"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you" (Ps. 32:8). Part of our daily walk with God involves His guidance (Ps. 73:23-24). God desires to guide us (Isa. 42:16; 58:11). His guidance is a proof that we are growing in maturity as His sons. "... because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" (Rom. 8:14). THE VOICE OF THE SHEPHERD "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me" (Jn. 10:27). Jesus is called the "good shepherd." An important characteristic of sheep is that they follow the shepherd ( Ps.23:1-4). A shepherd guides his sheep with his voice, but his guidance is expressed in two other ways: The staff - submitting to the shepherd's authority (Jn. 15:10; Job 22:21). The rod - submitting to the shepherd's discipline (Heb. 12:7-11; Prov. 13:11-12). "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young" (Isa. 40:11). DISCOVERING GOD'S WILL "For this reason...we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Col. 1:9). God wants you to do His will. For this reason, it is His plan for every believer to know His will on two levels: The general will of God "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality" (1 Thes. 4:1-12). God's word, the Bible, reveals the general will of God for every believer (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:19). We do not need to ask God whether He wants us to avoid sexual immorality. The will of God in these and other matters has been clearly spelled out in Scripture. God's will is revealed through two expressions: Commands (Jn 14:15,21,23-24). Promises (2 Cor. 1:20; 2 Pet. 1:3-4). The specific will of God "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it'" (Isa. 30:21). There are times when we need to know God's will for a specific situation. At these times God has promised to guide us. You must desire God's will (Ps. 25:4-5). You must let go of your own reasoning (Prov. 3:5-6). You must trust God (Ps. 37:3-5). You must lay down your own will (Lk. 22:42). "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does" (Jam. 1:5-8). METHODS OF GUIDANCE There are many ways God can bring guidance into our lives: Through His word (Ps. 119:105). Through other Christians (Eph.5:19; Col.3:16). Through prophetic gifts (1 Thes.5:19-20; 1 Tim.1:18; 4:14; 1 Cor. 14:31). Through worship (Acts 13:2). Through dreams (Mt. 1:20; Acts 2:17). Through visions (Acts 16:9-10; 18:9-10). Through an audible voice (Acts 9:10-17; 1 Sam.3:1-18). Through an inner conviction (Phil.1:23-25; 2 Tim.1:12). Although God speaks in many ways, He always confirms His guidance through "the testimony of two or three witnesses" (2 Cor.13:1). That means that if God is speaking to you, he will confirm it. The more important the guidance, the more confirmations God will give. The most important confirmation of all, however, is the inner peace that God gives to our spirit. "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts..." (Col. 3:15). The word "rule" literally means to be the referee - one who judges whether something is true or not. When we are seeking God for guidance, His peace will confirm that the words we are receiving are indeed from Him. Hearing God's Voice "Be still, and know that I am God..." (Ps. 46:10). Quietness is an important ingredient in hearing God's voice (Isa. 30:15). This is because life can be very "noisy" - our problems shout at us and the distractions of the world can drown out the still, quiet voice of God (1 Kings 19:11-13). We need to find special times where we can "quiet our soul" (Ps. 131:2) and spend unhurried time with God in worship and in His word. Out of these quiet times, the "gentle whisper" of God's voice will speak to our spirits. The Mind of Christ "...But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16). We have the mind of Christ when we are one in heart and mind with Christ. The Holy Spirit doesn't just reveal the mind of Christ to us. He conforms us to Christ's thinking (Rom.12:2). "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." (Jn. 15:7). As we spend quality time with Jesus and receive His word planted in our hearts (Jam. 1:21-22), we learn the will of God. The purpose of God centers in Christ (Eph. 1:9) and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him (Col. 2:2-3). Therefore our relationship with Jesus is the foundation upon which God brings His guidance.