This Week’s Sermon- Four Principles For Receiving God’s Guidance


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Four Principles For Receiving God’s Guidance

by Larry Sarver

Genesis 24:1-24:14

A flight attendant spent a week’s vacation in the Rockies. She was captivated by the mountain peaks, the clear blue skies, and the sweet smelling pines. But she also was charmed by a very eligible bachelor who owned and operated a cattle ranch and lived in a log cabin. At the end of this week, Mr. Wonderful proposed. But it had all happened so quickly that the woman decided to return home and to her job, feeling that she would somehow be guided to make the right decision. The next day, in flight, she found herself wondering what to do. To perk up, she stopped in the rest room and splashed some cool water on her face. There was some turbulence and a signin the rest room lit up: PLEASE RETURN TO THE CABIN. She did–to the cabin back in the mountains (Reader’s Digest [1/81], p. 118)

This story does not demonstrate the best way to make decisions in life, but this story does reveal a common dilemma that many people, including Christians, often face. The dilemma I am referring to is the problem of being sure that God is guiding us. In other words, how can you and I be certain that we are in God’s will and that the decisions we are making are the right ones?

This is an important subject for all of us since we all must make important decisions. We all must take various courses of actions and we desire an assurance that God is directing our paths. How can we sure of that divine guidance and direction? This passage in Genesis 24 deals with this subject and problem.

In this chapter we not only see God providing guidance to His people in an important matter but we also see the conditions under which that guidance was provided. These conditions, which could also be referred to as principles, are what I will discuss today. There are four key principles that led to God’s providential guidance found in this chapter. If we follow these principles, I believe we can expect success in receiving God’s providential guidance similar to what Abraham and his servant received.

1. The first principle for receiving God’s guidance is knowing God’s Word.

We must have a thorough knowledge of God’s will and purposes to help direct our actions and decisions. That knowledge of God’s will comes first and foremost from God’s Word. God’s Word reveals God’s plan, principles and purposes. Knowledge of these is essential to even beginning to receive God’s guidance. It is Abraham’s knowledge of God’s word that leads him to make the first step in the right direction in receiving God’s guidance.

Read Verses 1-4

Here we see that Abraham takes steps to see that God’s plan is furthered through Isaac. Isaac must marry and have children for the covenant blessings to be received. Abraham understands this, so he doesn’t sit idly and wait for God’s plan to be fulfilled. He does his part and takes appropriate action; in this case he begins to look for a wife for Isaac. Some people seem to think that receiving God’s guidance means doing nothing. For instance, I’ve known people who are out of work and yet refuse to go look for a job because they are waiting for God to provide a job. Such thinking is unbiblical. God wants us to do our part, but to do it while being guided by the knowledge of God’s Word.

This is what Abraham does! His search for a wife isn’t based on human standards or desires but is rather directed by his knowledge of God’s Word. This is why in verses 3,4 he insists that Isaac’s wife be from his own relatives and not from the local people of Canaan. Why did Abraham insist on this condition? Because he knew enough of God’s Word to know that God wouldn’t bless a marriage to a Canaanite woman. God had never specifically prohibited such a marriage at this point in biblical revelation. God had never given specific directions on whom Isaac was to marry but this did not mean that God’s Word had no direction to give. In earlier parts of Abraham’s life, God had revealed the character (wicked) and future (judgment) of the people of Canaan to Abraham. That alone was enough for Abraham to know that marrying one of them was not even an option.

In essence, Abraham was guided by God’s revealed word. He didn’t have a specific commandment from God’s Word but he did have enough information to make reasonable inferences. In other words, he could apply biblical principles to the situation. Many times we are in a similar situation – we don’t have a specific command from the Bible but we can still apply principles from God’s Word and be assured of being in God’s will. For instance, no specific rule/command from God tells me what to watch and what not to watch on TV in many cases, but I can still receive God’s guidance and make wise decisions by applying biblical principles such as purity, righteousness, etc. to the decision.

Abraham was able to take these first steps in the right direction because he knew God’s word. The same is true for us in receiving God’s direction.

1. The first principle for receiving God’s guidance is knowing God’s Word.

2. The second principle for receiving God’s guidance is commitment to God’s will.

It is one thing to know what God’s will is through His Word and another thing completely to be committed to doing His will without compromise. One of the conditions under which Abraham received God’s providential guidance was his complete commitment to doing God’s will. This story reveals to us that God guides us when we are committed to His will and not our own, no matter how difficult it sometimes is to do God’s will. We will see in the next two verses that Abraham displayed the commitment necessary to being divinely directed.

Read Verses 5-6

In verse 5 the servant wants to know what to do if following the principles of God’s Word doesn’t work out as planned. The servant is basically asking if Abraham will change his mind and commitment to God’s will if it appears that doing things God’s way doesn’t work. Abraham says to his servant that Isaac is not to leave the Promised Land, no matter what! Abraham makes clear that he is totally committed to following God’s will no matter what happens. I hope you respond with the same uncompromising commitment to obeying God when you are confronted with a similar situation. The only way we can be sure of God’s guidance is by being committed to God’s will above our own will. Many other Scriptures also attest to this principle. One of the best known is in Proverbs.

Read Proverbs 3:6 (In the New Living Translation this verse is translated as “Seek His will in all you do, and (then) He (The Lord) will direct your paths.”)

Many times people find themselves out of God’s perfect will because when it comes right down to it they are not fully committed to His plan for their life. They may pray, quote the Bible, and talk about seeking God’s will but in reality they are seeking God’s approval of their plan. God will work supernaturally in your life to bring about His plans, as He did Isaac and Rebekah, but only when your purpose and total commitment is to do His will!

1. The first principle for receiving God’s guidance is knowing God’s Word.

2. The second principle for receiving God’s guidance is commitment to God’s Will.

3. The third principle for receiving God’s guidance is trusting in God’s Ways.

Trust is absolutely essential if you are to be led by God because you will never maintain your commitment to obeying Him and waiting on Him unless you really trust in Him. You must trust that He will provide everything necessary to fulfill His will for your life in His own way. This is what Abraham did. He trusted God to providentially provide a wife for Isaac from outside of Canaan, even though that was extremely unlikely. Abraham’s states his trust in God’s ways in verse 7.

Read Verses 7-9

In verse 7 Abraham recounts that God had made promises that included Canaan Land and offspring. Since God made a promise, Abraham expects God to keep it by supplying a wife for Isaac. His confidence is based on God’s specific word and promise, not on personal desire. Many people express a trust in God, but their trust is that God will provide what they want and desire. God honors trust in His Word!

Abraham believes that God will provide a wife for Isaac on this trip despite how unlikely this is to happen. What are the chances that Abraham’s servant can travel 500 miles, meet a qualified woman from Abraham’s own family, and convince her and her family to let her travel to a distant land and marry a man she or the family has never met? Human insight or understanding would say, “No chance!” Nevertheless, in verse 7, Abraham clearly expects God to do just this by sending an angel to providentially guide and provide. He is not trusting in his own understanding or insight but is rather trusting in God’s ways. This trust is essential to being directed by God as this story attest and the Bible also says in Proverbs.

Read Proverbs 3:5

You will not be directed by God unless you are committed to Him and trust in Him to provide for His will to be fulfilled in you life. Weather the issue is marriage, ministry, or some other life issue, we must trust God to supernaturally and providentially arrange the circumstances at the right time and in the right way.

3. The third principle for receiving God’s guidance is trusting in God’s Ways.

In verse 8 Abraham acknowledges that it may not happen as he expects. This isn’t a lack of trust in God – just an acknowledgment that God may provide in a different manner that Abraham expects. We know that Abraham still expects God to provide a wife and fulfill the promise of offspring because he restates his commitment that Isaac will not go back to his relatives’ homeland. One way or the other God will provide for His will to be done without His people compromising on His Word!

Under the conditions Abraham stated in verses 5-8 the servant agrees to faithfully fulfill his duties. He takes an oath, to fulfill this commitment, in the culturally acceptable way of that era and location, which was to place his hand under Abraham’s thigh. So far I have shared 3 principles for receiving God’s guidance.

1. The first principle for receiving God’s guidance is knowing God’s Word.

2. The second principle for receiving God’s guidance is commitment to God’s Will.

3. The third principle for receiving God’s guidance is trusting in God’s Ways.

Now for the fourth principle.

4. The fourth principle for receiving God’s guidance is to pray for God’s Wisdom.

The servant didn’t just assume that he would recognize whom God had provided as a wife for Isaac. He prayed for guidance and wisdom. Let’s read about it in verses 10-14

Read Verses 10-14

I first want you to notice that, after a 500 mile journey on camel, the servant arrived at the perfect place to meet a young, unmarried woman at the very time the women would be coming to the well to draw water. What luck! No, what providence! God had arranged circumstances perfectly for His will to be fulfilled in this situation. Abraham’s knowledge, commitment, and trust were not in vain. God was working behind the scene.

I believe that God will direct our circumstances so that His will is successfully fulfilled in our lives if we do our part of knowing His Word, committing to His Will, Trusting His Ways, and Pray for His Wisdom.

I believe that God’s providence directed me to this church with the intent of day being the pastor. I didn’t plan it this way but God was working through the circumstances. I bet many of you can look back on your life and see evidence of God working and guiding your circumstances in remarkable ways! It is reassuring to see how powerful and wise our God is in directing our paths.

The servant realizes that this is a divine opportunity, so he prays for success and guidance in verses 12-14. Many Christians today miss God’s guidance and divine opportunities because they do not pray. Often we go through life just making decisions based on our own wisdom. We need to recognize that we do not have the wisdom to direct our own paths or to make right choices; we need to pray for God’s wisdom if we are to receive His guidance.

When I am in an unfamiliar city and get lost I don’t just guess, I ask someone who knows what direction to take. When I don’t understand my tax return, I don’t just do my best, I go to someone who knows the right answers. You and I don’t know what decisions to make in life but we can pray to the One who has the answers. We can have divine direction in life, but only when we seek God’s wisdom. We must pray expecting God to really grant us wisdom.

Read James 1:5-7

Remember that these biblical stories are recorded for our practical application today. We also need God’s guidance for our lives and we can receive it if we have knowledge of God’s Word, are committed to His Will, Trust in His ways, and Pray for His Wisdom.


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