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Reading God’s Lips

by Charles R. Swindoll on March 1, 2008 in Articles

“No, no, no, wrong place. Keep looking. You’re getting warmer.” That’s the idea some have when they think of knowing God’s will. They envision the Lord’s playing hide-and-seek, keeping His desires and plans a mystery.

Yet the opposite is true. The Almighty who made the universe, the One who “takes thought of us,” deeply desires for us to know His will for our lives. Though He sometimes remains “silent as light,” He is still actively engaged in directing our steps. He has created us for a reason—to do His will. So He wants to show us His ways. And to help us, He has given us some guidelines for reading His mysterious lips. To remember them, I use an ultra-simple mnemonic device: A-B-C-D-E.

A: Accepting frame of mind. We need solitude and silence and intimacy with our Creator. There’s nothing mysterious about that. We each need a special spot where we go to be alone. One day it may be a walk on the beach. Another, it may be a trip to the mountains. Perhaps it’s sitting at our desk or even while driving alone in our car. It doesn’t matter where, just so we take time to reflect and to remain open. To be teachable. Sensitive. Available.

B: Biblical investigation. We know that God’s will is never contrary to His Word. So we search the Scriptures. Biblical investigation requires sound, sensible interpretation, so we must study passages in context. Don’t pick verse 7 and ignore verses 1 to 6. God still speaks from the pages of Scripture.

C: Clarification and conviction from the Holy Spirit. When we walk in the Spirit, we pray and think through the Scriptures reflectively. Direction may not come quickly but ultimately it will come. We must be willing to wait. David writes in Psalm 40:1, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.”

D: Determined peace. An umpire is the final voice in the game. He makes the crucial decisions, calls the fouls, and settles situations. That’s the way it is with peace. For those of us who are married, our mates should have peace about the matter, too.

E: Expectation of struggles. Sometimes we think when things grow difficult that we must have “missed God’s will,” as if His ways should lead to the easiest path. The opposite is sometimes true. Often less than two weeks after we’ve made a decision, we realize, “This is a can of worms! This is hard!” Yet we can still have peace, knowing that we are the chosen means of dealing with “the can.” This is God’s plan. This is where He wants to use us. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be unexplained struggles—remember that!

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