The BIG IDEA
Discerning God’s will comes through a trust relationship with him.
When it comes to decisions in life we often feel like it’s all up to us to “figure it out.” Sometimes we forget about God and just wrestle in our own understanding. Sometimes we approach decisions as if God has one, perfect plan for us that he has hidden and if we don’t figure it out, we will mess up our whole lives. Either way, talk about stress! We are forgetting that the God of the universe who loves us wants to show us his good, pleasing and perfect plan as we walk in relationship with him.
As we trust God, renew our minds with his word, and walk in obedience, we will be able to discern what is pleasing to him.
Why THIS MATTERS
We make decisions daily, and most of us want to know how to make good decisions. In response to God creating us and sending his Son to die for us, we want to make decisions that honor him and line up with his will.
I WANT MY STUDENTS TO:
- KNOW: That discerning God’s will isn’t just about getting from point A to point B. It’s about allowing him to lead us and guide us on a daily basis.
- EXPERIENCE: Peace in decision making as we trust in the Lord for guidance.
- DO: Make confident decisions by depending on the Lord to reveal his will through his word, prayer, godly counsel and Spirit-given wisdom.
The idea box is a place where you can find some creative ideas for leading this study. You might find videos, activities, or great illustrations that really bring the main point home. The ideas come from small group leaders like you, so if you have an idea that isn’t in there, click below to share it with the community!
*WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Which would you choose:
Coke or Pepsi?
No TV for a month or no music for a month?
Lose your sight or lose your hearing?
Math or History?
Be able to fly or turn invisible?
Some of these choices are no-brainers. Just about everyone who drinks cola can say without much thought whether they prefer Coke or Pepsi. Some are a little harder, but even so, these are all hypothetical choices. What about when it comes to life choices? How do you make a decision when the decision is not easy? Where is God in the process? How do you know if this is God’s will? This purpose of this study is to help you understand some principles for discerning God’s will.
WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT THIS?
*1. According to verse 1, what is the motivation for presenting our whole selves to God?
All that God has done for us in his mercy (undeserved kindness).
2. As you think about your life and salvation, what are some of those “mercies” or things that God has done for you?
Allow the group to discuss. Some examples might be: forgiven our sins, saved us from death and given us eternal life, given us the Holy Spirit, loved us, given us the righteousness of Christ, adopted us as his children, set us free from the power of sin in our lives, restored a relationship with him so that we are no longer his enemies, etc. Students might also mention specific ways God has changed them personally after receiving Christ.
3. How would knowing that your life belongs to the Lord make a difference in the way you make decisions?
Allow the group to discuss. Knowing our lives belong to the Lord moves us to make decisions that line up with his desires for us.
*4. What are the commands Paul gives in verse 2?
- According to that verse, what is the result if we follow those commands?
Do not conform to the pattern of this world. Be transformed by the renewing of our minds. If we surrender ourselves to God and allow him to transform us by changing the way we think from the ways of the world to his ways, THEN we will understand what God’s will is, and that his will is good, pleasing and perfect.
*5. Why do you think God wants us to submit to him and obey his teachings before we’ll understand his will?
Allow the group to discuss. We won’t follow God’s will for us unless we first choose to submit to his authority and obey him. He wants our hearts to grow close to him and trust him, then he helps us understand his will for us.
6. Psalm 119:105 tells us God’s word is a “lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” It shows us the way.
- What are some things that you already know God’s word tells us are clearly his will?
Allow the group to discuss. Some examples include: give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18), avoid sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3), be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), any of the 10 commandments – like not having any other gods before God, do not murder, do not steal (Exodus 20), love your neighbor (Mark 12:31), obey your parents (Ephesians 6:1).
HOW DO WE APPLY THIS TO OUR LIVES?
7. How does it make you feel to know that God’s will is “good, pleasing and perfect”?
Allow the group to discuss. Knowing God’s will is good gives us confidence to trust God when we don’t fully understand. It may free us from fear of missing out, knowing that because God’s will is perfect there isn’t a better option out there.
*8. What are some difficult decisions you are facing today?
Allow the group to discuss.
*9. Choose one decision that you want to work through right now in the group. Share what you are trying to decide with the group.
MY DECISION: __________________________________________________
Leaders, don’t force your students to share something here, but it will be very helpful to have a specific decision for them to work through in the following activity.
In the box below are some practical steps you can start working through to help you discern God’s will in decision making. Answer each question about your decision and write down some notes for each one. Remember this is a process in relationship with God, it usually doesn’t happen in an instant. You can begin now as time allows, and then continue working through it on your own time.
Work through the following questions. If there are any you don’t have an answer to, or need more information, write down your questions and action points. You can come back to them outside of this study time. (For example, for question 1, you might write an action point to look in the Bible for insights related to your decision, or commit to spending regular time reading your Bible if that is something you aren’t consistently doing. For question 3, you might make a list of people you can ask for godly counsel.)
1) GOD’S WORD – What does God’s word say about the decision?
Is this an area where I already have clear guidance? Are there principles in his word that apply to my situation?
2) THE HOLY SPIRIT – What have I sensed the Spirit prompting me to do as I spend time with God in prayer?
Have I talked with God about the decision?
3) OTHERS – What insights have I gained from the counsel of others?
Don’t depend on others to make the decision for you. But people who know you well, understand the situation, and can give you a godly perspective might have insights to help you in the decision.
4) CIRCUMSTANCES – How has God been working in circumstances?
What is God doing around me? Is he closing or opening opportunities?
5) MY DESIRES – What are my desires?
We can’t rely completely on our desires because, let’s be honest, we all want things that we know God does not want for us. However, if God is calling you to something, he will place a desire in your heart for that thing. Listen to the desires that God may be placing in your heart.
6) WISDOM – What does wisdom say?
God gave us a brain! Make a list of pros & cons for the different choices you have in your decision.
10. Do you have any insights on your decision that you want to share with the group as you have started working through the process?
FOR FURTHER STUDY:
Our review cards are an excellent way to review your past lessons with your students before each study. Not every lesson has one yet but if we have them, you can find them on the PRINT page. Check them out and use them each week to help your students grab hold of the truths in these studies.
What ideas do you have that could improve this study? Are there creative things you do to bring this topic home to your students? Please share with the community clicking the FEEDBACK button or leaving a comment below.