This week it's my plan to finish up the subject of guidance. Last week we saw that Charles Hodge divided guidance up into three parts [Chart B] He said:
Guidance is partly providential, ordering their external circumstances; partly through the Word, which is a lamp to their feet; and partly by the inward influence of the Spirit on the mind.1
We saw that those three need to dovetail together. For example, David was a man who was called, gifted and empowered to become king years before God providentially allowed him to become king. And until God providentially guided through the people themselves calling him, David refused to seize the throne. He was patient for the providential side of the equation to come together. When our Presbytery examines a person to see if they are called to the ministry, they examine all three areas — Does he meet the Biblical qualifications (and they usually require a one year internship to test the person)? Has he been subjectively called? Does providence line up? And a couple questions that Presbytery asks along those lines is: does the church believe you are called? What's the evidence? Does your family have what it takes to be a minister's family? What's the evidence? So those are the three sides of guidance.
But let me emphasize again that only the Bible is normative. Another way of saying it is that you should find the moral will of God by looking in the Bible. That's where you learn how to please Him. The Bible judges and interprets providence (and thus the arrow going down here) and it judges and interprets our subjective experiences (and thus the arrow going down on this side) [See Chart B].
The sad thing that has happened in the modern church is that people routinely ignore clear statements in the Bible because they felt led by the Lord to do something, or because God gave them an "open door." 1 Samuel 24:1 indicates that it doesn't matter how strong the inward movements, impulses, leadings or promptings may be, they may not contradict the Scripture — period.
But even beyond that, it is important to say that feelings are not normative, and open doors are not normative. When we say that only the Scripture is normative, it means first, that you cannot ignore the Bible and second, that no commandments may be added to the Bible to bind your conscience. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that the Bible is sufficient to make the man of God complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work — not for most good works, but for every good work. That means if your conscience is troubling you about something that the Bible gives you liberty in, it is a defective conscience that needs to be educated. You are adding good works to the Bible and in the process contradicting 2 Timothy 3:16-17. That's the problem of a weak conscience: the subjective isn't lining up with Scripture. You are making the subjective normative. So modern legalism is violating this diagram. It has the subjective conscience adding to and judging the Scripture. They reverse the arrow here.
And so, be careful when people say that "I have to" or "I ought to" or "I must obey the Lord" when it comes to subjective leading. Subjective leading may make us aware, may give us motivation to do something, may give us insight, but only the Bible can define whether it is a sin or not, or whether you have the liberty to ignore it or not. Let me give you an example. I know of a prominent missionary who walked up to a lady at a dinner gathering and said to her that God had just given him guidance that she was to be his wife and would she obey the Lord's will for her life? If I was her, I would have run or at least told him, "Well, God hasn't given me any guidance." But what really bothers me about his statement was that he framed it as a moral imperative: "Are you going to obey the Lord." Sadly, she thought, "Who am I to argue with God? If God has led, I have to obey." Nonsense. That is legalism. You cannot bind another person's conscience by anything except for the Scripture. If you can't prove it from the Scripture, you can't tell a person that he or she is out of the will of the Lord. And so a lady like that should first of all examine the Biblical requirements, and then the providential and then your own subjective guidance. If this man had an unbiblical divorce, you would be quite right in telling him that you didn't think it was God's guidance because God has already said in the Word that you shouldn't marry him since he has an unbiblical divorce. You have the perfect liberty of ignoring that man's guidance. On committees, the phrase, "We need to go this way because the Lord has led me" can be a very manipulative technique. "Need to" is a normative term, and only the Bible is normative. Only inspired revelation is normative.
But having said that, we also saw that subjective guidance and providential guidance is Biblical and it is very useful and it brings a great deal of comfort, assurance and faith. Apart from the Holy Spirit convicting the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment, your preaching of the Gospel would land on deaf ears. The subjective work of the Spirit enables them to understand His objective Word. Apart from illumination of the minds of believers, we would not understand the Word of God. So our prayer needs to be that of David's: Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law (Ps. 119:18). Apart from burdens and promptings, many people would never be motivated to be involved in missions or in other endeavors that require sacrifice. The subjective guidance makes us aware of issues we would not otherwise investigate. It's useful.
In any case, we have already looked at several examples of providential and subjective guidance.
Last week we saw that our guidance can be subject to misinterpretation and to mistake, and thus guidance needs to be tested. And we began looking at several tests of guidance. And today we will pick up at point 13.
- Have you used the common sense wisdom God has already given? That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world (John 1:9).
The thirteenth question is, "Have you used the common sense wisdom that God has already given?" Another way of saying this is, "Do you know the answer already?" If you do, then it's silly to say, "I'll pray about it for a week and seek God's guidance." Some people do that automatically thinking that it is the spiritual thing to do. But delaying a week could lose you the opportunity to get the apartment, or to get the job contract. Jump on it if you already know what's the right way to go. Start every day with a prayer for wisdom because there are many times when you have to make instant decisions flying by the seat of your pants. And certainly, if it's a Biblical norm and you know what the Bible says, to delay action for a week is not spiritual; it is disobedience. I have had times when people have come to me for input on what they should do, and as soon as they start talking, they recognize how foolish it was to even be asking. They knew what was the right course of action. It's just that it made them uncomfortable. They were maybe hoping I would come up with an excuse to not do it.
- What do you want to do? God delights in delighting His children. Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart (Ps. 37:4).
The fourteenth question was added because some people assume the opposite to be true. When I was in my late teens and early twenties I assumed that if there was a choice between something enjoyable and something miserable, it was automatically the miserable thing that God wanted me to do. But I found that God delights to delight His people. Psalm 37:4 says, Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. When we put God first, God gives back more than we could give up. Mark 10 says that when we give up everything to the Lord as stewards, God gives the same things back 100-fold. When we put ourselves first, then he puts us last. But when we are delighting in the Lord and have a stewards heart, we should assume that God will give back (along with persecutions He says, but that He will give back) the very pleasures that we have given to Him.
People have asked me from time to time to give input into which direction they should go. Both alternatives were Biblical. Both were equally useful. Both were providentially possible. I asked them, "Which choice would bring you the most joy?" They said, "Choice B" and I said, "Go for it." God's not a kill joy. He's not going to make you marry somebody that you can only tolerate. If all the other steps of guidance line up, marry the one that you like. I think most people would buy that for marriage, but why would it be any different for other decisions of life? So ask yourself: "What do I want to do?" God is many times the one who has put those desires into your heart in the first place.
- Why do you want to do it? Examine your motive, goal and standard. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts (Prov. 21:2).
But we do need to balance this with point 15: ask yourself also: "Why do I want to do this? Am I really delighting myself in the LORD. Am I really putting Him first, or am I fooling myself." He's not talking about giving us carnal delight. He's talking about giving us godly delight, and when we are godly, we will be delighted in God's creation. Ask God to reveal whether your motives and goals are Biblical. Proverbs 21:2 says, "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts." Ask Him to illumine your mind as to your motives and goals. Are they pure?
- Is it lawful? Are any Biblical principles being violated? And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting (Ps. 139:24).
I probably should have started with point 16: "Is it lawful?" And if I do this sermon again, I will switch the order and amalgamate some of the duplication in these points. But ask yourself if it is Biblically lawful. And if you don't know, ask others if they know if it violates any Biblical norms. And of course, make sure to ask for the proof texts, because there are a lot of legalists out there. Pray Psalm 139:24. Lord, see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. Is it lawful? Is it Biblical? That's really the foundation.
- Is it profitable? All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (1 Cor. 6:12). All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. (1 Cor. 10:23).
Is it profitable? Paul says, All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful.
Let me pause for a moment and correct some potential misunderstandings. In context, he is only talking about the all things being debated by the legalists in that church, not all things absolutely. He is not saying that stealing, adultery, murder, etc are lawful activities. That would be ludicrous, because he proceeds to condemn those as things as unlawful and sinful. He is saying that all of the things that the legalists were debating in that church were lawful. It was lawful to get married (even though the legalists questioned it). It was lawful to drink, to eat meat, to eat things prepared by pagans. So let me read that again:
All things are lawful for me but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any…. All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23)
You may be doing something that in and of itself is lawful, but because it has mastered you, in your case, you may need to give it up for a time. Perhaps you watch too much TV and may need to throw the TV out for a season. TV's are lawful, but we should not be controlled by them. Caffeine is lawful, but if you have become addicted to it, you need to cut back -- and you may need to cut it out altogether until you learn the Biblical principles of self-control. Or perhaps, on a given day, reading the newspaper is lawful, but given my heavy schedule on one day, it is not helpful. In fact, it will stress out my day if I take the time to do so. Hopefully, that makes sense. It's not enough that the Bible permits it. We need to also ask if in this given circumstance it will be helpful and edify or should I wait?
- Am I controlled by it? All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any (1Cor. 6:12).
Am I being controlled by it?
- Could this lead someone else to stumble? Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way (Rom. 14:13). But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble (1 Cor. 8:9-12).
Am I causing someone else to stumble? Now point 19 has been so abused by the evangelical community that it needs a bit of explaining. When Paul says, beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak, he was not indicating that the weak should rule or dictate their weakness upon the church. Causing someone to stumble does not mean disagreeing with them or doing what they are not willing to do. It means being the cause of them violating their weak conscience and having them do what they believe they should not do. Paul wanted the weak person's conscience instructed from Scripture and weaned from its weak nature, but he didn't want their conscience violated. And so Paul instructed the weak Christians who couldn't eat meat, drink alcohol, eat things offered to idols, etc. that they were unbiblical and needed to become strong. But until that happened, Paul wanted the church to be gentle and not to force them to change faster than their conscience allowed. The best explanation I have read on these passages is in Meador's book. But, point 19 is still important in decision making: will exercising my liberty cause someone else to stumble into sin?
- Does it edify others or show them love? All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being (1 Cor. 10:23-24). Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another (Rom. 14:19).
Point 20 asks, "Does it edify others or show them love?" 1 Corinthians 10 goes on to say, Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being. That of course does not mean that the other person will interpret your actions as loving. It may be in the other person's best interests for you to rebuke them, and that rebuke is loving even if they don't like it. It may be in the other's best interest if you do exercise your liberty so that they grow. We need to beware of the tyranny of the weaker brother. But at the same time, we need to avoid needlessly antagonizing. Some people seem to delight in flaunting their liberty and antagonizing others. Is our liberty edifying others? Does it show love?
- Does this glorify God? Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).
Point 21: does it glorify God? Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Not "glorify you," but "glorify your Father." This means that all we do should be self-consciously done as a Christian under God. It doesn't glorify God if we are doing it independently, or if we hide our light under a bushel or if we are ashamed of our Christianity in the public sphere.
- Is this an area of weakness that if answered could make me stumble? If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell (Matt. 5:29-30). If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. "And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire (Matt. 18:8). Two things I request of You (deprive me not before I die): remove falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches — feed me with the food allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, "Who is the LORD?" or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God. (Prov. 30:7-9)
Point 22 asks, "Is this an area of weakness that if answered could make me stumble? Jesus made it clear that even a good thing like an eye or a hand, if it makes you stumble, needs to be cut off and cast away. I went to seminary with a guy who used to be an avid sailor. But the sail boat violated both this point and Point 23. It was an idol. He spent hours every day either polishing it, admiring it or sailing it. And this was taking away his time for dominion. Anything that becomes an idol should be ruthlessly cut off. Anything that hinders our dominion should be avoided. Anything that might make me stumble should be cut off. The Proverbs passage indicates that either poverty or riches could be a stumbling block. So you need to know your own weaknesses.
- Will this slow you down in your race or weigh you down from being able to effectively serve the Lord? Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:1-2). This needs to be balanced with the realization that God frequently interrupts "important" ministry with other unknown needs (Luke 8:40-56).
Point 23 says, "Will this slow you down in your race or weigh you down from being able to effectively serve the Lord?" Hebrews 12:1 says, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, You only have so many hours in a day, and given my interests, I could be occupied for 60 hours a day. Well, obviously I don't have 60 hours, so I need to evaluate which things are highest priorities and which things will slow me down.
But in that point I give a balance. Many times what we interpret as the race we are running are our own agendas, and we need to be willing for God to bluepencil those in and change them as we are made aware of new needs. A pastor at Presbytery told me this past week of someone in Lincoln who was going to a funeral (I think it was) and felt this strong urge to stop in at a floral shop to get some flowers. He was in a hurry, and so ignored the urge. But the further down the road he went, the more intense the urge became, until he turned around and went into the shop. As he entered, the florist was about to pull the trigger on a pistol he was holding to his head in order to commit suicide. He talked with the person, helped him work through his issues and led him to Christ. It was sensitivity to the Lord's opening of another ministry opportunity that he would otherwise have missed because of His busyness. In the Luke 8 passage, Christ was headed to heal Jairus' daughter, and the woman with the flow of blood touched his garment and was healed. And Christ stopped the procession to minister to this person even though it was not planned from a human perspective. So I put that caution in there so that we in our drivenness don't interpret it selfishly and get irritated with divine opportunities that the Lord places in our laps. Divine opportunities are not always convenient. They sure weren't convenient in Christ's life. He tried to take them on vacation, and God interrupted His plans. But He took it all in stride.
- Will this become a "thorn" which will choke our your spiritual life by adding anxious cares, desires for riches, or desires for personal pleasures? And the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful (Mark 4:19). Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity (Luke 8:14).
Related to this is Point 24: Will this become a thorn that chokes out your spiritual life by adding anxious cares, desires for riches or desires for personal pleasures. Christ is not against riches, but He said that riches can choke our spiritual life. So in Mark 4:19 He said, And the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. That's a very real possibility in our lives and we need to guard against it. Sometimes Christians have too much stuff and trying to manage it chokes out our ability to disciple our kids, to engage in ministry burdens that God has placed upon us. If that happens, we may need to declutter. Luke 8:14 is similar when it says, "Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity." Just because it is a lawful activity does not automatically settle the question. Ask yourself, "Will this become a thorn?"
- Have you sought counsel from at least two other people who can be objective? (Prov 15:22; 24:6)
Point 25: Have you sought counsel from at least two other people that you trust who can be objective? [Chart C]. Obviously, if you know the answer you don't need to seek counsel. But when you have doubts, it is useful. And even when we think we know the answer, our hearts are so deceitful, that it is easy to fool ourselves on this issue of guidance. You can see from this chart that there is nothing magical about getting advice from others. They are limited to the same Biblical data, providential data and subjective guidance. But it is useful to get feedback and input from others that you trust. Since any human can be mistaken in his interpretation of all three forms of guidance, other counselors can help us to see blind spots that we have missed, angles on the issue we maybe didn't notice, etc. Proverbs 15:22 says, without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom.
- Are you willing to wait until God's Word, your subjective leading and your circumstances line up? For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise(Heb. 10:36). Saul's sacrifice (1 Sam. 13).
Here's another one: Are you willing to wait until God's Word, your subjective leading or your circumstances line up? Saul's whole kingship was tested with an integrity check of whether he would be willing to wait. Contrast Saul and David. David had clear leading from Scripture and from the internal witness of the Spirit that he was to be king. But he waited patiently for several years until God's providence enabled it. We too frequently begin to doubt when providence seems to be lining up against us. But the providence may simply mean "Wait."
Let me give you a personal example. I was confident back in 1981 that God was going to have me plant a church, but He clearly led me to come to Omaha to a church that was already planted. I told the church I was only willing to commit to coming for two years, because I thought I was going to do church planting. There were many, many times during the next 12 years that I wanted to leave and church plant, but God gave me a strong check. Then one Sunday afternoon, in a flash God gave me faith and assurance not only that I was to resign that week, but that I would receive approval, would plant a church, would buy a house on this side of town and would have five years before I would transition into the next stage of the church and part time ministry outside the church. But all of that has taken patience. I had no idea why God made me wait for 12 years at the previous church, but I didn't doubt His timing or His leading. God doesn't always move in the timing in a way that we would like to see. But if God has given you faith, it takes you through such waits.
Let me give you another example. I was talking with an individual who asked if it was OK for an engaged couple to kiss, because, after all, they were almost as good as married. Biblically and subjectively they believe that they are called to each other. Biblically, an engagement could only be broken with a divorce, so what would be so wrong with kissing before marriage. A yes or no answer could get me into trouble, couldn't it? So I didn't give a yes or no answer. I can imagine theoretical kissing that would be a greeting called a holy kiss in the Bible. But I asked if the kissing would act as foreplay? Would it arouse passions that you are not allowed to biblically meet? To arouse expectations and not deliver is a form of defrauding. But if we can't deliver, we shouldn't be engaging in the foreplay, should we? We need to have patience until providence has enabled marriage to take place. So there are lots of different applications of this principle. You may feel led, but until providence enables what the Bible says needs to providentially be in place, you should wait.
- Do you have an inner peace and faith that this is God's way? But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin (Rom. 14:23). And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7).
Point 27: Meadors makes fun of some of these subjective leadings of God, but they are real, and as we saw last week, they are biblical. The 27th question is: "Do you have an inner peace and faith that this is God's way?" Contrary to what Meadors says, there is an incredible subjective peace that God gives as part of guidance. When God gives that, we just don't worry about it any more. Peter says that it can be a peace that surpasses understanding.
But there are other aspects to this peace guidance. Romans 14:23 gives one: But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin. Here is a person whose conscience is troubled — he lacks peace. He shouldn't be troubled, but he is. Paul says, "Don't eat." Once you educate that conscience that it is OK to eat meat, you will gain that peace. (And I have a whole series on how to train your conscience.)
So the question is: do you have peace and faith? It's not a sure test, because some people are so driven by the fear of their flesh that they are in constant turmoil. But the more mature we are, the more this peace takes us through the toughest areas of turmoil. It's been an incredible gift and blessing in my life — a calm in the midst of the storm. And I have to admit that it offends me when people like Meadors rob God's people of these subjective blessings. Philippians 4:7 indicates that as we pray rightly, think rightly and act rightly, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Praise be to God!
- Act in faith. Action on what you know you should do is imperative. Many times God gives further guidance to those who are in the process of acting. Abraham's servant received guidance as he ventured out in what he already knew (Gen. 24:27). If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority (John 7:17).
Point 28 deals with action. Action on what we already know to be true is imperative if God is going to give more guidance and wisdom. You can't steer a ship that is still. It is steered as it moves. John 7:17 says, "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. The guidance or illumination comes only to those who are willing to act. But it's not just in the moral sphere. It's in the wisdom sphere as well. God gives more wisdom only as it is needed for the next stage of action. He doesn't give us wisdom of what to do for the next twenty years. And He usually doesn't give us wisdom in the armchair when we are not already in action. In Genesis 24:27 we see Abraham's servant looking for a bride for Isaac. It's a cool story, but the point I make in the outline is that he only received guidance as he ventured out into what he already knew. Why am I looking for property before we even have the money yet? Because God often opens up the next steps of what we will be able do as we begin to act with what we are already able to do. Don't expect guidance if you are not a person of action. God expects action.
- Freedom to choose. "The answer is 'Yes' before you ask." (Gen. 2:16-17; Deut. 14:26) Read 165-167 of Decision Making and the Will of God.
Where there is no law, neither is there violation. (Rom. 4:15)
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. (Gen. 2:16-17)
And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. (Deut. 14:26)
But let me end by emphasizing that you don't have to ask guidance for every little detail of life. As Meadors points out, a sign of maturity is the ability to make your own decisions within boundaries that the Word has set. Obviously, in most areas of life we can do whatever we want to do. For example, when Adam brought home some apples for supper, it would have been ludicrous for Eve to ask God for guidance on whether to eat those apples raw, or whether to bake them in a pie, eat apple fritters or have apple dumplings. God had said, From any tree of the garden you may eat freely... That word freely meant that Adam and Eve had to make their own decisions, and not be overly dependent in decision making. He wanted them to mature.
Romans 4:15 says, where there is no law, neither is there violation. If the Bible hasn't addressed it, we can usually do what we want. Deuteronomy 14:26 says, "And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. After such a wide-open invitation, it would be insulting to the divine plan to ask God to make the decision on what to eat. God said, "Whatever your heart desires." And you say, "No Lord, please give me guidance." And the Bible says, "Whatever your heart desires. That is my guidance." We need to take our liberties seriously.
There are obviously times when God providential grants us options, just like He verbally gave David three options. There are other times when we are shut in to one option, whether we like it or not. Still other times there are so many things being thrown at us that we need wisdom in knowing what to say "No" to. Ordinarily Meadors is right: that if both Bible and providence leave options, it is up to you. But there are times when God sovereignly places upon us burdens and leadings that give us faith to follow one. We can delight in that without feeling at all jipped when God lets us make the decision. That's a part of God's good gift of liberty and is essential to maturity.
- Other choices God lets us make (2 Sam. 24:12)
Go and tell David, "Thus says the LORD: 'I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.'" (2 Sam. 24:12)
I've given you a lot to chew on. Hopefully it's all corn and not too many rocks. But rejoice in the future rather than dreading the future knowing that we serve a God who delights in leading His children. Romans 8:14 says, as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. As sons and daughters, this is your heritage. As Charles Hodge said:
The children of God are led by the Spirit of God... They... are led by an ever-present Father of infinite wisdom and love. This guidance is partly providential, ordering their external circumstances; partly through the Word, which is a lamp to their feet; and partly by the inward influence of the Spirit on the mind.2
May you enter more and more into the joy of knowing you are led by your loving Heavenly Father. Amen.