The Lord Directs Your Steps – Psalm 37:23-24
by Dionne Stratton
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Psalm 37:23-24 – “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”
The Steps of the Godly
To be godly means that we obey and follow God. If we are following Him we can be sure that we are on the right path- we can be sure that we are walking in God’s will. When we are following God and allowing Him to be in control of our lives, He is happy to guide every single detail. He loves to plan little surprises of joy and beauty along our path and He carefully plans our trials also – that we might grow by them. But we can be sure that no matter what comes, God is faithful and will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to resist without providing a way of escape so that we can make it through (1 Corinthians 10:13). God desires and longs to be intimately and constantly involved in every area of our lives, and it is His delight to “work all things together for the good of those who love Him and have been called by Him.” (Romans 8:28) When we give everything over into His hands we will be amazed at what He will do and where He will lead us. When we follow God we can be sure that we walk on solid ground. For though we might stumble over things that come our way, if we trust and follow the Lord, He will take our hand and keep us on our feet and our feet on the path. The way of the ungodly is strewn with pits and traps, many that they have made themselves and they will eventually fall into them and not be able to get out (Psalm 7:15-16 & 9:15, Proverbs 26:27). But as we follow God, He will direct our steps so that, “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.(Isaiah 30:21)”. He won't usually show us the end from the beginning in our own lives (it would probably freak us out). He may not even show us more than the very next step. But, because He knows and designed it all, all we have to do is let Him lead us – through the joy that makes us rejoice and the trials that make us stronger, each one is a step in the path for His glory.
A godly person desires to know and follow God's will. When His will is our genuine desire and we will truly acknowledge Him in all our ways, we can be sure that God “will make (our) paths straight (Proverbs 3:6)” by laying it in front of our feet one step at a time. He does this not only for the “big” decisions in life - but, if we are willing, He will also do this for every single step along the way for “He delights in every detail of (our) lives.” His plans don't just cover our major decisions – spouse, job, home – but He plans out every moment. Scripture says, “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16)”. God is completely sovereign, He is in absolute control of everything at all times and He will give us direction every moment if we are open to it, but we must learn to recognize it.
How He Directs Us
There are three primary ways that God will direct us:
1. Circumstances – This is what people might commonly call open and closed doors. Since God is sovereign, we can expect that He is in control of all circumstances (not always causing, but allowing them) and since He is in control, there are times when an obstacle in our way is simply God closing that door to us because it is not the direction He wants us to go. As Scripture says, “What He opens no one can shut and He shuts no one can open. (Revelation 3:7)”. This method of discerning God's will, however, is certainly not the best and leaves much room for error. There are times when a difficulty is meant to test us that we might persevere, and times when it is a true closed door. There are also times when a seeming open door is a test of a different kind – to test us if we will stay where we know He's put us or try to head for greener pastures. Remember that, “He determined the times set for (us) and the exact places where (we) should live. God did this so that people would seek Him and reach out to Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)”.
2. Wise Counsel – This is when we seek advice and counsel from those we know to be godly and discerning – someone who has our best interests and God's glory in mind. As Scripture says, “wisdom is found in those who receive counsel (Proverbs 13:10)” and, “there is safety in having many advisers (Proverbs 11:14)”. The thing we need to remember with this is that people err and not everyone is as godly and honest as they appear.
3. Inward Witness of the Holy Spirit – When we are followers of Christ, God Himself lives in us by His Holy Spirit and if we are familiar with His voice through regularly listening to Him, He will lead us with firmness and clarity. We will have peace about a decision, or we will not have peace. We might feel like “this just isn't right” or “I just feel like I'm supposed to...”. The essential key with this is to remember that the Holy Spirit will never lead us contrary to the revealed will of God in His Word. If you ever feel like you should do something that is clearly contrary to Scripture then you had better check that again. For God is not “the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33) and He Himself encourages us to “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1) and we are to test everything in light of God's Word. Scripture also says, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will lead you into all truth (John 16:13)”.
He Holds Us by the Hand
No matter how much we might eventually think that we have this stuff down, we must remember that we will still make mistakes. It can be hard sometimes to distinguish between our own strong desire for something and the witness of God's Spirit – especially if circumstances and wise counsel also seem to confirm our desire. But we should not overly concern ourselves with the possibility of making a mistake or let that fear paralyze us because “though (we) stumble, we will never fall [headlong, to destruction], for the Lord holds (us) by the hand.” If we are truly seeking to follow His will, He will set us back on the right path with no real harm done. How amazing it is that God Himself holds our hand! He keeps us on the right path and helps us to overcome anything that might try to hinder us along the way. As Scripture says, “if God is for us,who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32)”. Since He holds us by the hand, then He is always with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9). Who can take us from His hands (John 10:29)? We are never alone and never need to fear the future. You may not always see Him or see where He's leading you, but you can know that He will never leave you (Hebrews 13:5). God does not lead us through life like we might lead someone through a maze – going in front to show the way (though in a sense He did do that) – but He leads us through life like we would lead someone in a dance with close and constant contact.
His Revealed Will
If God has plans for us – and He does. He says, “I know the plans that I have for You... Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)” - why would He want to keep us in the dark? No, God does not hide His will from us, though He does wait for us to seek it sometimes before He will reveal it to us. After all, why should He tell us what He'd like us to do if we intend to do our own thing anyway? God has revealed His ways and His will in His Word. As Scripture says of itself, “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the godly may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)”. As we read and study His Word, we will gain a clearer picture of the plan and will of God and be able to discern His will in every situation and when faced with any decision. He will also give us wisdom and discernment as we ask for it. As Scripture says, “If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God who gives generously to all without finding fault. (James 1:5)”.There are times when we must “ask, seek, and knock (Matthew 7:7-8)” but this will only purify our motives and forge determination in our hearts to do the will of God in every situation no matter what that turns out to be. Scripture says, “You will search for Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you. (Jeremiah 29:13)”. Sometimes seeking God's will can be like that, but we need to remember that He never really wants to hide it from us any more than He wants to hide Himself. He is a God who loves to make Himself known to us. As Jesus said, “Whoever knows and obeys my commandments is the person who loves me. Those who love me will have my Father’s love, and I, too, will love them and reveal myself to them. (John 14:21)” He longs to give us, “a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that (we) may know Him better (Ephesians 1:17)”. Therefore, know God's Word and let it be, “a lamp for (your) feet and a light for (your) path. (Psalm 119:105)”.
Point to Ponder
Do you feel in need of guidance and direction today? If so, take a careful look at your circumstances, seek wise and godly counsel, ask God for His wisdom and guidance, commit yourself to do His will, and then follow the leading of His Holy Spirit and the truths of His Word.
Let us all pray, “Lord, teach us how to be a godly people - to seek Your will and
Your path that we may follow You. Set our feet upon the straight and narrow. Give us peace and confidence and strength by reminding us that You have plans to give us a bright future (Jeremiah 27:11). May we always allow You to take us by the hand and help us to avoid the traps and pits of sin. Thank You, Lord, that You are willing and able to keep us from falling and that You will one day present us to Yourself in complete perfection – to Your joy and ours. To You - the only true God and the One who saves us - be all glory and majesty, power and authority, now and forever. Amen (Jude 24-25).”
See these songs: At the End of this Road, In the Silence
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Fabulous article with sage advise. I appreciated the numerous ways you highlighted staying in the will of God.