Acts 16: 1-34
How do I find God’s will for my life?
  • May be the most commonly asked question in the Christian life
  • Sometimes it’s simple questions...
    • Where should I eat dinner?
    • Should I pick up an extra shift at work?
    • Should I get Disney+ or switch to Netflix?
    • Should I upgrade my phone or keep this old one?
  • Sometime it’s big questions...
    • Should I date? Who?
    • Should I marry? Who? When?
    • Should I have kids? How many? When?
    • Should I take this job or not?
    • Should we sell our house? Should we buy a house? Where should we live?
    • Should I retire? When?
So in our attempts to find God’s will we’ve come up with a number of 
1) Random Finger Method ..
  • Problem: Isn’t it obvious?
2) Astonishing Miracle Method
  • Burning bush, blinding lights, etc.
  • Problem: Not common!!
3) Striking Coincidence Method
  • You’ve been praying for awhile about whether it’s time to talk to your husband about trying for a baby. But you’re not sure if the time is right, so you’re praying “God, help me find Your will.”
  • It’s Sunday morning and on your drive to church you notice several things. A commercial for Pampers on the radio. A billboard with a picture of a baby. A mom with a jogging stroller on the side of the road. The car in front of you with a “baby on board” bumper sticker. After all these signs you’re convinced it’s time. You’ve determined to talk with your husband after church.
  • Meanwhile, unbeknownst to you he’s been wondering the same thing. But on the way he notices a commercial on the radio advertising a couple’s cruise and he thinks about all the trips you haven’t taken yet. He sees a billboard advertising college loans and he thinks about how unprepared he feels financially to have a baby. But the kicker comes when he realizes he’s scheduled to work in the nursery and after 5 minutes with those kids he’s determined that God’s will is clear, it’s not time to have a baby!
  • Problem: these coincidences are so subjective they’re an unreliable guide to finding God’s will.
4) Cast the Fleece Method like Gideon (Judges 6)
  • So we say things like...
    • “God if you want me to take this job, allow them to offer me dental.”
    • “If this house is your will for us, let one of the toilets have one of those squishy 1990s toilet seats”
  • Problem: this story is not presenting Gideon as a hero to be followed, but as an example of unbelief. God already told Gideon what His will was, but Gideon refused to believe without a sign. 
5) Still Small Voice Method
  • God spoke to Elijah in a still, small voice (1 Kings 19)
  • When you’ve got a big decision to make, just listen for God to tell you what to do
  • Problems:
    • Just because God spoke that way to Elijah doesn’t mean He’ll speak that way to you
      • Elijah also ate bread and meat from the mouths of ravens, I don’t see many Christians lining up to do that
    • How do you know which voice is God’s? How do you know it’s not you?
6) Open Door Method
  • Problem:
    • Just because there’s an open door doesn’t mean you should walk through it
      • Joseph had an “open door” to sleep with Potiphar’s wife
      • David had an “open door” to sleep with Bathsheba
7) Closed Door Method
  • Problem:
    • Often God wants us to persevere through closed doors
    • All over the book of Acts there’s closed doors, but God’s people persevere anyways
8) Sense of Peace Method

Problem: Often following God doesn’t feel peaceful at all!!!
You don’t need to find God’s will because it isn’t lost.  

Turn to Acts 16
  • Paul & Barnabas left Jerusalem council and returned to Antioch
  • They split over John Mark
  • Paul and Silas begin their own missionary journey
  • Along the way we’ll learn that...
We don’t need to find God’s will because it isn’t lost. 
  • You won’t see “God’s will” specifically mentioned in this passage
  • But we’ll see a powerful example of what it looks like to live in God’s will.
Three Steps to Living in God’s Will:
1) Obey What's Clearly Revealed in Scripture
The Bible uses "God's Will" in two ways
  • Ephesians 1:11 -- In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined  according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the  counsel of his will,
  • Matthew 7:21 -- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom  of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
  • Deuteronomy‬ ‭29:29‬ --“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
    • Secret things = will of decree
    • Revealed things = will of desire (revealed will)
    • If we’re honest, many of us spend far too much time trying to find out God’s will of decree and nowhere near enough time studying His will of desire
A) It is God's Will that You be Saved
  • ‭2 Peter‬ ‭3:9‬ -- “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 
  • Repent and believe!!!
B) It is God's Will that You be Spirit-Filled
  • Ephesians 5:17-18 --  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be  filled with the Spirit
  • Stop allowing other things to control you! Yield your life to the control of God's Spirit!
C) It is God's Will that You be Sanctified
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 --  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.
D) It is God's Will that You Suffer Well
  • 1 Peter‬ ‭4:19‬ -- “Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
  • ‭James‬ ‭1:2-3‬ -- “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
  • ‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:18‬ -- “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
E) It is God's Will that You be Sent on Mission
  • Matthew 28:19-20 -- "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in  the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And  behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
“The way to find God’s will for the rest of your life is to do God’s will for the next fifteen minutes.” — Adrian Rogers
We don’t need to find God’s will because it isn’t lost. The first step to living in God's will is to obey what's clearly revealed in Scripture.
2) Consider the Mission
  • Remember: the mission is to make disciples!
  • Remember: if you're not dead, God's not done!
  • vv. C1-4
    • Paul had Timothy circumcised so he could freely move in and out of Jewish synagogues 
  • Too often our decision-making is more about what advances my comfort, wealth, etc.
    • Will this job help or hinder my faithfulness to the mission?
    • Will marrying him/her help or hinder my faithfulness to the mission?
    • Will retiring early help or hinder my faithfulness to the mission?
We don’t need to find God’s will because it isn’t lost. The second step to living in God's will is to consider the mission.
3) When You Can't See Very Far, Go As Far As You Can See
  • Don't sit back doing nothing, waiting for clarity
    • Me in spring 2016 -- Holly: "I don't care if it's the wrong decision, just make a decision"
    • How God used this advice to bring us here

    • vv. 6-9
    • We often assume that when the Holy Spirit forbade them He’s saying “no” in an audible voice
    • Could be that circumstances blocked them and in retrospect they realized it was the Holy Spirit
We don’t need to find God’s will because it isn’t lost. The third step to living in God's will is to go as far as you can see.
4) Involve Your Community
       vv. 10
    • Paul involves his group in this decision ("we .... us")
  • If the Apostle Paul involved others in his decision-making, how much more should we?
  • When there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. -- Proverbs 11:14
    • Us seeking wisdom about moving here
    • When the next big decision comes, who is involved in your life for you to lean on for wisdom?  
Stuart Scott, Biblical Decision-Making
  • Is there anything wrong with this activity?  Is it lawful (1 Cor. 10:23)
  • Is it self-serving at the expense of someone else’s benefit?  (Rom. 15:1-2; 1 Cor. 10:33; Gal. 5:13; Phil. 2:1-4)
  • Is this something I can thank God for? (Rom. 14:6; 1 Cor. 10:30; Col. 3:17)
  • Is this something that will glorify God? (1 Cor. 10:31; 2 Cor. 5:9)
  • Is this worth imitating? (1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 4:9)
  • Is this following the example of Christ? (Rom. 15:7-8; 1 Cor. 11:1; 1 John 2:6)
  • Will my choice affect others around me?  If so, in what way?
  • Is it beneficial?  Does it promote my spiritual life?
  • Is it a practice that over time will tend to master me?  Will it stimulate a desire that will be difficult to control?
  • Is it constructive?  Will it promote the spiritual well-being of other believers if they engage in this practice that is permissible for me?”  —Jerry Bridges (The Discipline of Grace, 213)
We don’t need to find God’s will because it isn’t lost. The fourth step to living in God's will is to involve your community.
5) Remember the Point
One Bible teacher puts it this way. "The will of God is not:
  • Like a choose-your-own adventure book. Where if you find the right path you go on to glory and if you turn to the wrong page, you die a horrible death in a volcano.  God will not be hampered in his will to do you good (Romans 8:28) in all things.
  • A fairytale of comfort and happiness. . . . God cares about our eternal happiness more than our temporal happiness.  Just because something bad happens doesn’t mean you somehow missed God’s will.  It means that God has good in mind for you that’s worth the cost you’re experiencing.
  • A target you can somehow miss. You can disobey God’s will of command.  But you cannot escape his will of decree.  So the fact that you disobeyed God at one juncture in no way means you’re confined to a life that’s only God’s second-best.  Yes, there are consequences for sin and foolishness—but even they only operate within God’s great, eternal, sovereign will and plan. 
The point is being in the presence of Jesus!!!
God doesn't give us a magic 8 ball, a fortune cookie, a decision-making compass, etc. He gives us a reminder of His presence!!!