Phil Cox

Knowing the Will of God

(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)

Knowing the Will of God
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Knowing the Will of God

Part 4

10th April 2009

For the last three weeks, we've been looking at the subject of knowing the will of God for our lives. We've covered the most important aspects of this:

  • Wanting God's will more than we want our own will
  • Regular Bible study
  • Regular prayer
  • Obedience to what God has already told us (particularly in Scripture)
  • Learning to become sensitive to the Holy Spirit

This week, in the last of this series, I want to talk about two checks - two ways we can be more sure that we really have heard God. These are important, but not as important as the principles we've already looked at.

Listen to the Church

Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 14v29
Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.

It's good to listen for prophesy, but even if a prophet should say something that seems to speak to us, we should allow the church to "weigh carefully" what's been said.

A good principle to follow is:

Deuteronomy 19v15
A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

I've taken that passage out of context. It's referring to criminal trials (see also Matthew 18v15-16 and 2 Corinthians 13v1) but I think it's wise to get more than one view of a situation before making any radical life change.

The writer to the Hebrews said:

Hebrews 13v17
Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Your leaders are given to you for your good. They make mistakes, but they're worth listening to. Whenever you think God has spoken a significant change into your life, it's good to check it out with your leaders. I'm not suggesting that we should always do as our leaders say, but I am suggesting that we should have a godly desire to hear them and "submit to their authority". If you don't want to hear your leaders' input into your life, it's often a sign that your sense of being led by God is, in reality, a manifestation of your own will, coupled with a desire to avoid correction.

Wait for the circumstances to be right

Consider this story. It hadn't rained for three and a half years. Elijah had just confronted the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Now, after the Lord's great victory, Elijah was praying for rain to come:

1 Kings 18v41-46
And Elijah said to Ahab, "Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain." So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. "Go and look towards the sea," he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
"There is nothing there," he said.
Seven times Elijah said, "Go back."
The seventh time the servant reported, "A cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea." So Elijah said, "Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’"
Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. The power of the LORD came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

Elijah waited - and waited - until a cloud was visible in the sky before he sent word to Ahab that it would rain.

Another Biblical example of this principle is when Jesus told His disciples to wait:

Acts 1v4-5
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit."

How fruitless it would have been for the apostles to begin their mission to the world before God had equipped them for it! And how sad it would be for us to make a similar mistake!

We can be sure in our hearts that God is going to do something, without any certainty of when He'll do it. Many a willing heart has been discouraged, and many a Christian life has been side-tracked, by assuming that when God has told us to do something, God must necessarily require us to do it now.

If it's matter of repentance, then we must indeed respond immediately. But if it's a matter of leading, then we may have heard God's word correctly, but it might be for some time in the future.

May God grant you the desire to hear and obey all that He has for you. And may God bless you in your obedient walk before Him.