Tuesday 1 January 2019



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.

We have a GPS in our car. 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):

Commanding Scripture (the Bible)
Compelling Spirit (the Holy Spirit)
Counsel of the Saints (the church)
Common Sense (reason)
Circumstantial Signs (providence).

In each of the passages for today, we see first something general about the way in which God guides us, and then specific examples of each of these ‘five CSs’.

1. The promise of guidance
Psalm 48:9-14
God promises to guide us all the way through our lives. The psalmist writes, ‘For this God is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end’ (v.14). But how do we receive this guidance?

A clue comes in verse 9: ‘Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love’. The secret of guidance 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. Thank you that I am not on my own. Thank you that you guide me in the context of the community of your people.

2. The model of guidance
Luke 19:45-20:26
As in every other area of life, Jesus is our model for how to be guided by God.

We see straight away that 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
Jesus sees people who are trying to make money off the back of spiritual activity. This might translate today into any situation in which ministry is being used for personal gain. This is something we need to be extremely careful to avoid.
Jesus 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).

It is clear that 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.

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. Although Jesus was not willing to tell them directly, 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 the answer, ‘give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s’ (20:25). 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.

3. An example of guidance
Deuteronomy 31:30-32:52
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 him as 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).

So often, 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).

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 our minds as we walk in a close relationship with him. We need to avoid a super-spirituality that expects an inward voice to guide every little detail of our lives.
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 in my life. Thank you that you have had compassion on me when I have messed up. Help me to take to heart all the words you have spoken and to obey them carefully. Help me to reach my destination.

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