God designed you with a purpose in mind. God loves you. He has a specific, unique and glorious destiny for you. He promises to guide you. God’s purpose for you is bigger than your mistakes. I have made many mistakes in my life, but God has not stopped guiding me. When we go on a journey by car we use a GPS. When we take a wrong turn, it reroutes us. But it never gives up until we reach our destination. You can ignore it or switch it off but if you follow it, it makes your journey more enjoyable and peaceful. Eventually, it will say ‘You have reached your destination.’ Of course, this is not a perfect analogy. God is not a machine but a person who is with us on the journey. God wants to communicate with you and has promised to guide you. There are five main ways in which God guides us (the five CSs): - **C**ommanding **S**cripture (the Bible) - **C**ompelling **S**pirit (the Holy Spirit) - **C**ounsel of the **S**aints (the church) - **C**ommon **S**ense (reason) - **C**ircumstantial **S**igns (providence). In each of today’s passages, we see first something general about the way in which God guides us, and then specific examples of each of these ‘five CSs’.
Promise of guidance
God promises to guide us all the way through our lives: ‘he will be our guideeven to the end’ (v.14). But how do you receive this guidance?
The secret is a close relationship with God. It involves spending time in his presence meditating on his ‘unfailing love’ (v.9).
Counsel of the Saints Guidance is not an individual activity. It is significant that the psalmist says, ‘Within your temple... we meditate on your unfailing love’ (v.9). The temple was where the people of God came together to worship God. We receive guidance in the context of community. On our own, we can sometimes get things very wrong (Proverbs 12:15). God can speak to others, as well as to us, and it is always wise to seek advice about major decisions.
Lord, thank you for your promise to be my guide and that you guide me in the context of the community of your people.
Luke 19:45–46, 20:20–25
Model of guidance
As in every other area of life, Jesus is our model for how to be guided by God.
Living under God’s guidance does not lead to a trouble-free life. Jesus was constantly under attack from the ‘religious police’ of his day. He did not shy away from controversy and confrontation.
Indeed, in the parable of the tenants Jesus shows that God’s servants can expect trouble. The servants were beaten, sent away empty-handed, treated shamefully, wounded and thrown out (20:9–12). When the son was sent they ‘killed him’ (v.15).
Divine guidance led Jesus to the cross. However, it also led to the resurrection. Behind it all was God’s purpose and his victory. What Jesus did had the appearance of failure but Jesus accomplished more in his life, death and resurrection than any other person in history.
Of course, much is said in the New Testament about the way in which God guided Jesus. In the passage for today we see:
Commanding Scripture Be extremely careful to avoid any situation in which ministry is being used for personal gain.
Jesus sees people who are trying to make money off the back of spiritual activity. He confronts the activity with the word of God. He says, ‘It’s written in Scripture, My house is a house of prayer; You have turned it into a religious bazaar’ (19:46, MSG).
Jesus’ understanding of the will of God came from studying the Scriptures very carefully. This is the supreme way in which God guides us all. 3. Compelling Spirit When Jesus is questioned about his authority he challenges the ‘religious police’ with a question about John’s authority. Jesus is suggesting that John received his authority ‘from heaven’, that is, from God himself. The clear implication is that Jesus’ own authority also came ‘from heaven’. It came from his close relationship with God.
Even his opponents recognised ‘the truth’ (20:21) in Jesus’ teaching. Jesus was not willing to curry favour or to show partiality. He was guided by what he knew to be the truth. He spoke the truth fearlessly.
Jesus challenges the premise behind their question: to what earthly power should we give our primary allegiance? The key issue, he explains, is whether we give God the primary allegiance we owe him – whether we count ourselves as citizens of his kingdom before any earthly one. We should ‘give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s’ (v.25). They were astonished by Jesus’ answer and became silent (v.26).
Luke tells us that Jesus was ‘led by the Spirit’ (Luke 4:1). Presumably it was the Holy Spirit who gave Jesus his answer. As Jesus walked in this close relationship with God, studying the Scriptures and teaching the truth, the Holy Spirit (‘the Spirit of truth’, John 15:26) prompted him with words of extraordinary wisdom.
Father, help me to follow the example of Jesus, to stay close to you and to hear your voice as I read the Bible and seek to be led by the Spirit.
Example of guidance
A century or so ago, a ship in a storm was dashed against the rocks in Cornwall, at the South West corner of England. A fifteen-year-old sailor swam to safety on an offshore rock. He climbed up and waited all night until he was rescued the next morning. A reporter interviewed him and commented, ‘You must have been shaking all night as you clung to that rock.’ ‘Yes,’ the young sailor replied, ‘I trembled all night with fear and cold.’ Then he added, ‘But the rock never trembled once.’
As Moses comes to the end of his life he reflects on the way that God has guided his people throughout his life, and has been their rock (32:4a,15,18,30,37). He is your rock. He is solid, stable, dependable, always the same and totally reliable; he does not have his ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ as we do. You can trust in his unwavering faithfulness. He will always be there for you.
God is not only ‘the rock’, he is also ‘your Father’ (v.6b).
Moses described how God guided and led his people (Israel) with a father’s love: ‘In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded himas the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions. The Lord alone led him’ (vv.10–12a).
Circumstantial Signs He goes on to describe how God, in his providence, looked after his people. He ‘fed him… nourished him with honey… oil… curds and milk… lambs and goats… the finest grains of wheat… the foaming blood of the grape’ (vv.13–14). These were the providential signs of his presence with them on the road.
However, God’s people, here described as ‘Jeshurun’ (meaning ‘the upright one’, that is, Israel), ‘abandoned the God who made [Jeshurun] and rejected the Rock his Saviour’ (v.15c). It was this rejection that led to God saying, ‘I will hide my face from them’ (v.20).
Sometimes, it is sin that prevents us from hearing God’s voice. Sin can lead to disaster (vv.23–27). Now we have a remedy in the death and resurrection of Jesus: ‘the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin... If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:7,9). 5.
Common Sense When we fall, as we all do, the sensible thing is to get up quickly. Part of guidance generally is doing the sensible thing. This was Moses’ complaint: ‘They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them. If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be!’ (Deuteronomy 32:28–29). God made us thinking beings. He guides your mind as you walk in a close relationship with him. Avoid a super-spirituality that expects an inward voice to guide every little detail of your life.
Moses returned at the end of his song to the word of God, ‘Take to heart all these words to which I give witness today and urgently command your children to put them into practice, every single word of this Revelation. Yes. This is no small matter for you; it’s your life’ (vv.46–47, MSG).
Lord, thank you for the way that you have led me through all these different ways at different times. Thank you that you have had compassion on me. Help me to take to heart all the words you have spoken and to obey them carefully. Help me to reach my destination.
I have sometimes been offered a reduced price if I pay cash when buying something or getting something mended. There may be a legitimate reason for this, but it may also be that they don’t want to declare the money for tax. If Jesus says we had better pay our taxes, then we had better, however painful that might be.
Sailor / rock illustration taken from Washington Jarvis, *With Love and Prayers*, (David R. Godine Publisher, 2004) p.286. Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790. Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.