December 27, 2011

Making Plans, Receiving Guidance

About this time every year, I start thinking about plans for the year to come, but I’m not as ambitious as usual. Perhaps it is the fatigue that comes with “too many birthdays” as my father used to say. However, it might be that I’m finally learning that I do not have to make so many plans. Instead, I just need to follow Jesus.
Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
The Bible speaks much about the guidance of God. He begins by teaching His people the truth about spiritual realities, truth that can only be seen by those who have His Spirit and are reborn through saving faith. We rely on Him, praying as the psalmist prayed . . .
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. (Psalm 25:5)
The promise of God’s guidance is more than a dry list of rules and directions for life. With His direction, life is an adventure that takes me places I’d never otherwise go, yet always produces satisfaction and vitality.
The LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. (Isaiah 58:11)
Not only that, the Holy Spirit is reliable and specific. He could bombard me with information that would overwhelm me with a terrible sense of my need and inadequacy, but this does not happen. Instead, He listens to the Father and tells me only that God wants me to know.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:13)
That is, when I read the Word of God each day, the Spirit of God speaks to my specific situation, giving me the truth I need for it. There is even a Greek word for this; it is “rhema” which is translated “word” yet means “a word spoken to meet the need of the moment.” This is why daily devotions are so vital. I put myself in a place where God can speak to me according to what I need to hear.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16)
Teaching, reproof, correction and training are the ways that God guides me. He shows me each day what will help me. Being guided into all truth is an enormous privilege. Without this, I would not know how faith in God applies to the daily situations and problems of life. I would not know how to respond to others who challenge my faith, or hurt me, or ask me questions. I would not know when I sin and need to confess my sin, or even when I’m in need of His help and guidance.

As God guides, He also indicates what is to come. I know that one day I will move from this life on earth to my eternal dwelling place with Him. For that, God makes another promise that uses the image of springs of water and His guidance.

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:16–17)
As I read this and try to imagine what it will be like, I can see how the guidance of God now is a mere taste of His eternal guidance — and someday I will experience the fullness of His refreshing.

Jesus, You are the Living Word, the Water of life. Out of You flows all that I need for life here and for life eternal. I can make plans for today, and for the year ahead because  Your word says so. But it also tells me that I ought to keep in mind, “If the Lord wills, I will live and do this or that.” (James 4:15)

I’m grateful for Your will — it is perfect — and for Your guidance which is also perfect. Keep my feet on the right path, and help me to always remember that Proverbs 16:9 says I can plan my way, but You establish my steps!


violet said...

Great reflection, LC. Isaiah 58:11 was my 2011 verse of the year (good for someone my age, with its reference to strong bones and all). Happy New Year to you. May 2012 be another year of growth and blessing for you and Practical Faith!

LC said...

Hi Vi, Thanks for your comments and blessing for the New Year... back at you with the same as you write and express the Lord's doings in your life. We have a most wonderful Lord and Savior!