Guidance

“To be so much in contact with God that you never need to ask Him to show you His will, is to be nearing the final stage of your discipline in the life of faith. When you are rightly related to God, it is a life of freedom and liberty and delight, you are God’s will, and all your common sense decisions are His will for you unless He checks. You decide things in perfect delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will always check; when He checks, stop at once.”

Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, (2000 edition), Worcester: Oswald Chambers Publications, p.86

Q. What does God want me to be?

A. Holy – “God has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace.” (2 Timothy 1:9)

Q. What does God want me to do?

A. To glorify him and enjoy him forever (1 Corinthians 10:31, see also Question 1, Westminster Shorter Catechism).

Q. What is God’s specific call on my life?

A. To use whatever gifts and talents He has blessed me with to serve others and to be a witness; a shining light that points people towards Christ. – Jesus said: “You are the light of the world… let your light shine before men” (Matthew 5:14, 16.) – When you use your gifts to glorify God you’re doing what He intended you to do.

Q. How can I do this?

A. The Spirit of truth will guide you (John 16:13.) – God says: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you (Psalm 32:8 NIV).

A child was playing hide-and-seek with some children. She went away and hid herself, but the other children acted cruelly and while she was hiding they ran away and left her behind. When the little girl realised that she had been abandoned by her friends, she went running home and threw herself into her father’s arms and cried, “Daddy, I was hiding and nobody tried to find me!” The father hugged his daughter and said, “God understands. He understands more than you realise.” – Indeed, it must be the ultimate disappointment of God that we seldom seek Him out. The Bible says that if we truly seek Him, we will find him.

Tony Campolo

Source: Tony Campolo, Let Me Tell You A Story, p.1

A Christian does not live by explanations but by promises. A parcel delivery company used to have a slogan written on their delivery vehicles saying, “A promise means nothing until it is delivered.” That’s true, unless the promise is from God! God always keeps his promises, his covenants; He is always as good as His word… and God has given us many promises in the Scriptures. Here are just a few of them:

  • Commit to the Lord whatever you do and he will establish your plans. (Proverbs 16:3)
  • Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
  • Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
  • For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. (…) Even to your old age and grey hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. (Isaiah 43:1, 46:4)
  • Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
  • Jesus promised: And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

Even with a satnav – a satellite navigational system – in your car you can still make a wrong turn! John Ortberg writes: “At one point [on a recent journey], I was quite sure the lady in the guidance system was wrong. She said to go left, and I didn’t go left. I went right because I knew she was wrong.

Then the lady with the irritating voice said, “Recalculating route. When safe to do so execute a U-turn… turn around if possible.”

I knew she was still wrong… so, know what I did? I unplugged her. That’s the beauty of the lady in the box – you can unplug her – but, then, would you believe it, I got completely lost and ended up driving round and round in circles! So I plugged the lady back in again, and you know what she said?

“I told you so you little idiot. You think I’m going to help you now? No way, Jose! Find your own way there yourself.”

No, she didn’t really say that. She said, “Recalculating route. Turn around if possible.”

And I want to say that’s an illustration of what God’s grace is like to us. Whenever we wander off track or we make a wrong turn – just like the satnav – God is always there, ready to forgive and set us back on the right path again. As soon as we are ready to listen, as soon as we are ready to surrender; to repent, God will say, “Recalibrating. This is the way to go. Execute a U-turn and I will guide you, and bring you home.” When we “unplug” from God we get lost, and lonely, and disorientated but God is always there, ready to welcome us back, to forgive us and restore us.

John Ortberg: The Me I Want To Be, 2010, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, p.45

Nicky Gumbel, founder of Alpha, says: “The secret of guidance is having a close relationship with God. God made us to be thinking beings. He guides our minds as we walk in a close relationship with him. We need to avoid a super-spirituality that expects an inward voice to guide every little detail of our lives.” Alpha talks about the five main ways in which God guides us, all beginning with the letters CS. The five CS’s are:

  • Commanding Scripture (what does the Bible say/teach?)
  • Compelling Spirit (how is the Holy Spirit leading?)
  • Counsel of the Saints (seek the advice and prayers of other Christians)
  • Common Sense (God guides our common sense and reason)
  • Circumstantial Signs (providential/confirming signs)

Nicky Gumbel, Bible in One Year – Day 110 of 365

“My duty towards God, is to believe in him, to fear him, and to love him… to worship him, to give him thanks, to put my whole trust in him, to call upon him, to honour his holy Name and his Word, and to serve him truly all the days of my life.”

From the Catechism in Cranmer’s first prayer book (1549).

Cited by J. I. Packer in God’s Plans For You, p.79

If you feel overwhelmed or confused about a decision that you’re trying to make, you’re probably caught up in yourself and not God’s voice. The Bible says, “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33a NIV). He is not the author of confusion. So if you’re feeling confused, guess what? It’s not God’s voice speaking in your life.

Rick Warren

Rick Warren, Hearing The Voice Of God, reading plan on YouVersion Bible app

“God has given each one of us a temperament, a personality, talents and ability, and it is our task as Christians to find out for what we are best suited. We should expect just as clear guidance from God about going into a secular occupation as, say, into the ministry. Every Christian should feel that his work is a vocation.”

Maurice Wood (former Bishop of Norwich)

excerpt from the booklet How Can I Know The Guidance Of God

“Our children were intrigued to see waiters and waitresses approaching a door to the kitchen at the top of the restaurant and, as they got to within about three feet of the door, the door opened by itself and let them through. Often as we seek the will of God, and truly yield our will to His will, He opens doors just like that. At other times, He closes the door and it is obvious that we should not try to open it.”

Maurice Wood (former Bishop of Norwich)

excerpt from the booklet How Can I Know The Guidance Of God

R. T. Kendall once shared an acrostic using the word ‘PEACE’ – to help discern whether or not something is of God:

P – Providential: Ask, is it providential? (Don’t try forcing a round peg into a square hole.)

E – Enemy: Ask yourself what would the enemy want me to do? (Then do the opposite.)

A – Authority: Is it biblical? (Does the Bible condone/condemn such action?)

C – Confidence: Ask yourself does your confidence increase or decrease if you proceed?

E – Ease: Is your heart in it? Do you have peace about it? Is there an ease about the decision?

When all five come together there is a good possibility that God is with you and you can proceed.

Source: R.T. Kendall, main speaker at Spring Harvest, Minehead, 9/4/2007

“It doesn’t matter very much where we live… But how we live, what sort of neighbours we are, how we raise our families – these things are of great significance to God. Likewise, which job we do is of comparatively little importance, but how we conduct ourselves at work is close to God’s heart. God’s guidance is more like a compass than a map. We are not given the fine detail of every decision on every day for the rest of our lives. God doesn’t want us to spend our time trying to discover the secrets of his will. He does indeed guide us through life ‘behind the scenes’ and every detail is known to him and under his sovereign control. He knows where he wants to take us, and he will get us there. But he does not provide us with a detailed map – he gives us a compass instead.

At every point along the journey, no matter where we are or what we are doing; we can consult the compass to see which direction to head. That direction is always towards righteousness and holiness and becoming like Christ… The compass is his own word to us: the Bible. It may not tell us the detail of every rock to step over, or whether to climb the mountain or tunnel through it, but it will constantly and unerringly point us to what God wants us to do every day of our lives. It will tell us what matters, matters, and in what ways God wants us to lovingly obey him. It will also tell us, by implication, that some decisions (or aspects of decisions) are not matters of right and wrong, and that in these circumstances we can use [common sense and] the wisdom God has given us to make up our minds.”

extract from <i>‘Guidance and the voice of God’</i> by Phillip Jensen and Tony Payne

Source: Phillip Jensen & Tony Payne, Guidance and the Voice Of God, Matthias Media (1997) p.87/88 & 97/98

What does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’S commands and decrees.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 NIV

Often peace is the only ‘sign’ that God will give you to let you know his will. And the first thing you lose when you step outside of God’s will is your peace (the peace which transcends all understanding – Philippians 4:7). If you don’t have peace about it, don’t do it! Wait for God.

When we walk with the Lord,

In the light of His Word,

What a glory He sheds on our way!

While we do His good will,

He abides with us still,

And with all who will trust and obey!

Trust and obey!

For there’s no other way

To be happy in Jesus

But to trust and obey.

John Henry Sammis (1846-1919)

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105 NIV). God promises to use His Word to instruct you in the way you are to go one step at a time!

Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer, The Everyday Life Bible, 2018, Faith Words: New York, p.955

Responsibility has been defined as our response to God’s ability.

A doctor was sitting at his desk one morning sorting through the mail and papers, which his housekeeper had laid out on his desk. Most of what he read he threw into the wastebasket. Then he noticed a magazine, which wasn’t even addressed to him, but delivered to his office by mistake. It fell open to an article entitled, ‘The Needs of the Congo Mission’. Casually, he began to read and was suddenly consumed by these words: ‘The need is great here. We have no one to work the northern province of Gabon in the central Congo. And it is my prayer as I write this article that God will lay his hand on one – one on whom, already the Master’s eyes have been cast – and that he or she shall be called to this place to help us.’ Dr Albert Schweitzer closed the magazine and wrote in his diary: ‘My search is over.’ He gave himself to the Congo. (…) It was a God-incident. – If we are seeking God, he will intervene to keep us on the road He has planned for our lives.

J. John

J. John, Soul Purpose, Authentic Media (2008), p.250-251

And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8 NIV

Psalm 119v105 is a “tea-towel” verse – that is, it’s known and loved by many; but it is often taken out of context: The rest of the stanza helps us to work out what it means… look at verses 106, 109 and 112. Is the writer concerned only with guidance when life is unclear, or with obedience?

Anon

This is what the LORD says:

“Stand at the crossroads and look;

ask for the ancient paths,

ask where the good way is, and walk in it,

and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jeremiah 6:16 NIV

Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8 NIV)

Oswald Chambers wrote: “If we are saved and sanctified God guides us by our ordinary choices, and if we are going to choose what He does not want, he will check, and we must heed. Whenever there is doubt stop at once. Never reason it out and say – ‘I wonder why I shouldn’t do this?’ – God instructs us in what we choose, that is, He guides our common sense.”

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, (2000 edition), Worcester: Oswald Chambers Publications, p.161

“Asking God what to do in every little detail is not faith at all – it’s immaturity, evidence that a person would rather be told what to do than to take responsibility for his or her own actions.”

Paul J. Meyer

Paul J. Meyer, Unlocking Your Legacy, 2002, Chicago Illinois, Moody Press, p.254

No Peace = No God (Pause)

Know Peace = Know God (Proceed)

“It is not what a man does that determines whether or not his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything.”

A. W. Tozer

The LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:18-21 NIV

I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.

Jeremiah 10:23 NIV(1984)

In the field of commerce, thousands of products carry this piece of advice: ‘For the best results follow the maker’s instructions’. Stamped indelibly yet invisibly on every human being are the same words! – Follow the Maker’s instructions! – Christians look to God because he’s the one with the greatest knowledge about how we tick as individuals.

Stephen Gaukroger, First Steps: The handbook to following Christ, p.98

There’s a Thomas the Tank Engine cartoon that pictures Thomas on his side, having fallen off the train tracks. He is shouting, ‘I’m free! I’m free at last. I’ve fallen off the rails and I’m free!’ Of course, the reality is that Thomas is far more ‘free’ when his wheels are on the rails and he is operating in line with how he has been created to function. Same with us!

Nicky Gumbel, Bible in One Year – Day 202, His Service is Perfect Freedom

Submit and be blessed or rebel and be sorry.

Question: How can you tell if something is God’s will? – Answer: If the desire is from God it will remain, but if it’s of man it will fade away.

“When we have listened for God’s leading for a time, perhaps a long time, a sense of His desire for our lives starts to take shape in our minds. He sometimes leaves us alone with our thoughts, perhaps for years, causing us to trust Him, and Him alone.”

Patrick Morley.

Patrick Morley, The Man In The Mirror, 1997, USA Zondervan, p.223

‘Paralysis comes from the constant plea for guidance in the expectation that God will make our decisions for us. In some ways it is like trying to enter the door of a vicarage. The vicar says, ‘After you.’

In politeness the visitor replies, ‘After you.’

‘No, no,’ replies the ever-polite vicar, ‘after you.’

‘Please, please,’ says the visitor, ‘after you.’

And so it goes on. Guidance can become a revolving door, ever turning; God expecting us to act and us expecting God to act. However, it’s as we move forward and take the first step that we sense God’s voice behind us saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’ (Isaiah 30:21).

God expects us to be the first mover.

Ken Costa

Ken Costa, God At Work, 2013, London: Alpha International, p60-61

You can only guide a car when it’s moving, and God can often only help us (or re-direct us) when we are moving in one of the possible directions before us. Get moving and God will let you know whether or not you are going in the right direction.

Quote: John Pritchard, Living Faithfully, 2013, SPCK London, p.30.

God is far more concerned with how we live, than where we live or how we earn a crust!