It is always a mistake to assume what God’s strategy is for any situation. It is best to ask Him, listen, and obey.
The pastor of the largest church in the world, David Yonggi Cho, was once asked to speak at a pastors’ conference on church growth. Thousands of pastors were there, pen and pad in hand, waiting to write down every single word he said.
When he was introduced, he calmly walked to the microphone, looked around, said, “I pray, and I obey”. Then he sat down. That was it. Of course there was much disappointment. They all wanted his strategy. But he gave them the best strategic plan in the world. Pray and obey.
At one stage of Cho’s church, it was not big or growing. He was lamenting to the Lord about the lack of male leaders. The Lord spoke to him and said, “Use the women.” Now, in our culture that is a bit controversial. But in his it was scandalous. He would have to overcome Biblical interpretation of Scripture as well as the cultural resistance and persecution. He chose to obey. He ended up losing half of his pastoral staff, but he also ended up with thirty thousand home groups, almost all led by women.
One of my favorite examples of this in the Bible is found in 2 Samuel 5. The Philistines had heard that David was just made king of Israel, so they came up to battle against him.
“So David asked the Lord, ‘Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?’ The Lord replied to David, ‘Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you.’” 2 Samuel 5:19 NLT
Isn’t it interesting that David asked the Lord whether or not he should even go to battle against the Philistines? I mean, that seems obvious, doesn’t it? I don’t know what else he would do in that situation. But this is what the Lord loved about David–his dependency and humility. He was always asking God for His direction in any given situation.
In fact, the second time the Philistines attacked, David asked the Lord again, not assuming anything, and the Lord gave him completely different instructions.
“But after a while the Philistines returned and again spread out across the valley of Rephaim. And again David asked the Lord what to do. ‘Do not attack them straight on,’ the Lord replied. ‘Instead, circle around behind and attack them near the poplar trees. When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the poplar trees, be on the alert! That will be the signal that the Lord is moving ahead of you to strike down the Philistine army.’ So David did what the Lord commanded, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.” 2 Samuel 5:22-25 NL
You cannot assume what the Lord’s strategy is for you; you need to ask Him–even if it seems obvious.
This mistake is recorded in the Book of Joshua. After the supernatural victory at Jericho, where God gave Joshua one of the strangest strategies in Israel’s military history – to march around the city silently for six days, then on the seventh day to shout and blow their trumpets–Joshua assumed what to do at the next city.
The city of Ai was much smaller, so Joshua’s military counsel advised him to only send up a few hundred men to take the city. They were defeated. Joshua then fell on his face and sought the Lord and the Lord told him what the problem was. (See Joshua chapter 6). If Joshua had sought the Lord before going up, those men would not have died.
Now, this might stress you out a bit, knowing how important it is to hear from the Lord to get His strategy. It has caused many Christians to be paralyzed when trying to make a decision. But that is what these 30 for 30s are for, to help you develop a hearing ear. You won’t always hear Him perfectly, but you will get better at discerning His voice as you spend time reading His Word and being in His presence.
THINK ABOUT IT
- Do you make decisions without consulting the Lord? If so, why do you think that is? Do you think He won’t respond? Do you think you won’t know how to discern His voice? Or do you just not think about it? Whatever the reason is, begin to ask for His direction. He cares about every small and large decision you will need to make today.
- How do you mostly hear the Lord speaking to you? Is it through the Word? Through thoughts that come into your mind that you know are not yours because they are too good, or too wise? Or is it through other people? What can you do to increase your ability to hear from God?
- Are you willing to listen and obey even if it seems silly, or uncomfortable? Why or why not?