A Definitive Guide for Finding God’s Will
Matthew 3:35, Romans 12:2, 1 John 2:17
What is the major decision that has you stumped? We all want to know God’s will. Obviously. What if I told you that you can concretely know God’s will on every occasion? Does that sound like too big of a promise? Join us tomorrow morning and find out! You will leave with a “Chart Explaining God’s Will” and seven means of guidance to help you find God’s will for anything not already decreed or prescribed by him.
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A Deeper Walk with God
A Definitive Guide for Finding God’s Will
Good morning men. If you would please turn in your Bibles to Mark chapter 3. Mark chapter 3 verse 35. So, there was a young man 31 years of age who had been married for 7 years, and he had 3 young daughters, 6, and then twins who were both 4 years of age. He was a rising star with the Crane Company of Chicago He worked in the headquarters building on Michigan Avenue overlooking Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago. He worked for George Irwin, who is the vice president of sales, and he was an assistant to the president and George was both his boss and his mentor. And he really wanted to advance his career and make a name for himself, make some money, become a vice president maybe himself. And in order to do that, the Crane Company is a fixtures company at that time and he was traveling all over the country making presentations. Meanwhile, his wife was at home with these three children, and it was exhausting, and she was frazzled and she was overwhelmed by trying to raise these three children extensively on her own because her husband was always traveling.
And so, one day he had a trip scheduled, and she on the verge of a breakdown said, I just don’t know if I can do this anymore. I really, I really need you to stay. I really need, I just need some help here. I don’t know how this is going to work. And so, this young man who happened to be my father-in-law, Ed Cole, and that six year old girl is now my wife, had a decision to make. Would he get on that plane or would he stay at home and take care of his family? Well, we all have huge, major decisions we have to make when we’re trying to find God’s will for our lives. That’s what we’re going to talk about this morning. But before we do, and I’ll give you the rest of the story a little bit later, before we actually get going though, we’re going to do a couple of shout outs as we do. The series we’re going to get back into is A Deeper Walk With God. I’m frozen up Brian, a deeper walk … It’s what?
No it does not. So we’re back to this series of Deeper Walk With God. We just finished the series, The Christian Man. We were in A Deeper Walk With God just before that, and so we’re going to dip back into that for a few weeks, for the month of February. And we always do a couple of shout outs. Today we have an area director shout out that goes to Darrin Hines, who is in the Michigan and the Bay City area. And Darren is doing a fantastic job. He’s been working with men, I think for about 11 years, and has joined Man in the Mirror here over the last couple of years. And then, also we give a shout out to one of the groups that is somewhere meeting around the world with us. Lots of these groups are on with us. Some of them are doing other series. This group is Hillside Next Level, seven guys. They’re meeting on Tuesdays at 7:00 PM at their church in Almonte, Ontario. And their slogan is, “Mutual discipleship for the purpose of spiritual growth and support.” They’re led by Adrian Mancini. And so I wonder if you would join me and give an a very warm rousing Man in the Mirror welcome to Darrin and also to Hillside Next Level. Yeah. One, two, three. Hurrah. So, welcome guys. We are honored to have you as part of the study.
WHAT IS THE DECISION THAT HAS YOU STUMPED?
Okay. So, today the title of the talk is A Definitive Guide for Finding God’s Will. And the first thing we’re going to talk about is what is the decision that has you stumped? So, my father-in-law, Ed Cole, he was stumped about what he should do. He’s got the responsibilities of the man that he works for wanting him to go on this trip, get on a plane and go on this trip. He’s got his wife at home who it looks like she’s coming unraveled. So what do you do? Or you have been working for a particular company for 21 years and you’re getting a little restless, and suddenly a big opportunity or what seems like a big opportunity comes to you, how do you know whether it is an opportunity or distraction?
Well, the guy I’m thinking about took the job and then he bounced around for the rest of his career. He never spent more than two years at a job for the rest his career. So, how do you know how to find God’s will? What it is that God wants you to do? By the way, I have said to you many times that the most unpredictable part of my career has been who’s going to do what they said they would do? Who’s going to follow through? People make promises, and honestly you just, you never know. Oh you can count on me with tears, I’ll be there. You never see him again. That’s the most unpredictable part of my career. The most confusing part of my career has been how do you distinguish opportunity from distraction?
And you’re working on a big project, working on a big project, working on a big project. It looks like it’s coming together. And then all of a sudden there’s something that comes out of left field, a squirrel, a little shiny object. And so what do you do? Do you keep moving forward? So, we’re going to be looking at how we find God’s will. And so what is the decision that has you stumped? So, in a sense, finding God’s will really is about decision making. And so, in Mark chapter 3 verse 35 we read this, whoever does God’s will, Jesus says, that is who is my brother, and sister and mother. And then turn to Romans chapter 12 verse 2. I think you guys did this last week, didn’t you? With Brett, the same verse, Romans 12:2? I’m pretty sure you did. I know it’s a long time ago and you’re guys. So we can talk about the same verse every week over and over and over again, doesn’t make any difference, right?
Okay. Romans 12:2. So, Romans 12:2 says, do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to what? Test and approve what God’s will is. His good, pleasing and perfect will. And so, we already know how to find God’s will at the 30,000 foot level. It’s to allow ourselves to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we’re not conformed any longer to the pattern of the world. So when Ed Cole has to make that decision, do I get on the plane or do I not get on the plane? He can through the renewing of his mind, be transformed, and he was a believer at the time, or he could conform to the pattern of this world. And we all know, we all know the right decision if you’re in the world. You get on the plane, right? There’s no way you don’t go if your value system is conformed to the pattern of this world.
Okay. So, that’s the Big Idea then for the day just to get us started off. God has already given us everything we need to know his will. God has already given us everything we need to know his will. Now this is a pretty big promise. Yeah? So, I put in the flyer, how many of you guys get the Thursday email? So a lot of you don’t get that Thursday email. I think we’re going to, Brett Clemmer had a great idea, and that is maybe one time a year just hand out a little slip of paper to all of you where you can, if you want to, give us your updated contact information. And we do send out an email on Thursdays with a little overview of the topic of the day and so forth. Yesterday I wrote, we all want to know God’s will obviously. What if I told you that you can concretely know God’s will on every occasion? Does that sound like too big of a promise? Well, let’s take a look and find out if it is. I think you’re going to be surprised.
FIGURING OUT WHETHER GOD HAS ALREADY SPOKEN ON THAT
So, the second thing we’re going to look at today is figuring out whether God has already spoken on that decision that has you stumped. So for this, you have a chart as a handout. I haven’t even seen what it looks like yet myself. So yeah, on either the front or the back, depending on which way it is, it says chart explaining God’s revealed will. So, this little section is not going to be this kind of ooey gooey, lovey-dovey, make you feel real inspired or ready to go out and conquer the world but you don’t know why. This is actually going to be a learning section. Okay. So, Deuteronomy 29:29 says, the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, but the secret things belong to God. So when it comes to the will of God, there are two parts of God’s will. There is his revealed will, and then there is his, let’s call it his, well, let’s called his not revealed will or his secret will. The word used in Deuteronomy 29:29, the secret things, or a nice theological word, if you’re looking for a new vocabulary word his inscrutable will. I like inscrutable. It’s inexplicable, unexplainable, incomprehensible.
We just can’t know it. There are so many things about God’s will that we cannot know. But, there are many things that have been revealed. And so, when we’re talking about finding God’s will today, we’re not talking about delving into his inscrutable will, that part of his will that we will never know. I’m going to read out of a book from R. C. Sproul. He says, untold evils have been perpetrated upon the church and upon God’s people by unscrupulous theologians who have sought to correct or to supplant the clear and plain teaching of sacred scripture by doctrines and theories based on speculation alone. The business of searching out the mind of God where he has remained silent is dangerous business indeed. Luther put it this way, we must keep in view his word and leave alone his, here it is, inscrutable will for it is by his word and not by his inscrutable will that we must be guided.
So there are secret things. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We are talking about God’s revealed will. And so, on this chart that you have on the sheet of paper in front of you, there are those parts … I bet this little pointer here, right? Yeah. Somewhere. If I press the wrong button … All right. So there’s God’s revealed will. And so God’s revealed will, there are things about his will that are either decreed or not decreed. So, when we say something that God is decreed, whether you are a mesomorphic body type, an endomorphic body type, or an ectomorphic body type, that’s something God decreed when you are being knit together in your mother’s womb. That’s not up for debate. But there are a lot of things that are not decreed. And of the things that God has not decreed, those things are either prescribed or not prescribed. All right.
So, what are some examples of God’s will that have been prescribed? And by the way, see they’re basically three main pieces of this and I put those in gray so that they’d stand out a little bit. So, of the things that God has prescribed, then we can either obey them or disobey them. But what are some of the kinds of things that … And so free will does come into play here on these prescribed things. What are some of those kinds of things that have been prescribed by God? So we already know what his will is. So, we have the commands, we have the 10 commandments, we know that has been prescribed. We also know some things about marriage. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church. Husbands treats your wife with respect. So if you’re not treating your wife with respect, you already know that you are not obeying something that is part of God’s prescribed, revealed will.
What about work? So, it has not been prescribed which job you should take, but it has been prescribed how you should do the work that you did take. So do your work as unto the Lord because it is the Lord Christ you are serving. So, there are lots of prescriptions about God’s will, and then our choice is we either do it or we don’t do it. Now, then the third big category here are the things that are not prescribed where we have freedom. So what are these kinds of things about finding God’s will? Well, this is where we’re going to spend the rest of our time because this is the part where you and I actually can move the needle one way or the other by what we do. Of course you can move the needle by not obeying the prescribed things too, I’m not talking about that. But this is the big area. So what are the things that are about God’s will that are not prescribed?
Well, it might be, for example, whether you send your children to public school, to private school or homeschool them. There’s no one right answer there. So, God has not prescribed his will for what you do, so what do you do on this side of the chart? You’re looking for wisdom over here to use your freedom wisely. Over here on the things that are prescribed, commands and principles, on that side, it’s obedience. It’s just doing what God has prescribed to do. But over on this side, it’s prayers for wisdom in order to figure out what is the wise thing to do. Or it could be, do you trade in your car on a new car, or do you get the old one repaired? That’s a big choice for some people, but it’s not prescribed anywhere in the Bible. And so we’re looking for God’s will on what to do. And God does say a lot about how he will answer our prayers that we pray in these areas. But that’s not a specific thing. Or, do you own, do you rent? What are the rules for raising your children? What neighborhood do you live in? Do you get the surgery or do you have your wife get the surgery?
Well we know what the answer is in this room, right? So then of these choices that we make, sometimes they’re beneficial and sometimes they’re not. On your sheet of paper, Paul writes in the last paragraph there, choices that God does not prescribe may be beneficial or not beneficial. Paul wrote, everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. And so, what would be an example of a decision that you might make that you’d have the freedom to make, but it might not be beneficial. Well that might be a taking a mortgage that is right up against the maximum possible limit that you could borrow so that you’d had no margin left. And so if there was any kind of crisis, any kind of emergency, any kind of a short term problem, you would be in deep weeds. So that might be an example of something that’s not beneficial. And then those things that are not beneficial, they can either be sinful or not sinful, and then other things that are sinful, they can be intentional or unintentional.
So, I developed this, okay, and this is about 20 years in the making. So if you don’t like it, please don’t tell me, it would crush me. Okay. All right. So, the big picture, back to the big picture. So of God’s will, some things are revealed and some things are not revealed. With regard to his revealed will, then you have these three big categories, his decrees, his prescriptions and the things for which we have freedom. And here’s a little way of looking at that. And so again, here, now the Big Idea today is God has already given us everything we need to know his will. Do you see what I’m saying? He’s already given us everything we need to know his revealed will. We could put the word revealed in there, right? God has given us everything we need to know his revealed will. All right. So this is from an intellectual perspective, knowing what his will is. But now how do we discern what God’s will is for what he has not already decreed or prescribed.
HOW TO DISCERN GOD’S WILL FOR WHAT HE HAS NOT ALREADY DECREED OR PRESCRIBED
So, you don’t need me to guide you on things that he’s decreed about you. Your skin color, your gender, your whatever, you don’t need help from me to figure out what God’s will is for you on the things he’s decreed about you. Or perhaps you’re very good with numbers but not very mechanical. I mean, I don’t know why I’m owning a travel trailer because I have new mechanical ability whatsoever. And basically if you buy a recreational vehicle, you’re buying a bucket of bolts. I don’t care which one it is, they’re all the same. And I can’t get the lid off of a peanut butter jar, so how am I going to fix an RV? But that’s another story for another day. So anyway, how do we discern God’s will for the things that he’s not already decreed or prescribed? We already know, you don’t need me to teach you. Love your neighbor as yourself. You don’t need that. You might need a little practical encouragement, practical advice, encouragement to do it. But in terms of what it is, you don’t need it.
But, for the things that are not decreed or prescribed, I am about to reveal to you something you probably already know as well. But for those of you who don’t, it’s going to be a fantastic reminder. And that is the chart on the flip side of that explaining God’s revealed will, the seven means of discerning God’s will. All right. So, this is how you figure out whether or not, okay, you have a woman you want to marry, she checks all the boxes, but she has three kids. What do you do? All right. I mean, there are men in here who have been through this exact scenario. She checks all the boxes, but she has three kids. So what do you do? So you’re looking for how do I use this freedom that I have to make the wisest decision? So these seven means of discerning God’s will are to get you to what God has for you through the process of acquiring wisdom. So there is a scripture at the top, the world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
And so, you quickly see what they are. The Bible, prayer, the Holy spirit, conscience, circumstances, counsel and fasting. And so how much time do we have, because we’ll spend a little time on this? Yeah, we’ve got a few minutes. So, the first is the Bible. And so, is the Bible the uber, super, big dog, is this the the most important thing in finding God’s will for your life? Well, no, there’s seven of means here, but it is first among equals. The word of God is always first among equals. As the Bible says in first Corinthians 4:6, do not go beyond what is written. And so really the single most important question on anything you are considering to find God’s will has he already spoken on this. All right. Or is it given us an axiom as in Proverbs? So the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. What does that mean? Does that mean that the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied all the time, 100%? No. It’s an axiom. It’s a proverb. That’s what Proverbs are. Proverbs are, generalizations that are generally true, but not in every situation.
But on the whole of your life, if you’re diligent all of your life, then your desires will be satisfied. The desires of the diligent will be fully satisfied. So, if the Bible, if you’re trying to figure out, should I really put myself into this job, should I put my shoulder into this job? I’m a Christian. I’m trying to lead a balanced life and everything. So should I clock in at the last possible moment and clock out at the soonest possible moment and do what I need to do to get by? Well, that’s your choice, and that will work for you. But if you have some other things you want to do, the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied, you’re going to want to lean into that and really give yourself to that job. That was the question that Ed Cole, my father-in-law, was trying to answer when he was trying to discern God’s will for his life. Do I get on that plane?
Second, prayer. Jesus said, until now you have not asked for anything in my name, ask and you will receive that your joy may be complete. Those of you who were here, the last message in this series was a definitive guide for what you can and cannot pray for. Do you remember that? Anybody remember that? That was a long ago, I barely remember that. But, it was an awesome message and it’s worth repeating that God has promised that he will give you whatever you ask if it is in his will, but never, never less than as much as you need. God has promised that he will never give you anything less than as much as you need. That’s right in the Bible. Wow, that’s powerful. And so, pray because you can have confidence that he’s going to reveal his will to you. You can pray for the wisdom. Over and over again we’re invited to present the request to God.
And then the Holy Spirit. So the Holy spirit intercedes for you in accordance with God’s will. Every day, the Holy Spirit is interceding for you in accordance with God’s will. So bringing ourselves into alignment with the Holy Spirit. Your body is the what of the Holy spirit? The temple of the Holy Spirit. You are a vessel of the Holy Spirit. We have the Holy Spirit inside us. Where does the Holy Spirit reside? He resides everywhere, and that includes inside of us. So whether you are in tune and aligned with the Holy Spirit or not, he is in you, but he is there interceding for you even when you’re not interceding for yourself. He’s interceding for you in accordance with what? God’s will. So bringing yourself into alignment with the Holy Spirit.
And then your conscience. Then circumstances, we’ve talked a bit about that. I mean, if you can only qualify for a $75,000 mortgage in the house you want to buy would require you to have $100,000 mortgage, have you been able to figure out what God’s will is through your circumstances? Yes. Can you figure out how to beg, borrow, lie, cheat, steal, in order to get that $100,000 mortgage? Yes, in some cases. A lot of cases you can do that, but it’s not God’s will. The circumstances have revealed that. Act 17:26, God determines the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. So your circumstances are very important. Whether you’re rich or poor, or an American or an Argentinian, some of these things are determined just by circumstances. Number six, counsel. Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors, they succeed. Enough said there, that’s why you’ve got your grips.
And then fasting, kind of lost art in our generation. But fasting does slow down, I know quite a bit about it, it does slow down the bodily functions, and it just when your body is not occupied with digestion, there is additional capacity available to be in touch with God. It actually, hunger actually reminds you, not that you have to be all that hungry all the time, but hunger will actually, if you use it correctly, fasting correctly, will actually remind you of the greatness, and the goodness and the character of all mighty God. Men, nothing in God’s secret will will ever be in contradiction to anything in God’s revealed will. In other words, an airline goes down and 147 souls parish. That’s part of God’s inscrutable will. You’re never going to know why. But God is not working in conflict with his revealed will. In other words, God is not showing us revealed things about himself and then working against it secretly. That’s not happening. And that’s scriptural as well. All right. So that’s kind of the big picture on this.
So, okay. So I’m still confused. Now what do I do? Do I get on the plane or do I stay home with a woman and these three little kids? Well, God is not the author of confusion. Remember I said the most confusing part of my career is opportunity versus distraction. God is not the author of confusion. Who is the author of confusion? Satan is the author of confusion. So if you’ve prayed and you’ve done all these seven means and you’re still confused, what do you do? Don’t do anything. Just wait until God reveals his will. Peace is the umpire. Peace is the umpire. Big idea here is, God has already given us everything we need to know his will, and now you have them too. So, Ed Cole decided in May of 1956 not to get on the Crane Company corporate plane. He went to his boss, George Irwin, and explained the situation, and George Irwin, who was also a believer, totally understood and actually encouraged my father-in-law to stay home, take a break from the job, and support his wife and be there for his kids.
He said, Ed, there’ll be lots of other trips, there will be lots of other trips. And so, that’s exactly what he did. He went home, and then a little later that day he got a phone call, and this is the article that appeared. Six executives of Chicago firm die in plane wreck. Jefferson, Indiana, AP. Six executives of a business firm and two crew members were killed Tuesday when a company plane crashed on an Indiana farm while attempting an emergency landing. A private pilot had telephoned the police, I guess that was before 56, might have been before cell phones, right, that a plane was in trouble and circling for an emergency landing just a few minutes outside of Louisville, Kentucky, where they were going to a convention. Mrs. Sarah Kane said she heard the plane hit and that she and her husband ran out of their farm house about 150 yards from the scene to see if we could pull anyone out. But when they got there, she said there wasn’t anyone to pull out. It’s part of God’s inscrutable will why that plane would have gone down and those people would have perished.
But Ed Cole made the right decision. Ed Cole sought God’s will for his life, and Ed Cole did not get on that plane and Ed Cole is alive, or was alive, in order to father the wonderful woman to whom I’ve been married for more decades than I can count. And so I’m so grateful to God that Ed Cole was a man who wanted to find and follow God’s will for his life. And I pray that you and I will be those men too, because God has already given us everything we need to know his revealed will. So we’re going to close in prayer and I’m going to ask Vladimir Gonzales to come up. So Vlad, V-L-A-D, as his nickname is, is a new table leader. He is replacing Andy Corley who we sent off with a prayer, and now we want to commission Vlad and welcome Vlad as a leader. You’ve been coming to the Bible study for how long? A couple of years. Okay, so and you’re from the Dominican Republic? Yeah. Okay. So, would you join me now for prayer and then also to commission Vlad. Our dearest Father Lord. First of all, we thank you for the things that you have revealed to us and the means you’ve given us to discover those things in which we have freedom. And I pray that you would take these thoughts and tutor them to our hearts so that we might be able to have competence in the choices we make with the freedom you have given us, and then also that we would learn to obey the things that you have prescribed and seek them out. Lord, we want to pray for Vladimir Gonzales and his leadership at this table. We pray, God, that you would bless his leadership and his table with a great abundance in every area. We would ask Father, that you equip him with all of the skills that he needs to be effective, and that the community that is his table would be a place where men would know they could come and be refreshed in your gospel every week. We now send him to that task in the name of Jesus. Amen.