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How to Know God’s Will for Your Life

How_to_Know_Gods_Will_for_Your_Life

How to Know God’s Will for Your Life

Who is burdened of soul to make plans or devise means whereby agencies may be put in operation for the advancement of truth?—Ellen White

Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.—David, the son of Jesse

David had been held more than once by bit and bridle. His lying stay with Achish[1], preceding immediately his ascension to the throne of Israel, was not heaven’s plan A. This study will present a system of truth that, incorporated into the life, will assure safe guidance in the choosing of a career, and even in the smaller things in life. The truths here have the power to keep you from your Achish. They will show that there is a less painful way to be led than the method required for mules.

And more than that, they promise to reduce your anxiety regarding the future and to leave a “plain path before your feet.” You will, child of God, make the right decision, if you follow closely.

The Bible makes most precious promises for those that feel their need of Heaven’s help in decision making. These promises are not without instructions on how and when to use them, and on the conditions under which they will be fulfilled. Consider the promises from the Psalms.

The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. Ps 25:9

For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me. Ps 31:3

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Ps 32:8-9.

For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death. Ps 48:14

Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Ps 73:24

Who will God lead? The meek. Those that are not determined to have their own way, who are searching for the right path, who feel their need of help and are distrustful of self. They will be led.

How will God lead them? He will guide their judgement. They may feel that they are simply thinking, but their thinking process is greatly helped by the One that undertakes to guide them.

How will God guide their judgement? He will teach them His way. He will guide them with His counsel. As they become familiar with His counsel and with the general plan that He has ordained for the work, their judgement will be sanctified.

Why will He guide them? God guides us for His own sake. We can pray that way, as did David. The work on earth is His. The loss or gain that will come from our ill or well-made decisions is His own. When we pray that He will guide us for His own sake we pray in harmony with His will. “He will lead us in the path of Righteousness for His own sake.” Psalms 23.

When will He guide us? From our youth to our death He will make His counsel available. If we will not heed it, He does not say that He will guide us forcefully as a man may guide the mule. The implication is that if we do not follow, we may not arrive. But if we have failed to follow in the past, if we are not in the way of Righteousness, in short, if we are lost, then there are more promises even for us.

Our own generation, refusing the latter rain in preference for its own sins, is invited to accept God’s guidance as were the Jews in Jeremiah’s time. See Jeremiah 3:1-4. And it is a promise to Adventists in particular (those who “ask of Me the ordinance of justice” and who “build up” the old paths and who are to “call the Sabbath a delight”) that, though they have been wicked, yet they may repent. Then, meeting the conditions, the promise is theirs:

And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. Isa 58:11. Emphasis supplied.

What are those conditions?

Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: v. 6-7, 9-10.

We could add a study on each of these points, but that would be beyond the scope of this paper. Notice, however, that there is a distinct relation between our loving service to others and God’s personal guidance in our lives. If we are to claim the promise of continual guidance, we would do well to read these conditions often as we aim to implement them.

Besides specifying that God should be our guide, the Bible also points out a number of influences that should not determine our direction in life. You may have heard someone say “just follow your heart.” The Bible indicates that this is getting the cart before the horse.

Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. Pr 23:19

The heart is to be guided, if you will, by the wisdom that comes from hearing the Word of God. If we follow that Word with truest sincerity, it will not fail us. Doing what we know to be right is integrity.

The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them. Pr 11:3

So our heart is not to guide us. But most men are guided by their hearts. And we are not so very adept at knowing which men are leading themselves astray. For that reason the Bible is very clear that we can not depend on men to guide us:

Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. Mic 7:5

If this seems out of harmony with the counsel that in a multitude of counselors there is safety (c.f. Pro. 11:14; 24:6) then see the latter portion of this study that deals with this point. For the place of human authority, whether parental or ecclesiastical or governmental, see an essay by the author of this one titled “The Draft and Its Relation to Believers in the Present Truth.”

God’s guidance is not always recognized by our conscious mind. He leads us while we seem to be making our own plans. His guidance takes us on the right path when we know not that we are being directed.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way;

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps; And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. Ps 37:23; Pr 16:9; Isa 42:16

But when we feel our need of knowing, we can claim the promises of direct intervention. They will be fulfilled as we believe them whether or not we perceive the guidance.

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isa 30:21

Besides our daily decisions, there are areas of life that require constant guidance from heaven. One of these is our need to know what is true. The promise of Jn. 16:13 is that the Spirit will guide us into all truth. Being thus led by the Spirit is the hallmark of a true Child of the King. Rom. 8:14. But the guidance that leads to the truth is itself a study. Contact the author for more information on this topic.

Armed with the promises, we are ready to tackle the nitty-gritty job of finding out God’s specific will for our lives. We are opposed in this effort. The following statements will help a great deal.

Satan and his evil angels, combined with wicked men, are seeking by every possible device to bear before the world a testimony against the truth of God’s word. The enmity of Satan against Christ is determined and unrelenting, and in the great controversy between good and evil, while Satan and his confederacy are bringing in their false testimony against God and his truth, in order that men may not receive the love of the truth, but believe a lie, who is burdened of soul to make plans or devise means whereby agencies may be put in operation for the advancement of truth? Will those who profess to believe the truth stand in idleness, when Satan and his hosts work with intense activity for the overthrow of the cause of truth? Will the professed followers of Christ allow him to preoccupy the field? Who will be a volunteer to witness for God in these far-off lands? Who will open the Scriptures to those who are ignorant of the words of life? Who will let his light shine out to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death? {HM, September 1, 1892 par. 3}

First, there is sometimes a limit to how far in advance we can know God’s will for our personal lives. This should not stop the church from making large and long-term plans.

They felt sufficient in themselves for all things, and realized no need of a higher wisdom to direct their acts. But the Son of God was surrendered to the Father’s will, and dependent upon His power. So utterly was Christ emptied of self that He made no plans for Himself. He accepted God’s plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans. So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will. {DA 208.2}

There are three ways that God speaks to us:

There are three ways in which the Lord reveals His will to us, to guide us, and to fit us to guide others. How may we know His voice from that of a stranger? How shall we distinguish it from the voice of a false shepherd? God reveals His will to us in His word, the Holy Scriptures. His voice is also revealed in His providential workings; and it will be recognized if we do not separate our souls from Him by walking in our own ways, doing according to our own wills, and following the promptings of an unsanctified heart, until the senses have become so confused that eternal things are not discerned, and the voice of Satan is so disguised that it is accepted as the voice of God. {5T 512.1}

Another way in which God’s voice is heard is through the appeals of His Holy Spirit, making impressions upon the heart, which will be wrought out in the character. If you are in doubt upon any subject you must first consult the Scriptures. If you have truly begun the life of faith you have given yourself to the Lord to be wholly His, and He has taken you to mold and fashion according to His purpose, that you may be a vessel unto honor. You should have an earnest desire to be pliable in His hands and to follow whithersoever He may lead you. You are then trusting Him to work out His designs, while at the same time you are co-operating with Him by working out your own salvation with fear and trembling. You, my brother, will find difficulty here because you have not yet learned by experience to know the voice of the Good Shepherd, and this places you in doubt and peril. You ought to be able to distinguish His voice. {5T 512.2}

 

The previous statement said that God will not guide us if we are not resisting the impulses of our unsanctified hearts. The impressions are not for the big decisions (where to go, who to marry, whether or not to surrender self), but the decisions that “will be wrought out in the character.” Impressions may say “you have had enough to eat,” “she needs you to listen right now,” “don’t jump to conclusions,” “the Sabbath is starting soon, be ready.” God does not want us to be victims of our imagination, going from place to place because we are thus “impressed.”

 

When we make plans, they may not be good ones. Since we can not see the end from the beginning, we should make our plans in wet concrete (still able to change when Providence makes it plain that we should.)

 

Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, “Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.” This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ. {SC 70.1}

 

But we should not confound our lack of contentedness, our itchiness for something new and different, with God’s providence. We should be determined to do our duty even if it is as distasteful to us as going to Nineveh was to Jonah.

 

Many are dissatisfied with their lifework. It may be that their surroundings are uncongenial; their time is occupied with commonplace work, when they think themselves capable of higher responsibilities; often their efforts seem to them to be unappreciated or fruitless; their future is uncertain. {MH 472.3}

Let us remember that while the work we have to do may not be our choice, it is to be accepted as God’s choice for us. Whether pleasing or unpleasing, we are to do the duty that lies nearest. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Ecclesiastes 9:10. {MH 472.4}

If the Lord desires us to bear a message to Nineveh, it will not be as pleasing to Him for us to go to Joppa or to Capernaum. He has reasons for sending us to the place toward which our feet have been directed. At that very place there may be someone in need of the help we can give. He who sent Philip to the Ethiopian councilor, Peter to the Roman centurion, and the little Israelitish maiden to the help of Naaman, the Syrian captain, sends men and women and youth today as His representatives to those in need of divine help and guidance. {MH 473.1}

Our plans are not always God’s plans. He may see that it is best for us and for His cause to refuse our very best intentions, as He did in the case of David. But of one thing we may be assured, He will bless and use in the advancement of His cause those who sincerely devote themselves and all they have to His glory. If He sees it best not to grant their desires He will counterbalance the refusal by giving them tokens of His love and entrusting to them another service. {MH 473.2}

In His loving care and interest for us, often He who understands us better than we understand ourselves refuses to permit us selfishly to seek the gratification of our own ambition. He does not permit us to pass by the homely but sacred duties that lie next us. Often these duties afford the very training essential to prepare us for a higher work. Often our plans fail that God’s plans for us may succeed. {MH 473.3}

 

But the fact that we our plans are not always God’s plans should not prevent us from making plans. It should not make us incline back and forth between options.

 

Sometimes various ways and purposes, different modes of operation in connection with the work of God, are about evenly balanced in the mind; but it is at this very point that the nicest discrimination is necessary. And if anything is accomplished to the purpose it must be done at the golden moment. The slightest inclination of the weight in the balance should be seen and should determine the matter at once. Long delays tire the angels. It is even more excusable to make a wrong decision sometimes than to be continually in a wavering position, to be hesitating, sometimes inclined in one direction, then in another. More perplexity and wretchedness result from thus hesitating and doubting than from sometimes moving too hastily. {3T 497.3}

 

When we claim God’s promises for guidance and use all our mental powers to weigh options, God works miracles to bring the right information our way. God can and does bring the needed information to those that are searching for it. We should “take counsel” with our reason, thinking clearly about what we already know about God’s will. If we are willing to surrender to that counsel, to what we know is right, we will be “guided by the Lord.”

O if men in exalted positions only knew their weakness and God’s strength and sufficiency and fullness, they would pray most earnestly ‘let thy word be my counselor.’ I tell all who have any connection with our institutions, Take counsel with sanctified reason, surrendered wholly to God. Then you will be guided by the Lord. Many of you have kept the truth far away from the citadel of the soul. A man can not continue in sin, and be a Christian. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. Men may labor in connection with the work of God as did Noah’s carpenters, and yet resist the divine influences. The spirit of God is beckoning heavenward, to imperishable honors. The love of God pervading the soul possesses a re-created power through the Holy Spirit.—1888 Materials p. 1387 (Also in 17MR p. 114)

When we follow His plan for knowing His will, even our honest mistakes will be made to serve His interests. But we must move forward quickly. Taking too long gives the Devil time to trick us by his deceptions and false “providences.”

I have been shown that the most signal victories and the most fearful defeats have been on the turn of minutes. God requires promptness of action. Delays, doubtings, hesitation, and indecision frequently give the enemy every advantage. My brother, you need to reform. The timing of things may tell much in favor of truth. Victories are frequently lost through delays. There will be crises in this cause. Prompt and decisive action at the right time will gain glorious triumphs, while delay and neglect will result in great failures and positive dishonor to God. Rapid movements at the critical moment often disarm the enemy, and he is disappointed and vanquished, for he had expected time to lay plans and work by artifice. {3T 497.4}

There are some rules that would ensure that we will chose the right occupation.

We need to follow more closely God’s plan of life. To do our best in the work that lies nearest, to commit our ways to God, and to watch for the indications of His providence–these are rules that ensure safe guidance in the choice of an occupation. {Ed 267.3}

God chooses not to guide us by chance methods. He longs for us to develop mental power, and this comes from thinking from cause to effect. If He gave us visions when we prayed for guidance, we would be inclined to not think carefully about the consequences of our choices. Our mental powers would be shrinking, our imagination existing for only vain purposes.

 

You endeavor to reach correct decisions regarding religious duties, and to make decisions regarding business enterprises, by the tossing up of a coin, and letting the position in which it falls decide what course you shall pursue. I am instructed to say that we are not to give encouragement to any such methods. They are too common, too much like sleight-of-hand movements. They are not of the Lord, and those who depend upon them for direction will meet with failure and disappointment. Being nothing more than a matter of chance, the influence of adopting such tests regarding duty is calculated to lead the mind to depend on chance and guesswork, when all our work and plans for work should be established on the sure foundation of the Word of God. {2SM 325.2}

The people of God can come to a correct understanding of their duty only through sincere prayer and earnest seeking for the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. When they seek aright for instruction concerning their course of action, these strange and unreliable methods will not be accepted by them. They will then be saved from haphazard work, and from the confusion that is ever the result of depending on human devisings. . . . {2SM 325.3}

Asking for Signs is often the same as flipping a coin. God prefers to guide us by sound principles. If lives are at stake, if the future of God’s church is on the line, as was the case in the story of Gideon, and if you are doubtful that your direct revelations are from God, there might be an excuse to asking for a sign. But even Gideon recognized that asking unwisely might displease God.

But now a doubt arose, since wool naturally absorbs moisture when there is any in the air; the test might not be decisive. Hence he asked that the sign be reversed, pleading that his extreme caution might not displease the Lord. His request was granted. {PP 548.2}

If you must ask for a sign, ask for only miraculous signs, and do not pray out loud. For example, ask that a blue colored light will appear in the sky over the moon if you should go to place A, or a red color light over the moon if you should go to place B. In the great majority of cases, you will get neither. That is because God does not prefer to use signs. But if you make the mistake of asking for a one-sided sign (like, a red light over the moon if I should go, and no light if I shouldn’t) you virtually try to force God to guide you by a sign, because if He does nothing, you will consider it a sign. This is not wise. I do not say that it is good to ask for signs like this (it is bad), only that asking for signs in this way will help to prevent self-deception when God does not give one.

It is a haphazard method, which God does not approve. To men who have suggested such tests, I have said, “No, no.” The sacred things which concern the cause of God must not be dealt with by such methods. God does not instruct us that we are to learn His will in any such way. {2SM 327.2}

Will it furnish us with experiences that will glorify God, for us to decide what is His will by the dropping of a card or a coin, and observing how it falls? No, no. Such tests as this will spoil the religious experience of the one who adopts them. Everyone who depends upon such things for guidance, needs to be reconverted. {2SM 327.3}

After the great disappointment of the Adventist people in 1844, we had all these things to contend with over and over again. Then I was raised up from a bed of sickness, and sent to give a message of reproof for such fanaticism. They used different methods. They would select a sign, and then follow the course indicated by the sign. {2SM 327.4}

In one case they would not bury a child that had died, because they understood from the sign that they had set, that the child was going to be raised from the dead. {2SM 327.5}

I was sent to bear my testimony regarding the fallacy of these things that they were using as signs. According to the light that God has given me, there is no safety for us except to take a “Thus saith the Lord.”

God also teaches us through nature and through Godly counselors and through the Spirit of Prophecy. But these are not an addition to the three ways first mentioned. The Bible was the first way, and it enforces the other three. Nature helps us reason from cause to effect and subdues our souls. Godly counselors lead us back to scripture and help us understand the providential leadings in our lives. The Spirit of Prophecy is enforced by the Word and provides a solid platform to build on in our studies.

Through nature and revelation, through His providence, and by the influence of His Spirit, God speaks to us. But these are not enough; we need also to pour out our hearts to Him. In order to have spiritual life and energy, we must have actual intercourse with our heavenly Father. {SC 93.1}

There are a thousand temptations in disguise prepared for those who have the light of truth; and the only safety for any of us is in receiving no new doctrine, no new interpretation of the Scriptures, without first submitting it to brethren of experience. Lay it before them in a humble, teachable spirit, with earnest prayer; and if they see no light in it, yield to their judgment; for “in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” {5T 293.1}

Did you take notes while you were reading? If not, read this article again with a pen in hand. Share what you learned and it will become yours for keeps.

 This study compiled by Eugene Prewitt, adventexpositor@gmail.com Please feel free to contact the author with questions, corrections, or comments.

[1] I Samuel 28-29.

(4) Comments

  1. Eugene,
    I noticed you are raising money for a camp in Asia.
    Dr. E. Ramirez is a friend on facebook so I noticed your post through his post.
    I also noticed your friends quantity allowed has reached its limit.
    I am not sure how to contact you to help your cause. Please respond and send an email address or physical address or a little more to go on, rather than paypal, I prefer not to use them but am willing to use visa.
    My daughters Nadia and Alexis were at YD camp one year.
    We also attended one of your classes at Sacramento through Amazing Facts .
    Thanks, Russ Hasse, Sacramento, CA, ph. 530-401-1755

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