Sunday, April 16, 2006

Guided! ... By God?

Guided…….By God?


“Peace”, Christians desire it. We find it sweet and refreshing to our soul. We know we find peace when we know we are guided by God no matter the outcome. Peace internally for sure. So then here is the million dollar question, “How do you know you are guided by God? How are you sure? Do you just pray, look for “doors to open and / or close”, “have an inner peace about your decisions” or perhaps there is just a need to put out a fleece to know God is truly guiding?” Oh just maybe we should seek advice after all, in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14).

There are a couple of errors that Christians make in seeking God’s guidance. One is that many people think that the scriptures simply have nothing to say concerning everyday decisions. Therefore there is a reliance on the pragmatic, the expedient or the urgent. The other error is to use a “religious” means for guidance such as, “peace, fleece or open / closed doors”. More on this later, Okay?

I have found that in life there are three main particular types of situations that need to be discussed concerning a Biblical view of guidance:


a. guidance in moral and ethical issues of life,
b. matters of indifference, and
c. guidance when you are just not sure what you are to do

These three situations is what will be discussed in this blog. May God grant you wisdom and understanding as you continue or begin your journey of being guided by God.


A. God’s Guidance in Moral and Ethical Issues:


The Scriptures teach that believers are “led by the Spirit of God” (Rom. 8:14). The Helper has come from the Father and He teaches us all things and brings to our remembrance all that Christ has said to us. (Joh 14:26) And we know that He guides us “into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

.Also the Holy Spirit has given us the testimony of the disciples and the scriptures since the scriptures were taught by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2Ti 3:16-17) They, as well as we, understood that "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deut. 29:29)

.The Holy Spirit has given to us the moral decision making processes in our lives. We are taught what is moral and proper in the Holy Scriptures in order to make the proper decisions and take appropriate actions. Within the Bible we learn how we are to think and act.

.1. The Commandments.First, a quick look at the Ten Commandments gives an overview of our religious, moral and ethical responsibilities. The commandments are an excellent summary and take us a long way in understanding how we are to live in order to glorify our Lord. The first four commandments teach us an overview of our duty toward God and the last six teach us our overview in our duty to our fellow man.

B.Religious Guidance – First through Fourth Commandment:

. !st Commandment - Exodus 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

2nd Commandment - Exodus 20:4-6 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

3rd Commandment - Exodus 20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.4th Commandment - Exodus 20:8-11 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

C. Guidance in Loving Our Neighbors – Fifth through Tenth Commandment:

5th Commandment - Exodus 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. 6th Commandment - Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt not kill. 7th Commandment - Exodus 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery. 8th Commandment - Exodus 20:15 Thou shalt not steal. 9th Commandment - Exodus 20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 10th Commandment - Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.


.2. Overview Biblical Understanding In Doctrine and Practice:

.Secondly, in order to ensure we are guided by God it is important to know the whole counsel of the Bible in both doctrine and in a doctrinally practical manner. God guides His people by His Word with the power of the Holy Spirit. So we do need to get to know the Bible. We need to know the 10 commandments (Ex. 20, Deut. 5); the instructions of warnings, writings and sermons given to the Prophets and Apostles; The teaching God gave to the saints in both Old and New Testaments (Phil:4:8-9). Examples include Anna, Miriam, Aseph, Cornelius, Onesimus, etc.). Also there are lessons to be learned in the historical examples in the accounts of the ungodly such as the wilderness wanderings, Simon Magus, King Herod, Scribes, Pharisees, false prophets, etc. We also need to know the teachings of Christ such as in the Olivet discourse, Lord’s Prayer and the parables as well as the examples He gave us in His life.


3. Know Key Passages and Practice Godliness:

Thirdly we need to practice godliness. That is we need to locate the principles and precepts that are given in the Bible in order to make proper godly moral and ethical decisions. I would like to give a couple of examples of where to go to if you have questions about certain things in your life or church. These examples are not exhaustive. For the sake of time and space I will keep the references in the New Testament but be assure of this there are many supporting directives in the Old Testament as well. First if you wonder or have questions about your churches role in your life you would want to turn to the Pastoral Epistles of 1st Timothy, 2nd Timothy and Titus. To know that your pastor has an obligation to you and that you have one to him you would want to turn to Hebrews chapter 13 for practical application direction.. If you are a widow and want to know what your responsibilities are you would go to 1st Timothy chapter 5 and guide your life accordingly.

If you find yourself a fearful person you want to read and apply God’s answer to your life to be guided by God in this area. On how God guides us in handling suffering we would want to read the Epistle of Peter. If you are in an oppressive situation in your work situation the Lord’s brother James discussed that with the church in the fifth chapter of his letter.

Once again we are not left alone we have the scriptures that are the very words of God and have been given to us for our good and His glory. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2Ti 3:16-17) The Bible is surly sufficient for us God has by “His divine power … granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence…” So in the issues of morality and ethics we can know we are making godly decisions as we follow the commandments, precepts, principles and “processes” of the scripture.

D. God’s Guidance In Matters Of Indifference

You that are familiar with this blog site know that I seek not to use big words. But I will break that today to use a word I am fond of. A big word with a simple meaning! Ready? Here it is, “adiaphoria”. Ad……what? Oh lets forget pronouncing it. But lets not forget its meaning:
Adiaphora – teachings and practices that are neither commanded nor forbidden in scripture. These matters are left to you and your Christian liberty to decide for yourself. We all know that there are times when decisions need to be made wherein there is no moral right or wrong decision. God being a God of abundance gives us many choices in many areas of life. What decisions have you made in this manner in the past or what decisions are you facing now that are indifferent and come from the abundance God has given to you. Examples may be, “Do I go work as a sectary for ABC Company or the ACME Company?” Or do I buy a Dodge or a Ford? Or you know three Christians of the opposite sex that are believers and you want to get married, whom do pursue for marriage? In the church do you use a grand piano or synthesizer organ / piano? Clearly there are effects to all decisions but God often in many circumstances graciously gives many options.

.So now what do you do. Sin can become an issue if you do not make decisions of this type out of love to God and your neighbor and in faith. Therefore while the decision options are not sinful the approach toward making the decision can be sin. That is what we want to avoid and be guided by God in the approach to and carrying out the decisions in these types of circumstances. So then first, rest in the reality that you have Christian liberty. Secondly, understand the basics of Christian liberty. The liberty given and any actions taken are to be accomplished because of the love of God to us and our expression of love toward Him and others. (Rom. 8;21, Gal.2:4, 5:13, 2 Cor. 3:17, Jas. 1:25, 1 Pt. 2;16). With this understanding and action then thirdly you will make the decision with the proper attitude which is the third thing you should ensure in these types of decision making circumstances.

Fourth engage all of your reasoning and decision making powers counting the cost of the decisions before you. Fifth, pray and ask the Lord for the greatest wisdom so that you can determine the best situation for you. And lastly make your decisions in faith, “because …. whatsoever is not of faith is sin”..

If for some reason you find yourself having a difficult time determining what you desire to do in these types of circumstances I suggest the following:.


1. Frame the options before you. In other words set the specific options on paper and framing them within your life situations and circumstances.


2. Ensure your motives are God honoring acting out of love to God and your neighbors.


3. Push out the options that are not the utmost best for your particular situation.

4. Make your choice (s) in the freedom God has given you.


Therefore now get up, choose and be thankful!

C. Guidance When You Are Just Not Sure What You Are To Do

Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation that you cannot at the present time make a decision since consciously you are not sure what to do. That is ok for in Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter fourteen we learn that “he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom.14:23). This simply states when a Christian takes actions which in conscience he or she is unsure of whether right or wrong they sin. Therefore, if for whatever reason, you are unsure and not confident in the decision to be made then it must not be done. God’s guidance at this point is that you must not go forward. Therefore you must place the decision on hold.

This is a gracious directive from our God. Peace of conscience is important to our Heavenly Father and He wants us to have that peace. This is part of being in the kingdom of God, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy I n the Holy Ghost.” (Rom 14:17). Therefore, He tell us to stop and put the decision on hold for conscience sake.

Now we are not to walk away and never make the decision. We are still responsible and required to make decisions in life with a peace of conscience. Therefore there are multiple benefits given to us as we take God’s direction and place this decision on hold for a period. One benefit is that this time of refrain allows us to gather new and needful information which lessens doubt. Another benefit is that this refrain gives time to search the scriptures in order to be guided by God in the principles precepts of His word. It also benefits in that it gives time for new developments to take place that may be needful. You may find that you need help to work through the issues to make a decision comfortably. This time of refrain also gives you the benefit of time in order to speak with your pastor, or one of the other elders at church or a Christian friend that can help direct you in the Word to a comfortable biblical decision. Also we are guarded from making hasty and perhaps emotional decisions which can, and often does, lead us into sin. Once you have worked through the things you need to to make a comfortable decision then make the desion not doubting but in faith and in a peace of mind. Oh! To be led by God. Oh! What peace of conscience and mind!

Conclusion

‘In concluding let me point out that I have not said much concerning going to prayer as you seek God for guidance. Now this is not because it is not important because it is! After all we are to pray “without ceasing” about specifics in all situations. Christ taught us to pray by example, and by directive ( 1 Thess 5:17; Lk. 6:12; Matt. 6:9-13). The reason I have not focused on prayer is simply this – It is a great place to start but is not a good place to end. Prayers for guidance are to be that you may understand the Bible, band that you be given the energy, strength and ability to discover God’s directive to be able to apply those principles and precepts. Therefore to be guided by God in moral and ethical issues you need both prayer and the Bible while being energized by the Holy Spirit for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Phi 2:13)

.Also "opened and closed doors" do not tell us what God wants us to do nor do they direct us in God’s will for our lives. Really I have never been able to determine an "opened door" from a closed one. A "door" demands an interpretation of circumstances. It actually gives no guidance whatsoever. "Closed doors" may not be closed for there may be other ways to get something accomplished. Many times I have seen people step through "open doors" to the hurt of their family, friends and bring reproach to themselves and the church. Once qagain it is true that circumstances must be understood but they are not sources giving us God’s direction. We do not have new revelation from God happening today. "Open and closed doors" if they could be a guide used by God, which they cannot, would be a form of new revelation for direction. And there are no new revelations. We have his Word and must make our decisions based on the principles and precepts and directives of His Word. This does not matter if it is a calling in to the ministry, how to raise and correct my children or any number of other decisions in life. The word of God is the foundation of our faith and practice. Period..

Remember it is the Word of God that is profitable to us. It is the Word that guides and gives the equipment we need to make God honoring decisions. Do you want to know 100% for sure if you are guided by God? Then read the Bible and be directed by the principles and precepts of His Word. It is the “more sure word of prophecy”. I have never spoken in a tongue, never had a dream nor seen a vision nor any type of extra revelation but I have had His written Word an have known the stability and the concreteness with which God gives direction within it..

Much more can be said about guidance. I have just scratched the surface. I pray that this will get you to commit to look to God alone to truly guide you in all things, and tht by his Word. He has given us His Word and the Holy Spirit to guide in into at all truths in doctrine and practice. To be guided by God brings blessing. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psa 1:1-3)

.Finally to you the believer I ask you, "Are you being guided by God? Are you using the Scriptures in the power of the Holy Spirit?" Anything less is going through life being pulled and making decisions out of urgent or expedient drivers using pragmaticism. Be Guided by God! That is my prayer for all of us. God bless you as you are guided by God..

To the unbeliever your first response to the word of God need to be a repentance of sin and faith placed in the Lord jesus Christ. When this is done then you will be filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered as all members of the family of God to be able to read and understand his word and be guided by it. It is my prayer that God grant you an acknowledgement of sin and give you faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then you can be guided by God the Lord of Glory!

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