Knowing the will of God

Why am I here?
Where should I fit in?
What do I do with my life?

Have you ever asked yourself these questions? If you have, then you’re no different from millions of other Christians who have sought to understand the meaning of their lives. Many people it seems, want to know the “will of God”, but it slips by them like a silent whisper. Have you looked at other people wondering how they could be so secure in doing kingdom work? If you have, wonder no longer because behind the “secret” of their security is a solid goal and a purpose they have come to understand, accept, and practice. Its called the will of God. Think of God’s will, not as a secret, but as hidden treasure. As hidden treasure, he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

bibleInfo003What is God’s “Will”?

I heard someone say “God’s will is God’s word”. I agree with that. You can be sure that if you are doing something or supporting something the Word of God has deemed sin or unacceptable to God, then it is not his will.  Conversely,  just because something is difficult (even beyond your capabilities) doesn’t mean it is not the will of God.  I would add to that God is his will and his word (John 1:1-3). The primary source for discovering God’s will for your life, is in the pages of God’s word.  Its in the lines and between the lines. Its both what is said as well as what is not said. Again, he has placed it there for you to earnestly seek out.  The treasure you seek is not just information, but rather the One who holds the information. Please understand that because it is treasure, there exists a degree of difficulty (including the time factor) in finding it.  No one finds treasure laying about in the open.

We know from Romans 12:2 that whatever the will of God is, it is good and perfect and pleasing. So we don’t have to be afraid of it. We also know from Jeremiah 29:11 that God has predetermined a strategy to bring you to an “expected end” (his expectation, not ours).

The word will is translated from the Greek “thelema” which means “to will”. This doesn’t signify some demand, but an expression of pleasure towards the object of God’s pleasure (you). Thelema was used by biblical writers to designate what God Himself does of his own good pleasure and what he had ordained out of his sovereignty. In short, what God has planned for you is because he wants it.

So does God has a plan for your life? Absolutely. When I say plan I mean something he created you uniquely to do and because of that He will likewise equip you to complete that task. His plan for you will ultimately accomplish two major purposes:

(1) bring another person into reconciliation with God resulting in glory and praise for God;

(2) bring glory and praise to God resulting in another person being reconciled to God

This seems to be what Solomon surmises in Ecclesiastes 12:13. “…here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

Within those two broad intents lie the plan that God has for you. It is not filled with specifics for a reason.

It is God’s desire that we all know His will for us. If a Christian misses God’s will its like missing a turn on a lonely highway and being lost on an unfamiliar detour. So knowing God’s will is very important. As a matter of fact if you don’t discover it, you will live your (Christian) life unfulfilled, unhappy and unfruitful. Knowing and living in his will for you will dramatically set you apart from those who meander aimlessly through church life.

I was teaching a discipleship class once and I asked for a show of hands from all those who knew what God had specifically called them to accomplish. Out of approximately 30 odd people, only 4-5 people raised their hands. When I asked those few to share their specific calling, the numbers got even smaller.  The answers were more or less general in nature.

It suggested to me that a vast majority of the rank and file church attendees are clueless as to the meaning of the lives. They come to church, participate in church activities (perhaps faithfully) but inside are deeply dissatisfied without understanding the reason for their dissatisfaction.  Consequently when you are not 100% convinced of God’s will for your life, you will always be in flux and susceptible to deception that appeals to answering that question with temporary solutions.

There are not two wills of God, but there are two aspects of his will.

One is a general will for all people.

For example, it is God’s will that all people be saved. (2 Peter 3:9)  It is God’s desire that we are blessed and in good health (1 John 3:3). God has called us unto holiness, not uncleaness (1 Thess 4:7).

Most become satisfied with these generalities. They are good, but beyond that is something specifically, that God has determined you should accomplish. Like Solomon, building the first temple or like Paul taking the gospel to the Gentiles. Or like Mary bearing and delivering the Christ. Remember Moses was chosen to tell Pharoah, “let my people go!”. What about Jesus who was born to die for the sins of the world?

Now, what about you? Do you know his will for you? If you know it, are you passionately working it out for God’s glory?

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28 thoughts on “Knowing the will of God

  1. Wonderful article, gcmwatch. The will of God has been discussed so many times by so many people throughout so many generations, and it’s possible that a great number of people have concluded what’s already been written by King Solomon (and what you highlighted in your article): “…The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
    (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

    We make finding out the will of God for our lives too complicating of a task. Awhile back, I used to take those spiritual gifting tests, you know, where you try to discover what your spiritual giftings are. I would take them and try to base God’s will for my life off of that, as puzzling as that sounds. I would ask people what they thought God wanted me to do with my life, soaking up their answers like a sponge. And I would literally beg God to reveal His will for my life while in prayer. In hindsight, I can’t help but chuckle & wonder what God was thinking while I got myself all exasperated. But I did that for a long time. Thankfully, I finally realized that, if I would apply the words that Solomon exhorted in Ecclesiastes, “..fear God and keep His commandments…”, by virtue of that I would then discover what God’s unique will is for me. It begins with obedience. If we are living in obedience to God’s Word, which is in essence living in obedience to Him, then we are living our lives in the way that God purposed it to be. Everything that we’re supposed to do, everyone that we’re supposed to meet, everywhere that we’re supposed to be will come about, because we are living a life of obedience. You can’t go wrong with that. Obedience is perhaps the surest way to discovering what God’s will is for you, individually.

    At least that’s my take on knowing God’s will. I’m interested in hearing what other people have to say about this, because this subject never gets old!

  2. Angela,

    Great article Pastor, hey Ang, I’m reminded of what the LORD said in the bk of Micah of what he expected of us in knowing his will, “Have I expected some hard thing of you, but to love mercy, to do justly and to walk humbly before your God.” This is his will for us, and it isn’t hard to do, but we make it hard.

  3. Hey Tony, I like that verse you quoted; I think it goes in conjunction w/ the verse in Ecclesiastes.
    And you know what’s interesting too? I think of Joseph. Did Joseph initially know what the specific will of God was for his life? We don’t know, though we do know that he knew it later: “…You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50: 19-20)
    If Joseph didn’t initially know God’s will for him individually, what we do know is that he walked humbly before God , loved mercy, did justly, and look what happened: God’s will for his life (and the Hebrews in general) was both revealed and lived out.
    If we do the same, we’ll experience that exact result today.
    So I can see how that verse in Micah comes into play.

    And Pastor, trust me, I learned that.

  4. Ang,

    Thank you for receiving that, and an outstanding example and illuminating perspective given you by the Holy Spirit concerning the life of Joseph. And heres another example of God’s will for us from our friend the Apostle Paul, “Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

  5. This is a very good topic; thank you! Something like this helps me tremendously in my walk with Christ (in addition to learning how to rightfully divide the Word) as this life-long process unfolds.

    I also agree that as a believer walks out this process, the inclination and desire to participate in the goings-on of the institutional church will become less and less over time. This period is very critical for many of the reasons outlined in previous posts surrounding the apostasy-driven atmosphere of the institutional church.

  6. I still say there is a specific intent for the life of each believer that God wants to reveal or perhaps already has and a person may not yet have accepted it.

    The people I noted above (even Solomon who wrote Eccl 12:13) accomplished awesome things for God. The awesomeness is because it is for the glory of God, not the because of how many people it may have affected. I think that calling is for each of us. There is a unique call beyond living holy, being obedient and faithful. In fact those things put you in a position to more accurately discern God’s will for you.

    Consider Daniel 11:32b

    “And the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.”

  7. This recently came to mind and I thought applicable to the Will of God in our lives –

    “God bids us do what we cannot,
    that we may know what we ought to seek from him.” – Augustine

    Micah 6:8
    “He has told you, O man, what is good;
    And what does the Lord require of you
    but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with thy God.”

    Blessings Pastor!

  8. Pastor,

    Yes I’m inclined to agree w/you some would say theres a difference in the “Will of God” and the “Permissive Will of God” example it is God’s will that we be married not running around fornicating, but yet it is also his will that some of us not be married (Jeremiah) and though he desires one to be married, but did you marry the one HE had for you. Or the scripture reference to David in the bk of Acts, “After having removed Saul, he raised up David, whom he said, I have found David, son of Jesse a “Man After Mine Own Heart”, and he WILL do everything I tell him to.”
    There was something specific about that WILL God spoke about.

    I think the problem sometimes is we get so caught up in the special gift/giftings and the anointings and as wonderful and as purposeful as those things are, we forget about the WILL to love him and each other above all else, for when the primary focus is on the above I spoke about, we can easily get out of that WILL.

  9. EXCELLENT POST! I too must admit that I often find myself asking God this question. Since being out of the WOF movement for about 4 years now…it’s questions like this that I think I still need to have my mind renewed with the true Word of God concerning this area of my walk with the Lord.

    @Tony, I just read that scripture this past weekend in Micah, and something in my spirit leaped and said, wow, how simple are walk in God should be (simple, yet not free of persecution).

    Then, I heard the voice of my “old WOF passah” saying, “you’ve got to do GREAT THINGS for God, don’t just settle for an “ordinary life” in God. You’ve MUST strive to be a mountain moving, Kingdom powerhouse in order to “be someone” in Christ.
    So, just going to work, being a good wife and mother, training up godly children, witnessing as the Lord leads me, being hospitable (sp?), charitable, walking in love, praying, studying the word etc is not enough? Should I be striving to build some mega women’s ministry, or a Feed The Hungry Ministry..etc. And if I don’t, am I “missing” God’s will for my life. This post has really touched a “spiritual nerve” with me. I have a passion for witnessing and winning souls/evangelizing, which I know is wisdom from God (he who wins souls is wise). I also know the gifts that God has given me in the body of Christ. So I often find myself questioning my current walk, that maybe I should be doing more than what I’m currently doing, and some days, I feel fully content in my walk, knowing that I’m being a godly wife, mother, employee and letting God’s light shine through me etc.

    I guess I said all of that to say this was a very thought provoking post for me, and one I feel a lot of christians are struggling to find out and walk in God’s “perfect will” for their lives. Thank you for stirring up the “spiritual pot” Pastor Foster! 😉

  10. Pastor and Friends,

    In my last post, to be more clear I desired to make a distinction between the “Perfect Will of God” and the “Permissive Will of God.” Not confuse anyone w/my intent.

  11. Tony I think the will on God is one. Sure many things happen like violence, injustice, child abuse, and even homosexual clergy. But allowance should not be confused with assent when we bring God into the picture. I think a “permissive will” in some ways suggests that there is blame to be laid at God’s feet when no such a thing is not possible.

    I have heard people refer the permissive and perfect will of God, but honestly I believe it to be more a matter of disobedience rather than permission.

    And to clarify my post had very little if anything to do with giftings. The perspective I wrote from is one where a person is given and accepts a particular mission from God and the lives to accomplish that mission resulting in the two broader purposes noted.

    When thinking about it, I also believe that the will of God can be carried out even through the unsaved. For example he used the Persian king Cyrus to build God a temple for the Jews to worship in. 2 Chronicles 36:22-23

  12. Godlysoldier I really like what you said. The thing is if (the raising children, hospitality etc) that is truly your calling from God, are you sure of it and do you tell others this is my call? Is it something that people identify you with as a passion for the glory of God? That’s the point Im trying to make. How can one fulfill God’s will if they are unsure of what it is? To me its not a question of “big” things vs “small” things, but whatever it is do you know and are you doing? Thanks!

  13. Pastor,

    Thank you for responding and your correction, I was wrong to use the terminology “Permissive Will” your article hinted nothing about what God allows. And if I may, you’ve known me for sometime now, even if your article hinted about what God allows, you know I would never assume God was to blame, for what he allows, thats why God is not a man that he should repent (smile). But however the giftings issue I used was just to make an example, of how we can get caught up in one area and forsake the more weightier area. If I may, we know it was God’s will for the people to pay there tithes the spices and there cummin, and it was also his will for them to walk in justice, mercy, and faithfulness. They bragged and boosted about seeking and fulfilling the one part of his WILL but forsook the weightier part. I personally believe if we constantly pursue his will of walking in justice (loving-kindness), mercy and faithfulness, we will know his will for our lives.

    As you quoted the passage of scripture in Jeremiah, God was simply saying I know my will and plans for your life, but in order for you to know it, you must pursue my will for your life and in doing so you must pursue me, and as you quoted again, “I’m a rewarder of those who diligently seek me” or could I quote James, “You have not because you ask not.” And again Pastor you are correct look at Solomon who pursued God’s will in asking for wisdom to justly rule Israel (for wisdom is a principle thing) and because he diligently sought the will of God, and not long life, the destruction of his enemies, nor riches, God gave him the things he didn’t ask for. And again I say a wonderful and thought provoking post.

  14. Great Post.

    I would like to add that the a very weighty part of Romans 12:2 is before it even gets to the saying “the good and acceptable will of God”.

    “2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”

    What I have found is people who are not trying to be renewed in their minds and who are conforming to this world asking “is this Gods will, is that Gods will for me, where should I go to school etc”. According to this verse we have to first have a transformed mind, not seek the will of God but it seems to me that when we are transformed the will of God for us will become clear.

    Anyone who would like to answer, I would like to know if I am correct/or not in what I am reading in this verse.

    Thanks!

    Blessings!

  15. Paul that is true. And certainly no person with a carnal mind can ever expect to understand or appropriate the will of God. Perhaps this is the reason so many struggle to understand it, they have not yet truly renewed their minds. (thats another lesson all by itself!) But the prerequisite for knowing the will of God is exactly what Romans 12 states. When a mind transformation is in progress a transition occurs: “….that you may know…”. However I would point out that the “renewing of your mind” is not an overnight occurence. It literally is a everyday progression. A “die daily” situation. So while I agree that a transformed mind is necessary, it should be with the understanding that the transformation process is quite lengthy and involving.

    I think considering that the general will of God (live holy, be faithful, pray always, etc) is right and appropriate until one comes into a knowledge of something more specific pertaining to their lives.

  16. Can I add something else?
    Look at Esther. Did she initially have an idea of the LORD’s specific will for her life? Was she even concerned about it? Like Joseph, we don’t know, but what we do know is that by being obedient, merciful and doing justly God used her to save the Jews. That was God’s specific will for her life, at least part of it. If she wasn’t obedient, would she have been used to save her people? It’s my guess that she probably wouldn’t have, but only God knows.
    I bring her up like I did Joseph to emphasize that I believe it’s obedience that brings about God’s specific will for someone’s life. I do believe that some people become aware of God’s specific will for their life through other methods, such as prophecy, but I think that the primary way is by living according to the Word of God. When someone does that, things will begin to unfold and His will for that person becomes known.
    I second what Pastor Foster said about Godlysoldier’s post – I agree with her. And I can relate too, GS, having been told I was going to do “big things” for the Lord. That sounds good to us mortals, but it feeds the ego and fuels the flesh. Too many people are striving to be “powerful men and women of God”, wanting to be ministry stars. But what about being a servant? Isn’t that God’s specific will for some people, to serve? What about being a teacher in Sunday school and laying the foundation for children? Or being a humble and honest businessman in the secular arena, glorifying God that way? Or being a compassionate nurse, or a skilled & diligent architect?
    Remember when the LORD instructed Moses to have the tabernacle built, Moses was told to gather together the “skilled laborers”? Someone’s natural skills can be used to bring about the specific will of God for their life, like the workmen in the book of Exodus. We see how it brought glory to God and benefited the people (by allowing them to come near and worship the LORD).
    A lot of the times the Lord operates through your natural skillset, not always by the supernatural.

  17. Thanks Pastor, I considered what you said also in saying that renewing our minds is a process.

    I am in total agreement with what you have said.

    This is a blessing!

  18. Pastor Foster, you said:
    “I think considering that the general will of God (live holy, be faithful, pray always, etc) is right and appropriate until one comes into a knowledge of something more specific pertaining to their lives.”

    I would have to say that statement pretty much sums up “my thoughts” on this matter.

    In regards to renewal of the mind, I feel that’s a life long process as who in our lifetimes will ever “fully grasp” the many facets of God and His word. Basic salvation, of course, but in order “not” to conform to this world, the mind has to stay in a constant mode of renewal so that we abide in God’s will and not be lured away into “thinking” that we’re doing God’s will, but in actuality, we’re doing things that just feed our ego’s, pride and our own little “mini kingdoms” that we’ve built or made up in our minds (many that GCMWATCH post about) But, that’s probably a whole nother subject as well.

    I’m fully persuaded that putting more emphasis in allowing God to “process” of us and build “Godly character” in us will better position us to know and carry out His will for our lives…without getting prideful, lifted up, and trying to take God’s glory.

    After reading this article and pondering on this subject for the past few hours, I’m fully conviced that I’m right where God would have me to be at “this season” in my christian walk. I’m content, yet, there’s that spiritual yearning of waking up every morning with the expectation that God is going to use me for His glory and show me great and mighty things that I do not know as I call out/pray unto Him. God also says in Psa 32:8 that He will instruct us and teach us the way we should go and guide us with His very eye. He also delights in ordering our steps and directing our paths. I know we have many plans in our hearts, but if you are fully submitted to God and His word with a continually renewed mind and desire no part of conforming to the world, or becoming friends with the world, then I truly believe the Lord’s plan and “perfect will” shall prevail in our lives.

    Psalms 1:1-3 just came to mind! “Oh blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly”…y’all know the rest! 😉

  19. Angela and GS, Im with you on that. See, we are working this thang out!

    The OT examples are good in context to the lesson. There are variables which come into play perhaps at different stages in our lives. One open door opens to another.

    I know for me and what I am doing now (or what people see me doing now is the result of many years of processing and learning until I was convinced that the work God had given to my hands was for me to accomplish for his glory. With or without acknowledgement, I will do it. Whether it brings me pain or joy, I will do it. Because I believe it is his will for me.

  20. See, Pastor? Since you were obedient in that you were studying the Word of God and seeking His face, what you’re doing now – ministering through this blog – is a result of that which is both bringing God glory and benefiting the people who read it. If you weren’t obedient, would this have come to fruition?

    Obedience to the Word/voice of God revealed the Lord’s specific will for your life which has begun to unfold. What’s more, who knows, because of all you’ve written, perhaps a few people may discover what God’s will is for them. Because they studied the Word for themselves (which you encourage), resulting in them becoming obedient and attentive to the Spirit of God, they learned what it is that God wills for them. God knows how to master the domino effect.

    Obedience is they key. What we want the answer to – in this case, God’s will for us individually – doesn’t always come by fasting, or by a multitude of counselors, or even by prayer. Obedience is the ticket.
    Look at Moses….

    And I’m done using the OT examples, because I can go on and on with that.

  21. Excellent Angela, excellent! I totally concur. I am so glad that God has led me to such wonderful ministry blogs as this to fellowship with brother’s and sister’s in spirit and in truth. Especially after coming out of the “traditions of men” (a church system) that once made the word of God of no effect in “my life!”
    Oh He whom the Son sets free is free indeed!!

  22. Friends,

    I’m reminded of Priscilla and Aquilla, and God’s will for there life was to walk in a market place, and see a knowledgable eloquent young man ministeering. But both discerning that he didn’t have a perfect (mature) understanding of the Word, well they invitied him home w/them and had dinner, and explained the gospel to him more perfectly. Well the next time we here of this young man, he’s out accomplishing God’s will for his life along w/the renown Apostles’ Paul and Peter, of course this young man’s name was Apollos. We see accomplishing God’s will for our lives is not always spectacular or stupendous, especially in the eyes of man, but see how Priscilla and Aquilla allowing God’s will to be performed through them, aided another, so that God’s will be performed in them.

    So you see friend Godlysoldier in this season of performing God’s known will in your life, you don’t know, who’ll he’ll send across your path, could it be another Apollos (smile).

  23. Awesome commentary and discussion. I pretty much agree and relate to everything that has been said thus far.

    I have found that knowing the will of GOD for your own personal life comes down to 1. Total Surrender/Daily Repentance 2. Obedience 3. Hearing and Learning GOD’s voice for directions, guidance, or encouragement. From personal experience, I had to do steps 1 and 2 before getting to #3. It does not happen overnight. The most important thing I have learned is to try the spirits to see if they come from GOD. GOD can speak anytime, anyplace, anyway, and through anyone HE sees fit. GOD’s preferred way is HIS Word through revelation or some call it Rhema. I have learned when I am in agreement with steps 1, 2, and 3 and LIVE and DO this promise from JESUS…
    Matthew 11:28-30 KJV
    (28) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
    (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
    (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

    When I live out and do Matthew 11:28-30…I know that I am in the perfect will of GOD for my life during that season and there is JOY, PEACE, and REST. It is the REST of the LORD that many, many Christians need more than ever. I am not talking about REST like rest and relaxation…but REST…REST for the Soul! Hallelujah! When one finds the perfect will of GOD for their lives, you receive HIS REST for your soul! I can’t explain it in words. REST for the soul is like you know that you know that you know that THIS WAS MEANT TO BE! The REST lets you know that you are in the Perfect will of GOD. And it is not just a one day thing…it is CONTINUAL!

    Pastor Foster, another great topic I would suggest is “How does GOD speak/communicate today?” This one of the most greatly needed teachings like never before! Amen.

    GOD bless…

  24. EW, as we preachers say, you all up in my message!
    I am writing one about hearing the voice of God.

  25. Pastor Foster…LOL! Praise GOD for the confirmation! The preachers I have been around will say, “That’ll preach right there!” LOL!

    Run with it brother! I look forward to the future discussion on hearing the voice of GOD! You better copyright that one (Smile).

  26. @Tony, 😉

    @gcmwatch, “Hearing The Voice Of God”…that will preach all day long! Looking forward to that!

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