Where Are You, God?
By Tamara Eaton
God delights in revealing His will to His children and promises to do so all throughout His Word, yet Christians often struggle with uncertainty when their paths don't seem clearly defined. "I'm not expecting an audible answer to my request for direction, but even the faintest whisper or open door would be so welcome right now.", sighs one weary believer. Since God does promise to lead us, why is there so much confusion and lack of clarity in so many Christians' lives when it comes to discerning His will?
If we don't have the assurance that God is for us, in us, and leading us, we will constantly be bombarded by the enemy and rendered ineffective. How can we avoid this hindrance and be assured? By looking to God's Word and understanding some of the ways He leads us, and by yielding ourselves fully to the Lord and abiding in Him!
In John, Jesus assures us, "I will not leave you as orphans..." (John 14) and tells us that He is giving us a Helper, the Holy Spirit Who will guide us into all truth and show us things to come. (John 16) He also promises to bring God's Word to our remembrance. Often the Lord will bring just the right verse to encourage us or give us wisdom about a particular situation --this should motivate us all to spend more time meditating on God's Word and getting it into our hearts.
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." --John 14:26-27
Often in hindsight we can look back and see how the Lord has led us through the years, but we also need to know that He is leading us now, even when circumstances may appear dark and we're not certain which way to go. James 1 says we need to ask God for wisdom and then believe He will give it, otherwise we'll receive nothing from Him. We don't have to live our life in such a way that we step fearfully --oh so full of doubt --questioning that God is actually with us each day.
Are you in darkness? God will lead you!
"Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD And rely upon his God." --Isa 50:10
"Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The LORD will be a light to me." --Micah 7:7-8
How DOES God lead us? Misconceptions abound --everything from the idea that His leading has to be a huge supernatural and mystical occurrence to the practice of setting out fleeces and tests (and if "A" is the result, then God must be saying no, and if "B" occurs, it must be a yes). Judges 6 does give the example of setting a fleece but that would be the rare exception rather than the rule, and God wants us to exercise faith in Him to lead us without leaning on signs and circumstances (which can also be manipulated by the enemy).
First of all, we need to make sure we're in a right relationship with Him so we can clearly receive His direction!
"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." --James 4:8
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." --1 John 1:9
We need to be humble and teachable (because God resists the proud!) and open to His direction, not assuming that He's going to automatically agree with our plans.
Here are just a few ways God does lead us:
* By the principles found in His Word.
The primary way the Lord leads us is by the principles contained in His Word. (2 Timothy 3:16) As mentioned earlier, often the Holy Spirit will bring to our remembrance key scriptures and principles from the Word that apply to our current circumstances. Any further "signs" or specific directions we receive will always confirm and never contradict the clear principles found in His Word.
"The entrance of Your Words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple." "Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me." --Psalm 119:130,133
* By the quiet, still voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts.
Sometimes this can be an impression or prompting, quickening us to take a direction we hadn't previously considered or confirming our own plans, giving us His peace and assurance that we're on the right track. Or it may be a "check" impressing us not to go forward.
Other times it's an especially distinct impression that comes to us seemingly out of nowhere -- FLASH! BOOM! --a thought that comes when we're thinking about something totally different. Still, we must judge whether this is actually from the Lord or a mere distraction from our "flesh" or the enemy --here again, God will help us!
* By the witness and confirmation from other godly Christians.
"This will be the third time I am coming to you. "By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established." --2 Cor 13:1
"Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety....he who heeds counsel is wise." --Prov. 11:14, 12:15b
* By showing us when we're making the wrong decision.
For example, in Acts 16:6, the Holy Spirit forbade them to preach the word in Asia. In Acts 17:7, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. While it doesn't say how the Holy Spirit revealed God's will, it wasn't necessarily a great supernatural sign that stopped them in their tracks! If we're fully yielding ourselves to God and have a humble, teachable spirit, He will show us when we need to change direction.
* By experiencing His peace in our hearts.
When we experience His peace in our hearts, it is a confirmation that He is with us and in the decision we're making; when we don't experience that peace, it's a good sign that we need to seek Him further and wait on Him before proceeding with our plans. This peace has NOTHING to do with outward circumstances --one can be surrounded by negative circumstances and still have the peace of the Lord and confirmation that he's on the right path.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." --Phil.4:6-7
"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts..." --Col 3:15
* By circumstances --open and closed doors.
This method of interpreting God's will requires much caution because the enemy can manipulate circumstances --and an open door doesn't necessarily mean that God wants you to go through, just as a closed door doesn't automatically mean He's opposed to you going forward. There are sometimes hindrances from the enemy just as Paul experienced in 1 Thessalonians 2:18.
Sometimes God wants you to plough through and make a door where there seems to be no door. He delights in working amazing miracles! Other times He has a better plan and wants to direct you in an entirely different direction so He shuts the door on purpose. So let His Holy Spirit direct you here and don't go entirely by the circumstances alone --but sometimes God does lead us this way!
* By silence.
Experiencing God's silence can be both painful and powerful --some of the greatest spiritual growth is the result of learning to trust in God's leading and direction even when He appears silent. God wants our faith to be strong in Him, even when we don't receive immediate or obvious "answers". He wants us to be able to step out by faith, trusting in His leading, even when it seems to be darkness all around, having confidence that He will show us if we're going the wrong way.
On the other hand, we don't want to misinterpret our dullness of hearing for God's silence...maybe He has been trying to speak to us but we've been too busy or too dull of hearing? Does His Word speak to our situation and we've been too slothful to pay the cost to see what He's already revealed? We need to make sure our whole focus is God, not ourselves...we need to recognize that it is HE who enables us to hear, not that we're so "super-spiritual" --spiritual pride will hinder us from receiving from the Lord for He resists the proud but responds to the humble.
* Through our own thinking and actions!
Sometimes the Lord is leading us already by our own thoughts and actions when we're not even fully aware of it. God works even in our own preparations --if our hearts are right toward Him and we're earnestly seeking to please Him in every way. As we walk in the light that He has given us, He will bless and ordain our steps.
"The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD....A man's heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps." --Prov. 16:1, 9
His will is rarely accomplished by our remaining passive, waiting upon Him to cause all the circumstances to fall into place. If our hearts are toward Him, He causes even our desires to line up with His will. He says He will grant us the desires of our hearts and work in us both to will and do of His good pleasure. (Psa.37:4-5; Phil.2:13)
There is an old saying, "You can't steer a parked car". The Lord rarely speaks to us in a complete void. He encourages us to apply scriptural principles, use our "renewed minds" (Eph 4:23; Col 3:10), and plan our way (Prov 16). The problems occur if we plan our way without being open to Divine intervention --our plans should never be more important to us than being in God's will!
How often do we plan something that "seems good" and then later look back and see that God was at work through our plans? This should encourage us that God truly DOES lead us even when we're not experiencing obvious "supernatural manifestations" on a daily basis! Our faith and works should go together just as explained in James 2. When our entire life is dedicated to God's glory, making our aim to be pleasing to Him (2 Cor.5:9), we give Him the credit for all those good things that occurred simultaneously as we were preparing and He was working. We need to always recognize the Lord as our deliverer and the One who blesses our work and brings forth the fruit. (John 15; Prov.21:31)
"The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But deliverance is of the LORD." --Prov 21:31
A few principles of confirmation
1. God's Word --while there may not be specific instructions about your situation, there are principles which establish boundary lines.
2. God's Peace --if the peace of the Lord is there, you can rest in the fact that He is with you and blessing your steps, just make sure you remain open to any Divine interventions!
3. The Principles of Proverbs 3:5-6
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths."
A. Trust Him with ALL your heart, have FAITH that He is leading you and will show you if you're going the wrong way. Flesh often is more comfortable with the "concrete" but God wants us to see our faith as the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1) He promises over and over that He will lead us --let's trust Him!
B. Don't lean to your own understanding! Don't think you have to know and understand every single detail about the future before you make a move. Flesh often wants yearly bread and He promises daily bread! (Matt.6:11) Our security should be in Him, knowing that He holds our future --not that we understand it all right now. He purposely doesn't give us all the details, but assures us He will give us the grace, strength, and wisdom as we need it -- not necessarily in advance.
C. Acknowledge Him in ALL your ways. Our lives should be surrendered to Him without reservation. (Romans 12:1-2)
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
It is our prayer that the scriptures contained in this article will give you an assurance that the Lord does want to lead you each and every day and help you recognize some of the methods He uses to guide your steps.
"Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." --Heb. 13:20
[Note--If you don't know the Lord in a personal, saving way--find out how you can be set free from all condemnation and receive Eternal life, as well as His daily help and guidance! (Knowing God)
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