How important it is to ascertain the will of God, before we undertake anything, because we are then not only blessed in our own souls, but also the work of our hands will prosper. Just in as many points as we are acting according to the mind of God, in so many are we blessed and made a blessing. Our manner of living is according to the mind of the Lord, for He delights in seeing His children thus come to Him (Matt. vi); and therefore, though I am weak and erring in many points, yet He blesses me in this particular.
First of all, to see well to it, that the work in which he desires to be engaged is God’s work; secondly, that he is the person to be engaged in this work; thirdly, that God’s time is come, when he should do this work; and then to be assured, that, if he seeks God’s help in His own appointed way, He will not fail him. We have ever found it thus, and expect to find it thus, on the ground of the promises of God, to the end of our course.
1. Be slow to take new steps in the Lord’s service, or in your business, or in your families. Weigh everything well; weigh all in the light of the Holy Scriptures, and in the fear of God.
2. Seek to have no will of your own, in order to ascertain the mind of God, regarding any steps you propose to take, so that you can honestly say, you are willing to do the will of God, if He will only please to instruct you.
3. But when you have found out what the will of God is, seek for His help, and seek it earnestly, perseveringly, patiently, believingly, and expectingly: and you will surely, in His own time and way, obtain it. We have not to rush forward in self-will and say, I will do the work, and I will trust the Lord for means, this cannot be real trust, it is the counterfeit of faith, it is presumption; and though God, in great pity and mercy, may even help us finally out of debt; yet does this, on no account, prove that we were right in going forward before His time was come. We ought, rather, under such circumstances to say to ourselves: “Am I indeed doing the work of God?” And if so, I may not be the person to do it; or if I am the person, His time may not yet be come for me to go forward; it may be His good pleasure to exercise my faith and patience.
I ought, therefore, quietly to wait His time; for when it is come, God will help. Acting on this principle brings blessing. To ascertain the Lord’s will we ought to use scriptural means.
Prayer, the word of God, and His Spirit should be united together. We should go to the Lord repeatedly in prayer, and ask Him to teach us by His Spirit through His word. I say by His Spirit through His word. For if we should think that His Spirit led us to do so and so, because certain facts are so and so, and yet His word is opposed to the step which we are going to take, we should be deceiving ourselves. No situation, no business will be given to me by God, in which I have not time enough to care about my soul.
Therefore, however outward circumstances may appear, it can only be considered as permitted of God, to prove the genuineness of my love, faith, and obedience, but by no means as the leading of His providence to induce me to act contrary to His revealed will. If honest of heart and uprightness before God were lacking or if I did not patiently wait on God for instruction, or if I preferred the counsel of my fellow-men to the declarations of the Word of God, I made great mistakes.