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    Methods of Discernment

    April 13, 2016
    Filed Under:
    Prayer, Faith, Scripture

    I recently had a conversation with a young man who is torn between two career choices.  His first choice and current path is one which he has been walking on for quite a while.  Yet recently, he sensed that the Lord may be asking him to reevaluate this decision.  Instead of immediately reacting and withdrawing from his current path, he has entered into a time of discernment and has invited me into the process.

    You and I can relate to this, not just because many of us have been faced with similar situations, but also because discernment is a process which we really engage in every day – most of the time over much smaller decisions.  Unfortunately, we don’t give much thought to how we arrive at the decisions that we make.  Discernment happens so quickly that we don’t consider the elements of the process. 

    This isn’t necessarily bad…that is until our knee-jerk reactions defend ourselves rather than honor our Lord.  From my perspective, impulsive responses are rarely God-honoring unless spiritual discernment has been embedded deep within our minds as our default process.

    What is spiritual discernment and how can we engage in it during our everyday life? 

    These, in part, were the questions that were asked at our Illinois Mennonite Conference Annual Assembly.  Most of the decisions that we face in regards in ethics, finances and relationships can be discerned through God’s written word.  This process of Bible study requires us to:

    1) lay aside our worldview, our cultural bias,
    2) surrender to God’s will, and
    3) approach the Scriptures like Jesus approached the Scriptures – searching for how they were fulfilled in Jesus and how they testify about Jesus (see Luke 24:44, John 5:39). 

    When we take those steps, God-honoring decision-making can become a lot clearer. 

    Yet Godly discernment also requires Christians to listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.  The problem in our day is that listening is difficult.  It requires silence, time, and reflective prayer.  When an email creates a crisis in your day or a need shows up unannounced, do you immediately react or do you listen for the Lord’s prompting?  It’s so much easier (and more efficient) to react rather than spiritually discern.  Spiritual discernment in moments of crisis require us to:

    1) calm our minds in a posture of prayer,
    2) consider what Scripture has taught us about God’s ability, and
    3) listen for the ‘still, small voice’ of the Holy Spirit which always points us towards decisions which model Christlikeness. 

    When we take those steps, our reactions can be used for the glory of God.   

    I am so thankful that a young man in our congregation has found the value in engaging in a process of discernment through Scriptural study, prayer and spiritual counsel.  He could have just skipped this process of waiting and just reacted like many men his age.  But he has discovered that much more significant growth will occur as he takes this time to pause and discern God’s will with the tools that he’s been given. 

    When you face crisis moments this week, consider your methods of discernment.  May they be shaped by the Holy Spirit for the glory of God!   If you want to learn more about either of these processes, visit firstmennonitemorton.org/media/workshops/.

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