Derek’s Message: How Do You Seek God’s Guidance?

When I was asked to write a few devotional paragraphs for the FPC newsletter, the topic that I felt most strongly in my heart was guidance. Guidance is probably on my mind because I have been praying that God would guide me concerning the possibility of accepting a call to your congregation. But most importantly, what exactly is God guiding us or calling us to do in the rest of our lives?

Guidance is a very Biblical theme. It involves God’s love for us, God’s desire for us, prayer, listening, our own free will, and maybe most essential, God’s providence (which I have heard best described as God providing for us).

Abraham certainly relied on God’s guidance, in more ways than one. Matthew, Mark, and Luke record Jesus praying for guidance in Gethsemane. The entire book of Numbers reminds us that God is our guide (admittedly, it’s not the most compelling read). In the scriptures God and Jesus are frequently referred to as shepherds for humanity. A shepherd, if nothing else, most assuredly provides guidance and safety for the flock. In Psalm 32 we are reminded that God will instruct us and teach us the way we should go, that God will counsel us with God’s eye upon us. In the Old Testament there are nine separate Hebrew terms for guidance, and in the New Testament scriptures there are three Greek terms.

Guidance is seemingly everywhere in the Bible, but there still remains a problem. Guidance from God can be a difficult thing to feel and to interpret. It can be difficult to understand. If you are like me you have never heard God’s voice spoken out loud to you. I do not have clear dreams of knowing what God is guiding me to do. But perhaps you have felt God’s guidance in some other way. Perhaps you have had that stirring deep in your heart, and known that God was somehow speaking to you. Perhaps you have gained wisdom from a friend, and known that God was leading you or guiding you through that person.

Guidance sometimes seems hard to come by in our world. How do we seek out God’s guidance in our lives today? I spend a significant amount of time praying for guidance, and subsequently giving thanks for guidance. When we pray, do we spend as much time listening as we do appealing? May we be reminded that if we don’t always know what God may be guiding us to do, whatever we do should be done in the interest of loving the people and the world around us.

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  • After all this time…

    Well, this is it my fellow followers of Jesus, we are returning to in-person worship at First Presbyterian Church. It has been fourteen long months of us learning to be a worshiping community in the best ways we could figure out (thank you Jesus, even for things like YouTube and Zoom). It’s been challenging for me as your pastor (I imagine Pastor Meg would say the same). It’s been challenging for all of you in faith and life and with family and friends. 

    But we’re going back to church, praise the Lord.

    Many things seem to be happening in our world at this moment. How are you handling it all? We’re opening the church doors again. There was a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis. Many of you have your Covid-19 vaccinations. It’s Springtime and the tulips are starting to bloom. The Sandhill Cranes and other migratory birds are back in the valley. So how are we doing as we process all of this? How are you doing?

    Relief? Sorrow? Joy? Sadness? 

    All of the above?

    I’ve heard several phrases of late, including ‘pandemic pain.’ I’ve felt fatigued myself. But having received the vaccination shots, I am ready to be back in our church building with you praising the Lord together. With high vaccination rates among our church members and several safety precautions, Session has voted for our return to in-person worship. Details are listed in another article inside this edition, but our first Sunday back will be Sunday, May 9th, with our regular service times of 9 & 11 a.m.

    This worldwide pandemic is not over. Not by a long shot as I watch the news from places like India and Brazil, or even Michigan. But many of us have received our vaccinations and we are implementing some practices that should allow us to worship the Lord together, safely. And to be clear (I cannot say this enough), if you do not feel safe coming to church in the near future, please continue to worship from home. I will do my absolute best to make sure our worship live-stream allows you to connect with God and connect with the rest of us from the safety of your own home. We have purchased a small and simple (yet high quality) camera that will live-stream Sunday morning worship directly to YouTube. You have the option to watch it ‘live’ as we are worshiping or watch it at a later time that is more convenient for you.

    So, what might we expect on Sunday mornings in May when we go back? First and foremost, we will be together singing, praying, and praising the Lord. Hallelujah! There will be a few changes, of course. We ask that everyone wear a mask while in the building. We will not have indoor fellowship to prevent ‘grouping’ around the food. Both services will be in Bruner Hall (this is to allow for social distancing). We will initially space chairs out in groups of one, two, three, four, etc. (please find a group of chairs that matches your household). Our air handling system will be on during the service. We won’t use hymnals so that multiple people aren’t touching them each morning (lyrics will be in the bulletin and projected onto the wall). And finally, if you are feeling under the weather, we ask that you please be extra-considerate of your fellow worshipers and remain home.

    Every day of life is a new endeavor. The same is true for us in this process of returning to worship. May we prayerfully and carefully take actions that promote good community health, along with our spiritual health. Thank you for your patience with us, and I look forward to seeing every one of you, whenever that might be.

    —Pastor Derek

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