Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Decision Making and the Will of God {Part 1}

{by Katrina Rebsch}
Decisions, decisions.  Life is full of them.  Big ones and little ones.  What should I eat for breakfast today?  What dress should I buy for my grandparents’ anniversary banquet?  What extra-curricular activities should I pursue in school this year?  What should I do after graduation?  Should I go to college?  If so, where?  What should I study?  Should I look into other higher-education alternatives?  Should I go on a missions trip?  What about marriage?  How will I know when the right guy comes along?  In the meantime, should I get a job?  What about ministry? 

I think it’s safe to assume that those of you reading this blog want to live according to the will of God and make the right decisions in your life...as in decisions that are pleasing to the Lord and in accord with His plan.  But of course, the big question is, “How do I know the will of God...for me?”  After all, while there are commandments in the Bible to obey and principles around which to structure our lives in a general sense, there’s no book of II Decisions in which it says, “Thou shalt pursue a degree in social work via correspondence after which point thou shalt minister in Cambodia amongst AIDS victims.”  Sometimes I think we all wish there was such a book in Scripture! :) 

Obviously, God’s plan for each individual’s life is as unique as the person.  (Ephesians 2:10)  The question thus remains, how do we find out that plan and live accordingly?

Well, I certainly don’t have all the answers nor do I have a 3-step process for discovering the will of God for your life.  But I have learned some helpful practices and principles over the past decade that I would like to pass on in hopes that they might serve as a guide for you when it comes to making wise decisions in the pursuit of God’s will for your lives.

First of all, let’s lay some groundwork for this discussion.

Ephesians 5:17 says, “Be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”  Please note, that is not a suggestion, but a command we are given to obey.  Thus we can draw the conclusion that it is possible to know God’s will, or He would not have commanded us to do so!

If you do a concordance search of the phrase, ‘the will of God,’ in Scripture, this is what you will find His will includes for all believers:
-  Our deliverance from sin and this present evil world through Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:4)
-  Our sanctification and abstinence from immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
-  That we would give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
-  Our submission to earthly authorities (thus putting to silence the ignorance of foolish men - 1 Peter 2:13-15)
-  Our suffering for well-doing versus evil-doing (1 Peter 3:17)
I like to call these The Will of God Basics.  And of course, there are many more!  Anytime we read an instruction or a command in the Bible, we know it’s the will of God.  But what about the will of God specifics?  Like decisions about college, degrees, ministries, and marriage?  Colossians 1:9 contains a very big clue.  Paul said, “[We] do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding...” 

Did you catch that?  I know it’s probably not earth-shattering news, but a key to understanding God’s specific will is prayer. 

Remember Jesus’ words?  “Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.  For everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)  These are promises we can depend on! 

The Bible makes it clear in many, many places that when we seek the Lord, He will reveal Himself!  When we lack wisdom and ask it of Him, He will give it!  When we desire to know His will, He will show us!

Let me say it again: Prayer is foundational.

So, let’s say you’re approaching the completion of your accelerated distance learning degree.  In a few short weeks, you’ll hold a BA in English.  You’re excited to be done with your studies, but you’re wondering what should come next?  You’ve started praying about it.  You’re asking God for His leading.  But most of the time, God doesn’t write the answer in the sky.  So now what?  How do you know when He’s actually answering your prayer?

This is where I would like to introduce what I call my “Decision Making Filter.”    Whenever I am faced with a major decision or in pursuit of the next step of God’s plan for my life (which is often, considering that He usually only leads me 6-9 months at a time!), I run the decision I need to make through this filter.  It has saved me from rash and impulsive decisions, provided protection through checks and balances, and helped me time and again to “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Check back for Part 2 and learn about Katrina's 'Decision Making Filter' next!


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