. Out of this, comes a longing and desire to know God's interests and plan for us to give Him glory.
Second, avoid sin at all costs. Do not let anything separate you from the love of God. Confess your sins as they happen and remember repentance means not only turning from the sin but also turning and not doing it again.
Third, we need to be focused on God's word. Psalm 119:105 tells us God's word is a light unto our path. God's will or God's path is paved by His word and our understanding and obedience of that word. It is our responsibility to make God's word a primary focus of our life and not an afterthought or I'll do it when I have time to do it, but number one on our to do list.
Fourth, being faithful. Luke states the faithful servant was rewarded with greater responsibility. We may not always know in advance what God's full plan for us is. And, looking back in my own life, if I knew what was ahead I may not have followed it because of it's difficulty. So, God may not reveal to you His full plan in advance because we may not be able to handle it emotionally or even intellectually. Would you tell a kindergartner his college schedule? It would make no sense to him, because he is not ready for it. Being faithful means God will reward us. We are simply to follow our Lord even when it seems unimportant.
Fifth, do not compare yourself to other people. Too often preachers compare themselves to the ones they hear on the radio or TV, and become discouraged because they may not have the number of the followers or the elegance of speech. But God does not care of the number of people or how good you can pronounce a $10 theological word. He only cares of your love and obedience to Him. God will work His unique plan, His personalized plan, His custom plan for you. And that plan may not be shared with anyone else because each of us is unique.
Sixth, always seek the advice of others, people who are experienced and able to give you solid mature advice for your decision making. God sometimes uses other people's insight to better our own. One thing I have learned over the years is God will bring us through experiences and even sufferings that are not meant as a personal attack but enable and equip us to help others around us for His glory.
Seventh, last but not least, is asking God for wisdom and discernment.
James 1:5-6 states, "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. But, when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like the wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."
When you do not have a clue with what to do with your life, or are considering a job change, seek the counsel of the Great Counselor, Our Lord, for He will always respond. But remember the career choices you make should be based on lots of prayer and considering your natural talents and spiritual gifts. If you do not know them, then you need to spend the time to find them. When we skip our gifts and just go with the flow you will become frustrated and dissatisfied in your work, when God does have a better plan for you! Remember that career and education are for us to grow and learn too. But life is about relationships first: God and then those around you. This is not skipping school for the party life, nor is it being so devoted to a career you forget God and family. You must find a healthy balance and consider all you learn here and what God's will really is!
One last and important thought is to include your family in your decision process. If you are a high school student seeking college, you should involve your parents. If you are married and have a family and looking to move out of the area, you need to consult with your family because your family's needs are your needs and their priorities are your priorities. Their welfare is a greater priority than your career in God's eyes!
II Timothy 1:7 is the theme of this section, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self discipline." Self-discipline, using our noggin, this is a key principle on setting our life on the right course.
1. ROMANS 6:1-2 God gives us grace and forgiveness. So if you totally understood what mercy is about, how can this effect your decision-making?
2. PSALM 119:105 How can you build your path more effectively?
3. I CORINTHIANS -16 Having the mind of Christ means that we think like Christ!
Q: How do you contribute to Christ's mission?
Q: What is the greatest thing I can do?
In my schedule?
In my activities?
In my work?
In my school?
God's grace provides us with the undeserved opportunity for total forgiveness! So pray and meditate on this, don't take God's grace for granted-be thankful and respond to life with a sense of gratitude and not bitterness!
The scarecrow asked for a brain, what do you ask for?
4. ROMANS 1:17; 14-23 Faith is the key component of our Christian experience. What is the central core of your faith?
5. HEBREWS 11:6 How can you please God?
6. I JOHN 1:9 There must be no un-confessed sin that you are aware of in your life.
7. EPHESIANS What fills and controls your life?
Q: When was a time you acted on your own impulses regardless of what others told you for a decision?
Q: When was a time you acted on your own impulse without checking in with God?
Remember for God's will to work in your life, you must be committed to doing God's will. You must realize that God will use you and work through you, and you must be willing and able to allow it to happen. Obedience is our thrust. Our vehicle is our faith and its contents are our accomplishments.
To be a special agent of doing God's will, we must focus on His doing and not upon our doing and then He will lead us. God's perspective is different than ours. God sees our obedience and faith as the most important aspects of our life, yet we tend to think our career is the most important thing. It is amazing how far the chasm is between these two priorities. God thinks of wisdom as riches where we think in money. God thinks about purity and righteousness, we think upon our lust and what we like to do.
8. HEBREWS 11 Read this chapter and discover what did it take to accomplish something great.
Q: What can you do to accomplish something great?
9. PHILIPPIANS We must realize it is God who works through us only if we are committed.
Q: What desires, passions and ideas do you have, and how do they mesh with what God's are?
If we allow, God will reveal to us what He is about to do! And this revelation will be our invitation to join: For He is able!
Q: What changes can you make to your life to be more effective in serving God?
The good Lord gave us a brain, so why is it so many of us do not use it!
Q: How can you be a more effective witness?
A good opportunity is like a cherry! But beware of the pit! We must go beyond the appearances of what sounds good, we need to check out the facts-ask questions!
Q: What part does God want me to play?
Abraham had to make major changes to his plans to accomplish God's will, and so must we: Because God's plans are far better than ours! Gen 12-15; Ex -25; Ex 24:12-18 Moses had to obey God to join in all the action and fun!
To know the will of God, we must deny ourselves and align our life to obedience and focus on God's perspective, and not our frail ways!
John -25"…the man who loves his life will lose it…"