How do you deal with conflicting guidance from others? God word spells out what He wants you to be. The Holy Spirit within you guides into the specifics of God’s will. He gives you a persistent impression of what you ought to do. The key word is persistent. Feelings can mislead you. So can well-intentioned advisors. A persistent sense of what you ought to do is the needle of God’s inner compass. That leading never contradicts His word.
Acts 20–21 describe Paul’s journey to Jerusalem. “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there” (Acts 20:22, NIV).What I label as a persistent sense of ought, Paul describes as being compelled by the Spirit. If you resist God’s pull, you’ll be uncomfortable. Been there. Done that.
The Spirit informed Paul of the afflictions awaiting him in Jerusalem. God’s will can include ill-treatment. His commission outweighs personal comfort.
People often oppose God’s will. Sometimes, with the best intentions. On his way to Jerusalem, Paul stopped in Tyre. The Spirit revealed to some of the believers there the danger ahead for Paul. They interpreted this to mean Paul shouldn’t go to Jerusalem. Paul didn’t argue. He just pressed on toward Jerusalem.
Paul’s next stop was Caesarea. Agabus, a prophet, foretold Paul’s arrest and imprisonment. He didn’t try to convince Paul to change his plans.
You may seek guidance from Christian relatives and friends. Their wisdom can be helpful. You must listen, however, to God’s voice, once you’ve heard it. Paul did. Finally, the Christians in Caesarea, including Luke, the human author of Acts, said, “The Lord’s will be done” (Acts 21:14, NIV).
In Jerusalem, James and the elders feared a split was developing between Jewish and Gentile believers. They challenged Paul to identify openly with the nation of Israel. Paul went the second mile for Christian unity.
Asian Jews saw Paul in the Temple. They stirred up the people against him with unsubstantiated charges. The crowd would have killed Paul if the Roman soldiers hadn’t intervened. Somehow, Paul saw this as a marvelous chance to preach. Accomplishing God’s will was more important to him than his personal safety.
Boats once had a compass fixed to the deck. They had another on the mast where a sailor had to climb to inspect it. The iron vessel often affected the compass on the deck but not the compass above. The captain steered by the compass above. May the persistent compass of the Holy Spirit be your guide.
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