Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today- January 9, 2011
“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.” Acts 16:6
Sometimes the Holy Spirit restrains you. This may seem weird and counterproductive. Your conflict of emotion comes when He restrains you from something good. It is easy to understand His restraint from doing drugs, online pornography, unwise financial decisions and unhealthy relationships; but why would the Holy Spirit keep you from a benevolent act? After all, your good works are an outflow of God’s love working through your heart. Your motive is to please and obey Him.
However, the more you pray about it the more He confirms a “no” to this seemingly good opportunity. Yes, God can say no to serving as an international missionary. He can say no to a marriage with this particular godly person. He can say no to the school you always dreamed of attending. You can’t totally explain it, but He is restraining you from accepting the best job offer you have ever received.
But do not despair, the Holy Spirit’s restraint is what is best for you. It may be His protection. It may be that He is preparing you for an even better person or opportunity. Do not get caught up in the euphoria of having to have this particular relationship, thing or job. Be willing to walk away at any time. This is wise stewardship of your time, money and abilities.
What God had you invest in yesterday, He may lead you to cease today for a better opportunity tomorrow. Yes, the Holy Spirit many times leads you forward in a clear-cut direction. But, there are times when He will put things on hold. It is like time is suspended for the moment. You can use this time of His restraint mode to invigorate your faith. Be glad, not mad or sad. He is still using you. Though many questions still loom, He can still be trusted. Trust is the apex of activity on behalf of God.
Following God is a great adventure of faith. The Holy Spirit is your guide on this sometimes fearful, but exhilarating experience in trust. It is like snaking your way down an uncharted remote river through the wilderness of Idaho. You can only see what is on this side of the bend. What is around the corner may be wrought with rapids and rocks, but you trust your seasoned guide to anticipate any change or danger.
He is the one who makes the call to stop or to move forward, or even to carry your raft over dry land to make it more efficiently to the next destination. Like a seasoned guide, the role of the Holy Spirit is to stop us or to move us forward. He will replace His no with a better yes. However, His no may seem final until gradually He reveals a new and better option. Trust Him with His no even though it is hard right now.
Life in retrospect will make much more sense. Do not let the Holy Spirit’s restraint keep you from doing the things you know are required. Stay engaged in discipleship and evangelism. Be the best parent or friend ever. Do not let this life detour deter you from going deeper with Christ. The Holy Spirit’s restraint is not meant to keep you from the other 90% that you know to be God’s will. Celebrate what He has done and will do through you. Let go of this missed opportunity or unmet expectation.
What He has next for you may be better than anything you ever dreamed possible. You may not be thinking big enough. His no is a great time to pray for a bigger yes. Do not sell yourself or God short. Watch His will unfold with humility and faith. Trust Him that less may be more and more may be less.
Restraint can be good, especially when the Holy Spirit is your restrainer!
Taken from dose 35 in the 90-day devotional book Infusion.
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