James Lesson 12

Knowing and Doing the Will of God

James 4:13-17

Opening Discussion:  Can we know the will of God for our lives?  If so, can we know His will in all things or just in some things?

1.  James had some strong things to say about this subject.  Have someone read James 4:13-17, which is quoted here from the NKJV version:

"Come now, you who say, today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit.  Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.  For what is our life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this and that'. But now you boast in your arrogance.  All such boasting is evil.  Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."

2.  So exactly how does God guide people?

a.  TV host, Pat Robertson, rightfully said, "God's primary means of guiding us is the Bible."  He goes on to say, "The Bible is our rule book of faith and practice.  If we know and understand the scriptures, we will be well on our way to having His guidance.  God never guides His people contrary to the clear principles of His written word."

b.  Proverbs 3:6 says, "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."  (This is a good verse to memorize.)  Ask God to lead you, as you trust Him in your daily walk.

c.  Colossians 3:17 reads, "Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."  As we undertake all of our activities, we are not to do them for our own recognition; rather, we are to do them in the spirit and character of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in a manner that gives all the honor and glory to God the Father.

Q1.  After reading a, b, and c above, and our scripture passage, James 4:13-17, what is James trying to teach us about God's guidance for our lives?

3.  How can we know what God's will is for our lives?

a.  Jesus prayed for God's will to be done in His life.  (Luke 11:2)

b. Romans 12:2 says that you should, "not be transformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."  God's will is that we would become morally and spiritually pure and change our thinking by consistently studying and meditating on the Word of God.

c.  Jeremiah 29:11 gives us more insight, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."

d.  "And this is the will of Him who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life, and I will raise Him up at the last day,"  (John 6:40)

e.  When we make any plans for the future, make allowance for the will of God to change those plans.  (Heb. 6:3; Rom. 15:32; I Cor. 4:19)

f.  In summary, we learn that we are to pray for God to show us His perfect will.  And since we know that He desires for all of His children to have everlasting life and that He wants to give us good things, our response should always be to consider what God wants for our lives before making our plans.  The key to a happy future is to put God first in all things, meditate on His Word, and allow Him to transform our lives, as we follow His leading.

Q2.  Rhetorical, not for general discussion):  Ask yourself, "Am I a true follower of Jesus?"  (Luke 9:23)  "Is regular Bible reading and meditation a part of my daily life?  Do I talk with the Lord regularly?"  (Phil. 4:6)  "Am I looking for ways to serve God?  Am I serving the needs of others?"  (I Peter 4:10)

4.  In your regular daily prayer life, begin talking to Him about the next steps in your Christian walk:

a.  The next steps in your personal study and quiet time with God.

b.  The next steps in your career or business.

c.  The next steps for your marriage and your family.

d.  The next steps for giving, serving, and ministering to others.

e.  Regularly ask yourself, your spouse, your family, trusted Christian friends and most of all, ask God the Father, "Am I following the Lord's will for my life?"  Then ask Him to direct or redirect your paths for His glory.

5.  James is not condemning wise business, life, or career planning in this passage.  Rather he is condemning plans that leave God out of the process.  For example:

a.  Having a business or working in a business that requires employees to work on Sunday.  (Exod. 23:12)

b.  Ignoring God in your daily plans and activities, and making decisions without talking with Him about them.  (James 4:13, 15)

c.  Christians who attend church periodically, but don't make being in the Lord's house every Sunday a priority.

d.  Not allowing God in on the ground floor of your life, and its rhythm of activities.  Some people feel that just coming to church and listening to the sermon fulfills their commitment to serving the Lord.

e.  Living our life without comprehending or understanding that our life on this earth is but a vapor in comparison to the length of eternity.  (James 4:14)

f.  Boasting about our accomplishments, rather than giving God all the glory for what He does through us.  (James 4:16)

g.  Failing to respond to the Spirit's leading.  When we feel a strong urge to do something for someone else, we need to respond to the Spirit's prompting rather than ignoring the Holy Spirit and concluding that our own plans are more important.  (James 4:17)

6.  When professing Christians go about living their lives and making plans as if God does not exist, their conduct is inconsistent with a genuine saving faith, which submits to the will and plans of God.

Q3.  Discuss other decisions for which you should consider God's will when making these plans.  Perhaps someone is contemplating such a decision and the group can help them as they seek God's will in this decision and can pray with them about it.






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