To understand God’s specific will for your life, you need the bible but you also need Holy Spirit.
Last time, we looked at what the bible has to say about God’s will. And we discovered that it says a lot!
However, while we found plenty to tell us about his general will for our lives, we also realised that it doesn’t have so much to say about his specific will.
In other words, what about his will for you today. What about this morning? The next hour? Or right now?
Well, it turns out the bible has plenty to say about that too. But that may not be in quite the way you might expect.
Let’s take a look.
What The Bible Says About God’s Specific Will For Your Life
The bible has plenty to say about God’s specific will, so let’s start with a few examples.
Some of these verses (and particularly the first 2) can be very pertinent in specific circumstances, bringing comfort or encouragement.
I’m going to continue how we left off in the previous post: I’ll list out each bible verse and add some quick bullet points after each one.
After that, we’ll take a look at Jesus’ life and ministry to see what light that sheds on it all.
“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
- This is a hard truth for some people: there is a cost to following Jesus and it’s worth thinking about that cost before committing yourself to him.
- Denying ourselves is one thing but to take up the cross every day isn’t an easy ask. It’s uncomfortable, it’s painful and it will kill you in the end.
- However, that’s the goal of the Christian life in a nutshell: to kill you! Or rather, to kill your “old self” with its sinful desires.
- For myself and millions of others, we know that it’s well worth it. We gave our lives to Jesus precisely because we weren’t happy with the lives we led and were ashamed of the things we did before.
- The good news is this:
- The “new man” (or woman) that you become when you give your life to Jesus and take up your cross is completely different to the old. – You’re transformed by his Spirit living within you!
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
- While taking up the cross gets to the core of being a Christian, it’s not all hard toil:
- We get to stay in God’s grace, even on days where we mess up and go back to our old ways.
- According to this verse, anytime we make a mistake we can go back to God and he forgives us.
- Not only that but he purifies us as well, making us clean and pure before him, once again.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
- But what about life? What about all the stuff that I need to live?
- There’s a straight-forward message here:
- Seek the Lord first and he will sort out all those things. He’s good like that.
- In fact, he’s amazing: try it for a while and you’ll soon see! 😉
“For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.”
- Whatever his specific will is, it involves us doing good to our fellow man, to our neighbours and to the world around us.
- If we focus on doing good then it’s hard for anyone to reproach us.
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
- The bible is a really good place to go to help us when we’re thinking about the “next step”.
- This is a good verse to remind ourselves of, from time to time!
- God’s word is what keeps us on the straight and narrow:
- It’s the standard, the plumb line against which we can measure all our decisions.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
- God is generous and when we don’t know what to do (or why we should do it) we can count on him to know the way forward.
- And it’s so simple to get a wisdom download: just ask.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
- if we trust God then he will help us to make the right decisions, whatever the circumstances.
- The bible itself won’t necessarily tell us what to do right now but we can use its truth in prayer to work it out.
- Even better: I believe there’s a promise here that he will make our paths straight …even if we make a mistake!
“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
- We are his sheep and he is the shepherd.
- His sheep know His voice.
- We can be encouraged that since we are his sheep, we will be able to hear God when we ask him what we should do.
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”
- I believe this is a key truth:
- The children of God are led by the spirit of God. So if we want to live as his children, we need to learn to let his spirit lead us.
- My understanding is that “children” would be more literally translated as “sons” and there’s a reason for this:
- In bible times, sons received an inheritance handed down from their father, in a way that women didn’t.
- And in the New Covenant, you are one of God’s sons, even if you’re female!
- That means, if you’ve given your life to Jesus, YOU have the same inheritance as every other believer!
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Understanding God’s will is a combination of knowing what his word says about life in general and seeking him for what we should do, right now.
- Choose first to follow Jesus, then ask for wisdom and make a choice each day:
- We choose not to do the things God says are sinful.
- And we choose to be filled with the Spirit, so he can lead us in the right things.
2. God’s Specific Will: What Jesus’ Life And Ministry Shows Us
So the bible has a lot to say to us and some of it can be quite specific (for example “don’t get drunk on wine” …but get drunk on the Spirit).
But I still contend that to know his specific will for you each day, in the moment, the bible alone is not always enough.
That’s quite a statement, so let me elaborate using Jesus as our model.
Jesus obviously referred to the bible to understand his calling. We know that because he quoted sections of the Bible in reference to himself.
He had an advantage there because it was about him! He was the Messiah and much of the bible naturally points to Jesus as the fulfilment of God’s promises.
But how did Jesus know it was about him?
He could only know it was true, he could only understand who he really was, because Holy Spirit told him…
God’s Specific Will: Jesus filled with the Spirit
We know Jesus was filled with Holy Spirit from very early in his life. And I mean really early.
Scripture never categorically states that Jesus was filled with the Spirit at birth but:
- John the baptist is filled with the Spirit from “before his birth” (Luke 1:15) and it would seem strange if he was but Jesus wasn’t.
- Mary conceived Jesus through the power of the Spirit, as foretold by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-33). It seems reasonable that if Mary’s pregnancy was activated by Holy Spirit, that Jesus was filled with the Spirit at that moment.
We know that the teenage Jesus “was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was on him” (Luke 2:40). This implies that Holy Spirit was active in his life, even at this young age.
God’s Specific Will: Jesus anointed by the Spirit
We also know Jesus was anointed by Holy Spirit for his ministry. This happened when Holy Spirit “alighted on him” in appearance like a dove (Matthew 3:13-17).
This represents the implementation of his ministry and the activation of his calling, which led directly to its fulfilment.
But Jesus also said that he only did what he saw the Father doing.
Only doing what he saw the Father doing must have been an in-the-moment thing:
I don’t have space here to go into detail on why that is or how it works. However, I have written about it before and you can find out more in this discussion on Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman.
My contention is: we need to do the same!
God’s Specific Will: Discovering His Will For Your Life
Jesus had an advantage in that the bible spoke directly about him and his role as the Messiah.
However, he could only know the specifics of what that meant day-to-day (and hour by hour) through listening to Holy Spirit and being obedient.
We need to follow his model by doing the same. You can learn God’s specific will for you through some of these practical ways:
- Hearing God speaking directly to you.
- Holy Spirit highlighting a bible verse or passage of scripture to you.
- Listening to what other Christians say to you about your life.
- Learning about and understanding his calling on your life through an ongoing relationship with God, through Jesus.
Informed by the bible
Hearing from God will, of course, be informed by your understanding of the bible. You need to test what you hear against what you already know from God’s word.
But in my experience, you will only get a full understanding of his will through:
- Prayer (Finding out what God thinks and feels about you and your life. Discovering how you think and feel as his child/son).
- Action (Discovering his will for your day/week/month/life as you obey his promptings and understand how he made you).
I will leave you with one final bible verse that I think says it all.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
God’s Specific Will For Your Life: Conclusion
We know God’s specific will for our lives through:
- Understanding what the Spirit is saying to you directly and personally, right now.
- Matching all of that back to scripture and God’s general will, but being willing to trust God when he asks you to do something unusual or that you don’t immediately understand.
I believe that a big part of all this is making sure that we interact with and receive from Holy Spirit every day.
I touched on it a little today when I talked about 3 events in Jesus’ life where Holy Spirit was clearly involved.
Next time, I’m going to expand on that by looking at 3 ways God works through Holy Spirit.
Want to go deeper in listening to God and understanding his will for your life?
The 4 Steps Prophecy School isn’t just about the gift of prophecy: it’s also about getting close to God so you can discern his will.
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