Spirit of Grace Ministries
SOGM
Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

Decisions Series # 5
Spirit-led Decisions

Decisions Decisions

by Dennis Pollock

For the Christian it is impossible to consider the means of making good decisions without recognizing the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The apostle Paul writes: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:14). Thinking carefully about the decisions we must make, getting counsel from those we respect, doing the necessary research, remembering lessons we have learned from the past – all of these things help but none can replace the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

It is vital for believers to keep this thought before them at all times: You have a divine Person inside you who has definite ideas about the decisions you need to make. In First Corinthians we read: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16). Not just a force, a power, or some emanation from God, but a divine Person who thinks, speaks, feels, and desires to direct us from the smallest to the largest decisions of our lives.

In years gone by, driving to some new place you had never been before was a real challenge. Often you would take a map along with you, which would help. But the maps had small printing and were sometimes hard to read. Often you would need to pull off to the side of the road and spend several minutes mulling over the map, figuring out where you were and where you needed to go. And then there was Mapquest. Finding a place became a lot easier. Before you set out on your journey you looked up your destination on the Mapquest website and printed out the directions, or else the map. This was a definite improvement. After that came the GPS devices which kept track of where you were by satellite and gave you turn by turn instructions. These were the best yet, but still they sometimes led you astray, failed to recognize a detour, or took you on a route which was not the best.

Live Navigator

The one foolproof means of direction is to have a living person sitting next to you who knows the area like the back of his hand. He knows every street, every store, and every hole in the road. With such a friend beside you, you would have no worries. No need to strain your eyes looking at a tiny screen, no fumbling around with printed directions, just a quiet confidence in your friend and his ability to get you to your destination in the best possible way. This is the situation for each of us when we put our faith on the Lord Jesus and receive Him as Savior and Lord. Not only are our sins forgiven, not only do we receive the gift of eternal life, but we are given a Guide who will always be with us, safely leading us through those dangerous and narrow paths when we transition from one phase of life to another, and keeping us company on the sunny, straight highways of our lives, as we pass one mile marker after another.

Good decisions for Christians come about not only because we weigh the pros and cons, but because we hear the voice of God. Being clever is nice, but having the Source of all wisdom always available and accessible is far better. One erroneous assumption many make is to assume that to hear the voice of God is a privilege reserved for mystics and prophets – not ordinary people who put in eight hours a day in their small cubicle at the office, or assemble auto parts at the plant. But Jesus tells us, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27). Not My prophets hear my voice, or My preachers hear my voice, but "My sheep hear My voice." Through the cross and resurrection of Jesus, we are put in right standing with God, and become just as eligible to hear the voice of God as Daniel or Samuel, or Elijah, or John the Baptist ever was. In fact we are more so, because through the blood of Jesus we stand before God justified in a way that they never were.

Veto Power

One of the Holy Spirit's roles in our decision making is to exercise veto power. He often must be louder in vetoing a wrong decision than He is in approving right decisions. When everything is running on track, His gentle smile of approval in our spirits may be all the direction we will get. But let us begin to go astray, and the momentum of our passions and obsessions begin to build, and He will often throw up some large and brightly colored red flags in our path.

Even with the best of intentions we sometimes head down the wrong roads and require the veto of the Spirit. One of the best examples of this in the Bible relates to Paul and Silas as they were attempting to determine where to go and minister the word of the Lord. The Bible says, "Now when they (Paul & Silas) had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them" (Acts 16:6,7). Paul and Silas weren't doing anything wrong or evil in attempting to go to these places and preach the gospel, but they were off target.

For the Christian, life is more than simply living by a code of good morals. Jesus does not save us, toss us a book of rules to keep, give us a cheerful wave, and then say, "Have a nice life! I'll see you when it's over." He comes into our life not only as Savior, but as the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. He wants our decisions and our choices to be not only moral ones, but God-ordained and Spirit-led as well. We are not told how the Spirit forbade Paul from going to those places he was intending. It is not important. The thing we must recognize is that He has many ways to make His will known, and if we walk with Him, eager to hear His voice and obey, He will make things plain for us.

Warnings from the Holy Spirit

Warning!

Years ago I read a fascinating book about the life of Charles Blair, who pastored a great church in Denver. He told how that after World War II he was ministering in great evangelistic rallies throughout Europe. God's blessings were mightily evident in these meetings. Attendance was often in the thousands, and many were coming to Christ. As a young man seeing success that many ministers never do in the entirety of their lives, it was absolutely euphoric. In the midst of all of this he received a letter from a small church of around fifty people. They told him they had voted and chosen him to be their new pastor – without bothering to ask him if he wanted the position! Charles hardly gave the letter a thought and tucked it away, thinking he would send them a "thanks but no thanks" reply sometime. Finally he got around to writing the letter and was on his way to the post office to mail it when he felt a strange, sick feeling coming from somewhere within. He was with a pastor and asked him if he had ever had such a feeling. The pastor said that he had and told him that this might be the Holy Spirit trying to warn him about a mistake he was about to make. Blair decided not to mail the letter, went home and started praying, and eventually decided God wanted him to accept the position. The church grew to become one of the largest in the nation, and through it Charles Blair was able to touch far more lives than he might have as a solitary evangelist.

We err, however, when we only think of the Spirit's guidance as relating to big decisions of our lives. The Holy Spirit's veto power can be seen in simpler matters, such as convicting us of poor dietary habits or saying things which we should not. The sad reality is this: people, even God's people tend to stray off course. With all the best intentions, with all our Bible studies, with all our singing, "I have decided to follow Jesus," and with all the thousands of sermons we have heard, we still sometimes listen to the wrong voice, mistake the flesh for the Spirit, and begin to amble off the path where Christ walks, and turn down dead end trails and wrong way streets. Every one of us desperately needs to recognize the veto warnings of the Holy Spirit. Whether in something as ordinary as wasting our money buying something we do not need and cannot afford, or making a life shattering mistake of marrying someone we have no business marrying, we will do well to listen and heed that still small voice when it tells us quietly, "No, not that way."

A Spirit-enabled conscience

One of the tools the Holy Spirit uses to help us make right choices is a Biblically educated conscience. Every person has a conscience, but the conscience of an unbeliever is severely damaged. Paul writes about those who speak lies in hypocrisy "having their own conscience seared with a hot iron" (1 Timothy 4:2). When our skin is severely burned it will often lose all feeling, and there will be numbness in that area for the rest of our lives. Stick a pin in it; touch a match to it – there will be no pain. God is telling us that we can do that to our consciences. It might be nice to think that every time someone hurts another person, every time they break the laws of God, they will feel terrible for days on end. But this is not always the case. There are all sorts of folks in this world who can do horrible things to other people, even to children, and never miss a night's sleep.

But when we are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, our conscience is revived. And as we read the Word of God our conscience is educated so that we can recognize what is pleasing and what is grievous to God. In Hebrews we read: "But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14). With a Biblically enlightened and Holy Spirit inspired conscience, we can choose wisely.

Solid Record of Good Decisions

There is no reason for a Christian to have a track record of one bad decision after another. If such a thing is happening in your life, something is seriously wrong and needs fixing. We will all make bad decisions occasionally, but those who abide in Jesus should be able to look back at many decisions they have made and say, "Thank God I chose to go that way." As in all things related to Jesus, this must be a matter of faith. We must trust Jesus as our Good Shepherd who will lead us safely from one green pasture to another, from one dead-on decision to the next. We do not need to fear when a decision must be made that will have major consequences for our lives. Here is another opportunity for the Lord Jesus to reveal His wisdom in us. Here is another chance for the Holy Spirit to be that voice behind us saying, "This is the way; walk ye in it."

Those with authority over a staff of workers often feel that one of the hardest and most unpleasant tasks they experience is to fire an employee. If they are a caring individual they take no pleasure in devastating someone in this way. They will look for every opportunity to try to help that individual succeed. But sometimes nothing helps, and they are forced, for the good of the company, to call the person into their office and give them the bad news: "We're going to have to let you go." This is exactly what every Christian needs to do with himself. We try for years to run our own show, direct our own steps, and make decisions as we think best. But if we are blessed there comes a time when our Lord gently encourages us to fire ourselves and hire Him. Allow Jesus to be your wisdom, your decision maker, your path director. Those first words He uttered to the original disciples are still entirely valid for you and me today: "Come, follow Me."

To see a full listing of all articles available, go to our Written Devos Page.
For a full listing of all articles as audio mp3 files (free downloads), go to our Audio Devos Page.

 

     

        For inspirational devos, bios of Christian leaders, free downloads, and the latest SOGM news:
Sign up to receive E-newsletter
>>

Your donations are needed and greatly appreciated!

 

 

Just for you!

Missions Outreach


A major part of Spirit of Grace Ministries is our ministry in the great continent of Africa. There is a tremendous harvest going on in the world these days, and we are privileged to be a part of it. Above is a brief music video featuring video clips and pics from our recent mission in Magodes, Uganda.

Audio Devo: "Why is there suffering?"

People have debated this question for millennia. And we cannot speak concerning specific individual questions of suffering, but the Bible clearly speaks as to why suffering has always been a part of the human experience.