“I just feel like we are supposed to wait — and not take that offer,” I said to my husband when a contract was presented to us for our home.
Hmmm … He had already signed the deal. I insisted again: “I just don’t feel this is the deal God has for us.”
“But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know.”
I had been given an “insight” during prayer that God was going to give us a buyer who would offer full price for our home — as that was the number we needed in order to make our next move. But unfortunately this low-ball offer was the only deal on the table, and actually on the foreseeable horizon.
It was getting late at this point. It looked like a “sign it or lose out altogether” situation. I held out.
About an hour later, after much heated discussion between my husband and myself, unbelievably, we were presented with a full price, all-cash, no contingencies offer — written on a cocktail napkin by a guest at a party, guest where we were in attendance. The buyer was thrilled! We were stunned. It was a real win-win.
Yep. It is true. How did I know?
I didn’t — I just felt that this is what God had in store for us and I chose to act in faith on this “compelling Spirit.”
Acts 20:22 states: “But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know.”
We don’t know how it was that the Holy Spirit compelled Paul, but God obviously spoke to him in some way “by the Spirit.” How did he know it was God? Jesus states in John 10:27: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
One of the wonderful things about being a Christ follower is that we develop a relationship with Jesus and begin to recognize His voice. Just as when a friend calls on the phone, we often know who it is simply from hearing the very first word (even when we do not have caller I.D.). We also can know the voice of the Shepherd.
God will often speak to us as we pray. St. Teresa of Avila says that prayer “is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends.” Prayer is a conversation, not just a one-way stream of wants and needs to God. Prayer is about a relationship, and in relationships, sharing happens on both sides.
God will also give us a “compelling Spirit” to guide us by giving us a strong desire to do something. So many times we have deep fears that, if we abandon ourselves totally to God and His will, He will make us do things we do NOT want to do … like move to Africa.
Philippians 2:13 states: “For God is the one who, for His good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.”
Wow! So God will very often inspire us to desire what He desires so that we actually want to do what He wants us to do. It becomes yet again a win-win.
I feel strongly that God wanted me to start a ministry to women. But guess what? I didn’t really like women! So, 28 years ago, He sent someone to pray for me, and now … all of these years later, by His grace, I have had the honor of ministering to hundreds of women. Win-win!
Sometimes He guides in more unusual ways, like through prophecy, visions, pictures, angels, interior voices, or even dreams. But please know, we can be mistaken — and so it is always a must to check and make sure it is from God. How do we know it is God speaking?
There are various tests found in the Bible:
1.) Is it in line with the Holy Scripture? God will never ask you to do something that is contrary to His Holy Word.
2.) Does it promote love? God is love. If the thought that comes into your mind is not a loving thought, then it doesn’t come from God.
3.) Is the inspiration strengthening, encouraging, and comforting? 1 Corinthians 14:3 states that if it is from God, it will be.
4.) Do you feel peace about the decision? Colossians 3:15 states: “And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.” If you make a decision and you feel very uneasy about it, that may be a suggestion it’s not from God. If we make a decision and we feel totally peaceful, then the peace of Christ is ruling in our heart.
It does not mean that it will always be easy, but the peace of Christ comes, even in difficult decisions.
Of course, after running through your check list, if you still have questions about major decisions, it is always a great idea to talk to your priest or pastor. That topic will be covered in next week’s blog. With God, we always win.
“But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” (John 16:13)
Help me. I want to know Your ways. I want to be guided by You. Teach me to hear Your voice through Scripture and give me faith to act upon what I hear. I pray that You will always be the voice I hear, so please give me discernment, wisdom and insight as I get to know You better. I ask that hope in You would replace fear, and love of You would replace my own will. Please, dear Lord, guide me into to all truth by Your Holy Spirit, I pray.
I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Melissa Overmyer is founder of Something Greater Ministries in Washington, D.C., and has been teaching the Bible for over 30 years. This article is based on information presented at an ALPHA course.