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Posts Tagged ‘discerning God’s leading’

We are seeking the Lord’s guidance as a congregation and will be coming together for a meeting next week after church. As a part of our preparation I shared last week on Listening for the Spirit – to help us know what this means and how to do it. We are continuing on with this theme today.

Last time I made the point that it’s normal for believers to be led by the Spirit of God. As Paul says in Romans 8:14, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (children) of God.” This is simply a part of being in relationship with God.

And we also looked at the most common way the Spirit leads us, which is the inward witness of the Spirit. This is when the Spirit doesn’t necessarily speak words, but gives us a deep inner sense of things that goes beyond words; an affirmation or a conviction that teaches and guides us in the way to go.

Today we want to go further on the topic of the Spirit’s leading, and first we look at –

How to receive God’s leading

That is, how do we get ourselves in a place to hear what God might want to say to us? (more…)

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Last week we looked at Being in tune with God. I tried to cast a vision of the Christian life as one in which we can hear God and do his will in any situation we find ourselves in. So we don’t just know God’s will in general, for instance, sharing the good news with people. We can also hear what God might want us to say or do in a specific situation, sharing with a particular person.

God is working all the time all around us. And so our goal is to be in synch with whatever God is up to in a given situation, so that we can be on board and be used by God to accomplish his will. So we need to tune in to God; we need to be listening, listening all the time; we need to be paying attention – so that we can be a part of what God is doing.

Jesus is our example of this in John 5:1-16. He healed the disabled man on the Sabbath because God specifically told him to, and so that’s exactly what he did. As he said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working” – John 5:17. And even though we don’t have the same level of relationship with the Father that Jesus has, we do have the Spirit and so we can also be led and guided by God in specific ways.

Well, if being in tune with God is the goal, how do we get there? This brings us to today’s topic, Getting in tune with God. And to begin with you need to –

Prepare yourself

If you get yourself tuned in, in general, then you will be ready to hear God when he wants to guide you in a very particular way. And right at the top of the list is to 1. Fully yield your heart to God.

I can say with great confidence that there is no way that you can be in tune with God if your heart is in rebellion against God; if you don’t submit to God fully; if you don’t even want to do God’s will.

You have to submit first. This means not only that you get rid of known, willful sin in your life, positively it means that you are committed to choose to do what God wants, even if it’s not what you want. Are you willing to do whatever God might say to you?

Once again, Jesus is our example. He was fully yielded to God. As he said in John 5:30 – “I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” Jesus didn’t act on his own; he acted in accord with God’s will. This is the way Jesus was always, and so he was ready when the Father told him to heal the disabled man on that particular day.

Well, we are to be fully yielded to God as well, so that our “will is to do God’s will,” as Jesus says in John 7:17. This is what we are supposed to be like. And when  we are fully yielded we put ourselves in a place spiritually where we can be led by God to do his will; where God can specifically guide us if he needs to.

2. Get to know God by immersing yourself in the Scriptures. God has revealed himself to us in the Scriptures. So know the Scriptures inside and out, and then you will know the general framework of what God’s will is in all things.

And what an opportunity this is! But do we take advantage of this? Do you spend time in the Word? Are you hungry to know more about God? Some Christians feel like after a while they know the basics and that’s enough. But there is so much more – it is so deep, and it gives life. In the Scriptures we come to know who God is and what God is like and how God works, and what God’s will is.

Again, Jesus is our example. In John 5:1-16 Jesus knew that as the Messiah he was to have a healing ministry because Isaiah 35:5-6 prophesied this. “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.” And he also knew that the forbidding of healing or receiving God’s salvation on the Sabbath was a human rule, not something Scripture forbade. So he knew the general framework of God’s will.

Well, we are to “have God’s word abiding in” us as well, as Jesus said in John 5:38, in the context of talking about the Old Testament. (He says this to the Jewish leaders, that they don’t have this, but they should have and we should as well.) And we are to have Jesus’ “words abiding” in us, as he says in John 15:7. So both the Old and New Testaments are covered here.

This prepares us to hear from God because we know who God is and what his will is in general. And our heart and mind become tuned in to this.

3. Get to know God by spending time in God’s presence. The Spirit of God lives within us and this is how God speaks to us and guides us more specifically.

And what a great privilege we have to be able to spend time in God’s presence by the Spirit! But do we take advantage of it? Do we spend time with God, not just praying but worshipping. And also listening to what God wants to say to us?

Jesus is our example. He had “the Spirit without measure” – John 3:34. And we see the fruit of his time spent with the Father in John 5:20. “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.” He and the Father were in the closest of relationships. And so in any given situation he was ready to hear and act on what God said to him, just as when he healed the disabled man.

Well, we also receive the Spirit. As Jesus said the Spirit is our “helper” – John 14:16. And the Spirit “guides” us – John 16:13. So we need to spend time in God’s presence and allow God to also speak to us by the Spirit. And as we become sensitive to this, and through much practice, we grow in our ability to hear God; to be tuned in to the Spirit’s guidance and how this all works.

Well, these same three things that prepare us to hear from God, also help us to – 

Discern God’s leading

– when we hear God in everyday life situations. 1. A yielded heart can hear God more clearly. If you have ever tried to quiet your heart and mind; to unplug and sit in silence to hear God, you know it can be difficult. There are often many voices floating around in our minds. There is the flesh with its wrong desires, fears, or pride. There is our inner sense of of what we are working on, our “to do” list. And there is Satan, who seeks to lead us astray and can try to mimic God’s voice. How in all this can we discern God’s voice?

Well in the same verse that Jesus tells us about how our hearts are to be such that our “will is to do God’s will” he says, “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether (something) is from God” or not (John 7:17). In this case the point is whether what Jesus teaches is of God or not.

But the general point here is that if your heart is yielded, that is, you want to do God’s will – you “will know.” When your heart is in the right place you will better be able to discern God’s voice in the midst of other competing voices.

2. Test everything against the Scriptures. If we know the Scriptures inside and out, then we know the general framework of God’s will. And so if we hear something that goes against the Scriptures we know it is not of God. As Jesus said in John 10:35 – “Scripture cannot be broken.” This is a great help in discerning God’s voice.

3. Test everything against what you know God sounds like. From your own times alone with God you get to know what God’s voice and leading is like; how God’s voice is different than your own or any other voice; how God’s voice is crystal clear, strong and pure and comes from outside of yourself.

This experience helps you to know in the moment whether what you are hearing is from God, or not. You know, when someone calls you on the phone that you don’t talk to often, it can be hard to tell who it is. But if you talk on the phone all the time, you know exactly what their voice sounds like and don’t have to wonder at all.

And then finally,

Do what God tells you to do!

As we learned last week, we are not to just be doing things on our own. We are to be listening to what God might say to us in our various life situations. Well, once we hear God then we are to do exactly what God wants us to do. Just as Jesus did in John 5 when he healed the man on the Sabbath.

Two stories of this at work in my life . . ..

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