D.H Lawrence once said, “If only we could have two lives. The first in which to make mistakes…and the second in which to profit by them.” That would of course be nice, but unfortunately we only have one life; one chance; one opportunity. Thankfully, God doesn’t just say, “Go and figure it out.” He actually guides us so that we can make the most of the rest of our lives. It is reassuring to know that the Lord, “guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3b). God guides us. But how? There are four main ways that God reveals his will to us.
When we open up the Bible we aren’t just reading what man wrote, we are reading God’s thoughts. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Scripture tells us God’s thoughts about life, death, sin, heaven, and salvation. This means that unless we are regularly reading, studying, learning, and obeying Scripture, we won’t be able to walk the path marked out for us by the good shepherd.
- HOLY SPIRIT
The Lord speaks through his Word, but he also speaks through the Holy Spirit. And one of the clear roles of the Holy Spirit is “to guide us into all things” (John 14:26). Are you looking for guidance about something? Perhaps it is a financial decision, or a relationship decision. Maybe it’s a career move or a ministry-related decision. The Holy Spirit has been commissioned by Jesus to guide you.
Normally, the Holy Spirit’s guidance doesn’t come by way of a booming audible voice; rather it comes by means of “a gentle whisper,” just like Elijah experienced (see 1 Kings 19:12). He speaks to us saying, “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21). Yet, how can we be sure it is the Holy Spirit speaking and not our own ideas?
- God’s voice won’t tell you to do something that contradicts the Bible, because God doesn’t ever contradict himself.
- Is it loving, strengthening, comforting, encouraging, and true? (1 Corinthians 14:3)
- Is it confirmed by circumstances? (More on this below)
- Does it lead you to be more Christ-like? The big picture, according to Romans 8:29, is that the Holy Spirit is working in us so that we may be “conformed to the image of Jesus.” In other words, God wants our speech, our attitudes, and our behavior to look more and more like Christ. Whenever I am facing a decision or an opportunity I ask:
- Is this going to help me become more like Jesus or less like Jesus?
- Is this going to help me trust in Christ more or depend on him less?”
- Will it draw me nearer to Christ?”
If the answer to any of these questions are no, then I have my answer.
- OTHER BELIEVERS
The path of righteousness that we walk along is not meant to be walked alone. It is meant to be lived out in community. We need to rub shoulders with other believers. So much of the emphasis of the New Testament is on how we are to live in relation to other believers. In fact, over and over the New Testament uses the phrase “one another” or “each other” to highlight the role of other believers. Some examples are: Encourage one another (Heb.10:25); Teach … Admonish … Forgive … (Col.3:16); Honor … Be Devoted to…(Rom.12:10); Pray for… (James 5:13-16); Accept… (Rom.15:7); Submit to… (Eph.5:21); and Serve one another… (Gal.5:13). We can’t walk in the paths of righteousness that God has set out for us to walk in unless we are taking seriously all the “one another” and “each other” commands.
God very often guides us directly through the counsel and advice of other believers. If you feel that God is guiding you to do something, run it by a trusted Christian friend or family member. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” God has a way of revealing his will through the counsel and advice of other believers.
If God is guiding you in a certain direction, then circumstances will fall into line with that direction. Sometimes God uses circumstances to close doors of opportunity. Paul experienced this during one of his missionary journeys. Acts 16:7 says, “They tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” Other times God uses circumstances to open doors of opportunity. Paul speaks of this when he says, “But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me” (1 Corinthians 16:8–9). God opened a door of opportunity for Paul in that city to reach the whole of the Roman province of Asia with the gospel (see Acts 19).
God is in charge of circumstances and he is ultimately overseeing all the events of our life, even the things that seem out of our control. Sometimes we place too much emphasis on circumstances as if they are the only way God guides, but he guides in other ways: Through Scripture, through the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit, through other believers, as well as by circumstances. And when the first three align with the final one— circumstances—it is a pretty good indication of God’s Will.
If you find this devotional from Pastor Bryan Guinness to be an encouragement to you, visit more like this at: www.bryanguinness.com