We hear so much about God’s great purposes for our lives and how they are preferable to our own, but what exactly does that mean? Does the Lord really care about the course we take? Is His path really better than what we can figure out on our own? And if so, how do we discover what He desires regarding the decisions and challenges we face every day—especially when the road ahead appears so confusing?
God’s will for you doesn’t have to remain a mystery. In fact, your heavenly Father wants to reveal the plans He has for your life. In this book, Dr. Charles Stanley, beloved pastor and respected Bible teacher, teaches you how to discern what it is, see the different ways God communicates His plans, shares wisdom on how to know you’re really hearing Him, and gives specific steps to walking in God’s will for your life.
The One who saves you is worthy to lead you. And whether you’re facing a major life decision, planning for the future, or simply trying to walk with the Lord day by day, The Will of God can help you draw you closer to God and discover His awesome plan for your life.
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Chapter 1: Step In
1 STEP IN
A Starting Place on the Journey
The will of God.
We talk about it in church and our Christian circles enough. We hear repeatedly that the Lord has a plan for us and that it is good. We are instructed to seek it, embrace it, and live it. We are even told that it is the key to our future. But what is it? Even though God’s will sounds like something we would like—and even need—to know, the whole idea of it often stirs up more questions than answers.
After all, it is the will—the volition that drives the workings of the universe, the paths of empires, and the lives of all peoples—of God, of the all-knowing, all-powerful, unseen, indescribable Creator of all things. Who wouldn’t want to be aware of such lofty information?
Yet even those of us who have been believers a long time sometimes have mistaken ideas about what the will of God really is. Some think it is special knowledge or divine and mystical revelations that the Father gives to super-spiritual people, which is not true. Still others would admit that they shy away from God’s will because they believe the Lord will ask them to do what they really don’t want to do. They believe God’s will is always difficult, sacrificial, or heartbreaking. That’s not accurate, either.
Sadly, whatever your view of it, God’s will can seem grand and unreachable, can’t it? In fact, after my many years in ministry, I have heard enough people talk about how frustrated they are about their Christian life that I am fully persuaded there’s one ultimate reason: They do not understand the nature of the will of God, nor do they know how to find it. And if you don’t understand those two things, you may feel insecure and directionless in your walk with Jesus. Both the small, daily pressures as well as the life-changing and overwhelming issues in life can make you feel as if you are under constant assault, lost, and helpless.
Maybe that’s what stirred your interest in this book. Certainly, it could be that you want to honor your Savior and stay on track with what He envisions for your life. After all, He created you and knows what He intended you to be. If He has a plan for your life, who wouldn’t want to experience His very best?
But that’s not usually what drives people to seek God’s will. Often there are questions about the future, decisions that must be made, or challenges that arise that have no foreseeable solution that drive us to our knees before the Father. Our only hope is the Lord’s insight, intervention, and provision.
In other words, perhaps you’re interested in the topic of God’s will because you are at a crossroad and have no idea which way to turn. Or maybe you’re between a rock and a hard place and see no hope of escape.
It also could be because you don’t know why the Lord has waited so long to give you the desires of your heart. Is this longing part of His plan for you or isn’t it?
Or maybe you simply don’t understand why certain hardships have befallen you.
The problem is, of course, how do you seek out God’s will? And how do you know for certain if you have heard Him correctly? There is an incredible level of frustration when you are desperate for the Lord’s guidance, but heaven seems silent. We can get so discouraged that we are tempted to say, “I really don’t know how to find God’s will, so what I’m going to do is the best I can and hope it all works out.”
But understand, you merely “wishing that everything will be all right” is not the Father’s intention. It’s not His best. It’s not the relationship He desires to have with you. He has a very specific plan for your life—one that can and should inspire your complete confidence. He promises in Jeremiah 29:11: “I know the plans that I have for you... plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” This is the hope each and every one of us can cling to. God has plans for you and He knows how to accomplish them in the best, most effective way possible for your particular personality, giftedness, and future.
So right now, set your mind on this truth: Our God is a planner. He is not a reactor. He did not set this world in motion to be ruled by chance or wild, unchecked forces. Nor did He create you to live without hope and purpose.
In fact, from before the beginning the Lord has been making plans for you and for me. Just think about how He created this world with a variety of landscapes, colors, animals, plants, foods, smells, and textures. He thought of everything we would ever need and innumerable objects and creatures to satisfy our needs, stir our imaginations, fascinate our minds, and give joy to our souls.
Likewise, Ephesians 1:4 tells us God “chose us in Him”—in Christ—“before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” In other words, the Father knew you and I would have the problem of being separated from Him by our sin. He understood the pain and frustration you and I would feel at not being able to reach Him, interact with Him, and receive His love because of our fallen human state. Therefore, the Lord has been strategically unfolding His grand design to send a Savior Who would forgive our sin and restore our relationship with the One for Whom our souls most yearn. And He was careful about it—God went to great lengths to show us Who would make us right with Him. Through the prophets, the Father began unveiling what He would do and He precisely pointed to Who our Savior would be—each prophecy and revelation narrowing down the possibility of Who could fulfill His requirements.
For example, Isaiah foretold: “A virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). This may seem like an odd prerequisite for a Savior. However, Romans 5:12 tells us: “Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” At the Fall, all humanity received the sin nature—every one of us is a sinner (Rom. 3:23). This is because the seed of the sin nature passes through our fathers. But this is also why the virgin birth was necessary—without a human father, our Deliverer would not receive the sin nature.
One would think this would be sufficient to distinguish Who the Savior would be. But the Lord knew that other religions would arise that would falsely declare that they were the way to Him—and they would claim virgin births as well: Buddha, Krishna, the Egyptian deities Horus and Osiris, the Persian Mithra, the Aztec Quetzalcoatl, the Chinese Lao-Tsze, and others. So, in order to protect us from their false assertions, God narrowed the identification process further. The Anointed Savior, or Messiah, would be a fulfillment of the covenant to Abraham and come from his line (Gen. 12:3). And not only Abraham—but a specific great-grandchild of Abraham named Judah.
Abraham fathered Isaac; Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, gave birth to twins, Jacob and Esau; and Jacob had twelve sons—including a child named Judah. About Judah, Jacob prophesied, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Gen. 49:10). The scepter was a symbol of kingship and authority, so Jacob was communicating that someone from the line of Judah would always be the ruler of Israel. Also, the word Shiloh means “that which belongs to him.” So Jewish scholars have taken Jacob’s use of the word to refer to the Messiah—that ultimately, Christ would come through Judah’s line.
Eventually, a monarch was born through Judah—a man named David. Of course, David is one of Israel’s most famous kings. But God restricted the possibilities of Who Christ would be even further when He told David, “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam. 7:16)—indicating that the Redeemer would be his descendant. So the Messiah came to be known as the “Son of David” (Matt. 1:1).
One after another, the Lord God provided incredible details about Who our Savior would be, where the Messiah would be born (Mic. 5:2), when He would appear (Dan. 9:25–26), what He would do (Isa. 61), and even His main region of ministry (Isa. 9:1; Matt. 4:12–17). Thousands of these prophecies revealed the only One Who could make us right with God—and that is Jesus. And there would be only one sacrifice that He could make to fulfill the Lord’s requirements, which was His death on the cross (Isa. 53).
Why am I telling you all of this—especially at the beginning of a book on God’s will? Because if you will think about how precisely the Father has planned your redemption, your home in heaven, and your rewards—you have to realize how deeply He treasures you and how carefully He thinks about your future. He wouldn’t have gone to such lengths to provide for your salvation if He did not value you.
Now think about this: Would God—having been so specific in all of His planning—suddenly just forget about you? Would He say, “Live your life the best you can. Just do what you can with what you’ve got”? Of course He wouldn’t. He made such an extraordinary and costly investment in you because He sees you’re worth it. And He wants you to join Him in His great plan.
In fact, what we see consistently throughout history is that the Father wants to reveal His will. He also shows us the way into His plan for each of us—and that is through a relationship with Jesus. In every way, Jesus is the key that opens the door to understanding God’s plan and it all begins by accepting Him as your Savior.
If you have never received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, it is no wonder that the whole concept of God’s will is confusing to you. Many people think they can know the Lord’s path for them without ever really knowing Jesus—the One Who is His ultimate plan. Don’t make that mistake. The Father’s purpose for your life doesn’t have to remain a mystery.
So if no one has ever had the great and joyful privilege of helping you to receive Christ’s gift of salvation, I pray you will allow me to do so now. All it takes is being willing to admit that you cannot overcome your sin on your own, but that you trust that the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross was sufficient to forgive everything you have ever done wrong. Are you willing? If so, you can tell Him in your own words or use this simple prayer:
Lord Jesus, I come to You asking You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. In faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my transgressions. I also confess that You are Lord. Help me to turn from my sins and live in a manner that is pleasing to You.
I praise You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life and I trust You have prepared a home in heaven for me. I acknowledge that trusting You as my Savior is my first step into understanding and living out God’s will.
Thank You for hearing my prayers, loving me unconditionally, and leading me in God’s plan. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.
If you’ve just received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you’ve just made the very best decision you will ever make! There is absolutely nothing more important in this life or the next than having a personal relationship with God.
But whether you’ve just accepted Christ or have walked with Him for decades, understand that what I said to you is central and essential: Jesus is the ultimate key to knowing and living God’s will. Jesus provides you with access to the throne of grace, so you can learn His plan for you (Heb. 4:16). He is your example of the life of faith in every way (Rom. 8:29). His Holy Spirit guides and empowers you (John 16:13-14; 1 Cor. 2:9–16; Phil. 2:3). His prayers sustain you (Heb. 7:25). His Word provides a light to your path (Ps. 119:105).
I say this because many people believe that God’s will is about living by a specific religious or moral standard or making certain decisions. And at a very basic level, it is. But it is really much more than that. It is about a profound, intimate relationship with God Himself—a relationship that results in a life that overflows with His wisdom, purpose, and power.
Ephesians 2:10 asserts: “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (emphasis added). Yes, the Father has created you with a reason in mind, to fulfill an important role in His kingdom. And it is in Jesus, as a person who is saved by Him, and through Jesus, as His disciple who is in fellowship with Him, that you discover, understand, and walk in His purposes.
Jesus Himself said it: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). We often think of this verse in terms of salvation, but it is true of the Christian life as well. Jesus wants to be your way, your truth, and your life. In Him and through Him are the Father’s will for you.
So don’t mistakenly think, God’s not really interested in teaching me, leading me, or revealing His will. Yes, He certainly is—more than you can ever imagine (Rom. 8:32). Not only is God attentive to the great and impactful circumstances of your life, but He is also observant of details so small they escape your notice. God cares about the problems, burdens, and conflicts that concern you. And what He wants most is a personal relationship with you where you walk with Him in such close union that you are consistently aware of His presence with you. Yes, He wants that. In fact, that’s why He has given His own Spirit to live within you and direct you.
No, the journey of seeking and living out God’s will may not be easy; in fact, I can testify it is sometimes very difficult. But it is always worthwhile. Because when you listen to and follow Him, you know what happens? You get His best. You will experience the greatest joy and fulfillment—to the deepest depths of your soul—because you will be living out the very reason you were created.
Are you willing? Then let’s get started.