Too many of us are leading ourselves around, rather, than being led by the Spirit. There is a tension that exists between using my brain to live and following the leading of the Spirit. Head knowledge is helpful and important. It does make a difference. But sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is more important and separates the men from the boys. God gave me a brain and I’m convinced he wants me to use it but I’m aware that my brain can get in the way of my heart and what God is trying to teach and lead me in. We must learn to live out of what God’s spirit in our spirit is revealing to us. A renewed mind is critical if I’m going to make healthy and productive decisions. There is a critical connection between a renewed mind and a full spirit. My life is shaped by the decisions I make and my choices need to be shaped by the leadership and counsel of the Spirit of God. He’s not passive but very active in seeking to guide me. I foster clarity in the Spirit by regular times of communion and being still. Life can sometimes feel very jumbled up and upside down. It will get back on track if you will surrender and seek more to be led by the Spirit of God.
All of us at some point make a decision but don’t always see that decision through. The decisions we make are significant because they shape our lives but there are some decisions that define our lives more than others.
One of those defining decisions is answering the call to follow Jesus as one of his disciples. It should be life defining and yet I’m observing a trend in the church that has been consistent throughout the ages. People put their hand up to make a decision but don’t necessarily follow through to actually becoming a disciple. Jesus didn’t call us to make converts but disciples.
You can make a momentary decision to follow Jesus but never actually discover what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus said, ‘Many shall come in that day and say Lord, Lord, did we not preach in your name and cast out demons in your name and I will say depart from me, I never knew you.’
In Luke 9:57-62 Jesus gave three examples of people who seemingly made a decision to follow Jesus but didn’t actually follow through to becoming a disciple. When the cost of discipleship presents itself, some people simply cannot pay the price and follow through.
There are stages of spiritual maturity that we must navigate if we are going to move from decision to disciple.
- Comfort – When we decide to follow Christ we grow quickly and we are excited about everything in God’s kingdom that we come across. There is an element of initial comfort attached to the new discoveries we are making about God.
- Connection – We start to connect with other like-minded people in Christian community and lifestyle changes are starting to take shape.
- Cause – We become aware of the cause of Jesus and respond in 1 of 2 ways: Either we commit to the cause or we retreat to comfort and connection. Our revelation of the cause is a line in the sand that defines whether we move from decision to disciple. Unfortunately, some church attenders go backwards and forwards between the first 3 stages of spiritual maturity.
- Commitment – If we respond to the cause with commitment we become aware of our gifts and call and we’re moved to action. We start to serve in the life of the church as a priority.
- Crisis – Once committed to the cause life will always present us with a crisis. This crisis can range from disappointment, loss of a loved one, broken relationship or financial pressure to name a few. In this stage we start to question our theology and we have a choice to make, do we respond Godward or man-ward?
- Conviction – If we respond positively to the crisis we form internal convictions that shape our ideas, beliefs and actions in line with God and his Word.
- Consistency – If we get to this final stage, we mature to a pattern of consistent testimony. A life driven by convictions results in a lifestyle of consistency. Consistency is measured by your stickability to what God has purposed in your heart and what you’ve learnt along the journey.
I exercise and train my physical body early each morning. I run, bike, swim, lift weights and stretch. Some days I move my body quickly and efficiently and other days more like a turtle, very slowly. But the one thing that makes a difference in my fitness is not the initial decision to get up in the morning and train but the consistent showing up, day in and day out and actually doing the training.
Consistency demonstrates maturity and ultimately victory. What about you? Do you tend to make decisions but don’t follow through. Break the pattern today. Move from a decision to a disciple and watch what happens in your world.
I’ve found discerning the will of God to be one of the most challenging issues to work through. Most people I talk to have shared the same sentiment. Life presents us with a plethora of options and opportunities that can leave us feeling confused and exhausted. In the process of having to make a decision, we can feel like we are going crazy. The pain in the process comes from not wanting to make a bad decision that leaves us disconnected from God’s purpose and the desires in our hearts.
Even though it may feel like God is playing hide and seek with you, God delights in revealing his heart to you and giving you the direction you need to move forward with faith into the future. One of the key mechanisms in discerning God’s will is the peace of God ruling in our hearts.
The language of God is multiple and varied: visions, dreams, still small voice, angels, creation, scriptures, tongues, impressions, prophetic acts, signs and wonders, word of knowledge, circumstances, spiritual encounters and an overwhelming sense of his peace.
It takes real skill, testing and experience to interpret what God is saying to us at any one time. Why? God’s not human, He’s Spirit. His primary language isn’t english or russian or mandarin, its spirit. As we grow in our relationship with him, we learn to discern how God speaks to us and what the content of his messages to us are.
Throughout the bible we read of God asking Abraham, Moses, Gideon and Esther, to do things that their flesh wouldn’t have felt a peace about but because they learnt to walk by the Spirit and not the flesh, the peace of God ruled in their hearts and empowered them with confidence to obey God. Don’t underestimate the power of God’s peace to propel you forward in discerning God’s will for your life.
While God’s ultimate will is for us to have a relationship with him and to become more like him, his will does need to be discerned and applied in more specific areas of our lives. Gods peace ruling in our hearts is one of the master keys to moving forward. Don’t judge by circumstances alone but by the peace of God.
My personality type loves to make decisions quickly. Once I get the information I tend to move very quickly and not hesitate. However, the bigger the decision the more time you need to process and specifically pray into it. I am amazed at how flippant some people are with making major life decisions at the turn of a dime. It tells me a few things. One, they weren’t that committed to their original course of action in the first place. Two, they really haven’t sufficiently processed all the key issues at hand and three, they haven’t adequately prayed into God’s heart for their situation.
Some decisions in life can be made quite quickly, others need the course of time to be outworked. There’s a big difference between turning a Ferrari performance vehicle around a corner and turning an 18 wheeler mac truck around a corner. One can be done quickly, the other needs to be anticipated and planned for.
At every major juncture of my life I have spent considerable time, praying and gathering the necessary data required to turn the corner into the next season God has been leading me into. There is always more at stake for yourself and others than what most of us give credit for. God is strategic. he’s not flippant, impetuous or anxious. He never makes a decision out of a sense of pressure or impatience. So why should you and I? Keep in mind that what may seem planned and prepared from your perspective may seem quite risky and impetuous from someone else’s perspective. So don’t base all of your processing on the opinions of others. But that doesn’t discount the fact that you need to listen to the advice of others.
I can’t over emphasise the importance of saturating your decision-making in prayer. I have taken out massive chunks of time to spend hours in prayer for weeks, if not months on end before a major decision. Every major decision has been birthed in prayer and sustained by prayer. Because of my commitment to this process I have seen great fruit come out of my decisions. My flesh hasn’t always wanted to slow down and pray it through but my spirit has thanked me for it. There is a lot of wisdom in taking the time to hear God, hear others and your own heart. Prayer is the vital link between heaven and earth and God’s will and your will. Listen, from experience, prayer really works. God really does lead you and great outcomes are a result.
I sometimes find myself caught in the trap of procrastination because I feel tension around making a decision. This tension can be because I’m waiting for more information but it can also be because I’m wanting to avoid making a mistake or avoid receiving criticism.
The reality is, while more information may or may not come, I more than likely have all the information I need right now and I just need to act upon it. In making a decision, you need to get as much information as possible and then move forward on the decision. Your information can come from the bible, people, books, google or God (in some cases all of them are needed) but decisiveness is ultimately needed.
What are you procrastinating on and why? Get on with it. Make a decision, stop wasting more time by avoiding the necessary. There is too much at stake for you to delay what you know you need to do.