How can one tell the difference between their own idea verses direction from God? One of the key ways is that direction from God is persistent over time. It keeps coming back to you in multiple ways. The more you SEEK God about it, the more you see His light shining on a certain path for your life and it just seems more and more right to your spirit and the Holy Spirit living in you. Psalm 32:8 encourages us, "The Lord says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.'"
It goes on to tell us in verse 9 not to be like a horse or a mule - in other words, when you know God is directing you, seek Him for steps to take. Don't get ahead of Him bolting out into something He hasn't brought clarity on yet, and don't lag way behind once He has give you clarity and clear steps to start taking.
Remember, once you receive God's direction and He has clearly confirmed it with multiple witnesses remember that a vision from God is always impossible to fulfill without His help. Why would God give you a goal that you would think you can achieve on your own? That would require no prayer or humility of admitting you need Him. It would also require no dependence on His grace and mercy.
I think God is pleased when we are a bit uncomfortable within our goals. This requires our going to Him daily and resisting the gravitational pull of the world toward becoming spiritually stagnate. As evangelist R.W. Schambach said years ago, "Be called and sent, not up and went."
Remember to ask God not just what is He calling you into, but additionally, what is He calling you out of. Often we get so comfortable in a "good" place in our life, such as a job, a routine, a home, a bad association, that we barely hear God's whisper calling us up to the "greater" He has for us. Sometimes we humans don't want to end something that needs to be ended because we are comfortable right where we are at (we aren't talking about marriage here by the way)!
Once you know that something is God, and He has sent multiple confirmations, be diligent to follow God's light. He will "Guide you along the best pathway for your life..." through persistently shining His light on the right path as you pray and ask for wisdom and guidance. God's direction will stick with you and keep coming back to you.
We pray that you see His light shining more clearly on the right path for your life than ever before! May God grant you wisdom, right timing, strength and courage to do all He is calling you to in 2017!
Pastors Shaun & Amy