"Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Pr 29:18 KJV). A synonym for "vision" is to have a revelation of the direction you are going. If it is the wrong direction you may get out of control. The Greek word "perish" means to cast off restraint. When you restrain yourself you hold back from doing the wrong thing and keep yourself under control. But if you make only arbitrary choices you go your own way. "In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes" (Jdg 17:6). In Micah's case he had a "graven image" (:4) and "household idols" ("5). By neglecting responsibility you don't discipline yourself to do the correct thing. You have to focus on the vision or goal. You need a roadmap for your future.
"Would that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would discern their future!" (Dt 32:29). Perhaps you have a map but haven't looked at it. Furthermore, God says "I know the plans that I have for you . . . plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope" (Jer 29:11). If you follow God's revelation there is a guaranty. "'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all my good pleasure'" (Isa 46:10). "The counsel of the Lord, it will stand" (Pr 19:21). Your "descendants will inherit the land" (Ps 25:13). If you trust in these promises it will happen.
How do you discover the vision? "'The God of our fathers has appointed you to know his will'" (Ac 22:14). How do you discern God's will? "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God" (Jas 1:5). God gives wisdom "to all men generously and without reproach" (:5). Ask God "that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will" (Col 1:9). Then you will be able to "stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God" (Col 4:12). "Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Eph 5:17). It is your privilege since "'My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work'" (Jn 4:34). It is "'the work to which I have called them'" (Ac 13:2). There are "good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" (Eph 2:10).
Understanding comes with knowledge. "I will instruct you and teach you" (Ps 32:8). Counseling is intimate. "With Your counsel You will guide me" (Ps 73:24). Directions can come spontaneously, or instructions and teaching can be received over time. The Bible is the main resource because "Your testimonies also are my delight; they are my counselors." (Ps 119:24). "From Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (:104-105). "The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple" (:130).
There's no reason to waste your time for you want to be "making the most of your time, because the days are evil" (Eph 5:16). Since God gives you "the desires of your heart" (Ps 37:4) then is it okay to just do what we feel like doing? "The mind of man plans his way" (Pr 16:9) but "many plans are in a man's heart" (Pr 19:21). There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Pr 16:25). However, there is a "way you should go" (Isa 48:17) because only God can "instruct him in the way he should chose" (Ps 25:12). It is personal. It is the "way which you should go" (Ps 32:8).
God had a job for Gideon and He would provide the power to get it done (Jdg 6:34). Since both were involved it was "'for the Lord and for Gideon'" (7:18). By obedience we take up our cross (Mt 16:24) acknowledging that it is by grace and follow (:24) indicating that practical endeavors in life must spiritually work themselves out. We are to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Php 2:12). The Greek word for salvation is the same one Paul uses in Philippeans 1:19 for being saved (delivered) from prison. This is the practical side of working it out. "I will show you my faith by my works" (Jas 2:18). But we are saved "not as a result of works" (Eph 2:9). How do we keep from doing it our own way? We "walk by faith" (2Co 5:7). Then God "leads you" (Isa 48:17) and "directs his steps" (Pr 16:9). "It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Php 2:13). But we aren't robots. However, we must pay attention because in the Tribulation they "follow the Lamb wherever He goes" (Rev 14:4). Therefore, exercise your faith through your actions because God enables you to properly carry it out.
How do we implement these plans? You must "be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is" (Ro 12:2). It is through "spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Col 1:9). It is with a renewed mind (Eph 4:23) that it is discerned. "The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the innermost parts" (Pr 20:27) which lights up the things to see. The "Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God" (Ro 8:16). "The anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and . . . His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and . . . you abide in Him." (1Jo 2:27). "Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night" (Ps 16:7).
His "'sheep follow him because they know his voice'" (Jn 10:4). Hearing implies that you stay close. This means close by because "You have taken hold of my right hand" (Ps 73:23). "I will counsel you with My eye upon you" (Ps 32:8). "The Lord knows the way of the righteous" (Ps 1:6). You begin to spiritually see because "your eyes will behold your Teacher" (Isa 30:20). "Your ears will hear a word behind you, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right or to the left" (:21). The result is peace of mind. It is the "peace of God, which . . . will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Php 4:6). It happens because of letting "the peace of Christ rule in your hearts" (Col 3:15).
Start moving in a logical direction because you can't steer a ship unless it's underway. Don't presume that you know everything that God wants to do "for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa 55:9). God realizes "who is blind but My servant?" (42:19). However he says "I will lead the blind by a way they do not know" (42:16). Therefore "do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight" (Pr 3:5-6). "Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established" (Pr 16:3). The results are positive since he "teaches you to profit" (Isa 48:17). You will "abide in prosperity" (Ps 25:13).
It is God's purpose to build you up and protect you. "He restores my soul; He guides me" (Ps 23:3). "Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." (:4). A shepherd leads and protects his flock with these implements. "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies" (:4). "You are my rock and my fortress . . . [and] will lead me and guide me." (Ps 31:3). "The Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places" (Isa 58:11). "He leads me beside quiet waters" (Ps 23:2). Therefore "cease striving and know that I am God" (Ps 46:10).
To lead or guide means to direct someone by a certain route to a destination and be involved on the way. "Plans" (Pr 16:3), "purpose" (Isa 46:10), and "the steps of a man are established by the Lord; and He delights in his way" (Ps 37:23). "He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake" (Ps 23:3). A path is a trail and doesn't zig-zag all over the place. "He will make your paths straight" (Pr 3:6). God will "make darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains" (Isa 42:16).
Walking with God depends on relationship. Enoch was taken because he "walked with God" (Ge 5:24). "We are his workmanship . . for good works . . . that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:10). Walking is step by step. Since "the Lord will continually guide you" (Isa 58:11) that explains how steps can be established. It works because "I am continually with You" (Ps 73:23). To be able to hear effectively we have to improve our hearing by "practice" (Heb 5:14) having our "senses trained" (:14). You've heard the saying "use it or lose it." Through practice you protect against becoming "dull of hearing" (:11). "The complacency of fools shall destroy them. But he who listens to me shall live securely" (Pr 1:32-33).
Abraham is a prime example of how God can guide you. "The Lord said to Abram: 'Go forth from your country . . . to the land which I will show you'" (Ge 12:1). Abraham was attentive in that "he who has an ear, let him hear" (Rev 2:7). He also concurred with "prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers" (Jas 1:22). Abraham "with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God" (Ro 4:20). God promised "'I will make you a great nation; and I will bless you'" (Ge 12:2). It would work out over the years. Abraham was "fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform" (Ro 4:21). "So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him" (Gen 12:4). You can only act on what God has spoken to you. Any other basis is presumption.
How can you be sure it's God speaking? There are "many kinds of languages in the world" (1Co 14:10). "Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God" (1Jn 4:1). Fortunately we have "the Spirit of truth" (Jn 14:17) in us. With the Holy Spirit there is no guesswork. "You will know the truth'" (Jn 8:32) convincingly. Communication that comes abruptly and disturbs is not from God. Instructions demanding to do something quickly before it's too late are not God's. "God is not a God of confusion" (1Co 14:33).
Because the Spirit is in you, guidance speaks as "deep calls unto deep" (Ps 42:7). A higher plateau of interaction exists because God says "'I will make all My mountains a road, and My highways will be raised up'" (Isa 49:11). You become aware of what to expect ahead of time. Reminders may come regularly as inner assurances or observable confirmations. Long-term conviction will persist and it may grow as evidence of anticipated fulfillment. With Abraham "the Lord appeared to Abram" (Ge 12:7), "the Lord said to Abram" (13:14), Melchizedek "blessed him" (14:19), "the Lord came to Abram in a vision" (15:1) and "the word of the Lord came to him" (:4). It must transpire "according to that which had been spoken" (Ro 4:18). It is for today because "it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham" (Gal 3:7) and "blessed with Abraham" (:9).
"All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Gal 3:27). You have "laid aside the old self" (Col 3:9) and have "put on the new self" (:10). This is only possible with the help of the Holy Spirit. "The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace" (Ro 8:6). It is activated by those who "set their minds on . . . the things of the Spirit" (:5). You then serve in the "newness of the Spirit" (7:6). The result is "the fruit of the Spirit" (Gal 5:22).
"You are saved, if you hold fast" (1Co 15:2) to "the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand" (:1). Initially it is with that "same spirit of faith . . . we also believe" (2Co 4:13). "God was causing the growth" (1Co 3:6). It demonstrates that "your faith would not rest in the wisdom of men, but on the power of God" (1Co 2:5). Then we are to "stand firm in the faith" (1Co 16:13). In a human way you get tired when you stand or hold on to something for a long time. But God handles that too. It is "He who establishes us" (2Co 1:21). "In your faith you are standing firm." (:24). Therefore it is God giving you the faith to stand.
You then become aware that you "walk by faith, not by sight" (2Co 5:7). It's possible to "take pride in appearance, and not in heart" (:12). But you live by what is in your heart. This is no surprise because God "gave us the Spirit in our hearts" (2Co 1:22). Then "your faith grows" (2Co 10:15). You can depend on God's help because he "is faithful, through whom you were called" (1Co 1:9). There will be challenging moments but "God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able" (1Co 10:13). Monitor your standing and "test yourselves to see if you are in the faith" (2Co 13:5).
"We exult in hope of the glory of God" (Ro 5:2). To rejoice is to celebrate something rewarding, and God's glory would certainly qualify. But since it is a hope it is unseen because "hope that is seen is not hope" (Ro 8:24). "Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off" (Pr 23:18). Central to this hope is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27). This is the "hope that is in you" (1Pe 3:15) because it is the "hope of salvation" (1Th 5:8). Through rejoicing you proclaim "the hope and resurrection" (Ac 23:6). You rejoice because your "faith is the assurance of things hoped for" (Heb 11:1) since you know "hope does not disappoint" (Ro 5:5).
Hope is in being "fellow heirs" (Ro 8:17) in terms of "the revealing of the sons of God" (:19) regarding "the freedom of the glory of the children of God" (:21).We rejoice knowing "we have a building from God . . . eternal in the heavens" (2Co 5:1). We don't rejoice selfishly because "a horse is a false hope for victory" (Ps 33:17). Consequently one's "hope is in the Lord his God" (Ps 146:5) and "my hope is from Him" (Ps 62:5). Therefore rejoicing means resting on "the hope of eternal life" (Tit 1:2) and "looking for the blessed hope" (2:13).
Hope is the end product of tribulation because it "brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope" (Ro 5:3-4). We are to rejoice in hope and persevere in tribulation (Ro 12:12). "This hope we have as an anchor" (Heb 6:19). The expectation is for "the redemption of our body" (Ro 8:23) because "in hope we have been saved" (:24). Tribulation causes you to remember and "this I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope" (La 3:21). "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing" (Ro 15:13).
"He who has an ear, let him hear" (Rev 3:13). But if you hear will you also obey? Be careful not to dismiss what God is saying to you. Balaam had this problem even though he proclaimed "the Lord [is] my God" (Nu 22:18). Balak had asked him to curse Israel (:6). Then Balaam sought God for direction and God said, "'Do not go with them'" (:12). He talked to God, heard his voice, and got his answer. Then Balak said, "I will indeed honor you richly" (:17). Balaam was enticed and rationalized thinking "'what else'" (:19) God might say. When asked again God permitted him to proceed but cautioned him (:20). Furthermore "God was angry because he was going" (:22). Why did God allow it the second time? Romans 12:2 says there is a "good and acceptable and perfect" will of God. In Balaam's case God acceded to a less than perfect compromise. Some call this God's permissive (i.e. not perfect) will. If a person lacks faith then "let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord" (Jas 1:7). But if you "delight yourself in the Lord He will give you the desires of your heart" (Ps 37:4).
God "leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way" (Ps 25:9). "Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should chose" (Ps 25:12). Humility is the right attitude because then you'll be receptive to God. "None of those who wait for You will be ashamed" (Ps 25:3). "Trust in the Lord with all your heart" (Pr 3:5). Israel was guilty of going their own way. They "tempted God in the desert. So He gave them their request" (Ps 106:14-15). There are consequences to disobedience because he "sent a wasting disease among them" (:15). They "quickly forgot His works" (:13), and additionally, "forgot God their Savior" (:21). If we don't pay attention and pray we can forget too. When you follow the Lord he "will go before you . . . [and] be your rear guard" (Isa 52:12). "But you will not go out in haste" (:12). Making haste presumes you are doing your own thing. Doing so represents lack of faith because he "who believes in it will not be disturbed" (Isa 28:16). Israel suffered the consequences of doing their own thing. We must realize that these things are "written for our instruction" (1Co 10:11).
We are to wait on God for an answer when we have a problem or decision to make. However, it is appropriate anytime as in waiting "for your God continually" (Hos 12:6). To wait means to tarry, hope for, or to expect. It doesn't mean to put yourself "on hold" or be sitting next to the telephone waiting for a call not knowing when it will come. You must be actively involved and positive. "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" (Ps 27:13).
Waiting isn't just academic. You might be in a "time of trouble" (Ps 37:39) or in a "pit of destruction" (Ps 40:2). The psalmist exclaimed "I am weary with crying; my throat is parched; my eyes fail while I wait for my God" (Ps 69:3). Another cried "I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words" (Ps 119:147). A third professed "O Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain to stand strong" (Ps 30:7). And there are times where "the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression" (Isa 30:20). Paul told the Corinthians about "our affliction which came to us in Asia" (2Co 1:8). The rationale is that "the sufferings of Christ are ours" (:5). He said "we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so we despaired even of life" (:8). The purpose is "so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God" (:19). God said "'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness'" (2Co 12:9). Jesus said "'apart from Me you can do nothing'" (Jn 15:5). The result is that God "comforts us . . . so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction" (:4). Paul cited that God "delivered us from so great a peril of death" (:10).
God has "acted on our behalf" (Ps 68:28). He "acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him" (Isa 64:4). God "delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him" (Ps 35:10). "He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power" (Isa 40:29). "He is their strength in time of trouble . . . [and] helps them and delivers them . . . and saves them, because they take refuge in Him" (Ps 37:39-40). God is "my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken." (Ps 62:6). He is "the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God" (:7). God has said, "'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,' so that we may confidently say, 'the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?'" (Heb 13:5-6).
"Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength" (Isa 40:31). It applies to all ages because even "youths grow weary and tired" (:30). "Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage" (Ps 27:14). "With the heart a person believes" (Ro 10:10). Therefore, without this strength you will lose heart (Ps 27:13). But remember it is "'not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit'" (Zec 4:6). Make sure you aren't trying to save your own life for you "'shall lose it'" (Mk 8:35). But whoever "loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it" (:35). You defend against being self-centered with this mindset. "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men" (Col 3:23).
Waiting on the Lord has benefits. "May those who wait for You not be ashamed" (Ps 69:6). "The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him" (La 3:25). "The Lord favors those . . . who wait for His lovingkindness" (Ps 147:11). "They all wait for You to give them their food in due season" (Ps 104:27). Trust in God and you will be blessed (Ps 40:4). To Israel possessing the Promised Land meant to seize or occupy it. "Those who will wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land" (Ps 37:9). "Keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land" (:34).
"Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him" (Ps 37:7). "Wait in silence for God only" (Ps 62:5). "It is good that he waits silently" (La 3:26). When you are quiet you can hear God when you pray. It is God's character your faith is based on, therefore "I will wait on Your name" (Ps 52:9). "In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence" (Pr 14:26). "The people who know their God will display strength and take action" (Da 11:32). Therefore "let the weak say 'I am a mighty man'" (Joe 3:10).
Wait for God's response because it is the intervention you require. "I wait for Your word" (Ps 119:74, 81). "In His word do I hope" (Ps 130:5). "We do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us . . . according to the will of God" (Ro 8:26-27). Then God's "EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER" (1Pe 3:12). As a result "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Ro 10:17). It is the "conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1) because it's component of faith convinces you. "Wait for the Lord, and He will save you" (Pr 20:22). Then you must appropriate the solution.
God told Joshua to "'cross this Jordan . . . to the land which I am giving . . . to the sons of Israel'" (Jos 1:2). God said "'no man will be able to stand before you'" (:5) because "'the Lord your God is with you wherever you go'" (:9). He commanded "'be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed'" (:9). He promised "'I will not fail you or forsake you'" (:5). But he warned "'be careful to do according to all the law . . .that you may have success'" (:7).
To be courageous you "let your heart take courage" (Ps 31:24). You believe in and focus on God's promises. "The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You" (Isa 26:3). Jesus, himself, was resolute because he said "the Lord God helps Me . . . therefore, I have set My face like flint" (Isa 50:7). Courage means to make your heart firm. You hold firm to your goal when circumstances try to dissuade you. You will have to persevere to prevail. Encourage yourself by cultivating your faith so it develops. A tiny mustard seed grows into a tree (Mt 13:32). Be assured that "for all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God" (Ro 8:14). "For such is God, our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death" (Ps 48:14).
If you need help you have the assurance of Psalm 91:15. "'He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him, and honor him.'" It is more than God just coming to the rescue. "'With a long life I will satisfy him, and let him behold My salvation'" (:16). "'You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created'" (Rev 4:11).
God's guidance requires that "whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men" (Col 3:23). The commandment is clear. "Do your own business and work with your own hands so that . . . you will not be dependent on anybody" (1Th 4:11-12). However, "do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others" (Php 2:4). You should have the mindset to, "'Give to him who asks you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you'" (Mt 5:42). "With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves" (Php 2:4). But your primary responsibility is based on "if any will not work, neither should he eat" (2Th 3:10). Do "not be a burden" (1Th 2:9). "We worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you" (2Th 3:8). "Nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it" (:7).
However, there are ideologies that don't agree with this teaching. They think that personal orientation is selfish and that group emphasis is more meaningful. "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit" (Php 2:3). But that can be deceptive when a person suggests "cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse" (Pr 1:14). Someone can take advantage of the group's resources being a member but not having contributed. "So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof" (:19). "We were not idle when we were with you" (1Th 3:7). "We did this . . . in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow" (2Th 3:9). "Work so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders" (1Th 4:12). "Warn those who are idle" (5:14). "Some among you are idle. Such people we command . . . to settle down" (3:11-12) and "to . . . earn the bread they eat" (2Th 3:11-12).