I have been a Christian since 1970. I wish I could say that after all these years, I have discovered a foolproof, step-by-step plan for knowing the will of God in every situation. Unfortunately, such a plan does not exist.
However, there are a few things we can be certain are God's will for every believer. It doesn't matter how old you are, how long you have known the Lord, or where you live. These things are the will of God for all followers of Jesus.
One, it is the will of God that you be a believer. The Bible says, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4 NKJV). Also, 2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (NKJV).
Two, it is the will of God that you be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5 tells us, "Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit" (vv. 17-18 NKJV). In the original Greek, the phrase, "be filled with the Spirit," could be translated, "be constantly filled with the Spirit." You constantly need the power of God in your life.
Another translation of filled evokes the image of wind filling the sails of a boat, guiding it along. Yet another way the word is translated is "to permeate," just as you might season or marinate meat with some type of flavor. God's Holy Spirit wants to fill your sails and guide you. He wants to permeate your life.
Three, it is the will of God that you live a pure life. You need God's help to do that. As 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality" (NKJV). Don't be thrown by the word sanctification. It's an important biblical word that means "to set apart."
Maybe you have a special set of china that you only use for special occasions. You might say that china is sanctified. It is set apart for a special use.
When we read the word sanctified in the Bible, it means that believers are set apart for God's special purpose. Our bodies belong to the Lord.
If you are an unmarried believer, this means that you are not to give yourself sexually to anyone until you are married. If you are a married believer, this means that you are to give yourself only to your husband or wife. This is God's command to you as a Christian, and He will give you the strength to obey it.
Four, it is the will of God that you have an attitude of gratitude. It says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (NKJV). I am glad this verse doesn't say, "For everything give thanks." Instead, it says, "In everything give thanks."
In other words, I can praise God that in spite of what has happened, He is still in control. I can praise God that the word oops is not in His vocabulary. Having this attitude of gratitude is simply a recognition that God is in control of all the circumstances that surround our lives.
Having established what His overall will is for our lives, let's also recognize that God does want to lead us specifically. There is nothing wrong with asking God for His will in a situation. As the Jewish proverb says, "It is better to ask the way ten times than to take the wrong road once."
James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (NKJV).
Understand this: God wants to reveal Himself to you. It may come as a surprise that God wants to lead you even more than you want to be led. God does speak to people today. He does have a plan for your life.
And as surely as He led the men and women of the Bible, He wants to lead you as well.
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!