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How Does God Guide Us? (week 7, Back to Basics series)

The video for this session can be watched at the bottom of this page.

Our topic is God guiding us, and it is a really big topic. I’ve written quite a lot this week, and even that just scratches the surface. Being guided by God is a lifelong journey of discovery, faith, risk and determination. But it is totally worth it.

I grew up with a song I really liked, and I’m pretty sure most of you older than me would know this song as well. It’s not long, so I reckon we sing it for those who don’t know it. [Royal Telephone]

I was sick with a rotten head cold, home from work, and in a rotten mood. I’d been trying intensively for 9 months to design the house we would build on our property, but there was a raft of compulsory requirements. Day after day I had drawn sketches to try and capture the solution, but never even got close. That day I was sick, and I was sick of wasting my time on drawings.

So I prayed the grumpiest prayer I ever have prayed – “God, if you want us to build this house, you’re going to have to draw it yourself!” “Okay,” said an unexpected voice inside my head, “let’s go do it.”

Now God had spoken to me before, but not often. I wasn’t going to ignore this if it was God, but I also wasn’t happy. “Sure, let’s do that!” I didn’t think for one moment that this was going to work, but I went along, more or less as a temper tantrum.

I sat at the kitchen table with paper, ruler and pencil and said “What?”

“What” turned out to be a sequence of instructions that took me down one side of the house, naming the rooms and precise dimensions, and then down the other until the house was complete. One of the requirements was the dimensions of the last room, which was precisely correct.

This has been my most extraordinary experience of God speaking to me, though I have to say it was an amazing act of God’s grace because I was utterly ungracious at the time. But we built that house and lived in it about 12 years before moving to Proserpine just over 12 years ago.

God wants to communicate with us. Sometimes it’s about weighty matters of life and death, and other times it is about daily life. But there are many ways that God tries to guide us, and I’ve written about the most common ways in material you can ready at home. We simply don’t have the time here.

Instead I’m going to address the question of why God wants to communicate with us, to guide us in our lives.

As always, there are multiple answers to that question, even from our limited perspective.

1. God loves us. Now don’t get sentimental about this. This love, as I’ve mentioned before, is “agape” love (from the Greek original of the New Testament), which is specifically God’s kind of love. It is the kind of love that saw Jesus die on the cross to deliver us from the power of sin; it is sacrificial and deeper and more powerful than we have words to describe. God has literally changed heaven and earth because of this love, so it should come as no surprise that God’s love means God wants to be involved with us. I have experienced something of this agape love from God, and I tell you it is quite something to be involved in.

2. God wants to change the world (part 1). This is the throw-back to last week – God’s primary way of changing the world is by bringing people, one by one, into his family through Jesus. Then comes that wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit, who wants to heal you from all the damaging junk you’ve collected on your way through life. It is sometimes said that God loves you too much to leave you as you are, and that is 100% true. But to bring the healing and change, God is going to have to guide us along the way. So “change the world part 1” is to change it person by person – to change you and me.

3. God wants to change the world (part 2). This is to say that there are things in the world that need changing, and God calls followers of Jesus into particular tasks (or ministries) in the world on his behalf. There are countless injustices that need fixing, needs that need meeting. There are countless people who don’t know about life in Jesus. A decent list would take all morning, but God calls his people into tasks to change the world for the better. That can’t happen without God guiding us into it, or as we pursue it.

I am a minister in the Uniting Church because God called me into it. I was 100% sure of that because of how that call happened, and I am 100% sure of it now that I’m pursuing it. That makes me a lucky guy, because not everyone gets to be that confident.

What will God guide you into? I have no idea! I know God won’t guide you into stuff that God says is bad for you or the world. But what God will guide you into is for you to discover.

It is critical to say this: some “big” visible history changing mission is only great is God really has called you into it. Some “small” inconspicuous mission is equally great if that is what God calls you to.

The grand outcome is not to look impressive. The grand outcome is to be where God calls you. It is one of the greatest acts of faith in your life to accept what God assigns you in life.

I hate being the centre of attention; I hate being in the spotlight. It has taken me years to come to terms with what God is requiring of me in this role, and here I am. Some people struggle with how visible God makes them. Others struggle with how invisible God makes them. But that journey is for each one of us.

The reality is, though, that God wants to be involved with us; God does want to help us in every way. Let’s check the list:

  • God has delivered us from the power of sin through Jesus’ death on the cross;
  • He has forgiven us, and if we turn towards him, we are welcomed into God’s Kingdom (family);
  • God has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit, as soon as we said ‘yes’ to Jesus.
  • Throughout the remainder of our lives, God wants to provide guidance to us so we can fulfil his eternal purpose through our lives.
  • In summary, God has not only gotten involved, but has done and is doing everything possible to make our lives the best they can possibly be. But it requires us to engage if it is to be successful.

Again, we are talking about stuff we must do, if we are to see what God is trying to do in us and around us. I continue to encourage you to bring you dark things to God – things done to you, or things you have done – that you might be set free from them. And listen in these many ways for how God is trying to guide you.

Video of week 7 of Back to Basics – How Does God Guide Us? – runs 26:46.

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