Archives For spirituality

J.I. Packer – Knowing God – Selective clips from Chapter 20

To many Christians, guidance is a chronic problem. Why? Not because they doubt that divine guidance is a fact, but because they are sure it is. 

They know that God can guide, and has promised to guide, every Christian believer. Books, and friends, and public speakers, tell them how guidance has worked in the lives of others. Their fear, therefore, is not that no guidance should be available for them, but that they may miss the guidance which God provides through some fault of their own. 

This is me. When it comes down to finding God’s will for my life, to often I am looking for a shooting start to point the way. I know God can communicate but I am anxious that it won’t be obvious and I will miss the direction.

Belief that divine guidance is real rests upon two foundational-facts: 

  1. The reality of God’s plan for us
  2. The ability of God to communicate with us.

Has God a plan for individuals? Indeed He has. He has formed an ‘eternal purpose,’ a plan for the fullness of time, in accordance with which he ‘accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will’ (Ephesians 3:11, 1:10, 11). 

Moreover, Scripture contains explicit promises of divine guidance whereby we may know God’s plan for our action.

‘I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you,’ says God to David (Psalm 32:8)

Earnest Christians seeking guidance often go wrong about it. Why is this?

Their basic mistake is to think of guidance as essentially inward prompting by the Holy Spirit, apart from the written Word. 

This class of problems concerned with what we may call ‘vocational choices’–choices, that is, between competing options, all of which in themselves appear lawful and good. Examples are: should I contemplate marriage, or not? should I marry this person, or not? should we aim at having another child? should I join this church, or that one? should I serve God in the land of my upbringing, or abroad? which of the professions open to me should I follow?

This is me again. I hate having choices. Some people I know love making decisions about everything in order to customize every part of their life. Some want to jailbreak their phone so they can choose so many other options and I personally say I like it the way it is. When it comes to finding God’s will for my life their often seem to many choices and so many turns and in order to avoid having to make a U-Turn I better make the right turn. I like the way J.I. Packer puts this next phrase for life.

The idea of a life in which the inward voice of the Spirit decides and directs everything sounds most attractive, for it seems to exalt the Spirit’s ministry and to promise the closest intimacy with God; but in practice this quest for super-spirituality leads only to frantic bewilderment or lunacy. Hannah Whitall Smith writes of the woman who each morning, having consecrated the day to the Lord as soon as she woke: would then ask Him whether she was to get up or not,’ and would not stir till the voice told her to dress. As she put on each article she asked the Lord whether she was to put it on, and very often the Lord would tell her to put on the right shoes and leave off the other; sometimes she was to put on both stockings and no shoes; and sometimes both shoes and no stockings; it was the same with all the articles of dress…

 

The biggest mistake of all is the failure to grasp that the fundamental mode whereby our rational Creator guides His rational creatures is by rational understanding and application of His written Word. 

The true way to honour the Holy Spirit as our guide is to honour the Holy Scriptures through which he guides us. The fundamental guidance which God gives to shape our lives– the instilling, that is, of the basic convictions, attitudes, ideals, and value-judgments, in terms of which we are to live–is not a matter of inward promptings apart from the Word but of the pressure on our consciences of the portrayal of God’s character and will in the Word, which the Spirit enlightens us to understand and apply to ourselves.

The Spirit leads within the limits which the Word sets, not beyond them. ‘He guideth me in the paths of righteousness’ — but not anywhere else.

 

 

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Forgotten God

jordantmoody —  April 30, 2012 — 2 Comments

I have been reading the book Forgotten God by Francis Chan lately. The book has opened my eyes to the Holy Spirit in ways I have never done before. He speaks of the Holy Spirit being the forgotten person of God in the Trinity. We know Father is sovereign and the Son died for my sins but the Spirit is seemingly unattainable and impersonal.

Practically speaking, when you read your Bible notice how many times the “Spirit” is mentioned. The prolific mention of the Spirit or Holy Spirit is astounding to me and I can’t believe that I have ignored God for so long. When we ignore the Holy Spirit we are ignoring God for we do not worship 3 gods but rather 1 God with three distinct persons.

Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the SPIRIT, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the SPIRIT are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the SPIRIT, you are not under the law.

25 If we live by the SPIRIT, let us also walk by the SPIRIT

6:8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the SPIRIT will from the SPIRIT reap eternal life.

I also noticed this unique and powerful phrase, walk by the Spirit. Think about the phrase with me in these following verses.

  • Galatians 5:25 walk by the Spirit
    • (Gk. stoicheo) : means to walk behind a leader.
  • Galatians 5:16 But I say walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh
    •  (Gk.peripateō ) :   follow as a companion:  go, be occupied with, walk about with.

These two ideas combined set the scene for our daily life. We are to walk by the Spirit. 

Walking by the Spirit has multiple implications but one of the greatest ones is to be completely occupied with Him. Be consumed with God’s consuming fire. Follow Him as a friend and we will learn to not satisfy our fleshly lusts. After all our flesh is the very place the Holy Spirit chooses to reside. He lives in us and we have life through Him. Dwell on the Spirit today as you go about your day.

Enable Me

jordantmoody —  April 18, 2012 — Leave a comment

How often do you ask for God’s help? In my prayers, I ask God to be with me but I say that oftentimes just to fill time in my prayer. What should we pray to God about? Do you ask for God to ENABLE you to do whatever is in front of you for that day?

In the book, True Fellowship by Jerry Bridges, (pg. 40-41) talk of sincere Christians who are struggling with fruitful devotions. They say their devotions are dry and mechanical. (we have all been there!) The truth is this happens to all of us but not because the Bible is dry or God is mechanical but because we have been searching in the wrong well for living water. We were seeking renewance in ourselves not from the Holy Spirit. Our flesh is dead and yet Christ’s Spirit gives us the power that we so often neglect.

Bridges puts it like this:

I frequently talk to sincere, committed Christians who admit to a dry and mechanical aspect in their quiet times, for example. This is often a result of a subtle dependence on their own discipline rather than a dependence on Christ. We ought to begin our quiet time with the heartful prayer, “Lord, You must enable me to worship You and commune with You today. Without You my mind is dead and my heart is stone.”

Bobby talked about in the post below on Paul’s challenge for us to endure suffering. This word stuck out to be because to ENDURE we need God to ENABLE us to do so. God gives power. Stop trying to do it on your own. Call on God for help!

Just because we have been saved for a long time or because we went to Bible college does not mean we can just have a good devotional “experience” or find God for ourselves without His help. God enables us to see Him. Without His electing us to be his adopted son we were blind in our trespasses and sins.

Act 17:24-28  The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,
nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,
that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,
for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’