Circumstances play a part in understanding God’s will. Be sure to take them into account but look at them realistically, while applying God’s wisdom. Obstacles can mean different things. It may be that God is testing your faith and perseverance. I find that I never walk in God’s will without experiencing opposition left, right and centre. I need to know God’s will clearly. Then I can speak to my circumstances and order them out in the name of Jesus!
Some speak of being guided by “open doors’. If the door is open, then they say, “God wants you to go through it.” But some open doors lead to elevator shafts, and some closed doors need to be kicked down! If God calls you to be a missionary in India, you will be a missionary in India whether any society accepts you or not – even if you have to swim there! Never be put off by the circumstances, but always ask God to give you wisdom in interpreting them. Perhaps God is testing your faith, or maybe the devil is standing between you and God’s will, or God could be saying, “No.” Ask God to show you which it is.
Godly Christian thinking
God has given you a rational mind and he expects you to use it. Using your initiative does not necessarily mean that you are asserting independence from God. You have the mind of Christ, so use it in dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Imagine how frustrating it would be if your children asked permission to get out of bed every morning.Wouldn’t you expect them to use their common sense? Well, the same applies to you!
The witness of the Holy Spirit
“The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart.” (Proverbs 20:27)
God has given all his children the capability to communicate with him through their own spirits.When you are born again you enter a personal relationship with God. The Holy Spirit then begins to bear witness with your spirit in a way that goes beyond the rational, intellectual appreciation of facts and doctrines. He speaks to you directly.
“The Spirit Himself testifies to our spirit that we are God’s children.”
There are many means by which the Holy Spirit brings his hidden witness. Here are just three:
At times, you may find out that the Holy Spirit communicates through visual or mental impressions. You have to determine for yourself when these things come from God or when they are the result of too much spicy food! You can learn to recognise the Holy Spirit’s voice in the same way you learn to know any other voice.
An inner check
The Holy Spirit may also witness to you through an inner sense of caution; you will feel uncomfortable. You sense that something is just not right. That’s the Holy Spirit saying, “Hold on. Be careful.”
An inner release
On the other hand, when facing a decision, you may find that you get an inner sense of agreement. You feel that God is at work and that a situation is from the Lord. You get an inner release.
A rhema word
“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word [rhema] of Christ. (Romans 20:17)
In Scripture, two words are used for “word’: logos and rhema. In some contexts there is a distinct difference in meanings between the two. The word logos often stands for God’s general word to all, whereas rhema is his personal word to you. Rhema literally means the published or spoken word and we use it to describe the experience of having a direct and personal revelation of the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is taking the Word of God and speaking it personally to you.
Once when I was ministering in Africa, God spoke to me. He clearly highlighted a passage in Isaiah that says, “When you go through the fire, I will be with you.” I did not fully understand it, but I knew that God was speaking to me, so I began to intercede. Within two weeks the lives of my wife and youngest daughter were marvellously spared in a terrible road accident. The fuel cable on my wife’s car broke and the fuel ignited. Amanda was able to get out of the car and free Laura, who was strapped in the back, moments before the car exploded into flames.When you receive a rhema word, don’t just sit on it. Read it, pray it, intercede it – and wait for God to act.
“I desire to do your will, O my God: your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:8)
There are people who stay away from missionary meetings in case God says, “Young man, go to China!” or, “Young woman – Iceland!” God’s will is not always the direct opposite of what you want to do. He is living within you. The Lord often makes his will known through your desires. If the desire is godly, then it could well be the Lord’s leading.
Trusting your desires doesn’t mean that you continue in a life of sin.When you truly love God, you will like what he likes and love what he loves.
By supernatural guidance I don’t mean a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit. I am talking about awesome and unusual means of guidance, such as dreams, visions, or angelic visitations. Don’t hanker after such things as if they were a measure of spirituality. But neither take them lightly.
Some people testify of having heard God speak to them audibly. There are many examples of various kinds of supernatural forms of guidance. These things are not necessarily very common and are so awesome that anyone who speaks too freely about them has probably not experienced them.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit
God has given gifts of revelation to the body of Christ so that his will may be made known. The gift of prophecy is especially relevant for this. However, all personal prophecy must be weighed, judged and tested by the Word of God. It should never supersede the Word of God, nor contradict it. If there is any discrepancy, then reject the prophecy, not the Bible.
If you are given a prophecy by someone and it doesn’t witness with your spirit, then don’t follow it. There are a number of proven guidelines to help test personal prophecy.
Here are some suggestions:
* Personal prophecy should, in general, be a confirmation of what you already sense God is saying to you.
* Personal prophecy should not bypass your own responsibility in the decision-making process. It must not in any way be an attempt to manipulate or control you.
* Personal prophecy should conform both to Scripture and to sanctified common sense.
The fruit of the Spirit
God uses not only the gifts of the Spirit, but also the fruit, to lead and guide.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22)
The Holy Spirit’s guidance produces distinctive fruit in your life, which is an indication that it is from him. Ask yourself, is the guidance you are receiving producing in you the fruits of the Spirit? Perhaps he is demolishing your human thinking and ideas, but through it all there should be a deep abiding sense of love, peace and joy.
Godly Christian counsel
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)
This proverb does not mean the more counsellors you see the better. It means we are to seek out mature and godly Christians and listen to their advice. Don’t discount advice because it doesn’t go along with the plans you have already made. There are people who go from one counsellor to another to yet another, until they receive the advice they were waiting to hear in the first place!
“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15)
Be ready to submit your own will to what God may say through counsellors and advisors, but be sure the advice you receive is godly. Check out the advice given is biblical and stay away from the counsel of the ungodly.
The principle of agreement In all your seeking after the will of God, look for confirmation. The Holy Spirit will confirm his word to you according to the principle of witness.
“A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” (Deuteronomy 19:15)
This is a principle that is still at work in the law courts of our nation today. However, it is more than a legal principle, it is spiritual. The apostle Paul affirmed it in his letter to the Corinthians. He says:
“This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” (2 Corinthians 13:1)
The Holy Spirit will confirm the will of God in many different ways.Whenever you begin to have a sense of his guidance, pray and visit for confirmation. Be careful not to engineer something to fit in with your will, but wait for the Holy Spirit to demonstrate that it is the will of God.
However, I want to warn you to be very careful. It is wrong and very presumptuous to expect God to confirm something that he has already clearly revealed in his Word. These ten guidelines to discovering God’s will are always subject to the test of Scripture, not the other way around. The first light – the Word of God – must be green before you move any further. Don’t decide you have found God’s will according to these ten tests and then go back to find confirmation in the Scripture. Go through the lights one at a time and in the proper order.
But wait! There is one more light – God’s way.