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What’s God Thinking?

• Greg Boyd

Discerning God’s will can be difficult. In the final sermon of God Will Hunting, Greg offers some practical suggestions for knowing God’s will. He also tells stories that highlight how these suggestions work in the real world.

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Over the past weeks, we’ve been studying different aspects of God’s will. This study has not been exhaustive, but we hope that it was informative. One of the topics that hadn’t been discussed yet was the idea of how to practically discern God’s will. We’ve talked about it, but there have been a lot of questions as to how to find God’s will in the real world. There are three good ideas to keep in mind when attempting to discern God’s will for your life.

The first idea is to use imaginative discernment. Imagination is important in our relationship with God. It can show us pictures that speak into our lives, through which we can discern if God is speaking to us. Although in our scientific world it can be difficult to be imaginative, learning this technique will help to discern God’s will for our lives.

Purge your motives before you begin. Make sure that you’re a blank slate, as much as that is possible. Be in a quiet place, free from distractions, and ask God to reveal his will to you. Begin to imagine possible future scenarios. When you do this, look for the scenario that gives you the most peace in your spirit. This will lead you to God’s will more likely than not.

The second idea is using community discernment. Imaginations can run wild, and it’s important to have trusted, Kingdom people around you that can help in your discernment process. Sometimes, God speaks through other people to us. These people may be spouses, family, or friends. The important factor is that they are a community of Kingdom comrades that you trust and who trust the Lord. Your community can also walk alongside you, supporting you as you push towards God’s will.

Finally, remember that God’s will is always in the present. Sometimes, our plans can go awry. Sometimes, when God says yes, it might turn out bad. It is easy to turn this back on God and ask why he led us down this path only to fail. We can also begin to question ourselves and whether we heard right, which can lead to a lot of doubt and worry.

It’s important to note that God’s ultimate will and his nature never change. Our God always searches for the best for us. In the Bible, Greg has seen over forty times where God changes his plans. It’s not because he’s fickle, but rather, God changes his plans to account for the free will that is a part of his creation.

However, God’s particular will can change for people. Even though his ultimate will and nature are steadfast, his particular will can change given different circumstances. He might want a particular job for you, but factors outside of God’s will may make that impossible, and God changes his plan to help you find a different job.

This means that we can’t coast on yesterday’s will. We must be ever-present with God, always seeking his will. As Greg said last week, we don’t have to ask about *everything*, but we can seek his will on the big things. And even though we may get a yes, that doesn’t mean that it won’t change in the future. If God calls us to something, and it doesn’t work out, he will call us to something else. We can’t hear this second call if we’re not listening and only focusing on the first call.

Use your imagination to find God’s will. It is one of the primary vehicles which God communicates his will, because the Holy Spirit speaks through our imagination. Have a community of believers who you trust around you. This community can help confirm your imaginative discernment, and they can also give advice, search on your behalf for God’s will, and support you in your pursuit of God’s will. Don’t get stuck in the past when it comes to God’s will. Be ever-present in seeking God’s will, and always look to see where he is moving. These three basic principles of discerning God’s will are not exhaustive, but they will be an excellent start in your journey of discovering God’s will.

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Topics: Calling, God's Will, Imagination


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Focus Scripture:

  • Colossians 1:9-12

    For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[a] so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[b] to share in the inheritance of his people in the kingdom of light.

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11 thoughts on “What’s God Thinking?

  1. Kristen Lopez says:

    Just curious, which service time is the recording usually from?

  2. Jim LePage says:

    Hey Kristen – Most often it’s the 11:00, but occasionally the 9:00 service.

  3. Ethan says:

    Doesn’t God’s will happen no matter what our ‘free will’ decides? It seems to me Greg is saying that God’s will is ever changing because people are ever changing. I’m pretty sure if God wants something to happen, regardless of our free will choices, it will happen.

  4. Teresa says:

    “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” ~John 3:8

  5. Kevin says:

    MY HEAD HURTS!!!!

  6. Jim LePage says:

    Ethan – I’m not smart enough to answer your question, but I’m tech-savvy enough to link you to a page on Greg’s site that may help 🙂

    http://www.gregboyd.org/qa/open-theism/what-is-the-biblical-basis-for-free-will/

  7. Debbie says:

    Hey Greg – what about examples like Jonah? Clearly Jonah did not want to submit to God’s will, but it seems as though he was forced to. Any comments?

  8. Vadim Hunte says:

    Still puzzled by last week’s sermon. Greg said God’s will changes as people make decisions, so He may switch from plan A to plan B depending on what people choose. If that’s true then there is no guarantee that plan B will work either because peoples’ choices and free will can thwart it. If God doesn’t know for sure what will happen, then He has no way of reliably promising anything. God in that case is just playing the probabilities and is reacting to choices made in time and space. If God cannot reliably promise anything then His Word is worthless. It seems to me that a God that is doing little more than guessing at what will happen is too small to be worshiped as the Almighty. If God created time then he stands outside of it and is therefore not hemmed in by it. If God exists outside of time, He sees all of time and all that happens, all at once, while we who are time bound experience it as a progression. From the moment of creation God has already seen all the ages and the infinite possibilities of what life could be like. God therefore has foreknowledge of all that will happen as well as all that could have happened if people made different choices. I don’t believe weakening God by saying “he didn’t know it would happen” is the answer to the difficult things in life.

  9. Jill says:

    I beleive the message is clear in that because we have free will plan b, c, d etc. might not work. But you can’t quit because of that. If God knows every single thing that will happen for all of creation then none of us really have free will do we? We must be robots and not even know it? He must be making me type this? Now, back to reality. It’s a broken world where unfortuantely people make bad choices all the time which affects everything. Nobody is weakening God by saying he didn’t know it would happen. We are actually breaking God’s heart all the time by bad choices. God’s promise isn’t that this life wll be perfect because we feel we made a choice according to his will. His promise is that if we live life here as best we can by making good choices, choices we feel are of God, and we have are hearts and mind open to our all loving God and try to love like that, then God’s promise is heaven.

  10. Jim LePage says:

    Debbie & Vadim: I can’t answer for Greg, but if you want more detail on his view, I’d encourage you to check out his web site. He’s got several spots where he deals with this topic.

    http://www.gregboyd.org/category/qa/predestination-free-will/
    http://www.gregboyd.org/category/qa/open-theism/

    Hope that helps!

  11. Sergio Sarmiento says:

    Jim LePage, thank you for your help. I am struggling with the same questions posted earlier, but I will now study the links you provided!
    Greetings from Norway.

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