Friday, May 27, 2016

Who Leads You?

Who leads you? Ever thought about that? Is it your boss or your spouse? Good questions. The answer should be the Lord God, maker of heaven and earth. The Bible has many verses speaking to this important question in your life and mine.

The Psalms tell us who should lead. “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2). This picture is on the cover of my book, Great is God’s Faithfulness. It gives me a sense of God’s unmovable strength.  Psalm 139 is a Psalm revealing how God knew us and every one of our thoughts before we were born. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (v.14).  Later in the Psalm David asks God to, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (vv.23-24). This is a prayerful request of God that must be offered in total trust that God will lead us on the right path, the one that leads to heaven. I know that I have many thoughts that are anxious, and many that are not good either.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (v. 10). Now this is a prayer request I should make every day that God would teach me and lead me on level ground. I will have to say that an EKG printout could have represented much of my life, radically moving up and down. Oh yes, there might have been a pattern but not always very good. Thanks be to God that today the graph is smoother, but not yet level. In fact I think that in life there are many things that are not level. But God is saying that He wants our response to be level.

Perhaps Psalm 23 is one of the best to dwell on. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul. He guides me along paths of righteousness for His name's sake” (Psalm 23:1-3). This Psalm tells us that we often go our own way, and God forces us to lie down. He has to lead us because we will be led by wrong thoughts or people otherwise. I love that He restores, revives, and refreshes our souls. We need to rest and in Him alone as Psalm 62 reminds us. Then after we have our compass more level, he will guide us along paths of righteousness or holiness for His name's sake. These are the paths that conform to God’s moral will. What better place to be?

Proverbs 19:23 tells us, “The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” The fear or awesome respect of the Lord in whose hands are life and death is a good thing. “The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid”(Psalm 27:1).  Yes He is the light of life and he wants that for us if we follow His lead.

He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads them that have young” (Isaiah 40:11).  What a picture of God as Shepherd. He is a gentle leader if we follow His lead as His sheep. Notice that He carries us close to His heart.  That is where we are safe and find guidance for help in times of trouble.

Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13). This is the Master’s teaching on life. Find the narrow gate. It is open to all who will find it. It leads to life, life eternal. Later in Jesus' teaching He says, “If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:13). Be led by the Lord, not people. You do have people in authority over you, but let the Lord be your guide in all things.

The Gospel of John continues the theme of the Shepherd guide. “The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3). He speaks of thieves and robbers who climb over the fence. We want to follow instead the Shepherd as we hear His voice calling and leading. “But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him” (2 Corinthians 2:14). Our guide and leader brings us out and through life victoriously, so let us spread the “Good News” of the Gospel of truth and life in Him.

Perhaps you are thinking, I’ve got this. I know what I’m doing, that’s why I’m in charge. Good luck, and that’s what it will be if you make it out alive. Remember the Israelites who wandered? They never would have made it to the Promised Land if God had not led them. “I brought you up out of Egypt, and I led you forty years in the desert” (Amos 2:10). Why 40 years in the wilderness? Because they wanted to go their own way. It was only a few days journey, but their stiff-necked attitude made it a long journey during which an entire generation died of selfishness.

Paul, in Romans 8:14 reminds us not to be led by our own knowledge, but by the Spirit, “because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry Abba, Father” (Romans 8:14).  It is the Spirit of God alongside and inside us that leads us through His word and prayer, other godly people, and circumstances in His will. Be led by the Holy Spirit alone. 

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