So 2020 is now a month in the books. How’s it going for you so far?
Perhaps for some of you, the thoughts and aspirations you were contemplating for the year are still fresh and coming together. For others, the year hasn’t gotten off to the kind of start you were expecting or hoping for. To those, I would encourage you that the new year is still filled with opportunities to grow and thrive! For example, many who purposed to get this year started off right chose to be in the Word regularly with a reading plan. Island Christian Church provides a variety of plans online. Being regular with Scripture intake is one way of not just beginning the year well, but it is primarily how we hear from God.
Hearing from God in 2020- would that not be awesome? To know God’s heart for you this year through His Word? How would that be for a response to someone who asks how the year going so far?
So what does it mean to hear from God? (I’ve gleaned some insights on this subject from Dr. Bill Thrasher in his book, “Living the Life God Has Planned.”) I’ll say it again, we hear from God, or more specifically, receive revelation from God mainly through His Word. This is by far the clearest, most accurate way in which God speaks to His people. In fact, the Scriptures tell us is that if God is anything, He is consistent in His character. He cannot be or do things that are not in His divine nature, despite the fact that He is all-knowing and all-powerful.
That said, God is a God who communicates with His people- and that occurs primarily through His Word. He also communicates with us in three secondary- and I mean VERY secondary ways: 1) through the prompting of the Holy Spirit; 2) through other people; 3) through life’s circumstances. The reason I emphasized the importance of Scripture over the other three is that each of those gets their marching orders from Scripture. For example, if anything comes to you that you perceive may be from the Holy Spirit but seems off (meaning does not line up with the God of the Bible), then it cannot be from the Holy Spirit. Indeed, not every strong urge is a prompting from the Holy Spirit. We can be tempted not only to desire but even to crave wrong things (1 Corinthians 10:6). Our responsibility is to get to know the Shepherd through His Word, then we will be able to discern His voice (John 10:4).
The same holds true with God’s people. Many well-intended (and even not so well-intended) people will give us advice or counsel that may sound good, but never let it override your own seeking of God through what His Word says and by prayer. Also, in the circumstances of life, be wary of making decisions strictly on opened and closed doors without a Scriptural basis. I have seen both opened and closed doors be used of God for direction and in helping make decisions for myself and for others. However, that should not be the sole basis. In some cases, even when there seems to be an open/shut door before us, we are called to wait on the Lord. If fact, if we are not willing to wait, our hearts are probably not in a position of faith. In some cases, God allows long delays before He does things. Such was the case of the birth of Issac to Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:15-21), or the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-25).
Since we can trust Scripture, we must use it as the lens by which all other revelation is received and acted upon. God has clearly laid out principles for us to follow in His Word to do His will. As we follow the general principles, more light will be shed on the particulars. For example, here are some clear statements that can be applied to a variety of decisions in guiding us through life:
- It is God’s will for us to live in moral purity and be set apart for Him (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
- It is God’s will that we rejoice always, pray without ceasing and be thankful in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
- It is God’s will that we submit to the authorities in our lives (Romans 13:1).
There can be added so many other clear commands to this list. They are easy to find, especially if you make a normal practice of Scripture intake. As you do, it’s just amazing how God makes His will known.
The year has just begun. Get a fresh perspective on your life and its purpose by regularly going deep in His Word. You’ll hear from God and get to act with certainty as to all He has for you!
It’s 2020- how’s it going for you so far?
Pastor Joe Garofalo