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Guidance- What to look for
When I come to the Lord in need of guidance, I'd like to hear a voice from heaven, or a vision pointing me in the right direction, or at least a short visit from one of the "Touched by an Angel" characters, but, alas, that seldom, if ever, happens. Sure, God could do any or all of that and we would like it better if He did, but visitations like that are rare. God can, and does, show himself in various ways and we rejoice at all of His graciousness to us. But, the believer should not be looking to supernatural experiences for guidance, it can be dangerous if not founded upon and confirmed by scripture.
- Angelic visitations, visions, and dreams. The apostle Paul was converted by a vision of Jesus, himself, on the Damascus road. Paul also received guidance in a vision for the next phase of his journey in Acts, chapter 16, verses 9 and 10. Dreams and visions for believers can be for guidance or for prophecy, or to confirm a word the Lord has already spoken. There is danger in waiting for a vision or mainifestation for guidance. When we look for something our eyes can see or for a wonderful feeling, we open ourselves up to the decveiver. Satan operates in the relm of our five physical senses, so we must be certain of the source of the mainfestation before moving out. Even if I saw an angel or heard an audible voice telling me to do something or go a particular direction, I'd not act on it unless and until I'd made sure by prayer and the word of God(that it does not conflict with the Bible) that it is God's leading for me.
- We are guided by God's voice. Like the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19, we often look for God to speak in the mighty wind, in the fire, or even in the earthquake, but He most often speaks to us in the "still, small voice."He expects us to know Him well enough to be able to hear and respond to that voice. Jesus said in John 10, verse 3 that his sheep know his voice. God desires to lead us, by our listening to and heeding his voice,or promptings.
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me
- We hear God's voice primarily through scripture. The scriptures, or the Bible, is God's word to us, It reveals His thoughts and His plans for mankind in general and for individual lives, in particular. Reading the Bible often and meditating, or thinking, about what we read will help us know God and how He thinks. The scriptures tell us how to act and what to do in almost any situation. Reading one chapter of Proverbs every day will take you through the book in a month and covers much of life's problems If the scriptures already say what to do about something,don't bother to ask or try to talk God into another positiion, He has already made it plain. Just buckle down and do what it says. Often, when I pray for guidance in a specific area, I am reminded of a particular scripture. I recall once I was praying about going out in an area that was new and frightening to me. I didn't really want to go and was hoping God would give me a way out. Instead, I thought about the time Peter stepped out of the boat and I heard a voice in my heart “If you don't get out of the boat, you'll never walk on water.” It wasn't what I'd wanted to hear, but I took it as God's leading and went on to experience wonderful things by following God in that area.
- We respond to God's promptings by faith. “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17; Faith is a decision on our part to choose to believe what God has said about a given subject. When we pray and ask God to direct our steps, we commit ourselves to opening our spirit to receive from God, then, as we go about our activities, we choose to believe our steps are truly directed by him. That is what faith is, the choice that allows God an entrance into our lives and activities. The rest of it is His business.
- God has promised to guide our steps and we are encouraged by scripture to ask for and seek God’s leading in our daily lives. How do we do this? We receive God’s guidance in our lives the same way we receive anything from our Heavenly Father, by asking and receiving. We ask for guidance based upon one or more particular scriptures then, we thank God for answering our prayer. It’s that simple, and that difficult.
- A personal example. One summer day several years ago, I was returning home from a shopping trip in town. In order to get home, I had to cross a body of water. As I was crossing the bridge, I glanced in the direction of the other way home, a causeway across a river. I saw heavy smoke, a grass fire had broken out over there. I learned later that traffic was stopped on the causeway for over two hours. This was in the days before cell phones so there was no way I would know ahead of time about the fire. It was summer in Florida and I had two toddlers in the rear seat of my vehicle. If we had been stopped in traffic, we’d not have been in any danger, but we likely would have been uncomfortable and the kids would have gotten hungry and cranky. I chose to accept my going home over the bridge, away from the fire, as God’s leading in my life and I praised Him for that leading.
The Lord shall guide thee continually.
Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.
Psalm 27:11, KJV
Show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation.
Psalm 25: 4-5, KJV
For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.
Psalm 31:3, KJV
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psalm 23:3, KJV
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