God has saved us so we can do his will (1 Peter 4 v 2). It’s what we’ve been set free to do! It is our greatest privilege to do the will of God. As God wants us to do his will it seems unlikely that it will be an obscure thing.
Yet doing the will of God doesn’t always seem that easy. The Bible is realistic and warns us that we can miss God’s best for our lives. For example, the children of Israel missed God’s best when they came out of Egypt but failed to go into the promised-land. As a pastor I’ve watched some people miss God’s best through compromise, pride, disobedience etc. Ephesians 5 v 15-17 is very specific: ‘Be very careful how you live; make the most of every opportunity; do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.’ We seem to have quite a responsibility when it comes to finding and obeying God’s will for our lives.
How can I find God’s best for me? How can I fulfil to the full God’s purpose for me? How do I get guidance from God? Here are some principles I’ve learnt over the years:
1. Thirst for God
‘If we long for guidance but don’t thirst for God, we won’t obtain the guidance we seek.’ Zac Poonan (an Indian pastor). This is so true, it is why times when we can refresh and renew our thirst for God are so important. It’s good to immerse yourself in the presence of God. Seek God first for himself and put your life’s direction second. In that context you are much more likely to find guidance.
2. Trust in the Lord with all your heart
Proverbs 3 v 5-6 is a foundational text for guidance. Have confidence in God. He is for you. He will guide you. Faith in God is vital. Our loving Heavenly Father cares for us and knows what we need. This does not make us passive. Look at Jesus, he prayed often and for significant periods of time. He really wanted to do the Father’s will so he sought him in order to be sure of it! Wholehearted trust in God will result in soaking each important decision in prayer.
3. Do not lean on your own understanding
Poor intelligence or lack of education will never deprive you of a knowledge of God’s will, if you lean on God. However, proud dependence on your own cleverness will! Practically, this means you will take serious notice of the Bible’s teaching as you read it or listen to it taught. Also you will weigh carefully, and take seriously, the advice of more mature Christians whom you respect.
4. In all your ways acknowledge him
Sometimes we are eager to know God’s guidance in one area of our lives but not so keen on his direction in other areas. God isn’t impressed with that attitude! The best way to seek guidance is to seek it in every area and then, when it’s clear, be prepared to follow it in every area. Many of our problems with guidance would be solved by giving ourselves to God across the whole spectrum of life.
5. Peace is your governor
In Isaiah God promises his people: ‘I will make peace your governor and righteousness your ruler.’ As the new covenant people of God we have the Holy Spirit in us. Every one of us can and should be filled with the Spirit. All of us may know God as our ‘Abba Father’. Therefore it is a reality that you can let the peace of God be your governor. ‘Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.’ Colossians 3 v 15. Be governed by peace. If you lose your peace be alert! What’s wrong? Peace comes from the presence of the Spirit of Christ, the Prince of Peace, in your hearts. So losing your peace is a warning light coming on! Check out what’s wrong, sometimes it’s obvious but at other times it’s more complicated. You may need some help and advice from others, but never ignore a loss of ‘peace’.
6. Righteousness is your ruler
Peace is an internal guide and righteousness is an external guide. How do I know what to do? Do what is right! Be righteous! There is a lot of revealed righteousness in the Bible. Often the right thing to do will be surprisingly obvious, if we are prepared to be honest and open to God’s Word. The trouble is we often want to avoid the true clarity of God’s will, and hide behind making it seem more complicated or obscure than it is.
7. Jesus’ yoke is easy
Finally, Romans 14 v 17 tells us: ‘The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’ The Holy Spirit will help you do what is right and will bring you peace, but there is joy as well! Doing God’s will will always bring genuine joy. The idea that doing the will of God is a miserable burden is a lie from hell! Jesus promised his yoke would be easy and his burden would be light. The will of God is not going to be the least attractive option. Nor is it a heavy burden. When he is allowed to reign King Jesus brings righteousness, peace and joy!