[Chapter 12 of “How God Guides”… I’m certainly not saying here that we have to be perfect to expect God to lead us. But you have to admit that it makes sense that he would lead people who are going to do their best to do what he leads them to do. Right?]
He leads me in paths of righteousness… Psalm 23:3
They didn’t understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him. Mark 9:32
This “getting direction from God” requires a lifestyle of obedience. It won’t work to get on the “path of righteousness” at the last minute (after living on the path of unrighteousness) and expect to be led by the Spirit just because all of a sudden you’re desperate for God’s guidance. God wants us to live on that path, not just visit it when we need something from him! Godliness is one necessary precondition for guidance.
The integrity of the upright guides them… The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them…. Proverbs 11:3, 5
The Lord will guide you always … if you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger, and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed… Isaiah 58:9-11
Whoever has my commands and obeys them…. I will love and show myself to him. John 14:21
He takes the upright man into his confidence. Proverbs 3:32
In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. Proverbs 3:6
You consult a wooden idol and are answered by a stick of wood. A sprit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God. Hosea 4:12
When you live out of harmony with God and then ask for him for guidance, you’re liable, under the guise of God, to be led by someone else. Satan is “the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:2). If you’re living in a rebellious way, the seducer is already deceiving you, so, it’s pretty easy for him to deceive you about the will of God. On the other hand, if you try to follow him in everything you do, you can have more assurance that it’s him – and not Satan – who is leading you.
In other words, the Lord tends to talk to people who listen and do what he says. Jesus said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” (John 7:17) He guides those who will do his will once they know what his will is for them. He doesn’t seem to want to waste his time showing his plan to those who aren’t going to follow it!
He doesn’t seem to want to waste His time showing His plan to those who aren’t going to follow it.
It’s not a matter of doing your own thing and then trying to get God to bless your plans! We don’t get to write out all that we want to do on a piece of paper, and then send it up to him for his signature. It’s better if we put our signature at the bottom of a blank sheet and then send it to him (metaphorically speaking) to fill in the blanks with his plans for us!
Sometimes I want to know God’s will so I can choose whether or not to do it! (“Show me your will so I can see if it fits into my plans!”) But, that’s not really the way it works. I need to be willing to consent to God’s will in advance. When Samuel prayed, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” he implied, “Tell me what to do, because I’m already ready to obey!” (I Samuel 3:10)
Even Paul had a brief disagreement with the direction he got from the Lord in a vision. “After I returned to Jerusalem, I was praying in the Temple and fell into a trance. I saw a vision of Jesus saying to me, ‘Hurry! Leave Jerusalem, for the people here won’t accept your testimony about me.’ ‘But Lord,’ I argued, ‘they certainly know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. And I was in complete agreement when your witness Stephen was killed. I stood by and kept the coats they took off when they stoned him.’ … “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go. I will send you far away to the Gentiles!’” (Acts 22:17-20)
I think he was admitting that at the time he thought that he might’ve had a better idea than Jesus did. In his opinion, he was better suited to stay and preach in Jerusalem. This was pretty ironic since he was speaking directly to the Lord in a vision! Cool how Jesus won the argument with a command, “Go!” That pretty much settles it every time.
Then there are those who just want God’s will in their lives because they assume that it’s going to be safer. They figure, mistakenly so, that God always provides safety and security for those who follow him. While that may be true in the long-run (as in getting to heaven and all), it’s often the other way around in the short-run. That is, the life he requires us to live is not necessarily safer or more secure. He might just as well lead us into danger as away from it. If you’re not convinced of this, read your Bible again and make note of the scary moments and sufferings of those who decided to follow him!
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Psalm 32:8-9
He doesn’t want to have to drag us, but direct us! He doesn’t like having to use a “bit and bridle” on us in order to control us. He wants us to walk with him voluntarily and gladly. His guidance comes from friendship, not from force.
Offer yourselves to him as a living sacrifice, dedicated and fit for His acceptance, the worship offered by mind and heart. Adapt yourselves no longer to the pattern of this present world, but let your minds be remade and your whole nature thus transformed. Then [and only “then”] you will be able to discern the will of God, and to know what is good, acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
In other words, submit yourself to God and you’ll find out what he wants you to do. Do what he shows you to do, and you’ll find that it is “good, acceptable and perfect”!