How does God guide us through the decisions that we face in life?
Throughout the Bible God is referred to as a Shepherd and a Guide for his people. Jesus describes himself using this same language, saying he is the Good Shepherd (John 10:14-16).
Psalm 23 is probably the most famous Psalm (or song) in the Bible and it describes God as our shepherd. Read it through a few times.
Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd)
What does the Psalm say are the consequences of having God as our shepherd?
What different terrain is described in the Psalm and what do you think these represent?
How do you feel about being guided by God?
‘During the riots in Palestine in the middle thirties a village near Haifa was condemned to collective punishment by having its sheep and cattle confiscated by the Government. The inhabitants however were permitted to redeem their possessions at a fixed price. Among them was an orphan shepherd boy, whose six or eight sheep and goats were all he had in the world. Somehow he obtained the money for their redemption. He went to the big enclosure where the animals were penned, offering his money to the British sergeant in charge.
They told him he was welcome to the required number of animals, but ridiculed the idea that he could possibly pick out his “little flock” from among the confiscated hundreds. The little shepherd thought differently, because he knew better; and giving his own “call”, “his own” separated from the rest of the animals and trotted out after him. “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep—and my sheep know me.”’
[Adapted from Eric F. F. Bishop, Jesus of Palestine (London: Lutterworth, 1955), pp. 297-98.]
What truths of God does this story illustrate?
How do you feel about the thought of God knowing those who are his sheep and calling them by name?
The 5 CSs of God’s Guidance give us a helpful framework when seeking out how God is guiding us, particularly in the big decision we face in life.
Common Sense - God’s promises of guidance were not given to save us the problem of thinking. Some things can be decided by using our God-given common sense.
Compelling Spirit - Jesus said his sheep hear his voice and know it. Are there thoughts, strong impressions, desires to act or feelings that need to be tested? Good questions to ask are: is it loving, is it strengthening, encouraging, and comforting, does it bring the peace of God? God’s Compelling Spirit also includes prophecy, dreams, visions, angels and his audible voice. Be sure to weight these things against what you read in Scripture.
Commanding Scripture - God will not lead us to do anything contrary to Scripture where his general will is revealed. Of all the ‘5 CSs’ this is to be prioritised before we look into the others since God’s Word is the final authority. That’s is why it is important for us to know our Bible.
Counsel of the Saints - Making decisions are our responsibility, but it is good to consult some wise and godly people in our lives and invite their advice, reflections and questions.
Circumstantial Signs - sometimes God opens doors, other times he closes them; watch the circumstances but don’t put too much weight on them. Sometimes we are asked to persevere in spite of all the circumstances.
[Adapted from E. K. Kohr, ‘Keat Place’, January 21, 2008]
In groups, discuss and pray about any big decisions that you are facing in your life at the moment by considering the following questions:
What decisions are you currently facing, e.g. financial decision, location changes, job opportunities, relationships, etc.
Consider and discuss each of the 5 CSs as you discern God’s guidance
Common Sense: What would be the logical next step to take?
Compelling Spirit: What does your new nature want to do? What do you have peace about? Have you had and prophetic words, visions or dreams about this decision?
Commanding Scripture: Is there a key Bible verse, passage or story that speaks into the decision you are facing?
Counsel of the Saints: What advice do others have for you about this decision? Are there older and wiser believers who could you ask for advice? If you’ve already asked, what did they say?
Circumstantial Signs: Have there been any coincidences or unusual events that have made you wonder whether God is giving you a sign?
Take time to pray for one another about these decisions. If someone is pretty clear on the direction God is leading them to take, pray for courage and faith for them to take that step.
‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’
Other Bible Passages:
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