Which way to go?

Today I read in Ecclesiastes…NOT my favorite book of the Bible, I have to admit…hearing some of the author’s words get a bit depressing at times….but full of a wealth of knowledge…and wisdom.  Solomon concludes in the first 4 chapters that without God, who can find (lasting) enjoyment?  One of my favorite quotes from this book of the Bible hits on a topic that God has put on my mind lately: Discernment. 

Here is what he wrote:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

…He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end…I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.  God does it so that men will revere him.”    -Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

Notice, it does not say a time to sin against God!!!  Another topic for another day as to what God considers to be sin.  That will take a lot of prayer and study…and a lot of time…to write about.

What is neat to me is that, in the past, I never really had a lot of discernment!  In fact, I think I began to like rules, because they kept me safe from making mistakes.  If I could a apply a rule or certain judgement to someone or something, then I could understand it, perhaps control it, and then it wouldn’t be a problem for me.  It appeared to keep me safe from making mistakes.  But, the more I lived, the more rules I had to apply…until there were too many rules for me to follow and WAY too much anxiety in my heart…and way too much judgement that turned out to be flat out wrong. 

So, what do we do?  How do we know what the right thing is to do in a certain situation?  Don’t we all LONG for that?  Discernment is one of the most wonderful characteristics.  You can have SO much knowledge and much fruit of the Spirit…but if you cannot apply it at the proper time…you simply look like a fool.

The truth is that true discernment comes from the Holy Spirit.  It is Spiritual Discernment.  God’s Spirit knows all situations and all people and knows no time restrictions.  He can guide you through each situation in the best possible manner with PERFECT knowledge of YOU, EVERYONE ELSE, and THE PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE.  How AWESOME is that???  Talk about a GREAT Counselor!!!  That is one of the qualities of the Holy Spirit.  Once Jesus was resurrected, and joined the Father, He poured out HIS Spirit unto His children in order that they may be guided through this fallen world.  And He has several responsibilities (to name a few)–He convicts us of our sin, He intercedes for us in prayer with words we cannot understand, He COUNSELS us, and He encourages/energizes us.  He is VERY significant.  He is essential to the Trinity.

I know I am not a whole lot smarter now than I was in college.  In fact, I have not had any further education since then.  But, it seems, the more I read the Bible, the more time I spend in prayer and submission to the Lord…the more discernment He gives me.  And when I am being disobedient/willful?–I fall back into a lack of discernment because His Spirit cannot guide me when I am unwilling to listen.

I have come to learn that as God grows my FAITH in HIM, and I realize He truly is involved in every DETAIL of my life, because He is a detail-oriented God (can’t you tell when you study His creation?), I then realize I can TRUST Him with EVERY detail and pray through EVERY detail (He longs to be in conversation with His beloved children all day long actually!)…and watch Him guide me through each moment, helping me remember Scripture that applies to literally any possible situation I can encounter…and protecting me from falling into temptation (close but no cigar as long as I am willing and not wanting to indulge in sin). 

Here’s the secret!  You are not going to believe it….but, it really isn’t that hard when you rely on the Holy Spirit and not yourself.  When I try to reason my way through things and do things in my own strength…I usually fail…but, when I rely on the Lord’s discernment…He always helps me be victorious.  It is the picture of a child bent on doing something himself (with screams of frustration), while his loving parent waits nearby for him to ask for help (I’ve got some experience with this one 😉 ).  It is shocking to me to look back at how far He has taken me over my lifetime in this area (and many others!!!).

If you would like more discernment…just ask the Lord..read His Word…memorize it…submit to His will over your own…and pray away throughout your days!  He will help you remember what you should do in each moment of each day.  It is not supposed to be stressful.  If it is, you might have too much on your plate (perhaps you can pray as to what things are not from the Lord that can be released for the time being), or you might not be trusting in the Lord (or seeking His Will) with ALL the details of your life.  As you SURRENDER…His PEACE will come into your life and guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (-Philippians 4:7)

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