Man stands in dark“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” Genesis 22:18

Throughout Scripture we see the evidences of how disobedience to God’s word produces tragedy. In the book of Nehemiah, we read about the scribe and priest Ezra who helped guide the Israelites back to God. He, like Nehemiah, was a builder. Nehemiah re-built the wall around the Temple and Ezra helped re-build the faith of the Israelites. As Ezra preached a great sermon to the Israelites, who were assembled in the square before the Water Gate, a spiritual awaking was beginning to happen.

When people follow the leading of God, we find that His spirit leads us in the paths of truth and righteousness. When we feel His Spirit saying, “No” and we move in a direction away from His will, we soon learn the consequences of not being in His will. Like the Israelites in Nehemiah’s day we need to embrace the words uttered by this great prophet, Nehemiah:

Nevertheless, they (the Israelites) were disobedient and rebelled against You, cast Your law behind their backs and killed Your prophets, who testified against them to turn them to Yourself; and they worked great provocations. Therefore, You delivered them into the hand of their enemies, who oppressed them; and in the time of their trouble, when they cried to You, You heard from heaven; and according to Your abundant mercies You gave them deliverers who saved them from the hand of their enemies. Nehemiah 9:26-27

But sometimes we confuse God’s “Yes” thinking He meant “No” because we allow fear, trust, or risk to enter into our thinking. That is precisely why we need to be grounded in His word, listen to His spirit, pray continuously, receive wise counsel, and properly evaluate the circumstances around us to be sure it is of Him. Too many people get caught up in the feeling about something instead of the assurances and direction God has put before us.

Aren’t we glad that when Christ ascended to Heaven, He left His Holy Spirit to guide and direct us? It is comforting to know that we don’t have to “do life on our own?” Our Heavenly Father cares enough to have the Holy Spirit prompt us to do the right thing at the right time. And during the times when we want to do our thing our way, remember that our self-absorbing actions and attitudes often, i.e. most of the time, have negative consequences
The following poem by Claudia Menden Weisz reminds us of how important it is to be sensitive to God’s spirit:

When God Says No
I asked God to take away my habit. God said, No. It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.
I asked God to make handicapped people whole. God said, No. Their spirit is whole; their bodies are only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience. God said, No. Patience is a byproduct of tribulations; it isn’t granted, it is learned.
I asked God to give me happiness. God said, No. I give you blessings; Happiness is up to you.
I asked God to spare me pain. God said, No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.
I asked God to make my spirit grow. God said, No. You must grow on your own,
but I will prune you to make you fruitful.
I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life. God said, No. I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things.
I asked God to help me LOVE others, as much as He loves me.
God said…Ahhhh, finally, you have the idea.

Personal Application:

  1. Can you remember a time when you knew that the Spirit was leading you one way and you elected to ignore His plan and went in the opposite direction? What were the consequences?
  2. A popular fast food chain had a campaign “You can have it your way”. Why is that bad theology? Read Psalms 121
  3. Are you surrounding yourself with godly mentors who can help reflect God’s word to you about your decisions?
  4. So many people are longing for something positive in their life. If this has inspired you please pass this along

Jim Grassi, D. Min.