God's Will for My Life
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 9, 2006
John 10:1-15 (NLT)
We all face decisions
every day. What will I wear? What will I have for lunch? What CD do I
want to listen to? We all face decisions every day that affect the
course of our lives. Sometimes the decisions are small, like the
examples I just gave. And sometimes they’re great…. Should I get
married? Should I change careers? Should I move? Should I have kids?
Those are some of the big questions we face in life that we simply have
to answer… questions that require a decision. So let me ask you, if you
could know God’s will in those situations, would it make it easier for
you to make those decisions? If you knew God’s will for your life,
would you do it? I expect most of you would… or, at least you’d say you
would. I expect most of you would look at these big decisions, and
would say, “God, if I only knew what You wanted me to do, I would do
Well then, I have good news for you this morning. Because you can know
God’s will for your life. Or at least have a pretty good idea of what
it is. So that’s what I want to talk with you about this morning. We’re
going to talk about God’s Will… What it is and how you can know it for
And I want to start by describing to you three different categories of
God’s will. We’ll zip through the first two, and then spend a bit of
time of the third. And you can use the notes provided in your Sunrise
Update to follow along and fill in the blanks. Okay? So here are the
three categories of God’s will. First of all, there’s His Sovereign
Three Categories of God’s Will:
Will – Happens whether you want it to or not
This is the stuff that
happens whether you want it to or not. This is God’s will for the
universe, for nature, and for mankind as a whole.
God does have a plan for everything that happens in the universe. And
He’s working it out behind the scenes of history. And you and I cannot
disrupt or change it. Most of the time, we can’t even grasp it with our
limited human understanding. It is beyond us. But the beautiful thing
is, everything fits together in God's Sovereign Will.
Here an example from the Bible…
Hebrews 9:27 (NLT)
“… it is destined that each person dies only
once and after that comes judgment…”
No big revelation there, but you’re going to die. We may not look
forward to it, we may try to delay it as long as we can, but we’re all
going to die. That’s God’s Sovereign Will. It wasn’t part of His
original plan, but it’s part of His Sovereign Will now.
Here’s another example. In the book of Genesis chapters 6-9 we find the
account of Noah, the ark that he built, and the great flood that
covered the whole earth. Why did the flood happen? Because the people
that God had created had rebelled. The earth was full of violent and
corrupt people, with the exception of Noah. The Bible says he was the
only blameless person alive at the time, and he followed God’s will and
enjoyed a close relationship with Him.
So God decided to do something about it. He decided to start over. He
instructed Noah to build a boat big enough to house two of every kind
of animal along with his family. And when the boat was finished, God
shut them in it and the flooding began. For forty days it rained and
the flood waters rose until the whole earth was covered. And by the
time the waters subsided and the ground dried enough for them to get
out of the boat, a whole year had passed. Catch what God promised Noah
in Genesis 9:11;
Genesis 9:11 (NLT)
“I solemnly promise never to send another
flood to kill all living creatures and destroy the earth.”
You see, it was God’s sovereign will that orchestrated the flood in the
first place, and then it was His Sovereign Will that there would never
be another like it. That’s God’s Sovereign Will… it happens whether we
want it to or not.
Or how about what Jesus talks about in Matthew 24? In that chapter, He
describes a lot if the things that are going to happen in the End Times
before He comes again. All of that will work out according to His
Sovereign Will. We can’t change it.
The truth is, God’s Sovereign Will is always at work, in ways that we
don’t even see. He’s been orchestrating everything since the very
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)
God has made everything beautiful for its
own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so,
people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end.
Even if you think about gravity, entropy, friction, magnetics, the
speed of light… We call them laws of nature, and they are constants
that cannot be changed. But really, they are laws of God. He put them
in place. They are part of His Sovereign Will. And so, in a way,
science is the study of God’s Sovereign Will. We’re studying the laws
that He has set in place. And miracles are the exceptions He makes to
those laws. But it’s all up to Him.
Now, contrast that with God’s General Will, where we get to choose
whether it will happen or not.
2. General Will
– Moral and ethical issues which are common to all
Now just so you don’t
get confused… we’re talking about God’s General Will. This is General
Washington. This is General MacArthur. This is General Electric. This
is General Martok. This is General Lee. We’re not talking about any of
those. We’re talking about General Will. God’s General Will.
God’s General Will deals mostly with moral and ethical issues that are
common for all people. God has revealed His general will to us through
the Bible, and we get to choose whether or not we will follow this
will, and then we either receive the benefits or face the consequences.
Either way, there are repercussions.
God’s General Will would include things like loving each other, showing
kindness, not cheating on our spouses, telling the truth, not being
abusive, treating each other with respect. These are all things that
the Bible makes clear are God’s will for us. We follow God’s will and
He will bless us in one way or another. We choose not to, and we suffer
the consequences… broken marriages, lost trust, bitterness and anger,
health problems, unwanted pregnancies, heartache.
These are things that you don’t even have to pray about. “God, should I
cheat on my wife or not? What’s Your will?” What do you think it is,
you dweeb? You don’t need to ask God what His general will is… He’s
already told us. He’s already revealed His Will in those areas. That’s
God’s General Will.
The biggest issue that would fit God’s General Will is that every
person individually come into a restored relationship with God… that we
apologize for the things we’ve done that have hurt Him, that we accept
His forgiveness, and that we invite Him into our lives. God wants that
for every single person (and every married person, too). You don’t have
to pray to find out if that’s God’s Will for you. He’s already said it
2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)
He does not want anyone to perish, so he is
giving more time for everyone to repent.
That’s His General Will, but He leaves the choice up to us. He makes it
clear that He loves each one of us individually and that He wants us to
know Him personally. But He doesn’t force it on us. He doesn’t override
our Free Will. And so ultimately, you and I decide if God’s General
Will is going to be realized in our lives.
So that’s God’s Sovereign Will and His General Will. And there’s really
not a whole lot of confusion about those. But where there is some
confusion is when it comes to what we’re calling God’s Specific Will.
Will – God’s plan for you and you alone
Does God have a Specific
Will for you? Does He have a plan that is for you and you alone? Does
your life have meaning and purpose? Well, that’s not exactly a new
question. It was asked thousands of years ago. In fact, Jeremiah back
in the Old Testament in the Bible asked…
Jeremiah 20:18 (TEV)
“Why was I born? Was it only to have trouble
and sorrow, to end my life in disgrace?”
That’s how Jeremiah felt. And there have probably times in your life
when you felt that way, too. Was I born just to have a bunch of
problems? Was I put on this planet just to have heartache, grief and
Psalm 89:47 (NCV)
“Why did you create us? For nothing?”
In other words, “Does God have a plan for my life? Does He have a
Specific Will for me?” And the answer is, “Yes… He does have a Specific
Will for you, and you can know it!” Read these verses with me…
Psalm 139:16 (NLT)
You saw me before I was born. Every day of
my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a
single day had passed.
Proverbs 16:4 (NLT)
The LORD has made everything for his own
Ephesians 1:11 (Msg)
It's in Christ that we find out who we are
and what we are living for... part of the overall purpose he is working
out in everything and everyone.
God does have a Specific
Will for you and you can know it. Problem is, a lot of people struggle
with discovering what that means. So I want to spend the rest of our
time this morning discussing how we can discover God’s Specific Will
for our lives. After all, God’s Sovereign Will is going to happen
whether we want it to or not; we really have no control over it. His
General will is already revealed to us. If we’re wondering what that
is, we can simply pick up the Bible and start reading. It’s His
Specific Will for us individually that we have trouble understanding.
What is God’s will for me as an individual that may not be His will for
You see, I think we often get the idea that knowing God’s will is
impossible for us… that it’s hidden from us and we must constantly
search for it while never finding it. Sometimes that’s how we feel, but
that’s not the reality. You can know God’s Specific Will for you.
That’s why the Bible says…
Ephesians 5:17 (NIV)
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand
what the Lord's will is.
Romans 12:2 (NLT)
Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this
world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way
you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will
know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.
Underline the words, “you will know.” We can know God’s Specific Will
for our lives. But how? Good question. So to answer it, let me just
give you seven principles which, if you apply them, will go a long way
in helping you understand God’s Will for your life.
Tips for Discovering God’s Will for You:
yourself completely to the transforming work of God
We just read Romans
12:2. Did you notice what it says is the pre-requisite to knowing God’s
will? Let’s take another look…
Romans 12:2 (NLT)
… let God transform you into a new person by
changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do…
Circle the word “then”. So what’s the pre-requisite to knowing God’s
Will? Being transformed by the power of God. And you know what? God
wants to transform your life. He wants to purify you, cleanse you from
all sin and traces of evil, and remake you in the image of His Son. But
will you let Him? Again, He’s not going to force Himself on you. You
have to make the decision to allow Him to do His work in your life. So
commit yourself to that work.
B. Obey God’s
You see, you can’t know
God’s Specific Will unless you obey His General Will. Jesus said to His
John 13:17 (NLT)
“You know these things--now do them! That is
the path of blessing.”
Now, He was talking specifically about the example He had set for them,
but I think that would apply to all of Scripture. You know these
things… now do them! In fact, James wrote…
James 4:17 (NLT)
Remember, it is sin to know what you ought
to do and then not do it.
And let me add this… God’s Specific Will for you will never contradict
His General Will. If you find a conflict between what the Bible says
for you to do and what you believe God is saying to you specifically,
then you’re not hearing Him correctly. What He tells you personally
will never contradict what He has already told us in His Word.
C. Get close to
Colossians 1:16 (Msg)
For everything, absolutely everything…
everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.
Consider this: What are the differences between a casual relationship
and an intimate relationship? Between an acquaintance and a friendship?
Well, in a casual relationship, you really don’t get to know each other
very well. You never really get below the surface and the relationship
has no real impact on your life. But in an intimate relationship… you
look forward to spending time together, in fact, you plan for time
together, your conversations go way beyond the weather.
And I think one of the biggest differences is that you begin to develop
an intuition about that person’s likes and dislikes, what they want and
what they don’t want. You can finish their sentences… You can even
start to know what they’re thinking without them telling you. You can
understand their body language. You start to intuitively know them.
Shera and I have been married for almost eight years now. And you know,
when we got married, I thought I knew her pretty well. But I can assure
you that, after eight years, I know her a lot better now. I know her
preferences. I can tell how she’s feeling. We communicate. I know her
heart. I even know the look that says, “Leave me alone, or there will
be suffering!” or “Greg, you’re embarrassing me again.” And when I
don’t recognize it, that sharp pain in my shin helps me to see it. As
we get closer, I’m getting to know her better all the time.
And if you want to know God’s specific will for your life, you need to
get close to Him. Spend time reading about Him in the Bible. Spend time
praying to Him. Spend time in silence before Him allowing Him to speak
with you. Learn His likes and dislikes. Become intimate with Him.
In the passage that we read earlier in the service, we saw how Jesus
described Himself as a Shepherd and his followers as His sheep. He said:
John 10:14 (NLT)
“I am the good shepherd; I know my own
sheep, and they know me…”
Underline the phrase, “they know me.” Jesus also described how a
shepherd interacts with his sheep…
John 10:4 (NLT)
“After [the shepherd] has gathered his own
flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they
recognize his voice.”
Underline “recognize his voice.” So you’ve got to get close to God and
learn to recognize His voice. And then you can recognize where and how
He’s leading you. You need to get to know Him if you want to get to
know His will.
D. Examine how
He has made you
If God has a specific
task for you, then He has also given you the gifts and abilities to
accomplish it. We already read Romans 12:2 where it tells us that it is
possible to know God’s will. Well, it goes on to talk about the special
abilities that God has given you…
Romans 12:5-6 (NLT)
We are all parts of his one body, and each
of us has different work to do…
God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.
That’s what Paul had to say about how your giftedness is connected to
God’s will for you. Peter also addressed this when he wrote…
1 Peter 4:10 (NLT)
God has given gifts to each of you from his
great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s
generosity can flow through you.
So examine how He has made you. Check to see what gifts and abilities
you have, and what passions you have. Because they can give you great
insight into what God’s will is for your life.
E. Listen for
Tim Hansel is an author
who wrote a book called, “When I Relax I Feel Guilty”. And in that book
“An American Indian
was in downtown New York, walking with his friend who lived in New York
City. Suddenly he said, “I hear a cricket.”
“Oh, you’re crazy,” his friend replied.
“No, I hear a cricket. I do! I’m sure of it.”
“It’s the noon hour. There are people bustling around, cars honking,
taxis squealing, noises from the city. I’m sure you can’t hear it.”
“I’m sure I do.” He listened attentively and then walked to the corner,
across the street, and looked all around. Finally on the corner he
found a shrub in a large cement planter. He dug beneath the leaves and
found a cricket. His friend was astounded. But the Cherokee said, “No.
My ears are no different than yours. It simply depends on what you are
listening to. Here, let me show you.” He reached into his pocket and
pulled out a handful of change—a few quarters, some nickels, and
pennies. And he dropped it on the concrete. Every head within a block
turned. “You see what I mean?” he said as he began picking up his
coins. “It all depends on what you are listening for.”
What are you listening
for? Are you listening for God’s voice? Are your ears tuned in to God’s
Consider Samuel in the Old Testament. In 1 Samuel chapter 3, you can
read about how while Samuel was still a young boy, God spoke to him and
called him. Samuel didn’t actually recognize His voice at first and
didn’t know where the voice was coming from, but when He realized that
it was God speaking to Him he simply said, “Okay God, talk to me. I’m
Or how about Elijah, in 1 Kings 19? He was standing on a mountain
waiting to hear from God. The mountain was hit by a windstorm, but God
wasn’t in the wind. Then the mountain was caught in an earthquake, but
God wasn’t in the quake. And that was followed by a raging fire, but
God wasn’t in the fire. But then he heard it. The still, small voice of
God speaking to him. And as Elijah listened, God explained to him what
He wanted him to do.
Here’s what it says in the book of Psalms… read it with me…
Psalm 95:6-7 (NLT)
Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us
kneel before the LORD our maker, for he is our God. We are the people
he watches over, the sheep under his care. Oh, that you would listen to
his voice today!
obeying His will even if you don’t know it all
There’s an old saying
that tells us, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single
step.” Or as you parents might say, “A journey of a thousand miles
begins with the kids hollering, ‘Are we there yet?’”
But you know, often, when you step out in obedience to God, you really
have no idea where you’re going to end up. You simply obey Him and
follow Him, and you trust Him to reveal more to you as you need it.
Abraham did that. If you read about him in the book of Genesis in the
Old Testament, you’ll discover that God called Abraham to leave his
homeland and his family and follow Him. But God didn’t tell Abraham
where they were going. He basically told Abraham, “Trust Me and follow
me, and you’ll be glad you did.” Here… let me show you…
Genesis 12:1-2 (NLT)
The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your
country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I
will show you.
"I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you…”
Didn’t know where he’d end up, but he trusted God and followed Him
anyway. Or think about it like this… Picture yourself driving down the
highway on a dark rainy night. You’ve got your headlights on, and your
eyes are focused on the road ahead… but you can only see so far. So
what do you do? Do you pull over and stop until you can see farther
down the road? No, you just begin to move as far as you can see. And
then an amazing thing happens… the light moves, too. And suddenly you
can see the next section of the road… and then the next… all the way to
Psalm 119:105 (NLT)
Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light
for my path.
So start obeying His will even if you don’t know it all. And letter “G”…
obeying His will even if you don’t understand it all
What if you know God’s
will but you don’t understand it? I mean, we tend to want 100%
understanding and certainty of what God’s will is, especially if we’re
facing a life-changing decision. But the truth is that God rarely works
Did Joshua know how
the walls of Jericho were going to crumble? No, but he marched around
the city anyway. (Joshua 6)
Did Gideon fully
grasp how with only 300 men he could overcome the entire Midianite
army? No, he had his doubts. But he still obeyed and God came through.
Meshach and Abednego know how God would deliver them from the blazing
furnace that King Nebuchadnezzar was going to have them thrown into?
No, but they were obedient and God saved them. (Daniel 3)
The Bible is full of
stories of people who knew only a little piece of God’s will and
understood even less, but were still obedient. And every time, God was
faithful and came through. So don’t wait until you know God’s entire
will and have complete understanding before you obey, because that time
will never come. In Isaiah 55, God says…
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)
“My thoughts are completely different from
yours,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could
imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my
ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do
not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and
he will direct your paths.
So basically this
morning, I’m saying that there’s good news. You can know God’s will for
your life. He’s not going to require you to follow His will and then
hide it from you. He wants you to know it… even more than you want to
know it. But at the same, you won’t find out what it is without seeking
it. So eagerly desire to know God’s will for your life… seek it out…
and you will find it.