Summary: How do you know God’s will for your life? How does God talk to us today? Student ministry PowerPoint format.

The following material is taken from a PowerPoint presentation originally presented to a Junior/Senior high ministry. If you would like the original PowerPoint, drop me an email at

1In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1-2)


Subtitle: How to Choose Wisely

Graphic: picture of the old knight at the end of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”

When I was in college, a friend of mine, a fellow student, announced one day that he had “surrendered to the call.” This was quite a shock to me. I was used to hearing that phrase from church staff and missionaries, but not from my friends. The phrase is a strange part of the “church-speak” language we learn on Sundays, but no one really uses in the real world. What does it really even mean? What does it mean to be “called” by God?

For that matter, how does God talk to us at all? Some of the big decisions are pretty easy (should I steal from the company, should I cheat on a test). Other decisions are much harder (which college should I attend, is this the person God wants me to marry).

We make thousands of decisions each day. How do we know if we’ve made the right choices? How do we know God’s plan for our life? Remember the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”? At the end when Indiana Jones has to select a cup to drink from? Remember holding your breath waiting for the old knight to say, “you have chosen…wisely” Whew! Can’t you just imagine sometimes that eternal judgement will be something like that? I know it’s not biblically correct, but I can just imaging me standing in a long line of people. I finally get up to the front, and Saint Peter looks me up in the book. “Robert, you have chosen…” What!? Wisely, poorly? Do you really know what he will say? How do you know if you made the right choices?

Speaking as a parent, I can tell you that your folks are tearing their hair out trying to figure out how to help you become the kind of person who makes wise choices. How do you do that? How do you become the kind of person who makes good choices?

Slide Title: “What is God’s Goal for You”

Slide text:

Bullet 1: Have a personal relationship with him

Bullet 2: Be conformed to the image of Christ

28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.

30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:28-31

God has a plan for you:

’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ’plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ (Jer. 29:11).

Before we talk about how to determine God’s goal for your life, it must be said that, before anything else, God wants a personal relationship with you. If you don’t have that going on, you don’t need to be worried about whether God wants you to be a missionary, or whether he wants you to date that cutie in fourth period. None of that matters until you have a relationship with God.

We are going to talk more about the meaning of “salvation” and “redemption” in a couple of weeks. If you are unsure of whether or not you are going to heaven when you die, don’t wait. Come and talk to me right away. But what we’re talking about today is primarily directed toward those of you who are already saved. You have given your life to Christ, but you aren’t quite sure what you are supposed to do now. What does Christ want you to do?

What does it mean to be conformed to the image of Christ? The meaning of the word “Christian” is to be “Christ-like”. But how do we apply that to the decisions we have to make? How do you answer the question “what would Jesus do?” Does the creator of the universe actually communicate individually and personally with every believer? Does the God who set the planets in motion have some grand plan that requires your involvement? Does Satan also have a plan for you?

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Does God have the same plan for everyone? No – he has many different “jobs” that need filling, all with different combinations of “skills”. See 1 Corinthians 12 – the entire chapter.

Slide title: “Conditions”

Slide Image: youth in attitude of prayer

Slide Text:

Before you can expect clear communication with God, you should:

 Be willing to obey

 Have a submissive heart

 Be willing to look foolish

 Have a clean conscience

 Spend consistent, regular time in prayer

 Spend consistent time in bible study

Willing to obey. Don’t ASK for guidance unless you are prepared to ACT on it! God is always willing to make His purpose known. If you "cannot" find an answer, it may be that you have some secret reservation in your heart. God will not show you His will if you are merely considering doing it. Many say they can’t get God’s guidance, when they really mean they wish He would show them an easier way. God promises to show us only if we are ready to act on His revelation.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

Submissive heart. God guides the meek, or those with yielded wills. If we have unyielded rights or stubborn wills, we cannot expect His guidance. Christ served people – he did not seek to be served.

Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matt. 38-39

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. Psalm 25:9

Willing to look foolish. God gave us common sense, and He expects us to use it. Most of the time, His will makes sense to our reason and intelligence. God’s will is usually an area of general direction, within which He leaves us relatively free to work for Him. However, sometimes His direction cuts across all human reason, and even goes totally contrary to it! When the inner voice of God speaks clearly, obedience may be counted as madness in the eyes of the world. But if you are willing to be God’s fool, then you will see His power.

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Matt.11:25

Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 1 Cor. 3:18-20

Clean conscience. Guidance will always be hindered or misunderstood if there are still sinful things in your life that God has urged you to get right. How can He show you more if you have not obeyed the things He has already shown you? A clear conscience is absolutely essential for distinguishing between the voice of God and the voice of the enemy. Unconfessed sin is a prime reason why many do not know God’s will. It is the "pure in heart" who will see Him.

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. Luke16:10

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matt. 5:8

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matt 5:23-24

Regular Prayer and Bible Study. God’s will is revealed in His Word. It’s foolish and inexcusable to neglect the Scriptures. Bible study shows us what God expects in daily living. No guidance will ever go against Scriptural principle. Prayer teaches us by experience what the presence of God is like, and how His voice sounds. Many do not recognize the call of God simply because they have never taken the time to really talk with Him long enough to know what He is like. It is not enough to know about Him - you must know HIM!

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness 2 Timothy 3:16

Slide title: “How did God speak in the Bible?”

Slide image: flames (representing burning bush)

Slide text:

Job – whirlwind

Moses – burning bush

Paul – blinding light

Samuel – voice in the night

Nebuchadnezzar – handwriting on the wall

Jacob – wrestled with God

How does God speak? God spoke to people in the bible. And in some pretty bizarre ways!

My favorite was Jacob. He was a sneaky, manipulative guy, whose whole life was a struggle to better himself, to get what he thought he deserved. God sought him out and wrestled with him all one night. Jacob thought he was holding his own, and demanded a blessing before he released God. God granted Jacob the blessing, but broke his hip with a touch of his finger to show that he was in control all along. Jacob was renamed Israel, “One who wrestled with God”. That’s a picture I can relate to – struggling against God, thinking I am in control, with God continuing to bless me and occasionally remind me who is really in control.

Jer. 23:29 (NIV) "Is not my word like fire," declares the Lord, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?"

Deut. 28:13 (NIV) The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

Is that how we should expect God to speak to us? When you go home today, is the azalea bush in my front yard going to be roaring in flames? “Take off your shoes, Robert. You are on holy ground!”

Slide title: “How does God talk to you?”

Slide image: close up of Michelangelo’s creation of man, God’s hand touching Adam’s

Slide text:

God can answer your questions in many ways, including:

• Bible

• Prayer

• The Christian community

• Your spiritual gifts

• Circumstances, trials and experience

1In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. Hebrews 1:1-2

I think God still does amazing things, and I would not say it is impossible. But, to be honest, I think it is unlikely. Our main verses for today are Hebrews 1:1-2, where the Bible says that God spoke to the prophets in many ways, but now he speaks to us through the words of Christ.

God speaks to his people today mainly through the Bible, prayer, the Christian community, your spiritual gifts, and through the trails and experiences that have made you what you are.

The Holy Spirit is actually behind all of these.

• The Holy Spirit reveals meaning in scripture

• The Holy Spirit communicates directly with you through prayer, and can speak directly to you even when you are not in prayer

• The Holy Spirit guides the words of other Christians to your benefit, and opens your understanding of those words

• The Holy Spirit is responsible for giving you spiritual gifts when you become a believer (see 1 Corinthians 12)

• The Holy Spirit works in you, developing character through trials

We’re going to take these one by one and talk about each.

Slide Title: “God Speaks through His Word”

Slide image: open bible

Slide Text:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:9)

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’” (Luke 4:4)

16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:17)

9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.

10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.

11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

12 Praise be to you, O LORD ; teach me your decrees.

13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.

14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.

15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.

16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Psalm 119:9-16

Remember a few weeks ago when I talked about my search for property, and how I found my answer by looking in the Bible for when God gave people land – under what conditions and for what purposes? The Bible is the living word of God. All the answers are in there.

I once mentioned to a friend of mine that I wished Christ had gotten married and had kids. Theological implications aside – I would like to see how he addressed the issues of raising children. The friend thought about it a while and suggested that the disciples were like his children. Christ knew he had only a short time with the disciples to “raise” them to be men of integrity, mature and able to make good choices. He suggested I read through the gospels again, specifically looking at Christ’s interaction with his disciples, how he guided them, how he reacted to them, etc. It was very illuminating.

Slide Title: “Prayer”

Slide image: praying hands

Slide text:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)

• The Holy Spirit is not the same as your conscience

• Never act on a doubtful impression

• Always test against the Bible

• The Holy Spirit leads, it doesn’t push

• Always glorifies God/Christ, never man

• Reveals meaning in Scripture

• Brings thoughts to your mind you can’t stop dwelling on

• Excites passion in you about spiritual things

• Henry Blackaby, author of “Experiencing God”, suggests:

• Don’t try to do something you think God would appreciate

• Look where you already see God working, and join Him there

Imagine you are hired to open up an office in Anchorage, Alaska. Your new boss gives you a high-tech looking two-way radio, a policy and procedure manual, and tells you that you will receive instructions once you arrive, and off you go. Upon arrival you hear your boss’s voice over the radio, saying, "I will communicate to you through this radio unit. But take note: our competitors, our enemies, also have access to this channel. They will try to impersonate my voice with false messages to thwart our purposes." "Oh no!" you panic, "Then how will I know if it is you or the enemy giving me instructions?"

Your boss’s voice comes back over the radio: "Three ways. First, considering the situation, check every message supposedly from me against the policy and procedure manual. Since I wrote it, I’m not likely to ask you to violate it, right? Also, if I am not talking, don’t focus in on the noise, pretending that I am. If I am not speaking, let the manual be your guide. Don’t let any impersonating voice mislead you, or your own overactive imagination."

"Second, since the Manual does not cover every situation, you will have to get to know my voice. I know, this will take time, and so I am not likely to ask you to do anything radical until we both have some low-risk successes under our belts. Remember, I understand the situation perfectly well, so I’ll go slow at first. A time will come when I will be able to tell you to do the wildest things, and you will know it is me. In the short-term, you must be trained through low-risk experience."

"Third, over time, my overall purpose for your work will begin to come into focus. You will begin to see the grand strategy in the policy and procedure manual, and the overall pattern of my true instructions. When this happens, you’ll know instantly if what you hear through your unit is ’of me’, just your imagination, or enemy misinformation. False instructions will begin to appear silly to you then. So take heart, and get to work."

After reflecting on this a few moments, you hear your boss’s voice again on the radio unit. "Take all of the money from petty cash and give it the next person that walks in, no questions asked." Hmmm... You look in the policy and procedure manual, and this is specifically forbidden. Besides, you know your boss wouldn’t tell you to do something that risky right off. And also there was an certain "twang" to the voice, an appeal to something different within you, and a plan that was not in the long-term interests of the company. So, even though you are on a hostile channel, you are beginning to have hope that you can indeed do this job.

A statue of Jesus that was created by Thors Walden, a Danish sculptor. Walden sculpted the body of Christ in such a way that His face could not be seen from a standing position. There was a sign next to the statue that read, "If you want to see the face of Jesus, sit at His feet." Sure enough, by sitting at the foot of this statue of Jesus, one can look up and see His face perfectly.

Slide Title: “God Answers Prayer”

Slide graphic: picture of Jeep Grand Cherokee, and picture of small dorm-type refrigerator

Slide Text:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7)

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:16)

I had a black Jeep Grand Cherokee for 11 years. I drove that car into the ground. One December after I had had it about eight years, I pulled up to a stop sign and it died. It wouldn’t jump start or anything – stone dead. I had it hauled to a repair shop a few blocks from my house, and they told me the oil pump had died, stopped lubricating the engine, and the whole thing had seized up. It was basically just a very large paperweight. A new engine cost $3045. I didn’t have anywhere near that kind of money. There was a way I could finance it, but the interest was pretty high, and I just didn’t see how I was going to be able to budget for it. We prayed and prayed. Finally, the day came when the engine was installed and it was time to go pay and pick it up. Since the garage was just a few hundred yards down the road, we decided to walk down. Walking by our mailbox, we stopped to check the mail, and found a check for $3000. It was for some consulting work that I had not even finished yet – I still had a month or more of work before I could deliver. The company said that, for tax reasons, they wanted to have the consulting fee hit in the current tax year, and asked if I would mind if they paid me early.

It is truly weird when things like that happen. And, let me tell you, they happen a LOT. They happen far more often when I am facing God in my life than when I have turned my back on God to pursue my own ambitions. When we seek God, God removes the roadblocks.

What is even stranger, though, is when you find out that you have been the answer to someone else’s prayer.

When I was in college, my two roommates and I chipped in $15 each and bought a second hand dorm refrigerator. One of those tiny things that will barely hold a six pack (of coke). At the end of the year, I bought their shares and took the fridge home with me. Ten years later, married with kids, that little fridge was still out in the garage collecting dust. I finally decided one day to throw it in the back of the jeep and take it to Goodwill at lunch. At the time, I worked for FamilyLife. We had an all-staff meeting that morning. Near the end, a man who worked there got up, practically in tears, and told how his wife had a debilitating medical condition. They had medicine that could treat it, but it had to be kept at a constant, cool temperature. With small children, their refrigerator door was opened and shut so often that the medicine broke down and became ineffective. He asked us all to pray that he could find a way to buy a small refrigerator that they could use just for storing the medicine. Feeling very weird, I raised my hand and mentioned that I just happened to have a fridge downstairs in my truck. The man gushed with thanks and told me that I was an instrument of God – an answer to prayer. I have to say that it was more earth-shaking to me to be the answer to someone else’s prayer than to have my own prayers answered.

Slide title: “Christian Community: A Hedge of Protection”

Slide image: a hedge-maze

Slide text:

 God’s servants in the ministry

 Godly men and women in the Church body

 Godly family

 Godly friends

8 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." 9 "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. 10 "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. (Job 1:8-10)

Although God speaks to each of us personally, He also uses other members of the Body of Christ to reveal His will to us.

10 Moses said to the LORD , "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

11 The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ?

12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

Exodus 4

14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Romans 10

Council from Godly men and women should be used as confirmation – never act on direction given to you by anyone which does not conform to the word of God.

Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3)

No matter what advice you receive, the final decision and responsibility is yours. No one can take the responsibility from you.

Illustration (from Dennis Rainey): Set out a “minefield of traps. I happen to have some animal traps – huge deadly-looking metal devices I inherited from my grandfather. Set them out all over the floor. Label them with things like “greed”, “lust”, “power”, “popularity”, and “Alcohol”. Demonstrate how dangerous they are by setting one off with a pencil, which will snap into pieces and go flying across the room. Pick a student who you don’t think will freak out and ask them to walk across the minefield. Just before they start, however, whip out a blindfold and tie it around their head.

Then, when the student hesitates, admit you are going to offer them some help. Someone who has been to the other side and can guide them through. Bring out their parent, who can talk them slowly though the minefield. If necessary, le the parent go and take their hand and lead them through.

If you don’t have traps, you can label some students and put them in chairs, but it isn’t nearly as impressive

The point is, your parents have been there before you. Listen to their voices – all they are trying to do is to help you avoid the traps. No matter how old you get, and no matter what path you walk, there’s always going to be someone who has been down it before you, who can give you good advice. Measure that advice against the bible – it may be God speaking to you through the body of believers.

Slide title: “You are designed for a purpose”

Slide graphics: athletes fencing, close up of epee, foil, or saber

Slide text:

Forte – the strong part of the blade

Foible – the weak part of the blade

In fencing, you learn to use your forte against your opponent’s foible. God has given you a spiritual forte – spiritual gifts.

When I was in college, I was on the varsity fencing team. I thought that was so cool. I was like a modern-day Errol Flynn. One thing they teach you in fencing is that, your blade is divided into a very stiff half close to your hand, and a very flexible half near the tip. When you meet another blad, you want to meet it on your strong part – your forte. You never want to take on an opponent with your weak part – your foible.

God has given every single believer spiritual gifts. Every believer. No one has all the gifts, and there is no gift that every one of us have, but all of us have at least one spiritual forte – a spiritual superpower. You are designed in a unique way and given unique gifts so that you can serve a unique mission.

If you are trying to make a decision about what to do in your life, one thing that should weigh heavily in your consideration when you are trying to figure out where God wants you to go is that he gave you strengths specifically chosen for the path he wants you to walk.

If you don’t know what your spiritual gifts are, I encourage you to sign up for our BodyLife 301 class, which will help you identify them.

Missionary s the special gift given by the Holy Spirit to certain members of the body of Christ (local church) to minister whatever other spiritual gifts they have in a second culture or second community. See 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Healing It is the special gift whereby the Spirit employs certain Christians to restore health to the sick. See James 5:13-16, Luke 9:1-2.

Intercession It is the special gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to pray for extended periods of time with great positive effect for the building of the Kingdom. See 1 Thessalonians 3:10-13, 1 Timothy 2:1-2.

Craftsmanship It is the special gift whereby the Spirit endows certain Christians to use hands and minds to build up the Kingdom through artistic, creative means. See Exodus 28:3-4.

Hospitality It is the special gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to open their homes willingly and offer lodging, food, and fellowship cheerfully to other people. See Genesis 18:1-15.

Faith It is the special gift whereby the Spirit provides Christians with extraordinary confidence in God’s promises, power, and presence so that they can take heroic stands for their future of God’s work in the church. See Hebrews 11.

Discernment It is the special gift whereby the Spirit certain Christians to know with assurance whether some behavior is of God or of Satan. See Acts 5:3-6, Acts 16:16-18.

Mercy It is the special gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to feel exceptional empathy and compassion for those who are suffering so that they devote large amounts of time and energy to alleviate it. See Luke 10:30-37.

Giving It is the special gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to offer their material blessings for the work of the church with exceptional willingness, cheerfulness and liberality. See 2 Corinthians 8:1-5.

Administration It is the special gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to understand the goals of a given segment of the Church’s ministry and to direct that area effectively, keeping the Church on course. See Acts 15:12-21.

Leadership It is the special gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to motivate, direct and inspire God’s people in such a way that they voluntarily and harmoniously work together to do the Church’s work effectively. See Hebrews 13:7, Judegs 3:10, Exodus 18:13-16.

Helps It is the spiritual gift whereby the Spirit empowers certain Christians to willingly bear the burdens of other Christains and help them in such a way that they can do their tasks more effectively. See Acts 6:2-4.

Serving It is the special gift whereby the Spirit empowers certain Christians to identify unmet needs of people and implement plans to meet those needs. Serving one another, like witnessing, is a calling of all Christians, but there are some who have a special desire to find ways to serve, and get great blessing from it. There seems to be a special desire to meet physical needs in the people who have this gift. See Galatians 6:1-2.

Knowledge It is the special gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to understand in an exceptional way the great truths of God’s Word and to make them relevant to specific situations in the church. See Ephesians 3:14-19.

Wisdom James 3:13-17 See It is the special gift whereby the Spirit endows particular Christians with an understanding of God’s will and work as it relates to the living of life..

Exhortation It is the special gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to stand beside fellow Christians in need and bring comfort, counsel and encouragement so they feel helped. See Acts 11:23-24, Acts 14:21-22.

Music It is the special gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to praise God through various forms of music and enhance the worship experience of the local congregation. See 1 Corinthians 14:26, Mark 14:26.

Teacher It is the special gift whereby the Spirit enables particular Christians to communicate the truths of God’s Word so that others can learn. See Hebrews 5:12-14.

Pastor It is the special gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to assume responsibility for the spiritual welfare of a group of believers. See 1 Peter 5:1-11.

Evangelist It is the special gift whereby the Spirit enables particular Christians to share the Gospel to unbelievers in such a way that the unbeliever becomes a disciple of the Lord Jesus. See Acts 8:26-40.

Prophet It is the special gift whereby the Spirit empowers certain Christians to interpret and apply God’s revelation in a given situation. See 1 Corinthians 14:1-5, 1 Corinthians 14:30-33, 1 Corinthians 14:37-40.

Apostle It is the gift whereby the Spirit appoints certain Christians to lead, inspire and develop the churches of God by the proclamation and the teaching of true doctrine. See Acts 12:1-5, Acts 14:21-23.

Slide Title: “Trials”

Slide graphic: Joseph and the amazing Technicolor dreamcoat (Broadway play)

Slide text:

 Joseph – while falsely imprisoned, learned administrative skills later used to administer all of Egypt as Pharaoh’s second-in-command

 David – while fighting lions and tigers man to protect his flocks, learned skills later used to defeat armies as Israel’s king

Many of the difficult times that happen to us are actually allowed by, or even sent by God in order to train us, to give us experiences which will be necessary to serve Him better at some later time.

When faced with difficult choices in life and seeking to determine God’s will, you should consider looking back over your life and seeing where the hand of God has shaped your experiences, perhaps strengthening you for a specific purpose.

David or Joseph could have sunk into self pity, but they trusted God. They knew God doesn’t cause the bad things to happen, but he can allow them to happen and use it for good. But only if you step up. David and Joseph, if they hadn’t stepped up, would be long forgotten nobodies. Instead, their names will be remembered until the end of time.

What kind of trouble is God allowing to happen in your life? Are you trusting God and stepping up? What is it that you are supposed to be learning, and how do you thing God is going to use what you have learned later?

Slide Title: “How does God Talk to You?”

Slide graphic: Michelangelo graphic, again

Slide text:

God can answer your questions in many ways, including:

• Bible

• Holy Spirit/Prayer

• The Christian community

• Your spiritual gifts

• Circumstances, trials and experience

1In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. Hebrews 1:1-2

The Holy Spirit is actually behind all of these.

• The Holy Spirit reveals meaning in scripture

• The Holy Spirit communicates directly with you through prayer, and can speak directly to you even when you are not in prayer

• The Holy Spirit guides the words of other Christians to your benefit, and opens your understanding of those words

• The Holy Spirit is responsible for giving you spiritual gifts when you become a believer (see 1 Corinthians 12)

• The Holy Spirit works in you, developing character through trials

There’s actually a ton of ways that God speaks to us today. It’s all there if we will listen. There is no need to ever be confused for long about what God want’s us to do in any aspect of our lives.

Slide Title: “Survey Results”

Slide Graphic: Sulu and Chekov at the helm of the Starship Enterprise

Slide text 1: Table

Spiritual Gift Most effective Communication

Prophecy/Dicernment Prayer/Holy Spirit

Teaching/Administration Bible

Helps/Encouragement Christian Community

Slide text 2:

Different channels for different uses

• Bible for life’s overall direction (strategy), understanding the big-picture

• Holy Spirit for day-to-day promptings (tactics)

As I promised last week, I went out and interviewed some of the leaders in our church about how God talks to them. Purely by accident, I also happened to ask them what their spiritual gift was.

I found it very interesting that the primary “channel” God uses to direct the people I surveyed corresponded closely to their spiritual gifts

• People with the gift of prophecy and discernment most often felt God’s direction directly through promptings from the Holy Spirit – “foreign thoughts entering my head that I can’t stop thinking about” Over time, they recognize the foreign thoughts to be God’s voice. When you think about it, this makes sense, because people with the gift of prophecy or discernment are especially attuned to the Holy Spirit.

• People with the gift of teaching, leadership, and administration tend to feel God’s leadership most effectively through study of the Bible, though they point out that it is the Holy Spirit directing their understanding, often revealing new meaning in passages they have read many times before. People with this gift tend to be focused on understanding the big picture of God’s plan, trusting more in what they can see and reason through than in intuitive leaps of understanding like those with the gifts of prophecy or discernment.

• People with the gift of helps and encouragement were most heavily impacted by prayer (two-way conversations with God) and by Godly men and women around them. This makes sense also, because people with this gift are especially attuned to people around them.

Isn’t that interesting? It was very encouraging to me. I have to admit that the main place I feel like I get clarity on God’s direction for my life is in the Bible. I know people (I’m married to one) who easily and naturally communicate do God directly in prayer. I am so envious of that. It seems like these people get to bypass all the hard work of studying the bible, and just get the answers given to them directly. I have to be honest when I tell you that I very seldom feel firm, clear, undeniable response from God through prayer. But my wife, whom I respect and admire, does.

I’ve always felt like a second-class Christian because I just didn’t have the prayer-channel that she does, and I know she has been frustrated by not being able to research things in the bible in ways that come easily to me.

This survey revealed that there isn’t a single “best” channel to talk to God. The Holy Spirit is behind all of them and uses the one that best matches your gifts.

Why the picture of Chekov and Sulu? They were the pilot and navigator of the Starship Enterprise. Does anyone know what the difference between a pilot and a navigator is? Why would you need both?

The navigator is the person who understands the big picture, and makes the plan for how to get from A to B. the pilot is the one who actually steers the ship along it’s course and around any obstacles.

Imagine going on a road trip. The driver concentrates on staying in the lane and not hitting any other cars in traffic. The passenger reads the map, plans out the directions, and let’s the pilot know when a turn is coming up. You need both.

The point? You cannot depend on any one channel. The bible excels in giving clear direction to your life – helping you set your goals and plot your course. The holy spirit excels in the day to day reactions to unplanned events, when you don’t have time to go do the research in the Bible before you have to react. You can’t rely on any one channel of communication with God – you need them all.


I hope this has been helpful. Like your parents, I want you to be able to “choose wisely” in life. There is no need to be in the dark regarding what God wants you to do. He speaks to you every day from every direction. It’s up to you to listen and obey.

Let’s talk to him now…