“God’s Promises About Guidance” with Buddy Owens

“God’s Promises About Guidance” with Buddy Owens

– If you wanna take
out your message notes, I’m gonna pick up where
Pastor Rick left off. Last week, he was talking about God’s promises for our future, and there was a particular
point in that message about how God promises to
guide me when I’m confused, and I thought, you know,
we need to look more at what are God’s promises of guidance? How do I find His will for my life? Because it’s probably the
most commonly-asked question that I hear people. How do I know what God wants me to do? How can I find His will? How do I get God’s
direction and His guidance? And I talk with people
who are praying about it and searching the Scriptures
and searching their hearts, wanting to know, how I do move forward when I don’t know what
direction I’m supposed to go in? How do I get un-stuck from
uncertainty about the future? What does God have to say about my future? Does He even have a plan for my life? I mean, just this week,
talking to a young woman who was facing this very
question in her career, saying, “I don’t know
what I’m supposed to do.” And so she was stuck, she was frozen, ’cause she’s waiting for some signs, some vision of what the whole
picture would look like, and so afraid of going
the wrong direction, making a mistake, that
she wasn’t doing anything. She’s just stuck. And meanwhile, life’s going by. Opportunities are passing her by, and it’s because of this fear, and I find it in so many people. It’s not I’m afraid I’m gonna sin, it’s afraid I’m not
gonna fulfill the purpose that God has for my life, and because He won’t show
me everything all at once, I don’t even take my first step. So I wanna look at, well,
what does the Bible say about how do we find guidance from God? What does God promise about this? And is it possible to even expect too much guidance from God? How much of it does He just leave to us to make decisions and make choices? So I’ve been looking
at a lot of Scripture, and I wanna start with a passage, one of my favorite passages about God’s promise of direction
and guidance in your life, and it comes from Isaiah 42. It’s in your notes,
it’s here on the screen, but God, in the context here, God has been silent for a while. You ever have a time when
it seems like God is silent? And God has been silent,
but now He’s speaking, and He says this. Here’s His promise. He says, “I will lead the blind
by a way they do not know, “in paths they do not
know I will guide them. “I will make darkness
into light before them “and rugged places into plains. “These are the things I will do, “and I will not leave them undone.” As you look at that passage in your notes, I wanna just look at it
one phrase at a time, ’cause that’s what I was doing
with this verse this week. I was just taking it one phrase at a time and almost letting it sing to me. There was just something
so beautiful in it, and the first phrase, when He says, “I will lead the blind by
a way they do not know.” He’s saying, “When you can’t
see where you’re going,” you could be blinded by tears, you could be blinded by
pain, blinded by confusion, He says, “When you can’t
see where you’re going, “I will lead you. “You may not know where you’re
going, but I know the way,” ’cause even when I cannot see
clearly, God sees perfectly and He promises, He says, “I will lead the blind by a
way that they do not know. “I’ll take ’em in a way
when they can see no way,” and in the next phrase, He says, “In paths they do not
know, I will guide them.” When you don’t know which path to take, He says He will show you. It might be a way that is
completely unfamiliar to you, but that doesn’t mean that
it’s unfamiliar to God. He says, “In paths they do
not know, I will guide them.” Then He says, “I will make
darkness into light for them.” That when you are in the dark,
when things are dark and evil He says, “I will turn
the lights on for you. “I will turn the darkness into light.” That’s why the Bible
says that the word of God is a lamp for my feet,
it’s a light for my path. That He will use the dark
times, the dark events, and shape them into the
direction He wants us to go. Some, most of us, one
of our favorite verses about how God uses all things
to work together for our good, for those who called
according to His purpose. So He makes those things
work for our good, and then He says, “and I will
make rugged places a plain.” He’s talking about obstacles. When something’s in the way, the obstacles, the rocks,
the walls, the people, the things that seem
to be blocking the way, God says, “I will take those
obstacles of resistance, “of confusion, the
obstacles of distractions, “like a bulldozer, I
will pave a way for you, “and make the road clear.” And then He says, “And these
are the things I will do, “and I will not leave them undone.” He’s saying, “I will see
you all the way through “to the end of this road.” So when you cannot see where you’re going, God says He will lead
you along unknown paths. He will light the way for you,
He will remove the obstacles, and He will not stop
until you reach the end. It’s one of God’s promises
about guidance for us, but as we will see in a moment,
for many of God’s promises, there are what we call premises,
conditions to those things. But let me move on, and
I’ll come back to that. Isaiah, or excuse me, Psalm 32:8, another promise about God’s direction. He says, “I will instruct
you and I will teach you “in the way that you should go; “I will counsel you and
I will watch over you.” People often ask if, you know, why doesn’t God just show me
the whole thing all at once? It would just make life
so much easier for me. It probably would make it easier for God, ’cause I wouldn’t have
to keep bugging Him. Why doesn’t He just show
me the whole picture? Show me how the whole
story’s gonna end up lookin’? Well, my question, then,
is what makes you so sure that you would actually do
what He wanted you to do? The chances are, you might
not like what you see. My wife reminded me of,
it’s like that new FaceApp, you know, where you can see what you look like when you’re old, and you go, “Ah, I don’t wanna do that.”
(congregants laugh) You might not like what you see. You might wanna run the other direction if God tells you what He wants you to do. I think one of the reasons God doesn’t show us the whole thing
is because He knows we might get impatient. We might get clever. We might try to find a shortcut, speed the process along for God. That’s what Abraham and Sarah did when God promised them
they’d have a child. Abraham’s old, Sarah was
barren, so they got clever, came up with a little
plan to help God out. Sarah says, “Here you go,
Abraham, take my maid. “Have a child with her.” A shortcut, and God’s saying, “No, that’s not what I had in mind,” and I think sometimes God knows that we might try to find a shortcut. He also knows that we just
might not like the plan and we might say no, and we
might go in the other direction. That’s what Jonah did. Remember Jonah in the Old Testament. God told Jonah what He wanted him to do, Jonah didn’t like it, so Jonah
went the other direction, ran away, got swallowed by the fish, wound up as fish barf on the beach. (congregants laugh)
Remember that? Course, even there, God was
merciful, because after all, there are two ways out of a fish. (congregants laugh) But if that’s how all the
great heroes of the Bible responded when God gave
them the big picture, well, then what makes me think that I would behave any differently? There’s another reason
that God doesn’t show us the whole picture all at once, and it’s because, if He did, then you wouldn’t need any faith. God is more interested in
your faith than anything else. In fact, look at these
next couple of verses here. Hebrews 11:6, it says, “Without faith it is
impossible to please God.” You wanna please God? Well, you gotta have faith to do that. If you know everything all at once, you don’t need any faith, but without faith, it’s
impossible to please God. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “We
live by faith, not by sight.” Matthew Henry says,
“Faith is for this world “and sight is for the next.” We live by faith. That’s what God is interested in, because He’s building your character, and character is built not overnight. Character is built one day at a time, one step at a time, one test at a time. So God makes things
clear one step at a time, and He’s waiting for us, for you, for me, to take the first step, and then He’ll show you
what the next step is. If you don’t take the first step, He will not make the next step clear. Another, one of my favorite
verses about God’s guidance, I actually brought a
message here a few years ago just on this verse, is Proverbs 4:18. It says, “The path of the righteous “is like the first gleam of dawn, “shining ever brighter until
the full light of day.” It says the path is like
the first gleam of dawn. It means that the will
of God dawns on you. It’s not an all-at-once,
instant, full revelation, but it’s one step, one
moment, one choice at a time, and things get more and more clear until you see what God
has had in mind all along, and it begins just as a
faint glow on the horizon, the first gleam of dawn. Just a faint glow, where you
can see something’s coming, and you can say, “I believe
this is what God wants,” and you take a step
toward that, and you look for confirmation to see if
that light gets brighter. So it’s a step of faith
toward what you believe God is calling you to, while you’re
looking for confirmation. One of the great examples
of this in the Old Testament is the life of Abraham,
and in Genesis chapter 12, look here on the screen,
the first couple of verses. God is speaking to Abraham. He shows up to Abraham out of nowhere. Listen, before we look at this verse. Abraham was not a church-going, Sunday school good little kid. Abraham grew up in a
household of idolaters. He didn’t have the kind of
background we would expect for a man that God would
use, and yet God chose him and spoke to him, and
called him into a destiny. And in Genesis chapter 12 verses
one and two, God says this. “Abraham, leave your country, your family, “and your relatives and go
to the land I will show you. “I will bless you “and I will make your
descendants into a great nation.” He’s saying, “Abraham, do you
want your life to be blessed? “Well, then here’s what I need you to do. “I need you to step out of “what you know to be true right now. “Step out of your comfort zone. “Step out of your past, “step out of your plan for your future, “step out of the world that
you are comfortable in, “and step into the unknown,
and take a step of faith, “’cause that’s where my blessing
is going to be for you.” And notice that He said, “I want you to go to a
land that I will show you.” He didn’t show Abraham the
whole picture all at once. I can imagine Abraham would’ve said, “Well, God, where are we going?” And God says, “I’ll tell
you when we get there. “Just go in that direction,
take your first step. “I’ll show you what the next step is.” It has to be a step of faith. It is a walk into the unknown
by an unfamiliar road, like that verse we just read in Isaiah. “In paths they do not
know, I will guide them.” It is a walk of faith. This is what living by faith is about, is stepping into the unknown
before you have the answer, but God cannot guide you
until you take the step. You can’t steer a parked car. It’s gotta be in motion. There’s another example
of this in Psalm 77, where the psalmist is
writing about the exodus, when the Israelites escaped
from their slavery in Egypt, and they wandered for a
few days through a desert, and now they have come to the Red Sea and they can see no way, and here’s what he says, verse 19. He says, “Your road,”
he’s talking to the Lord. He says, “Your road led
through the Red Sea, “your pathway through the mighty waters, “a pathway no one knew was there!” In the NIV, it says, “Your
footprints were unseen.” They couldn’t see where God was leading. He brought them to an obstacle, a rugged place that He was
about to turn into a plain, and it was a pathway they
had never been on before. His pathway, it says, led through the sea, and we often expect that
God’s pathway for us would lead us around the trouble, but God’s pathway, most often,
leads through the trouble. He says, “Your pathway
led through the sea,” and that’s what faith is about. It’s making the decision,
when I face that obstacle, that challenge, that
barrier, am I going to turn and go back to slavery and
go back to my old life, or am I going to step in
faith into the unknown, because I believe that’s
where God is calling me, that’s where God is leading me, and I’m gonna step in and
see what God reveals as I go. So how does He do it? How does God guide us? I want us to look at five different ways that God gives us guidance. You can write these down. Here’s the first one. He guides me by His Spirit. God guides me by His Spirit. When you open your heart to Jesus Christ, you give your life to the Lord, you say, “Come into my life. “Forgive me of my sins. “Put me on the pathway
you want me to be on.” When you open your life to
Jesus and invite Him in, that does not mean that you now have a little Jewish man
living inside your heart. (congregants laugh) It’s the Holy Spirit. He’s called the Spirit of Christ, and it is the Spirit of God Himself who comes and dwells in
you, takes up residence, and then His role is to direct you, to guide you into the life
that God wants you to live. Psalm 143, verse 10, says this. “Teach me to do your
will, for you are my God; “may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.” It is the Spirit that
leads us, the Holy Spirit, and one of the ways He guides
us is by opening your mind to understand what the Bible says, because without the Spirit of God, the things of God don’t
make any sense to us. Jesus said this about the
Holy Spirit in John 16, and His role in truth. It says, “When He, the Spirit of truth,” that’s the Holy Spirit, “when He comes, He will
guide you into all truth. “He will bring glory to me
by taking from what is mine “and making it known to you.” And 1 Corinthian 2 says this. Here’s the role of the Holy
Spirit and the word of God. He says, “No one knows the thoughts of God “except the Spirit of God. “We have received the Spirit
who is from God,” why? “So that we may understand
what God has freely given us. “The man without the
Spirit does not accept “the things that come
from the Spirit of God, “because they’re foolishness to him, “and he cannot understand them, “because they are spiritually discerned.” So if you’re not spiritually alive, you cannot understand
these spiritual truths. He says, “But we have the mind of Christ.” It is the Spirit of Christ who
gives you the mind of Christ so that you can understand
the word of Christ and then find the direction
that God wants you to take. This is what Tommy and Amy Hilliker were talking about a couple of weeks ago. If you missed their message, I highly encourage you
to check it out online. It was a message in this series on the promise of the Holy Spirit. So God guides us through the Holy Spirit. The second way that He guides us is He guides me by His word,
He guides me by His word. The will of God is in the word of God. If you wanna know what God
thinks about something, well, then you need to know what He’s already said about something. The will of God is in the word of God. Now, let me be clear,
the Bible is not a map. You’re not gonna open the Bible and find step-by-step
directions that will lead you to the destination for your life. It’s not a map. The Bible is a compass. It points you in the direction of truth. It points you toward true
north, where you can say, “My thoughts, my doubts, my
fears, my ideas, my dreams, “how do they line up with
the compass, the direction “of the way Scripture is pointing me?” God will never tell you to do something that contradicts what the Scriptures say. God will never tell you to
move in with your boyfriend. God will never tell you
to cheat on your taxes. God will never tell you to
steal from your workplace, even though it’s money you can tithe on. He’s not gonna tell you to do something that He’s already said, “I don’t want ya doin’ that
kinda stuff,” in the word. God will never violate His written word, so if you wanna know what He thinks about a decision you’re facing, well then you need to know
what has He already said? If you wanna know what God
thinks about relationships, well, what has God already
said about relationships? If you wanna know what does
He think about generosity, about leadership, about conflict, about the lifestyle that I live, well, what has God
already said in His word about those things? Because many times, the answer you’re looking
for is already here. It’s right here in the word of God. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your
word is a lamp to my feet “and it is a light for my path,” and opening the Bible is like turning on the lights in a dark world. It just reveals things that
were hidden in the dark, it dispels all of the shadows. His word lights the way for us. 2 Timothy 3:16 says this
about the leadership we get from the word of God. “All Scripture is inspired by God.” That means it’s breathed by Him. “And it is useful to
teach us what is true. “It is useful to make us realize
what is wrong in our lives. “All Scripture is useful to
correct us when we’re wrong “and to teach us to do what is right.” So the word of God, under the
power through the Holy Spirit, is God’s primary means of
guidance for your life. Now, a third way. He guides me by His people. God guides me by His people. You cannot live the
Christian life in isolation. You were made for community,
so you need spiritual mentors. You need a small group, you need to surround yourself
with people you trust who know and love God, who
know and love His word, and who know and love you, and who are not afraid
to tell you the truth, so that when you think, “You know, I’m wondering if
God is telling me to do this, “or if this is the direction
I’m supposed to go,” you can turn to these
people who knows God’s word, have His Spirit in them, and they can help give
you direction as well. We help direct one another. You need people who are praying for you when you’re trying to make decisions. Here’s some of the things that
the Bible says about this. Colossians 3:16, “Let the word
of Christ dwell in you richly “as you teach and admonish one another.” So we each teach one another, what is the word of God saying? Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, “so a friend sharpens a friend,” and Hebrews 10:24 says,
“And let us consider “how we may spur one another
on toward love and good deeds.” That is a directional passage, that we give direction to one another, toward love and good deeds. God uses us to guide each other. A fourth way He guides. God guides me by circumstances. He guides me by circumstances,
closed doors, opened doors, and there is nothing wrong
with asking God for a sign. There’s nothing wrong with that. You might remember, in the
Old Testament, the man Gideon, when God told him what
He wanted him to do, God gave him some direction, and Gideon wanted to make sure
that he was hearing right, so he asked God for a sign. You may remember this story. He took a fleece, a blanket,
and he laid it on the ground, and he said to God, “Lord, if you’re really
telling me to do this, “then in the morning,
let this blanket be wet “and let the ground be dry,” and that’s exactly what happened. You can read it in Judges 6. It’s exactly what happened. So the next day, he said,
“Now, just one more time, “I’m putting this blanket on
the ground here, but this time, “let the blanket be dry
and the ground be wet.” And that’s exactly what happened. But here’s the thing: God
did not get mad at Gideon. He did exactly what
Gideon asked Him to do. And so Gideon’s circumstances, then, confirmed what God was saying to him, but we have to know that this fleece, this blanket, this test, that it was not because
Gideon doubted God. He did it because he doubted himself. He doubted his own ability to
really clearly hear from God. He was not arguing with God. He was just saying, “I gotta make sure that I’m hearing right, “and so I need a sign that I’m hearing, “that I’m really hearing you speak to me. “I’m not fooling myself.” So it’s okay to ask God for a sign. He’s not gonna get mad at you. God spoke to me through circumstances, loud and clear, 16 years ago. Some of you know my story. When I lost my job in a
career that I had grown up in and thought I would be in
for the rest of my life, and I lost the job, and it
was a dark, confusing time filled with obstacles. I did not know what path
I was supposed to take, but God used bad
circumstances for my good, and He used that bad
circumstance of losing a job. I was a husband with
four kids and a mortgage, and a house that was torn up
in a reconstruction project, and God used that circumstance,
brought good out of it, to turn me into a pastor. I didn’t know that was coming. (congregants laugh) But God knew, and it made
the word of God so true that He uses all things
together for our good. I saw it with my own eyes, how God uses circumstances in my life. He turned the darkness into light, He made the rugged places a plain, just like we read in Isaiah 42. That’s why it means so much
to me, that when I was blind and could not see my way into the future, God made a way and a path
that I had no idea was there, but I chose by faith to take a step. That first gleam of dawn, a step toward it until it turned into
the full light of day, and I’ll always be thankful
to God for doing that. Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things,” even losing your job, “in all things God works for
the good of those who love Him, “who have been called
according to His purpose.” So God uses your
circumstances, good and bad, and it seems that God uses,
actually uses circumstances, more than anything else, ’cause
you could read your Bible and pray for an hour every day, but you still have 23
hours for circumstances. (congregants laugh) Those conversations, meetings, doors that open, doors that close, signposts of the road that
you’re supposed to take. This is where, this whole
thing about circumstances, this is where your shape comes in. If you’ve not taken Class
301, take Class 301, get a shape assessment. How has God shaped you? Shape is your spiritual gifts, your heart, what are you passionate about? Your abilities, your
personality, your experiences. God has given you all of those things, shaped you in such a
way that is a signpost of where He would wanna go. Why would He give you those things if He didn’t intend for you
to use them for His glory? Why would God give a cheetah speed if He didn’t want the cheetah to run? Why would He put wings on a falcon if He didn’t want the falcon to fly? Why would God give you what
He’s put into your life if He didn’t intend for
you to use those things in the will, the purpose
that He has in mind for you. Those are signposts, and they’re important for you to discover. If you haven’t had a shape assessment, if you haven’t done Class 301, do that. It could help set you on the pathway into a destiny that God has
had in mind for you all along. All of those things point
you toward His purpose. Now, here’s another way that God guides. He guides me by His still, small voice. His still, small voice. That phrase, God’s still, small voice comes from the Old Testament
when we read about Elijah, a great, powerful man of God, and he had just experienced a
miraculous spiritual victory. It’s just this over-the-top
demonstration of God’s power that nobody could question
that God’s hand was on this man and that God was involved in his life, and you would think that Elijah
would come away thinking, “Man, I could do anything. “I could conquer the world,” but instead, for whatever reason, he
panics, and he runs away and he goes into hiding
because he’s afraid. Let’s look at what the
Bible says about this. It says, “Elijah went into
a cave to spend the night. “And suddenly the Lord spoke to him. “Elijah, what are you doing here? “And he answered,” listen
to the panic in his voice. He answered, “Lord God Almighty, “I’ve always served you alone. “But the people of Israel have broken “their covenant with you,
torn down their altars, “killed all your prophets. “I’m the only one left, and
they’re trying to kill me!” He’s in an absolute panic,
just spun up in this thing. They’re trying to kill him,
but here’s an important lesson. Just because I’m in a panic
doesn’t mean God is in a panic. In fact, you might wanna write
this somewhere in your notes, on a margin someplace, write this down. God is never in a panic. Go ahead and write it down,
God is never in a panic. I’m convinced that somewhere
in the throne room of Heaven, there’s a sign that
says, “No freaking out.” (congregants laugh) ‘Cause God is never in a panic. He says, “They’re gonna kill me.” He’s yelling, but look
at how God responds. He doesn’t even address it. God says, “Go out,” go out of the cave, “and stand before me
on top of the mountain, “the Lord said to him. “And then the Lord passed
by and sent a furious wind “that split the hills
and shattered the rocks “but the Lord was not in the wind. “The wind stopped blowing, and
then there was an earthquake, “but the Lord was not in the earthquake. “After the earthquake, there was a fire. “But the Lord was not in the fire. “And after the fire, there was
the soft whisper of a voice. “When Elijah heard it, he
covered his face with his cloak “and he went out and he stood
at the entrance of the cave, “and the voice said to him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” Elijah’s yelling. God didn’t yell. It was a whisper, a still, small voice. “Elijah, what are you doing here?” When God asks you a question, it’s not ’cause He’s
looking for information. He just wants to know if
you know what He knows. He’s bringing you,
waking you up to reality, and He doesn’t need to raise His voice to get your attention. Just that still, small, soft
whisper deep in your soul. That’s enough. He speaks to us through
His still, small voice. Isaiah chapter 30, verse 21, says this. “You’ll hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” I want you to, let’s keep
that up there for a second. Look at this. Notice that it says, “You
will hear a voice behind you.” It’s not a voice in front of
you, calling you to something. It’s a voice behind you, encouraging you, confirming the direction. It’s behind you, saying,
“Yeah, this is it. “Keep going, you’re heading
in the right direction,” and most often, God seems to
lead me through hindsight, where I can look back, and I can see, “Oh, yeah, this was the way. “This is the way. “I’m gonna keep going in this way, “’cause I can look back and see, “yes, there’s confirmation
all along the way.” But notice also that
that voice, God’s voice, He does not say, “This is
the destination; walk to it.” He says, “This is the way; walk in it.” In other words, God’s call on your life, His guidance and direction in your life, is more to a path than
it is to a destination, ’cause there will be a lot
of destinations in your life. It’s the pathway that’s
most important to Him. His call is more to a path
than to a destination, so you say, “Well, where do I start?” Well, you could start with
probably the most famous verse in the Bible about God’s
guidance and direction. It’s Proverbs chapter three, verse six. It says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him “and He will direct your paths.” Now, I want us to look at
that verse for a moment here and notice something. It says, “In all of your ways.” Not just some of your ways. All of your ways. You can’t say, “Lord, would
you direct me in the pathway “of my career, but stay out
of my sex life and my money. “Just handle the career
stuff, I got the others.” He says, “In all of your
ways acknowledge Him, “and He will direct your path.” Now, what does it mean to acknowledge God? It’s more than just the tip of the hat. You acknowledge God in all
of your ways by asking Him, finding out what does
He think about my ways? About the decisions that I’m making? By looking for His will in
every area of your life, and doing what He has
already told you to do, that’s how you acknowledge
God in all of your ways, and he says, if you will do
that, He will direct your path. I want us to look at it one more time. Read it again. “In all your ways acknowledge Him “and He shall direct
your,” what’s the word? – [Congregants] Paths. – Paths. He will direct your paths. It does not say, “In all
your ways acknowledge Him “and he will show you
the ultimate destination “in full detail.” It says He’ll show you which way to go. I want us to look at this
in some other translations. The New Living says this. “Seek His will in all you do, “and He will show you which path to take.” Today’s English Version says, “He will show you the right way to go.” And the Contemporary English Version says, “He will clear the road
for you to follow.” So are you gettin’ this? That when you seek God’s
will, He shows you the way, and the reason is, it’s because the way is more important than the destination. So you might wanna write
this down in your notes. Where I end up in life,
that’s the destination. Where I end up in life is not nearly as important
as how I get there. Where I end up in life is not nearly as important
as how I get there. Because I have to ask the question, did I get there by
obedience or by compromise? It’s the way that is important. God calls you not to a
place, but to a way of life, a way of living. Jesus said this in Mark 8. He said, “What good is it for
a man to gain the whole world, “and yet forfeit his soul?” So while you’re waiting on
God for specific instruction, be sure that you’re obeying
His general instructions in all of your ways, the things that God has
already told us to do. He’s already shown us His
general will for all of us in His word, and if we don’t
obey God’s general will, His general instructions, well, then He’s not likely to
give us specific instruction, ’cause after all, why would
He tell you to do something if you haven’t done what He’s
already been asking you to do? For example, when Jesus said that if you hold anything against
anyone, forgive them. You say, “Well, those are nice words.” But is that how you’re living,
or are you carrying a grudge? He’s saying you gotta
let go of those things. You can’t walk into the future if you’re still living in the past. You gotta let go, you gotta travel light. You don’t wanna carry the weight of a grudge into the future. Or when He says, “Do not
share in the sins of others.” So are you staying away
from evil influences, or are you flirting with the devil? How are you living your life? Are you living your life in a general way so that now God can give
you specific direction? What about just the simple
instruction to be baptized? Some people say, “Oh, no, I
haven’t been baptized yet.” Well, (laughs) why? God’s calling you to do something. Why would He tell you to do something else if you haven’t done what
He’s already said to do? So I am not talking here about somehow earning God’s
guidance or earning His favor. What I’m talking about is
welcoming His direction, of living a life that can be
guided, that can be directed, by keeping yourself blessable, by keeping your ear tuned to God’s voice. It’d be like hanging a sign
on the door of your heart that says, “Welcome Lord,
I’m open for business. “How can I serve you today?” It’s that kind of openness to do whatever God wants you to do, whatever
He’s calling you to do, but it shows itself first in how we obey God’s general instructions. I want us to look at
this one last passage, because it has to do with this difference between the general and the specific, the general instruction of God. It’s in Isaiah 58, verse 11. This promise, the Lord says, “And the Lord will guide you always; “He will satisfy your needs
in a sun-scorched land “and will strengthen your frame. “You will be like a well-watered garden, “like a spring whose waters never fail.” Now, that is a beautiful promise, but that promise has a premise. There’s a condition to it, and it’s in the context of
God giving this instruction. There’s something God is
saying that I want you to do, and if you will do this, you
will make yourself blessable, you will make yourself, if
I can coin a word, guidable, if you will do what I tell you to do. You see, God’s people have
been fasting and praying and asking God for direction, but they’ve only been
focused on themselves, and so when you look at
this verse in its context, you find out what God
is requiring of them, His general instruction,
and here’s what He says. It’s kinda long, bear with me. They’d been fasting, but He says, “Well, isn’t this the kind of
fasting that I have chosen; “it’s to loose the chains of injustice “and to untie the cords of the yoke, “to set the oppressed
free and break every yoke? “Is it not to share your
food with the hungry “and to provide the poor
wanderer with shelter, “when you see the naked to clothe him, “and not to turn away from
your own flesh and blood? “Then your light will
break forth like the dawn, “and your healing will quickly appear; “then your righteousness
will go before you, “and the glory of the Lord
will be your rear guard. “Then you will call, and
the Lord will answer; “you will cry for help,
and He will say: Here am I. “If you do away with
the yoke of oppression, “if you do away with the pointing
finger and malicious talk, “and if you spend yourselves
in behalf of the hungry “and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, “then your light will
rise in the darkness, “and your night will
become like the noonday.” That’s the premise, and
now we come to the promise. “And the Lord will guide you always; “He will satisfy your needs
in a sun-scorched land “and will strengthen your frame. “You will be like a well-watered garden, “like a spring whose waters never fail.” He’s saying don’t live
only for yourselves. What is the reason that you’re asking God for direction and guidance? Is it so you can serve others
or so that they can serve you? He’s saying don’t live only for yourself. Give hope to people who have no hope. Meet the needs of others, and He says, “If you will do that, then
I will direct your path, “and I will cause your life to flourish.” Now, you might say,
“Well, what if I miss it? “What if I get off track? “What if I make a mistake “and I’m missing God’s will for my life?” How angry do you think God is? The Bible tells us He’s a good shepherd, and shepherds know what
it’s like to have a sheep wander away from the flock
and get off the path, and like a good shepherd,
when you get off the path, just call out to Him,
let Him hear your voice, and He’ll come find you, and He’ll put you on the right track. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Let’s pray about this. Would you bow with me in prayer? Father, we’re so thankful for your word that gives us such hope, for your promises that are true, for your faithfulness to your own word, and Lord, as we’ve
looked at these promises of the guidance that you will give us and the direction you’ll give us, Lord, would you help us to be people that have ears to hear and eyes to see and hearts to understand
what you’re saying, and where you’re leading. Help us to live by faith, not by fear. Help us to be people
who walk in your ways, people whose overriding goal
and purpose is to serve you, to serve your family, and to serve the world
that you love so deeply. Lord, for any in this
room who are confused, who are looking for direction from you, I ask that the Spirit of Christ will open the mind of Christ in them, and that you will draw them to your word and show them the general instruction for their life to follow, and that in your faithfulness,
you will help them see how you have so beautifully
crafted them for life, and that you will then direct their steps into the purpose and the destiny that you have planned for them,
from the beginning of time. Lord, I ask your blessing that way. In Jesus’ name, Amen. (soft music) – Thanks for checking out
Saddleback’s message on YouTube. My name is Jay and I’m
Saddleback’s online campus pastor, and I’m here to help you take
your next step in your faith, because we all need to grow. 1 Samuel 2:26 says, “And the
boy Samuel continued to grow “in stature and in favor with
the Lord and with people.” Samuel was chosen at a young
age by God to be a prophet, but he didn’t remain a child. He grew in size and spiritually
by taking growth steps. Jesus, too, “grew in
wisdom and in stature.” Christ didn’t remain a child. He matured over His short time on earth. One of the funniest but harshest
verses is in Hebrews 5:12. It says, “You’ve been
believers so long now “that you ought to be teaching others. “Instead, you need
someone to teach you again “the basic things about God’s word. “You are like babies who need milk “and cannot eat solid food.” The writer is saying to
these followers of Jesus that they need to grow up. They may be adults physically, but spiritually, they are babies. I don’t know about you, but
I do not wanna be a baby. I wanna be a healthy adult, and that means I need to
be continually growing. So what does that mean for you? Couple options. First, we would love to
help you get plugged in to one of our Saddleback church campuses. We have many locations
in southern California and even internationally. Second, we could even help you
find the nearest local church if there isn’t a Saddleback
location near you, and lastly, you can get
into our online community by joining an online group
that meets on Zoom or Skype and start Class 101 to learn what it means to be engaged with our
church family from a distance by launching a gathering in your house. But here’s the deal. We can only help you take a next step if you let us know you’re
watching right now. So take a moment and text 1-949-608-6637, or email [email protected]
that you want to grow. My team would love to answer any questions about our campuses, a local church nearby, or something about our online community. Looking forward to talking really soon. Thanks for watching.

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  1. I'm in that state of confusion. I don't know and am afraid what to do. I'm starting a free Bible based EFL for kids this summer, while I need steady income for living and giving my son the education he needs. Is it God's will? Please kindly pray for us. This message speaks to me like every message delivered in Saddleback. It feels like God himself tells me His heart.

  2. This was really, really good, Outstanding teaching! I too fall into that trap of being so afraid of doing the "wrong thing" that I end up doing nothing. Loved this!

  3. I am confused and worried , discouraged when i think of my direction in the future.
    Obstacles are surrounding me much like red sea.
    But this time, God encouraged me
    "step into further, never ceaseing with fear and your understanding "thank you God, you using pastor Owen and Priscilla and raised me up from the trap.

  4. Thank you for at least occasionally using the KJV which is an actual word for word (and italicized if not) literal translation of the Bible and not a dumbed down summary to make it easier to read by sacrificing accuracy.

  5. What a great preaching! I'm so blessed this message. You're a man with God wisdom to preach his word to people. God bless you.

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