The Answer to Everything

The God who commands us to obey Him is also faithful to show us how.

On Sundays I often get to greet visitors after I preach, and the question they ask most frequently is, “In my situation, how do I make a wise decision?” The circumstances vary from person to person, but there’s a common thread: Everyone wants to make the right choice. Usually they come hoping I can help them find a solution. I always tell them I have no quick answers but can offer good advice: Get to know the mind of God.

 

The first step in making wise decisions is to learn who God is and what He has promised. Some Christians think the Lord is up in heaven playing hide-and-seek with His will for our life, as if He’s trying to make it hard for us to figure out the right move. However, that perception of Him doesn’t fit His character as revealed in Scripture. In Psalm 32:8, the Lord makes this promise to His children: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” As followers of Christ, we can confidently expect His clear guidance for every situation in life.

Scripture is filled with examples of God guiding His people: Abraham was instructed to leave his country and go to a land the Lord would show him (Gen. 12:1); in being assigned to lead the Israelites, Moses received very clear commands at the burning bush (Ex. 3:1-22); and in the New Testament, Jesus revealed the precise location of the blinded Saul so that Ananias could be used in restoring his sight (Acts 9:10-18). Although it would be unlikely for us to hear from God the same way today, these examples show He’s committed to guiding His children’s lives.

 

Some Christians think the Lord is up in heaven playing hide-and-seek with His will for our life, as if He’s trying to make it hard for us to figure out the right move.

Today the Lord speaks to us through His written Word. Sometimes we want God’s guidance on an issue but are unwilling to learn what He’s already told us in His Word. Yet that’s the source we should consult. While the Bible may not present a direct answer to our specific question, it contains many principles and examples that can guide us. That being said, we must be careful not to force a Scripture passage to fit into our situation in order to justify what we desire.

It’s essential for us to know what God has said in His Word—if we are walking in direct violation of one of His commands, we can’t expect Him to overlook that and give us guidance in another area. God’s Word is like a fire that burns away the worthless dross in our life so we can be in a position for Him to answer our prayers. As we fill our minds with His truth, He changes our thinking to align with His so we can more clearly discern what He would have us do. Then we can pray with confidence, knowing He promises to do whatever we ask if it’s in accordance with His will (1 John 5:14-15).

 

The Holy Spirit is our Guide. Jesus promised to send a Helper, saying, “When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit not only interprets God’s Word for us; He also pricks our conscience when we’re heading the wrong direction and gives us a sense of peace when we’re going the right way. Each time we obey the Spirit’s promptings, He sharpens our conscience and perception so we are more attuned to His leading.

We especially need the Spirit’s guidance when the decision is not a matter of right and wrong.

We especially need the Spirit’s guidance when the decision is not a matter of right and wrong. For instance, a few years ago I was moving ahead in a direction that looked right and seemed to be God’s will. However, every once in a while I felt a little twinge of unease. Since I was so far along in the process, I kept going, but each day the feeling increased until I abandoned the plan. Although the direction looked right, the Spirit was warning me that it was either not God’s purpose or not the right time.

 

To receive God’s clear instructions, we must watch out for pitfalls. Sometimes our desires get in the way. Suppose something in a store or online looks very appealing. You imagine how great it would be to own, and the more it dominates your thoughts, the greater your desire becomes. Before long, you can’t even hear the Spirit’s voice because your mind and heart have already made the decision. The solution is to bring that desire to a point of neutrality by surrendering it to the Lord. The more you let go, the weaker its hold will become, until you once again desire what God wants.

Beware of impatience. When a decision seems urgent, we want God to provide an answer immediately. We may pray about the matter, but if the Lord doesn’t answer soon enough, we take matters into our own hands. Who knows how many people have rushed into marriage because they thought it was their only chance, or felt pressured to purchase a car or house because the sale price was good only for a short time? The problem with impatience is that it can cause us to jump ahead of God.

Before long, you can’t even hear the Spirit’s voice because your mind and heart have already made the decision.

Patience requires that we pause until we receive further instructions from the Lord. This can be especially challenging when we keep feeling pressure to settle a matter. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.” To stand alone as we wait for God’s clear guidance takes courage, especially when other people are urging us to make a decision quickly. By choosing to wait, we will probably be misunderstood by those who don’t understand how the Lord works.

We must also avoid relying solely on the counsel of others. Although the Bible recommends that we listen to wise, godly counsel (Prov. 19:20), we must not make this a substitute for seeking personal guidance from the Lord. Sometimes He works through other people to direct our path, but ultimately, He’s the one who knows every aspect of the situation. Therefore, God is the only counselor who will never lead us astray.

What a comfort to know that we are not left on this earth to find our own way. As Christians, we can confidently count on divine guidance in every situation. When we’re making decisions, the key to peace is trust in God. Even if our prayers are not being answered quickly, we have confidence that the Lord knows what’s best and will make the way clear at just the right time.

 

Collage by Adam Hale

Related Topics:  Listening to God

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8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

1 Now the LORD said to Abram, Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you;

1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

2 The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.

3 So Moses said, I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up."

4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, Moses, Moses!" And he said, Here I am."

5 Then He said, Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."

6 He said also, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

7 The LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.

8 So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.

9 Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.

10 Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt."

11 But Moses said to God, Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?"

12 And He said, Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain."

13 Then Moses said to God, Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, `The God of your fathers has sent me to you.' Now they may say to me, `What is His name?' What shall I say to them?"

14 God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, `I AM has sent me to you.'"

15 God, furthermore, said to Moses, Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, `The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.

16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, `The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt.

17 So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey."'

18 They will pay heed to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt and you will say to him, `The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please, let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.'

19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion.

20 So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go.

21 I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed.

22 But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians."

10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias." And he said, Here I am, Lord."

11 And the Lord said to him, Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying,

12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight."

13 But Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem;

14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name."

15 But the Lord said to him, Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;

16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake."

17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."

18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized;

14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

14 Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.

20 Listen to counsel and accept discipline, That you may be wise the rest of your days.

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