8 Min Read
Today we were encouraged by a sermon by pastor Jonathan Pokluda of Harris Creek Baptist Church. For those of you unfamiliar with pastor Jonathan, he was at one point one of the leaders of The Porch, a lively youth ministry down in Dallas, Texas. If you haven’t checked them out yet, please do. Their messages are bible centered and funny. Something hard to come by nowadays.
Pastor Jonathan focuses on a sermon series called Decisions. Today he focused on the first of three teachings surrounding this topic: When do I know if God is speaking to me?
He alludes to a story of a vacation he took to Mexico and once there his family was on a boat traversing the tropical waters of the Mexican gulf until they reached a particular area where they wanted to visit a set of islands but to get to them would cost more money.
He attempts to speak with his tour guide but realizes that the guide/captain of the boat does not understand English and Jonathan does not speak Spanish. They’re both caught in this unfavorable situation where they gesticulate to one another what it is they’re trying to say while Jonathan explains something in English and the captain retorts with no comprendo. I don’t understand.
This breakdown in translation and understanding can lead to decisions made without the proper guidance and the individual can cross onto certain areas of life where they place themselves in danger, without knowing so.
He brings this reality to our spiritual walk in life. Where at times we, too, for lack of patience or lack of learning or lack of want, we end up in situations we could have avoided but were too unwilling to let go and let God guide us through.
Pastor Jonathan gives us three practical steps to follow when we are at a fork in the road, uncertain about what steps to take next in life, what career moves to make, to continue in a life of singleness or if we ought to pursue that person that is interested in us and we’re interested in them.
The first step is the easiest and at the same time the hardest one to do. For any time someone gives us advice the first thing we want to do is respond or answer back right away with what we believe is what we ought to say. But listening is an active pursuit where we disconnect from our response bridge and allow our mind to focus on the fountain of information that is the Spirit of God.
Jonathan reminds us that God’s Holy Spirit is not a mean spirit that wants to confuse us. In fact, the Holy Spirit is a Comforter, an Advocate, and a Helper. Jonathan reads the words of Jesus from the Gospel of John:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”John 14:16-17
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”John 14:26
We must also keep in mind what Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, that unless a person has been renewed from within; unless a person has experienced the quickening (the bringing to life) of their soul, they cannot know, they cannot see, nor can they understand the Holy Spirit.
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”1 Corinthians 2:14
And this happens because a person under the leadership and guidance of the flesh or anything other than the Spirit of God is ruled by passions, emotions, fears, hatred, and the whims of the world.
“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”Romans 8:7-8
So to listen to the voice of God we must first be of God. For in failing to follow this first step we are than listening to other voices, voices intended to distract and ultimately destroy us.
Jonathan then states that when we listen to the voice and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we must discern (judge, weigh, determine if good, discriminate, refine) that which was spoken to see if it matches the character of God.
“Beloved, 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. “1 John 4:1
He alludes to the fact that not too far from his Harris Creek church, a man by the name of David Koresh led a group of devout religious followers, called the Branch Davidians to their own demise. David Koresh eventually called himself the anointed one, a revelation he claims he received from God. He claimed that he alone had an avenue of communication with God. He claimed that every woman on his compound now belonged to him, whether they were married, single, or teenagers because it was time for him to release his holy offspring into the world. He believed that his followers should own automatic firearms (a federal crime) without restrictions. He also believed that his sect of the Branch Davidians, under his leadership, would usher the armageddon or doomsday mentioned in the book of Revelation, thus starting the catastrophic end of the world. His compound was raided by federal agents, several officers were shot at and injured while several Branch Davidians were shot and killed. After a fifty-one day siege a fire was started, some speculate the cult started the fire while others believe federal agents started the fire by accident, but either way, the entire compound was razed to the ground by flames. All in all, nearly eighty individuals, including more than twenty children, lost their lives not only to the flames of fire but also to the warped beliefs of a warped man. The entire event was televised and the world watched as the Branch Davidian cult burned to the ground.
David Koresh, like many Christians today, believe they hear from God but don’t stop long enough to compare these revelations with the word of God. They don’t stop long enough to seek Godly counsel from a healthy, scripturally correct body of believers. And lastly, believers don’t stop to ask if what they hear or feel or what they are moved to do is in line with the character of a Holy God.
We must listen to His Spirit and evaluate that which we have heard with the character of God.
Lastly, pastor Jonathan advises us to DO what God’s Spirit instructs us to do. James reminds us in his epistle:
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”James 1:22-24
“For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”James 2:26
James reminds the reader that we cannot simply read, listen, discern, and abandon the Word of God, the Calling of God, the Voice of God, the Spirit of God because we place ourselves in a position to make decisions not out of ignorance but out of a spirit of arrogance. This ought not to be.
Pastor Jonathan also informs us that “We don’t judge obedience by the outcome.”
And by this, he means that sometimes we think God’s guidance in life only leads us to success, financial stability, comfort, peace, happiness, sexual fulfillment in a happy and thriving marriage, and whenever we experience anything but the aforementioned we believe we are living outside of God’s will and guidance.
Our obedience to His voice must come first and independent of the outcome. For at times God may call us to suffer.
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,”2 Timothy 3:12
This does not mean we will all be persecuted, as we understand persecution as life under a North Korean dictatorship but it means that when we listen to the voice of God we will at times feel alone, feel as if the choices we made were ungodly because we’re in what we believe are unfavorable situations. We need to exit this mindset that: God’s blessings are always going to make us feel good, be healthy, be happy, and be rich.
We are a generation largely influenced by harmful voices that want to deter our spiritual growth, falter our walk with God, and distract us from His ultimate purpose for our lives.
When we find ourselves in a situation where we need God’s guidance there is only one formula to follow:
That is the only way a believer can be LED by God’s Holy Spirit.
Questions to consider
- When was the last time you asked God for guidance? How did that turn out?
- What do you do when God’s advice for your life goes against your desires?
- What or who keeps you from listening to God’s Holy Spirit?