I have had to make many decisions in my life. Most of them have been minor everyday decisions, like what am I going to wear today or what will I have for breakfast. Do I want tea or coffee? Would I like fries with that?
Some of the decisions I have had to make have been major, life changing, future effecting decisions, like going to ministry school and becoming a missionary in a very foreign land. When making the huge decisions, I often seek counsel among those who I trust and who I believe have the wisdom to guide me in the decision making process, and not force their advice on me.
I have received good counsel and I have received bad counsel in the course of my life. Regardless of the quality of counsel that has been there for me, I still have had to make these decisions.
Rehoboam, Jeroboam, the man of God from Judah, and Peter were all in positions of receiving either good or bad counsel. In the Old Testament reading, all three men portrayed made the choice to heed bad counsel, but Peter, took the best counsel of all – the counsel of Holy Spirit
What I realize is that the common denominator in all of these stories is how each of the men responded to peer pressure in regards to their decision making and in relation to whether or not they took the good or bad counsel.
So many times in my life, I have made bad choices because of I have felt compelled by the people around me. Much of the sinful choices I have made were because I wanted to be a part of the crowd, to fit in, to not stand out as weird. I take fully responsibility for those actions, but I also understand that without that pressure, in the same situations, I might have made better choices. I wish I had made better choices; there would have been a lot less heartache in my life.
Now as a believer, I have the Ultimate Counselor to seek guidance from, One who is with me all of the time, One who will never leave me or forsake me or give me bad counsel. I can fully trust that if I obey the direction of Holy Spirit, as Peter did, I cannot make a wrong decision.
When Peter decided to obey the vision he received from Holy Spirit, it helped open up the glorious sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. It showed the Jewish believers that God has a heart for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews. He wants to save ALL of His beloved. It showed them that everyone regardless of heritage or culture could be affected by the Gospel in the same ways.
“So I started in, talking. Before I’d spoken half a dozen sentences, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as he did on us the first time. I remembered Jesus’ words: ‘John baptized with water; you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So I ask you: If God gave the same exact gift to them as to us when we believed in the Master Jesus Christ, how could I object to God?”
Hearing it all laid out like that, they quieted down. And then, as it sank in, they started praising God. “It’s really happened! God has broken through to the other nations, opened them up to Life!” Acts 11:15-18 (MSG)
Peter made the decision to follow the guidance of Holy Spirit in spite of the fact that His advice went against all of the laws about what and how to eat that Peter had grown up with and followed his whole life. He obeyed Holy Spirit, not the pressure around him, those who, the NKJV says ‘contended’ (argued, disputed, fought, struggled, opposed, resisted) with him about going to the Gentiles. He was rebuked, but he stood strong in his choice, knowing that Holy Spirit wouldn’t lead him in down a wrong path.
Peter’s obedience in this decision gave a release to some of the men to begin preaching to the Gentiles, and a ‘great number of them believed and turned to the Lord.’ His choice propelled Barnabas into ministry among the Gentiles. He was so encouraged that he continued on to join Paul in Tarsus and eventually brought him to Antioch to hearten the believers there.
Listening and obeying Holy Spirit in the decisions I must make in my life, whether large or seemingly small, will have an impact not only in my own future, but also the future and destiny of others.
Parasutha Avi, please guide me. Open my ears to hear your voice and my heart to obey your nudging. Help me to stand strong in deciding to follow your guidance regardless of how it might make me ‘look’ to the people around me. Help me discern what is good and what is not. Prick my heart when I don’t listen and begin to take wrong steps, so that I will redirect my path. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India