Discovering God’s Will for You

Posted on May 11, 2017

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By David Ettinger

Use Me, Lord
thinkingYou are a child of God and want to serve Him, but there is a problem. You’re not sure what the Lord would have you do. You see others serving the Lord faithfully and you want to do the same, but God hasn’t nudged you in the direction you should go. You are stagnant, but don’t want to be.

The key to discovering God’s will for your life is understanding that “God’s Will” falls into two categories: His “common” will, and His “specific” will. Let’s take a look at these.

God’s “Common” Will
The good thing about God’s “common” will is that you can act on it at any time. Even if your life is in turmoil, you can – and should – always be doing God’s “common” will.

God’s “common” will are the commands He gives the Church as a whole, commands designed for every believer. The commands which comprise God’s “common” will are scattered throughout each New Testament book, but are generally bunched in the final chapter or two of each epistle.

The word “epistle” comes from the Greek word epistole, which means “letter” or “message.” Biblical epistles are letters to the churches, the majority of which were written by Paul. The New Testament epistles are: Romans; 1 and 2 Corinthians; Galatians; Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; 1 and 2 Thessalonians; 1 and 2 Timothy; Titus; Philemon; Hebrews; James; 1 and 2 Peter; 1, 2, and 3 John; and Jude.

philippiansThough the content of each epistle is different, the format is similar. About three-fourths of each letter is doctrinal ­– teachings about God – followed by practical instruction. In other words, an epistle can be described this way: “Because God is or did this, that, and this, you should do this, that, and this.” Before God instructs His children, He always lays out the groundwork for why they should do as He says. This one-fourth of each epistle – the practical section – is God’s “common” will for you; the things you should be doing. For example, it is God’s will that you:

  • Offer your body as “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1).
  • Live by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-26).
  • Carry the burdens of others (Galatians 6:2).
  • “Walk in the way of love” (Ephesians 5:2).
  • Rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 4:4).
  • Devote yourself to prayer (Colossians 4:2).
  • Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

And there are many more commands which comprise God’s “common” will – those things you should be doing no matter what.

God’s “Specific” Will
If you love God and are walking closely with Him, not only do you want to obey these general commands, but you will want to seek your unique role in the body of Christ – to do that for which God has “specifically” called you. How do you know what this is?

potterThe key verse is Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Three things of note:

  • First, you are God’s “handiwork.” You are special to God; He chose you specifically to be His. Like a lump of clay, He will fashion you into an instrument for His very specific use.
  • Second, He has assigned “works” – plural – for you. This could mean God wants you to multitask now, or that throughout your life He has tasks He wants you to perform one at a time.
  • Third, God has already determined the works He wants you to do; He has already decided on his “specific” will for you. When was this done? Ephesians 1:4 says God chose you to be His “before the foundation of the world.”

This is staggering! God not only chose you to be His child in Christ, but also the works He would have you do when you accepted Christ. His “specific” will was determined for you before the world even began!

Discovering God’s “Specific” Will
Your job now is to discover God’s “specific” will for you. For some people, it is no chore at all, as in the case of missionaries whom God endows with an irrepressible desire to go to foreign countries and spread the Gospel.

repentFor you, however, perhaps the Lord has not yet spoken. No problem. Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Every day when I pray, I end my time by saying, “Lord, Your Word says that You have assigned to me specific good works you would have me do. What are these works, Lord? Please show me – whether multiple works or a singular work – what You would have me do today.” You should pray similarly.

If the light bulb does not go on immediately, don’t be discouraged. It could mean one of two things: either you are not quite ready to do what the Lord has for you; or perhaps you are already doing the Lord’s will for you and don’t know it. Either way, as per Jesus’s counsel, keep asking God to reveal His will to you; He’ll answer you in His perfect timing.

In the meantime, if the Lord hasn’t yet shown you His “specific” will, don’t fret – you always have His “general” will to keep you busy!