Discerning God' will

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by thjplgvp, Oct 11, 2006.

  1. thjplgvp

    thjplgvp
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    Most believers go through a sort of check off list in determining God's will/direction for major moves/changes in their life. As my wife and I are considering making a major move we would be interested in reading your suggestions and supporting scriptures for discernment.

    Thjplgvp
     
  2. El_Guero

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    I always struggle between feeling and the Word of God . . . strange, but my 'feelings' have often been verified later by hindsight . . .

    . . . . but I gotta feeling now that I keep fighting, because the other person claims to not have a similar feeling . . .

    Pray, pray, pray, and pray a lot more.

    I have found that while there is wisdom in Christian counseling . . . there is often confusion as well.

    Oh well . . .
     
  3. Pipedude

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    "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts." "Rule" means "be the umpire." If something violates the peace of God, it is questionable.

    Another point: experience seems to show that God reveals his will through outward evidences more than inward impressions. I.e., you find the answer because he enlightens you to understand the facts you have before you, rather than "getting a feeling" that you ought to do this or that.

    These two are not contradictory, they are complementary.

    (If this stuff were easy, nobody could make a buck writing books about it.)
     
  4. PastorSBC1303

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    I think this is an excellent point. The times in my life when I knew something was right was the times when I had that peace of God in my heart. It is one of those things that is very hard to explain unless you have experienced it.

    On the other hand, I have had opportunities to pursue things in my life yet in my heart the peace of God was not there. When that peace is not there I do not go on, but trust that the Lord is at work and I need to just submit to what He wants.
     
  5. reformedbeliever

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    I always find it very helpful to enlist the help of prayer warriors. I've found that when several Godly people have prayed and sought answers for things on my behalf, or on the behalf of His people, the answers that He gives to a group of believers, I think, is His will. I know that some of our prayers and the answers we seek may be of a private nature, but that just shows how important we are to the body of Christ.
     
  6. J.D.

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    Where are you currently standing? It's God's will for you to be there.

    Where are you going? If you get there, it's God's will for you to get there.

    How can a believer NOT be in God's will (as it pertains to place of service)?
     
  7. Helen

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    Barry and I do two things: first we pray together about it. Usually he does the praying and I will simply try to stay quiet in my heart. Sometimes, even during the prayer, a thought will 'pop' in and I will mention it to Barry after he has finished praying. More often than not, he will respond with something like "But of COURSE!" and we go from there.

    When we do not see which direction is right, or when there seem to be a number of ways open to us, we use my old 'dummy blonde prayer' that I prayed so often when I was a single parent: "Lord, you know I don't know which way to go here. Please shut all the doors that you do not want me to walk through. I'd rather get a bruised nose than walk the wrong way."

    He was always faithful to grant the wisdom I needed when I needed it. There were times when 'counseling' from good and wonderful Christian friends simply was not the right way. I'm so grateful I learned to listen to God in my heart and learned to simply ask Him to SHUT the doors He did not want me to walk through.

    J.D. mentioned you cannot be out of God's will. You cannot be out of His permissive will, but I would much rather be in His perfect will for my life, and not simply what He will permit so that I will be disciplined or learn from it!
     
  8. thjplgvp

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    Long have I held to the following points in order to discern God’ direction or will in a matter.

    Is there a desire?
    Does the word of God speak pro or con concerning the desire?
    What does wise counsel say?
    Is there clear opportunity i.e. an open door?
    Is there a clear God given peace concerning the direction?

    While emotion and personal desire can have overwhelming influence within this process I have found it helpful.

    Here is my dilemma, three years ago I followed these steps and candidated for a much larger church than the one I was pastoring. I preached twice at the church in question and based upon the conversation with the pulpit committee (who strongly gave their verbal assurance that I was going to be their next pastor) and counsel of other ministers I resigned my pastorate for integrity purposes.

    What I did not realize before was that the former pastor was convinced his associate should be the new pastor and worked behind the scenes to swing the vote by enough percentage points that I was not called. Hence I found myself without a church and I gradually descended into a very deep depression egged on by questions of whether God had led me to this or I had misinterpreted what I had thought to be God’s leading. A season of bitterness, distrust, anger etc followed and I believe I have come to accept God’s sovereignty and perhaps man’s interference in the whole scenario and wish to move on with my life having hopefully learned that life is not always as we envision it being.

    With the above in mind my wife and I are considering starting a church in another state. It would seem that the current process is following my previous outline in that I have a desire, I believe the scriptural mandate to win, teach and baptize is applicable for today. I am waiting to hear counsel and there seems to be an opportunity (no IFB churches in the area) as Pipe Dude mentioned the peace may come when I have all the facts and counsel before me.

    I was interested in seeing if other believers have used a similar set of criteria while seeking discernment and what that criteria might be? Perhaps I have given way to much feedback here and ask your forgiveness if that be so. Recently I have sent many resumes to churches that are looking for pastors but have as yet heard nothing back in response.

    Thjplgvp
     
    #8 thjplgvp, Oct 11, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2006
  9. Tom Bryant

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    thjplgvp,

    I'll be praying for you. May I make a suggestion that might sound very worldly but was given to me by the most spiritually wise person I know (my wife)? Maybe you've already done it, but ask a 3rd party to look at your resume. Maybe they will see something that you don't see that stops a church from going any farther.

    BTOP, I go through those check lists myself. But I spend more time in the Word and making certain my relationship is right with the Lord. I believe that God's will is primarily a relationship with Him. When we are right with Him, then we will be in the right place. I look at Genesis 24 where Abraham's servant goes to find a bride for Issac. He spends time in prayer and then expects God to lead him to the right person.

    I hope this helps. I will be praying for you and your wife to discover God's will for your lives.
     
  10. thjplgvp

    thjplgvp
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    Tom,

    A good idea concerning the resume' I will send them to others for their comments.

    Thank you
    Thjplgvp
     
  11. Jim1999

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    If you can do anything else, do it. You will soon find out that God's will for your life has been thwarted.....Note: I didn't say qualified to do anything else. I said if you can do anything else.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  12. John of Japan

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    I always like to share this from George Mueller, the great British preacher who started an orphanage and was known for his prayer life.



    How To Ascertain the Will of God
    George Mueller

    (1) I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine-tenths of the trouble with people generally is just here. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.
    (2) Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impression. If so, I make myself liable to great delusions.
    (3) I seek the Will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Ghost guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.
    (4) Next I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s Will in connection with His Word and Spirit.
    (5) I ask God in prayer to reveal His Will to me aright.
    (6) Thus, through prayer to God, the study of the Word, and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge, and if my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly. In trivial matters, and in transactions involving most important issues, I have found this method always effective.
     
  13. Pastor Larry

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    I will be in the minority here, but hey ... I have been there before. :D I would be very cautious about following “peace.” Peace is never given in the Bible as a guide to decision making. It is mentioned as an issue of confidence in God’s sovereignty and our obedience to him. It is always the by product of God’s work in our lives. It never, to my knowledge, is given as sign from God that a particular choice is his will.

    Looking for peace is essentially looking for extra-biblical revelation … communication from God that is not found in his world. It contradicts the truth of 2 Tim 3:16-17 that in God’s word is everything necessary for “every good work.” It is easily counterfeited by Satan.

    Think of your own story: Did you not have peace when you resigned your church three years ago? Did not that turn out badly for you? I used to think as you did, and then began to wrestle with the implications of it, and rejected it because I could not find it in God’s word.

    For decision making, I would encourage thorough knowledge of Scripture, consistency in obedience, and a heart tuned to God. A person must understand God’s mission in life, that of establishing and building local churches. That is what God wants you to do, whether vocationally as a pastor, or as a laymen, your main job is to find a church and help grow it. Everything else is secondary. Once you have done that, you can follow your desire, knowing that God has given you the desires of your heart.


    There is nothing fool proof in decision making. We can be wise through Scripture. I would recommend Gary Freissen’s book Decision Making and the Will of God. I found myself laughing as I read it because of how clearly it resembled my own life and the paralysis that I experienced. Understanding God's word in a different way gave me a great freedom in Christ that I had never before experienced because of an overwhelming fear. I hope I never go back to living that way again.
     
  14. PeterM

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    I have always tried to simplify these elements of life. I try to follow some simple guidelines/questions when counseling folks:

    1. Are you saved? Can't discuss God's will for your life if this isn't a reality.

    2. Are you filled with the Holy Spirit? This goes beyond salvation in the sense that one is active in the ongoing confession of sin to God and others.

    3. Do you live a life of submission and suffering? This simply implies that you are living out the faith that you claim.

    If you can answer these questions with clarity of mind and conscience, then I believe you have the freedom to do what you desire. The wonderful reality that we live in is that God gives us our desires.

    Blessings
     
  15. PastorSBC1303

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    You are making quite a stretch to say that looking for the peace of God in your lives is seeking "extra-biblical revelation."

    So the peace of God that Paul talks about in Philippians 4 that "transcends all understanding" can be counterfeit by Satan? Do you have a Biblical example of this being counterfeit?
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    What else would it be? Does not the peace you of which you speak come from God outside the Bible to reveal to us that a particular decision is "his will"? How is that not, by definition, extra-biblical revelation? And if it's not, then what is it? It isn't the peace the Bible describes that comes from his word and our obedience.

    2 Cor 11 makes clear that Satan can appear as a minister of light, as do his angels. There, it is particularly false teachers in view, but the description is clearly one of counterfeiting the message of Christ. The principle would clearly attach to all of God's dealings with man outside of Scripture (which is set by inspiration).

    Do you have any biblical examples of "peace" being used as a tool for decision making? As I say, I can't find it in there. And I know that I have been mislead by it before, with some pretty disastrous consequences. In fact, the most "peace" I have ever had about a decision led to the one of the greatest heartbreaks I have ever had. And had it not been heartbreak then, had I followed through with the peace, it would have been absolute unmitigated disaster for my life.

    Which is not to say that is authoritative. Experience is never authoritative. Scripture is. But experience has indicated that peace is not a infallible way to make decisions.

    Face it, peace can come or go based on a night's sleep, or a dinner choice. It can come because of wrong understanding, and it can leave because of misplaced fear.

    Just curious, have you read Friessen's book?
     
  17. thjplgvp

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    Larry,

    Thanks for the info, I just ordered the book (hardback, $1.73 from half.com) should have it in 4-5 days.

    I appreciate the time many of you have spent in answering my question and I will keep you informed as the Lord directs in the next few weeks.

    Thjplgvp
     
  18. PastorSBC1303

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    Does God only speak to us through His Written Word?

    Cannot God provide a peace that transcends all understanding in times that He is showing His will to people?

    Isn't wanting to follow the Lord's will for your life a commitment to His word and obedience?

    I have no issues with 2 Cor 11 and it does speak to false teachers, etc. However, where does the peace of God that Scripture talks about come into play there?

    Why would God tell us about His peace in His Word and then His children have no idea whether it is from Him or from Satan?

    Read in the book of Acts (20-28)about Paul being compelled and bound by the Spirit with the Lords direction for his life even when it was going to be a really hard journey. Despite what good people around him thought was best He was at complete peace with what the Lord wanted for Him.

    I do find it odd that you speak so hard against "experience" and yet you use here an "experience" from your own life as a reason against the peace of God?

    I agree experience is not authoritative or infallible. Scripture always is. But that does not mean that God does not use experience and/or providing His peace along side of Scripture in our lives to direct us. Back to Acts for a moment, did Paul know the Lord's direction by reading the Word? If he did can you show that to me in the text? Seems Paul had some "experiences" too. Therefore, it is not either or, it is both and. Scripture and experiences and peace can all go together.

    Sure the peace of the world can come and go. But that is different from the peace that transcends all understanding as the text says.

    No, I haven't. Therefore I have not commented about his book and thoughts. I will try to remember to pick it up sometime as I would like to read it.
     
  19. Jim1999

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    Show me the chapter and verse that reads: "Jim, go to so-and-so Baptist Church to be their pastor." and I shall be pleased to obey.

    There is a combination of obeying the dictates of scripture to establish the base. Then there are the open and closed doors. This is combined with one's inner sense of belonging. Then go back to what I said earlier....If you can do anything else, do it.

    In all my life, I never applied to a church for a pastorate. I always let churches invite me. If it was a contest,,,preach for a call...I refused up front. I don't advocate this approach to everyone, but it served me over more than 50 years.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  20. Pastor Larry

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    In this age I believe yes. Otherwise, I think you have problems with 2 Tim 3:16-17 and the “every good work.” If we need something other than Scripture for some of the good works that God has called us to, then I think there is a problem with the verse.

    Can he? Sure. He can provide handwriting on the wall, pigs who fly, or whatever. (That was a joke.) But does he? I see no place in Scripture where this “peace” is given as a means of determining God’s will. Do you know of any place? The context of Phil 4:6 is the context of division and dissension in the body and the anxiety that stems from it. It is not in the matter of finding God’s will for a decision.

    yes, but again in Scripture, “peace” is given regarding his sovereignty and obedience ot his revealed will. Unless you know of some place in Scripture that I don’t.
    The principle is that Satan can counterfeit some of the works of God. Why would not peace be among them?

    The same thing is true with assurance of salvation, with interpretation of Scripture, etc.
    I don’t recall anything about peace there. In addition, Paul was an apostle living in a time of direct revelation.

    As I say, it was anecdotal showing how peace is not infallible, or even useful at times. It would have led to a completely wrong decision.
    But how do you know the difference? You don’t. That is the problem.
     

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