Bringing God into the Decision-Making Process
The wisest and soundest approach to decision-making is a three-step process:
First, realize that you don’t have all the answers and ask the One who does—God—to help you make the right decision.
Second, determine that you will accept God’s answer, even if it’s contrary to your own reasoning or desires in the matter. In other words, you need to sincerely want Him to help you make the decision according to what He knows will work out best for you and everyone else involved. This is often the hardest part because it requires you to surrender your own will to God in favor of His.
Third, receive His answer. If you sincerely ask God to show you what He knows is best in any given situation, He will. His answer will probably come through one or more of the following means, which are listed in order of importance and reliability.
1. God’s Word. The first place to look for the will of God is in His words recorded in the Bible and other inspired writings. He has put the basic answers to nearly every question or problem we will face in life right there, sometimes clearly spelled out and sometimes in the form of spiritual principles that apply. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
2. The voice of God’s Word. Have you ever been thinking or praying about something when the Lord brought to mind a certain verse or passage from the Scriptures that shed His light on the issue? That’s what’s known as hearing the voice of God’s Word. Or have you ever been reading the Bible when all of a sudden a verse or passage spoke directly to you, as though it had been written just for you in regard to some situation you faced? That is also the voice of the Word. God applies His Word to you personally, and you get the answer you are seeking. “The Word of God is living and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12).
3. Direct revelation. God also speaks to us through dreams and visions, as well as messages we receive directly from Him when He speaks to our hearts, which the Bible calls “prophecy.” “It shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).
4. Godly counselors. If you want to learn to play the piano, ask an accomplished pianist to teach you. If you want to learn to cook, ask somebody who knows how to cook, whose meals you’ve enjoyed. If you’re trying to find God’s will in a given situation, ask others who are established in their faith, have a strong personal relationship with Jesus, and are wise in His ways. “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established” (Proverbs 15:22).
5. Circumstances and conditions. Sometimes obvious circumstances indicate God’s leading. Imagine a long hallway lined with doors. Which room are you going to enter? You walk down the hallway knocking on doors and trying the doorknobs. You can only go through the door that opens. If something is God’s will, He will usually open a door of opportunity that makes it possible. “I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it” (Revelation 3:8).
6. Strong impressions or desires. These are sometimes referred to as “the witness of the Spirit” or “burdens.” Feelings can be deceiving when it’s your own spirit leading you, but if God wants you to take a certain course of action, He will sometimes give you a strong desire to do that or an inner conviction that it’s the right thing to do. “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
7. Specific predetermined signs. These are sometimes referred to as “fleeces.” You can sometimes check or double-check your decision by asking God to give you a specific sign, like Gideon did in the Bible’s book of Judges. Asking for such a sign is like making a contract with God. If He fulfills His part of the bargain, you need to fulfill yours. “Gideon said to God, ‘I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.’ And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, ‘Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.’ And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground” (Judges 6:36-40).
Above all, believe that God loves you and will help you make the right decision—the one He knows will be best for you and others in the long run. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened for you” (Matthew 7:7). That’s a promise!
(For a more complete explanation of how to use these means to make wise decisions, read God Online, a collection of articles by David Brandt Berg that includes “Seven Ways to Find God’s Will.” Or for more on the gift of prophecy, read Hearing from Heaven.)
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