I am sure we’ve all heard people say things like; “I was just about to cross the street, when suddenly God asked me not to”. We might have found ourselves asking questions like, ‘did he really hear God speak, or does he just mean he felt led to do something’. Yes prophets like Samuel heard the actual voice of God, and so do a growing number of ‘ordinary’ people I know. However if you are like me – not for long though – and it’s not a voice thingy for you, but you feel like you are doing everything you can to get there, statements like the one above can leave you with the kind of envy you might feel if your love interest was getting cozy with someone else. Everyone can get there and these people didn’t get there by chance. But before the rest of us get catch up, there are decisions to take and having a decent means of determining Gods will is essential, to say the very least. Below is a list of helpful ways to do so.
The Word Factor: Basically the fact that the bulk of what our Pops will want to tell us is in His word. This is the primary means by which our father communicates His will to us. Nothing He says to us personally will contradict His word. Engage in daily bible study and prayer and He will be speaking to you on a consistent basis. You will be amazed as to how relevant the reading for the day will be to your peculiar situation.
The Pneumatic Factor: The question to ask in this case is this; what special gifts, talents, feelings (peculiar to me) have my Father given me?? Often God will relate to you in line with these things. The fact for instance that some find inspiration on quiet mountain tops while others find it in crowded market places illustrates this.
The Body Factor: God will often speak to us through our brothers/sisters in Christ. This is one key reason why fellowship is so vital. What you must realize however is that the message God will send your way via this route will often be in accordance with what He is already doing in your life, so maintenance of a close relationship with Him is key. A great illustration to this can be found in Acts 20:38, 21:4, 21:9-14. In this case Paul heard of the Lord through the brethren all right, but because he knew what God had been doing in his life, he was able to clearly place the word that was received and continued to Jerusalem despite the warnings.
Finally, what’s Christianity without faith? After all how many of us have seen God; …anyone?………I didn’t think so. The fact of the matter is some issues aren’t a clear case of right or wrong and a step of faith is inevitable. It helps to say a quick prayer, being totally honest with God and telling Him we are a little confused. We can then tell Him we are attributing our decision to what we feel He is leading us to do. That results in the ball firmly in His court. An ideal situation don’t you think?
Okay so we hear it all the time- temptation. What exactly is it?! Here are a few views:
Temptation is what God puts your way to prove to you that you are evil. WRONG!
Temptation is some sort of entertainment for the Heavenly Beings where they wait eagerly for you to fall so that the angel keeping score of your failures can finally yell ‘strike three- he’s out!’ WRONG!
Temptation is what occurs when one is dragged away and enticed by his or her OWN evil desires. CORRECT!
The first view is so wrong because God cannot be tempted by evil nor does He tempt anyone. (James 1:14), and so is the second because it most definitely contradicts the attributes of our loving God, ‘who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth’ so there’s no way He or any being in Heaven is going to be rejoicing over your downfall.
The third view hits the nail right on the head, so keeping it in mind; let’s unveil what temptation really is. Hope you’re ready for this because it may come as a bit of a blow… so TADA! HERE GOES:
According to James 1:14-15, ‘each one is tempted when by his own evil desires he is dragged away and enticed…’ (Note the use of the word OWN)… ‘Then after the desire has conceived it gives birth to sin and sin when it is full grown gives birth to death.’
One thing to note is that temptation is personal, meaning what tempts you may not necessarily tempt someone else because we all desire different things at different points in time. Each of us has that something (or in some people’s cases that someone!) that makes us think or do stuff that turns Jesus’ smile upside down- they are our very own idols. They range from clothes and fashion to books and TV, from food and drink to boyfriends and girlfriends. Yep, the things that lead to temptation are very real and very ordinary. For example deciding to watch a movie you really shouldn’t when you have choir practice is yielding to temptation.
Some of us tend to think that the stuff that tempts us are extraordinary and beyond understanding so there’s no need to fight it. Those are huge fat lies made up by Satan to prevent you from being victorious. Come on don’t listen to him; you’re way smarter than that! 1 Corinthians 10:13(NIV) says ‘no temptation has seized you except that which is common to man and God is faithful, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will provide a way so that you can stand up under it.’ There’s always a way to defeat it! Hallelujah!
With the lie that no one understands, let’s check out 1 Peter 5:9 which says ‘resist him (the devil), standing firm in the faith because you know that you brothers through out the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.’ So it really isn’t just you!
So the issue at hand is… how on earth are we supposed to deal with it?!
Well the first thing to do is to identify that it is a temptation that you are undergoing and not rationalize it out so it seems you’re just acting logically. For example, you decide to make your body subject to yourself and wait on the Lord by fasting from 6am to 6pm. Then at 3pm the devil comes to dangle your favourite kind of dessert in front of you and you give in figuring you’d been fasting long enough and you were about to die anyway. That wasn’t logical reasoning, it was plain old yielding to temptation.
You see the devil knows exactly what gets to us and knows how to present it so we don’t think we are doing anything wrong. Well, what do you expect from someone who can quote scripture? It’s about time you show them whose boss! And you would see he’ll flee from you! (James 4:7). The Bible also tells us to be self-controlled and alert (1 Peter 5:8) because the devil is just looking for a soldier who will fall, who will engage himself in certain affairs…if you catch my drift. One of the best things we can do is to renew our minds and to have the desire of being holy and pleasing to God, a sacrifice without blemish – that we will desire to please our commanding officer and just let go of the things of this world.
And lastly, BE WISE! Don’t put yourself in situations where you know the probability of you resisting temptation is none to zero! My brothers and sisters, prayer meetings in the dark with the objects of our affection should cease!
Remember, if you are having some serious issues with temptation; take it to the Lord in prayer! He will help you, that’s why He is there so allow Him to take control. Galatians 5:16 tells us to live by the Spirit so that we will not satisfy the desires of the sinful nature and God’s word is true. Ask Him to help you and you shall receive that help.
Talk to a Christian you trust about it (James 5: 10), someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit because a lot of the time when we have problems like this we go to people who will tell us what we want to hear. WRONG MOVE! Let’s go to others who will tell us what we need to hear and who will speak the word of God!
All the best! To Him who able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our saviour be glory!…Remember God is rooting for you!
By Tracy Engmann