Monday, March 13, 2017

Follow the Yellow Brick Road.... Part II

Part Two: Using Discernment When You Don’t Sense God

Now let’s say you’re experiencing one of the reasons I’ve just mentioned in Part One.  Or maybe it’s something else.  Regardless of the reason, though, you can’t sense God and need discernment.  You need help with making decisions- deciding on a new job, a life partner, relocation, removing from/allowing people in your life, etc.  How do you come to a decision?  How do you discern when you don’t sense God (His Direction)?

Now I will be transparent- I’m literally going through this part right as I speak (or type J) and I’m still learning a lot!  The last couple of days have been interesting to say the least…

I’ve found these moments to be extremely challenging.  In fact, it’s usually during these moments I seriously joke with God about being a burning bush (think Moses). 

Ha!  My conversations usually go something like this: “Hey Abba, (laughing) you know I’m just kidding when I say this- but if you really want to do this, I wouldn’t stop you- can you please just tell me what to do.  Like, just print me out an instruction list/manual/”How to Navigate Life” book.  You know, just this one time????”

Or during my more direct conversations:

“God, I really need you to just give me a sign that tells me what I should do about (fill in blank).”

I’m sure our lives would be so much easier if we had burning bushes, gigantic looming clouds, or a booming voice that appears from above to give us life’s answers.  That would be nice, right?

 Well for starters, we wouldn’t mature if those things continually happened for us AND that’s not how God rolls.  That’s not how He designed us to live through the new covenant through Jesus.  God gives us free will.  We’re free to make decisions because He wants us to be free to choose to love Him.  To live for and serve Him is left entirely up to us.

From my personal experience, there are times when God doesn’t say anything because:

1.   He wants me to wait.  During these moments I usually experience a sense of anxiety whenever I attempt to move before the right time.  My desire to act feels rushed as if even internally, I sense my timing isn’t aligned with God’s.  If I do decide to continue, the outcome is undesirable and I create a bigger mess.

      2.  He says, “No.”  Whenever I attempt to move forward during these moments, I usually experience a heavy state of conviction (not punitive, just disciplinary).  My desire to act doesn’t even feel right.  If I do decide to continue, I get no joy from them.  Additionally, I always- I do mean always swiftly receive a negative consequence (it’s like God is saying, “Yeah I saw that and you know you were wrong!”)

      3.   He’s already given me the answer.  Okay, I’m not ashamed to admit that I STRUGGLE with this frequently!  Like, how many burning bushes do I need to see before I know it’s from God???  Hahaha!  Don’t judge me- I’m a work in progress!

      4.   He knows I will make the right decision.  There are times when we don’t hear from God regarding a decision because He knows we will do right by Him (think of Job again).  When we have developed and matured in our character, when we know to immediately go to Scripture and the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment about that decision, God will allow us to make it without godly intervention. 

Again, think about that nurturing parent who only intervenes when his child is in danger.   I truly believe God wants us to use our free will in fellowship with Him.  I believe like a loving parent, He delights in watching us learn, develop, and live our lives (in godly righteousness, of course).

So let’s say you don’t hear from God because He knows you will make the right decision.  How do you use spiritual discernment within free will?  How do you decide on the path to take? 

Well, some things I’ve learned to do that help the process:

1.   Pray and fast.  While we may not get a burning bush, we do have the Holy Spirit who serves to guide us and give us wisdom.  Seeking wisdom from the Holy Spirit- while fasting to help remove any earthly or carnal barriers- can help to reach a decision.

2.  Talk to God. Even though you may not be able to sense God, you know you can still talk to Him!  While talking doesn’t necessarily guarantee an answer, it connects you to God, which I personally feel is even more important because you’re connecting yourself to the “Powerhouse” Himself.  And through these interactions, you may find yourself coming to a decision.

For example, have you ever just talked (even vented) to your best friend and your friend simply sat there and listened?  And as the conversation continued, with you tossing out ideas, you felt more secure and confident about what you should do? 

Well, 70% of the time, I’m that person in those types of conversations.  Oftentimes I’m not seeking advice from my friends when I go to them; I’m seeking a listening ear.

Spiritually though, I find whenever I just talk to God, I sense in my gut a direction I should go in.  As I ponder over decisions, I may be filled with peace- which Scripture states peace comes from God:

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 4:7

There are times, however, when I talk to God about certain decisions I’m contemplating and I’m filled with disciplinary conviction:

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”
~John 16:13

3.  Spiritually challenge your decisions.  Ask yourself the following questions:

-“Would this decision bring me closer to or further from God?”   God wants us with Him.  In all that we do, we should strive to become more intimate with God.

 - "Does this decision glorify God?”  In contrast to dishonor.  God rightfully deserves all the glory!  And He should get it!  Does this decision promote you or earthly things over God?  Who would get the recognition?  You or God? 

- "Is my decision led by the Holy Spirit or by carnal/fleshly desire?” 

Galatians 5:19-21 speaks of the works of the flesh:

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentious, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:22-23 speaks of the fruits of the Holy Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.

  - “Can my decision be supported by scripture?”  This is where prayer comes in.  Anyone can     interpret the bible, but that doesn’t mean the interpretation is correct.  We are called to rightly divide the word of truth (Timothy 2:15).

After you have asked yourself these questions (or any questions the Holy Spirit imparts on you), pray to God and make your decision.

During these last few weeks I’ve really had to make some tough decisions after I didn’t get an answer from God.  And it was only after I made the decisions that I heard a response from God- I felt peace!  While God had been quiet before I made the decisions, He immediately filled me with peace afterward as confirmation that He was okay with my decisions.

So, if you find yourself lost or uncertain, first seek godly counsel and then make a move.  Jesus died so we could live more abundantly (free from carnal and earthly slavery and oppression), but we must choose to live, which means there may be times that we must make decisions and trust that God will always be present with us.  He may also intervene whenever and however in order to protect us from danger (either as a result of our decisions or other influences).  SN: God always gives a warning before destruction.

We must practice having secured attachment in our relationship with God.  We must learn to step out on faith in order to move toward our final destination, which is our home in heaven.

Think about it like this- if Dorothy never ventured outside her house after the tornado, she would’ve never found her way back home J

If it is God’s will, I will conclude by saying, “Until next time!”

God bless!

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