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Monday, September 21, 2009

Competing with God

"The church that is man-managed instead of God-governed is doomed to failure."
~ Samuel Chadwick

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters... Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand... Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.
~ Romans 14:1,4,13 (NIV)

Whatever is not from faith is sin.
~ Romans 14:23 (NKJV)

"The Holy Spirit ... will teach you all things."
~ John 14:26 (NKJV)

Paul moves on from the discussion of submission to authority to address quasi-authority and disputable matters.

Throughout his letters, Paul clearly establishes what constitutes overtly immoral behavior which is dishonoring to the Lord Jesus and inappropriate for those who are His. Galatians 6:1 teaches that if someone is caught in a sin, someone spiritual should restore him gently.

But here in Romans 14, Paul brings up how to handle disputable matters. A believer is not to condemn or judge whomever he or she sees as weaker believers—particularly not over disputable matters which are not immoral.

Although we can offer counsel or help give directions to a person searching for guidance, God is the first Authority. He is able to make His will known to a person through His Word and Holy Spirit—and He is able to make the believer stand. The voice of the Holy Spirit must be the believer's first Teacher and Helper. Each of us must learn to recognize His voice, to distinguish it from the voice of Self or satan, and to live out our actions by faith in God.

If we impose our opinions upon other believers as false quasi-authority, we compete with the voice of the Holy Spirit, and serve as stumbling blocks.

Father, I confess that these words are written by one who has competed with Your voice in times past. Please help all of us in moments of stillness to read Your Word, listen for and recognize Your Spirit's voice, and heed You. Please show us if our counsel competes with Your Counselor.

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. May I always heed that still small voice.

  2. Easy to say, hard to do. Nonetheless, we would all do well to heed Chadwick's words and listen to the voice of God.

  3. Learning to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit is something I need to train for. It requires discipline and prayerful silence. And then constant watchfulness and awareness. It's an ongoing lesson. I have found that meditation helps me with this, and also praying at different times during the work day.

  4. Words that ring true in my own life... Thank you Father for gently restoration...

  5. Thanks Anne.

    "Please show us if our counsel competes with Your Counselor."


    Talking to the Lord rather than to the person is more productive.

    Prayer changes things - and me.

  6. Denise, to your prayer I add my "Amen" for both of us.

    Elizabeth, so true of all we learn. And until we apply it, have we really learned it?

    Brad, I've been incredibly blessed by the awareness of His presence. But even in times of stillness, I'll be forever learning the vital discipline of quieting my mind to listen better.

    Russell, how great the potential for good or bad in the human counselor ... yes? I suppose being humbled increases dependence on Him, for GOOD!

    Doug, if I only speak to one Person, I agree it should be the Lord, so we then know what to say to others.

  7. May I clarify that last remark? What I should have said, Doug, is that if we speak to the Lord first, we know IF we should even speak to others, and then know WHAT to say.

  8. Discerning God's voice is something I pray about often. I've learned it is so easy to pay attention to the faults of others, while God is wanting me to focus on my own, lifting them up to him and working out my sancification with him.
    ~ Wendy

  9. Hi Anne,

    Hearing God's voice brings me a thrill like nothing else, and its' my heart's cry to listen intently at all times. I consistantly pray for discernment, and a heart that desires to restore those in need, instead of casting stones.

  10. Wendy, your words make me think of the quote, “Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” (Thomas A. Kempis)

    Julie, even when He speaks a message I didn't think I'd like, coming from His voice makes it something I can not only tolerate but embrace.

  11. Excellent, excellent points here, Anne. And I like your Thomas a Kempis quotation, too! It's so nice to read your blog now with the richer understanding of you that I have after meeting you in person. I love it.


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