Tag Archives: Guided Guidance

M5F Circumstance Guidance, Because the Lord is Shepherd

HARBOR LIGHT #3: CIRCUMSTANCES – 10%

Circumstance Guidance

By the time we get to this last harbor lighthouse, we have an assurance in our heart of what we think God is telling us, especially if we have researched the details. We know if an opportunity does not present itself, it was not God speaking in the first place. It may have been a selfish ambition or a desire from a wrong motive. In these cases, closed doors are good. Proverbs tells us that “in his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Prov 16:9)-or is in control of circumstance. With experience, we find we don’t have to be afraid to try to open doors of opportunity, because one thing we can be sure of-a door will not open that is not right for us-when we are earnestly seeking God’s will.

Marlene finished her book, queried forty-one publishers and spent a ton on postage. Not one bought her book. But she had God’s Word on it. She had a piece of the rock to stand on, and she knew it was His calling and His will that her story be told, and published.

Finally, and unexpectedly after six years, a publishing house gave her a contract. She had heard about a new publisher, and then God brought the editor to her local writer’s conference. The circumstances finally lined up with the other two lights–in God’s timing, not her own. And with the promotion of the book, she realized that any time sooner she would not have been able to deal as well publicly with the sensitive nature of her life story.

# # #

In the fullness of time, the Israelites obeyed and broke camp to cross the Jordan. The priests carrying the ark went ahead of them. As soon as they reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, an act of faith, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap while the water flowing down to the sea was completely cut off. “So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground” (Josh. 3: 16-17).

All the people had to do was to obey and follow the ark–not hurrying or losing focus–not getting distracted by threatening “things” on the right or left-hand sides. God did the rest like slipping a hand in a glove. God is the hand; we are the glove. The hand just moved into the glove. The people of the second generation learned how to allow God to work through them.

Circumstance Must Line Up with the Word and Holy Spirit Counsel

Have you ever seen a firefly at night moving slowly along an evergreen branch? Until it takes the next step along the sprig, the green section underneath cannot be seen. The bright yellow light of the firefly is much like God’s Word is to us, for “it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path” (Ps. 119:105). Amanda and Mark’s story shows how we cannot know God’s guidance until we start taking steps and persist in trusting God with the results.

Guided by Lord My Shepherd

Amanda and Mark needed a lot of guidance in how to make children a part of their marriage. In the very beginning of their search for adoption agencies, a friend asked, “Do you think an international adoption would be the way to go?” Deciding it would be too expensive, they tried a private attorney. Up-front fees were less expensive and they heard it was easier; however, after two failed adoptions and eighteen months, they were discouraged and gave up that idea. Next, they tried foster parenting classes. After the first class, Mark was not interested.

Amanda kept a journal, recording God’s encouraging words to her, along with her disappointments. The main Scripture that kept them going was Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Their thoughts went back to the international adoption idea. They learned it was possible to adopt two children at one time through an agency near them. They checked out references and received positive feedback. They could have two children within one year. “By this time, we just knew that God was directing us this way. People wondered why we didn’t adopt in America. We prayed through the whole process that God would guide us and we just had faith that He was.”28

After paperwork and home visits were completed and flight dates arranged to a Russian orphanage, discouraging problems still loomed. Their scheduled flight in April was cancelled. They had to wait and wait some more. Finally, another date in June. Mark made a determination, “We will not come home without two children.” By faith, they prepared a nursery.

In a city northeast of Moscow, the couple was given a picture of three-year-old Alexey. The minute Amanda saw his picture she knew he was their child. He had Mark’s furrowed brow and a little frown on his face. But, the biggest part was his name. “During the recent Olympics there had been a Russian ice skater named Alexey. I thought it was the most beautiful name and I went around the house saying, ‘I’m going to name my baby Alexey.'”

Circumstance Lines Up for Mark and Amanda

The next day, the Ministry of Education called to say they had another child for them to consider-an infant by their standards. He was two years old, with soft blue eyes, with the same name Alexey. With no reservations, they knew God had given them their family. When circumstances lined up, with confirmations, they did so quickly.

God not only guided them to their children, but he provided for them. Adoption tax credits made the adoptions affordable. A few years later they went back for a beautiful three-year-old girl named Annalyse, making their family complete.

Circumstance is Always the Last Light to Line Up

Circumstance Lines Up

Choices and decisions of a lesser degree that we make every day are made so much easier with the three harbor lights in mind. Anita had a friend who was threatening her husband with divorce after learning of his infidelity. They had a two-month-old baby boy. She knew she needed to share God’s love with Sally, which she had never done. Her heart pounded and tears came to her eyes every time she thought about it. God’s Word was very clear she should go and share (see Matt. 28:19-20). She knew she had the Holy Spirit’s witness in her heart, so she asked for confirmation, “Lord, if you want me to go to Sally and tell her about how I became a Christian and that You can save her marriage, please let her call me first; then, I’ll know you are leading me, without a doubt.”

Within hours, the phone rang, “Hello Anita, this is Sally.” The final harbor light of circumstances lined up. Anita was obedient, and through her fear, trusted God to give her the words to share. That was the last time Anita had contact with Sally, but she learned that she chose to stay with her husband. They accepted the Lord as their Savior, moved from town, changed jobs, got into the Church, and reared nine children.

As the pilot of a ship trusts in the captain, we can trust our Shepherd to lead us. He is the one who qualifies us, and says, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them” (Isa.42:16).

When we follow Jehovah-Rohi, we gain experiential knowledge we will have no other way. “Surely goodness and love will follow [us] all the days of [our] lives, and [we] will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps. 23:6).

ENDNOTE
28. Laura Hyer, “Couple Becomes Family,” Fort Scott Tribune, (November 15, 2002), p. 1-2.

M5E Counselors Guidance Because Lord is Shepherd

HARBOR LIGHT #2: HOLY SPIRIT AND OTHER COUNSELORS – 10%

Guided by Lord My Shepherd

Nothing can take the place of getting into God’s Word ourselves. But what if we are new to the Bible and have little experience in testing inner impressions against Scripture? This is when it is helpful to know Godly Christians who live the Word. If we know someone like this, we need to ask them to be our spiritual mentor. The Word tells us, “Where no counsel is, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14 KJV).

The First Counselor is Holy Spirit

The first counselor we have is the Holy Spirit in our heart. The question is, “What does our heart tell us?” The Psalmist writes, “I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel . . . .” (Ps. 73:23-24). “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors” (Ps. 119.24).

Again, we see the Word as our main counselor. When the Holy Spirit works in conjunction with the Word, they bring peace to our heart, and we know we are on the right track.

Still, there is a need for other counselors. Even mature Christians continually need confirmation from others in Christ’s one body to help solidify decisions of guidance. The Bible tells us we should seek confirmation in order to let every matter be established by the testimony of two or more witnesses (see Matt. 18:16). God honors these requests for confirmation to make a wise decision. This is all a part of asking God for His wisdom in the matter and then not second-guessing it when He gives it; yet, we are not to test God.

Both Matthew and Luke record Jesus’ words to not put the Lord to a foolish test (see Matt. 4:7 and Luke 4:12). This can be likened to asking God to cause a blue car to drive by next if we should do such and such, or like the lady who altered her drive to work to avoid passing her favorite bakery. She accidentally forgot one morning, approached the bakery and prayed, “Lord, it’s up to you . . . if you want me to have any of those delicious goodies, create a parking place for me directly in front of the bakery.” Sure enough, on the eighth time around the block, there it was!

Godly Counselors can be God’s Vessel to Bring His Guidance to Us

Multitude Counselors Safety

Marlene waited for God’s voice of confirmation. She had her first harbor light–God’s Word. But, her initial attempts at finding a publisher failed and she found it hard to finish her task. Well-meaning friends only discouraged her more. Next, a leader at a writer’s retreat which she had not planned to attend, said, “God chose you. As you abide in him, your life will bring forth fruit.” Marlene knew in her heart God was speaking directly to her through this speaker. She was challenged to make a goal of completing her book in one year, which she did.

Followers of Christ can be God’s vessel to bring His word to us. For those at the river’s edge, the officers, God’s messengers, relayed the words of guidance to the people. After the three days were complete, they went into all the Israelite’s camps and commanded them, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it” (Josh. 3:3). The ark of the covenant contained the Ten Commandments on the tablets God gave Moses and the people, and it represented His presence. In the wilderness, the people followed the cloud that went before them. Now, they were to follow His Word.

“Keep a distance of about a thousand yards between you and the ark; do not go near it,” (Josh. 3:4) the officers told the people. They had to wait still longer until they could visibly see the ark before taking one step. If they got too close and touched the ark, they would die. We have to be ever so careful not to be hasty. Running ahead of God can be fatal. It is a serious matter. If He is not in a situation, we can lose everything: finances, friends, family, and freedom. Haste truly does make waste (see Prov. 21:5).

This point of haste cannot be overemphasized. This is what God personally explained to Joshua, Chapter 1:3-4 . Satan is constantly attempting to side-track us from our divine destiny by distracting us with “things” on the right and left-hand sides. These temptations of hasty major purchases such as a new house, a new car, more of this and more of that–time-consuming “toys” take our minds away from pursuing God’s purpose for our lives. Major changes in life are always necessary, but only with prayer, patience, and rational research processes do they bring peace. Wise King Solomon gives God’s wisdom, “The plans of the mind and orderly thinking belong to man, but from the Lord comes the [wise] answer of the tongue” (Prov. 16:1 Amplified, emphasis mine).

Satan uses three areas to tempt us: the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, then he says, “You deserve it. Do it now!” This do it now urgency is no less than being pursued by the Egyptians who pursued the Israelites crossing on the dry ground of the Red Sea.

This is why Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:13).

M5D Guided Because God is Jehovah Rohi

Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days, the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people. When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about a thousand yards between you and the ark; do not go near it. Joshua 3:1-4

Guided by Lord My ShepherdJoshua Must Be Guided by Jehovah Rohi

Joshua and the second generation of the children of Israel finally came to the time of crossing the Jordan River to possess the land God had given them. In order to do so, they still had a vital lesson to learn. As we have seen, their parent’s choice to follow their own ways resulted in their own death. Now that Moses was dead, Joshua’s challenge was to teach them a whole new way–how to follow the Lord and be guided in paths of righteousness (see Ps. 23:3). What was he going to do?

Joshua and the Israelites could be compared to the “cast sheep.” They were at a critical time where they were unable to survive without the help of their Shepherd. They desperately needed to be guided. They needed a miracle to get across the river at flood stage. If they had been able to do this in their own strength, the previous generation would have done it. Likewise, in our lifetime, we have many rivers to cross that require a God-sized miracle.

Only through experience, do we learn to hear the Shepherd’s voice more distinctly and to follow His will as He goes before us (see John 10:4). Three lights show the way: His Word, the Holy Spirit’s nudging in our heart which includes counsel of Godly Christian friends, and circumstances. These can be easily remembered as three harbor lights. For our purposes, the ship is our life, and the harbor lights are three specific guiding points we must be aware of for every decision we make. If we, as pilot of our own ship, disregard these lights our ship will crash.

Guided Lighthouse

Lighthouses, or harbor lights, are landmarks for sailors, serving as big street signs for the ocean, and all are different, depending upon what their harbor is like. The lighthouse purpose is to keep boats and ships from running ashore or crashing into rocks. Each one has its own distinct signature light, allowing the ship’s pilot to pinpoint where he is on the map by the particular signature lights.

We are the Pilot of Our Ship as it is Guided by Our Captain

Before we look at the harbor lights, we need to understand what it takes to be a maritime pilot, because that is who we are. He is “a person who is qualified to assist the master of a ship to navigate when entering or leaving a port. He guides the vessel through traffic, rocks, reefs, shoals and narrow channels to its destination.”19

“The first step to becoming a pilot is to first be a professional mariner with drive and determination. There is no direct path. There are no ‘pilot’ schools or any training system that takes a totally unfamiliar person off the street and turns them into a maritime pilot.”20 The only way to learn is by gaining knowledge through experience–having been placed in a situation of need to know. In Oregon, only individuals who have hands-on knowledge of currents, tides, soundings, bearings and distances of shoals, rocks, bars, points of landings, lights and fog signals are allowed to direct large vessels on certain waters of the state.21

The next requirement of a pilot is to trust in the captain (our master, Jehovah-Rohi) completely. Kathleen’s father had been a pilot. She was flooded with memories when she entered a ship. The captain welcomed her, and then turned his attention to the pilot. She said, “Their immediate trust in each other was evident. The captain is always in charge of his ship . . . . A trusting relationship is critical to a successful docking.”22

The final attributes of a good pilot are summarized by what Kathleen says of her father. “I learned much from his lifestyle: patience, a matching love of water, respect for weather, and listening skills. Dad was never in a hurry . . . the pilot’s work is never routine.”23

Likewise, following Jesus is never routine when we are willing to risk all we have to follow. A disciple of Jesus Christ must leave behind old familiar ways, the ruts going around the same old mountain, pulling up anchor and embarking into the unknown, uncharted waters. The only way to know which way to go is to listen to the master captain’s voice. He promises us, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it'” (Isa. 30:21). “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you” (Isa: 43:2).

We are Guided by three Harbor Lights

The value of pilots is realized when they judge an approach correctly, anticipate accurately and react effectively. One particular harbor has three lighthouses that guide to a safe docking in a narrow channel. The lining up of these three harbor lights, over time, reveals God’s will and our Shepherd’s guidance:

HARBOR LIGHT #1: THE WORD – 80%

The Lord spoke to Joshua. He initiated the conversation, as He always does. Joshua listened, as he always did:

Be strong and courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. -Joshua 1: 7-8

God can do whatever He wants to do–by speaking as He did in the Old Testament, or sending an angel to give encouragement or instructions; however, the main way He speaks is to “cause our thoughts to become agreeable to His will” (Prov. 16:3 Amplified). Of course, this is when we have committed and trusted our works wholly to Him. His voice comes to our minds, as a still, small voice.

The problem lies in deciphering other voices. One is the loud voice of “self.” Another is the demanding, urgent voice of the Evil One. The only way to discern which voice we are hearing is by searching whether it contradicts Scripture, and waiting to see if the other lights line up, giving us freedom to act on the intuition or impression we think we have heard from God.

It has been said that God speaks from His Word to us in our everyday need for guidance at the rate of 80%, 10% by the counsel of the Holy Spirit and Godly counselors, and 10% through circumstances. Experience proves this true.

Many times though, problems of knowing God’s will lie in not knowing what the Bible says. The ideal would be to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, but how many have? It is also not always wise to take a Scripture out of context, by pulling one out that speaks to our need.24 However, this is a way God speaks to us today. The Bible is “God’s effort to reveal Himself to humanity.”25 Jesus is alive, and He can get His Word and will to us however He desires, especially if we are seriously seeking and asking Him to speak to us. Even Billy Graham says he can open his Bible anywhere and God will show him something.

Marlene was Guided by The Word

The Lord spoke clearly to Marlene and guided her from the pages of her Bible. She was writing a book, and was halfway through. She kept procrastinating until she was discouraged, doubting her ability to write it. Satan taunted her, “And what makes you think you can find a publisher if you get it finished?”

One spring day, she sat down beside a stream, “God please speak to me,” she prayed. The wind blew the pages of her Bible to 2 Corinthians 8:10-11: “I want to suggest that you finish what you started to do . . . . Let your enthusiastic idea at the start be equaled by your realistic action now.”26

What happened to Marlene is the quickening of the Word. Webster’s dictionary defines it as, “to cause to burn more intensely; to cause to be enlivened; to come to life.” When we are using the B-E-A-R Facts of Faith, B-elieving God will speak, E-xpecting Him to speak, A-sking in faith that He will, we will R-eceive His word to us. Remember, Jesus tells us, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).

When it was time to cross the river, Joshua and all the Israelites rose early in the morning, and “set out from Shittim, and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over” (Josh. 1:1). What were they going to do? “Joshua said to the Israelites, ‘Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God'” (Josh. 3:9).

Rising early with the Lord comes before getting to the river’s edge. Lodging there with Him comes before passing over. Removing ourselves from past endeavors has to come before arriving somewhere better. The only way to get there is by scheduling God’s Word as number one priority in our day; thus, our life.

After three days, Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you” (Josh. 3:5). Consecrate means “to devote irrevocably to the worship of God by a solemn ceremony.”27 It is hearing the Word of the Lord that brings this devotion and commitment to obey–leaving all self interest to follow Him. With consecration brings a cleansing from the Word where our heart’s desire is to ask and, “See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:24).

ENDNOTES
19. http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/BMP/becoming_a_pilot.shtml (accessed April 18, 2006).
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid.
22. http://www.atlanticpilotage.com/main/content/newsarticle03.htm (accessed April 18, 2006).
23. Ibid.
24. Every Christian needs to learn to study and correctly handle the Word of Truth (see 2 Tim. 2:15). For the new student of the Bible, Halley’s Bible Handbook is a must. It was the first Bible help published (1973) and has been a best seller since. Dr. Halley’s goal was to help Christians to not only know about the Bible, but to get to know the God of the Bible. Anne Graham Lotz teaches one of the best ways to read, study, and apply a passage of Scripture in order to know what God is speaking to us personally. Her method is outlined in The Vision of His Glory workbook of the  seven-session video series of the Book of Revelation-only one of her many studies available.
25. Halley, Henry Hampton, Halley’s Bible Handbook, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 2000), p.11.
26. Marlene Bagnull, Write His Answer (ACW Press, Phoenix, AZ, 1999), p.120.
27. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary-Eleventh Edition, (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, Springfield, MA 2003), p. 265.