5 Steps For Determining God’s Will

Lately, I have wrestled with trying to figure out God’s will for some areas in my life.  Two weeks ago, my pastor gave this 5 step process for determining God’s will:

1. God’s will is revealed in his written word – the Bible.

2. God often uses wise people in our lives to advise us and help us determine God’s will.   

3. God reveals his will through open and closed doors.

4.  God reveals his will through inner peace or turmoil.

5.  God uses our obedience for his glory.

Number 5 resonates with me during this holiday season…because Mary the mother of Jesus comes to mind – her obedience to God’s plans are staggering! 

Have you ever thought about Mary’s friendships and how they must have been affected by this baby that appeared to show up out of wedlock…how some of the women probably talked behind her back and said “ya right – an angel appeared to her!”  Those stares and the slander must have stung. 

But Mary followed God no matter what the cost.

Then Mary gave birth to this perfectly behaved child…do you know how hard it’d be – to be friends with a new mom whose child is PERFECT!!!  Let me be the first to raise my hand and say that going to a play date is already intimidating for me…I never know what my sugar plums are going to do next!  But then to live next door to the woman whose child NEVER does anything wrong…oh dear…again Mary was most likely the talk of the town!

But Mary followed God no matter what the cost.

Mary enters the scene in the Bible at Jesus’ conception and then she is only mentioned a few times throughout Jesus’ life. She is there at the foot of the cross on the day that he is crucified. Jesus was her son and Jesus was her Savior – can you imagine?    What did people think of her – the mother of this perfect man? The mother of this hated man?

But Mary followed God no matter what the cost.

This must have been a hardship yet we never see her asserting herself – trying to control Jesus so people will think better of them. She understood she was just the vessel that God used to bring this God/Man to earth. How her heart must have ached watching her son be beaten and nailed to the cross…the cost…

Though Mary could not possibly understand all that God was doing – she was open to God’s plan for her life. She offered all of herself – her pride, her plans, her time and talents to be a servant to God. She understood that her life was not her own.  She followed God no matter what the cost.

I Corinthians 6:20 says “You are not your own. You were bought at a price, therefore, honor God with your body.”

This baby Jesus, who we are about to celebrate the birth of, was born to pay the price for my sins.  I am not my own…

I want to live my life completely surrendered to him no matter what the cost.   

And yet,



because of the cost…

and I


because of the cost…

and I doubt God’s will

because there seems to be a cost attached…

and then I am reminded of this beautiful young woman Mary…

and I find strength. 

And then I reflect on her son Jesus and I’m reminded that – yes – there is a cost…but not the selfish one I’m so focused on…there was a cost for my sins and it was paid by Jesus’ shed blood on the cross…and I serve a Worthy Risen Savior…I surrender!

Walk with the King!



  1. says

    thank you for this! I too am in a place of trying to determine God’s will in different areas of my life and this was helpful and encouraging!

  2. Maggie says

    Wow! I haven’t commented before, but this was powerful! Thank you for all you do to help and encourage me in my faith walk.

  3. Nicole Auld says

    Courtney–this is so encouraging, and just as Janelle said— yes God has used you to touch so many. Keep shining for HIM!

  4. says

    This brought tears to my eyes! I admire Mary so much. I admire her *because* she is not overly written about in Scripture- she was such a faithful and humble follower of her Heavenly Father’s plan, and a true believer in Christ! I cannot imagine what it would have felt like to walk in her shoes, on *ANY* day- let alone his amazing conception and birth, and his painful death. Her faith, grace, and loving humility are such wonderful examples for me! Thank you for writing this! You wrote this so perfectly!

    (PS- I love how you cal your children “sugar plumbs” – so adorable! LOL! I may need to borrow that phrase!)

  5. says

    I do ponder the circumstances for Mary as well. What must it have been like for her? Praise God for the man that would stay with her! For their obedience…

  6. says

    One of your commenters referred me to an amazing book a couple months back. I highly recommend it to anyone trying to figure out God’s Will. It’s called “Just Do Something”. It’s a very quick and easy read.

  7. Melissa says

    I have been a reader for quite some time now and I always love what you have to say. But this is probably the most encouraging post, for me personally, you have wrote. This is what I needed right now and I thank you for sharing this post.

  8. says

    You know, I needed to read this for so many reasons. It seems you posting this was just another way of God telling me that what I am feeling led to do really IS his will and not mine. Thank you so much for sharing what is on your heart.

  9. Julie says

    Beautiful. I’ve been wearing a pendant with Mary on it everyday for years as a reminder to myself of how she followed God & how I strive to surrender the same way.

  10. says

    Those tips are great for discerning God’s will! I think so often people discount the Bible (even though it’s God’s written word) in their decision making because they feel the Bible doesn’t address everything that we go through, when in reality it addresses every single thing–just not in the way we might phrase it! :) And I agree–specific opening and shutting doors are definitely God’s way of saying “yes” or “no.”

  11. Mara says

    That was great Courtney! Thanks for sharing. You DO such a good job of explaining things:) I wish I could speak of the bible the way you do!

  12. says

    This is a wonderful perspective on God’s Will and our obedience to that Will. What resonating with me of the 5 steps was that God’s Will “will” be made clear to you in “any” fashion the Lord sees fit. He is not going to make it easy for us but our EYES have to be open (and hearts) at all times to receive the message in whatever form it comes. For me to do this, means that I have to STAY in His word and really understand the teaching.
    Praise God for this message through you!

  13. says

    Beautifully said, Courtney. I appreciate your transparency and the example of Mary’s obedience. Your Pastor’s 5 points are brilliant, and equally well timed for me to consider as I wrestle with a few distinct issues!

    Thanks so much,

  14. says

    God be glorified! Learning submission to the Master is an ongoing duty but what honor we have in serving the King! As he sacrificed Himself for us we must also sacrifice ourselves for Him. Our desires, our wants, our pride, our life…YES! Our life is not ours but His so let us go on to perfection seeking and desiring holiness at all costs and measures knowing we CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens us! A MIRACULOUS birth, a WONDROUS life, and an AMAZING resurrection and all for our salvation. PRAISE THE NAME OF THE LORD FOREVER!
    Revelation 7:12
    King James Version (KJV)
    12Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

    As you prepare for Christmas seek truth and you will get understanding. God in not in Christmas but He is in the heart of the believer. I’m sharing these truths with anyone desiring truth on my blog. Seek the Lord and prepare to meet the King!

  15. Christine Daigle says

    Praise Jesus! You are so right Courtney! He paid a price that none of us deserved. I thank God everyday for His mercy. I surrender all and I give Him complete control of my life!

  16. says

    I think the beautiful thing about God’s will is that we don’t have to determine it-when we are His, we are in it, always.
    Our days are written, every one of them, before even one of them came to be,
    His will is our sanctification, it’s all about us becoming more like Jesus, and He’ll get us there through our days, which are already determined.
    Crazy, powerful, mind-blowing. We are in His will always when we are His.


  17. says

    Like so many others have said, this post really spoke to me. I have been struggling with a few decisions lately. I’ve been so scared of the potential fall-out from either choice.

    There is one path that creates a great uneasy feeling inside me but I have been doubting my instincts. Thank you for including #4. It gave me encouragement that God may be using that feeling that guide me.

  18. says

    I have always had this left-out feeling inside when I hear folks talk about how God spoke to them. I wonder how in the world they tune into this Voice, and was I somehow born without this antennae? Did the sky open up and I missed it? It’s still a struggle, but the older I get the more I see God’s hand in my life and in the world. Even better, the more I listen (watch, feel), the easier it gets. But I wish someone had given me these Five Steps long ago. Thank you for sharing them, and for using Mary as an example. When we consider her life, we really don’t have any excuses :)

  19. says

    Awesome list! But don’t forget one more. God guides us when we pray to Him. It doesn’t happen all the time, but turning ourselves to Him and quieting our minds can bring answers in a still, small voice.

  20. Lisa says

    Great post, Courtney. Read it just as I was beginning my quiet time and it reminded me how loving and merciful is the Savior we serve. Now off to dig into his word and love Him more! Blessings!

  21. Krista says

    Perfect timing! I am being faced with some career opportunities and possible changes that I have been stressing about. I’m paying attention to the open doors, wise advisers, and feeling more at peace with the decision I’m making.

  22. says

    This is such a great reminder! It’s so true about God opening and closing doors. He always guides us one way or another, and we just need to listen. Thanks for sharing!

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