The Will of God
[Hearing the voice of God]
What the will of God is
Does God speak to people today?
Isaiah 30:19-21 (NIV)
19 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Didn’t He finish doing that in the Bible?
Well, He is still interested in us, and thus guiding us.
The bible gives a guide for everyone everywhere, but is there a place for God guiding me to something specific today on top of that?
I suppose it comes down to the question of how a believer makes decisions.
He has ‘plans’
Ancient Israel chose at one point to look to Egypt, their ancient enemies for protection from the more recent enemies. Not a bad tactical plan, really, but it just wasn’t God’s plan:
Isaiah 30:1-2 (NLT)
1 “What sorrow awaits my rebellious children,”
says the Lord.
“You make plans that are contrary to mine.
You make alliances not directed by my Spirit,
thus piling up your sins.
2 For without consulting me,
you have gone down to Egypt for help.
You have put your trust in Pharaoh’s protection.
You have tried to hide in his shade.
Getting involved in what God is doing(?)
We can find out what God is doing around us and get involved in that.
Blackaby talks about how you need to find this out and that this is something that will be totally different than yourself, your goals, etc. I think it can be but also to not restrict God’s works to big things like raising money for churches.
Why I would want to know it.
Someone who has no sense of God’s specific plans and how they relate to him or her, is missing something.
How to hear
God reveals Himself
What does God say? Does he just give directions?
A lot of God speaking to us is to teach us about Him so we trust in Him.
Like how God prepared Moses to do His work.
Cultivate a relationship with God
Notice how when God revealed some big plan to someone, that someone was already in a close relationship to Him. We often think of Jonah as being a guy who heard the voice of God and failed to do anything useful with it (at least at first). Yet Jonah was already a prophet of God. He was used to hearing and obeying God’s voice.
Hearing through the Bible
This has probably been the most common way we find out what God wants for us. His word is the clearest revelation of what He desires for us and how God thinks. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit reveals to us specific verses that target things he wants us to work on personally or direct towards some good action he wants us to take. Someone reading a passage on the poor might suddenly struck that this is not just a general command for all but a specific calling in that person’s life.
Hearing through prayer and my ‘sense’
How will you hear from God if you are never listening? We sometimes think of prayer as one-way: We store up praise, thanks, confessions, and requests and bring them to God in prayer. All of that is Good stuff. But our experience is different than the men and women of the Bible if we do not have a time to listen to what God is saying. Peter was praying on a rooftop when God gave him a vision. Jesus would go into the wilderness to pray at night and this seemed to give him the resolve and strength to do His great mission.
Learning how to listen in prayer is a process. It takes practice to sort out the busy thoughts of our lives from what God is saying. But that can be fun too. Taking a moment to quiet yourself allows your mind to catch up on all the other things you forget to deal with during the day.
What does it look like? I don’t know that we need a lot of instruction on this, so much as a desire to do so. I don’t expect to receive some revelation every time I pray, but I am glad when one comes, and I make sure I note it somewhere. Having a place to write down these things is a good idea.
Hearing through circumstance
New things happening
I don’t know how many times I have heard of a new outreach happening or some new direction of God for someone starting with some kind of fortunate circumstance developing around them.
I’ll give you a current one that I haven’t seen the conclusion of yet. It’s a funny thing, but it just worked out that we have this Russian speaking church sharing our building on Saturdays. They are a nice bunch, but they don’t speak the language or know the culture and area. So every time I stop by they always have some kind of request or ask for advice. This time they wanted to know if anyone could help them with their kid’s education. Some of them go to public school and they bring homework home, but mom and dad don’t speak the language so they aren’t much help. Could I find someone to help with this? They also seemed to want to send their kids either to a Christian school or to have some kind of teacher come in and have a school in that empty trailer they used to use for church.
Are things working out?
I believe that if God wants something to happen he is going to open a door for you to go through.
Not to say that everything is going to be rosy and perfect along the way but that there will be a way.
Acts 16:6 (NLT)
6 Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time.
What exactly the Spirit used to show them this isn’t clear. But whatever it was, it became clear over time that this was not something that could be prayed through and overcome – in other words that God was the one putting up a wall for them to travel to Asia at that time. Why would God do that? Can’t God do anything?
Circumstances and the church can show us the timing of what we are to do for God. It may well be that he has called you to do something, but that it just isn’t time yet to go. Look at the last part of that verse ‘at that time’. Eventually Paul would go through the province of Asia to preach the word, just not at that time.
Hearing through the church – Checks and balances
Proverbs 24:6 (NKJV)
6 For by wise counsel you will wage your own war,
And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.
If something really is God’s specific call for you and your life, it is going to become obvious to those believers around you. I guess being married I just assume that everyone else knows this since my wife is a constant source of balance in my life. She is so often there to help me sort out what I am thinking – either plans for our life or my thoughts on a sermon or lesson.
The New Testament speaks of God giving some the gift of discernment. Good judgment. A lot of trouble and hardship can be avoided just by getting a second opinion from a wise and balanced believer.