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Summary: How to Discern Between God’s Will and A Thoughtful Suggestion - Acts 21:1-40

How to Discern Between God’s Will and A Thoughtful Suggestion - Acts 21:1-40

Perhaps one of the greatest difficulties we face is deciding what is God’s will and what is a thoughtful suggestion from a friend. Many people are eager to give good advice, but it may not be God’s will for your life. We need spiritual wisdom with all understanding so that we can discern what is best. Paul the apostle gives us a great example in this passage on how to discern between God’s will and helpful suggestions from caring friends. Essentially, Paul knew that sincerity was not enough to help him decide to go to Jerusalem or remain where it was safe. Let us examine several principles that will help us learn all we can from Paul’s example of discerning God’s will for an individual’s decisions.

Illustration:

Indecision

Harvard Professor Harvey Cox said, "Not to decide, is to decide not to."

See: 1 Kings 18:21

Other Topic/Subtopic/Index:

Indecision/3446

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Title: Decisions, Decisions

Sometimes the decision to do nothing is wise. But you can’t make a career of doing nothing. Freddie Fulcrum weighed everything too carefully. He would say, "On the one hand... but then, on the other," and his arguments weighed out so evenly he never did anything. When Freddie died, they carved a big zero on his tombstone. If you decide to fish -- fine. Or, if you decide to cut bait -- fine. But if you decide to do nothing, you’re not going to have fish for dinner.

-- The Wall Street Journal

See: 1 Kings 18:21

Other Topic/Subtopic/Index:

Indecision/3446

1. Paul plainly told his friends, "Why all this weeping?... For I am ready not only to be jailed in Jerusalem but also to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 21:13). When a person is totally committed to doing the will of God they will gain the peace of God that will direct their heart is what is best. Jesus said, "If anyone chooses to do God’s will they will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own." (John 7:17) Only when people are completely yielded to God’s will can they discern all that God wants them to do. Paul wrote, "Present your bodies as a living sacrifice then you will be able to know what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God." (Rom. 12:1,2) People who fail to know the will of God have something lacking in their obedience to God and His word. The more we obey the more God will reveal His will to us.

Illustration - A.B. Simpson - the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance said, "We see the Apostle’s leading by the Spirit apparently contradiced by another leading of the Spirit in the advice given to him by the local believers. Yet, in the end, we find Paul’s first leading was sustained, the second appearing to be only a test that brought out the truth of his full fidelity to God." Sometimes the Lord allows us to be tested to sharpen our commitment to Him and clarify our course.

Illustration:

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Title: Indian saying

The Indians have a wonderful saying: "When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a manner that when you die, the world cries, and you rejoice."

See: Phil 1:21-24; 2 Tim 4:6-8

Other Topic/Subtopic/Index:

Call/Divine, To Decision/1793

Godliness/Profitable/2872

Christlikeness/382

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Title: Poem

James Russell Lowell, placed great value on aiming high. He wrote:

Life is a leaf of paper white

Whereon each one of us may write

His word or two, and then comes night.

Greatly begin! though thou have time

But for a line, be that sublime --

Not failure, but low aim, is crime.

See: Phil 3:13-14

Other Topic/Subtopic/Index:

Call/Divine, To Decision/1793

Diligence/564

Vision/Dominates Life/506

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Title: David Livingston’s Call

After years of service in South Africa, the famous missionary Robert Moffat returned to Scotland to recruit helpers. When he arrived at the church one cold wintry night, he was dismayed that only a small group had come out to hear him. What bothered him even more was that the only people in attendance were ladies. Although he was grateful for their interest, he had hoped to challenge men. He had chosen as his text Proverbs 8:4, "Unto you, O men I call." In his discouragement he almost failed to notice one small boy in the loft pumping the bellows of the organ. Moffat felt frustrated as he gave the message, for he realized that very few women could be expected to undergo the rigorous life in undeveloped jungles. But God works in mysterious ways.

Although no one volunteered that evening, the young fellow assisting the organist was deeply moved by the challenge. As a result, he promised God he would follow in the footsteps of this pioneer missionary. And he remained true to his vow. When he grew up, he went and ministered to the unreached tribes of Africa. His name was David Livingstone! Moffat never ceased to wonder that his appeal which he had intended for men had stirred a young boy, who eventually became a mighty power of God.

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