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1 John 2:17 – And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (NKJV)

I doubt there has ever been a true Christian that has not struggled frequently with discerning God’s Will for their life, whether it’s a simple decision facing them, or the general course of their entire life. Knowing God’s Will is not only possible, I believe that it does not have to be the mysterious frustration that it is for most.

Bible study, prayer and meditation are the hard work of knowing God’s Will. And therein lies the problem: it’s hard work. That’s why it seems so elusive to many Christians. Let’s review what we have learned so far. When trying to determine God’s will:

  • First off, does God’s Word contain a plain and direct answer to your question or circumstance?
    • You have to diligently and regularly search God’s Word and do the hard work of finding out God’s revealed, written Word (2Tim 2.15; Acts 17.11)
    • If you find a direct and clear answer, then it simply boils down to a matter of obedience; simple to understand, frequently not simple to actually do. (1 John 5.2; James 1.22)
    • A few examples of this might be:
      • Can I lie if it is for a “good” reason? No (Colossians 3:9)
      • Can we sleep together if we’re engaged and in love? No (Col 3.5; Heb 13.4)
      • Is it okay to gossip for any reason? No (Matt 12.36; Prov 17.9)
      • My employer treats me bad, do I still have to work hard? Yes (1Thess 4.11-12; Col 3.17; 1Pet 2.18-19)
      • Is it okay to treat some people better than others based on their social status or income? No (James 2.2-4)
  • If there is no direct answer in the Bible, how do you know God’s Will for the “gray areas” (those things the Scriptures don’t address plainly or directly)
    • This is the idea of “working out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2.12)
      • Working hard to know God’s Word, praying for understanding, asking the Spirit for guidance
    • Ask yourself “is this really necessary?”
      • Meditate on Hebrews 12.1; is there “extra weight” involved that could be thrown off?
      • Based on your decision, will it matter in 2 weeks or two months or in eternity? Will you still be suffering consequences in 2 years or 20 years?
    • How would Christ respond?
      • Walk as Jesus would walk; choose, speak and decide the same way the Lord would in your situation (Col 1.10; 1Thess 2.12)

Discerning God’s will is not for the timid or lazy. We can’t rely on coincidental “signs” and feelings. To know the heart of God on a matter takes good old-fashioned time and effort in the form of Bible study, prayer and meditation. And we may have to throw in a good dose of patience as well. God works on His own timetable, not ours. The sooner we learn that, the better.

Sometimes God uses our efforts to discover His Will
for a purpose that may have nothing to do with the actual
circumstance or decision we are dealing with.

In other words, God may use the EFFORT of finding out His will to teach us something else, like patience. God may delay the answer to teach us to wait. Or He may give us an answer we don’t understand to teach us faith. Or He may give an answer that we see as “unfair” to teach us humility.

But don’t let that frustrate you. It’s all a part of learning the mind of Christ and “drawing near” to God. Let’s look at today’s question… when trying to discover God’s Will about a question or circumstance, ask yourself:

Is it worthy of my epitaph?

An epitaph are the words that will be written on your tombstone. Often times this is the only lasting statement about a person. Most epitaphs are simply facts stating the name and the dates of birth and death. If you have your epitaph written and engraved now while you are alive, what would you have it say?

If it wasn’t for the fact that and epitaph is written on a tombstone we would call it a “goal” (assuming you think it up BEFORE you die!). So an epitaph in a sense can become your life goal, in other words, if you could pre-write what people will say about you and what will be engraved on your tombstone for all the future to read, what would you LIKE for it to say? I would like something like this:

“Here lies old Brent Riggs. He wasn’t much of anybody, but he was devoted to prayer and God’s Word in simple, consistent, disciplined daily devotion. He didn’t achieve much in this world, but his life was marked by increasing holiness and purposeful sacredness in everyday life. Brent had his priorities in line and lived a life worthy of our Lord’s commendation, ‘Thou good and faithful servant'”.

Knowing what I would like people to read about me when I’m gone can help me to know God’s Will and make the right decisions while I’m still young. Obviously this is only truly helpful if the epitaph you have written is one that is concerned with living a holy life.

Another way of asking this question is to ask “is it expedient?“. Expediency means “the quality being suited to the end in view”. In other words when you’re trying to figure out God’s Will about something, it is helpful to see the “end” first, and make your decision on the desired result.

Knowing the end, helps us to make
decisions about the beginning.

So think about your pending decision or circumstance and ask God to help you see the very best way your situation can end up which means how can it bring the most glory to God. Formulate clearly in your mind what the ideal Godly end is, and it will help you to determine God’s Will right now because the present decisions will be made in light of the ideal Godly result.

1 Corinthians 6:12 – All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (NKJV, emphasis mine)

The word “helpful” in this verse carries with it the idea of expediency. When trying to discern God’s Will, ask yourself if the decision you are considering will be helpful, useful and productive in light of how you believe God would have things end up. So while it may be permissible and moral for us to make certain decisions, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is helpful or useful (expedient).

Do you want to know God’s Will?

  • First, search the Bible for a clear and direct answer.
  • If there is none, then ask yourself “is this really necessary?” and ” how can I respond like Christ?”.
  • Try to determine the ideal Godly result, and ask yourself “what decision will help me achieve that result?” And “is this helpful or useful, or merely a simple desire that will make no real contribution to the end I know will glorify God the most?”.

Discovering God’s Will can be pretty hard work but always worth the effort.

Father in Heaven, help us to see the end clearly in such a way that brings glory to You; then we pray that You will give us wisdom and clear direction on how to make decisions now that will help us achieve the result that will most honor You. In Jesus name we ask, Amen.

Contemplation: Have you ever thought about how you would like your life to end up? If you were to write down the ideal result of your life, would your decisions today be helping you achieve that? Do you understand the difference between desirable and expedient?

Application: There can be many good things that are simply desirable but not necessarily expedient. For example, it is almost always good and desirable to engage in more ministry at your church, but it may not be expedient in light of what God is trying to do in your life. That is it hard question to answer, and only one that can be answered between you and God. In other words, you have to discover God’s Will. Lastly, if you have never given thought to how you would like your life to end up, how in the world are you making decisions now that will achieve the result you would like to have?

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?