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.
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 sign lit up: PLEASE RETURN TO THE CABIN. She did–to the cabin back in the mountains (Reader’s Digest [1/81], p. 118)!
I don’t recommend that method! But many Christians wonder, How can I know God’s guidance, especially in the crucial decision of whom I should marry? Our text speaks to this issue. Genesis 24 is the longest chapter in Genesis, but since it is a unit, it’s tough to break it down into several messages. We could treat the whole from several angles. We could learn about serving the Lord from the fine example of Abraham’s servant. We could learn about faith and service from Rebekah. We could study the chapter as an illustration of God the Father (Abraham) sending the Holy Spirit (the servant) to seek a bride (Rebekah = the church) for His Son (Isaac) who had just been through death and resurrection (chapter 22).
But I’m going to approach the text by gleaning some principles of divine guidance. Since it deals with God’s guidance as it pertains to finding a mate, I’m going to apply it that way. If you’re already married, please don’t decide that you made a mistake in discerning God’s will in your marriage and decide to try again! You can apply the principles to other areas of guidance.
Moses wrote Genesis to a people who were poised to conquer the land of Canaan which God had promised to Abraham and his descendants. They were a rebellious bunch who were not inclined to endure the hardship necessary to fulfill God’s purpose. They put comfort for themselves ahead of obedience to God’s will. The point of this story in its context is to show Israel the importance of maintaining their purity as God’s people when they entered Canaan. They must not forget God’s purpose to give them that land and they must not intermarry with the corrupt people there. If they would obey God and commit themselves to His purpose, He would faithfully guide them and provide for them, just as He providentially led Abraham’s servant to Rebekah as a wife for Isaac.
If you’re single, it’s crucial to seek God’s guidance and to obey Him in choosing a mate, because except for trusting Christ as Savior, whom you marry is the most important decision you’ll make in life. The overall principle of our text is that
God will guide us when we walk with Him and are committed to His purpose.
Under that overall theme, I want to give five principles on how to know God’s guidance. These are not comprehensive and they are not a formula to plug into your computer. But I think they will help.
1. To know God’s guidance we must be unswerving in our commitment to God and His purpose.
Both Abraham and his servant had an unswerving commitment to the Lord and His purpose concerning the land of Canaan. Abraham calls his unnamed servant and commissions him to find a wife for Isaac, but not from among the Canaanites. The servant asks a practical question: “Suppose the woman will not be willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?” (24:5). Abraham strongly warns him against doing that and repeats God’s call and promise to give him the land of Canaan. So the servant swears to do what Abraham has said (24:6-9).
To know God’s guidance we must put aside our own will and seek the will of the God who has called us. That is the basic principle in determining the will of God in any situation–to empty yourself, as much as you are able, of your own will and to commit yourself to seeking and obeying God’s will. As you seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, He will reveal the specific steps you need to take as you need to know them. But if you claim to want to know God’s will, but you’re not willing to do it unless it agrees with your will, you’re kidding yourself. All you really want is God’s approval of your plans. But you’ll never know God’s direction that way. God reveals His will to those who are committed to doing it.
Often it is more difficult to go this route than it is to operate on the basis of human wisdom. For Abraham’s servant, it meant a 500-mile journey across difficult terrain. It involved a lot of planning, expense, and hassle. “Why be so fanatical about this, Abraham? Surely there are some nice girls somewhere in Canaan!” But Abraham saw that it was crucial for his son to marry a woman who would share his commitment to the Lord and His purpose concerning the land.
Seeking first God’s kingdom is the primary factor in finding the right marriage partner. If you’re committed to doing what God wants, He will give you a partner who wants to do His will as you wait on Him. That unity of purpose builds unity in marriage, as the two of you work together in serving the Lord.
But be forewarned! Just as it was more of a hassle for Abraham to secure a wife for Isaac from his own people rather than from the Canaanites, so it will be more difficult for you to find a mate who is committed to God’s purpose. Let’s face it, there are a lot of nice, good-looking single pagans out there. And there are a fair amount of nice, good-looking church-goers who are living for themselves, not for Christ. But it can be pretty slim pickin’s to find a nice, good-looking (there’s nothing wrong with good looks–Rebekah is described as “very beautiful” [v. 16]), godly single person. And as you watch other Christian singles marrying those who aren’t so committed to the Lord, it’s easy to begin thinking, “Maybe I’m being too rigid. Maybe there are some nice Canaanite girls (or guys) around.” But if you want God’s guidance for a marriage partner, you must be unswerving in your commitment to God and His purpose.
2. To know God’s guidance we must move out in obedience accompanied by common sense.
Abraham’s servant didn’t sit in his tent praying for a wife for Isaac. He prayed a lot, but when Abraham told him to go to Haran and find a wife for Isaac, he arose and went (24:10). He moved out in obedience and he used common sense by taking the gifts needed to secure a bride in that culture.
Sometimes we get super-spiritual about this matter of determining God’s will, especially as it pertains to finding a mate. In college I heard speakers say that we should just trust God for a wife. I felt like if I went to a Christian gathering to look for a Christian girl to date, I was really carnal! I bought that for a while. But I remember one time after I hadn’t had a date for about two years, I was on my knees pleading with God for a wife when I realized that He wasn’t going to bring her floating through the window like the old Hertz rent-a-car ads. The Lord was saying to me, “At least go where there are some prospects!”
That’s what Abraham’s servant did. He didn’t start hanging out at the local bars or discos in Canaan. He went where he could find a godly young woman from Abraham’s relatives, as Abraham had told him to do. So obey God and use the common sense He gave you. You won’t find a godly mate in bars. Don’t go there! You may find a godly mate at church. Go there! That’s not super-spiritual. But I think it’s biblical!
3. To know God’s guidance we must seek and expect it, while submitting to His sovereign ways.
Abraham told his servant that he could expect God’s angel to go before him and lead him to the right young woman for Isaac (24:7). So the servant went in obedience, called to God for guidance, and God gave it to him (24:11-14).
So often we don’t experience God’s guidance because we get so caught up doing our own thing that we fail to stop and ask God to reveal His will to us. Or we get into our established routine, and it takes a catastrophe for God to get our attention so He can let us know what He wants us to do. So if you want God’s guidance, stop and ask Him for it, expect Him to give it, and wait long enough to listen to what He might have to say. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).
But what if God doesn’t say anything? Maybe you’re waiting for the wrong kind of communication. Note here that there was no voice from heaven, no miracle, no visible angel, no display of God’s glory, no sign in the sky. In fact, there was no guarantee of success. Both Abraham and the servant recognized that they might not succeed (24:5, 8, 49, 58). So how did he know what God’s will was in this situation?
The answer is that when you seek and expect God’s guidance, and remain submissive to God’s sovereign ways, He providentially orchestrates circumstances in such a way as to confirm His will. Before the servant was done praying, God brought Rebekah along and the circumstances fit together in such an unmistakable way that the servant knew God had led him.
You need to be aware that God’s providential ordering of circumstances does not always work out in storybook fashion with a happy ending. Sometimes He providentially leads you into a relationship where you get your heart broken. I went through two major and one minor heartbreak romances before the Lord led me to Marla. While such experiences are not fun, the Lord does have important lessons to teach you if you submit to His sovereign ways. But if you think, “I trusted God and got burned, so I’m going to take matters in my own hands,” you’re not going to know His guidance. You’ll only bring more pain and discipline into your life.
In the case of Abraham’s servant, God did confirm His will through the circumstances. But however it works out, to experience God’s guidance, we must seek and expect it, while submitting to His sovereign ways.
Published by therccgbethelparish.
“The God who created the earth and everyone on it”. This pursuit for God led him to the Church Missionary Society where he was baptized in 1927. Still spiritually unfulfilled, he joined the Cherubim and Seraphim church in 1931.
Whilst there, he began to hear a voice within him saying, “You will be my servant.” Since this was not his intention, he decided to ignore the voice. This went on for seven years during which all the business ventures that he tried resulted into failure. In debt and without peace of mind, he found himself totally dependent on the grace of God. Here marked the beginning of a definite relationship with God.Totally broken, he yielded saying, “Lord, I will go wherever you want me to go.” He asked for signs to confirm that this was indeed God’s call. The confirmation came through the Bible passages of Jeremiah 1:4-10, Isaiah 41:10-13 and Romans 8:29-31. The Lord assured him that He would provide for all his needs, as he would not receive any salary from that point on. This proved to be a comforting reminder during the trials in the months ahead. He became married in 1941. He continued to worship with the Cherubim and Seraphim. In 1947, he started to become concerned that the church was departing from the true Word of God in some of its practices. By 1952, he felt totally persuaded to leave the church. He started at Willoughby Street, Ebute-Metta, Lagos a housefellowship called, the Glory of God Fellowship. Initially there were nine members but before long the fellowship rapidly grew as the news of the miracles that occurred in their midst spread.
Pa Akindayomi also had a vision of words that appeared to be written on a blackboard. The words were “The Redeemed Christian Church of God.” Amazingly, Pa Akindayomi who could not read or write was supernaturally able to write these words down. In this visitation, God also said to him that this church would go to the ends of the earth and that when the Lord Jesus Christ appeared in glory, He would meet the church. The Lord then established a covenant with Pa Akindayomi, synonymous to the Abrahamic covenant in the Bible. He said that He the Lord would meet all the needs of the church in an awesome way if only members would serve Him faithfully and be obedient to His Word. It is upon this covenant that the Redeemed Christian Church of God was built.
Thus, the Redeemed Christian Church of God was born in 1952, destined by the Lord Himself to take the world for Him. The church continued to meet at 9 Willoughby Street until they were able to acquire some land thereby witnessing a relocation to the present site of the Headquarters of the church at 1-5 Redemption Way, Ebute-Metta, Lagos (formerly 1a, Cemetery Street).
Sometime in the early 70s, God had spoken to Pa Akindayomi about his successor. The Lord told him that this man who was not a member of the church then, would be a young educated man. Thus when a young university lecturer joined the church in 1973, Papa was able to recognize him in the Spirit as the one that the Lord had spoken about in the past. This man, Enoch Adejare Adeboye who was then a lecturer of Mathematics at the University of Lagos soon became involved in the church. He became one of the interpreters translating Pa Akindayomi’s sermons from Yoruba to English. He was ordained a pastor of the church in 1975.
Papa was preparing to meet his Creator. He sent for Pastor Adeboye and spent several hours sharing with him details of the covenant and the plans of the Lord for the church. Even though a year before this, the Lord had revealed to Pastor Adeboye that he would be Papa’s successor, it was still too difficult for him to fully contemplate such an awesome responsibility.
Pa Josiah Akindayomi was 71 years old when he died. Amidst controversy, Pastor Adeboye’s appointment was formalized by the reading of Pa Akindayomi’s sealed pronouncement after his burial.
Since 1981, an open explosion began with the number of parishes growing in leaps and bounds. At the last count, there are at least about 2000 parishes of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria. On the International scene, the church is present in other African nations including C’ote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Gambia, Cameroon, and South Africa. In Europe the church is spread in England, Germany, and France. In the United States there are parishes in Dallas, Tallahassee, Houston, New York, Washington, and Chicago and also in the Caribbean states of Haiti and Jamaica.
Today, God is still doing marvelous deeds through the Redeemed Christian Church of God, worldwide. One of the well-known programs of the church is the Holy Ghost Service, an all night miracle service that holds on the first Friday of every month at the Redemption Camp at Km. 46, Lagos-Ibadan expressway. The average headcount of those who attend the Service is about 500,000. The Holy Ghost Service now holds in different parts of the world which includes the United Kingdom, India, USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Dubai, Ghana, Philippines and many more
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