Matthew 6: 33 (MSG)
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
John 16: 12-14
‘I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.
Proverbs 16: 9 (NLT)
We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.
Isaiah 58: 11
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
On Sunday both Alan and Kathryn and Neil and Janet outlined some of their own journey and process in discerning the heart and will of the Lord as it pertained to their own future and the leadership of CCV. They talked about specific prophetic words, recurring dreams, God speaking through particular sermons and seeking Godly wisdom from others, especially those with oversight and governance responsibilities.
In our own lives, as we seek to make decisions and walk into God’s good future, how do we discern His direction and know His will? A few things I have found helpful are:
(i) There are some things you don’t need to pray about. In some decisions God doesn’t really care what you do! I don’t need to spend time stressing about what God wants me to have for breakfast or whether I should wear a blue or red shirt to work. God does not micro-manage our lives. He gave you a brain for a reason. Even in some seemingly more significant decisions, God simply says, “You choose.”
(ii) God’s will won’t ever contradict His Word. You might think that you’ve heard from God about it being OK to cheat on your spouse or go ahead with that dishonest business arrangement, but in reality, you are deceived and deluded. You are not the exception to what God has already revealed through the Bible.
(iii) Knowing God is more important than knowing His will. Some people treat God more like a Sat Nav than a personal, loving Father. They seek direction and guidance outside of intimacy and relationship. The longer I am married to my wife and the more I get to know her, the less I need to ask her opinion on many issues. I am familiar enough with her character and desires to already know what she thinks. I understand what pleases her and what irritates her. In the same way, God’s will is that we know Him, love Him, seek Him and worship Him. Everything flows from intimacy.
(iv) In significant and major decisions, God will confirm His will in various ways. Don’t leave your job and move across the world because one person at a conference gave you a prophetic word about Japan! Generally for me, I begin to sense a stirring inside. I find myself more drawn to certain things and perhaps away from what used to engage me. I find myself noticing particular things more. A job, need, issue or location seems to be appearing in my world more often, perhaps in what I read or the people I meet. At this point God may start to speak through His Word, possibly in my daily devotions or Sunday sermons. Then, over time, I may also start to receive prophetic words from various unrelated sources as well as receiving prophetic dreams etc.
(v) Godly counsel is very helpful as you process what God might be speaking. In the case of CCV this came from the Board of Directors, the Senior Leadership Team and Vineyard National Leadership. In your own case it could be wise friends, family members, mature Christians, your small group and church leadership.
(vi) Timing is vitally important. Alan and Kathryn shared how God began to stir something within their hearts about America many years ago. However, it was only in the past year that He released them from their assignment at CCV to pursue the dream He had placed within them.
(vii) When God speaks clearly and unmistakably, your responsibility at that point is to step out in bold faith and obedience. As Neil wisely shared on Sunday, “Just as you don’t want to be somewhere that God hasn’t told you to go, when He does speak, you don’t want to be disobedient to His voice.”
(viii) If you’ve made wrong choices and find yourself in a mess, God’s empowering grace is available to bring hope and healing. Don’t keep doing the same wrong thing and expect better results. Like the prodigal son in Luke 15, turn around, come back to the Father, and receive His loving embrace, royal identity and abundant provision. His power can restore your past and redeem your pain. Life built on relationship with, and obedience to, God is always so much more of an adventure than doing things my own way.
What is always true is that the decisions we make today determine the stories we tell about our lives tomorrow. Every day, all day, we make one small choice after another. And those choices just keep accumulating, each one woven into the rest, forming the tapestry that is our life story. (Craig Groeschel)