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Following God’s Will

By Dr. Charles Stanley

Abraham knew how to listen to God and follow Him—even when His commands were difficult or painful to obey. Although the patriarch made some mistakes, his life demonstrated remarkable faith and obedience.

The Lord revealed His plans for Abraham. He will be faithful to show us what He wants us to do as well. Listening to God is essential to walking with God (Life Principle #13).

Abraham’s Example

1. The Lord revealed Abraham’s future and guided his steps.

Note: Abraham (“father of a multitude”) and Sarah (“princess”) were originally named Abram and Sarai. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll use the names God gave them, which indicate their destiny as patriarch and matriarch of the Jewish people.

  • What did the Lord reveal to Abraham about his future (Gen. 12:1-3)?
  • How did he respond to the command to “go forth from your country” (Gen. 12:4)?
    What fact makes this particularly impressive (v. 4)?
  • What details does Genesis 13:14-18 add to the original promise?
    Why do you think God reiterated His pledge at this particular time?
  • God promised Abraham—a man with a barren wife—that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. How did He view Abraham’s belief (Gen. 15:1-6)?
  • In Genesis 17:8, what new dimension does God add to His promise?

2. The Lord redirected Abraham when he made mistakes.

  • Why does Abraham father a child through Hagar, Sarah’s servant (Gen. 16:1-3)?
  • Name some consequences of Abraham’s attempt to fulfill God’s promise on his own (Gen. 16:4-6, 11-12).

The passage doesn’t record whether or not God directly rebuked Abraham for his disobedience with Hagar. Perhaps the natural consequences of his sin were enough to cause the patriarch to repent.

  • Between Ishmael’s birth and the next time the Scripture records the Lord speaking to Abraham, how many years pass (Gen. 16:16; 17:1)?
  • What new detail does the promise include this time (Gen. 17:16)?
  • What was Abraham’s reaction to the news that Sarah would bear a son at age 90 (Gen. 17:17)?
  • Why do you think Isaac needed to be the son of promise, rather than Ishmael (Gen. 18-21)?
  • When the time came, Sarah bore Abraham a son, just as the Lord had promised. Why did they name the baby “Isaac” (Gen. 21:6-7)?

3. God tested Abraham’s devotion.

In Abraham’s day, the Lord had yet to specifically forbid child sacrifice. (See Leviticus 20:1-5.) However, the godly did not practice it.  

  • How quickly does Abraham respond when God asks him to kill Isaac (Gen. 22:3)?
  • Abraham was confident that both he and the child would return from the sacrifice (v. 5). Why (Heb. 11:17-19)?
  • Given that “fear” can mean “to reverence,” what was the Lord’s intention in asking him to give up Isaac (Gen. 22:12)?
  • Once again, God repeats His promise (vv. 15-18). Explain verse 18: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” (See Matthew 1:1 and Galatians 3:8 if necessary).

Application: God gave Abraham an amazing promise that became more specific over time. We should expect the Father’s guidance to come in stages, rather than all at once (Isa. 30:21).

  • Has God ever given you a promise that was hard to believe? Or has He asked you to take a step of obedience that required a lot of faith? Explain what happened.
  • What is your next step of obedience?

Although the Father promises to provide for us, we can get impatient. Then, like Abraham, we manipulate circumstances and experience the painful consequences of disobedience.

  • Think about the last time you took action instead of waiting on God’s provision. What were the results?

Abraham’s disobedience affected not just him and his family, but also generations to follow. Our rebellion might not have the same far-reaching consequences, yet other people sometimes pay a high price for our wrongdoing. Even so-called “private” sins cause us to be less attentive to the needs of others.

  • Think about a way you commonly disobey God. How does that sin affect those around you?
  • The Lord dealt with Abraham’s faulty thinking by redirecting the patriarch’s attention to the divine promise and its fulfillment. When we wander from Him, He will remind us of Scripture verses, spiritual principles, or the peace and joy we once knew as faithful followers. What generally motivates you to repent?

Once the Lord fulfills a promise, He may test us—as He did Abraham—to see if we love Him more than we love His gifts.

  • Has the Lord ever given you something and then asked you to surrender it to Him? Explain.
  • Read Revelation 2:1-5. What is the solution for regaining your “first love” for God (v. 5)?

Closing: Although disagreements are a part of life, believers can learn how to rely on God in the midst of conflict. By depending on His guidance and strength, we can respond to conflict with integrity and avoid the poison of unforgiveness.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I don’t want anything to hurt my relationship with You. Help me to address disagreements directly—making peace with others so I will have peace with You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Copyright 2015 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

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  • June 10, 2013 05:05 PM


    Wonderful bible study. I'll return daily!
  • June 10, 2013 04:12 PM


    Thank you for sharing. Whenever i need guidance God always spoke to me through you. I thank God for someone like you. God Bless you.
  • June 10, 2013 03:45 PM


    Thanks again Dr. Stanley for your teachings. It has been a blessing to me. My faith, my vision and my love for God is increasing everyday. May God continue to bless you. Thank God for your ministry. Be blessed.

  • June 10, 2013 03:26 PM


    This encouraged me to Trust God more and have let Him have His way rather than my way for He knows best
  • June 10, 2013 02:41 PM


    This message was what I needed to hear! Been struggling with a conflict with a family member and letting Satan take hold of my emotions and falling deeper into sin that was spiraling me down along with taking others with me! So need to repent and get my relationship back where God can work in my life again and use me to further His kingdom! I am so thankful for God's insight through you, Dr. Stanley! Blessings!
  • June 09, 2013 11:10 PM


    DIOS siempre sabe la situación por la que estamos pasando y usa su PALABRA para fortalecernos y guiarnos, es exactamente la prueba por la que estoy viviendo pero doy gracias a DIOS por guiarlo a enviarme este estudio ha sido de gran ayuda.
  • June 09, 2013 08:35 PM


    This lessons shows me there is a blessing in obedience. My trials are minor compared to some and I definitely do not want ro react in a way that will negatively affect my relationship with God.
  • June 09, 2013 06:46 PM


    God keeps his promises by faith never fear only trust Him!
  • June 09, 2013 06:32 PM


    God Is Great! He keeps His Word to all that believe in Him. By Faith!
  • June 09, 2013 06:29 PM


    enjoy these lessons. they are a blessing.
  • June 09, 2013 05:23 PM


    I am also learning how to be obedient and follow His word. I mess up so may times and I know He loves me and wants the best for me, and that's why I keep going through learn. So I need to "be still."
  • June 09, 2013 05:17 PM


    it made you know that God is still going to do what ever you ask in His time at the right time. God will take care of us.
  • June 09, 2013 05:07 PM


    I thank God for you Dr. Stanley. Today's lesson took me back when I was young in the Lord and excited about being a Sunday school teacher. Today's lesson reminded me of my enthusiasm and the joy of my salvation. Thank you for brining me back to remembrance, my experiencing the joy of the Lord. In your prayer, I recognized as a result of my fear and failure to address disagreements directly, I have allowed the hurt to interfere with my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I know Holy spirit will give me direction and the right words to speak, if I am to respond. I just know that this message has delivered me from fear of confrontation. In Jesus' name. Amen
  • June 09, 2013 05:03 PM


    A very good outline for a devotional. I am blessed wirh the lesson and i pray i will be obedient to His will.
  • June 09, 2013 11:35 AM


    Thank you for always bringing me back to the light!!
    Much Love!
  • June 09, 2013 11:29 AM


    This is an excellent study and very helpful for me right now. It is exactly what I needed to study at this particular junction in my life.
  • June 09, 2013 08:54 AM


    Appropriate for this moment in time for the next step of faith I need to take regarding a relationship.
  • June 09, 2013 08:37 AM


    This was exactly what I needed at this time
  • June 09, 2013 08:20 AM


    Just what I need to read at this time, thank you for your faithfulness to our Lord and saviour.
    Malcolm Macleod
  • June 09, 2013 08:03 AM


    Sometimes I forget how it used to be. When I had our first love. I need to repent and do the works I did at first.
  • June 09, 2013 07:27 AM


    I think failing to wait for the Lord's instruction, or ignoring that instruction and acting on my own is the biggest challenge and something that this helped me think about again.
  • June 09, 2013 07:22 AM


    It was as if Dr. Stanley was sitting down talking with me one on one. Made me reflect deeper into my life. Passed along to others as well. THANK YOU.
  • November 08, 2010 05:25 AM


    It gave me a deeper understanding on what i am going through right now, very enlightening!
  • August 31, 2010 11:33 AM


    I was truly blessed by this lesson. It was easy to personalize the teaching.

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