A quote from a recent cell sharing session: “I know God is always with me and will lead me. But I don’t really understand what that means to me. How about a cell meeting devoted to applying scripture to help me with that?” That cell meeting became a series that lasted five weeks. A summary of the requester’s understanding based on the cell’s "Word" sharing session is provided in the following topics:
Understanding God's Leadership
Thoughts after 1st meeting
Requester’s Basic understanding of God’s leadership:
For me, the goal of this series is to help me understand how to better serve others by accepting God’s leadership – and change my life accordingly. Here’s where I am:
- Miracles happen – sometimes with and sometimes without our asking.
- I can never know what is and what isn’t a miracle.
- Praying, including asking for a miracle is a communication with God from the heart not the mouth – and not even the mind. Words may help our heart to understand, but not in God’s understanding of what’s in our hearts. He always knows that.
- God can work miracles in any way he chooses, for example, through people, as described in (Name's) experience with the baby and (Name’s) several experiences. I believe that sometimes – maybe frequently – God leads us without us even knowing it.
- Our God is always available to lead us in doing what Jesus would want done in miraculous ways or in ordinary, everyday ways. But, it’s all about love. Loving God, loving others and loving yourself. I don’t believe he leads us about material things, except when they are about loving others or loving yourself.
- God’s earthly kingdom consists of all those on earth who accept God as their King. Today, this kingdom has two categories; disciples and other believers. Jesus prayed for both separately at the conclusion of Passover dinner – (originally there were also apostles). I don’t understand the difference between the two, but I think it’s important and I intend understand it better.
- I believe that disciples have a special relationship with God and are especially empowered by God. I believe that Jesus’ instructions and commitments given to the disciples do not necessarily apply to all believers. I intend understand this better.
- There is – or was at least – an event called baptism by the Holy Spirit – for Christ and others, and this may exists today. I intend to understand this better. But, without knowing the details, I firmly believe that God is always present – probably through the Holy Spirit – independent of this baptism. Hybels, in his book too Busy Not to Pray (page 175), says the Holy Spirit comes when you bow to Christ and become His.
Thoughts after 2nd meeting
Discerning God’s Leadership – My Learning Tree
What I think I understand
I must him stay attached to the vine for guidance and nourishment – this is key. So how do I stay attached?
God can and does some time intervene into what would normally occur otherwise.
Communication with God is through the heart/mind not the words chosen.
He knows the problem better than I do. So, describing it isn't required for God's understanding – it might be helpful for mine.
God does not need instructions from me, but maybe thinking about the nature of the problem and solutions will help me understand his leadings – or not – it might get in the way.
Maybe I need to feel the problem in my heart if I am to hear God's leadings.
I am not very empathetic – my immediate thoughts go toward fixing problems, not toward understanding the other person's feelings about the problem. This may be my biggest hindrance in accepting God's leadership. Maybe I should first try to feel the problem. Then what I would want done if it were my problem, then the things that they may want done – then what my resources are.
What I don't understand
But need to try
- Disciple versus other believer.
- How to hear/discern/ accept God's leadership – this is key.
- Corporate prayer.
- Best use of cell prayer time.
- The real meaning of pray without ceasing
But can't/don't want to try
- Anything about the mind of God, including:
- the Trinity's management approach
- How God decides to intervene
Disciple vs Other-believer
Based on: John 17:6-26, Matthew 10:1-8, Mark 6:6-13, Luke 9:1-6, Luke 14:25-35, Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 24:46-48, Mark 16:15-18
My understanding based on this Scripture:
- There are two distinct categories of believers – disciples and “those who will believe in me through their message”
- Disciples, includes the apostles and those who would become disciples later through the spreading of the gospel.
- Disciples are expected to do special things and are empowered to do so by God.
- To become a disciple requires leading an extraordinarily disciplined life, including;
- Spending full-time carrying out the great commission.
- Owning only the necessities.
- Loving God more than anything – even unto martyrdom. When Jesus was explaining the cost of being a disciple to the crowd in Luke 14, he emphasized the importance of understanding this cost by ending the discussion with; “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
- I am not a disciple.
- I am an other-believer – under construction – and have not been given the power given to disciples.
Seeking God's Leadership
God is all knowing, all powerful and always present. So:
- I don’t need to inform him.
- I don’t know how he makes the decision to intercede, but adding my heartfelt request might help and almost certainly won’t hurt.
I know absolutely that God wants me to help others and that he will lead me if I will ask him and listen – and maybe if I don’t ask him – but I must listen.
The key is how to listen as someone addressed in a cell meeting. I don’t remember his exact words but it was all about getting your mind/heart right. I remember a plaque that read: “God gave us two ears and one mouth, which means He wants to listen twice as much as we talk”. Maybe the ear-to-mouth ratio isn’t the appropriate parameter – but if we base it on the intelligence ratio, it becomes infinity-to-one which would imply that mostly, we should just listen.
Listening and Discerning
With my low level of empathy – my mind tends toward fixing – not feeling. To hear and understand leadings, maybe I should try to feel what the person in need feels and consider what I might want someone to do for me.
Then, quit thinking and start listening – fully understanding that the leading may not be immediate, but may come later when my mind sort of shuts down – I have a growing experience base in this regard. This is my best shot at “stillness before God”.
Insights from Hybels’: Too Busy Not to Pray
God’s power is available to us. We come to him in solitude, when we learn how to focus and center our hearts and be quiet before him. When we learn the discipline of stillness before God, we find that his leadings come through to us clearly, with little interference.
It is possible to be aware throughout the day, even while going about your daily work, of God’s gentle promptings. That’s what it means to “live by the spirit” – Galatians 5:16
If you sense a leading that seems completely contrary to who God made you to be, I advise you to test it very carefully. Is God asking you to do this difficult thing because there is simply no one else who will do it? Is he asking you to stretch into new areas so that your unique gifts will grow? Or is this perhaps not a God inspired leading at all, but rather a distraction from the task God has given you to do?
God’s leadings usually involve servant hood. I find that many counterfeit leadings are fairly easy to discern, because they are self-promoting or self-serving. Hybels gave this example:
A frustrated man called me recently and said, I’ve been an elder in my church for 30 years, and I’ve seen a lot of pastors come and go. I’d like to know why every one of them has felt a strong leading to leave this church when the invitation elsewhere involved more money, more benefits, a bigger staff and a larger house. No pastor has ever been led to a smaller church with a small salary and fewer benefits.”
Thus, we can summarize that a leading is probably from God if it is consistent with his word, if it is congruent with who he made you to be and if it requires some sacrifice or steps of faith.
Following God's Leadership
Cell meetings conclude with a “Witness” session, which is a time to discuss and pray for those in need. Our cells use a concerns list, which is updated at each meeting and is used as a reminder during the discussion and prayer time – and for daily prayers in the following week. They provide the starting point for following God’s leadership.
Jesus made it clear that if we believe in him, we will do the things that he had been doing (John 14:12) and that we should rely on God’s leadership in doing them. For me to do that, I have to be very intentional about it. The Relational Witnessing approach is well-suited for that purpose.
The concerns that we pray about fall into two general categories, physical and spiritual. I’m reasonably comfortable in the physical world, but uncomfortable in the spiritual world. I have found the materials in Witness Understanding to be very helpful in this regard.