Guided by God
How good are you at finding your way?
Many years ago, long before cell phones and GPS devices, a lost motorist stops and asks a farmer for directions.
“Where is the main highway to Quincy?” “I don’t know.”
“Well, where is the highway to Hannibal?” “I don’t know.”
“Where does this highway go?” “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know much do you?” “I know one thing for sure.”
“What would that be, old timer?” “I know I ain’t lost.”[i]
Most of us are pretty good at finding our way without much help. But every now and then there are those times when a good guide comes in handy.
High schools have guidance counselors to help you reach your educational goals. They help you choose which road to take to get you where you want to go with your education or career—everything from getting ready for college, to vocational training, to joining the military. In college you get an academic advisor to help you be sure you makes sure you get all the classes you need for that Bachelor, Master’s, or Doctor’s degree.
When you get sick you make an appointment with a guide we call a doctor. You show up in his office, and for a fee, he will give you guidance on how to get well. He may write a prescription, or send you to a specialist, or run some tests, or even put you in the hospital. You trust him to tell you what to do, to guide you back to being healthy again.
Legal matters often require you to seek out somebody to guide you through the complicated maze of rules and regulations we call the law. You need to know if you have a case, what you can do about that delicate dispute, how you can handle that important business matter. You need the services of a guide we call a lawyer.
Entire books are written to guide you and I through all kinds of difficult paths—from childrearing to marriage enrichment, from buying a house to choosing which stocks to invest in. A wise person is humble enough to admit they need guidance.
And yet the best human guidance will often lead you astray, just because well, we’re only human. Your guidance counselor can’t see the future; your doctor doesn’t know everything; your lawyer may miss a loophole, the advice from the bestseller may not apply directly to your life. We need somebody to guide us who sees it all, somebody who is never makes a mistake, who will never lead us astray. We need God’s guidance in our lives. At some point, if you want to stay on the right path, you need to admit you need God’s guidance. But how does God guide us? How can we know we’re being led by the Lord?
One place to discover the answer is found in Prov. 3:5-6, where God Himself gives us a principle for how He guides. Let’s check it out this morning and maybe before you leave today, you might get some guidance you need.
The book of Proverbs is all about wisdom—skills for living life successfully. One of the most important life-skills you can learn is how to be led by the Lord. These verses suggest 3 things to do if you want God as your Guide. The first one is
I. TRUST HIM COMPLETELY. (v. 5)
A man slipped and fell off a cliff while hiking on a mountaintop. Luckily he was able to grab a branch on his way down. Holding on for dear life, he looked down to see a rock valley some 1500 feet below. When he looked up it was 20 feet to the cliff where he had fallen.
Panicked, he yelled, “Help! Somebody save me!”
A booming voice spoke up. “I am here, and I will save you if you trust me.”
“I trust you! I trust you! ” yelled back the man.
“If you trust me, then you must do what I tell you to do.”
“Yes, I trust you! I’ll do what you tell me to do!”
“All right, “the voice commanded, “let go of the branch.”
The young man looks up then looks back down, then looks back up again and shouts, “Is there anybody else up there?”*[ii]
Do you trust me? How you answer that question depends on who is asking it, doesn’t it?
You cannot trust any or everybody. Some people are treacherous. Others are weak. All of us are human. You can’t trust a person just because they ask you for your trust.
Yet here the Bible tells us that if you want God’s guidance, you have to trust Him not just a little, not just a lot, but to trust Him completely with all your heart. How can you do that?
To begin with, trust is based on what you know about a person. You may trust somebody because a friend vouched for them, or you may have done a little investigating on your own and discovered this person was/wasn’t trustworthy. You can look at their track record, check out what their friends and enemies say about them. You want to know everything you can about them before you put your trust in them.
This is a good way to decide whether you can trust a mechanic, or a car salesman, but if you want to trust somebody with all your heart, you’ve got to be willing to take a little more risk. You’ve got to begin to get a little closer, to spend a little time getting to know them a little more personally. You’ve got to make a decision to trust them.
Think about how a husband and wife first meet. They find out some facts about one another, but at some point they make a decision to pursue the relationship further. Each of them decides to open up a little more, to trust a little more, until finally they express the ultimate trust of making marriage vows. With every passing wedding anniversary, that trust deepens, and they trust each other with all their hearts.
Does that mean there will never be times when their trust is tested? No. There may come days when he may be tempted to doubt her love for him, or times when she wonders if he will really stick it out. But they make it through those times by not leaning on their own feelings, but on the bond of trust that has been built between them.
This is a lot like what it means to trust God with all your heart.
Trusting the Lord begins with what you know about God. The Bible tells us that God reveals Himself to each of us through His creation, through His Word, through His Son Jesus Christ, and even in our own hearts.
Ps 97:6 The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples see His glory.
Jn 1:18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
If you really want to know about He has provided plenty of information. But if you want to be led by the Lord, you’ve got to trust Him with all your heart. You’ve got to go further and decide to personally trust Him.
The Bible says we begin trusting God with all our heart when we trust Jesus as our Savior. Just as a marriage is the beginning of a new relationship, so also surrendering to Christ is the beginning of a new relationship with God. As time goes by, you learn to trust Him more and more, as your trust Him with your whole heart.
Yes, there will be times when you will be tempted to lean on your own understanding, to wonder if God really knows what He’s doing. It is during those times you remember that the same God you trusted in the past can be trusted in the present and the future to be faithful.
Will you trust the Lord with your whole heart?
He is worthy of your trust. In spite of all the doubts and fears and worries that plague your heart, He really is the only Person Who deserves your wholehearted trust. Will you let go of whatever branch of doubt you’re holding on to and trust Him?
If you want God as your Guide, you must trust Him completely, but you must also
II. ACKNOWLEDGE HIM IN EVERYTHING (v. 6a)
Some people have a real problem with submission to authority.
The captain of the ship looked into the dark night and saw faint lights in the distance. Immediately he told his signalman to send a message: “Alter your course 10 degrees south.”
Promptly a return message was received: “Alter your course 10 degrees north.”
The captain was angry his command was ignored. So he sent a second message: “Alter your course 10 degrees south—I am the captain!”
Soon another message was received: “Alter your course 10 degrees north—I am seaman third class Jones.”
Immediately the captain angrily sent a third message: “Alter your course 10 degrees south—I am a battleship!”
The reply came: “Alter your course 10 degrees north—I am a lighthouse.” [iii]
If you want God as your Guide, you must acknowledge Him in everything, which involves 2 things you must do if we want to be led by the Lord:
· Submit to Him as Lord over every area of your life. God is very demanding. He doesn’t
just want our “spiritual” life—He wants all of us. He wants to be Lord not just here, but also when we’re at home, at school, at our job. He wants to be Boss of our bank account as well as our Bible reading, King of our pastimes as well as our prayers. Part of what it means to follow Jesus is to surrender every area of your life.
Lk 14:33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
If you want God as your Guide, you must submit to Him as Lord over every area of your life.
· Recognize He is Lord over every circumstance of your life.
Ro 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
There will be times you will find that hard to believe. Just when you hit your sweet spot and think you’ve got life all figured out, you get broadsided with some Job-sized calamity that just doesn’t seem to make sense. It’s then you need to remember, maybe even repeat it to yourself Jesus is Lord even over this. He can take even this and bring something good out of it.
If you want God to be your Guide, you must acknowledge Him in all your ways by submitting to Him as Lord and recognizing He is in charge of everything—the world and your world.
This won’t always be easy. It would be much easier to seize control and do things your way, much easier to give in to despair that believe there is a plan and purpose behind it all. But this verse makes it very clear that if you want to be led by the Lord, you’ve got to acknowledge God as Who He is—the Lord of your life and the lord of the universe.
Chuck Swindoll tells the story of a man who gave his business to God. He had wrestled with it and fought it for two decades. One day he after hearing a sermon on surrender to God he drove away from church and by the time he got home, he had totally and unequivocally committed his business to God.That night his business caught on fire. He got an emergency call and calmly drove down, standing on the street, watching the place go up in flames. One of his colleagues raced to his side and asked. “Man! Don’t you know what’s happening to you? … It’s … it’s burning up!” He replied, “I know it. No problem, Fred. This morning I gave this company to God, and if He wants to burn it up, that’s His business.”[iv]
End of story. Some of you may be waiting for the punch line, about how God gave him a new building, or how his business multiplied beyond belief. But life’s not usually like a TV show. The important thing is not that everything works out like we want, but that we acknowledge Jesus as Lord no matter how the story ends.
So what should we expect if we trust Him with all our heart and acknowledge Him in all our ways?
III. EXPECT HIM TO DIRECT YOUR PATHS. (v. 6b)
When you trust God completely and acknowledge Him in all your ways, you can be sure He will show you not the easiest road, but the right road; not the smoothest road, but the safest road. How exactly does He guide us? The Bible mentions at least 3 ways the Lord will lead us when we trust Him and acknowledge Him in all our ways:
· Through the Scriptures. This is His favorite way to guide us---through His Word. He
loves it when you and I read and study His Word so that we begin to hear Him speak to us through it. His Word is the primary means through which He guides you and I.
But let me add a warning here: God guides us through the Scriptures as they are properly interpreted, or as it says in
2 Ti 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
You don’t have to be a preacher or college graduate to properly interpret Scripture, but you do have to be careful not to try and make the Bible say what God never said.
A man was using the open Bible/closed eyes/first passage you read method of seeking God’s guidance. He prayed for the Lord to show him what to do, then he closed his eyes, opened his Bible, and stuck his finger on a random passage which said And Judas went and hanged himself. A little shook up, he tried it again, this time hitting the words go thou and do likewise. He decided to give it one more try, and this time looked down and read what thou doest, do quickly.
God will guide you through His Word, as long as you are careful to interpret it correctly. Another way God will guide you is
· Through others.
Pr 24:6 … in a multitude of counselors there is safety.
That doesn’t mean you ought to listen to everybody but it does mean God often confirms His direction through other godly people. When you feel God is leading you in a certain direction, it’s always a good idea to talk it over with trusted Christian friends, teachers, or even preachers. Many times God will lead us through other people.
· Through His Spirit. There is a subjective leading of the Spirit that you cannot ignore.
You dare not always trust your feelings alone, but when God speaks to your heart, and it lines up with His Word and the counsel of other believers, it can be a very personal way He directs your path.
· Through circumstances. God can and often does use what happens to us to guide us.
What if you lose your way? What if you discover that even after you’ve tried to be so careful, you end up hitting a dead end? It’s not time to panic. God sees your heart, and He knows where you are. He will direct your path back on to the right road.
One thing you can be sure of: if you trust Him with all your heart and acknowledge Him in all your ways, He will direct your path.
How good are you at finding your way?
Scotty was only four years old - and lost in Brooklyn. A police officer spotted the little guy standing on a street corner, crying. Of course, he tried to help the boy by asking him his address, and Scotty didn't know. The officer asked him his phone number, and he answered through his tears, “I can't remember.” Well, the officer was running out of options here. He was just about to take the little guy down to the station when he thought of one last question: “Little boy, is there anything near your house that I might recognize?” That was the moment that little guy discovered the one thing that helped him finally get home. There was one landmark that lost boy was able to identify for the policeman. He said, “Mister, next to my house there's this big church, and it's got a big cross on the top. And, mister, if you can get me to the cross, I can find my way home.”
I wonder if you’re here this morning and you’ve lost your way. You need to come to the Cross and find your way home. Maybe you need to trust Christ as your Savior, or to acknowledge Him as Lord of your life. Maybe you just need to come and ask Him for directions. The Lord wants to lead you—the Lord will lead you—if you will come and trust in the Lord with all you heart, lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him. Then, and only then, He will direct your paths.
[i]Tim Timmons, Maximum Living in a Pressure Cooker World Swindoll, C. R. (2000, c1998). The tale of
* Kenneth Blanchard and Robert Lorber, Putting the One Minute Manager to Work (New York: Berkley Books,
[ii]Robert J. Morgan, Nelson's Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas
[iii] Leadership magazine, Spring 1983Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories,
[iv]Charles R. Swindoll, Living on the Ragged Edge Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other