G’day and welcome to Partake and our continuing series “Issues”. Today we are going to look together at the issue of guidance.
Solomon writing in Proverbs 3v5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
The Prophet Isaiah speaking in Isaiah 6v8: “Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
When Jesus Christ called you personally and said: “Follow Me!” and you responded “YES, Lord!” that was the start of a beautiful relationship between the Living God and yourself. Perhaps the most common question all Christian Disciples ask is “How can I know God’s will and His guidance?”
Now of course, being active in prayer and studying the Bible play major roles, in this and they are assured ways of building the relationship between God and yourself. We will discover that are other aspects to be considered about being guided, and discerning what is God’s will for you and I. These involve being controlled by the Holy Spirit, through counsel and circumstances and through making wise decisions.
1. Controlled by the Holy Spirit
So firstly, the Christian Disciple is guided by being controlled by the Holy Spirit. Another way to say this is by submitting to the Spirit’s leading. Fundamental to being guided by the Spirit, is for you and I to be filled with the Spirit and to keep on being filled with the Spirit, or controlled by the Spirit. When the Spirit is quenched (1 Thessalonians 5v19) or grieved (Ephesians 4v30), then the Spirit no long has control of you and I. In order to allow the Spirit control of us, we need to resubmit ourselves to God!
It is a good daily practice for you and I to do the following on a daily basis.
- Confess all known sin (1 John 1v9) and accept unreservedly the certain assurance of being forgiven for your sins including the sin of quenching or grieving the Holy Spirit. Sin is sin and there are no degrees of sin, big or small, it just is… Any sin creates a barrier whether (in our earthly terminology) it is a big sin like murder or a small sin like lying… Homosexuality and pornography are just as bad as lusting after that girl who just walked by – all are adultery…. That’s one of the reasons the Pharisees got it so mixed up and why Jesus Christ was indignant with scorn towards them misleading people.
- Devote to being a living sacrifice for Jesus Christ (Romans 12v1-2)
- Enable the Holy Spirit to convict you of anything wrong and sinful in your life (Psalm 139v23-24)
- Seeks the Holy Spirit’s divine power in order to serve Jesus Christ (Galatians 5v16; Ephesians 3v16) and to do all things for glory of Jesus Christ, for this is one of the prime roles of the Holy Spirit, and sadly, often a neglected part of the Holy Spirit’s role in the life of the believer.
Additionally, part of being controlled by the Holy Spirit, the Christian Disciple is to yield to Him. Romans 6v13 and James 4v7 command this. In yielding to the Holy Spirit, the body (1 Corinthians 6v20) and mind (Romans 12v1-2) are given to Him sacrificially for the glory of Jesus Christ. Both the body and the mind are yielded, because the body activates what is conceived in the mind. It is a total dedication of all thoughts, plans and actions into God’s hands and the seeking of His divine wisdom.
Being guided by the Holy Spirit is illustrated in Acts 16v6-10 where Paul and his group of people acted quickly! “Paul and his companions went to Phrygia, and then on through the region of Galatia. Their plan was to turn west into Asia province, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus woul…dn’t let them go there either. Proceeding on through Mysia, they went down to the seaport Troas. That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over to Macedonia. All the pieces had come together. We knew now for sure that God had called us to preach the good news to the Europeans.”
2. Counsel and Circumstances
Additionally to submitting to the Holy Spirit, other people and circumstances are also great helps in regards to guidance. Proverbs 24 reminds us that: “The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger. So don’t go to war without wise guidance; victory depends on having many advisers. Wisdom is too lofty for fools. Among leaders at the city gate, they have nothing to say.”
We may not be going into physical war, but seeking the advice of others in trying to understand God’s guidance, plays an important role in deciding God’s will in the life of the Christian Disciple. When seeking the advice of others, we should bear in mind that the person should be a reliable, godly and faithful servant of God – and know us well.
As Proverbs 25v19 says “Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot”. However, as Christian s we must also be aware that even the godliest of people make mistakes, such as Nathan the prophet when he exhorted David to build the temple in 2 Samuel 7. In the end, each of us alone, is responsible for our own actions and for discerning God’s guidance for themselves.
Then we also have circumstances, which are a great learning tool. Circumstances surround us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
However, as Christians we are to live above all circumstances, while being mindful of them. Through circumstances, God often disclosed his perfect will. As Paul writes in Romans 8v28: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Some examples of where God’s will was discovered through circumstances include:
- Abraham being asked to substitute a ram caught in a thicket for his son, Isaac (Genesis 22).
- God arranging for Pharaoh’s daughter to be bathing in the River Nile as the baby Moses floated by (Exodus 2).
- Paul’s nephew over hearing a plot to murder Paul, and then reporting it to the authorities and therefore saving Paul’s life (Acts 23).
Now some may sceptically claim that these are purely coincidental, but if they are, and all others like these are, its an awful lot of coincidence!
3. Wise Decisions:
Now, its all very well to say that we are to make wise decisions. That would seem obvious! But how do we go about it? A great way is by endeavouring to maintain a right attitude, and asking ourselves the following questions:
- Have I prayed and meditated on God’s Word regarding the decision?
- Have I given every area of my life to Jesus Christ?
- Am I prepared to be obedient to God? (Proverbs 3v5-7)
- Am I willing to sacrifice my desires for God’s Will?
- Do I truly love and acting lovingly towards other people?
- It should not control me habitually (1 Corinthians 6v12)
- Will it cause another person to sin/stumble? (1 Corinthians 8v9-13)
- Does it build Christian character? (1 Corinthians 10v23)
- Does it bring glory to God? (1 Corinthians 10v31)
- Can I thank God for this activity – could Jesus accompany me?
- If in doubt, throw it out! (Romans 14v22-23)
- Abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5v22)
For more to think about please do read Isaiah 6. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.
Q1. Am I willing to do whatever God commands me to do?
Q2. Am I willing to be humble enough to ask other people’s advice?
Q3. Am I willing to sacrifice my desires so that God’s Will is achieved and His glory acclaimed?