The reason why I’ve placed the Bible at the very top of the guidance hit-list is simply because it isn’t just one option among many when it comes to seeking God’s will for our lives. No, this is the BIG one. If in the process of seeking God’s guidance you receive nothing from His Word then I would argue that you are on VERY dangerous ground because the Scriptures still are (as they always have been and always will be) God’s primary means of speaking to His saints. Whether through your own personal devotions, as part of a group Bible study or as you sit under the public teaching of the Word, you can be sure that God is speaking.
The question is are you listening?
So often we don’t hear what God is saying because we are listening for something specific or looking for God to rubber-stamp what we already think, rather than allowing Him the space to say what He wants. A classic example of this would be in the area of relationships. Some girl catches a young man’s eye and he immediately turns to the Word desperately hunting down a Scripture that confirms that she’s to be his wife. That scripture never comes because all the while God was saying either “I’ve got someone better for you down the line” or even “I’m going to bless you with a life of singleness because that’s going to be best for you.” The problem wasn’t that God was silent, it was that you were approaching the Scriptures with an agenda!
A few things to bear in mind when it comes to hearing God’s voice through His Word would be as follows:
1. The Bible is living, active, sharp and precise. (Hebrews 4v12)
Anyone who thinks the Bible is antiquated or irrelevant has never truly come to terms with it. Even now in our 21st Century world – the Bible continues to speak, bless, inspire, encourage and guide men and women all over the world (including me) in extraordinarily profound ways. If we believe that God is alive and that His Word is also alive then surely we can trust that He can and will speak into our own lives and situations.
2. If you hear His voice – be ready to respond obediently
God’s Word carries a weight and an authority that demands a response. If we approach our Bible’s as mere “life coaching” or “good practice handbooks” then we are clearly not hearing the authoritative voice of the God of the Universe, because when you hear Him speak – you know that action must follow. Moses helpfully lays out for us what responding to God’s Word should look like:
“You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.” (Deuteronomy 13v4)
When seeking God’s guiding voice into your own life, be prepared for the fact that He might (in my experience He often does!) tell you to do something or go somewhere that is completely undesirable to you!! Are you ready to obey at all costs? Maybe you’re not hearing God’s voice because you know what He’s going to say and it demands more from you than you’re willing to give! If that’s the case, don’t bother waiting for His Plan B – there isn’t one. It’s obedience or bust!
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1v22)
3. The Bible speaks into the here and now AND the there and then
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119v105)
God’s Word has something to say to you where you’re standing right now! God isn’t only concerned about mapping out your future and giving you the BIG picture, He’s also intimately concerned with all that you’re involved in today and wants to lead and guide you in your friendships, vocations, financial dealings and personal struggles. However, Scripture also has plenty to say about where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Praise God that there IS a big picture for all of us! God has got a perfect plan (Jeremiah 29v11) and He is more committed than we are to see those plans fulfilled! Therefore the important thing is to make sure that you’re in the right place spiritually to both listen AND obey what God is saying to you today, and also to trust that He will say all that needs to be said to you in the right way and at the perfect time. That requires great faith and patience.
4. The God who wrote the Bible (2Timothy 3v16) is the same God who explains it to us today (John 16v13)
Only those who repent and trust Christ for salvation can receive the Holy Spirit and enjoy the power and grace of His work in their lives – this includes helping us to discern his voice and understand His Word. Therefore, those who haven’t trusted Jesus and who haven’t received His Spirit will never know the joy of knowing God’s guidance through His Word. The problem’s not that the Bible is dead, it’s that they are dead (spiritually – Ephesians 2v1) and they need a heart transplant for God’s Word to ‘work’ for them:
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.“ (Ezekiel 36v26-27)
Similarly, if a Christian is in deliberate sin and refusing to repent, this too will affect the work of the Spirit in their life because the Spirit is Holy and constantly waging war against sin. So if you’re a Christian and you haven’t known God’s presence, voice, comfort or guidance through Scripture recently – it may be time for a spiritual MOT!!
My advice to any Christian who is seeking God’s help for guidance and direction is this: Wait. Be patient. Be holy. And if He hasn’t spoken to you through His Word yet then don’t take ONE STEP until He has!
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.”