By Not Known
We sometimes have trouble knowing what to do. We want to do God's will in everything. But how do we know what God wants us to do?
Let's start with some basic teachings. The Bible teaches that God is master over everything and manages everything to fit into his plans (Eph. 1: 11). Indeed, Christian people find that God works out everything for their personal good (Rom 8: 28). So, in one sense, we can say that God has a detailed plan for each of our lives. Perhaps for our own good, God does not make this entire plan known to us. But, how can we know his will then?
Let's consider another basic point. God makes part of his will know to us in the Bible. We can be sure that he will never 'guide' us against what he teaches in the Bible. For example, it will never be God's will to be financially greedy, because God tells us that greed is sin (1 Cor 6: 10). Likewise, it will always be God's will to love our neighbour (Lev 19: 18). But how about areas where the Bible is silent?
Sometimes God guides us through circumstances or even visions. For example, the Apostle Paul wanted to go to Asia and Bithynia to do missions work, but we are told that God stopped this (Acts 16: 6- 7). We don’t know what happened, but there was something that blocked his plans. Consequently Paul rerouted to Troas and finished up with an open door and a visionary invitation to go and do missions elsewhere. God was closing one door and opening another. The combination of the open and closed door and the vision was an unmistakable voice from God.
The counsel of other Christians is also important, as God often speaks through the conviction of a group of people – eg Acts 13:2; 15:28. Indeed, it is almost always wise to seek and test God’s will by submitting our thoughts to Christian leaders and peers, rather than rush off on our own. This is especially important in matters of Christian service and helps to prevent the projection of our ideas as the mind of God.
Prayer is vital in seeking God's wisdom (Jas 1: 5). But be careful – sometimes his answer is nothing more than leaving us to use our common sense. And so Paul and his party went to the river one Sabbath morning because that's where people normally met for prayer (Acts 16: 13).
The key thing from us is a heart, soul and mind that are open to God. We can trust that he will make his way known to us. but are we open to him?