Friday, March 04, 2011

A Biblical Approach to Guidance

Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
Psalm 25:8-10
Earlier today, I read a blog post by Justin Buzzard that highly recommended chapter 6 of J.I. Packer's book God's Plans for You as "the best exegetical, theological, and practical treatment of knowing and doing the will of God/God’s guidance."

This topic of God's guidance is one that has been on my mind alot over the past couple of years as I've prayed, prepared, and made plans to pursue church planting in Kenya. And now that I'm in Kenya, that hasn't changed. Or, I should correct myself. It has. I feel the need for God's guidance even more now that I'm here.

Because of my experience and reading how Buzzard was recently redirected by God from planting a new church in Phoenix to planting a new church in downtown San Jose, I was eager to get my hands on that chapter. And I don't know what I would have done without my brand new Amazon Kindle. All it took was jumping onto, searching for the book, one click, and voila! There was the book in my Kindle library here in Nairobi in a matter of minutes (at half the price of the paperback I might add)!

With that, I highly recommend the Amazon Kindle if you're regularly looking for that next good book to read. But, more importantly, I highly recommend chapter 6 of J.I. Packers' God's Plans for You as "the best exegetical, theological, and practical treatment of knowing and doing the will of God/God’s guidance." Here's Packer's summary from that chapter:

How may we formulate[a biblical approach to guidance]? I offer the following ten checkpoints:
  1. Ask the question: What is the best I can do for my God?
  2. Note the instructions of Scripture. The summons to love God and others, the limits set and the obligations established by the law, the insistence on energetic action (Ecclesiastes 8:10; 1 Cor. 15:58), and the detailed drilling in wisdom (see Proverbs and James especially) enable one to make the best choice among behavioral options.
  3. Follow the examples of godliness in Scripture. Imitate the love and humility of Jesus himself. If we do this, we cannot go far wrong.
  4. Let wisdom judge the best course of action. Consider not only the wisdom God gives you personally, but the corporate wisdom of your friends and mentors in the Christian community. Don't be a spiritual Lone Ranger. When you think you know God's will, have your perception checked. Draw on the wisdom of those who are wiser than you are. Take advice.
  5. Note nudges from God that come your way--special concerns or restlessness of heart might indicate that something needs to be changed.
  6. Cherish the divine peace that Paul says "garrisons" (guards, keeps safe and steady) the hearts of those who are in God's will (Phil. 4:7).
  7. Observe the limits set by circumstances to what is possible. When it is clear that those limits cannot be changed, accept them as from God.
  8. Be prepared for God's guidance to be withheld until the right time comes for a decision. God usually guides one step at a time.
  9. Be prepared for God to direct you to something you do not like and teach you to like it!
  10. Never forget that if you make a bad decision, it is not the end. God forgives and restores. He is your covenant God and Savior. He will not let you go, however badly you may have slipped. "Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me" (Micah 7:8).
Micah's words, just quoted, offer great comfort to all who want to do God's will but find themselves afraid they may have missed it. The Lord is my Shepherd. He leads me. He restores me. He stays with me. I need not be uptight! What a relief!

--J.I. Packer, God's Plans for You, Chapter 6
What a relief, indeed!
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want [= lack].
Psalm 23:1
In other words, as long as Jesus is my shepherd, I'll never go without. It's impossible.

That's really good news!

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