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Seatbelts and Safeties
Hearing the voice of God, the directing leading of God, but first seatbelts and safety mechanisms.
1) The Safer you are the Faster You Go
Some of us get very nervous when we speak about hearing God’s voice or sensing his leading in our lives because we’ve met people or heard of churches or movements in which people have done kooky things while claiming to be following the voice or divine guidance.
1 John 4:1: do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
I Thessalonians 5:21 Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.
Others revile safety mechanisms – how can we restrain the Holy Spirit they say. This principle helps us to be open to the leading of the Spirit, but cautious, discerning, testing the spirits.
2) The Higher the Stakes, the Higher the Standards
a. Gideon: often you hear that Gideon sinned by testing the Lord, but the Lord never rebukes him. He tests the voice of the Lord – not tests the Lord. And God is even gracious to him by giving him an extrasign that He doesn’t even ask for (the barley cake dream), but its that extra gracious sign that ultimately convinces Gideon that the Lord has indeed spoken to him and will indeed deliver Israel through him. The stakes were high, so Gideon was right to look for high standards of confirmation.
3) Seatbelts to Hearing God’s Voice Right out of one extended narrative in the book of Acts. These confirmations are in the book of Acts because the stakes were high, so God records for us the standards so that we know that this radical change in the early church was not any of the apostles thoughts, but God direct instruction (these are cumulative, not sequential or all there)
a. Repetition (Acts 10:9-16: Especially 16) three times. God continually puts a word, thought, or scripture in your life and you can’t shake it.
b. Circumstances (10:17-18) Behold!
i. Open door for going to China
c. God has been speaking to others about the same thing (30-34) the Spirit is speaking to other spiritually discerning people and is putting the same things on their heart.
d. Gospel Success: Not worldly success, but gospel success (10:34-45)
ii. Paul’s mission (Acts 15:12)
iii. Coming to OCBC
e. Confirmation of the Word (15:14-17)
i. James Exposits the Scriptures – the prophetic word made sure, to see that what is being revealed through the spirit lines up with the word. That is ultimately the final word of the Jerusalem Council – the appeal to the word of God rightly interpreted.
f. Agreement of Wise Believers and Christian Leaders: (Acts 15:22, 28). They spiritual leaders conferred and agreed that the Holy Spirit was leading in this large direction. Notice through the text that those who are in on the testing process are the ones directly related to the issue. The apostles and elders. Bring along not only wise people but others who your decision will effect.
Obviously the are more seatbelts – hearing God’s voice and sensing his guidance is not a mathematical formula, it is a relationship of trust, of growth and of learning.