Rev. Lily Lim | On 20, Mar 2018
Psalms 25:4-5; 8-10;12 (RSV)
V4- Make me to know thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.
V5- Lead me in thy truth and teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation; for thee I wait all the day long.
V8- Good and upright is the LORD; therefore, he instructs sinners in the way.
V9- He leads the humble in what is right and teaches the humble his way.
V10- All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
V12- Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
“Men give advice; God gives guidance.” – Leonard Ravenhill
Over and over again we find the subject of God’s guidance brought before us in the Word of God. In the Old and the New Testament, 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. “O LORD, I know that the path of [life of] a man is not in himself; It is not within [the limited ability of] man [even one at his best] to choose and direct his steps [in life]. (Jeremiah 10:23).
Psalmist David in our Key Text assumes the need for guidance and of course not one of us would question the fact that God’s people do need guiding. Psalmist David teaches us to pray, “Show me your ways…..Make me to know thy ways….Teach me…..Guide me…..” (Psalms 25:4,5,9).
The Bible gives many examples of God’s guidance in the lives of His people. 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). Think 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). Think 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 8:5,26).
All these examples establish the fact that God does guide His people.
This morning I would like to share on the topic called, ‘DIVINE GUIDANCE.”
Let us think of:
1. The Nature of God’s Guidance
2. The Methods of God’s Guidance
3. The Success in God’s Guidance
(I) THE NATURE OF GOD’S GUIDANCE
1. GOD’S GUIDANCE IS DIVINE
We need to stress this in order to emphasize 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 Himself (Psalm 16:11).
2. GOD’S GUIDANCE IS CLEAR
The Psalmist David prayed to be led in a STRAIGHT PATH (Psalm 27:11) and the Lord’s promise to us is Proverbs 3:6- “In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” The Lord is always more anxious than we are that we should be absolutely CLEAR as to His will (Psalms 25:12).
3. GOD’S GUIDANCE IS CONTINUAL
His guidance is for the WHOLE LIFE, until the Lord comes or we go to be with Him. “That this is
God, our God for ever and ever. He will be our guide for ever” (Psalms 48:14).
4. GOD’S GUIDANCE IS GRADUAL
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. “The steps of a man are from the LORD, and he establishes him in whose way he delights” (Psalms 37:23).
5. GOD’S 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 of Gaza, a comparatively short distance. But if the route was by the way of Sinai, the distance would be much longer. God led His children by the long way around and He often does this for our DISCIPLINE AND TRAINING. God’s greatest concern for you and I is the molding of our character (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).
6. GOD’S GUIDANCE IS INDIVIDUAL
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.
7. GOD’S GUIDANCE IS COMPREHENSIVE
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.
(II) THE METHODS OF GOD’S GUIDANCE
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 are the Methods by which He guides us?
1. 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. It is a lamp and a light (Psalms 119:105). Through His Word, the Lord guides us:
• BY CLEAR DIRECTIONS
These are precepts. Precepts are detailed commands of the Word, given to guide our conduct.
Illustration: If a road sign reads: “Speed Limit 30 MPH.” That is a precept or a command.
E.g. # 1 – Should a Christian marry an unbeliever? We have that clear direction from 2 Corinthians 6:14- “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…”
E.g. # 2 – Should a Christian eat blood or strangled animals or be involved in sexual immorality? We have that clear direction from Acts 15:29- You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.”
• BY GENERAL PRINCIPLES
There are some matters concerning which the Word of God has nothing SPECIFIC in the form of 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. General principles are defined as general directions or guidelines and they have multiple applications. They form axioms to guide us where Scripture does not give us direct commands.
Illustration: If a road sign reads, “Drive Carefully,” it gives us a general principle to be applied in a variety of conditions.
A biblical principle is, “Everything is lawful but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23). In Christ we have liberty to do a number of things not specifically forbidden in Scripture, but are they profitable for our body or for our testimony to others?
E.g. “Do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19). God gives us the principles that our Body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when it comes to smoking, drinking, taking drugs, you have to ask yourselves this question, “Would I want to destroy the body by pumping nicotine, alcohol and drugs into my body which belongs to God?
• 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.
E.g. A pastor for many years was a deacon in several churches before God called him into vocational Christian service as a minister before he was ever ordained. And then while a minister he was tempted to buy a doctor’s degree from a degree mill. He read in his King James Bible the words of 1 Timothy 3:13 and he got his answer from God: “For they that have used the office of deacon well, purchase to themselves a high degree….”
Like a compass, the Bible always points you in the right direction. Do not be like that foolish old sailor.
E.g. Foolish Old Sailor
“An old sailor repeatedly got lost at sea, so his friends gave him a compass and urged him to use it. The next time he went out in his boat, he followed their advice and took the compass with him. But as usual he became hopelessly confused and was unable to find land. Finally, he was rescued by his friends.
Disgusted and impatient with him, they asked, “Why didn’t you use that compass we gave you? You could have saved us a lot of trouble!” The sailor responded, “I didn’t dare to! I want to go north but as hard as I tried to make the needle aim in that direction, it just kept on pointing southeast.”
That old sailor was so certain he knew which way was north that he stubbornly tried to force his own personal persuasion on his compass. Unable to do so, he tossed it aside as worthless and failed to benefit from the guidance it offered.
Application: Many of us are like the old foolish sailor. We already have our own direction in life and even though we carry the bible around with us, like that old sailor, we refuse to obey its direction either through precepts, principles or warning. We wanted the word of God to suit our will, our own agendas. As a result, we always lose our way in this life.
Because the Bible is such an important compass in our journey, we need to have a SYSTEMATIC METHOD OF READING THE WORD OF GOD. Avoid the mistake of “open window” method in seeking God’s will through the word of God.
Illustration: There are many Christians who use the open window method in seeking God’s will. You put your Bible by a window and (whew!), the pages blow and you put your finger on a verse. One man did that and pointed to the verse, “Judas went and hanged himself.” Not a very good life verse, and he did it again. This time he put his finger on the verse that said, “Go and do thou likewise.” The third verse he found said, “Whatsoever thou doest, do quickly.”
2. BY HIS SPIRIT
Nehemiah 9:19-20 – thou in thy great mercies didst not forsake them in the wilderness; the pillar of cloud which led them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night which lighted for them the way by which they should go. Thou gavest thy GOOD SPIRIT to instruct them, and didst not withhold thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for thirst.
How wonderfully God guides us by His Holy Spirit. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth….” (John 16:13).
The Holy Spirit guides us
• By constraining us (Acts 10:19-20) = compelling
• By restraining us (Acts 16:7)= holding back
• By inward urging = gentle nudging
3. BY HIS EYES
Psalm 32:8- I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
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 Jesus if we are to receive His guidance.
4. BY HIS SERVANTS
He guides us by the wise counsel of trusted and godly friends.
Proverbs 11:14- Where there is no guidance, a people falls; but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
There are times, it is helpful to confer with wise counsellors.
“Listen to your elders’ advice, not because they are always right, but because they have more experiences of being wrong.” Anonymous.
5. BY HIS PROVIDENCES
Suddenly God sets before us an OPEN DOOR (Revelation 3:8) or we hear A VOICE behind us – Isaiah 30:21- “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right, or when you turn to the left.”
These are the five methods of Divine guidance and in order to be successfully guided, these 5 must be in operation and they must align with one another.
It is very foolish and dangerous to solely rely only on one of the 5 methods for guidance.
Illustration: Who hasn’t heard of holding out a fleece before God? A man who was wrestling with knowing God’s will, prayed as he was driving, “If it is Your will for me to do this, then may the light at the next corner stay green until I get there.” Another one wrestling with God’s will said, “Lord, may my phone ring right at 9:21 tonight if Your answer to me is yes.”
This is a very unreliable way to obtain guidance for your life. You are only hinging on circumstantial sign to lead you.
Illustration: As a man was driving in Washington, D.C. he was searching for God’s will for his future. His car ran out of gas in front of the Philippines embassy. He took it as a sign of God’s will he should go to the Philippines as a missionary. I wonder what he would do if he were single and stuck on an elevator with a single young lady named Mary.
(III) THE SUCCESS IN GOD’S GUIDANCE
To show you how success in God’s guidance involve the 5 methods in alignment with one another, let’s turn to one of the classical Bible examples of a successful Divine Guidance in Genesis 24:10-27 (message).
“The servant took ten of his master’s camels and, loaded with gifts from his master, traveled to Aram Naharaim and the city of Nahor. Outside the city, he made the camels kneel at a well. It was evening, the time when the women came to draw water. He prayed, “O God, God of my master Abraham, make things go smoothly this day; treat my master Abraham well! As I stand here by the spring while the young women of the town come out to get water, let the girl to whom I say, ‘Lower your jug and give me a drink,’ and he who answers, ‘Drink, and let me also water your camels’ – let her be the woman you have picked out for your servant Isaac. Then I’ll know that you’re working graciously behind the scenes for my master.”
It so happened that the words were barely out of his mouth when Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel whose mother was Milcah the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with a water jug on her shoulder. The girl was stunningly beautiful, a pure virgin. She went down to the spring, filled her jug and came back up. The servant ran to meet her and said, “Please, can I have a sip of water from your jug?”
She said, “Certainly, drink!” And she held the jug so that he could drink. When he had satisfied his thirst she said, “I’ll get water for your camels, too, until they’ve drunk their fill.” She promptly emptied her jug into the trough and ran back to the well to fill it, and she kept at it until she had watered all the camels. The man watched, silent. Was this God’s answer? Had God made his trip a success or not?
When the camels had finished drinking, the man brought out gifts, a gold nose ring weighing a little over a quarter of an ounce and two arm bracelets weighing about four ounces and gave them to her. He asked her, “Tell me about your family? Whose daughter are you? Is there room in your father’s house for us to stay the night?”
She said, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah and Nahor. And there’s plenty of room in our house for you to stay – and lots of straw and feed besides.”
At this the man bowed in worship before God and prayed, “Blessed be God, God of my master Abraham: How generous and true you’ve been to my master; you’ve held nothing back. You led me right to the door of my master’s brother!”
Abraham instructed his servant, Eliezer, to return to his homeland to find a wife for his only begotten son, Isaac.
Abraham’s servant was not embarrassed to pray for success. He prayed, “Give me success today” (verse 12). It was not a selfish prayer. It was a prayer that God would bless someone else, “show kindness to my master Abraham” (verse 12). He asked to be guided by God.
This is one of the most remarkable stories of God’s guidance. In this passage we can see an example of all the 5 methods of divine guidance synchronizing with one another:
• COMMANDING SCRIPTURE
Obviously, Abraham did not have the Bibles that we have but he did have the commands of God that later became part of the Scriptures. God commanded his people to only marry other believers in Him. Abraham told his servant he must not get a wife for his son from the Canaanites but from his own people (verse 3-4).
• COMPELLING SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit leads us as we pray. Although the words, “Holy Spirit” are not used in this passage, it is clear that all the participants are in a position to be guided by God, listening to him and being led by the Spirit. Abraham’s servant prayed from his heart (v12, 45) and Rebekah appeared “before he had finished praying” (verse 15) and when Rebekah appeared, Isaac was out in the field where he had gone to meditate (verse 63).
• COMMON SENSE
The choice of Rebekah made sense. She was clearly someone who was appropriate for Isaac. It so happened that she was “very beautiful” (verse 16). She was also a “virgin; no man had ever lain with her” (verse 16). Most importantly, she was clearly generous, gracious and kind. Her immediate response to the request for water was not only to offer it, but also to say, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking” (verse 19).
Illustration: Many times, Christians are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly use. They don’t use the common sense that God has given to them. A college sophomore was in need of a car and had a series of dreams one night and everything was in yellow, everything! Early the next morning he began to hit the used car lots, looking at one car after another. Finally, he found God’s will for him: a yellow car, yellow inside and out. He didn’t even ask to drive it. He just bought it. Turned out to be a lemon.
E.g. Two ladies from our church just based the guidance on the command from the Bible – “do not be unequally yoked” and did not use their common sense in choosing their future mate. One was a very rich Chinese with a degree in business from University of San Augustine and she was courted by a born-again guy from our church who wasn’t even a high school graduate from Molo City High. This kind of pairing does not fit into the common sense. They got married despite our counsel not to and today they are separated. Another girl from our church, who is a Pharmacy graduate, left our church because the Zone Pastor advised her not to get along with this guy in our church who used to be a janitor, a base guitarist and he wasn’t even a high school graduate too. Do you just marry someone simply he is just born again? On top of the commanding scripture, you need to use your common sense too in choosing your mate.
HOW TO CHOOSE A MATE
Use the 3Cs principle in choosing a mate:
C3 – CHEMISTRY (external appearance; personality; interests; do you enjoy spending time with each other)
Is he/she a good PLAYMATE with you where you can play together?
C2- CHARACTER (fruit of the Holy Spirit like Rebekah in our story -generosity, graciousness, kindness)
Is he/she a good PARTNER for you where both of you can work together.
C1- CORE VALUE (sense of our calling if you are a believer; belief system; our faith; world views)
Is he/she a good SOUL-MATE for you where you can share the deepest things together?
When all these 3 levels come together, it means both of you are COMPATIBLE.
• COUNSEL OF THE SAINTS
One of the ways in which God guides us is through godly advice. Although Isaac and Rebekah’s marriage was very different from the modern western marriage in that it involved a large element of arrangement, there was also an element of choice. Rebekah was asked, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she replied’ (v57). Isaac chose to marry her and ‘loved her’ (verse 67). They were following the COUNSEL OF THE SAINTS in the sense that everyone around, especially their parents, recognized, ‘This is from the Lord’ (verse 50).
• CIRCUMSTANTIAL SIGNS
This is one of the clearest cases in the Bible of God guiding through circumstantial signs. The servant asks for a sign and was given exactly what he asked for (verses 12-26). However, as we have seen, the sign was not random. It was a test of Rebekah’s CHARACTER, which she fulfilled.
As a result of being guided by God, not only was their meeting a great success, but more importantly, so was their marriage.
If you are truly born-again, you would want the perfect will of God for your life. You would want to be divinely guided by God and not just by people, the world or by your whims and fancy.
Questions like …
• Whom do I marry?
• Where do I work?
• What car should I buy?
• What house should I buy?
• Should I go to college and if so, where should I go?
• What ministry should I undertake for the Lord?
….. entail divine guidance especially our marriage because that is one decision that is irrevocable.
The guidance of God is divine, clear, continual, gradual, strange sometimes, individual and comprehensive.
He will guide you by His Word through precepts, principles and warning; His Spirit, His Eyes, His Servants, and His Providences.
If you want to experience success in divine guidance, you must ensure that the 5 CS agree with one another – Commanding Scripture, Compelling Spirit, Common Sense, Counsel of the Saints and Circumstantial Signs.
I wrote in my devo on 29 July 2012, “Today Architect Nilo came to discuss the position and materials for our church building. Instead of a tent, he suggested GI sheets and glass that will cost about 4.5 million pesos. I was very discouraged and troubled when I heard that. Then I remember what you [God] told me on 30 May 2017, which is to build the church in Tent. The rhema was from Isaiah 54. Just now I reviewed your rhema and I read it in NET, Message and Amplified version and I want to follow your instruction.”
During that period of time, God gave me very specific instruction on how the design of this church was to be. That was why we didn’t engage the service of Architect Nilo but we got Bechayda because he presented to me a design that looked like a tent. I had the COMMANDING SCRIPTURE.
Then I exercised my COMMON SENSE. The budget quoted by Architect Nilo was 4.5 million pesos for a 500 square meter building. Bechayda quoted me 3.25 million pesos for a 625 square meter building. My budget was 4 million pesos. So, which one made more sense for me to choose?
I surrounded myself with a group of people from this church who had knowledge of construction. They all agreed that we should simplify the design of our church from a 40 million pesos budget to a 3.25 million pesos project. But they counselled me not to build the church with a literal tent material like the event hall that is at Plazuela. The reason being the community kids would use the razor blade to slice the tent. They counseled me against that. I thank God I took their advice and built the church using cement. I had COUNSEL OF THE SAINTS.
There was quite a bit of delay due to conflict of decision concerning which architect to choose. The Holy Spirit compelled me not to wait for consensus but to take a voting. I put my foot down as a pastor and I asked the committee to vote. Two out of 7 of the building committee members voted for Architect Nilo while the majority voted for Bechayda. I had the COMPELLING SPIRIT.
Of course, I had the CIRCUMSTANTIAL SIGNS to go ahead to construct this building because God removed the opposers from my life so that I could fulfill the vision God had given to this church. For 17 years, the vision was put on hold in the incubator but in 2012, it was the time for the baby to be birthed.
Today- you are enjoying the success of divine guidance upon our church. Had I not waited for these 5 CS to align with one another, Etab would be plunged into a great debt with the bank, with the danger of foreclosure if we fail to make the payments. With the divine guidance, Etab constructed the new church building without any loan from the bank. Glory be to God!
PRECHED AT ETAB 1ST SV ON 18 MAR 2018