QUICK STUDY GUIDE
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This Quick Study Guide contains excerpts from our Keys For Living book on DECISION MAKING, to offer an immediate overview, concise answers, with biblical hope and practical help.
DISCERNING THE WILL OF GOD
Your decisions should be based on God’s revealed will.
What is the Will of God?
We all make decisions every day. Many are of little significance; a few will change our lives forever. Do you make quick decisions by just “doing what comes naturally,” or do you struggle with delay because of the paralysis of analysis?
Many bad choices are made in life because we don’t take the time to discover God’s perfect will for our lives. Be assured, God doesn’t play “hide-and-seek” as you try to discover His will. The more intimately you draw close to the heart of God, the more clearly you will know the will of God.
As you sincerely begin to place His desires above your own, He will be faithful to point the way. Wise decisions are made by discerning the will of God, and God delights in revealing His will to those willing to do His will.
Let this scripture from Psalm 40:8, be the prayer of your heart, “I desire to do your will, my God; your law is written within my heart.”
Discerning the Will of God
Everyone is confronted with countless decisions throughout life. Many decisions are of little significance and some may change your life forever. Sometimes just deciding what to eat for lunch seems difficult, and decisions that have weighty consequences can cause you grave concern.
Take a step of faith and trust God. The more intimately you draw near to the heart of God, the more clearly you begin to know the will of God. And as you sincerely begin to place His desires above your own desires, He is faithful to point the way.
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What Is Decision Making?
Decision making is a process that includes making a choice or judgment about an attitude or action. Decisions are an act of the will, and they are always influenced by either the mind or the emotions.
- Your decisions receive God’s blessing when you are willing to obey God. (Isaiah 1:19)
- Your decisions should be based on God’s revealed will. (Acts 21:25)
- Your decisions reveal the desires of your heart. (Psalm 119:30)
- Your decisions are ultimately determined by what you desire the most. (Joshua 24:15)
What Decisions Are Pleasing to God?
God blesses ...
- Decisions that He initiates (Proverbs 4:11)
- Decisions that line up with His Word (Psalm 119:33)
- Decisions that accomplish His purpose (Philippians 2:13)
- Decisions that depend on His strength (Philippians 4:13)
- Decisions that result in giving Him glory (1 Corinthians 10:31)
- Decisions that promote justice, kindness, and humility (Micah 6:8)
- Decisions that reflect His character (1 Timothy 4:12)
- Decisions that come from faith (Hebrews 11:6)
- Decisions that consider the interests of others (Philippians 2:4)
- Decisions that are bathed in prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Your decisions receive God’s blessing when you are willing to obey God.
6 Methods of Decision Making
- Dramatic Method:
Some people misuse Scripture by flipping open the Bible and pointing to some random Scripture for guidance without considering the context. Others expect God to come through with a spectacular, supernatural sign that will give proof of His will in a given situation. (John 14:26)
2. Defaulting Method:
We can be so pressured by the opinions of others that it becomes easier just to let others make decisions for us ... even when we think they are wrong. (Isaiah 7:15)
3. Delaying Method:
Many people choose to procrastinate when a decision is due, hoping that “it will all come out well in the end.” They allow circumstances to determine the outcome. However, not to decide is actually a decision. (Hebrews 3:10)
4. Deductive Method:
The Christian life is to be a life of balance between human deduction and spiritual insight. If we become solely analytical in thinking through a situation and choose to rely completely on logic, we will miss God’s way. (Isaiah 55:8)
5. Desirous Method:
Too many people allow feelings to determine their behavior. God gave us emotions, but He never intended emotions to be our “decision makers.” Many of us don’t even realize that we often have an “if it feels good, it must be good” mentality. (Proverbs 28:26)
6. Discerning Method (the best method):
Spiritual discernment is wisdom to determine what is true, appropriate, and superior in the eyes of God, regardless of how things may seem. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
8 Tests of Decision Making
- Scriptural Test:
“Has God already spoken about it in His Word?” (2 Timothy 3:16)
2. Secrecy Test:
“Would it bother me if everyone knew this was my choice?” (Proverbs 11:3)
3. Survey Test:
“What if everyone followed my example?” (1 Timothy 4:12)
4. Spirit Test:
“Am I being people-pressured or Spirit-led?” (Galatians 1:10)
5. Stumbling Test:
“Could this cause another person to stumble?” (Romans 14:21)
6. Serenity Test:
“Have I prayed and received peace about this decision?” (Philippians 4:6–7)
7. Sanctification Test:
“Will this keep me from growing in the character of Christ?” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
8. Supreme Test:
“Does this glorify God?” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
What Causes Clouds of Confusion?
- Not having pure motives (James 4:3)
- Not surrendering your will (Matthew 26:39)
- Not seeking God’s will through His Word (Psalm 119:105)
- Not repenting of known sin in my life (Psalm 66:18)
- Not praying continually and earnestly (James 1:5)
- Not expecting God to answer (James 1:6–7)
- Not patiently waiting for God’s timing (Hebrews 6:15)
- Not willing to suffer for the glory of Christ (1 Peter 4:1–2)
“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”
The Don’ts of Decision Making
- Don’t wait until all else fails before seeking God’s will. (1 Kings 22:5)
- Don’t pray for permission regarding something God has forbidden. (Psalm 119:106)
- Don’t make decisions based on feelings. (Proverbs 4:23)
- Don’t assume that God’s will is too difficult for you to do. (1 John 5:3)
- Don’t have divided loyalty and allow money to dictate your decision. (Matthew 6:24)
- Don’t test God by seeking visible signs. (Deuteronomy 6:16)
Anxiety over Decisions
Wrong Belief: “I can’t trust God with all of my decisions in life. I need to rely on my own abilities to influence an outcome that I desire.”
Right Belief: “God will come through for me when I step out in faith and trust Him to guide me in all decisions.”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil” (Proverbs 3:5–7).
Key Verses to Learn
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God— this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Key Passage to Read
1 Thessalonians 4:1–12
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