Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Knowing God's Will For Your Life

Back in my University days, various groups of friends used to gather together and bloviate (sorry O'Reilly) about the really big questions in life. One of my hopes in starting this blog was to resurrect that opportunity for those of us who are no longer in circles that honestly debate those issues.

In my experience the question of how to know God's will for your life is one that never ceases to create controversy, but more importantly seems to be stumbling block for some pretty mature Christians. Here is my take.

#1. Pretty much everybody agrees that we hear from God through His word, the Bible. Some of that hearing is pretty obvious in that when God says "thou shalt not" or "go forth and", his will is spelled out. While some of these commands and admonitions may be open to interpretation, many are not. For the more subtle directives, almost everybody would agree that we will be taught by the Holy Spirit, or we can get wise counsel from teachers of the word, elders, or others who we believe to be wise.

#2. Another pretty universally agreed upon way we find God's will is through teachers and counselors. These individuals provide prophetic (small p) understanding that would come from the word of God, but be filled in with their wisdom gained by experience and the Holy Spirit.

#3. Prayer should be an easy one for everyone to understand and agree on, but is undoubtedly the most complex and in some ways controversial. A short paragraph here, today. A new posting in detail tomorrow or so.

Most folks spend a minute or two or 10 each day thanking God, asking for things, reciting things they believe they are supposed to pray daily, confessing sin and asking for forgiveness, praising God, and making requests for God's intervention in the lives' of loved ones. All good things. Prayer should also be a time of asking for wisdom, specifically seeking answers to life's issues, and then listening for direction.

#4. Circumstances provide clues to God's will. Doors seem to open or shut as we proceed to one or another work for God. Most who write or speak on this subject wisely suggest that much discernment is required to determine how these circumstances truly relate to God's will. It is too easy for a busy signal to discourage us from making an important call, because "that must be God closing a door." That is superstition, not wisdom.

#5. Angels are God's messengers, but ask your pastor if he thinks angels are likely to give you any direction in your life. Many will nicely direct you back to the Bible for God's will. However, the Bible provides many instances in both OT and NT of Angels being active in this world. Someday I may post some of the amazing brushes with what could seemingly on be angelic intervention that have occured in my life and in the lives of trusted friends.

However, no experience that I have heard about that seemed angelic including the angel declaring themselves during the intervention or even at the end. Therefore there was no need to discern at the time. I'd be interested in first person accounts of angelic intervention that included the angel declaring who they were.

#6. Dreams and visions are even less likely to get a surenuf from your church leadership, especially if you are from the mainline denominations. However, both of these ways of hearing from God have New Testament examples, and there doesn't appear to be any suggestion that these methods of communicating ended in 100 AD.

If you believe that God has spoken to you in a dream or vision, be certain to confirm it by: A. Does it agree with scripture, B. Asking for wise counsel to determine if the direction given in the dream or vision is appropriate.

#7. Holy Spirit leading is like a continuous prayer. If you are "read up" and "prayed up," you will be hearing from the Holy Spirit all the time nudging you this way or that. The better you know His voice, the more likely you will clearly know His will through Holy Spirit leading.


Anonymous said...

1 Thessalonians 4:11 "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Bruce Siegel, Mr. said...

I'd like to comment on this: "Pretty much everybody agrees that we hear from God through His word, the Bible."

Without wishing to offend, I have to say that God has never spoken to ME through the Bible. I myself am reluctant to base my faith or my life on an ancient book whose precise authorship is not completely clear.

What has brought God into MY life, is not the spiritual experiences of people who lived 2000 years ago, but of those who are living today. I find myself reading lots of books, for example, about near-death experiences. I think these people are hearing directly from Spirit TODAY.

That's what works for me, anyway. That, and my own spiritual experiences, which were triggered by psychedelics.

I hope I'm not too radical for this blog!

So congratulations on this site, Randy! I enjoy it when anyone tries, in their own way, to deal with the largest questions. And who's not dogmatic about.