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Prayer and Holy Spirit Guidance
In this very personal ministry to you, God Himself will help you solve your problems. You can take them to God in prayer and He will either show you the solution so that you understand what you must do, or He will work in circumstances so that the problem is solved in other ways. To have this kind of relationship with God, establish the habit of communicating often with Him! John 16:13 promises that the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth. You can also count on the Holy Spirit to direct your daily path. He will always direct you according to biblical principles.
Your word is a lamp to guide me and a light for my path. I will keep my solemn promise to obey your just instructions (Psalm 119:105-106 TEV). To frequent prayer, offered with praise and thanksgiving, must be added obedience. We have talked about obedience before. Did you notice in the Psalm you just read that the Psalmist connected light for his path to the fact that he was going to keep his promise to obey God’s instructions? Answered prayer and obedience go hand in hand. Impossible problems can be solved through prayer!
Common Sense and Reason
God has given each of us a certain capacity for considering obvious facts and making a judgment. He must expect us to use this ability. You probably use common sense and reasoning to solve many problems every day. In fact, it becomes such a familiar process that it may be overlooked. For example, a friend of mine had a problem with children in his neighborhood. Seven of them had gotten into the habit of coming into his yard every morning to play with his two children, and often they would stay the whole day. First he considered all the facts:
1. It was good to have his own children nearby so that he knew what they were doing.
2. His children needed to be with other children often.
3. Having so many children in his yard all day was often unpleasant, or inconvenient for him.
There are several common-sense solutions to this problem. My friend used his common sense to limit the amount of time the children could visit in his yard. He chose a simple solution to the problem. We also experience times when God’s solution to one of our problems might indeed be quite uncommon! He might lead you in ways that would not be easy for other people to understand. Nevertheless, for most of the ordinary situations of life, common sense and our ability to reason are important problem-solving tools.
Conscience and Self-Control
Conscience is the word we use to name that inner voice or “feeling” that tells us what is right or wrong. Sometimes your conscience can be a tool in helping you solve your problems. I must say sometimes, because if you have ignored your conscience, its messages may be unclear. This sad possibility is taught in Romans 1:18-32. The pattern is explained in verse 28: “Because those people refuse to keep in mind the true knowledge about God, he has given them over to corrupted minds . . . ” (TEV).
Your conscience is misused when it sends out warnings that you continue to ignore. If you ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, and if you are obedient to His teaching, you can depend upon your conscience to warn you about those things which are wrong. The person who is sensitive to the warnings of his conscience will feel guilt when he has done wrong, and he will want to ask God for forgiveness. Keep your conscience sensitive by paying attention to its inner warning voice! Then it can be a useful tool in helping you solve your problems. It will help you to know which solutions to reject. There are three areas where self-control is necessary in order to avoid problems or solve existing problems which we have brought upon ourselves. They are the control of thoughts, speech, and behavior. I have linked them with conscience, because your conscience will warn you when you are weak in any of these areas.
Thoughts are the roots of spoken words and outward acts. Jesus taught that murder has its roots in angry thoughts and words; adultery begins with thinking unclean thoughts (Matthew 5:21-30). Your thoughts are in your direct control. You can refuse to dwell on thoughts that will lead to trouble. Follow the teachings of Scripture: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think
about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
One way to put good thoughts into your mind is to read books that will inspire and help you. There are many good Christian books that give us insight into the problems and experiences of other Christians. When I read such books and learn how God has brought guidance to others in solving their problems, I can be encouraged that He will also guide me. A Christian should be very careful in his selection of books, magazines, television or radio programs, and other forms of entertainment, so that he can control his thoughts carefully. Control of speech is probably the most difficult task for all of us. The apostle James tells us in James 3:2, “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check [control].” Read verses 3 through 12 in this chapter. These verses emphasize what a deadly weapon the tongue can be. Surely it can cause us a great deal of trouble if we do not control it.
Once you have learned to better control of your thoughts and speech, you will also be able to better control your behavior. In all of this, you need the help of the Holy Spirit, because your sinful nature would lead you to do that which is wrong. The apostle Paul recognized this. He discussed it in Romans 7:18-19, and 24-25: I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil that I do not want to—this I keep on doing . . . What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Other People
Many of your problems can be solved by following your conscience and using common sense and reason. You can find solutions to other problems through prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes a problem is so heavy and so personal that you should take it only to God, and allow Him to work out the solution in your heart. But often God uses other people as His instruments in helping you find solutions for your problems. Friends and caring people. You might begin by seeking out a wise and godly friend (one who can be trusted to keep a confidence). Friends have the advantage of not being emotionally involved in the problem. Since they are outside the situation, they can look at the problem from a different angle. Their advice should always be according to scriptural teaching. Christian friends can often be a blessing to one another in this way. Prayer groups, Sunday school classes, and other small groups within the church can share together and pray together. I have seen wonderful solutions to problems come as a result of united prayer by a caring church family. On the other hand, you can be the friend that someone else needs. I hope your study of this course will help you to be more sensitive to the needs of others, and better able to help them find solutions to their problems.
Professional counselors. There are some problems so serious or complex that God’s best way of helping us is through the advice of someone with special knowledge or training. Medical or psychological problems often need this kind of specialized help. There are delicate or sensitive matters that should not be shared with friends; they may not have enough knowledge to help you find the best solutions. In such cases, expert advice should be sought from a caring pastor, professional Christian counselors, doctors, or others who have made the area of your concern their special study. God can use their judgments just as He can use yours. Be sure to choose a Christian counselor, or one who will not oppose the Christian principles by which you live.
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