“So the Lordstirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God…”Haggai 1:14 (NIV)
H ere’s a question I often wrestle with, “How do I know God’s guidance?” Maybe you’re wrestling with the same question. You might be asking:
Should I take a job in business or ministry?
Should I move to the West coast or East coast?
Should I start something, or stay in something?
You get the point.
I believe Haggai 1:14 adds a layer of clarity to the discussion on God’s will.
When we enter the story, God’s temple is in ruin, and the Israelites are returning from exile in Babylon. Their first order of business? Fix the temple, which they start right away. But almost as soon as they start, they stop. Choosing to build their own homes instead.
God shows His disapproval by sending the prophet Haggai to instruct them to continue building the temple.
Once God communicates His desire for Israel to rebuild the temple, we get to Haggai 1:14.
In this verse, God stirs up “the spirit of Zerubbabel“. Now, the Hebrew term used for “spirit” is “Ruach,” which refers to Zerubbabel’s “volitional,” or free will. (Don’t worry, I had to Google it too.)
Let me break that down. “Volition” means to do something voluntarily, or by choice. In other words, God stirred a desire in Zerubbabel to rebuild BUT allowed him to make a choice. Zerubbabel could’ve said no. God didn’t force him.
That’s how God lead then, and I believe it’s still how He leads today.
God still stirs our Spirit to move according to his Word. He gives us desires to start, stop, or change something but allows us to make the choice.
Maybe you’re dreaming of stepping into the calling God’s placed on your heart. Maybe you’re wrestling with a life-altering decision. If that’s the case, ask these two questions:
1: Is this decision contrary to the Bible?
The Bible is God’s Word.
God’s Word is God’s Will.
And God will not stir you to do something contrary to His will.
So ask yourself, is this contradictory to God’s Word?
- If it relates to a job: Ask, “Does this allow me to love God, and love people more?”
- If relates to entering a relationship: Ask, “Do they know Christ? And are we equally yoked? (I.e. Are we aligned in our values and vision for life?)
2: Am I stirred?
Is there a present desire to take action or move in a particular direction?
Whether that desire relates to a job, a relationship, or a dream. If it doesn’t oppose the Bible and you feel stirred, make the decision to move forward.
Here’s an exercise which might bring clarity to how God leads you.
Grab a journal: (Don’t just read this. Do it. Grab a journal, or a piece of paper, and a pen… Got it? Okay, let’s begin…)
- Draw a horizontal line in the middle of the page. Title the top half “Past.” Title the bottom half “Present.”
- Next, you’re going to answer this question, “What are the things I’ve felt stirred to do?” Think through the past and present. Brainstorm and write all the things that resonate. This can be bullet points of 2-5 words. Take 2-3 minutes and do it now.
Once finished, look at your answers:
- Do you see any commonalities? Are there any connections? What are they?
- Are you surprised by what was NOT there? I was. Sometimes knowing what’s not there, helps solidify what is there. Maybe you realized you aren’t stirred to start a company after all. Or maybe you realized you aren’t stirred to stay.
- On a separate page, as you evaluate, jot down any thoughts worth noting.
Finally, check alignment with the Bible:
- Ask, “Were any of these stirrings contrary to the Bible?” If so, put an “X” next to the bullet point. This can help you discern which stirrings were God and which were you.
What did you find?
When I did this, I found a few things interesting:
Firstly, I realized at some point or another – I always acted on God’s stirrings. Even if it took me two years to do it. That helped me see, “If I’m the kind of person to always act on the stirrings which align with the Bible, why not act quicker? Why not obey faster?” How can I discern God’s leading if I don’t act when I sense it?
Secondly, there was one, small “stirring” which was contrary to God’s will. I didn’t know it was contradictory at the time. As I reflected on the decision, I realized I made a highly emotional decision. This taught me:
“Emotion ≠ God’s stirring.”
I realized when something’s highly emotional: slow down, evaluate the decision against the Bible, and use that as my standard.
If you finished the exercise, well done!
I hope you walk away knowing these three things:
- God has stirred and continues to stir your heart.
- God has been with you whenever you acted on a stirring which aligned with His will.
- You have the ability to feel God’s stirring and step into His purpose.
Be confident. Make a decision. And start moving on what you’re stirred to do.