Pastor James J. Barker

Text: PROVERBS 3:5, 6


  1. I would like to speak this morning on a very important and very practical subject, and that is “discerning the will of God.”
  2. Andrew Murray said, “If you want to find strength with rest, joy with fruitfulness, and peace with provision, there is only one place for you to be: in the very center of God’s will.”
  3. The apostle Paul said this about King David, “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep” (Acts 13:36).
  4. Let me ask you, “Are you serving your own generation by the will of God?”
  5. Paul wrote in Colossians 4:12, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”
  6. Christian friends, God wants you to “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”
  7. Unsaved friends, it is not God’s will for you to die without Christ.  Second Peter 3:9 says God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
  8. Let me emphasize that whenever we are trying to discern the will of God, the very first question should be, “Does this line up with God’s Word?”
  9. The problem is that so few people today – even in our fundamental churches – know the Bible.  Just the other day I read an interesting article in the newspaper, entitled, “ONE NATION, OF RELIGIOUS ILLITERATES” (By Thomas W. Carroll,  New York Post, 5/28/09).
  10. The author says, “Recent surveys of religious knowledge by the Gallup Organization and others have found that barely 10 percent of US teenagers can name the five major religions. About one-half of adults can name just one of the four gospels  Many students apparently think that Joan of Arc is the wife of Noah. Only one-third could identify Jesus as the person who delivered the Sermon on the Mount. George Gallup once rightfully called America ‘a nation of biblical illiterates.”
  11. In order to know the will of God, we must first know the Word of God.  But most people (even many Christians) do not know the Word of God.
  12. Furthermore, the Lord never moves any one to act contrary to the Word of God.  Psalm 23:3 says, “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
  13. The Lord leads only into the “paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3).  As one preacher put it, the Word of God “supplies us with an unerring chart by which to steer through the dangerous sea of life, which if we sincerely and diligently follow, will deliver us from disastrous rocks and submerged reefs, and direct us safely to the Heavenly Harbor” (AW Pink).
  14. The Word of God has been given to us  so “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:17).
  15. “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).  “Now it is obvious that God’s Word cannot be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path unless we are familiar with its contents” (AW Pink).
  16. Are you reading the Bible every day?
  17. Are you obeying the Bible?  (Joshua 1:8).
  18. James 1:22 says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
  19. It is wonderful to know that God wants us to know the will of God.  Ephesians 5:17 says, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
  20. James 1:5, 6 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”
  21. God wants to show us His will, and it is both the privilege and the duty of the Christian to have a perfect knowledge of the Lord’s will. Therefore, if we are uncertain as to how we ought to proceed in any thing, it is clear that we are living far below our privileges. God says, “Be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
  22. Isaiah 58:11 says, “And the LORD shall guide thee continually.”
  23. Let us be always mindful of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God” (Rom. 8:14).
  24. Just as the Israelites were led through the wilderness by the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, we are led today by the blessed Spirit of God.
  25. Our Lord said in John 16:13, “He will guide you into all truth.”
  26. The Holy Spirit does this by regulating our thoughts, affections and conduct.
  27. He directs us by helping us understand the meaning of Scripture.
  28. The Holy Spirit applies the Word of God in power to our heart, and He enables us to appropriate it and put it into practice.
  29. The Holy Spirit opens and closes doors, which we see in Acts 16:6-10.
  30. The Holy Spirit guides us by subduing the power of indwelling sin, by weaning us from the world, by maintaining a tender conscience in us, by drawing us closer to Christ, by giving us a burden for souls, and causing us to live for the things of God.
  31. George Muller said, “I seek the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Spirit guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them. Next I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s will in connection with His Word and Spirit.”
  32. These three are vital – the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the Providence of God.  They must line up together.
  33. AW Pink said, “Mark attentively each movement of God’s providence, for as a straw in the air indicates which way the wind is blowing so the hand of God may often be discerned by a spiritual eye in what are trifling incidents to others.”
  34. FB Meyer called them “God’s Three Witnesses.”
  35. There are many Scriptures which deal with knowing the will of God.  One of the most well-known is Proverbs 3:5 and 6 – “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”



  1. If we want the LORD to direct us, then we must trust Him completely (Pro. 3:5, 6).
  2. We are to have full confidence in the Lord.  To “trust in the Lord” means to count upon Him at all times, to look to Him to supply our every need.
  3. The Hebrew word translated “trust” in our King James Bible means “to lean upon.”  This means that we are to cast all our cares upon Him.
  4. First Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
  5. To “trust in the LORD with all thine heart” means to trust Him completely, not half-heartedly.  “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).
  6. We are to trust in the Lord with childlike simplicity.
  7. Our Lord said, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).
  8. Psalm 37:4, 5 says, “Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”



  1. “And lean not unto thine own understanding” means we are not to trust in our own wisdom or human reasoning.
  2. To lean unto our own understanding is to lean upon a broken reed, for our understanding has been clouded and disorientated by sin.
  3. Isaiah 55:8, 9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
  4. First Corinthians 1:20 says, “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”
  6. Job 9:10 says God “doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.”
  7. Romans 11:33 says, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”
  8. God’s ways are “past finding out,” and to seek to solve the mysteries of Providence is the finite attempting to comprehend the Infinite, which can only lead to disappointment and confusion.



  1. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him” means we must seek God’s blessing in all that we do.  Anything on which we cannot ask God’s blessing is wrong, and therefore we must know it cannot be God’s will.
  2. We must carefully examine our motives, searching them as carefully as the TSA workers search passengers at airport security.
  3. If our motives are not right, then we are outside the will of God.
  4. We must seek God’s guidance in every undertaking, acknowledging our complete dependence upon Him.
  5. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
  6. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving…” (Phil. 4:6).  It is God’s will that we be thankful.
  7. First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
  8. We must seek God’s glory in all our ways.  First Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 
  10. “And He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6b).  When we meet the three conditions mentioned above, we can be certain the Lord will direct us.  He will make clear to us the course of duty.
  11. God’s will always lies in the path of duty, and never runs counter to the path of duty.



  1. Many years ago, FB Meyer was sailing from northern Ireland to England.  It was nighttime and as he looked ahead all he could see was a confusing jumble of lights. He wondered how the captain would be able to navigate the ship safely into the harbor.
  2. So he went and asked the captain.  The captain took him up to the bridge and said, “Do you see that big light over to the left?  And do you see that other big light to the right of it?  And now, do you see that outstanding light farther still this way?  Well now, keep your eyes on those three lights and see what happens.”
  3. As FB Meyer watched, the big outer light on the left gradually moved in till it coincided with the middle light.  Then as the ship slowly turned, the light gradually merged into the third light.
  4. “There now,” said the captain, “all I have to do is to see that those three big lights become one; then I go straight ahead.”
  5. FB Meyer saw this as a vivid illustration for discerning the will of God.  He said when Scripture, the Holy Spirit, and Divine Providence are lined up we can move straight ahead with confidence, knowing the Lord is directing us.

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