Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I….Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (Psalm 61:1-2: 143:8)
If you missed it, you can go back and read Getting God’s Guidance (Part 1 + Part 2 + Part 3). Earlier posts expand on J. I. Packer’s sermon years ago in Philadelphia. Here I continue this series on this vital subject.
The Lord God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) loves us and designed us to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”1 Christ communicates with us and promises to guide His people through all the dangers, toils, and snares of this fallen world and lead us safely home to Heaven.2
When I drive using Google Maps, it reroutes me when I make a wrong turn. It never gives up until I reach the desired location and then says, “You have arrived.” The Lord is not a machine; He is a divine person who travels with us on the journey. Jesus promises, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”3
In Packer’s book, Knowing God,4 he warns of six common pitfalls in receiving God’s guidance. They overlap somewhat with previous posts. We can grieve and quench the Holy Spirit and behave in ways that stop His guidance from getting through, so Packer’s wise cautions are helpful. For ease in discussion I enumerate them as A-B-C, etc. so not to confuse with my 1-2-3, etc. in previous posts. Again, I expand on Packer’s comments.
A. Beware unthinking, irrational behavior. The Lord made us reasoning people and He guides our minds as we think things out, in submission to Him. Scripture warns us not to depend on human reason, but to use our minds properly, trusting and obeying Him. God says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on 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.”5 Following Christ means doing sensible things as defined by Scripture. “Christians are committed to rationality because they view the cosmos as the creation of a rational God, and believe humans are beings made in God’s image.”6
Guide me, O my great Lord Jesus, Pilgrim through this barren land; I am weak, but you are mighty; Hold me with your powerful hand.7
B. Beware short-sightedness. The Lord rebuked Old Testament Israel, “They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them. If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be!”8 We can often see what wise and right (and what is foolish and wrong) only as we consider the long-term impact of our actions. We must not sacrifice what we want most (following Jesus, pleasing Him, joining Him in Heaven) for what we want now (immediate comforts and conveniences). The Lord says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”9
Examples of short-sightedness in Scripture include: Esau who sold his inheritance for single meal;10 The rich fool who depended on earthly riches, but made no plans for eternity;11 Self-centered people who fail to care for the poor and needy and are unprepared on Judgment Day.12 These and many other negative cases in Scripture happened to people as examples and were written down as warnings for us, who live in these last days.13 The Lord loves us enough to warn us not to walk in step with the wicked, or stand in the way that sinners take, or join those who have no use for God.14 See also Kairos talk on “Choices.”15
He leads me: O blessed thought! O words with heavenly comfort fraught! Whatever I do, wherever I be, Still it is God’s hand that leads me.16
C. Beware unwillingness to take advice. Christ says, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”17 On our own we often get things very wrong, so we can profit from others who are wiser, riper, more experienced, more knowledgeable than we are. There are always people who know the Bible, human nature, and our own gifts and limitations, better than we do, and even if we cannot finally accept their advice, good will come to us from carefully weighing what they say. Surely four eyes see more than two and it takes a wise and humble person to accept sound advice graciously. President Woodrow Wilson said, “I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow.” The Psalmist said, “Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they correct me, it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it.”18 Authentic friends tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear. Christ says in Proverbs, “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”19 May God give us companions like this and make us teachable!
And when my task on earth is done, When, by God’s grace, the victory’s won, Even death’s cold wave I will not flee, Since God through Jordan leads me.20
The Lord truly leads us and guides us through this life, by His Holy Spirit working with His word. The Spirit always provides a light through every one of His tunnels. Pastor Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895–1960) states, “I can say from experience that 95% of knowing God’s plan for us consists in being prepared to obey Him before you know what His specific plan for us is.”21
To be continued.
Go in peace, beloved. Walk with King Jesus today and be a blessing to others!
Notes (various translations are used): 1 John 8:12. 2 see “Amazing Grace,” stanza 3 by John Newton. 3 Isaiah 41:10. 4 Knowing God (1993 reprint), p. 237-239. 5 Psalm 32:8-9. 6 Peter S. Williams. 7 from the hymn: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah (mod). 8 Deut 32:28,29. 9 Prov 14:12. 10 Gen 25:29-34; Heb 12:16. 11 Luke 12:13-21. 12 Matt 25:31-46. 13 1 Cor 10:11. 14 Psalm 1:1. 15 Kairos Program Manual, IV-46. 16 from the hymn: He Leadeth Me, O Blessed Thought (mod.). 17 Prov 12:15. 18 Psalm 141:5 (NLT). 19 Proverbs 27:6 (NLT). 20 from the hymn: He Leadeth Me, O Blessed Thought (mod.). 21 The Spirit of Promise, Donald Macleod (1986, p. 63).