Scott Stephens is the counseling pastor at West End Baptist Church’s West End Counseling Center, a board member of Redeemer Biblical Counseling Training Institute, and a PhD student in the Biblical Counseling Program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. To find out more about our counseling center (WECC), please call the church at 864-232-7312.

It’s incredible how God uses everything we encounter to teach us a lesson. Recently, I’ve had some extra time and have been able to do one of the things I love… yard work. Loretta just had a screened porch built on our house. We’ve been thinking about new landscaping for the yard and decided to put a water garden right off the porch where we can hear the running water. After digging, laying rock, and manipulating a very thick pond liner, it was time for the water to go in. I built a waterfall feature once I had the water in the pond. One of the steps in the process was to put rocks on the fall and then fill between the stones with liquid expandable foam. This was to prevent water leakage around the fall. The foam was the same color as the black pond liner, so it would be somewhat invisible and look more natural. I started applying the sealer and noticed that the application was a little unpredictable. As a result, I needed to try and manipulate it so it would look better. I began pushing and prodding and quickly noticed that my hands were getting black with paint. I didn’t think much of it until I started cleaning up. I couldn’t get the paint off my hands. No matter what I tried, no luck. Finally, I read the label warning me to “Use Gloves During the Application.”

Once again, God was teaching me a lesson. God is a great teacher. As I scrubbed my hands, I began thinking about the need to slow down, plan adequately, and read and understand the instructions in the pamphlet. My thinking went to another level, though. How many times have I jumped into a circumstance in my life, believing with all my heart that what I hoped to accomplish was God’s will for me? What is God’s will?

I hate the old cliché about the Bible being man’s instruction manual, but Scripture is where the believer should go when seeking to understand God’s will. I believe most of us want to live within God’s will, but we make decisions without looking for the guidance He provides in Scripture. When making decisions this way, we ultimately have black paint all over our hands, hoping that what we’ve done is His will. To understand His will, we must take the time to listen to him and utilize the guidance He provides in His Word. When we do, we learn foundational principles that teach us His will.

Here are a few principles to live by:

• In a Psalm that David wrote, he states, “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart” (Ps 40:8). David understood God’s will for him because He meditated on God’s law to the extent that he knew it in his heart. It guided his decisions.

• In another Psalm, David writes, “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!” (Ps 143:10). David’s plea is that God will teach him His will with the Holy Spirit’s help. This guidance comes from God’s Word through the Spirit.

• Matthew 6:33 tells us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” God’s primary will for us is to seek Him above all things. When we try to understand who He is and who we are to Him, he promises that all the things we need (what we will eat, drink, and wear) will be provided for us. Matthew 22:37-40 gives us more clarity about seeking God first. It states, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Suppose we love God to the extent that we should. In that case, we will love others so much that we are obedient to his command to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20).

God’s will for us is to seek Him first in everything, love Him more than anything or anyone, and love His people enough to share the good news of what He has done for us.

Have confidence that by doing these, you will live a life that glorifies Him and is within His will. He has promised that when you love Him with your entire being, He will guide you in the other essentials of your life. You don’t have to constantly wonder if you’re in God’s will if you seek Him first, loving Him and others. You’ll find that by living these foundational principles, your decisions will most likely be God’s will for you.

One final bit of advice. Always read the instructions!


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