I was recently listening to Christian radio when I heard a woman talking to the DJ about how God had directed her family to move across the country. She saw a picture of a homeless man wearing the same size shoe as her husband. This “sign” sealed the deal, the family is now moving cross country.
Is this the best we can expect from God when it comes to the important decisions of our lives, random signs that need lots of subjective interpretation? Does the Bible give us any hope for a different path?
The book of Acts records the story of the Apostles replacing the position that had been filled by Judas (you know the Benedict Arnold of the Bible) before the death and resurrection of Jesus. Consider the magnitude of this decision. Talk about pressure! The Apostles had to find a once in the history of the world replacement for one of the 12 Apostles. Yet the story of their selection goes off without a hitch. They seem to have no trouble making this difficult decision and feeling firm about their decision. I believe this is because they reveal for us some essential guidelines to follow when seeking God’s direction for difficult decisions.
Read the story in Acts 1:12-23.
Guideline 1: If you want to know what God wants, be united around the Mission of Jesus.
This story comes hard on the heals of Jesus giving his disciples the great mission. You will be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the remotest parts of the earth. It was crystal clear what Jesus wanted them to do. Verse 12 tells us that they immediately headed back into Jerusalem to wait. Now this is important because Christ had told them they needed to do this.
Obedience is key to finding direction from God. Have you ever been unsure of something. Prayed to God let’s say about talking to your friend about your faith, or whether or not you could afford to give money to the church? Sometimes God seems silent on these issues, but is he really? He gave us a mission in Acts 1:8. BE WITNESSES and frankly that’s all He has to say on the matter. So if you’ve been talking to God about this or that and you know that what your talking to him about accomplishes His mission stop praying and start doing. Obedience is an action, not a state of mind.
After coming back to Jerusalem the Bible tells us that the Apostles were of one mind. They understood the mission of Jesus and were ready to pursue it together. Don’t expect to know God’s direction in your life if your quibbling about lesser things. Seek the unity of those around you in church and in your family. This is essential.
Finally, they were continually praying. Talking to God is important too. “What’s next Lord?”. Often, when one group of people pursues one mission fully the way forward becomes clear. Need proof? It was only after the Apostles were obedient, united and praying that Peter figured out they needed to replace Judas (v15).
Many times, asking God for a sign is redundant. He has already given us our mission: Be Witnesses. This means that YES God does want you to live free of sin. YES God does want you to submit to the local church and support its ministry. YES God does want you to share your life story with your family and friends. NO God does not think it’s okay to fall victim to sin. NO God is not good with you sitting this one out. The first step to hearing from God is listening to what He’s already said.
Do you believe that the mission Jesus gave to the Apostles is your mission as well? Why or Why Not?
How can prayer and unity clear the way forward for us? Have you ever experienced this? If so, what happened?