THE MARK of every true Christian is this: He wants to be led in the righteous way of the Lord in the details of his life. He wants the guidance of his God all his life, and seeks it with all his heart and soul and spirit.
Here is the picture:
“Unto Thee lift up mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait [look] upon the Lord our God.” (Psalm 123:1,2)
That is from Psalm 123, but meditate on the psalm 100 back, to Psalm 23, and you will find it full of God’s guidance and loving care.
As God’s divine guidance is our rightful concern, we have His promise that “In ALL thy ways acknowledge Him, and He SHALL direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:6) Note that this great promise is not applicable when we acknowledge Him in just a few pet or choice number of our ways. We want to acknowledge Him in ALL our ways for direction and promise.
There is a cross-reference to this verse found in 1 Chronicles 28:9. Let’s read it: “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord’s searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek Him, He will be found of thee, but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off for ever.”
We realize that our knowledge and wisdom is so fallible and finite but God knows the end from the beginning and has all wisdom. And with His love He is delighted and honored when His children seek Him and come to him for help and wisdom. Listen:
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8)
No problem we may have is ever too large for the Lord’s concern or ability to handle. And no problem is too minute or small for His loving attention. Does a loving parent resent it when a dependent child comes to him for help? Neither does our loving, almighty and all-powerful Father in Heaven resent His children coming to Him for help and guidance.
But HOW does God guide us? Do we throw a dice and take our cue from what numbers come up? Do we draw straws, the short one meaning one thing, and the long one meaning something different? Do we cast a fleece, as did Gideon? Do we open the Bible at random and blindly place a finger on a verse and take that as our guidance? All such things have been done, but they are not reliable methods and most of the time are practiced due to extreme immaturity in the ways of the Lord.
I do NOT deny that the Lord can guide us by impressing our mind toward a certain action, but this, too, calls for extreme caution. The mind is deceitful and capable of being misled by felt “impressions.” So take warning. You may feel “impressed” toward a certain action, and it MAY be of the Lord. But then it also may NOT be. Don’t rely on mental impressions to find your peace with God regarding a certain decision. It may be a witness, or it may not be. “One witness shall not rise up against any man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.” (De. 19:15) And Proverbs 20:18 says, “Every purpose is established by counsel,” along with Proverbs 11:14, “. . . In the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”
The New Testament has the same advice. The Lord Himself says in Matthew 18:16, “. . . In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.”
So don’t settle for just ONE witness, like a mental impression.
God, of course, guides us in various ways. Primarily, our actions and decisions must be guided by the written Word of God. If our line of action is contrary to biblical instruction, we can know for sure that we are on the wrong path.
Then there is the Providence of God. He guides by Providence. Many times I have asked God if an action or desire was not of Him, for Him to block it, take the desire away, or by His providence “shut the door,” along with the request for Him to guide me with wisdom.
But an “open” door, seemingly by providence, is not always godly guidance. That is what makes the goal of divine guidance sometime so hard to reach. The devil himself can present an “open door.” So we need to proceed with caution, and, yes, even look for those “two or three witnesses.” And everything must be measured by the Word of God and Christian principles that we find there.
Should a young man or woman seek further education in a college or university? Maybe, and maybe not. By and large, so many institutions of learning are actually “synagogues of Satan,” full of deception and destruction to life and soul. At least such is not the best path for everyone.
But maybe a Christian young person feels a calling to help humanity by becoming a medical doctor or has the calling of being a teacher as a career. Certainly, then, a degree or two in higher education is necessary. But which school? He or she may have been offered scholarships to half a dozen universities! Which one is the right choice? Or a life-long relationship, like Christian marriage and rearing a family may be in the offing. Which potential mate does one even give a second look? Does one just go his own way and do what comes naturally? NO! This is the recipe for lifelong disaster. Rely on and seek God’s guidance, from His Word of instruction and wisdom and from biblical principles.
But that may not help on WHICH school, or WHICH of two qualified and equal potential mates. That is what makes “divine guidance” so hard at times. That is why it is so vital to rely on the promises of God and to live by faith. We must always be reminded, “In ALL thy ways acknowledge Him and He SHALL direct thy paths.” The sheep of the Good Shepherd hear His Voice, and they follow Him.
There is a time to “wait on the Lord,” and there is a time to put feet to our prayers and move with positive and right action.
Now a word about the “STILL SMALL VOICE”:
As fallible, weak, and ignorant humans, we naturally have in mind a certain method that we want God to guide us. We need to be reminded that God’s ways are far more complex sometimes, and differ from what we have in mind. He IS a God of variety as well as a God of purpose and wisdom. His ways are far above our ways.
The prophet Elijah was in close contact with the his God, and sought His guidance. At one point in his life he felt all alone, as if he were the only one alive who wanted God and His guidance. All alone in a cave at Mount Horeb, God said to Elijah:
“Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great wind rent the mountain, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire: but the Lord was not in the fire. But after the fire A STILL SMALL VOICE.” (1 Kings 19:11-12) It is only in that “still small voice” that Elijah received the divine guidance he needed and was looking for. It was not in the dramatic signs, the mighty acts, but in that “still small voice” that gave him his instruction. We have to become QUIET to even hear that “still small voice”!
After writing this, I went to the Internet. I found some worthwhile thoughts I will conclude now by quoting them.
Question: “What does it mean that God speaks in a still small voice?”
Answer: There is only one place in Scripture where God is said to speak in a “still small voice,” and it was to Elijah after his dramatic victory over the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-40; 19:12). Told that Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, king of Israel, was seeking to kill him, Elijah ran into the wilderness and collapsed in exhaustion. God sent an angel with food and water to strengthen him, told him to rest, and then sent him to Horeb. In a cave there, Elijah voices his complaint that all of God’s prophets had been killed by Jezebel and he alone had survived. God instructed him to stand on the mountain in His presence. Then the Lord sent a mighty wind which broke the rocks in pieces; then He sent an earthquake and a fire, but His voice was in none of them. After all that, the Lord spoke to Elijah in the still small voice, or “gentle whisper.”
The point of God speaking in the still small voice was to show Elijah that the work of God need not always be accompanied by dramatic revelation or manifestations. Divine silence does not necessarily mean divine inactivity. Zechariah 4:6 tells us that God’s work is “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” meaning that overt displays of power are not necessary for God to work.
Because He is God, He is not confined to a single manner of communicating with His people. Elsewhere in Scripture, He is said to communicate through a whirlwind (Job 38:1), to announce His presence by an earthquake (Exodus 19:18), and to speak in a voice that sounds like thunder (1 Samuel 2:10; Job 37:2; Psalm 104:7; John 12:29). In Psalm 77:18 His voice is compared to both thunder and a whirlwind. And in Revelation 4:5, we’re told that lightning and thunder proceed from the throne in heaven.
Nor is God limited to natural phenomena when He speaks. All through Scripture, He speaks through His prophets over and over. The common thread in all the prophets is the phrase, “Thus says the Lord.” He speaks through the writers of Scripture. Most graciously, however, He speaks through His Son, the Lord Jesus. The writer to the Hebrews opens his letter with this truth: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world” (Hebrews 1:1–2).
The difference between God speaking through the thunder and the whirlwind, then through the still, small voice, can be also considered as showing the difference between the two dispensations of law and grace. The law is a voice of terrible words and was given amidst a tempest of wind, thunder, and lightning, attended by an earthquake (Hebrews 12:18-24), but the gospel is a gentle voice of love, grace, and mercy, of peace, pardon, righteousness, and the free gift of salvation through Christ. The law breaks the rocky hearts of men in pieces, shakes their consciences, and fills their minds with a sense of God’s fiery wrath and the punishment they deserve, and then the gospel speaks gently to them of the peace and pardon available in Christ.
It is less important how God speaks to us than what we do with what He says. God speaks most clearly to us in this day through His Word. The more we learn it, the more ready we will be to recognize His voice when He speaks, and the more likely we are to obey what we hear. —From: GotQuestions.org.
How do I know what God wants me to do? How can I make decisions which are in line with His will? If God speaks to me, will I recognize His voice?
These are important questions, and many Christians grapple with them. Guidance and the Voice of God charts a way through these often confusing issues, and shows how for those who have ears to hear, God is still speaking loud and clear through His Son.
This book by Phillip D. Jensen & Tony Payne is available from: ChristianBook.com
John Newton thinks, that neither the casting of lots, the opening of a Bible at a venture, nor the sudden impression of a text, nor freedom in prayer over a matter, nor a dream, furnishes any reliable direction. The Lord rather opens and shuts, throws down the walls of difficulty, or hedges the way with thorns, for those who confidingly seek His guidance by prayer. They know that their concerns are in His hands and fear to run before He sends, or to delay when He directs an advance.—Foster’s “Illustrations”