By David DeLong


Many people today are looking for a word from the Lord to direct their lives. These folks may be perplexed as to what path to take concerning some decisions that they face, or they may be puzzled about receiving an answer from the Lord to a very important question that they have. No Christian, however, needs to be in doubt about God’s will for his or her life. Jesus said in John 10:1-4 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”  This passage makes it plain that Christ’s sheep hear his voice, know his voice, and follow his leading. Listed below are some of the many ways that the Lord makes His will known.


1) Creation: Perhaps the most basic way that the Lord speaks to people is through His creation. Romans 1:20 says, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they without excuse.” God’s creation speaks to mankind. Psalm 19:1 tells us, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” Often, the Lord uses His creation as an object lesson to teach people. For instance, in the Book of Proverbs He admonishes the lazy person to observe the hardworking ant (Prov 6:6-8). And He instructs us that the ant, the cony, the locust, and the spider act in ways, which are very wise (Prov 30:25-28). Even house pets can teach us unconditional love, loyalty and devotion.


2) The Lot: the casting of lots has been sometimes used to determine God’s will when various choices are under consideration. Proverbs 16:33 reads, “The lot is cast into the lap; but every decision is from the Lord.” The Israelites used this method for dividing up the land of Canaan among the Twelve Tribes. And in the New Testament, the vacancy in apostleship of the Twelve left by the death of Judas Iscariot was filled by Matthias through the casting of lots. The biblical practice of casting lots involved putting names or other possible decision items on equal-sized objects—frequently pottery—placing them in a container, scrambling them, and then pouring one out. If one decides to make a decision this way, one should do so only after prayer and seeking the will of God. One should be willing to accept and do any possible outcome in faith.


3) Circumstances; Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” Many times, the Lord will place opportunities in a person’s way that he or she cannot ignore.  Or, sometimes the Lord will close all doors, except one, making the person’s choice obvious. To the church of Philadelphia the Lord said, “…behold, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it…” (Rev 3:8). These folks just had to walk through that door. The circumstance of suffering is often allowed for the lessons it will teach us. And then, sometimes God will work through the circumstances of other people to help us, as He did for the Apostle Paul when certain brethren supplied his needs (1Cor 16:17, 18).


4) Conscience: Paul said that he had lived in all god conscience before God (Acts 23:1). This is an extremely important point: never, under any circumstance, are we to defile our conscience (or anyone else’s; see 1Cor 10:28-29). This simple fact alone will help us to do what is right.


5) Promptings of the Holy Spirit: Closely associated with the topic of conscience are the promptings of the Holy Spirit which works in our minds and consciences. Many times we will hear an “inner voice” speaking to us, or urging us to do a particular thing. We read in Isaiah 30:21, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it, whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.’” Though this was written to ancient Israel, I believe the principle still applies to us today.


6) Angels: Though perhaps a rare happening, and something of which we need to be wary because there are demons impersonating angels of light, God sometimes sends these messengers of heaven to assist us in a time of great need. Moses, Balaam, Daniel, Peter, Paul, John, Joseph and Mary were only some of the people in the Bible to whom angels of God were sent. Hebrews 13:2 instructs us, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”


7) Counsel of People: God has given the gift of wisdom to a number of godly people. Therefore, we should make use of this storehouse of wisdom by seeking out the righteous and wise counsel that such persons have to give. Some people do not like to ask the advice of others, but God’s will can often be discerned when we humble ourselves and seek out the counsel of elders, teaches and godly brothers and sisters in Christ. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors, there is safety.”


8) Godly admonition from Brethren: Counsel is something that we seek out, but sometimes brethren see others whom they can help. Paul stated, “Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another” (Rom 15:14). We can learn to listen to others and determine if they have our best interest at heart and if they are giving us godly wisdom. We may not always like the sins they point out or the scriptures they bring to us, but we should listen and carefully consider whether God is speaking to us.


9) Signs: Jesus said in Matthew 12:39, “…An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” We should not “seek” for signs, but we should rather live by faith. However, the Bible says that God accompanies His work by various signs. For instance, we must be able to discern the “signs of the times” (Matt 16:3); the proper use of tongues is a sign to unbelievers (1Cor 14:22); there will be in the last days signs in heaven and in the earth (Luke 21:25; Acts 2:19); Jesus worked miracles, wonders and signs (Acts 2:22); the early Apostles worked wonders and signs (Acts 2:43); various “signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:16-18). Paul validated by stating, “Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds” (2Cor 12:12). God does not leave one in doubt about what He is doing in the world today. However, as we said earlier, we must be able to discern the signs of the times, so that we do not fall prey to Satan’s counterfeit devices. We do this “discerning” by a careful study of the Word of God. 


10) Prophecy/Dreams/Visions: Acts 2:17-18 reads,  “‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.’” We know that this was at least partly fulfilled on the day of Pentecost in the book of Acts, chapter two. However, God’s Spirit was not poured out on “all flesh” at that time. That was the beginning of the outpouring of the Spirit. Notice what Elihu has to say about dreams in Job 33:15-16: “In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, Then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction.” Brethren also received visions at times (Acts 9:10-12; 10:3; 16:9; 2Cor 12:1; Rev 9:17) and there were prophets prophesying in the New Testament Church (Acts 11:8; 21:9).   I believe that the Lord uses prophecy, dreams and visions to speak to His people today.


11) The Scriptures: All things, including the message to mankind that may come by way of creation, the lot, circumstances, one’s conscience, promptings, angels, counsel, admonition of the brethren, signs, prophecy, dreams and visions must be supported and proven by the Word of God. The Bible is God’s main way of communicating His will to mankind. Therefore, a careful, continuous study of His Word is essential to knowing His will. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 reads, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good”.


12) Jesus Christ, the Living Word: Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son….” Jesus is the final Authority on the interpretation of the Word of God, and lives in us: “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).


To understand God’s will, we have to ask, seek, and knock (Matt 7:7-8); search as if for hid treasures (Prov 2:4); and ask in unwavering faith (James 1:5-7). But, God will make His will known to us. On Judgment Day, no Christian will have the excuse of not knowing God’s will for his or her life. That excuse, most likely, will be used to mask the person’s real issue: knowing God’s will but not doing it (Luke 12:47). The Lord is speaking to you and me today. Are we listening to His voice?