How can I tell what God's plan is?
God wants His children to know and follow His will in general and His plan for their lives specifically.
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His plan is discernable and discoverable. Much of what God desires for you and me can be found in the Bible. If you begin by reading in the New Testament and looking at every passage for directions to obey, your opportunities to follow His will become nearly endless.
Here is one example: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). These three assignments, to rejoice, pray, and give thanks always, may offer enough instructions to follow for a lifetime!
However, most people want specific answers to questions. Again, we point you to God's Word, the Bible. "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Instructions for much of what you do day to day, and how you approach your daily life, can be found in the Bible.
Also, by following Jesus, seeking to emulate Him, we find God's will for our lives. Romans 12:1–2 says, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." When we offer ourselves to God, and avoid the patterns of this world, we will be able to understand God's will. We will be able to hear from Him (see 1 Peter 4:2).
There's more. When we avoid sin, especially the sins noted in the New Testament, we are doing God's will. "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness" (1 Thessalonians 4:3–7).
Thirdly, we can go right to God and ask Him through prayer. Epaphras was a man not mentioned extensively in Scriptures, but the times he is mentioned are worth studying. In Colossians 4:12, we find that Epaphras prayed for the people in the church at Colossae to "…stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God." You can pray this for yourself, and for others.
God also communicates with us through circumstances, our relationships with others who strive to walk closely with Jesus, and other ways that are unique to each of us. Discerning God's will is a spiritual muscle that must be exercised. He wants us to know Him, and know His will for our lives. "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you" (James 4:8a).
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