Guidance Part 3: The Three Steps for Finding God's Will (Acts 9,11,16,21 & 27)

  • The goal of this message is to look at how Jesus and the apostles made decisions
  • together with New Testament teachings,
  • and come up with a clear framework for how to find guidance in our lives.

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  • We are going to look at how Jesus made decisions.
  • I am going to give you a clear framework for how to make decisions in your life.

Three Steps for Knowing God’s Will

Specific Revelation
Asking for Wisdom
Having the Heart of Jesus in Us —through the Spirit

Intro: How did Jesus decide what to do?

The story so far:

  1. How Not to find guidance
    • How not to choose a wife, and other stories
    • The problem with fleeces—The good, the bad & the ugly
  2. Basic Ideas
    • Two extremes: “The Dot” and “The Circle”
    • Mapping out the middle ground

Key Ideas

  • As New Testament Christians, we are living in the New Covenant which means Christ is living in us through the Holy Spirit
  • This is a key idea, missing from many teachings on guidance
  • We should look at how Jesus found guidance when he took on human form

Three Steps for Knowing God’s Will

Specific Revelation
Asking for Wisdom
Having the Heart of Jesus in Us —through the Spirit
  1. The basic foundation is living out of this new heart, through the Spirit
  2. On top of this we have explicit prayer for wisdom, which I will talk about
  3. The third step is the role of supernatural intervention in guidance

Three modes of Guidance

  1. Walking in the Spirit
    • Living and loving according to our new heart
    %Grow by building our relationship with God%
  2. Asking for Wisdom
    • When it does not seem obvious
    %Do it by praying and then laying it all before him, praying through it%
  3. Supernatural Revelation
    • Cannot demand them, but cannot ignore them
  • We should always have 1, ask for 2 when we need it, and be open to 3 when God decides to give it

How did Jesus decide what to do?

  1. Walking according to the heart of God: When he saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matt 9:36
    Just as he neared the gate of the town, a dead man was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the town was also with her. 13When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said,“Don’t weep.” 14Then he came up and touched the open coffin, and the pallbearers stopped. And he said,“Young man, I tell you, get up! ” Luke 7:12–14

How did Jesus decide what to do?

  1. Asking for Wisdom: he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles Luke 6:12,13
  2. Supernatural Revelation: Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” John 1:48

1. Having the Heart of Jesus in Us —through the Spirit

Jesus in us: 1 Cor 2

  1. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God.
  2. For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ.
  • This is the foundation layer!

Hebrews 8
The New Covenant

  1. For this is the covenant
      that I will make with the house of Israel
        after those days, says the Lord:
    I will put my laws into their minds
      and write them on their hearts

Having Jesus in us

  • The presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit
  • A new creation in Christ Jesus
  • A new heart that automatically want’s to do God’s will
    • but still have the flesh that wars against it
    • more about that in a moment
  • New heart will move us towards mercy, compassion, and love
    • towards making the choices that Jesus would make
    • because the new heart is nothing less than the life of Jesus within us
  • We have the resources within us to make Christ-like choices and follow him.
  • See the line at the bottom? That’s the bottom line on Guidance.
  • Some examples of this is action:
  • Paul writes to his spiritual children whom he dearly loves in the Lord

Paul: 1 Thess 2 & 3

  1. …we greatly desired and made every effort to return and see you face to face.
  2. So we wanted to come to you ​— ​even I, Paul, time and again ​— ​but Satan hindered us.
  3. For who is our hope or joy or crown of boasting in the presence of our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?
  4. Indeed you are our glory and joy!
  5. So when we could bear it no longer, we decided to stay on in Athens alone.
  6. We sent Timothy, our brother and fellow worker for God in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen you and encourage you about your faith
  • Paul could “bear it no longer”
  • Example of phone call yesterday of woman who wanted someone to pray with her.

2 Corinthians 9

  1. My point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.
  2. Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver.
  • If our hearts are new creations, then deciding in our hearts will be the right thing
    • God wants us to make a choice as sons and daughters, not as slaves

The inner witness of the Spirit

  • we “know” it is the right thing to do (like a reflex)
  • It is “us”, the person God has made us (watch this is not merely your comfort zone)
  • Distinguish from the voice of the flesh
  • all the things the flesh will say fear/pride/comfort (more next time)

Three Steps for Knowing God’s Will

Specific Revelation
Asking for Wisdom
Having the Heart of Jesus in Us —through the Spirit

2. Asking for Wisdom

Wisdom or Guidance?

  • Can anyone think of a verse where we are
    • commanded to pray for guidance?
    • commanded to pray for wisdom?
  • James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
  • I had to make a career decision in my early 20’s

“Hursley Park”

Hursley Park

Image source: “shawdm on Flickr”

Wisdom is knowing Jesus better

  • I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Eph 1:17



Image source: “foreverdigital on Flickr”

Proverbs 2

  1. My child, if you receive my words,
    and store up my commands within you,
  2. by making your ear attentive to wisdom,
    and by turning your heart to understanding,
  3. indeed, if you call out for discernment
    raise your voice for understanding —
  4. if you seek it like silver,
    and search for it like hidden treasure,
  5. then you will understand how to fear the LORD,
    and you will discover knowledge about God.
  6. For the LORD gives wisdom,
    and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.

Colossians 1

  1. And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
  2. so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
  3. Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.
  • This could apply to both of the first two modes

So how do we go about getting wisdom?

  1. Bible – Especially Kingdom values (love, justice, truth)
  2. Good council from others
  3. Consulting other stakeholders
  4. Common-sense
  5. General revealed wisdom
  • Any of these may be specifically brought to mind by the Spirit as we pray

Joshua 1

  1. Make sure you are very strong and brave! Carefully obey all the law my servant Moses charged you to keep! Do not swerve from it to the right or to the left, so that you may be successful in all you do.

Paul in 1 Cor 16

  1. Then, when I arrive, I will send those whom you approve… to carry your gift to Jerusalem.
  2. And if it seems advisable that I should go also, they will go with me.

3. Specific Revelation

  • Coming next time!

Three Steps for Knowing God’s Will

Specific Revelation
Asking for Wisdom
Having the Heart of Jesus in Us —through the Spirit