God’s Will and My Decisions

I’ve got some decisions I’m facing so I ‘ve recently been praying for direction from the Lord. I’m blogging about it to let you know just how the Lord has come through to answer that prayer.

Call it divine providence, or mere coincidence, but either way, I call it answered prayer. This week, as I’ve set apart time each day to seek the Lord through the Word and prayer, and he has shown up in quite a peculiar way. First off, I believe I am definitely gaining some insight and wisdom on how to make this decision from that time I’ve been setting apart. But I suppose that God just wanted to make sure I get the point on how to make a decision, biblically.

I have quite a few blogs from the WWW subscribed in my Google Reader. Well it happens this week, that no less than three of the blogs I’m subscribed to decided to post something about making decisions, plans, and knowing God’s will. How delightful, that Almighty God would provide for a wretched sinner such as me in such a personal way. So I’ve decided to repost the basic summaries of each, to save you the trouble of having to read all of them, just in case any of you are wrestling with some decision you need to make.

First, in no particular order, we have a post from Desiring God, entitled “How to Glorify God in Your Decision-Making”. In it, Pastor and Author John Piper outlines four questions he poses, and then four practical steps, as he tries to make God-honoring decisions in his life:

Practical Steps in Making Moral Choices

  1. I pray that God will hallow his name in and through me; that he will increase my love for his glory; that he will not let me grow callous to his mercy but will cause me to cherish it as more dear than anything in the world; and that through all this he will not lead me into temptation but will lead me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
  2. I try to meditate upon the Scriptures day and night, desiring to saturate my thinking with the structure of God’s thinking. I try to keep alert to tests that call me out of some slumber of sin I might have fallen into. I try to pay special attention to those places where God’s reality explicitly impinges upon my behavior (e.g. The Unmerciful Servant Parable, Matthew 18:23-35). The Word of God is the tool God uses to answer the prayer I make: in them I see I am being transformed (all too slowly) into a person who sees and delights in behavior which befits a beneficiary of mercy.
  3. I consciously pin my hope on the promise of God to work in everything for my good (Romans 8:28; Jeremiah 32:40-41), so that my mind and heart are at rest in his mercy.  To the degree that I enjoy this God given contentment of soul I can be free from pride and fear which might cause me to manipulate or abuse people for my own ends, since my ends are already met in the mercy of God.
  4. As I confront moral choices during the day, if time and circumstances allow, I try tounderstand the effects of each choice on people’s lives. Then on the basis of that understanding and all that has gone before, I choose what seems to me in that situation to befit a beneficiary of mercy and thus to give glory to God.
Next up we have blogger and Author Tim Challies. His posts were a series of four posts throughout the week. Very helpful stuff here on discerning God’s will for your life without having to looking for lights in the sky or trying to decipher what open and closed doors might mean. Read on:

Challies

  1. God is sovereign – We need to begin with the sovereignty of God. If the Bible teaches anything, it teaches that God is sovereign, by which we mean that God is King, that he is Lord, that nothing happens outside of his knowledge or outside of his will. God is able to do whatever his will is; God will and must do whatever his will is.
  2. God speaks to us today, through his Word -So Christian, if you want to know God’s will for you, you need to look to the Bible. Here is where God has given us his perfect will; he has given it to us in his perfect Word. Do you want to know how to serve God? Do you want to know how to please him? Do you want to know what he wants from you? Do you want to make good and wise and God-honoring decisions? Then look to your Bible. Here is the one and only way that God has promised to guide you.
  3. But, what about me? -He won’t speak from the sky. Instead, he’ll do something far better. He will let you make a choice and promise to be with you regardless of what you choose. Not only that, but he will love and support you and bless you, because what you do is in accordance with his revealed will as he has given it in the Bible. And really, do you want to have to base your decisions on trying to read into circumstances and feelings and open and closed doors? There is no security in that. It is far better to look to the Bible which is fixed and firm and unchanging and authoritative and let the Bible instruct you. God never demands that you interpret circumstances and make decisions according to them. Instead, we are to look to the Bible as our rule for all matters pertaining to life and godliness and make our decisions on that basis.
  4. Once you’ve searched God’s revealed will, you’re choosing between better and best, not good or bad – Do you see where this has taken us? God gives us his moral will, his revealed will, in the Bible. Here is where he tells us what we must do and what we must not do. But the rest of God’s will can only be found by doing it. Does God want you to go to university or get a job? Yes, he does. Either one. Be wise, do what you love, and you’re doing God’s will. Do it with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and you’ll be doing God’s will for your life. And God will be right there with you, blessing you, loving you, pleased with you. That’s who he is. That’s how you do his will.
Finally we come to Matt Perman, a blogger who also happens to work at Desiring God. In his post he begins with the questions of whether or not we should make plans and then ask God to bless them, or ask God what his plans are then seek to align ours with his. His conclusions are similar to Tim’s. He starts off clarifying what we can know about God’s plans for our life:

Sometimes it is said that we shouldn’t make our own plans and then ask for God to bless them; we should ask God what his plans are, and align ours with his.

Now, this is good advice if this is meant at the high level — that is, if the definition of “God’s plans” here is “God’s moral will revealed in Scripture.” God’s plan for us, in this sense, is that we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with him (Micah 6:8; Matthew 23:23). That’s our mission in life.

God also gets more specific: in marriage, we are to marry only another believer. In our jobs, we are to have full integrity and work with enthusiasm and skill as unto the Lord. In our giving, we are to be generous.

In this sense, we are to seek God’s plans, not our own. That is, God has defined our ultimate priorities in life. We are to seek what he has revealed for us, rather than just coming up with whatever we want to do.

He then concludes that in light of God’s revealed will for us, we shouldn’t “look for some specific sub-plans that God has for us. Rather, he wants us, indeed, to make our own plans (with Scriptural wisdom and prayer) and seek to accomplish them.” I agree.

I have found a few scriptural gems to help me along in this whole process. In John 6:28-29 Jesus’ disciples ask him what they must be doing to be doing the work of God. He replies by telling them to believe in himself, and that that is the work of God. So there you go, you want to do God’s will, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. A couple other verses that helped me are Psalm 37:23-24 and Proverb 16:9. Also Psalm 37:4-5.

And lastly a word from John MacArthur:

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