> Mommy told me that if I'm good and I read my Bible and say my prayers, God will help me discover my destiny. Like in the movies! Find my perfect princess, be a hero, save the world. But, what if I mess it up? What if I'm not brave enough?
> Will God take away my happy ending if I fail in my duties as a mother? What is God's will in my life anyway? I thought I did everything right. Why do I feel so overwhelmed all the time? I wish God would just set the table for me and all I had to do was sit at it. Maybe I just need to pray more, read my Bible and talk to my pastor.
> Talk to my pastor, they say. Connect and have more accountability. Serve more, they say. Well, I'm doing all of these things and I still feel so lost. I thought that as I got older I'd be able to discover what God's perfect plan was for my life. And yet, here we are in debt, struggling with lust. It seems like I'm just surviving. Where did I mess it up? Why won't God just speak to me like He does in the Bible and tell me the game plan? Sometimes I wonder: Is there really a plan that God wrote for my life that I'm supposed to follow?
> All these years and I still have to tiptoe to do the right thing. What about my free will? Maybe there is no rulebook. Maybe I can relax a little. Maybe His will and His call are too separate things. I don't know anymore. I just wish I could see my plan. I wish I could just see my blueprint.
Well, good morning to everybody and good morning, also, to those who watch via the internet and mobile app. We've got people that drive trucks and listen. We've got people in Seattle, Washington that listen. We've got people all around the country and around the world. Would you believe we have over 1,000 people that listen to the things that we do here at Grace? So, welcome to all of you all and thanks for listening. Let's give them a big clap. That's awesome. I love that.
I don't know about you all, but when we start a new series, I am pumped. And I didn't drink any Mountain Dew. I'm just still drinking Perrier. So, I'm pumped. I'm excited about the new series. I hope that you are too. If this is your first time, you just need to go, "I hit the jackpot. I showed up today as they're beginning a new series. That's awesome."
So, we welcome you. It's a good time to be here. You know, many of you all know this, but some of you don't. I also am a professor. I teach at college and seminary level stuff. When you're a professor, you have sort of a portfolio of classes that you teach. Because, when you've got to put all that stuff together, it takes a lot of time and effort and you want to sort of stay teaching those classes. If they give you something new, then you've got to go to all that work to do just a one-off class. It's sort of tough.
Well, within my portfolio of classes, I teach systematic theology. I teach Systematic 1 and Systematic 2. When I start off those classes after you get through the syllabus, the book, papers and grading and all that stuff during the first class, I talk about the difference to my students between embedded theology and deliberative theology. Now, don't get whacked out with what is going on here with these words or whatever. I'll make sense of everything. First of all, theology, which is properly the study of God, basically is what we say about God. Everybody has something to say about God. Everybody does. Even if you say that God doesn't exist, you're still making a statement about God. Everybody has those things.
But, everybody also has embedded understandings of God and we learn that just along the way like we do everything else in life. Whether it be things that we feel about the world, things that we feel about issues, social stuff or whatever. All of those things. We have embedded stuff that we learned along the way from mom, dad, culture or whatever. But, in the church or even outside of the church, we've learned certain things that have just sort of been caught. They're sort of like the folksy things that we know to be true.
Those are things that we just carry with us. If you grew up in a non-denominational setting, a Baptist setting, a Presbyterian setting, a Catholic setting, a Pentecostal-Charismatic setting, there are certain things that are just part of those groups that we call embedded theology. And everybody has them. So, when my students come in, I say, "I want to move you from the things that you hold to be true and that you feel that are true to actually moving to what we call a deliberative theology where you really start thinking through issues using critical reasoning skills, logic and ultimately looking at Scripture in all of the 66 books as to whether or not the things that we hold to be true are, in fact, true."
And, invariably, in all of my classes, people make changes between the things that they thought when they came in to when they leave. And I don't have a predetermined outcome of what I want them to believe. I just want them to be challenged. So, what I want to do over the next four weeks is I want to do that with you all. I want to move from an embedded theology to a deliberative theology in a perennial issue in the church. And that issue is God's will. That is a very sticky issue to many people. We probably don't talk about it a lot. We probably don't say a lot about it. But, many, many of us have had those times where we just simply don't know. What does God want me to do? How does He want me to act?
We freeze up and we seize up because it's complicated issues. So, what I want to do is I want to talk with you. I want you to go on a journey with me in this particular thing. Because, it is an issue. It's an issue. There's over 100 books written every single year on God's will. Let me just let you in on a little bit of knowledge: They don't all agree. There's thousands of sermons preached every year by ministers on God's will. I'm going to let you in a little bit of news here: They don't all agree. There's hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of conversations that take place throughout churches across the world every year, whether via text or in small groups or whether with friends. What does God want me to do? How does God want me to act? What does He want me to say? All of these things. And the issue is it's a complicated deal. It's a hairball that needs to be untangled.
And we usually, when someone starts talking about something that we sort of hold to be true, an embedded theology, walls go up and defense go up because it's like, "Man, hold on. You're talking about things that I've known to be true."
Because, we're going to talk about some things that might make you go, "Oh, man."
Because, when we talk about God's will, people go, "Let me tell you how to find it. Here's the way you find it. You pray and God's going to give you a peace about it."
You all have heard that. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that at all. In fact, I could tell you where there's passages in the Bible where people are doing God's will and we know they're doing God's will and they're experiencing anything but a peace about it. Okay? You know, people say, "Well, I need a sign," even though Jesus said, "Unbelievers look for signs."
"I'm going to put a fleece out like Gideon."
The story of Gideon is about unbelief. Even though God answered Gideon, it's not a story of faith. It's a story of unbelief. Just like the story of Doubting Thomas when he said, "I need to touch Jesus' wounds."
That's not a sign of faith. That's a sign of unbelief. Even though Jesus honored it and answered it, we shouldn't take away from that passage of Scripture that that's what we should be doing. So, we're going to have to untangle this hairball because there's a lot of things that float around at the embedded or folks' type of understanding of religion that we want to try to move away from and see if we can maybe find some better ways to talk about this issue.
Now, here's why I think that there is a big issue concerning this in the church. I just want you to follow along with me. We're going to have a little bit of fun. Everybody's seen those action movies where people dress up in those black suits so that they can't be seen at night, like ninja suits with the smoke bombs and all that stuff. So, I want you to imagine. Because, I think this is what we really think at some level. Not the ninja stuff and smoke bombs and action movie stuff, but where I'm going with this story. I think we all go, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That's where we're going."
So, let's assume that we're all dressed up in our black outfit and we're going to sort of sneak into heaven. The angels and God just somehow don't see us. We're just really good ninjas, okay? This is not theologically accurate. I'm just asking you to follow along.
People who it's their first time here are like, "Man, this guy's crazy."
"Are we in Colorado, honey? Are they smoking something?"
Anyway, we get up into heaven and we know that there's this room that we can find. We get in and in the room are all these file cabinets. They're all in alphabetical order. And we know that if we can find the file cabinet with our name and our folder in it and open that thing up, pull that folder open – you know, you've got your tool belt, your black suit and your flash light. You open that thing up, turn your flashlight on and we just know, deep down inside, that there's a blueprint in there. That's God's blueprint for our life. If we can just find that blueprint, life would be great.
I would like for you to go on a journey with me over the next four weeks to understand that that's probably not the best way to refer to God's will. In fact, that's why we call this the "blueprint myth." I think there's a lot more flexibility and a lot more openness to the things that God has for you and me than we give ourselves credit for. And I think, rather than God's will becoming this thing of bondage and sort of seizing us up, I think we're going to find out that it's incredibly liberating and incredibly freeing because God's not a God that puts us in bondage. He's a God that brings us freedom.
So, when we talk about God's will in the church, we usually talk about finding it. What I want to do is I just want you to follow with me for a little bit because you probably haven't thought through these things. It's tough, sometimes, to think through issues that are embedded. But, let's ask a question here. What are we really saying when we tell people to find God's will?
You may say, "Well, I've never really thought about that. I just tell them to find it."
Well, what are we saying? Well, first of all what we're saying is that not everyone can readily access it. See, this is my clicker. Everybody always asks, "What do you hold in your hand?"
It's not a phone. I'm not waiting for a phone call from one of my kids or something. This is the clicker. What this does it this moves this forward and moves it back. It's really simple. They knew I was from Kentucky. They're like, "Green is go, Chip. Red is back. There's nothing else you can press to mess anything up."
So, that's what this is. But, let me use this for an example. If my clicker is right here, I can readily access it. But, if you take my clicker from me, I have to go find it. So, when we say we're going to find God's will, we're saying not everyone can readily access it. Is that true? We're going to talk about that. How about this one? We also say when we've got to find God's will that there's a hidden knowledge to be discovered. That, you know, if we do these right things and God's a little sneaky and we've got to do a few things and jump through the right hoops or whatever and then we'll find it.
Another thing we're saying when we say you need to find God's will is that we can shortcut character development. This is huge. See, if I could give you the eight things to do to find God's will, then you don't really have to become more like Jesus or look more like Jesus or do any of that stuff. You've just got to find it and off you go.
So, is finding God's will the best way to talk about it? I'd like to ask you to go on a journey with me. I don't think that's the best way to talk about it and I'm not trying to get on anybody's toes or hurt anybody's feelings. As your pastor, all I want to do is I want to see you live the abundant life that God has for you. I want you to live a blessed life. I think that as we progress through this series, I think you're going to realize that, you know what? A lot more freedom and it's not as hard as I've made it out to be to know God's will for my life.
So, let's go on a journey. Let's untangle the hairball. When people come up to me, they come up to me all the time and say, "Chip, what do you think about this?"
You know, normally, it's a biblical issue. Sometimes it's other issues. But, normally it's a biblical issue.
"What do you think about this?"
Well, the first thing I do is I say, "What do you mean when you say 'this?'"
Because, I've found that until you know what the terms mean for the person who's asking, you can't assume that they see the term the same way you see it. So, I'm going to ask you a question. When we talk about God's will, what are we talking about? Because, if you're going to find it or know it or do it or any of those things, you sort of need to know what it is that you're going to find, know or do when you talk about God's will? What is God's will? I think that, if I asked that question and we got 10 people, we might get 10 different answers.
I'd like to submit to you that there are two ways in which Scripture talks about God's will. There's two ways and they're very important for us to get. This is where I'm hoping that that notebook that we gave you that was on your seat, that you're going to start opening that up and go, "Yeah, yeah. This is a good time to start writing some stuff down."
Okay? That's my gentle way, without guilting you, to say, "This is a good time to take notes. Okay?"
I want you to do that. So, here's the first way Scripture talks about God's will. It talks about a sovereign will. God has a will that stands above history, choices, leaders and all of this. It is a sovereign will that God is sovereignty in control. In other words, He can do what He wants.
Psalm 115:3 says, "Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases."
There is a sovereign will of God and this is a will that's going to get done. It's just going to get done. And let me give you some biblical understanding here on God's will. Isaiah is recording for us here in chapter 46 something that God says. God says, "Remember what happened long ago? For I am God and there is no other. I am God and no one is like me."
In other words, He's telling us, "There's no other God like me. There's nobody like me," and then He's going to tell us why there's nobody else like Him. Here's what He says:
He says, "I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done."
In other words, "I'm the one that's deciding what went on from the beginning to the end. I'm the one that declared it. I'm the one that chose it. So, there can't be anybody else that's involved in that process. I'm the one who did it. There's no other god like me saying, 'My plan will take place and I will do all my will.'"
This is God that's talking about this here. He's saying, "There's a sovereign will that's going to get done. It doesn't make a difference what you do, what you say or anything. It's going to happen. Because, I'm the one that decided it would happen. I'm the one that declared it would happen. It's going to get done."
This is the sovereign will of God. We talk about what is God's will? Well, the way the Bible talks about God's will, first of all, is a sovereign will. Paul says the same thing in Ephesians 1. He says, "In Him we've also received an inheritance because we were predestined according to the plan of the one..." – listen – "...who works out everything."
Not every other day, not every other month, not every other thing that we decide to do. He works out everything in agreement with the purpose of His will. This is the sovereign will of God. You say, "What's God's will?"
God's will is a sovereign will that's going to get done. It doesn't make a difference what you and I think. It doesn't make a difference what you and I choose to do. God's will is going to get done. You see that in Peter when he's preaching on the Day of Pentecost to the Jewish people. He says, "Hey, you guys delivered up Jesus and you guys killed Jesus. You guys did that. But, you did exactly what God had determined would happen. And you go, "Well, how does that make sense?"
It ain't going to make any sense. I teach theology. It's not going to make any sense. This is why it's called faith and not knowledge. But, the bottom line is we can't short circuit the idea that there is a sovereign will of God. The biblical writers are very aware of this sovereign will. Paul is leaving the church at Ephesus. He's continuing his journeys. This is the church at Ephesus asking Paul – Luke is recording this for us here in Acts 18.
It says, "When they asked him to stay for a longer time, he declined."
He needed to go on.
He said, "Farewell," and he added – this is important. Listen. "I'll come back to you again if God wills."
And then he left. What's he saying? He's like, "I don't know if I'm going to come back or not. All I know is if God wants me to come back, I will. The way I'll know it's God's will is if I come back. I don't have to pray about it. I don't have to think about it. I don't have to do any of that stuff. I know that God's got this plan that I don't necessarily always know. I'm just trusting God. What I know is this."
James says the same thing. James says, "Why are you planning about what you're going to do three days from now or six years from now? You should be saying, 'If the Lord wills, this will happen tomorrow.'"
There is a sovereign will of God. This is important. This is why Moses tells us, in Deuteronomy 29:29, the first part of it – we'll look at the second part in a minute – "The hidden things belong to the Lord our God."
Lean in here. This is so important to get. There are some things in you and I's lives that God is not going to share with us beforehand. At all. So, when we talk about God's sovereign will, we don't participate in the knowledge of this beforehand. You say, "Well, that doesn't seem fair, Chip. I mean, why wouldn't God tell me everything that He wanted me to do?"
Well, if He told you everything that He wanted you to do and what He wanted you to accomplish, you wouldn't have to trust Him. You wouldn't have to put any faith in Him. See, this is the part of the will of God – and sometimes we do see it. But, it's down the road. Sometimes we look back and we go, "Oh, that God. He is something else. I mean, I made all those bad decisions and all that bad stuff and look what He did. I see His hand."
See, the sovereign will of God is a plan He's going to accomplish no matter what's going on. But, you and I are not available to that knowledge up front. That right there is a huge "get out of jail free" card. Because, that means some things I'm not going to know. That's great. Because, sometimes we want to know everything. Letting you know that you're not going to know everything is great.
Now, here's the other way God's will is used in Scripture: The synergistic will. You're like, "Man, that's a big word."
Okay. Let me explain what this means. It is a compound word. It comes from the Greek word which means to work together with. "Syn" and "ergo." Work together with. So, synergy is working together. Check this out: There is a will that God has for you and I's lives that He wants to work in us and together with us where we do the things that He wants us to do. And this is where we see the second part of Deuteronomy 29:29.
"The hidden things belong to the Lord our God."
"But the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law."
In other words, God has revealed things to you and me that we don't have to go find. We just have to do. It's like, "Yeah, but I don't know that I always want to do what God wants me to do."
In fact, we've concocted some really good things in the American Church. It's like 99% of everything that you would ever think about doing, God's already answered that.
"Well, how am I supposed to treat my wife?"
Ephesians 5. It's there.
"Well, what am I supposed to do when somebody does me wrong at church?"
"What am I supposed to do when somebody does me wrong and I don't want to forgive them?"
Seventy times seven.
"Well, yeah. But, what am I supposed to do when somebody's like my enemy?"
Matthew 5. Love them. Isn't it funny how we'll do this? Well go, to something that's clearly been revealed, "You know what I need to do? God, I just need you to show me what you want me to do in this area of my life."
He's going, "I'm not going to answer that. I already told you."
"I just don't know what God wants me to do with my finances."
I'll get off that one. I want you to still love me, you know? But, the reality is God's revealed about 99% of everything you and I struggle through or whatever. He's given it to us. And here's the interesting thing: Scripture doesn't talk about finding it as the problem. Scripture lets us know that there's another problem. It's the "doing it" part. Listen to the way Jesus uses God's will. This is important.
He says this in Matthew 7:21: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven."
It's like, wow. That's sobering. That's why we say here at Grace that the reason we do First Friday, the reason we do the outreaches that we do, the reason we get involved in the marathons and the running stuff and all the things that we do is because we want to make it really difficult to go to Hell in Lakewood Ranch. You know? That's why we do this stuff. We don't want anybody doing the "I didn't enter the kingdom of heaven."
But, look what He says here. This is important. He says, "But only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
Now, here's the problem: If this is something that you've got to find, what if you don't find it? Some of you are like, "Well, I've tried to find some things sometimes and God didn't really talk to me."
Okay. Well, if you can't find it, you can't know it. If you can't know it, you can't do it. Well, if that's the case, we might be in really big trouble if we can't find it. We might be the ones not doing it, and that doesn't bode well for us. It's not the way Jesus uses it. Jesus doesn't use it as something that needs to be found. We see that, also, in the writer to the Hebrews.
"Now may the God of peace who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the everlasting covenant," – Lean in here. Listen to this here – "equip you with everything good to..." – find God's will.
No. The problem is the doing. You need to be equipped with everything good to do His will, working in us [synergy] what is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
See, we might want to move from the "finding" thing to thinking about the "doing" thing. We see this in Paul. Paul says, "Pay careful attention, everybody, to how you live."
In other words, this is important because people are watching you and people see you and people look at you and say, "Yeah, you're a Christian. I'm going to look at your life."
You need to pay careful attention how you live here. Not as unwise, but as wise. This is really important. Wisdom in the Bible isn't to people that are smart. Wisdom isn't the people in the Bible that can solve algebra or calculus or any of that stuff. People in the Bible that are wise are not the ones that have all the great wisdom to tell you how to do all this stuff. People in Scripture, in the book of Proverbs in the wisdom literature say you are wise if, and only if, you do what God has asked you to do. That's the wise person.
The unwise person does their own thing. Making the most of the time because the days are evil. So, don't be foolish. Understand the Lord's will. Here it is: "Go do it."
See, the synergistic will of God, we can participate. We don't have to. We can say we don't want to do this. People in the Bible didn't do God's will. They chose not to do it. But, the bottom line is He's revealed to you and me things that He wants you and me to do. Like people go, "You know, I just don't necessarily feel called to share my faith."
You don't need to pray about that. You might need to pray and seek God for the wisdom and the guidance and the ability and His Spirit to work in you to accomplish the things that He's asked you to do, but you don't need to ask the question, "Should I actually be somebody doing this?"
Because, that's just part of what He's asked us to do. He's revealed that to us. And isn't it crazy that we do that? You know? We're like praying, "You know, God, my wife just didn't do this thing right last night. I'm just not sure whether I should get her back or I should..."
No, no, no. You're supposed to love your wife as Christ loved the Church. You don't need to pray about that. You know, I love it. There was a women's convention with like 10-15 thousand people in the auditorium. You know? They have women's meetings and men's meetings and all that stuff. This was a women's meeting. At the end of the women's meeting, the person who was leading it in prayer to dismiss everybody said, "Oh, and by the way, if y'all would pray with us. There's someone here that we've learned that needs a financial miracle. They need $5,000. We just pray that God will deliver that."
Somebody in the seats goes, "Whoa. Hold on. We're not praying for that. Stop praying for that. There's 15,000 people here. Just get a dollar out of every purse and she'll have 3 times more than she needs."
"Man, I need to pray about that. I need to find God's will."
No. Whoever has this world's good and sees somebody in need and doesn't help them, how does the love of God dwell in them? And you go, "I need to pray about it."
No. You don't need to pray about it. You need to do it. You say, "Well, I don't know about that. What if it doesn't happen?"
That's where you go back to God's sovereign will and you've got to trust Him. We don't like to trust Him though, do we? We like to know. Come on, now. Be honest with me. We like to have assurance, man. I want the best of both worlds. I want to make sure I get into heaven. I want to make sure that God don't get too much of me down here. Because, if He gets too much of me, it might require me to trust Him.
So, here's the deal. Let's recap here. Okay. The sovereign will of God – this is good teaching. This is good teaching, okay? I'm telling you. I want to see you free and not in bondage. Okay? Three people are like, "Yeah," and other people are like, "I don't like this. This is messing me up. You lost me with 'embedded.'"
So, sovereign will requires faith. We need to have faith in God. We trust Him. We just trust Him. We don't know. We trust Him. My kids don't know that I'm going to catch them when they jump off the stairs. They think I'm going to. They trust that I will. I could not catch them, but they trust that I will. Sometimes I would like to not catch them. Right on through.
Anyway, so. Kids are hellions sometimes. They take after their mom. Anyway, so sovereign will is faith. We've got to do that. Okay? The synergistic will is obedience. We follow what God wants us to do. I can spend hours and hours and hours on biblical passages like what I'm going to read you here that show you how God has spoken to you and me. He's revealed things very clearly. This is Paul talking to the Thessalonian church.
He says, "We exhort you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle,"
That's not something we really like to do at all in the American church, is it? You know, like if you found somebody that's sort of not doing the things God's asked them to do and they're just sort of showing up and are not really involved and not really doing the God thing or whatever. You need to warn those who are idle who are like, "I'm out."
Okay? Comfort the discouraged. That's what we're supposed to do. Help the weak.
"Yeah, I don't want to help the weak because they end up making bad decisions. That's why they're..."
No, no, no. Help the weak. Help the weak. Be patient with everyone.
"I don't want to be patient with everyone. I had to tell this guy here to get his act together and this guy here to get his act together. And I'm not doing that."
See, this is it right here. Real clear. I mean, if we just did that that'd be like 99% of everything that we'd ever do in the world. He keeps going. Listen.
"See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone."
You go, "Well, when can I get them back?"
There's a Greek word for that. It's called "never." You say, "I don't really like that."
Okay. Well, that's fine. "See it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all."
"Yeah, well what about me?"
No. You're supposed to look at what's good for all.
"Well, I don't like that."
That's fine. You don't have to like it. But, it's clear. It's like God's revealed things to us and what we do is we go, "Well, I need to pray about it. I need to find God's will about it."
Paul's going, "Hey, guys. Here's what we do right here. We do this right here: We rejoice always."
"Yeah, but what happens when I have a bad day?"
"We rejoice always."
"Yeah, but what happens when I have a fight with my spouse?"
"We rejoice always."
"Yeah, but what happens when I..."
"We rejoice always. We pray constantly."
In other words, when somebody needs prayer, we're there. Anybody ever do this? Somebody comes to you after church and says, "Will you pray for this?"
You're like, "I've got you, buddy. I've got you."
Then three weeks go by and they go, "Man, thanks for praying."
And you're like, "Oh... Oh... brother, I prayed for you for the last three weeks. The Holy Ghost came down in my house as I prayed for you."
Come on. Y'all know that's the way it is.
"Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything."
"I don't want to give thanks in that."
Then, listen to what Paul says as he's told you all this stuff here. This is what he says: "This is God's will for you."
That's the way it's supposed to look.
"I don't like that."
Okay. That's fine. Nobody's saying that the doing is easy. Nobody's saying that the following is easy. But, it's not a finding in the Bible. It's a doing. And I know what you're thinking, because y'all are smart. This is a smart church. You're thinking, "But, what about that day-to-day stuff?"
I've got you.
"All those big words and theology and all that stuff. But, what about the day-to-day things? You know, what about what job should I take? There you go. Now we're talking about something that matters to me. I don't care about that theology stuff. Show me the money, honey. That's what I want right there. What job should I take? Where should I live? Got you now, Bennett. Or, how about this one here? What should I do this summer? There we go. Now we're starting to make sense. And how about this? Who should I date, because I'm married?"
So, the deal is, you know – why are y'all laughing? Anyway, so we've got all this stuff here and we go, "This is the deal."
Lean in. This is huge. This is the deal: Sometimes does God tell people what job to take? Yep. Sometimes does He tell them who to date and marry? Yep. He did that for Hosea. Yep. All of that stuff. That is the difference between God's call and God's will. God, when He calls you to something, will not be misunderstood. He'll let you know.
"I want you to preach. Go. I want you to go live here. Go."
You say, "Well then, what do I do with this stuff here if I don't have a specific call?"
This is the beauty of God. He gave you a brain. He gave you some freedom. This is open. What God says – and we're going to look at this over the next three weeks – in the day-to-day stuff that you should use wisdom. And I'm going to explain to you what the Scriptures say about wisdom and how we do these things in our lives and then we go make a decision and we're done. And we don't freeze up and we don't seize up. Because, we know that there's a sovereign will of God that He's going to accomplish His plans even when you and me make bad choices.
What I want to untangle out of everybody today is that trying to find a mysterious, specific will for every decision in our life will result in ineffectiveness and confusion in your life. And I don't want that for you and God doesn't want that for you. So, if you didn't open up your book at this point, this is the time to open up your book. We're going to do the takehomes. These are the ones where the rubber meets the road. This is the takehome. Think about this. Chew on this for the week.
First of all, lets affirm collectively that God guides rather than hides. He's not sneaky. He's not trying to hide stuff from you.
"Chip, if you do these eight things and jump through this hoop, say this prayer and turn around backwards and all this stuff."
I mean, we've all done it. You open up your Bible like, "Okay, God. Okay. Judas went and hung himself. I'm going to get a mulligan on that one. What thou doest, doest quickly."
Like, "Uh oh. Okay, God. We're going to put that aside."
We've all done that and played the biblical game. Or you get the little sheet of paper and go, "Okay, God. If it goes in the trash can, it's Your will. I'm going to shoot again."
See, that doesn't work. God's not trying to hide from you. He guides. Listen to what the psalmist says: "Teach me to do Your will."
Not finding. It's doing. "God, I need some help. I need some help to do the things You've called me to do, for You're my God. May Your gracious Spirit lead me on level ground. God, I want to do what it is that You've called me to do and I realize that in my own strength and my own abilities I'm probably not going to do that. So, God, I need You. I need You to help me. I need You to provide for me."
And the deal is this: God has given us all the provision that we need to live a life of godliness. He's given all of those things to us. So, the problem is not the finding. The problem is us syncing up with God in a way that we do it. We do it in such a way that the Spirit leads and guides us and leads us to the place that we want to be. Everybody wants to be on level ground. Everybody's tired of this. We're all tired of that life. So, God guides. He doesn't hide.
Secondly, let's agree to examine, if it's your first time, or reexamine God's will in light of Scripture. Let's just agree that over the next several weeks we're going to be here, we're going to be focused, we're going to learn, we're going to really listen to Scripture and we're going to really examine this in light of Scripture. Not in light of what we maybe thought to be true or held on to be true or things that we sort of worked with. Let's really work through this.
Thirdly and lastly, let's realize that God doesn't want us playing the guessing game. He wants you and me to live out a blessed life. God's not trying to hide from you. He's not trying to keep something back from you. I mean, it says will He not give us all good things? I mean, it's not like He's trying to play a game where you've got to guess everything and jump through hoops. He really wants you to live a blessed life. Here's the way the writer of the Proverbs said it:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart."
Trust Him. You don't know. You trust. Trust has an element of "I don't know." But, I trust Him. And do not rely on your own understanding. And we do that. We're like, "Oh, yeah. Well, see, the Bible says to do this. But, if I did that then it would create this in my life and I don't want to create this in my life. I want to do that."
That's relying on your own understanding. That's doing what you think is right. It's not what God asked us to do. God says, "Hey, I've got it. I'm the one who created the world. I created you. I formed you in your mother's womb. I know. Trust me. Don't go your way. There's a way that seems right to a man."
Proverbs 14:12 and, in case you miss it, you get it in Proverbs 16:25 again. It's like a double-barrel shotgun. There's a way that seems right to man, but the end leads in death. It's not a good place to go. Don't rely on your own understanding. In all your ways, know Him. Relationship. Union with Him. Abiding in Him. And He will make your paths straight.
Isn't that what you want? You don't want that seizing up and freezing up trying to figure out what toothpaste should I use. God's like, "Four out of five dentists choose Colgate. Use that."
No, I'm just kidding. I'd like to meet those four out of five, because everybody's got four out of five. Anyway, the point is that I want to encourage you to take a journey with me over the next couple of weeks. Put aside whatever it is that you hold right now and evaluate it. If, at the end of a couple weeks, you think I'm crazy, that's fine. I'm not trying to get you to believe the way I believe. As your pastor, I'm just trying to equip you to become everything that God has called you to be. I want you to live a life of liberated freedom, not a life of seizing up and freezing up and always wondering what God has for you.
So, would you give me the privilege or praying for all of you all? Let's bow our heads.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You so much to get to do what I do. I feel like I'm the most privileged and fortunate person in the whole world to get to be the pastor of a wonderful, growing, serving church. It's awesome. Lord, I realize that everybody here is at different places in their lives. Some are here today that haven't even really ever thought about living for You. They just don't even know what that would look like. Maybe today they're thinking, "Maybe I should live for God."
God, I pray that what they would know is that You want them to come home. You love them. You care. You sent Jesus for that reason. To bring them home. So, Lord, I pray that they'd make that decision. And if they do, let them find somebody on staff or somebody at the hub and say, "Hey, I made that decision. I want to start living for God."
Then, Lord, there's people in here that are at different places in their lifestyle for God. Some people are sort of new and some people have been doing it for a long time. Lord, what I pray is that over the next few weeks You would bring us as a collective body to a place of freedom on this issue so that we don't have to go back and keep revisiting it and keep re-dealing with it. That we can figure it out and move on. Because, God, I don't believe that Your will is that confusing. I believe it's a lot easier than we've made it. Unfortunately, we've just allowed the world and culture and our own views and our own desires to creep in to make this thing complicated when, in reality, it's probably not as complicated as we've made it.
So, Lord, I pray for this church. I pray for everybody here that You would help us to move on this journey so that we can forever get these things settle in our lives and get about doing the work that You've called us to do. So, Lord, I pray that as we leave here today that You would watch over us and protect us, that You would lead and guide us, and I pray, Lord, that You'd bring us back safely to when we meet again. And Lord, help us to bring some people along with us. Some friends, neighbors, family and all of those good things so that they can hear about Your Word and hear about Your will for their life as well.
We thank You, Lord, for being such a good God. We thank You, Lord, for caring for us in the way that You do. We thank You for Your Scriptures, Lord, that lead and guide us. We thank You for everything. We love You, praise You and honor You. In Jesus' name, and everybody said, "amen." Give the Lord a big hang clap and tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. Have a great day.