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When God seems Silent: Final Principles

By May 3, 2016May 4th, 2016No Comments

This is the 4th post in a series on what to do when we don’t receive direction through the scriptures, God’s character, and prayer. 

As we continue considering what to do when God seems silent, we turn to Acts 15, which relates the story of the Jerusalem Council. The apostles and other leaders met to deal with a theological conflict and decided to write a letter to the churches expressing their decision.

You may want to read the entire story, but for our purposes, note this wording:

v. 22. Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.

The next verses quote the letter itself:

v. 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul.

v. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements.

In the first two instances describing the decision as to who would take their letter, the text says “it seemed good” to them, meaning the entire group. Verse 25 says they were of one accord—united in this. The decision to send Paul and Barnabas and a group seemed wise, and so they made it. When the letter mentions the theological decision in verse 28, it acknowledges the Spirit’s participation.

By noting the contrast it appears that with the theological issue they recognized the Spirit’s guidance; with the decision about who should deliver the letter, they agreed among themselves on what seemed best to the whole group.

In the end sometimes that is the best we can do when God is silent on an issue—move forward with what seems best.

Principle #4: Move forward with what seems best.

When I was asked to speak on hearing God, I struggled to find the right direction. After many starts and stops without clear direction, I did what seemed best. I would not have been wrong to go in any of the other directions, but talking about being without direction made sense because I was dealing with it myself. It wasn’t an issue that needed agreement among a group or from another person, but I did seek counsel and suggestions from other teachers before I decided to go this way.

Often, however, we should seek agreement of others to verify what seems best. Who’s involved in your decisions? If you’re in charge of a team or ministry, bring them into the process and trust God to lead. If you’re married, run decisions by your spouse, knowing there are always consequences to the family unit concerning time, finances, and focus.

God’s plan for marriage is oneness, so we should seek agreement. If my husband isn’t excited about something, I take it as God’s answer. (My husband never gives me an actual no, but being in agreement is more than that. It involves all parties believing it is the best decision.) Believers can wait for agreement even if their spouses aren’t Christians or don’t pray about it. Why? Because God is big enough to handle it. He has the power to change a spouse’s heart if he disagrees. The key is to trust God; it’s a matter of faith.

The same principle applies to groups, churches, and teams. Those who seek God’s will find direction through agreement because God’s plan is oneness in both the family and the church.

Principle #5 Seek unified agreement among those involved.

If my team, board, or co-leader doesn’t unite around a possible volunteer, I see it as God’s answer to look for someone else. I try to offer the volunteer other places of service better suited to her situation or level of maturity.

Last week a young woman in a group with me mentioned that she and her husband had been paralyzed when they weren’t certain what God wanted them to do–too afraid that they would make the wrong decision. They finally realized that they needed to move one way or the other, agreeing to what seemed best and wise.

Instead of being paralyzed, let’s trust God and move forward as seems best after we receive no definite answer, trusting him to stop us if necessary.

We would love to hear your story of how you followed the 5 principles:

  1. Calling
  2. Counsel
  3. Circumstances
  4. What seems Best
  5. Unity

Contact us if you need prayer or counsel for your own situation.

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