May 17, 2009

MacDonald on Discerning God's Will

The March 17 entry in William McDonald's daily devotional
One Day at a Time contains the following.

"Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule." (Psa. 32:9)

It seems to me that the horse and the mule picture two wrong attitudes we might have when we are seeking the Lord's guidance. The horse wants to charge ahead; the mule wants to lag behind. The horse tends to be impatient, high-spirited and impetuous. The mule on the other hand is stubborn, intractable and lazy. The psalmist says that neither animal has understanding. Both have to be controlled by bit and bridle, otherwise they will not come near to their master.

God's desire is that we be sensitive to His leading, not plunging ahead in our own wisdom and not holding back when He has shown his will.

Here are a few rules-of-thumb that might be helpful in this regard.

Ask God to confirm His guidance in the mouths of two or three witnesses. He has said, "In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established" (Mt. 18:16b). These witnesses may include a verse of scripture, the counsel of other Christians and the marvelous converging of circumstances. If you get two or three distinct indications of His will, you will not have any doubts or misgivings.

If you are seeking God's guidance and no guidance comes, then God's guidance is for you to stay where you are. It is still true that "darkness about going is light about staying."
Wait until the guidance is so clear that to refuse would be positive disobedience. The children of Israel were forbidden to move until the pillar of cloud and fire moved. No rationalizations on their part could excuse independent action. Their responsibility was to move when the cloud moved - not sooner and not later.

Finally, let the peace of Christ umpire in your heart. That is a free translation of Colossians 3:15. It means that when God is really guiding, He so influences our intellects and emotions that we have peace about the right way and no peace about any other way.

If we are anxious to know the divine will and quick to obey it, we will not need the bit and bridle of God's discipline.

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