How to Know The Will Of God: Acts Series #19
If Jesus Christ were to meet you face-to- face—literally, bodily, physically were to appear to you, and you had the opportunity to ask Him one question, What would it be? Suppose He said to you, “What do you want to know?” What would you ask Him?Do you know what I think it would be? I think you would ask Him this question: “Lord, what would You have me to do?
n Acts chapter 9, Jesus appeared to a man named Saul and and that’s what he asked Him. We read in Acts 9:1-6:
“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem”—in plain English, that means he had authorization to take Christians, put them in chains, and bring them back to Jerusalem to be persecuted—“And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly there shone round about him a light from heaven; and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest; it is hard for thee to kick against the goads. And he, trembling and astonished, said”—now here’s the question—“Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”
There are two great questions that anybody could ever ask at any time to the Lord: Question number one: “Who are You, Lord?” Question number two: “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Those are the two greatest questions. The Apostle Paul spent the rest of his life finding the answer to those two great questions—just who Jesus is and what Jesus has for him to do.
Those are the two questions that I want you to ask, today. Mankind today has been described as a generation of misguided men in an age of guided missiles. We are clever creatures who have lost our way in the darkness.
“How to Know the Will of God” is important for every follower of Jesus Christ. In Jeremiah 10:23, we read, “It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” There are several practical propositional outcomes to help you to be successful in finding and doing the will of God.
I. God’s Guidance is Promised
In Acts 9:6, we read, “And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (Acts 9:6). I don’t think Jesus could have given him a better promise than, “It will be told you.”
“Well,” you say, “that’s what the Lord said to Saul. He didn’t say that to me.” In Ephesians 2:10 we read: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
What does that mean? God has a plan for your life. Psalm 37:23 states: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and he delighteth in his way.” In Psalm 32:8 God said: “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye.”
Isaiah 58:11 teaches, “And the LORD shall guide thee continually.” The famous Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6).
God’s guidance is promised in the Word of God. How blessed those of us are who know the Lord! We have a Father above us, controlling all things. We have the Savior beside us, directing our steps. We have the Spirit within us, impressing our hearts. We can know the leadership of our Lord.
God’s Sovereign Will
God’s will comes to us in three ways. First, it comes to us as His sovereign will. His sovereign will is always done. You can’t stop it. God accomplishes what He desires to do, because there is none who can withstand the Lord. It is unknown. It is known entirely to God alone. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29).
The secret things belong to God. We will be a happier person if we will just resign from being God and let God be God. Just go ahead and let God be God. There are certain things you will never understand until you get to Heaven, if you understand them then. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29). That’s God’s sovereign will. God is sovereign.
God’s Sanctified Will
God has a sanctified will. There are certain things that God says are right and wrong. For example, it is wrong to commit fornication. It is wrong to steal. It is wrong to murder. It is wrong to lie.
There are certain things that are right. Love is right. Righteousness is right. Honesty is right. Kindness is right. This is God’s moral will. It’s not going to change for me. It’s not going to change for you. There is a fixed standard of right and wrong because God has said so. God’s moral will is found in the Word of God. That is the will of God. He’s not going to change it for you. He’s not going to change it for me.
God’s Selective Will
God has a selective will for you and me. God had a selective will for Saul. For example, we read, “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way; for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel; for I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:15–16).
God had a very special plan for this man. God said, “My plan for this man is he’s going to be an apostle to the Gentiles.” He is a very special man and a chosen vessel. This reality is important to us—that God chose him particularly to be a chosen vessel. God has a special will for every one of us.
It is God’s sovereign will that the man named James Davis was a part of the elect of God. Hallelujah! I don’t understand it, but I rejoice in it. That’s God’s sovereign will. God sovereignly set His love upon me when I was twelve years old and saved me. However, there was God’s moral will that I marry a Christian. The Bible says to not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Thus, I knew that God had a moral will that, if I got married, I’d marry a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord had a particular will also, and her name is Sheri.
God’s sovereign will worked in my life. God’s moral was in my wife. I knew that I wanted to marry a Christian girl. As Sheri and I dated, I prayed earnestly for God’s will to be done in my life with Sheri. I believe that God answered my prayer and gave me Sheri. Likewise, God has a plan for your life.
Why would God be interested in you or me? It just shows His great love. It’s like we were just a fleck of spray in an ocean of existence, and yet, God knows us. He knows our going in, our coming out, when we sit down when we rise up. The very hairs of our head are numbered (Matthew 10:30). God loves all of us and He loves each of us.
Of all 8 billion people on this earth, every one of them is precious to Him. Now, God’s will is promised. Leadership—guidance—is promised.
Six Myths about the Will of God
There are six myths about the will of God. I hope I can take these out of your mind forever.
1. Myth # 1: God Has A Map Plan For Your Life
The first myth is that God will give you a roadmap for your life. He does not do it. He didn’t do it for the Apostle Paul, here, and He won’t do it for you. God will not give you a roadmap. God’s will for you is not a roadmap. It is a relationship. When He led the children of Israel through the wilderness, how did He lead them? Did he give them a map? No, He gave them a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire, and said, “Follow that. Just stay in a relationship with Me” (Exodus 13:21).
So many of us would like a map to say, “We’re going to go from here.” Yet, God does not reveal His will that way. Do you know why? Because that takes the romance out of it. That takes the excitement out of it. Also, it might put a certain fear and apprehension into it, if we knew what tomorrow holds for us. I’m glad we don’t.
2. Myth # 2: God Has A Miserable Plan For You
Take out of your mind the idea that God is some sort of a celestial killjoy—that, if you do the will of God, that’s the end of your joy. There are a lot of people who don’t want to know the will of God, because they’re afraid of what they might find out. They say, “You know, if I told the Lord I’d do anything He wants me to do, well, no telling what He might do to me.”
We don’t need to be afraid of the will of God. The will of God is what you’d want for yourself if you had enough sense to want it. God is a good God. God loves you. God is not a cosmic killjoy.
3. Myth # 3: God Only Has A Ministry Plan For You
A lot of Christians have idea that God only speaks to a certain category of people. They believe God has a will for pastors, missionaries, evangelists, ministers of music, and people who work on church staffs. Somehow, they believe that God does not have a will for the “ordinary person.” God has a selective will for you, whether you be a missionary, or a secretary, whether you be a pastor, or a plumber. God has a will for every life. God wants to lead all kinds of Christians to know His divine will for their lives.
4. Myth # 4: God Has Melodramatic Plan For You
A lot of Christians believe that they will a dramatic experience like the Apostle Paul had on the road to Damascus. This experience could happen. However, when God spoke to Elijah, while he was up in the mountains, there was a wind, but God wasn’t in the wind; there was a fire, God wasn’t in the fire; there was an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake. Next, the Bible says there was a still small voice, and that was God (1 Kings 19). Now, God sometimes does speak in earthquakes. The point is: let God be God in your particular life.
5. Myth # 5: God Only Has A Minor Plan For Your Life
Some people have the believe that God only shows His will to young people, but not to older people. A lot of us are always telling young people, “Oh, young person, you’ve got to find the will of God for your life, because your life is before you.” Well, “Whether you’re nine or ninety-nine, you ought to be seeking the will of God every day of your life.” If God were finished with us, He’d take us on to Heaven. God has a plan for your life.
If you believe you missed God’s will earlier, then find God’s will now. God says, “I will restore the years the locust has eaten.”
6. Myth # 6: God Has A Mystified Will For Your Life
Many Christians believe God hides His will or makes it hard to find it. God does not hide His will from us. He wants to reveal His will to each of us. Here is the essence of finding God’s will: you don’t find the will of God; the will of God finds you, when you’re walking in the Spirit. He does not want to make His will hard to find.
II. God’s Guidance is Provisional
There are certain provisions that come into play before you can know God’s guidance.
There Must Be Motivation
Paul said, “And he, trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). This verse presupposes that he wanted to do what God wanted him to do. Some people want to do their will and have God rubberstamp it. There are some people who come to an architect; they think they want a house. They want the architect to design it. But what they want the architect to do, is to redesign what they have in their mind. That may be all right in building houses; but it’s not all right in building a life.
There Must Be Meekness
You know what Saul said? He said: “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). That is, “You are in control. I’m not in control.” Do you know what meekness is? Meekness means that you are teachable. How many teachable people are here, today? In Psalm 25 and verse 9, the Bible says—and listen to this, because this is a key verse—Psalm 25, and verse 9: “The meek will he guide” (Psalm 25:9). Now, are you meek? If you’re not willing, and you’re not meek, you won’t know God’s will.
There Must Be Mindedness
Saul sought the will of God. He was praying. He was saying, “Lord, show me your will.” Have you been open to the will of God? Now, don’t just simply say, “Now, if God wants to show me, He can.” Have you earnestly, sincerely, prayed, and said, “O God, I want to know Your will?” Do you report for duty? Do you think it’s up to God to put His hand on your shoulder, and turn you around? Or, after you’ve met the Lord Jesus, are you going to be like Saul and say, “God, what is it? What is it, Lord, You really want me to do?”
Let me ask you a significant question. How much time are you spending alone with God, with your Bible, in a quiet time, reporting for duty? It may be that God is speaking, but you’re just not listening. Or when you pray, you’re not listening. Rather than saying, “Speak Lord, Your servant hears You,” you’re saying, “Listen, Lord, I’m talking.”
There Must Be Maturation
In Acts 9:8, we read: “And Saul arose from the earth, and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man; but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.” Can you imagine this scene? Here’s a man that has taken Christians captive, and now, like a little lamb, he’s a docile man. They took him by the hand, and they lead this man. He is yielded. The Bible says that we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice. Can you say this morning and mean it? “Thy will—no hesitation, no reservation, anywhere, anytime, any cost.” Can you say this? We say, “God, I just want to know Your will.” Are you ready to do it, if He showed it to you? Why should God show you His will if we are not prepared to do His will.
III. God’s Guidance is Practical
God has given some very practical ways that we can know the will of God.
God Leads by the Supernatural
One way that you can know the will of God is by miracles. And, I would be dishonest if I left this out. Look in verse 3: “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly there shone round about him a light from heaven; and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:3–4). God may speak to you in a vision. God may speak to you in a dream. God may speak to you with an audible voice. God may speak to you, and guide you, with a miracle.
God Leads by Scripture
Did God guide the Apostle Paul with His Word? Yes! First, He was a rabbi and was steeped in the Word of God, the Old Testament. Second, he had just heard a sermon, by one of the greatest preachers who ever lived—Stephen. When the Holy Spirit of God appeared to Saul, He said, “It’s hard for you to kick against the goads of God’s Word.” Paul was loaded with the Word of God. It is the Word of God that guides. In Psalm 119:105 we read: “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
For example, I said that it’s not God’s will that you marry an unbeliever. If you’re dating a person, and that person is not saved, then why date somebody you couldn’t marry if you fell in love with them? You know God’s will, many times, from reading the Bible. Another example could be expressed this way: “Well, God is leading me to divorce my wife and marry somebody else.” That’s a lie. It’s right here, in the Word of God. It is sheer arrogance for you to pray, and say, “God show me Your will,” when God has already shown you His will.
God Leads by the Saints
In Acts 9:10, we read, “And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus; for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man, named Ananias, coming in and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem” (Acts 9:10–13).
God said, “You’re going to go down there, and speak to this man.” Ananias said, “Who’s going with me?” God said, “You’re going by yourself, Ananias.” We also read, “And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way; for he is a chosen vessel unto me” (Acts 9:14–15).
Now, here’s the point: When God was speaking to Saul, and God was saying, “Saul, I’m going to show you My will,” God also took a man named Ananias, and used Ananias to confirm the will of God. There are times that God will do this.
The Bible says that in a multitude of counselors there is wisdom. Proverbs 24:6 states: “By wise counsel thou shalt make thy war, and in multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 24:6). What does that mean? It means that when God is speaking to you about something, God will often confirm it to somebody else.
It’s a terrible thing for a man to think he has the gift of preaching, and nobody has the gift of listening. Amen? Now, listen. Listen: The Bible teaches that we’re going to know the will of God in the context of other things ’round about us.
God Leads by His Spirit
We read, “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17). The Spirit of God, from that time on, was leading this man. It was this same man who wrote, in Romans chapter 8:14: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). The same man wrote, in Galatians 5:18: “But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18).
The Spirit of God will lead you. You will hear His voice. Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27). And, let me tell you how the Holy Spirit leads. God does not shout, and He does not shove. God whispers, and God leads. He leads His sheep.
God Leads by His Standard
God will lead you with sheer wisdom. Notice in Acts *;20: “And immediately”—speaking of Saul, now—“he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.” Immediately Paul is preaching Christ. “But all that heard him were amazed, and said: Is not this he that destroyed them who called on this name in Jerusalem, and came here for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?”—but, notice verse 22—“But Saul increased the more in strength”—he’s not talking about physical strength—“and confounded the Jews who dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ” (Acts 9:21–22).
Where did he get this wisdom? God gave him supernatural wisdom. The will of God is found between your ears. We should use our mind when discerning the will of God. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 2:16, that “we have the mind of Christ?” The Bible says we’re to present ourselves unto God, “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2).
Do you know what wisdom is? Wisdom is seeing life from God’s point of view. Knowledge comes by looking around, but wisdom comes by looking up. God will lead you and give you wisdom. When we walk in the Spirit, we will have the mind of Christ. This is not natural, but it is supernatural.
God Leads by His Superintendence
Later in Acts 9, we read there were some people who decided they had had enough of Saul and were ready to kill him. However, he heard about it, and they let him down over the wall in a basket. How did he learn about this plot? In the providence of God, A word came to him: “Saul, they’re trying to kill you.” The providence of God led him.
Don’t be afraid of the will of God. The will of God will not take you where the power of God cannot keep you. The will of God is the absolute best thing for you, for your husband, for your wife, and for your children. The way to know the will of God for the rest of your life is to do the will of God, right now. It’s hard to steer a ship that’s not moving.
The best way to understand the part of the Bible you don’t understand is to obey the part you do understand. The way to know about the future is to obey God, right now. If you’re interested in having the will of God in your life, I want you to say what the Apostle Paul said so long ago: “Lord, who are You?” and, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”