Discerning God's Will

One of the things I love most about my job as the assistant middle school youth director at my church is how much I learn.  In preparation for Bible study and Sunday school lessons -- when I am supposed to be the one teaching... I am always the one who learns.  Such a blessing.  For the month of October we had been discussing communicating with God.  This past Sunday I was given the charge of "discerning God's will."  Whooowee that scared me a little bit.  Did I understand it enough?  Let alone well enough to teach it clearly to a middle school crowd?  Hopefully God's spirit was present and they gained a deeper desire to know and follow him.  

I wanted to share with you my teaching notes because my reading and preparing for this lesson was both so convicting and encouraging in my own walk.  Like I said -- these are notes, so if it is not clear, feel free to ask.

{disclaimerplease do not take any of this as quotes from me.  a lot of my reading is from this article by sinclair ferguson which comes from his book Discovering God's Will.  some direct quotes and paraphrasing are below.  so don't give me credit - give this dude credit.  i learned a lot and so i share in hopes that is helpful to you as well.}


Discerning God’s Will

*walking in the will of God produces a distinctive life-style. How do we discover the will of God when we are faced with a  possibly bewildering array of choices?

*One of the major themes of Paul’s letters is the Christian walk – the first letter to the Corinthians especially about discerning God’s will.

Discernment // the activity of determining the value and quality of a certain subject or event, particularly the activity of going past the mere perception of something and making detailed judgments about that thing. As a virtue, a discerning individual is considered to posses wisdom, and be of good judgment; especially so with regard to subject matter often overlooked by others.

*questions to ask when when seeking to make Godly decisions -- 

I.               Is it lawful?
*This one seems like a no brainer. If it is against the law—chances are high that it is outside of God’s will.  But not just the United States Law – God’s Commandments!!!
a.      Is the action contrary to the plain word of God – what He commands?
b.      God set us free for holiness.  He has blessed us with freedom from the guilt and bondage of sin – but not in order that we might become enslaved to the very sins for which Christ died to redeem us.
*Paul in 1 Cor 6:9-11 gives a long list of the kinds of sinful conduct which are contrary to membership of the kingdom of God. They are not unforgiveable, but have been washed by Christ’s blood – because of that we should seek to be free of them.

*this is a hard on because we often “justify” our own plans. This is an easy area where satan lies to us

II.             Is it beneficial?
a.      What are the consequences of the action? “All things are permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” [1 Tim 4:4, 1 Cor 6:12]
b.      There may be “nothing wrong with it”; but there may be nothing right with it.  It may not prove to be beneficial.
c.      Will it bring benefits so that my relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ is strengthened?
*Will it have the tendency to consume my time, energy and interests in such a way that I will be spiritually the poorer? Willi t complicate, rather than simplify my life?
*for two different people there might be different answers

III.           Is it enslaving?
a.      Will it become an idol / the driving force in my life?
*An athlete who nibbles on cakes or takes drugs – there comes a moment in the rache when he ceases to the master of his body and his abilities and the things to which he has yieled (cakes, or drugs) strangle every last ounce of energy out of him.  THOSE things have him at their mercy and all hope of winning the race is abandoned.

*In the Christian life we make choices sometimes that will eventually squeeze out our spiritual energies
b.      The Christian should develop in Christ a sensitivity to those things to which he will most readily allow himself to be brought into bondage.
“I will not be mastered by anything.”

IV.            Is it consistent with the Lordship of Christ?
*Whenever a Christian engages in a course of action he does so in union with Christ. Nothing severs that relationship.  He is with you.  Not even sin can take away that relationship.  When we sin, we drag Christ into it.
a.      Can I take Christ there and look him in the face without shame? *Not that we have a choice – he comes!
b.      Is this course of action, this decision I am taking, totally consistent with my personal confession that “Jesus Christ is my Lord’?

V.              Is it helpful to others?
a.      Will it serve and help others?
*Seeking the good of many, so that they may be saved – Jesus lived by this principle
b.      Am I in danger of “destroying the work of God”? [Romans 14:20]
*The will of God means death to our own will and resurrection only when we have died to all our own plans
* it it destructive to the growth of the kingdom?

VI.            Is it consistent with Biblical example?
a.      Is it consistent with the example of Christ and the apostles?
*Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ 1Cor 11:1 
*We are not left to our own imagination! Christ – what he did – is found in scripture!  We discover the will of God by sensitive application of the scripture to our own lives
b.      Christ suffered for us, and in doing so He left us an example that we should follow in His footsteps [1 Peter 2:21]

VII.          Is it glorifying?
a.      Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God [1 Cor 10:31]
b.      The ultimate challenge – non-negotiable norm of Christian living
If my heart goes out for His glory, then I will find the yoke of these questions easy, and the burden of gospel holiness to which they urge me is light indeed

*None of these questions are all determining.  They must be asked and answered together
*Look also to your friends.  Find someone who you trust to mentor you and help you answer these questions.
*God affirms!  Look for fruits.

Suggested Reading: Discovering God's Will by Sinclair Ferguson (please ignore how incredibly hoaky the cover of this book is.  it is pretty bad but the book is good).  

Questions? Thoughts? Things to add? I want to hear it! leave a comment below.


  1. wow thank you for sharing this. It was truly helpful.

  2. I just added disqus... test test test

  3. i really love the way Sinclair Ferguson spells things out. i'm reading another book by him right now too called The Sermon on the Mount -- about the beatitudes and it is just SO good!

  4. dang woman, you amaze me!! thank you for sharing, so much to digest.

  5. I know what you mean about preparing to teach and learning SO much! That was one of the best parts of being a youth minister for me. (you know, in addition to all the other awesome things).

    I love these notes- definitely checking out that book!


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