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God wants to reveal His purpose and plan for your life. He wants to guide your life and not just have you float aimlessly through life. So how can you really know God’s plan for your life? The following are three ways God can guide in our lives.
According to the psalmist, what is life’s Guidebook?
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” —Psalm 119:105.
What does Paul tell us we should learn from the life experiences of Bible characters?
“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” —1 Corinthians 10:11.
God’s Word renews our minds and gives us insight (Romans 12:2, Psalms 119:99). Instead of just plopping your finger down on a random text to catch some guidance, try to absorb the mind of God—by studying and meditating on many texts, the whole of God’s Word. A regular time of prayerful study in Scripture is the best way to get our priorities straight.
God also guides us by divinely-directed circumstances. Psalm 23 pictures Him as the Good Shepherd. A shepherd leads his sheep through lush valleys as well as through rocky ravines. He is capable of helping his charges benefit from and learn from every experience. We have a Shepherd who sticks close by our side.
God also guides us by speaking to our conscience. Paul affirmed that believers receive God’s guidance through the ministry of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10). He proclaimed to the believer that the Spirit can enlighten the “eyes of your heart” (Ephesians 1:18).
The more consistently we practice communicating with God, the more He is able to guide us. He molds both our inner impressions and our reasoning and judgment so we can see clearly the next step we need to take.
It’s possible, of course, to assume you are living a God-directed life when you are merely following your own inclinations and impulses. The Bible cautions us about just such a trap: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” —Proverbs 16:25.
Our feelings must harmonize with Bible teaching. In fact, it’s not safe to conclude that God is leading us unless all three of the guides discussed above harmonize.
Take Jake, for example. He had a lovely wife and two children, but stumbled into an affair with another woman. How was he to reconcile his behavior with the Bible’s strong words about adultery? He told his friends: I’ve prayed about it and I feel it’s God’s will.”
Jake’s emotions and “inner impressions” clearly sent him down the wrong path. He imagined that it was somehow “providential” that he’d met this other woman and didn’t step back to look at this relationship in the light of biblical teaching. Bible commands against adultery, and counsel on how husbands should honor their wives, could have shown Jake the devastating consequences of his affair and that he was mistaking biological urges for divine impressions.
“To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” —Isaiah 8:20.
The Bible, “the law and the testimony,” is our final arbiter, our authoritative guidebook. We must never allow any impression or apparently providential circumstance lead us away from a biblical principle.
When the devil came to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, he attacked Jesus on the issue of submission. Would the Saviour try to fulfill His destiny by expediency, by using the world’s methods, or by submitting unconditionally to the Father’s will? The devil suggested, “If you will only forego the painful sacrifices your Father has planned for you, I’ll give you the world in the palm of your hand—with fame, fortune, and a comfortable lifestyle.” Satan even quoted Scripture in an attempt to lead Jesus astray. But each time Jesus fought him off with the words, “It is written” (Matthew 4:1-11).
One powerful lesson we can learn from the life of Jesus is submission to the Father’s will. Even amid the terrible agony of Gethsemane, He cried out, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). After three years of His Ministry, living day by day in harmony with the Father’s plan, Christ’s dying words were: “It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus was really saying, “My God-planned life is now complete and fulfilled.”
As you begin to hear God’s voice speaking coherently through His Word, providential circumstances, and direct impressions, you can learn to accept His guidance wholeheartedly. You too can discover the joy of a God-guided life.