August 28, 2011


Acts 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

This is a well-known passage, but many, if not most, people would not believe it could happen today. The very idea of the Holy Spirit indicating something so specific as this, and to a group of people at the same time! The text doesn’t say it, but it seems probable that someone spoke this as a prophecy and everyone else felt strong confirmation, but afterward no one could remember who had spoken out loud. (Cathy and I had an experience like that in 1974 when the Lord indicated we were to sell our house in Denver and move to Japan.) The point is, God does direct us, if we have ears and hearts to hear Him. Some don’t tune their hearts to hear Him because they don’t have any idea it’s possible for them, and others don’t do so because they are set on what they want to do, and they don’t want God interfering. The amazing thing is, there are people in both groups who genuinely love God and want to serve Him! The problem is, most of us (to use my mother’s expression) are “independent as a hog on ice.” It doesn’t take deep reflection to understand what that’s like! Because a pig’s trotters (feet) are rather pointed, they can gain some traction on ice, but it is a very hit-or-miss thing, and a pig in such a situation seldom goes where either it or the master would like. That’s comical to think about, but tragic when we realize that we are that pig, failing to move as God knows is best for us and for His family. God will confirm His directions to us in various ways, so we don’t have to be uncertain. Unsupported “personal prophecy” has led to quite a few tragedies! He will speak to our hearts, He will speak through His Word, He will speak through dreams and visions, He will speak through other people, both brothers and sisters in Christ and total strangers. The thing is, He will almost always use more than one of those methods to say the same thing to us. In the example in this verse, He both spoke through one and confirmed it in the hearts of all present. That’s one reason it is extremely helpful to pray in a group over major decisions. Above all, though, there needs to be the expectation and trust that God desires to lead us, He will lead us, and that His plans are always the best thing possible.

I have experienced this enough times to be sure of it, but that doesn’t mean I’m completely consistent in seeking God’s guidance. At the same time, people often turn to me when they want to know what God wants them to do. That’s a risky position! I must never operate in pride or presumption, but neither am I to be anxious about whether God is going to guide. I am to be honest about the level of clarity the Lord gives me on any given issue, and I am to receive what He says through others. I am greatly blessed to have a wife who is equally desirous of hearing and obeying God, and she is often an excellent sounding board for what I am feeling, but I am not to limit my prayerful consultation to her. Just as God did for Gideon, He is more than capable of using multiple confirmation to make His will clear, if that is needed.

Father, this is a big and very current issue, because of how often I am asked what You want someone to do. Help me be fully submitted to You, never spouting off out of my own ideas but allowing You to use me, in all humility and gratitude, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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