Thursday, July 25, 2013
God’s guidance – listening to God
WHEN you first make the decision to give up the control of your life and give it over to the Lordship of Jesus, you sense His close presence, forgiveness and love – and know that He speaks to you. Why would you ever question His direction?
Sadly, many Christians lose that initial excitement and settle in a place where God seems more distant and His direction unclear. It doesn’t have to be like that. Like all relationships, we have to maintain it.
God will always be with you The abiding presence of God, the way He resides in you, is a mystery – elements of it will always be beyond our grasp. Even heroes of faith like Joshua found it difficult and needed God’s encouragement:
Joshua 1:5 and 9
No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you… Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
• What is God promising you from these verses? And what what is His command to you?
The first disciples also struggled with God’s abiding presence. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was yet to come and Jesus taught them how it would work out:
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever.
Times come when we all wonder where God is in our circumstances – but remember, He will always be with you. Whether it feels like it or not. He promised!
• How will you respond when you feel that God is abandoning you? Scream? Doubt? Pull away from Him because He has seemed to pull away from you? Remember His promise to be with you always? Remain faithful? (The first three are common reactions – but wrong. The test is whether we will still do the last two.)
God will direct you Our relationship with God is with God the Father, Jesus the Son who lived on earth as one of us – and the Holy Spirit, revealer, teacher and encourager, who constantly draws our attention to the first two. This is the Counsellor of John 14:16. As you are directed by God’s Spirit – as you allow and make room for the Holy Spirit to direct you – you can make godly choices, knowing that they will be ones that please God. Mistakes will happen but you don’t have to repeat them!
But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears and He will tell you what is yet to come.
God’s Spirit will direct you as you learn to rely on Him.
• Think of some specific ways we get this direction
It all comes down to three main environments – the Bible, the devotional life and the body.
Firstly, God speaks through His Word, and this is the yardstick and test for everything else you receive. That’s why daily Bible reading and memorising verses is important – because this is where you find specific direction for many areas of life – where God is already at work, where you need to grow, where you need to repent. (Continue to memorise 1 John 5:11-12).
Secondly, God directs those who are submitted to Him through prayer. As you begin to speak to God and listen for His voice, He speaks and will show you ungodly behaviours to take off, and how to take on Christ-like attitudes and actions. God speaks through prayer, and we will go on to learn about the Listening Room and how to create a good environment for this conversation next week.
Thirdly, God directs His children through His people, the fellowship or body of the church. We are all in this together and that’s the way it works. He speaks through other Christians to encourage and direct you – and He speaks through you to do the same for other Christians. Some may be formal teaching but most is simply through our friendship interactions as a fellowship. We need each other – that’s the way this church thing that Jesus started works!