Discerning God’s Will

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How do we discern God’s will for us? It can often come in many different ways.

In Acts 10, both Cornelius and Peter had visions from God while they were praying. An angel specifically told Cornelius what to do, and Peter was given a strange vision of a blanket coming down from heaven with many animals on it (including animals previously considered unclean according to God’s Law). God can speak directly to us in dreams and visions and words when we pray (although admittedly this seems to be fairly rare in this day and age).

Immediately after Peter’s vision, a knock came to the door, and Peter began to immediately make the connection that his vision of the blanket was related to the purpose of the knock. In other words, God can work through unusual circumstances or “coincidences” to communicate his will. As we connect the dots we begin to realize where God is already at work. We can ask, why did this happen? What is God trying to communicate to me through this? What is he guiding me to do?

When Peter arrived at Cornelius’ house, he was invited to share God’s word with his entire family. And Peter shared the Good News about Jesus Christ, and they believed, were filled with the Holy Spirit, and were baptized. Sometimes God’s will can come to us through other people, God’s agents who speak God’s Word to us.

Although not directly mentioned in this passage, we also have the Bible as God’s revelation to humanity to share his will to us. God has spoken through the Holy Spirit to the Biblical authors to reveal what God desires of us to know about him, and his plans and purposes so we can follow him. God’s will will never contradict what he has already shared in his Word.