The notes below are from a recent Students & Twenties evening, looking at Being Prepared to Make Big Life Decisions.

By Katherine Allen

Romans 8:28
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Surely Paul is saying here in his letter to the Romans that God always works good things for us as long as we love Him? That if we go to church every Sunday and pray and read our Bibles daily, we will get that job or spouse or material possession that we want? Well, no. Actually Paul doesn’t say anything of the sort. But as Christians living in today’s modern, Westernised, egocentric culture we can be prone to reducing Romans 8:28 to a simplistic, ‘prosperity gospel’ philosophy that is primarily concerned with ourselves and our desires, instead of attempting to understand its true meaning.

“When we submit our lives to what we read in Scripture, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s. God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves” – Eugene Peterson

The point that Peterson makes here, and indeed throughout his excellent book Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading, is that to read and appreciate Romans 8:28 (or any other verse in the Bible) for what it really says we need to put aside our selfish thoughts and commit fully to God’s vision for our lives. Only then can we focus on the calling God has placed on us, according to His purpose, which is ultimately to make disciples by sharing the good news of Jesus with those who don’t yet know Him (Matthew 28:19-20).

Another trap we can fall into when reading this verse is thinking that if God really causes all things to work together for good, then we will never make mistakes or sin. But we all know this isn’t the case! Instead God works everything for good despite our bad decisions and foolish errors. This is the gospel in a nutshell: there is nothing we can do or say that will separate us from the love of God because of what Jesus did for us on the cross (Romans 8:38-39). How encouraging is that?

Obviously we can still try our best not to make poor or ill-informed life choices, so here are five principles to consider that may help you out from the Alpha talk, ‘How Does God Guide Us?’:

Commanding Scripture
The Bible gives us the ‘scaffolding principles’ upon which we should build all our decisions.

Compelling Spirit
The Holy Spirit is personally living inside us, helping us to hear God’s voice & respond to it.

Counsel of the Saints
God has surrounded us with wiser, more experienced Christians. Ask for their advice!

Common Sense
Don’t neglect your natural, God-given ability to think, reason and problem solve.

Circumstantial Signs
Coincidences don’t really happen when God is in control. Once you have considered all of the above then look for obvious opportunities.

In more practical terms, especially for anyone struggling with their specific calling in life, here are five more questions for you to try to answer from Greg Haslam’s book, ‘Moving in the Prophetic’:

What do you feel PROMPTED to do?
Grow in your sensitivity to God’s Spirit. Try not to grieve Him, and be willing to respond quickly.

What do you experience PLEASURE in doing?
What do you love doing so much that you’ll keep doing it even if it hurts? What motivates you?

What do you experience POWER in doing?
What comes to you so naturally that you’re confused why others don’t find it so easy?

What do you receive PRAISE for doing?
What do you do that receives regular positive feedback from others?

What has led to personal PROMOTION by God?
What places or positions has God already put you in where you can apply all of the above?