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Abide 9 – Balance in Listening for God’s Guidance  

Day 1 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2)

Introduction Now that you’ve been learning to hear God’s voice, you may wonder where the wisdom is concerning what you should or shouldn’t be asking God’s guidance for. For example, it would be odd to ask God if he wants you to eat meatballs or turkey for supper tonight; or if he wants you to buy a yellow shirt or a red one.  

On the other hand, you likely know that it’s a good idea to ask Jesus what his plans and purposes for your life are. It just makes sense! Of course, there are other potential dangers in listening for God’s guidance. However, this is due to human weakness, and has nothing to do with God, his ability to communicate clearly, or the incredible value of listening to him.  

Therefore, since human weakness can be an issue, Abide 9 highlights how you and others can find a balance that makes sense and is useful.  

Listening for Guidance Must Not Replace BIBLE STUDY  

Some who learn to hear God’s voice may not want to read their Bibles. They see “hearing God” as a shortcut. Further, it can actually be a form of laziness, or worse, a way to avoid his clear commands.  

You see, God has already spoken to you in the Bible about many things. Paul described it well when he said, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.   Notice that it says you will be prepared by the Bible for EVERY good work! That’s because you’ll find the GENERAL and MORAL will of God in it. And it’s really important for a follower of the Way to become familiar with this! In fact, the general will of God is FOUNDATIONAL for his specific will or guidance – the rhemas that have been discussed in previous lessons.  

For example, if someone is a parent, the Bible already tells them:

• Do not exasperate one’s children (Ephesians 6:4)

• Train one’s child up in the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:7, Proverbs 22:6)

• Do not neglect discipline (Proverbs 19:18, 29:17)  

The examples above, for parents, are just a sampling of many passages in the Bible that provide a foundation for wisdom on parenting. Then the parent can build a wonderful household (literally!) on this foundation by seeking God for specific wisdom for each child, insights on chaotic difficulties, or wonderful opportunities that arise.  

Consider this humble prayer found in the Old Testament, Judges 13:8 (NIV) Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: "O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born."   Of course if a direction, given in prayer, contradicts God’s written Word, you’re not hearing God’s voice. Instead, you’re hearing your own heart’s lusts and desires (James 1:14), or else you’re listening to the devil (Matthew 4:1, 3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5).  

So here is a STRONG and necessary caution - a person who neglects to spend daily or consistent time reading and meditating on the Bible and who stops exposing themself to the regular teaching of God’s Word – that person will open themselves up to deception.  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7)

1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. Believers are to stay balanced in hearing God. What is the guideline shared today? Try to explain it as well as you can.  

Life Application (James 1:22)

1. Pick a topic that you would like more knowledge on – e.g. finances, parenting, patience, marriage, work, the Holy Spirit. Use a resource such as biblegateway.com. Read at least 12 passages that speak about this topic. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about the topic as you read. Record what he says.  

Bible Reading

1. Please read Matthew 17:1-13.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 2 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2)

Listening for Guidance Must Not Replace GOOD COUNSEL

God has designed it so that you’ll have to receive some of his guidance through others! Everyone who is a follower of the Way has different gifts, strengths, and experiences. Therefore, they can all contribute to one another. Through these, God is bringing together a family, that works as a team. Is this something that you’re open to? Would others describe you as a team player?  

Of course, the book of Proverbs contains a lot of thoughts about the need for wisdom from others. For example, it says, Proverbs 11:14 (ESV) Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. And one chapter later it challenges, Proverbs 12:15 (ESV) The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. These are strong words. Without guidance from others, there is failure. And to think that one is always right? They are called a fool. It is vital to understand this, as some have caused significant damage by claiming to always know God’s will, yet never seeking advice from others.  

This means that followers of Jesus are called to be teachable – which is another word for “humble.” Some people are NOT teachable – their hearts are NOT positioned in a posture of humility. Here are some thoughts from Pastor Ray Duerksen, on ways he has received good counsel:  

• I often run my ideas by my wife – E.g. just like Manoah and his nameless wife (Judges 13)

• In the past, I consulted my staff leadership team; my board; marketplace leaders; other pastors and friends. I still do! They won’t necessarily give me the exact steps that I need, but God will often use them to give me a “twist” in the way that I view something; or point out a caution; or give me another confirmation in what God has already showed me

• I have also received much counsel through conferences, seminars, and books

• I even listen to advice from non-Christians who have knowledge or expertise in an area, or who may say something very wise that relates to what I am doing

• Here’s a healthy habit I have followed for many years: I never go to any appointment or meeting without a notepad and pen – I’m always expecting to glean or learn something!

• Young people should learn from older people (e.g. parents); but older people can often learn from younger people too! E.g. 1 Timothy 4:12

• I also learn from ‘fools’; I consider their ways and their outcomes; and then I steer far from their mistakes

• Life is MUCH too short for you to try to learn it all by yourself  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7)

1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. You need to stay balanced in hearing God. What is the guideline shared today? Try to explain the guideline in your own words.

3. What kind of person is willing to listen to others for counsel?  

Life Application (James 1:22)

1. Read out Psalm 139:23-24. Invite God to search your heart – are you a humble and teachable person? If the answer is generally, ‘no,’ spend some time in confession. If the answer is generally, ‘yes,’ praise him for what he has done in your life and ask him for continued growth in humility.

2. Write down a list of people that you have sought advice from in the past. Also record how the advice helped you make wise decisions (or avoid foolish ones).

3. Review John 15:5-6, Romans 12:2, Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Peter 5:8, John 10:27, James 1:22.  

Bible Reading

1. Please read Matthew 17:14-27.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 3 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2) Listening for Guidance Must Not Replace COMMON SENSE What is common sense? Common sense is an understanding of how life works, often discovered through experience. For example, common sense says that poor financial management leads to poverty, or overdependence on others.  

And did you know that much of what is written in Ecclesiastes and Proverbs in the Bible are Solomon’s observations about how life works? Or, in his words, Proverbs 24:32 (NIV) I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.  

Sometimes when people begin to hear God, they begin to think that they can ignore common sense – not so! God’s Word (his general will) even comments on this, by encouraging, Proverbs 3:21 (NIV) My son, PRESERVE sound judgment and discernment …  

In fact, as a follower of the Way, a person should seek to love God by GROWING in common sense! That is, people who seek to honor God should be some of the most reasonable people around!   But what about some of the unique ways that God speaks to people, through rhemas, or how he works, through miracles? How do these relate to common sense? Here are two important principles to keep in mind:  

First: a person may receive many rhemas through life, but each one is unique for a situation Common sense works in MANY situations. Rhemas, on the other hand, usually apply to ONE situation, or time period. This is not something that you want to mix up! Some people make the mistake of trying to apply a rhema word to everything, while at the same time ignoring common sense. This is, by definition, being unstable!  

Second: at times God chooses to suspend his natural ways in favor of non-natural ways When God does this, it’s called a miracle. And it’s a miracle precisely because it is NOT common! Put another way, if God did this all the time, then it would be common, and the commonness of it would make it a law, not a miracle!  

So why does God sometimes choose to suspend the natural way in which he works and do it in a non-natural way? There are at least three reasons for this:

• First, God shows that his favour is on someone or some activity. Of course, this is for the sake of his purposes! E.g. you can see this in the lives of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Paul, etc.

• Second, God provides circumstances that have the potential of increasing the faith of those called, or those following, preparing them for more difficult assignments ahead. E.g. Gideon

• Third, God may be lovingly drawing those who do not know Jesus to himself. E.g. many people that Jesus healed in the New Testament   Of course, it’s God who determines when these miracles happen! Some people try to force God’s hand in providing a miracle, and steer clear of common sense. Even the devil tried to convince Jesus do to exactly this in Matthew 4! And do you know what Jesus called this? He did not call it faith. He called it, “testing God!”  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7)

1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. You need to stay balanced in hearing God. What is the guideline shared today? Try to explain the guideline in your own words.

3. Why does God at times use the supernatural, as opposed to doing things in the natural way?  

Life Application (James 1:22)

1. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if there’s an area of your life where you’re ignoring common sense. If he reveals something, spend some time in confession, and make plans for a “course correction.”  

Bible Reading

1. Please read Matthew 18:1-9.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 4 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2)

Listening For Guidance Must Not Replace HUMAN AUTHORITY Some people get themselves and others into trouble because they believe that just because they may have heard something from Jesus, they are no longer required to submit to God’s designated authorities – not so!  

Listen to what Paul commands, Romans 13:1-2 (NIV) Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. (see also Titus 3:1) No amount of listening for guidance can overturn such a direct written command of God in the Bible.  

For example, if you feel that God is telling you to start a ministry at work, and your boss says “No,” then you need to graciously submit to that. If God is really in it, he will already work out the details, if you’ll be patient.  

Most (though not all!) believers understand this. But how does it work in the church? To begin with, God has also set up authorities in the church, whom you’re to obey. Or as it notes in the book of Hebrews, Hebrews 13:17 (NIV) Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.  

With that in mind, what if God shows you something about the church, which the church isn’t doing that it should? What would you do in such a case?  

First, you can pray it into being! Or as one wise saint said, “if you’re frustrated about something not happening, God is giving you a prayer agenda!” Simply complaining or gossiping is lazy. Prayer is when you do the best work!  

Second, God may be showing you something so that you can provide your leaders with a confirmation WHEN they make the change. As it says in Psalms, Psalm 25:14 (NIV) The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. God may be confiding in you! What a blessing! But you’ll need to be wise and respectful with this blessing, holding on to it until the right time.  

Considering the life of David is very useful as you think about this. David was called a man after God’s own heart. What made him this way? Maybe the best example is that, even though he was told that he would become king, he did nothing to try to force it. He simply prayed and waited for God to make it happen! What humility!  

Imagine how hard this would have been, when Saul was possessed by an evil spirit, and tried to kill him. Would you have waited as well, or tried to take things into your own hands? Of course, the command to consider human authorities does not mean that you should disobey God in seeking to submit to them, OR turn a blind eye to abusive or illegal behaviour. This would be VERY wrong!  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7)

1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. You need to stay balanced in hearing God. What is the guideline shared today? Try to explain the guideline in your own words.

3. Why do you not have to force things, even if God has showed you something that needs to change in the church? What can you do that is positive?  

Life Application (James 1:22)

1. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any way that you have been working against the authorities that God has placed in your life. Even think about your past jobs, church connections, interactions with government laws, and rules.

2. If anything was revealed in Question 1, confess and ask the Holy Spirit to show you any steps that you need to take in response to your confession.

3. Spend some time praying for the people that are authorities in your life – at work, church, community organizations. Even better, listen in prayer for them, for a blessing – and pass this on to them.  

Bible Reading

1. Please read Matthew 18:10-20.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 5 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2) Skip directly ahead to Life Application section for this day.  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7) Skip directly ahead to Life Application section for this day.  

Life Application (James 1:22)

1. In Philippians 4:9, Paul tells the early church to make sure that they put into PRACTICE what they have been learning. And then he gives them a promise – “and the God of peace will be with you.” You have now completed Abide 1-9. Congratulations! Today, take some time to flip through each page of the first 9 lessons. Re-read the headings. Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of important principles. You can even look through your journal and remind yourself of what God has been saying to you. More importantly, keep this question in mind – “am I practicing this?”  

Bible Reading

1. Please read Matthew 18:21-35.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 6 Final Steps

1. Review John 15:5-6, Romans 12:2, Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Peter 5:8, John 10:27, James 1:22. 2. Practice SMORP once again, using Psalm 84.  


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