How do I know if what I think and feel are God's will and not my own?
That's a great question that many people wonder about. The easiest way to separate the two is to have a daily quiet time where you are reading the Bible in a quiet place with your heart open to God. John 15, Jesus used the example of a branch growing out of the side of a tree. As the branch stays connected it receives nourishment and life. When it is disconnected, then it is on it's own and it will die. So let me suggest this:
1) Get a modern translation of the Bible (New Living Translation).
2) Sit in a quiet place without distractions.
3) Speak to God as you would a friend, "God, I am here to learn from You, I deliberately open myself up to you, I set aside distractions and I ask you to teach me now as I read the Bible"
4) If you're new at this, start reading with the Gospel of John. The purpose of reading is not to cover lots of verses or chapters - it is to let God speak to you.
5) Read very slowly phrase by phrase watching for the words or phrase to almost jump off the page into your mind - you will definitely know that these words are important words for you today.
6) Stop and ask God what these words mean for your life now and what actions you should take because God has brought these words to your attention. As you reflect on these words with God, you will find that God is leading you to perhaps, things in the past, or that you are now facing, or that may come up as you go through this day.
7) Now write down the words that jump out to you and what your discussion was with God. You will notice over a period of weeks that God will be steering your mind in the directions that He wants you to go - you will be able to objectively see on paper how God has been guiding youday by day. I know this works because I've been doing it for years.
--Dr. Jim Conway