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Seven Signals for Finishing Strong

Seven Signals for Finishing Strong

By David Jeremiah

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Think back to the time when you first started learning how to drive. You probably struggled to memorize the rules and regulations of the road. Before changing lanes or pulling into traffic, you may have taken a few extra seconds to check for oncoming vehicles, and you surely watched your speed. Perhaps most importantly, you observed every sign on the street and warning light in the car, knowing those signs provided valuable information that could keep you safe.

Now think of your driving habits today. Hopefully you are still a responsible driver, but most likely you have relaxed some of the precautions that came with driving for the first time. Lane changes come quickly with only a glance toward the blind spot; your pull into traffic with less space between the oncoming cars than before; the needle of the gas gauge points all the way to “E” before you stop and refuel; you may even let your speed climb a few miles above the posted limit.

Still, the street signs and hazard lights provide an important warning system when there are dangers ahead. These signs are so recognizable to seasoned drivers that we see and follow them almost subconsciously. But there can be times when our casual approach to driving causes us to miss a warning sign—and that can lead to disaster.

Communication: Staying Connected to God’s Guidance

Whether on the road or in life, communication is key. Street signs communicate warnings for our safety and to help us successfully maneuver from point A to point B. Just the same, God has our safety and success in mind when He communicates His guidelines to us. 

God has our safety and success in mind when He communicates His guidelines to us.

Communication from God is a much-debated topic in Christian groups. People who don’t say, “God told me” are often intimidated by those who do when that phrase occurs in conversation. If we were to probe “God told me,” there would be no cause for intimidation or feelings of spiritual inferiority. People who describe their communications from God in this way usually do not hear an audible voice. Rather, they sense guidance from Him by some other means: circumstances, Scripture, impressions through prayer, or counsel from wise friends. And they describe it by saying, “God told me.”

Each of those events is a valid way to receive communication from God. Just as a new driver has to learn what the various road signs mean and how to respond to them, God’s people learn to interpret His signals—especially when He warns us of dangers that lie ahead. Like sheep following their shepherd’s voice, we recognize God’s guidance and submit to His instruction (John 10:27).

Warnings: Staying Compliant With God’s Will

Without warning signs, a driver could drive the wrong way, miss a sharp turn that runs them off the road, or hit debris that damages their car. God’s spiritual warning signs save us from self-destructive choices and the traps set by our enemy, Satan. Those warning signs from God give us the key to finishing this life victoriously.

Warning signs from God give us the key to finishing this life victoriously.

First, let’s examine the warning messages God might send to us during our spiritual drive. Then we’ll talk about where God posts His warning signs.

STOP. If we are sinning, there is only one option: Stop or have your license revoked. Revocation could mean being temporarily sidelined or taken off the road altogether (1 Timothy 1:20; 1 Corinthians 11:30).

SLOW DOWN—DANGER AHEAD. Just as the father in Proverbs warned his son against moral dangers, pitfalls, and the foolishness of rejecting God’s wisdom (Proverbs 1:8-33), our Heavenly Father warns us against the same—and many other things. The wise “son” is the one who heeds those warnings and changes his behavior immediately.

LOW FUEL—FILL TANK. Just like a car can run out of gas, we can run out of fuel for our spiritual life. If we don’t take time to “refill,” we risk exhausting ourselves and incurring greater damage. Jesus regularly took time to pull off the road and fill up His gas tank before continuing His work (Matthew 11:28-30; 14:23).

God issues many types of warnings, but most will fall under one of those three categories: Stop (sinning), Slow Down (you’re about to sin), or Low Fuel (take time for refreshment before continuing).

Signals: Staying Close to God’s Heart

The longer we spend with our Driving Instructor, the more accustomed to His warnings we will become. We will learn to recognize them quickly and know what they mean. Here are seven signals He uses consistently:

1. Scripture. The Bible contains most of the warnings we need to remain safe and crash-free. If we dedicate ourselves to being diligent students of God’s Word, we can find the instruction we need to fend off sin: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

2. Conscience. When facing a gray area that’s not specifically addressed in Scripture, our conscience will warn us if it has been shaped by God’s Word: “Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14, ESV).

3. Circumstances. In Acts 16:7-10, we read that Paul and his group were unable to reach their intended destination because God had other plans for them. Sometimes God closes a door, and we need to wait for clear guidance from Him before continuing our journey.

4. Lack of Certainty or Peace. Peace is one of the fruits—or natural results—of the Spirit’s presence in our life (Galatians 5:22). If our heart is troubled, it’s a sign to slow down or stop until God gives us additional direction.

5. Loss of Blessing. According to Psalm 1:1, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly.” If God withdraws His blessing from what we are doing, the best thing to do would be to stop, search our heart, seek God’s counsel, and repent if necessary. This is what David did when God withdrew His blessing: “For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You…. And You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:4-5, emphasis added).

6. Advice or Counsel. If a godly person gives us advice, we should listen, for “he who heeds counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15).

7. Discipline. As God’s children, we can expect to receive His discipline if we do not heed His instructions. Correction does not mean that He has stopped loving us. It means He loves us too much to allow us to continue making destructive choices (Hebrews 12:1-13).

Scripture is always our primary source of God’s guidance (2 Timothy 3:16).

These warning signs are not in any particular order except for the first: Scripture is always our primary source of God’s guidance (2 Timothy 3:16). If we want to stay on course, we must watch for God’s warnings and signals. It is the best way to ensure that we finish well, following the Lord all the way to victory. 

This article originally appeared in the November 2006 issue of Turning Points devotional magazine. Request your complimentary subscription today!

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