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  • "discernment"

    I'd like to hear this forums ideas on discernment of God's will. Where is the line between His will and our desires? How can one "discern" His will without knowing all of the facts? How do we know when we're jumping the gun, such as Abraham did when he seeded another woman to bear fruit he didn't believe his wife capable of producing? This phrase, "discern God's will" has me a little concerned, my church has been throwing it around a lot the past 8-9 months, jumping the gun, in my opinion, on some issues of choosing worship leaders and reforming the basis of our praise gathering's ways.

  • #2
    For the most part, I think that the whole "discernment" question is really just people trying to justify their feelings. In thirty years of my walk, I can honestly tell you that God's will made known to me has NEVER been what I initially thought it was, or what I initially wanted it to be. Not even with music.

    In my experience, people who make a big deal about "discernment" have either just made a big policy shift, or are about to make one, and are looking for support either before or after the fact.

    I realize this sounds negative, and I don't intend it that way. Its my observation.

    Smitty
    Love ONE woman...MANY guitars!

    www.davidsproblem.wordpress.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Yep, Smitty...that's pretty negative....and usually right on the money, too.



      If I'm trying to discern God's will there are a few things I examine.

      1) Does He get ALL the glory or is there some for "me"? If it's ALL going to Him that's a 'check' - if not, proceed to next qualifier.


      2) Is it something consistent to His revealed will in the Word? In other words, is it something you know He wants done. I don't think we even have to pray about visiting prisoners, helping widow/orphans, sharing the gospel. He answers prayers really fast when you're doing those things, btw.


      3) Does it serve others more than it serves "me" to see it done? Big "X" if not.


      4) Will it be pure fun or is there some work involved? This isn't always a good indicator if you are someone who has a lot of fun serving the Lord...but it's worth asking anyway to examine your own motives.


      5) Has it been confirmed in the mouth of at least 2 or 3 witnesses? Are there people whom you trust to be brutally honest with you about it?


      6) Have you asked the Lord to confirm His answer in some way? (this should have been first)



      This may not apply to your situation but I try to remember this verse and quote it to myself all the time...."He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him"

      If you are diligently seeking Him it's hard to go wrong.



      Hope some of that helps.
      8-)



      what? me worry?

      Comment


      • #4
        great advice guys.

        I've always looked at God's "will" like a football field, not a tightrope.

        There's definitely an out of bound line to the left and to the right and we can move forwards or backwards in moving towards the goal, but ultimately there is a whole lot of room to move around. It takes different "plays" and different amounts of time to get to the goal.

        If we look at it like a tightrope, if for some reason we take a step to the left or to the right we fall to our death.

        I know that the "way" is narrow that leads to eternal life, but when talking about God's "will" I think in most situations God's will is a whole lot broader than we think it is.

        Oh, there are times when he asks us to do specific things for sure, I guess I'm just speaking about God's will in general.

        A few months ago I coached one of my former youth in this area. She had just graduated from college and wass trying to decided what her next step would be. She was all but paralyzed by fear that she was "out of God's will." I told her that God had not intended for her to be so fearful. That she needed to rest in Him. To be still in Him. Not be so afraid.

        Her biggest questions and struggles during this time? Discernment. I told her that she was overcomplicating it. Basically, it all boils down to this filter:

        Are you loving God with everything you've got, and are you loving those around you in the same way?
        Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church .He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community.

        Comment


        • #5
          Great thread to start. I have actually been thinking about this as well. In fact, I started a blog with a study on Decisions. So far I've addressed some of these issues. Feel free to visit and comment.
          www.lessthanhim.blogspot.com

          I was recently contacted by a church 4 1/2 hours from where I presently am. We actually just got back home from a visit there. They have been starved for live praise and worship (rather than tracks) so we put together a set for them while we were there. We still have not decided. We're seeking His will and praying for "discernment." My biggest fear is confusing what I want with what God wants for me.
          Love the Lord your God with all your heart with your soul with all your mind and with all your strength!!

          Comment


          • #6
            Father,

            I pray for my brother to receive a clear confirmation of what Your will is for Him and for this church he has visited.

            Thank you for answering us even in the smallest of things...and now the worship of an entire community is in question.

            Your will be done, Lord! Open the gates of righteousness and we will go through them.

            Yes and amen.
            8-)



            what? me worry?

            Comment


            • #7
              Well, I'm definitely an Arminian, but I think sometimes, God has a specific will for something to happen, and it is very clear.

              I said no to my current church 3 times. And on the first one, I lost my secular job, second, lost my college aid, and third, my car broke down and I had to spend my savings to fix it. So, after all of that, the right decision became obvious to me.

              But, usually, I miss it. I think that's why God was merciful enough to not let me miss it that time. It's hard. Be willing to fail, pray, search the scriptures, and if you're still not sure, it might be a good idea to repeat the steps until you can make a decision that you're happy with. If you're bowing to human pressure, as I was when I said "no", it's probably not God.

              Comment


              • #8
                Hey Gang,

                Unfortunately, I must confess, I'm sad that I can't recall the exact Scripture - I need to have this Sooooo memorized.

                Someone help me - but there is a Scripture that talks about God giving us the "desire" to do His Will ... something like "it is He who gives us the will to do his will" or something like that.

                The essence of the passage is one that I pray often - God, may my desires be of Your will.

                How do I excercise discernment? I pray, wait, and ask. Pray, asking God to show me. (Actually, in my opinion, it's fitting to pray to the "Holy Spirit", who is a part of the Trinity, and Who was given to us as the Giver of Discernment and Wisdom). I wait - does the desire go away, does it wain and fade, or does it grow? I ask others to get wise counsel.

                Also, don't forget - "discernment" isn't just about figuring out God's will for you. The term is often used as one of the "gifts" of the Holy Spirit - "discernment of spirits" ... the ability to "discern" motives, spirits, agendas, etc. (good and bad).
                Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
                blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

                Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:
                www.soundcloud.com/FredMcKinnonMusic
                www.youtube.com/c/FredMcKinnonMusic

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by twc_admin View Post
                  ... something like "it is He who gives us the will to do his will" or something like that.
                  Are you thinking of Philippians 2:13? For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

                  I think that most of us who have walked awhile with the Lord have wrestled over or pondered on this subject. There are times when He wants us to walk down the road on the line, then there are times when we just need to keep it between the ditches.

                  Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). If we wait to hear God on everything, then our walk becomes that of obedience, not faith. Yes, we need to seek Him, and obey when He directs, but in the absence of direction from the Lord, I believe that He wants us to use the other resources He's given us to arrive at a decision. We can be in faith that He has given us enough light to see the next step.

                  I'm convinced that often it just doesn't matter to God which way we go, obviously, providing we're not violating scripture and clear standards of right and wrong. I've spent countless hours seeking God on matters where I've never received a hint as to what He wants. I've begged, pleaded, even fleeced here and there, but many times I've ended up having to draw a conclusion based on economics, common sense, personal preference, or some other "unspiritual" criterion.

                  If my kids come and ask me what game they should play, and I don't care, then I'll send them on their way and tell them to choose whichever one they want--it doesn't matter to me. If they keep coming back and demanding some direction from me, I'm starting to worry about their mental health. Are we like that with God? Sometimes it just doesn't matter.

                  If I tell my kids to take out the trash, and they do it, I'm happy. If they come to me and say, "Hey, I noticed the trash needed to be emptied, so I did it," wow, does that bless me. My kids know me, they know my heart, and they know what I would want them to do. Likewise, with God, I know His heart, I know what He would want me to do in many situations, so I step out in faith and do what I believe the Father would want me to do.

                  I've thought about this a lot, and I could go on and on (like I haven't already), but I'll stop here.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by windbag View Post
                    If I tell my kids to take out the trash, and they do it, I'm happy. If they come to me and say, "Hey, I noticed the trash needed to be emptied, so I did it," wow, does that bless me. My kids know me, they know my heart, and they know what I would want them to do. Likewise, with God, I know His heart, I know what He would want me to do in many situations, so I step out in faith and do what I believe the Father would want me to do.

                    I've thought about this a lot, and I could go on and on (like I haven't already), but I'll stop here.
                    So lets say you have 5 kids, just for the sake of this example... You tell child C to take out the trash, but as C picks up the can, child A and B convince child E that child D should do it, and so children A, B, and E charge child D with doing a task you originally charged C with doing, physically taking the can from C and handing it to D....

                    You told C to do it for a lesson in responsibility and a small reward.

                    how do you respond to that?

                    here's a little insight into this scenario:

                    parent = God
                    children A and B = long time church members/ lay leaders
                    child C = worship band director
                    child D = 6 month member
                    child E = new pastor
                    taking out the trash = leadership of the worship band

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Here are some tools to really help.

                      http://www.northwoodchurch.org/v2/se...g/hearing2.htm
                      http://www.northwoodchurch.org/v2/se...g/hearing4.htm

                      Tim Challies book on Discernment

                      Decision Making and the Will Of God: Garry Friesen

                      John Piper
                      http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceL...Do_We_Know_It/

                      http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceL..._Voice_of_God/


                      There are a bunch of misnomers out there about discerning God's will. For example the NT not one time teaches us how to "hear God's voice" despite tons of people who say that is normative daily way we are to operate on all decisions. Paul much more often operated from a perspective of wisdom based on God's character. (The sheep hear my voice passage is about a calling into the Kingdom. Read John 9 before you read 10 and it quickly gets set in context. Jesus is saying Pharisess are not of the fold, those not expected to be in the fold--blind man--are of His flock. This verse gets pulled out of context all the time).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by worshiptrench View Post
                        ...the NT not one time teaches us how to "hear God's voice" despite tons of people who say that is normative daily way we are to operate on all decisions.
                        John 16:12-14 (King James Version)

                        I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

                        That sure sounds like God talking to His children to me.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Paul much more often operated from a perspective of wisdom based on God's character
                          This is foundational for discernment, yes, but the Word is still alive and powerful...able to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.

                          Many things can be discerned by knowing His will. I find that much error and imbalance in the assembly of the saints could be avoided if the wisdom of Torah were taught regularly.

                          Yet even apart from the wisdom found in the Law & the Prophets, christians are (usually) able to discern righteousness through the Holy Spirit.

                          We are all a work-in-progress on our way to ultimate sanctification. He guides us many ways...through His Word, through the small voice of His Spirit, and through circumstances we wouldn't prefer.

                          Discerning which way we should go when circumstances arise is a mixture of wisdom and prayer.
                          8-)



                          what? me worry?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by worshiptrench View Post
                            There are a bunch of misnomers out there about discerning God's will. For example the NT not one time teaches us how to "hear God's voice" despite tons of people who say that is normative daily way we are to operate on all decisions. Paul much more often operated from a perspective of wisdom based on God's character. (The sheep hear my voice passage is about a calling into the Kingdom. Read John 9 before you read 10 and it quickly gets set in context. Jesus is saying Pharisess are not of the fold, those not expected to be in the fold--blind man--are of His flock. This verse gets pulled out of context all the time).
                            Thank you Jordan for bringing this view up and helping to debunk some church myths. I stumbled onto this concept when I heard the aplogist Greg Koukl's series, "Understanding the Will of God." It has literally changed my life and given me freedom from illogical, irrational and unbiblical thinking.

                            I was raised to believe that God had two "wills" for my life. The first one was that I abide by His Word and obey scripture. The second will was God's individual "plan" for my life, ie. His decision for whatever challenging decision I faced in my life, sometimes refered to as His "perfect" will. Included in this hidden plan were the decisions for every major area of my life, who I would marry, where and how I would serve Christ, what house I should buy etc. I was told that their are certain criteria for "hearing" this plan. I had to be spiritually in tune, I had to hear the still small voice, I had to get confirmation from others, etc. Basically, this is all a load of crap and major misinterpretation of scripture. Let me poke a few holes just as a starting point:

                            What would you think of a parent that said to their child, I have given instruction to you your whole life on how to make wise decisions based on the consequences of each action you choose, but, when you have an important decision, I know more than you and I have already chosen the correct path and if you refuse my decision you are in disobedience. Oh and by the way, you have to be close enough to me to hear the small whisper. It might come as a thought, it might come as a nudge, or a feeling. Once you think you have something, then, it has to be confirmed by three of your smarter friends.

                            What kinds of questions does this example awaken? Maybe questions like: what decisions have already been chosen for me? Or, how big does the decision have to be for me to ask for the right decision? What happens if I didn't hear? What happens if I need to make the decision and I havent gotten confirmation, or, I havent hear anything? The list of problems goes on, and, needless to say we would all agree that this parent is being riddiculous. There are many other examples that I can use to pull apart this "perfect individualized plan" theory (be it through extrapolation or scripture) but let me summarize what I think Jordan was referring to with the books and references.

                            I believe that God has given us guidelines in scripture that we must all abide by, then He says go and do what you can to help redeem the world, and, use your gifts the best way that you know how. Learn from your decisions and consequences and make the most impact that you can with your talents and skills. When I have something important to say, YOU WILL KNOW IT! I will use a donkey, a wet tunic or a burning bush if necessary. Other than that, follow the guidelines I already gave you and do as you choose. If you need help with knowing what the possible outcomes of your choices will be, I have given you the Holy Spirit and you can also use your friends who have experience as well. That's it. No specialized hidden plan, just a "will", or desire for you to make wise decisions utilizing His Word as guard rails and making the most of the opportunities set before you. Simple.

                            Now, if everyone wants start throwing the verses out about God's hidden will for our life, then I will continue with the examples and scriptures that create a serious problems for this worldview.

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                            • #15
                              Stephen...Amen.

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