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Don’t rely on feelings for God’s guidance

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“I just feel like God is telling me to do this.”

Ever heard someone say that? I have. In and of itself, it’s not a bad thing. God does, in fact, use our emotions on occasion to speak to us. However, “feeling” like God is telling you something and “knowing” that He is are two very different things.

Take King Saul, for example. In I Samuel 13, the newly appointed king was about to go into battle. His army was surrounded. Morale in the camp was at an all-time low. Men were becoming frightened and fleeing the battle — hiding in caves, pits and crevices in the rocky countryside.

What was Saul waiting for? Why wasn’t he attacking while at least some of his men were following his lead?

It was simple. He had been told by Samuel to wait. In order to invoke the blessing of God before battle, Samuel — the priest — needed to offer sacrifices. Notice that I wrote “Samuel — the priest” needed to offer the sacrifices, not King Saul. Samuel was the spiritual leader and the people’s connection to God. King Saul was the military leader and strong hand used by God to enact His purposes.

Clearly stated, it wasn’t Saul’s anointed-by-God-job to offer the sacrifices. It was Samuel’s. So, King Saul waited — for seven long, discouraging days — for Samuel to appear. Finally, King Saul took matters into his own hands. Rather than lose any more men to fear, the military leader offered the first sacrifice to the Lord, essentially making himself Israel’s priest. Immediately following the sacrifice, guess who showed up? You got it — Samuel.

Samuel’s first words to Saul were not complimentary. In verse 11, Samuel asked almost in disbelief: “What have you done?”

King Saul, feeling justified in his actions, replied: “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering,”

Rationally speaking, I can’t blame King Saul. It all made sense. After all, they needed God’s blessing, right?

Yet, that decision — the one he “felt compelled” to make — was the worst decision he could have made. In offering the sacrifice, Saul disobeyed the explicit command of the Lord. Because of that, the kingdom was taken from him and given to another, all because he acted on “feeling compelled,” rather than the specific instructions of God.

You and I must learn to recognize this same issue in our own lives. We must know and trust the instructions of God, no matter how we feel about it. If what we feel doesn’t line up with the Word of God, then our feelings are inaccurate — and God will never tell us to act contrary to His Word.

Therefore, we must know His word. Our feelings can deceive us. His Word never will. We must read it, digest it, understand it and look to it for wisdom — for unlike our feelings, God’s Word will never lead us astray.

Prayer: “Father, put a passion deep in my heart for Your Word. Cause me to hunger and thirst after You and the things You want to say to me through Your Word. Draw me close, Lord.”

Steve and Belinda Kirk write the “Everyday Grace” devotional for the Johnstonian News. Reach them at 919-449-5745 and