God bless you. It’s a joy to come into your homes. And if you’re ever in our area, please stop by and be a part of one of our services. I promise you, we’ll make you feel right at home. I like to start with something funny, and I heard about this man that was very stingy with his money. Just before his death, he made his wife promise him that she would have him buried with the $50,000 he had saved. His wife reluctantly agreed. At the funeral, before they closed the casket, she snuck in this small wooden box. Her friends said, “Surely you didn’t just bury the money, did you?” The wife said, “Of course, I did. I’m a Christian. I can’t lie.” She said, “You mean just buried $50,000?” The wife said, “Yes, I did. I wrote a check.”
I want to talk to you today about daily direction. God said in Psalms that he will lead us down the best path for our lives. He has the wisdom we need, the guidance, the direction, but it’s not going to happen automatically. Every morning, we have to go to him and say, “God, show me my assignment. Show me what to do. Show me where to go. Give me the words to speak.” Ask him for wisdom, for guidance. That’s an act of surrender. It takes humility to say, “God, you know what’s best for me. I can’t do this on my own. I need your help. Open the right doors. Close the wrong doors. Make the path clear.”
The scripture says, “When you acknowledge God in all your ways, he will direct your path.” But too often, we make our plans without consulting God, then we ask him to bless those plans, and we wonder why it’s a struggle, why it feels like it’s always uphill. We have it backwards. We’re making a move and then asking God for help. The right way is to ask God first. “God, what do you want me to do? Should I date this person? Should I start this new project? Should I make this purchase?” If you feel peace about it, then move forward. If not, hold off knowing that God knows what’s best for you.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus prayed, “Give us this day our daily bread.” He didn’t say our weekly bread, our monthly bread. “Joel, I come to church every Sunday.” No. Every morning, you need to go to God for your daily bread, your daily wisdom, daily direction. Too many times, we’re trying to do things only in our own strength, our own intellect, our own ability. That’s going to limit us. God can see things that you can’t see. He knows the right people who should be in your life. He knows where the danger is, where the dead ends are. God knows how to catapult you into your destiny. You have an advantage. Are you taking time for your daily bread?
Sometimes, we rush out of the house. “I’m in a hurry. I don’t have time today, Joel. I’ve got to get to work.” I live by this principle. Never meet with other people before you meet with God. If you’ll take time to acknowledge God, say “God, I need you today. Lead me, guide me, keep me on the right path,” not only will your day go better, but God will keep you from making mistakes.
A few years before my dad went to be with the Lord, Victoria and I came across a construction permit for the last full-power television station here in Houston. I had spent years behind the scenes here at Lakewood, doing the television production. I was excited about being able to put this station on the air. We were building it from the ground up. We had to find a place for the tower, buy the programming, hire the staff. While it was exciting, I didn’t have any experience in broadcast television. I knew a little bit about production, but this was beyond my expertise. I had to do what I’m asking you to do. I would start off every morning saying, “God, I can’t do this in my own strength, my own ability. I need your help. Lord, guide me to the right people. Lead me down the right path. God, keep me from making a mistake.” What was I doing? Getting my daily bread, my daily instruction.
And at one point, we were about to purchase the most expensive and important piece of equipment for the station. It was going to cost a couple million dollars. Our engineers had researched it and had come up with their recommendation for the make and the model. But a couple of days before we put the purchase order in, a friend of mine that I hadn’t spoken to in years called out of the blue. We spoke for about 15 minutes. Just before he hung up, he made a comment about the manufacturer of the piece of equipment we were about to buy. He said in passing how he had heard that that company was struggling, that they might go out of business. He made the statement, “I feel bad for people who own their equipment.” He had no idea we were about to place an order with them.
When I heard that, chills went up and down my spine. He didn’t know it, but God was using him to speak to me. And when I hung up, I called our engineers. They researched it and found out what he was saying was true. If he’d have called a couple of days later, it would have been too late. We would have been stuck with something that could have been a big headache, outdated, not supported. And some people think that’s a coincidence, but I know that was God directing my steps. That’s what happens when you get your daily bread.
When every morning you ask God for wisdom, you are showing your dependency on him. When you humble yourself like that, the scripture says, “God will exalt you.” A lot of people these days, they’re too prideful, think “I don’t need any help. I can do this on my own. Joel, look at how successful I am already.” Think about where you could be if you start acknowledging God. Think about the mistakes he could have saved you from. Think about the opportunity, the favor, the doors you couldn’t open but God can open. Don’t do it on your own. That will limit you. Start getting your daily bread, your daily direction.
When the Israelites were in the desert, headed toward the Promised Land, God gave them manna to eat each morning. It was something like bread that formed on the ground. The manna would only last for one day. Every morning, they had to go out and get a fresh supply. But I’m sure some people thought, “I don’t feel like going out tomorrow. I’m going to save some time and energy. I’m going to gather up enough for the whole week.” They woke up the next morning, all that manna was spoiled. You couldn’t eat it. The principle was they had to go out and get fresh manna every day.
The word manna in the original Hebrew is translated “What is it?” When we go to God for our fresh manna each day, the right attitude is “God, what is it you want me to do? What is my assignment?” Not giving God orders, telling him what to do, how to do it. Rather, “God, show me the best path. Show me how to overcome this problem. Show me how to accomplish my dreams.”
Are you getting your daily bread? Are you checking in with headquarters to get your assignment each morning, asking God “What is it?” or are you on autopilot, just doing what you’ve always done? The challenge with that approach is what worked in the past may not work today. Sometimes, God would do things a different way.
When the Israelites needed water out there in the desert, they were thirsty, God told Moses to strike the rock. He struck it and water flowed out freely. Another time, when they needed water, same situation, God told Moses to speak to the rock. The problem was Moses was on autopilot. He didn’t listen. He thought, “I got this. No problem. I don’t need to check in with headquarters. I don’t need to get daily direction. I’ve overcome this problem before. I can do it again.” He struck the rock. Same problem, same desert, similar rock, but God had a different plan. God was saying, “Moses, just because I had you do it that way last time doesn’t mean I want you to do it that way this time.”
What am I saying? You can’t live off of yesterday’s manna and expect to have victory today. Yesterday’s information may not work today. God is a God of freshness. He likes to do new things. And it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, thinking “I don’t need daily direction. Joel, I’ve overcome this problem before. I’m going to use the same tactics to overcome it this time.” Like with Moses, sometimes the old way doesn’t work. You need to get some fresh manna. If not, you’ll keep striking the rock when you should be speaking to the rock. It’s a small tweak, but you’ll only hear it if you’re getting your daily bread.
Stay open for change. Be willing to try something new. What made you successful five years ago may not make you successful today. What worked in your marriage in the past may not work today. Why don’t you get some fresh manna? Have the attitude “God, I’m ready for new things.” I’ve heard it said, “If you don’t innovate, you will evaporate.” You can’t rely on what got you to where you are to keep you where you are. The world is changing. Somebody wants your job. Somebody wants your spouse. Somebody wants your dreams. You can’t afford to sit back on autopilot and just coast, do things the same way. You’ll get left behind. The good news is God has daily favor, daily ideas, daily wisdom, daily abundance. If you’ll stay open, he’ll lead you into the fullness of your destiny.
Why couldn’t Moses strike the rock again? It worked the first time. It’s because God wants us to rely on him, not some formula, thinking “Well, if I do this and do that and do the other, then God will bless me.” If that’s all it took, we wouldn’t really need God. Just follow these steps for success. Just keep striking the rock. On purpose, God changes the method so we’ll have to go to him for our daily bread. He’s looking for people who recognize he’s the source of our strength. He’s the source of our success. In him is health, freedom, ideas, abundance. When you rely on him, he’ll take you from victory to victory. But here’s the whole key. He may not do it the same way.
Could it be that you are stuck? You’re not seeing the progress that you should because you’re still striking the rock when you should be speaking to the rock? You’re stuck in tradition, in the way it happened in the past, trying to duplicate the same way when God is wanting to do a new thing, a new way, with new ideas, with new people, bringing new talents out of you? If you’ll start getting your daily bread, listening to what God is saying now, then you’ll see that water begin to flow out of the rock in greater ways.
David understood this principle. In 2 Samuel 5, he had just been made king over Israel. When the Philistines heard about it, they came down to this valley to attack him. Now, David was a warrior. He had conquered a lot of armies. His nature was to attack. But here’s why David was considered a man after God’s own heart. Verse 19 says, “David inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall I go attack the Philistines? Will you hand this enemy over to me?’”
Notice his humility. He didn’t say, “I got this. Been there, done that. No problem.” He took time to inquire of the Lord. Before he went to battle, he got quiet and said, “God, what do you want me to do?” He was getting his daily direction. He didn’t assume because something worked in the past, it was going to work right there. He asked a very significant question. “God, will you hand this enemy over to me?” It seems like that would be a given. He was just put in charge of the Israelites, God’s chosen people. Surely God wouldn’t let them be defeated. But the fact is we’re not supposed to fight every battle. David was smart enough to ask, “Am I supposed to attack?” He was saying, “God, if I go in there, are you going to go with me?” He was showing his dependency on God. He recognized where his strength, his favor, his ability came from.
And sometimes, we assume, if there’s an obstacle, there’s something trying to stop us, “There’s no question. Get in there and go to battle. God is on our side.” But a wiser approach is to say “God, what is your plan? How do you want me to respond to this opposition? Shall I attack, or shall I be still and let you fight for me? If I go in, God, are you going to go with me?” We’ve all fought battles where we didn’t come out the way we thought. Maybe it was because we didn’t inquire of the Lord.
Verse 19 goes on to say, “The Lord said to David, ‘Go, for I will surely hand the Philistines over to you.’” Once he got clear direction, once he knew he had God’s blessing, he went down there and defeated the Philistines. But if we would do like David and inquire of the Lord before we get into conflict, before we make big decisions, go to God for daily direction, for daily manna. It would save us a lot of heartache and pain. I’ve learned, what God orders, he will pay for, but God is not obligated to bring victory to battles that we’re not supposed to be in. And yes, God is merciful. Yes, he’ll help us, but it’s much better to inquire of the Lord before you make important decisions.
A few months later, the Philistines came back to the same valley to attack David again. David could have thought, “This is a no-brainer. I don’t even have to pray about it this time. I know what to do. Go down there and attack.” But David realized he couldn’t live off of yesterday’s manna. He knew yesterday’s information may not be appropriate for today’s challenge. The scripture says David inquired of the Lord again, and the Lord said, “Do not attack them.” Same valley, same enemy, but God said, “This time, I’m going to do it a different way. I don’t want you to go down and attack. I want you to circle around them.” He went on to tell them, when they heard the sound of rustling in the mulberry trees, that was a sign that he had gone before them to defeat their enemies, then they were to go in at once.
But if David had not inquired of the Lord, he would have done it the first way. That’s common sense. “Hey, it worked the last time. I’m sure it’s going to work this time.” But God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t want you to get hooked on a formula. He wants you to be hooked on him. When you develop this habit of going to God for your daily bread, daily direction, saying “God, how do you want me to respond? How should I deal with this situation in my health, my finances? God, give me your wisdom, your insight, your favor,” that’s how God will lead you down the best path for your life.
In my early 20’s, there was this couple I knew that I really liked and I went overboard to be good to them. They were kind of friendly to me, but it was always like I wasn’t doing enough. My nature was to do more. I showed them favor, and when they, several years later, moved to a different city, I gave them money for their moving cost, helped them pack up their house. I knew down in here that’s what I was supposed to be doing, taking the high road, going the extra mile. I felt good about it and I believed that God blessed me for it.
But a couple of years after they had moved, I received word from a friend of mine that they were upset with me because they didn’t think I’d helped them enough. Here I’d helped them more than I’d helped anybody. And back then, that really bothered me because I wanted everybody to like me. I was tempted to go and try to do more and try to make it up to them, but when I prayed about it, when I asked God for daily direction, I heard it so strongly, not out loud but down in here. Something said, “Joel, leave them alone. They are never going to be for you.” Same battle, same people, but different approach. If I hadn’t have learned what I’m telling you today, to get daily direction, then I would still be frustrated trying to convince somebody to like me that was never going to like me.
Are you fighting battles that you’re not supposed to fight? If God hasn’t given you permission, then you’re going to do it in your own strength, your own ability. It will be a constant struggle. There’s no grace for it. And just because it was right last time doesn’t mean that it’s right this time. Like David, you may be skilled in battle, you’re tough, you can take on the best of them, but you have to check in with headquarters. You have to get your assignment. “God, am I supposed to fight this battle? Show me the right steps to take.” Then listen to what you’re feeling down in here, not in your head but in your heart. The scripture calls it the still, small voice. It’s an impression. You can’t explain it. You just know. “This is what I’m supposed to do.” That’s God giving you daily direction.
This is where Joshua and the Israelites got off course. They had just seen the walls of Jericho come down. Great miracle. They had defeated other armies along the way. God’s favor was on them, but there was a group of people called the Gibeonites. They lived about two cities over from where Joshua and the Israelites were camped. And when they heard how powerful and successful the Israelites were, they knew they couldn’t compete with them and they, too, were going to be driven out of their land. So they came up with a plan to try to deceive Joshua. They loaded their donkeys up with old, run-down, worn out sacks. They put on clothes that had holes in them, sandals that were falling apart. They left food out on purpose so that it would be old and moldy and stale. They did this to make it seem like they had travelled a great distance.
And they showed up at Joshua’s camp and said, “Joshua, we’ve come from a far, far land. We’ve travelled for months and months. We’re tired. We’re hungry. Please, Joshua, make a peace treaty with us. Let us live here. We promise we’ll work for you.” Joshua said in effect, “How do I know you’re not from one of these neighboring cities I’m about to conquer? How can I be sure you don’t live close by?” They said, “Joshua, look at this bread. It was freshly baked when we left home. Now it’s old and moldy. Look at these clothes. They were dry cleaned before we left. This shirt had starch in it. Look at it now.” Joshua said, “Let me see that bread.” He looked at it. It was old, smelled badly.
The scripture says the Israelites examined their bread, but they did not consult with the Lord. It looked like they were telling the truth. Everything on the surface seemed like they were straight up people, so Joshua signed a peace treaty with them, saying “Fine. You can live here. Don’t worry. We’ll never hurt you.” Three days later, the truth came out. Joshua discovered they weren’t who they said they were. They were from a city just a couple of towns over. The Israelite people were furious. They were ready to wipe them out, let them have it. Joshua said, “No, don’t touch them. We gave them our word. If we break our agreement, God will come against us.”
It was a big headache. It all could have been avoided. The whole problem was they did not consult with the Lord. They just looked at it on the surface. Everything seemed fine, but God can see things that we can’t see. That’s why you need to go to him before you get involved with people, before you sign the contract, before you put the money down. Do yourself a favor and consult with the Lord because people are not always who they say they are. They can show you one side, the side they want you to see, but God can see the whole package. You can’t get so caught up in how fine she is, how beautiful she looks. “Joel, he’s tall, dark, handsome, and rich. I don’t have to consult with the Lord. The Lord just answered my prayer.” You better step back, Joshua. You may end up with somebody that’s not who you think they are. If you’re married, don’t say “Amen” now.
There were two young ladies in their early 20’s. They had travelled from their home in Southern California down to Tijuana, Mexico to go Christmas shopping for the day. When they returned to their car, they noticed what looked like a little puppy, looked just like a little Chihuahua. It was squirming there in the gutter, and they could tell it was in a lot of pain.
Feeling sorry for it, they picked it up and put it in the trunk of their car. They were going to take it home and didn’t want the border patrol to see it. One of the girls took it into her apartment, gave it some milk, trying to nurse it back to health. She tried to feed it, but it wouldn’t eat anything. That night, she wrapped it in a blanket and put it in her bed with her all through the night, making sure it was okay.
The next morning, it was doing worse than ever. She rushed it to the emergency animal clinic, handed it to the veterinarian, and began to describe the symptoms. The doctor stopped her and said, “Where did you get this animal?” She thought she was in trouble for bringing it across the border, and she finally said, “Well, Doctor, my friend and I found this little Chihuahua in the gutter in Tijuana.” He said, “Young lady, this is not a Chihuahua. This is a Mexican river rat.”
Everything is not what it seems. You better consult with the Lord. You don’t want any rats living in your house. I’m asking you today to go to God for daily direction. You’re not going to make the best decisions if you’re not consulting with the Lord. Don’t do like Joshua and try to figure it out in your own strength. Do like David and inquire of the Lord. Remember, yesterday’s manna is not going to be good for today. And if you’ll develop this habit of going to God for fresh manna, I believe and declare God is going to lead you down the best path for your life. He’s going to protect you from mistakes, bring the right people, and take you to the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus’ name. If you receive it, can you say “Amen”?
I’d like to give you an opportunity to make Jesus the Lord of your life. Would you pray with me? Just say, “Lord Jesus, I repented my sins. Come into my heart. I’ll make you my lord and savior.” Friends, if you prayed that simple prayer, we believe you got born again. Get in a good Bible-based church. Keep God first place.