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: