How does God guide us?

Robin WilliamsonPosted on Monday, March 22nd, 2016 by Robin Williamson

I think the word ‘Guidance’ is “showing the way”

Think of guide dogs keeping blind people safe – showing them the way to go.

The new Curate coming to Bearsted in the summer is blind so has a lovely black Labrador guide dog to lead her.

Life can be confusing – we have so many choices – so many possibilities – a bit like the Leeds Castle Maze – you sometimes need help to get through and not get lost [Helen learnt the trick – the formula, so she can just walk through!]

God is nice and he likes us!

(I think it was Adrian Plass who said that).

“I have come that you may have life!”
Jesus speaking (from John 10: 10)

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go – I will counsel you and watch over you”
Psalm 32:8

God is not going to make it deliberately hard for us – yet if we’re in the middle of something it can be very hard to decide what God wants and what we really want! But I believe He really does have a plan for our lives as we heard in our first reading from Jeremiah

“For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope”
Jeremiah 29:11

Yes, that was when God’s people had been taken into captivity – but surely we are God’s people too!

So if God does guide us it is sensible to consult God before making (some) decisions – God also gave us common sense – we can decide what colour socks we should put on in the morning!

In Luke 4:1 we read that Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where for 40 days he was tempted by the Devil. It was not a comfortable experience – I guess it was horrible at the time, but it was totally in line with what God, the Father felt was necessary for Jesus, who went on to have a very fruitful ministry.

It helps if we have the right attitude – Luke 1:38 in the Living Bible says “I am the Lord’s servant, I am willing to do whatever He wants.”>

How can we receive God’s guidance?

From the Bible if we read it!
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the people of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The Bible has a lot to say about how society as a whole should be sensibly organised – giving general instructions for marriage, work, money children, and elderly relations. But it also has advice for individuals.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path
Psalm 119:105

Direct my footsteps according to your word – let no sin rule over me.
Psalm 119:133

How has the Bible guided me?

Ephesians 4:26 says “In your anger do not sin: do not let the sin go down while you are still angry” I try not to go to bed cross with the family – and say sorry first – but I’m not often that cross!

From the Holy Spirit

In Acts 20:22 (in an easy-to-read version of the Bible) Paul says, “But now I must obey the Spirit and go to Jerusalem. I do not know what will happen to me there.”

In John 10:3&4 Jesus speaking, “The sheep listen to the Shepherd’s voice; he calls his own sheep by name. They follow him because they know his voice.”

In Acts 13:2, ‘While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them”.’

How do we recognise the Holy Spirit speaking to us?

For me it’s usually a nudge – a thought that doesn’t go away: persistent – yet gentle. It can be a bit like a butterfly going through my brain – just very gentle. Some people have strong thoughts and impressions. The Holy Spirit thoughts will always be good.

When I had fallen in love with Helen after being a bachelor for years, I wanted to know whether God was happy for me to ask her to marry me: whether it was OK for us to be married. I knew what I wanted but I needed to know it was OK with God before I asked her.
I had a spare Saturday morning, and settled down to pray in my flat, and intended staying put until I had a clear answer!

After a very short while the thought that came to me was “Robin, you decide!”

I was frustrated: I thought I wanted a definite yes, or no (I’d have been devastated if it were a no!)

Then again I believe God spoke into my thoughts something like: “I love you; my love for you will not change whether you marry or not. You can remain a crusty bachelor, living in the past, or you can marry, undergo some changes and have a joyful future – but it’s your responsibility to decide.”

Sometimes the Holy Spirit works through dreams

In Matthew 1:20 Joseph has a dream in which he’s told, “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife.”

Sometimes the Holy Spirit works through visions and pictures

The ‘ordination trail’ can be a long a daunting one. Lots of interviews over several years and months and at least one week-end away when there are more interviews and you are watched all the time to see how you conduct yourself with others.

I thought God was probably asking me to be ordained, but I wasn’t certain, and needed to see what the outcome of the process would be: whatever it was I would accept it. But I had something at the back of my mind, which kept me calm, instead of being anxious.

My mum had died before the selection process even began: she was a lovely Christian, but was a do-er – a practical person, helping and befriending, cooking meals, starting projects, rather than someone who saw visions and pictures, but she told my sister, rather than me before she died, of a dream she had where I was leaving after visiting her, and while kissing her bye-bye, my scarf fell away from my neck revealing a dog collar!

Sometimes people hear an audible voice – -remember young Samuel in the temple running to Eli, when it was God who was calling him?

Through Christian Friends
In Proverbs 12:15 we read, “A wise man listens to advice” and in Proverbs 20:18 *“Make plans by seeking advice.”

So, in conclusion

God loves us and guides us in many ways, but it is vital that we test what we believe he is saying.
In 1 John 4.1 we read, “Don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God”

  1. Is it loving?
  2. Is it in line with the Bible
  3. Is it strenthening, encouraging and comforting?
  4. We have common sense
    John Stott, a famous Vicar said, “God’s promises of guidance were not given to save us the problem of thinking!”

Don’t be in a hurry
and if we get it all wrong, remember, God is loving and he will forgive

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