Study 6 THE WONDER OF GOD’S GUIDANCE
(Scripture Portion: Psalm 25: 1-22)
Over and over again we find the subject of God’s guidance brought before us in the Word of God. In the Old and New Testaments we have wonderful promises of guidance and examples of those who sought and found the Lord’s will for their lives. We also have a number of very clear statements which show us our need of guidance; for example, Jeremiah 10:23. In the psalm which we have chosen for the scripture reading in connection with this study, you will notice that the psalmist assumes the need for guidance, and of course not one of us would question the fact that God’s people do need guiding. They need to pray, “Show me your ways… Teach me… Guide me… ” (Psalm 25:4,5,9). For examples of God’s guidance in the lives of His people we think of Abraham going out of his native country not knowing where he was going, being wholly dependent upon the guidance of God (Genesis 12:1); of Moses and the children of Israel being led by the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22); and of Joshua (Joshua 1:6-9). In the New Testament, one of the most striking examples is that of Philip, who was guided of the Lord to leave Samaria and to win the eunuch to Christ (Acts 8:5 and 26). These examples, and many others of which we can read, establish the fact that God does guide His people. Let us think of the Nature of God’s guidance and of the Method of God’s guidance.
1. THE NATURE OF GOD’S GUIDANCE
- God’s guidance is DIVINE guidance. We need to stress this in order to emphasise its quality. There can be no possibility of a mistake in the guidance which God gives His children. The secret of divine guidance is the Guide (Psalm 16:11).
- It is CLEAR guidance. The psalmist prayed to be led in a straight path (Psalm 27:11), and the Lord’s promise to us is Proverbs 3:6 - also look up Isaiah 35:8. The Lord is always more anxious than we are that we should be absolutely clear as to His will (Psalm 25:12).
- God’s guidance is CONTINUAL guidance. (Psalm 48:14; 73:24; Isaiah 58:11). His guidance is for the whole life, until the Lord comes or we go to be with Him.
- It is GRADUAL guidance. (Psalm 37:23). A step at a time and a stop at a time; a moment by moment experience of His leading of which we may be conscious, but of which we are more often unconscious.
- His guidance is sometimes STRANGE to us. An example of this is found in Exodus 13:18. The natural caravan route was along the sea coast to Gaza, a comparatively short distance; by way of Sinai the route was very much longer. God led His children by the long way round, and He often does this for our discipline and training. God’s greatest concern for you and for me is the moulding of our character (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).
- It is INDIVIDUAL guidance. It does not come to two people alike. He guided the wise men by a star, but we have no record of His guiding anyone else in this way. He has a specific purpose for each one of His children, and therefore His guidance is adapted to each individual need - look up Acts 9:6.
- It is COMPREHENSIVE guidance. That is, He is willing to guide us concerning every detail, great and small, which has to do with our life down here. No matter is too small, and certainly no matter is too great for us to bring to Him in order that we may know His will concerning it - look up Ephesians 5:17.
How wonderful it is that God condescends to guide His children! How frequently we must have missed His guidance! How earnestly He desires us to travel in the pathway of His choosing! What is the Method by which He guides us?
2. THE METHOD OF GOD’S GUIDANCE
- First, by His WORD. The Bible is our chart and compass, our guide book for the whole of our earthly pilgrimage until at last we are received into glory (Psalm 73:24). It is a lamp and a light (Psalm 119:105). Through His Word the Lord guides us:
- By clear directions. e.g. Should a Christian marry an unbeliever? We have the clear answer to this in 2 Corinthians 6:14.
- By general principles. There are some matters concerning which the Word of God has nothing specific in the form of any clear direction to say about these things, but there are very clear principles laid down which show us how the Lord would have us act – look up John 7:17.
- By warning us of false ways. All the way through the Bible there are warning notes to which we must at all costs give heed - and remember, He will never guide us to take any step which is contrary to His Word.
- He guides us by His SPIRIT. Have a careful look at Nehemiah 9:19-20. How wonderfully God guides us by His Holy Spirit (John 16:13), sometimes by constraining us (Acts 10:19-20), and at other times by restraining us (Acts 16:7), by an inward urge which may be difficult to describe but which is unmistakable when it is experienced!
- He guides us by His EYE. We learn this from Psalm 32:8. In the olden days the host at a feast would sit at the head of the table entertaining his guests. His servants would stand nearby, watching his every movement, and the host would direct them with his eye. How necessary it is to keep looking to Him if we are to receive His guidance! - look up Hebrews 12:2.
- He guides us by His SERVANTS. He guides us by the wise counsel of trusted friends (Proverbs 11:14), and there are times when it is helpful to confer with wise counsellors (Galatians 1:16).
- He guides us by His PROVIDENCES. Suddenly He sets before us an open door (Revelation 3:8), or we hear a voice behind us - look up Isaiah 30:21.
Notice two concluding things: (1) If God guides us in the five ways mentioned above, we must: (a) be familiar with His Word; (b) live in subjection to His Spirit; (c) keep our eye upon Him; (d) cultivate the right kind of friends; (e) watch for His providential workings. (2) We may be sure of God’s guidance when each of these five lines along which He guides harmonise and point in the same direction.