Thursday, 9 June 2011

Hearing God 2: 'When God gives us a burden'

Do you ever think that if you want to do something then it could not possibly be God’s will for you? Elizabeth Elliot writes

For a long time I took the view that whatever I might want to do could not possibly be what God wanted me to do … A better understanding of Scripture has shown me that even I, chief of miserable offenders that I know myself to be, may now and then actually want what God wants. This is likely to be the case more and more as I practice obedience …
One of the blessings of the New Covenant which Jesus has established is to do with our desires. In Ezekiel (36:26-27) we read, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you … I will put Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Of course we have to be on our guard for we know that of sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit (Gal. 5:17). We have to learn which desires are implanted in us by God and which reflect such things as our selfish ambitions. But godly desires can be one of the means that God prompts us to move in a certain direction.

Related to this is what might be called ‘a burden.’ Brother Andrew describes a burden as, ‘something we become deeply motivated to pray about or act on, some part of history that God’s Spirit invites us to influence through our prayers..’ Another author explains ‘there will be grace within us that drives us to reach out to those for whom God has burdened us.’
Biblical examples of such burdens include Nehemiah’s desire to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He describes a moment where“… I had not told anyone what my God had put on my heart to do for Jerusalem …” (Neh. 2:12). Similarly, the apostle Paul told the church at Corinth of how God put into the heart of Titus the same concern that I have for you (2 Cor. 8:16). The Holy Spirit ‘does wonderfully incline the hearts of believers in various directions.’
There is one word of caution. A burden for some course of action is not always God’s green light to proceed. King David had it on his heart to build the temple, and God commended him for this desire in his heart, but nevertheless it was not God’s will that David would build the temple (2 Chronicles 6:8-9). A burden should at least get us praying about things and may be God’s prompting to step out in faith.

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