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Seeds of the Kingdom

Testing our Sat Nav

by Grace Bull

17 September 2008

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Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.
1 John 4: 1, NIV

Have you ever used a Sat Nav (Satellite Navigation System)? I hadn’t until earlier this year when a friend brought one for a long journey. It’s a small electronic device which helps you to find the right route to an unfamiliar destination. You type in the postcode and other details of the place you want to go. Then as you drive, a voice tells you which turning to take at every conceivable opportunity.

Unfortunately, someone had obviously failed to tell it about a new road off the motorway at one place on our journey. We were puzzled when the voice suddenly said calmly, ‘at the next junction, do a U-turn.’ That seemed an odd instruction. We knew we were on the right road.

My friend checked the map. Yes, this was the right road, so we ignored the Sat Nav and carried on. Well, it obviously didn’t like being ignored, because patiently but firmly it told us again, and again, ‘whenever it is safe to do so, do a U-turn’.

After checking the map again, we decided to ignore the insistent voice and just follow the map. Unfortunately a colleague of ours in another car followed the Sat Nav rather than the map and ended up 50 miles off course before turning round. Later I was told, ‘That’s nothing. Another person was once taken 300 miles the wrong way by a Sat Nav before turning round!

It made me think about what the Bible calls ‘testing’ prophetic words. We should test them against the Bible (our map). The Bible’s always right and is always ‘up-to-date’ spiritually. However, the Bible doesn’t give us detailed instruction about everything. That’s why we also have the precious gift of the Holy Spirit to speak to us at every turn, often through our conscience, but sometimes in a more direct ‘voice’, like the Sat Nav.

That little gadget was invaluable when we got to our destination town. It told us details we couldn’t find on the map. But it was more prone to error than the map, just as we’re always prone to misunderstand the voice of the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t get things wrong, but we can ‘mis-hear’!

That’s why the Bible tells us to always test the spirits, especially when we think it’s the Holy Spirit speaking. Test what’s being said. (If it’s a word from a person, also test the source.) Test it against the ‘map’ - which is the Bible.

Grace Bull is a member of the Ellel Ministries team, working in course development and the support of Ellel centres worldwide, having previously been a full-time GP (family doctor) for 15 years. Her passion is relationship with God and doing anything that will help other people to find that close relationship too.

 

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