Will God Always Provide for You to Accomplish His Will?

I was hoping to take my oldest children with me on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic this summer. But three weeks ago I called the leader of the trip to tell him we could not go because we did not have the necessary funds. The kids and I were operating in faith that if God wanted us to go, he would provide. So we came to the conclusion he wasn't leading us to go.

A little over a week after I called, someone expressed interest in contributing to our trip. Then within a week and half we had received enough support for at least three of us to go! God's provision was the final confirmation we needed to help us see how he is leading us to go on this mission trip.

In the past few blog posts, we have been exploring important principles for understanding God’s will for our lives. These are separated into five foundations for discerning God’s will and four avenues for discerning God’s will. I have already mentioned the first five.

  1. We can discern God's will by surrendering our lives to him.
  2. We can discern God’s will by studying Scripture (Psalm 19:7–11; 1 Thessalonians 4:1–6; 2 Timothy 3:16–17).
  3. We can discern God’s will by seeking him in prayer (Philippians 4:6–7; Jeremiah 29:11–13; James 4:2b).
  4. We can discern God’s will by waiting for him to lead us (Psalm 25:4–5; 106:13).
  5. We can discern God’s will by listening to the testimony of the Holy Spirit.

Now, here are the first two of the four avenues for discerning God’s will.

1. We can discern God’s will by observing our personal desires, convictions, and abilities (1 Cor. 7:8–9, 36–38; Exod. 25:2; 2 Thess. 3:5; 1 Cor. 12:4–7, 11).

Although we have sinful desires that tempt us to disobey, God also gives us good desires that help direct our lives. It is not difficult to identify sinful desires (Gal. 5:19–21). Any desires that we have that are not sinful ought to be taken into consideration as we seek God’s direction. We should observe the things we feel strongly about, the strengths of our personalities, and the natural talents and spiritual gifts that God has given us. All of these have been given to us by God as a part of his design for accomplishing his mission for us. Observing how God has made us is an important part of understanding his will for our lives. Now, we should not conclude that we know God’s will just because we want to do something. These desires, convictions, and abilities must be understood in light of the other eight ways we can discern God’s will.

2. We can discern God’s will by observing God’s work in our circumstances (James 4:13–17; 1 Kings 12:15; 1 Cor. 16:8–9; 1 Pet. 3:17; 4:19).

God causes and allows particular circumstances to take place in order to direct our lives. This does not mean that everything that happens is God’s will or is caused by God. For example, God may allow, but does not cause, the enemy to set our circumstances against us in order to deter us from doing God’s will (Job 1:6–10; Eph. 6:11). And we know that temptations are not caused by God (James 1:13). This is why we can never determine God’s will by circumstances alone.

At the same time, we know that God will open and close doors as a way of leading us. We also know that God will provide everything necessary for the completion of his will. Whatever wisdom, strength, ability, or resources we need to do what God wants us to do, he will provide. God’s provisions as we obey are confirmations of his direction.

Another way we can discern God’s will through our circumstances is by observing how he has worked in our lives in the past. Sometimes these are called “spiritual markers.” Henry Blackaby and Claude King explain: “Each time I have encountered God’s call or direction for my life, I have mentally built a spiritual marker at that point. A spiritual marker identifies a time of transition, decision, or direction when I clearly know that God has guided me…When I face a decision about God’s direction…I look to see which one of the options seems to be most consistent with what God has been doing in my life.”*

This is the the fifth post in a series. The first four are:

*Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King, Experiencing God: Student Edition (Nashville: LifeWay Press, 2005), 170.


Is That God Speaking or Just My Own Random Thoughts?

A friend of mine is currently wondering whether or not he should marry a particular young lady. In many ways, he is ready to get married. He would sure feel better if he just knew how God was leading him. But for some reason that is not clear yet. I believe he is sincerely seeking the Lord and ready to obey, so what is the hold up? I'm not sure. But I am sure that God loves this young man, hears his prayers, and will lead him at the right time.

Many times seeking God's will for our lives requires WAITING. Wow, we are not very good at that! Before moving forward, let me recap what principles we have already covered concerning discerning God's will:

1.  We can discern God's will by surrendering our lives to him.

2. We can discern God’s will by studying Scripture (Psalm 19:7–11; 1 Thessalonians 4:1–6; 2 Timothy 3:16–17).

3. We can discern God’s will by seeking him in prayer (Philippians 4:6–7; Jeremiah 29:11–13; James 4:2b).

Okay, let's discuss the next two principles:

4. We can discern God’s will by waiting for him to lead us (Psalm 25:4–5; 106:13).

If we have confidence that God wants to show us his will, then we will be able to wait on him to lead us. Since God’s timing is rarely our timing, we often get impatient and are tempted jump ahead of God. We sense the pressure of a decision we have to make or the urgency of a problem we need to solve. But many times, the pressure and urgency we sense about an issue are only apparent. Problems often disappear, or two choices turn into three or none. When we wait on God, he often opens up new opportunities that were not yet available to us. It is easy to jump at something good before we have even discovered what is best.

As we learn to wait on the Lord, we should remember that waiting doesn’t mean sitting around. Instead, we are to keep busy with what God has already given us to do. In addition, seeking God is quite active. We pray, study Scripture, observe our desires and abilities, ask for advice, think, conduct diligent research, and observe his work in our circumstances.

As I have sought the Lord over the years, I have learned what it feels like to be pushing ahead on something instead of letting it unfold in God’s timing. There is a different kind of peace and certainty when it unfolds in God’s timing. Be patient, and wait until you are certain that God is leading you. If we take action without understanding God’s will, then we are not acting in faith, and “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

5. We can discern God’s will by listening to the testimony of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit has a ministry of witnessing to the truth (Acts 5:32; 20:23; Romans 8:16; John 15:26; 16:7–11). When we are walking in disobedience, God convicts us and calls us to him through his Spirit. But when we trust and walk with God, there is peace (Isaiah 26:3–4; Philippians 4:6–9). Peace is much more than how we feel about something; it is a supernatural sense of rightness that comes from God.

This sense of peace is developed from a daily walk of obedience and trust. We learn to discern the leading of the Holy Spirit as we become more immersed in God’s Word and learn to walk in obedience to what he is saying to us.

How do we know the difference between God’s leading and our own random thoughts? Or worse, what if some other spirit is speaking to us? The Bible teaches us how to recognize the voice of God.

  • The Spirit speaks, reminds us of, and agrees with the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17; John 16:13).
  • The Spirit will acknowledge and glorify Jesus (1 John 4:1–4; John 16:14).
  • The Spirit brings peace, order, conviction, and righteousness. He does not bring doubt, confusion, guilt, or evil (John 16:8–11; Galatians 5:16–26).

These are the biblical signs of the work of the Holy Spirit. When God speaks to us through his Spirit, he will speak according to his Word, he will glorify Jesus, and he will bring righteousness and peace!

This is the the fourth post in a series. The first three are:

Are You Afraid You'll Miss God's Will?

Some Christians are afraid they are going to miss God's will for their lives. But they have nothing to worry about. The first way to be sure to find God's will is by following the first foundational principle we discussed:

1.  We can discern God's will by surrendering our lives to him.

There are two other important ways we can be sure to discern God's will.

2. We can discern God’s will by studying Scripture (Psalm 19:7–11; 1 Thessalonians 4:1–6; 2 Timothy 3:16–17).

The more we understand Scripture and have his wisdom, the clearer the right paths will become for us (Hebrews 5:11–14). Paul has this to say about discerning God’s will:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2

How are our minds renewed? How are our thoughts and attitudes changed? We learn from the psalmist that we are changed by God’s Word.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
Psalm 19:7–8

If we want to know God’s will, then our first task ought to be to discover what he has already revealed about his will in Scripture. God has already revealed to us that he wants us to love him, love people, and make disciples. He has also shown us many specific ways that he wants us to do these things. Many believers are seeking God’s will on something, when they really just need to get busy doing what God has already revealed in his Word.

If we are seeking his direction about a matter that is not specifically addressed in Scripture, we can be sure that he will lead us in a way that is consistent with what he has already revealed. The Bible is authoritative in the believer’s life, so anything that we believe to be true and right should be tested by Scripture (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1–6; Titus 1:9).

3. We can discern God’s will by seeking him in prayer (Philippians 4:6–7; Jeremiah 29:11–13; James 4:2b).

God loves for us to seek him and his will in prayer. When we ask for anything according to his will, he hears and answers us (1 John 5:14–15). So here is a simple question: does God want us to know and do his will? Of course! We can have absolute confidence and peace that God will direct us as we seek him.

I meet believers who are afraid that they are going to miss God’s will. They worry that God is trying to speak to them, but they just can’t hear it. However, God is not playing games with us. He is not leaving hints to a puzzle we must figure out. He knows what we know, and he is able to communicate with us. We can have the confidence and peacefulness of a child who knows that his Heavenly Father can handle it! If we are stressed and afraid as we seek God, then we are not trusting that he is able and willing to show us his will.

[This is the the third post in a series. The first two are:

Are You Willing to Do Whatever God Tells You to Do?

When I was a camp counselor one summer, a young camper named Julie approached me with a question. She expressed concern that God had not been speaking to her recently and wondered what might be wrong. With unexpected wisdom, I asked her, “Do you remember the last time God spoke to you?”

After reflecting for a moment, she said, “Yes.”

“What did you do in response to what God said?”

She stood there, looking at me, as she processed that question. Then, a look of realization and conviction crept across her face. I didn’t have to say anything else.

opening door.jpeg

Do You Know How to Find Out God’s Will for Your Life? This is a series of posts to help you learn to discern God's will for your life. There are five foundation for discerning God’s will I would like to share with you. The first is this:

  1. We can discern God’s will by surrendering our lives to him (Romans 12:1–2; John 4:34; 5:30, 39–40; 6:38; 7:16–17; Luke 9:23–25).

If we are ignoring what God has already told us in his Word or convicted us of by his Spirit, then we are not in a good position to receive further leading from the Lord. Jesus explains to whom he reveals himself:

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.
And he who loves me will be loved by my Father,

and I will love him and manifest myself to him.
John 14:21

Sometimes, when I get into a difficult situation and go to God to get some help and direction, I sense that he is saying to me, “Good! I am glad you are here. There are some things I have been wanting to talk with you about.” When we need direction from the Lord, a great place is to get things right with God. Before we seek the Lord for answers or direction on a particular topic, we want to make sure we take a place of complete surrender before him. Are we walking in obedience to Christ to the best of our ability and knowledge up to this point?

Another important aspect of surrendering our lives to Christ is to have a simple willingness to do whatever he wants us to do. I remember when my best friend in high school was struggling with a call from God. He confessed to me that he would do whatever God wanted him to do…except be a pastor. My friend was not in a position to hear from God, was he? But he got down on his knees and, praying and weeping, he let go of his fears and desires and surrendered unconditionally to God’s call.

I also remember desperately calling out to God to know his will about whether or not I should marry a particular young lady. I struggled to get peace and clarity. In retrospect, I can see that I was struggling with my own desires and agenda. Instead of really wanting to hear God’s will, I wanted him to confirm my own will!

“Lord, I want to do whatever you want me to. Whatever! I deny myself and renounce my own desires and dreams, trusting that your eternal wisdom and love are better. On this particular issue, I only want to know what will please you most.”

Do You Know How to Find Out God's Will for Your Life?

A friend of mine recently told me that God led him to move to another country…again. This wasn’t the first time. In fact, several other times, he told me he was moving to another country. The problem was that he has never moved anywhere.

I have met many others who told me that God led them to take this job or marry that person. But after things didn’t quite work out like they expected, they decided to take a new direction. After experiences like these, many believers find themselves confused and disillusioned when trying to understand and follow God’s will. Did they not really hear from God? Or did they simply not follow through on what God had said when the going got tough?

Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord…Therefore do not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.Ephesians 5-10, 17.jpg

If you ask a Christian whether he or she would like to know God’s will for his or her life, the person will likely say, “Yes, I would love to know God’s will for my life!”

If you ask the person, “Do you know how to find out God’s will for your life?” he or she will likely pause and think. “Hmm…I’m not sure.”

I have met many believers who do not have confidence that they can discern God’s leading in their lives. I have also met believers who have plenty of confidence but probably shouldn’t. In other words, they are operating on questionable understandings of how to discern God’s will. In some ways, God’s will and purposes will be accomplished, no matter what we do. God “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11). The creation of the universe and God’s provision for salvation in Jesus Christ were parts of God’s unalterable plans (Revelation 4:11; Galatians 1:4). Also, no matter what we do, Jesus Christ is going to return, judge the world, and raise those who trust in him to eternal life (John 6:39–40; Ephesians 1:7–10).

In other ways, the will of God is either carried out or not carried out in people’s lives. Sin is the rejection of God and his will. That is why doing God’s will is a characteristic of believers (Matthew 7:21; 12:50; 25:31–46). We are exhorted in Scripture to make an effort to discern, understand, and live out God’s will (Romans 12:2; 1 Peter 4:2; Hebrews 10:36).

Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord…
Therefore do not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:10, 17

Paul says it is foolish not to know and do God’s will! This is because we know that God is wise, trustworthy, and loving (Numbers 23:19; Isaiah 40:13–14). We know that God’s will is good for us (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 12:2) and that we need his help because we are not wise on our own (James 1:5–8; Proverbs 3:5–8).

In the following posts, I will exploring nine important principles for understanding God’s will for our lives. These are separated into five foundations for discerning God’s will and four avenues for discerning God’s will.

God Says "Seek My Face"!

“Will you marry me?” The young man on his knee looked up into her bright eyes.

She beamed and squealed, “Yes!”

“Sweetheart, I am so excited to be your husband! But I need you to understand that I enjoy long distance relationships. I would really prefer not to live with you. While I do want to marry you, I don’t really want to have to talk with you all that much. And I am not much interested in sharing my stuff, my space, or my time with you.”

I do not know of a woman who desires this kind of marriage. We can learn how to love God by observing our hopes and expectations for marriage. An obvious part of any significant relationship is spending time together. This is also true of our relationship with God.

God asks us to seek him. This means that we spend the time and energy necessary to know him. When the Lord says, seek my face, he is talking about intimate fellowship. Our faces are one of the most intimate parts of our bodies. There we find the eyes, which are the window to the soul. It is amazing to think that God desires this kind of closeness with us!

We know that an intimate relationship requires time together. We can see this in Jesus’ close relationship with the Father. The Bible says that Jesus “would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16).

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark,
he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”

Mark 1:35

Jesus taught his disciples to do the same.

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door
and pray to your Father who is in secret.

And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:6

As we see in these passages, when we spend time alone with God we are communicating with him. Communication is one of the most important parts of developing an intimate relationship with someone. We speak to God through prayer and we listen to God through the Scripture and the Holy Spirit.

Your prayer time should be ‘an absolute commitment.’ . . . This emphasizes that your prayer time is a major priority that you carefully schedule and guard. . . . Whatever it takes to insure and guard your time with God, you must do it.
— Dr. Gregory Frizzell

Do you believe that your relationship with God is the most important thing in your life? Are you convinced that spending time with him in intimate fellowship is critical for that relationship? If so, let’s resolve to spend time with him every day!

Pre-Marriage Counseling is Like Cramming for an Exam

Last week I sat down with a young couple for some pre-marriage counseling. They both were homeschooled and grew up in solid homes. I told them that in some ways pre-marriage counseling is like cramming for an exam. It is possible to get some new information that way, but not the best way to really learn something. I explained that all that they know about marriage, whether good or bad, they have already learned from their parents. They have been receiving pre-marriage counseling for most of their lives!

During our meeting the young man told me about a homeschoooled friend of his whose marriage only lasted a couple of years! Growing up in a “Christian homeschool” home is no guarantee for a lasting marriage.

Dads and Moms, please don’t forget that you are not only teaching your children about work, math, character, writing, and money managment. Whether you realize it or not, every day you are teaching your children about marriage! Step back and ask yourself what you are teaching them. Do you want your children to have a marriage like yours?

Regular investment and growth in your marriage is a wonderful way to minister to your children. That is why we are putting on a Marriage Conference called Finding Peace and Purpose in your Marriage [Boone, NC on March 16-18, 2017]. Check out this link for more information.