When The Problem You Face Isn't That of Your Own Making (but you still need to know what to do)
Sunday, January 7, 2007 -
WHEN THE PROBLEM YOU FACE ISN’T OF YOUR OWN MAKING (but you still need to know what to do) - John 10:1-16
At the beginning of this series we studied the different sources of problems. In the first teachings we focused on problems that are the result of our own sinful choices. Then we studied problems that come from external circumstances beyond our control. Even in these situations we are accountable for our internal responses to these external circumstances. Things like worry, fear and anger are not Scripturally justified, and will make matters worse. Today we’re going to look at another source of trouble - confusion. There are problems caused by my simply not knowing what to do next. What can I do when I really, really, really need to know God’s will?
1) IT IS THE NATURE OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS THAT HE FUNCTIONS AS A SHEPHERD/GUIDE IN THE DAILY STEPS OF OUR LIVES
John 10:3,4,16,27 - “To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.... And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.... My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
Apart from the theological arguments surrounding this text (and they abound) there is a precious, simple truth. Four times Jesus repeats the idea that He considers it His primary job to give direction personally to His sheep. Don’t let anyone steal this precious truth from your hands. Don’t let anyone else (prophet, vision, dream, leader) be Jesus to you. He wants to guide and protect your life Himself.
2) THE FOUNTAIN HEAD AND MEASURING STICK FOR ALL DIVINE GUIDANCE IS THE BIBLE - GOD’S WORD
Psalm 119:105 - “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
The heart must be willing to apply truth before God’s will becomes specific and clear. He doesn’t speak to speculators. The specific purpose of the Word is spelled out in very clear terms in this verse. It is designed to give direction and aid in avoiding obstacles. That’s what light on a pathway is for.
There are areas specifically mentioned in the Bible. Other areas (such as we studied in this series) are covered by general principles. Either way, it is arrogant and foolish to seek guidance on matters where God has already taken the time to communicate His will.
All other forms of guidance must be tested and measured by the Scriptures:
1 Corinthians 14:29 - “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.”
1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 - “Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise prophecies,  but test everything; hold fast what is good.”(Notice the Spirit is quenched when prophecy isn’t judged)
1 John 4:1 - “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
All of these verses raise the question - How were different revelations to be judged? By what standard? All were to be judged by the apostles' doctrine. Nothing contrary to it was to be accepted. The early church put great emphasis on this Acts 2:41-42 - “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.  And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
3) GOD GIVES GUIDANCE THROUGH OUR OWN THOUGHTS
Proverbs 20:27 - “The spirit (small “s”) of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.”
Solomon says, under the right conditions, God will use my own thoughts to put His guidance into areas of my life where I might, under other conditions, make huge mistakes. But this beautiful promise comes with a catch. David comments on this very issue:
Psalm 19:12-14 - “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.  Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
My mind becomes a clearer channel for knowing God’s will in hazy areas of my circumstances as I demonstrate unquestioning willingness to obey Him instantly in areas that are perfectly clear. This is one of the most important principles in receiving divine guidance.
4) MY KNOWLEDGE OF GOD’S WILL FOR SPECIFIC DECISIONS IS DIRECTLY DEPENDANT UPON MY MEDITATION ON HIS GENERAL WILL FOR ALL OF MY LIFE
John 10:5 - “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."
Jesus says His sheep won’t follow a stranger. Why won’t they? Because they don’t know (recognize) the stranger’s voice. Why don’t they know a stranger’s voice? Because they spend so much time listening to the Shepherd, they have never gotten used to listening to a stranger. This is a very important condition for walking in the will of the Shepherd. Never open your heart to strangers.
John 10:27 - “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
Be careful with this short verse. Sheep are not identified as those who merely hear the Shepherd’s voice. Jesus identified His sheep as those who follow Him. This is what defines His sheep. If I’m not following Jesus where His guidance is clear, I will never find guidance in areas that are fuzzy.
Examples of this principle abound. A student is praying about which university to attend. He really wants God’s guidance, but can’t seem to find His will. Is God not interested in guiding this student’s life? Yes, He is. In fact, He already has. The student has already been told it is against God’s will for him to be dating that unsaved girl. The Lord has already given clear direction about his unchaste behavior on dates - or the bad attitude he has toward his parents when they try to correct him. But this student isn’t interested in God at all. He isn’t interested in the Shepherd. He simply wants to find a good university. So do atheists.
More on this next week.