> 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 also good morning to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. Can we give them all a big hand clap? There's a lot of people that watch. We want you to feel like you're a part of what's going on here as well.
We are in a four-week series called "Blueprint Myth." For those of you all who are regular attenders, you know that I try to do this at the beginning of every message when we're in the middle of a series. I try to bring everybody back up to speed, because I know in every service we've got visitors and we've got people that missed the week before. So, I just think it's appropriate that we sort of all get back onto the same page.
What we're doing in this particular series – and it's what I asked everybody to do last week – is we're taking a journey. I asked you to take a journey with me. The beautiful thing about Grace Community Church is this: When I ask you to take a journey with me, whatever God speaks to you and however God ministers to you, let Him do that. You don't always have to see it the way I see it. You don't always have to believe it the way I believe it. You know, ultimately, all of us are called to get into the Scriptures for ourselves and to figure out what God wants. But, as your pastor, when I do these series', I really, sincerely try to do things that I feel will help you out.
So, I asked you to take a journey with me on an issue that is a perennial issue in the church. In fact, it's something that's jammed people up often. It's seized them up. It's frozen them up. It's brought confusion. And it doesn't help that there's hundreds of books every year that are written on this subject. Most of them don't agree. It doesn't help that there's thousands of sermons preached every year. It doesn't help that many of them don't agree. There's just the inherent issues within the church on this particular issue. We're taking a journey looking at God's will.
I did it for two reasons. One, I knew coming out of Easter there were people that had made a decision to accept Christ and move forward in their relationship with God. And I knew the next series dealing with what God's will is for our life would be huge for them. But, I also knew, as a pastor, that this is a really important issue. I can't tell you how many times I've seen so many people just froze up and jammed up with this particular issue.
What I believe with all of my heart is this: I believe when we get in an area of our lives where we get jammed up and we get froze up and we're struggling, somewhere along the way I feel like we might have not seen exactly what God is speaking to us. Because, I believe when we go to God's Word and we read it in the way it's supposed to be read, I believe God brings freedom to our lives. He's not trying to bring bondage to our lives. I believe He brings joy and all those things and the abundant life. He's not trying to get us to be all jammed up.
So, that's why I asked everybody to take a journey with me. Because, I think that as we go through this series, we're going to figure out ways that God's will is not as difficult as we thought that it was and it will free us up to become all that God has created you and me to be. And the reason we called this the "Blueprint Myth" is because I'm convinced – and I've had hundreds and thousands of conversations with people about this – it seems to be that the majority of people believe that God sort of has this blueprint somewhere up in heaven for our lives. And if we could just find that blueprint and follow it along, everything would be great. I just think there's some inherent problems with that view. The biggest one is if you've ever seen those movies where somebody goes back in time and they make one decision differently than they did when they were there before, they get back to the future and everything's different based on that one decision.
And it would be terrible, wouldn't it, if God had this blueprint and you made a mistake and it forever skewed the rest of your life missing God's will? I just don't believe that that is what He is all about. So, let me summarize here what we talked about last week to bring everybody back up to speed.
We had this real big moment last week. In fact, many of you all put on Facebook and I got several messages to me personally, that this was a mind-blowing concept for many people. Moving from looking at God's will through the lens of finding and moving to God's will through the lens of doing. The Scriptures don't really tell us to find God's will. They don't give us a little pattern on how to find God's will. Scripture talks about doing God's will. That we're to live this thing out and to be what God has called us to be.
And I mentioned that there were some inherent issues with this idea of finding God's will. It made God sort of a sneaky God and you had to look under a stone or do what a lot of people do. We all know somebody who's done it. It probably wasn't us, but we know somebody who's done it, right? They got in the car and said, "Okay, God. I'm going to turn on The Joy FM. A Christian station. Whatever song is on, that's what you're going to speak to me today."
You know? You hit it and it ends up being on the country station and you're like, "Who got in my car?"
You know? Or you get that ball of paper and you're like, "Okay, God. She's really pretty and I know she's the one. So, when I shoot this and it goes in, I'm going to know."
You shoot and it goes off on the floor. You're like, "Okay, God. Let's take another shot here."
You know? We don't want to live our lives that way with this sort of sneaky God trying to figure out what's going on. And there are just some inherent issues with finding God's will. And I don't know about you, but if you were going to be honest – and I think we like to be honest here and people on the mobile app and internet like to be honest – isn't it easier to find problems in other people's lives rather than ours? Right? Amen. Come on. It's the truth, isn't it? There's a Greek word for that. "Any-body-but-me."
I told you I try to give you all the best teaching I could give you here. But, there are some inherent issues with this idea of finding God's will. One of the things we need to look at is when we talk about finding God's will, we spend inordinate energy on personal and cultural pursuits. Lean in here and listen to this, because I think this is huge. If you're brand new here and you just came in here and you're trying to figure out what God's doing and all this stuff, I have some stuff to say to you. But, I'm really saying this, at this particular moment, to those that have been a Christian for a little while or at least had been in church for a little while.
Isn't it interesting when you look at Ephesians 3 and you see the way Paul prays or the prayer he prays for the Colossians in Colossians 1 or the prayer he prays for the Thessalonians or the prayer that Jesus prays in John 17, isn't it so interesting that they don't pray anything like we do? They're praying to understand the knowledge of God's will. They're praying to understand the depth and the height and width of the love that God has for you. Praying that you'll love the brothers and reach out and share the Gospel. That's like big prayers, you know?
And we're praying, "God, could You meet my mortgage? I need this car. I need this job."
And I don't want anybody to think that those aren't important. But, what I want us to see is oftentimes when we're trying to find God's will, we're spending it on things that are not as important as sharing our faith and loving our neighbors and doing the things that God has called us to do. So, there's sort of an inherent issue with finding God's will. We also are preoccupied with the future. You know? We start thinking about trying to find God's will. What's next? What does God have next for me? What job? What date? Whatever. It just messes us all up.
The church is filled with anxiety. You know what anxiety is, right? You may want to right this down. This is good stuff. Anxiety is trying to live the future today. That's good. I mean, I could stop right now and we can go get baptized. You know? But, we get preoccupied with the future. And when we're preoccupied with the future, guess what we're not doing? We're not living now. We also, when trying to find God's will, dodge personal responsibility. I know nobody's ever done this, but you can see it in other people where you're going, "I need to get a job," and you tell your friends you need to get a job and they say, "Okay. Well, dude, it's been four weeks and you've not done anything."
"Yeah, I'm praying about it and trying to find what God wants me to do."
It's like, "I'm going to tell you right now. What God wants you to do is to get out of your house and go get a job."
You know? So, we can dodge personal responsibility. So, that's why we're trying to take this journey of moving from finding God's will, which I think is not the best way to look at this, into doing God's will. So, that was the big "wow" moment last week.
Well, the big "wow" moment this week is going to be this. This is where it's going to get real and raw on everybody. So, get ready. I love you, but sometimes we've got to get real and raw here with this stuff. Here's the deal: If we're going to do God's will – if we go, "Okay, I get it. There's some inherent problems with finding. I get that part. I see what you're talking about with the doing thing. I get all that stuff."
Here's the thing: You cannot do God's will unless you know God's will. You just can't do it if you don't know it. And here's where it gets real. And it gets really real. Now, I want you to lean in here. There are two questions that we have to answer in life. And I know you've got all kinds of questions that you have. But, there's two major questions that you and I have to answer in life. The first one is: Who is Jesus? That's the most important question you will ever answer in your life. If you're new here today and you've come in here and you're like, "You know, I'm not quite sure. I thought about going to church. I haven't been to church in a long time. I saw you guys out at First Friday or you sent me this big poster in the mail or whatever it was and we decided to show up. I used to go to church."
Whatever it may be, the most important question is who is Jesus? Because, eternity is settled on that question. At let me just say here: If you're new, let me personally apologize to you for something. As pastors and churches, oftentimes we got off the main issue and we told you how to dress and what music to listen to and you couldn't go to this movie or how you should view this issue or how you should vote or whatever things that we get caught up on rather than the central issue, which is who is Jesus. So, if you feel sometimes that people are like, "I don't even know what the church is all about," let me say in advance, sorry for that. We sometimes get off track. We are humans. We do make mistakes. We are not perfect.
But, the most important question you and I can ask is who is Jesus. The correct answer is that He was God in the flesh. He's the Messiah. He died on a cross and He rose again on the third day. One day, He's going to come back. That is the most important question. If you're here today and you really haven't answered that question, we want to help you answer that question if you would like. We'd be happy to do that.
But, if you have answered that question and you've gone, "I'm in. I'm in for the Jesus thing," then the next question you and I have to ask – and it is the most important question for someone who's said "I want to follow Jesus."
Here it is. The question is this: Has God spoken to you and me? The reason I say that is because if you say, "I want to follow Jesus," well what are you going to do? What does following Jesus look like? If God has not spoken to us, if He's not told us things that He would like for us to do or the way He would like for us to live our lives, then we don't know. And here's the deal: If you look at this particular book and you say, "You know, I'm not sure if God's really spoke. I mean, I believe in Jesus. I believe that. But, I'm not quite sure. I go back here and there's some stuff here that doesn't seem right. You know, like Leviticus pots and pans and all that. I'm like, 'What is that?' You know? Some of the stuff here in Revelation. I mean, I didn't know they had drugs that good back then. I mean, I'm not quite sure what's going on."
And you have sort of a "I don't know if God's spoken."
What happens is God's will for our life then becomes like the front row of a Gallagher concert. Have you ever been to Gallagher? He's the guy that hits stuff and it's splattering everywhere. You're going, "Okay. I've got to figure out what's going on. I'm not sure. I don't know that God said anything. I'm not sure what that book says. So, what do I do?"
And then we start doing tap dances and praying and, "God, if it rains," and we just never know what to do because we don't know what God has said for us to do. Well, here's the big mind-blower: If you believe that God has spoken to you and me – and I do. I have a very high view of Scripture. If you believe that – here's the mind-blower. Get ready, because this is a real big adjustment for most of us. That means about 95% of God's will is the same for each and every one of us. See? This is a big deal here.
"Well, how do I love my wife? I want to love my wife differently."
No. Well, God said how to love your wife.
"Well, yeah. But, you know, I'm not quite sure about what I should do with strangers."
Well, God's told you how to respond to strangers.
"Well, yeah. But, I'm not sure how God wants me to raise my kids."
Well, He's told you how to raise your kids.
"Yeah, but I'm not quite sure, you know, when somebody does me wrong, what I should do."
"But, what about if they're in the church?"
Yeah. He's addressed that.
"Well, what about my finances? I don't want anybody to get ahold of that."
He's told you that too. You know, I don't like that idea at all. So, it's okay. Most of us don't like a lot of things that are in here.
"What do I do if somebody slaps me?"
Okay, well He's told me what to do.
"What do I do with enemies? Well, I don't want to do that."
That's fine. But, that's what He said. Isn't it funny how it's like, "Love enemies."
Could it be any clearer? And we'll sit around and argue about the book of Revelation and about how clear that is and it's like "love enemies." That's pretty easy. But, the deal is if God has spoken to you and me, then almost everything that we need to know, He's told us. And that becomes a real issue for us. Do we believe that? Because, I told you the first question, the most important one which everything hinges on is who is Jesus? The next question has to be, "Has God spoken?" Because, if God's spoken, then we sort of know what we're supposed to be doing. And see, God's will, then, is not about finding it, it really is about doing it.
But, let me show you how this works in life. All of us, no matter what endeavor that we decide to do – if we say, "I really want to follow God. I want to do what God's called me to do," or if it's, "I want to take a job or I want to do this thing or I want to do that thing," whatever it is, there's three questions that we ask. Now, we don't think about the questions when we're doing it, but they are questions that we ask. So, if you're going to undertake something, you're going to take a new job or you're going to go to a school or you're going to follow God or whatever it is, the first thing is you've got to go, "Can I learn it?"
Because, if you can't learn it, whatever it is that you're trying to undertake, it's not going to work. I mean, you know, I don't know about you, but I didn't do a very good job in math growing up. I just didn't like math. Part of it is because I like to get things done. I'm really driven to get things done and I just didn't want to take the time to work out those problems. I always got in trouble because I had the answer but I didn't do the work and they were mad at me. And I'm like, "I got the answer, baby. The answer's right."
They're like, "Yeah, but we're concerned about the work."
I'm like, "I ain't concerned about the work. I'm concerned about the answer."
Out there in the real world, they don't care about the formulas. All they care about is did you get the numbers right. So, anyway, I was not the math teacher's pet.
Anyway. Can I learn it? The next question is: Can I do it? Because, here's the deal: If you can learn it but you cannot do it, there's a problem. You see what I'm talking about? Like, I can learn or you can teach me how to slam a basketball, but I can't do it on a 10-foot goal. I mean, maybe with a ladder or something. My kid's goals I can. They're this tall. I'm like Shaq on those. You know? Like, "Dad, man. NBA pro."
I'm like, "I know. Let me tell you. I got robbed. I should've been in the NBA."
But, you know, can I learn it? Can I do it? And then, the other thing that we ask and we do is we ask this: Well, what's the payoff? So, if I can learn it, that's great. If I can do it, okay. That's good. Well then, what's the payoff if I, in fact, do it? So, what I want to do is I want to talk to you for the next few minutes about undertaking God's Word. Trying to accomplish the things God's asked us to do in our lives through these questions.
Because, I think these questions are huge and I think that if we can answer these questions, then we'll be ready to move on to what I'm going to do the next two weeks with everybody. We're going to talk about just the day to day decisions that sort of beat us up and grind us up. We're going to look at that. It's going to be so much fun over the next two weeks looking at how to make good, godly decisions day to day so that we don't get all jammed up and bound up in this situation.
But, before we can do that, we've got to make the decision as to whether or not we believe God has spoken to us. And to do that and say, "Am I going to undertake that," can I learn it? Is it possible for me to learn what God's told me to do? Can I do it? Because, that's a real question. And, what's the payoff? So, here we go. Let's look at this.
Can I learn it? Look up here. This is good. You can write this down. You can do whatever you want to do. But, make sure that you focus in up here. This is out of 2 Timothy 3. Paul says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God."
Now, you don't have to agree with Paul. Nobody's going to make you have to agree in here. That's a decision you have to make. But, Paul's very clear that he's convinced that Scripture is not just inspired, which a lot of translations use. He uses a compound word. Breathed out by God. He's convinced that Scripture is not like reading any other book. It is different. It's breathed out by God. And listen to what he says here: "It's profitable for teaching."
So, when you say, "Well, why would I read God's Word?"
It's profitable for teaching, it's for reproof. We usually don't like that when we read God's Word. For correction and for training in righteousness. Now, look at this: It's profitable for teaching which means we can learn which means that He can teach us the things that we need to do. It's profitable for reproof. I don't know if you've ever done this, but I have. I suspect you have. Where you open up the Bible and you start reading and you go, "Ooo. Yeah. That's a tough one right there. Consider it all joy when I have garbage going on in my life? Eh, I don't like that."
So, that's the reproof part here. Sometimes it says things to us that we struggle with. And oftentimes – I'm sure you've never done this. Just put it on me. You look at it and you go, "Oh, God. That's not the way the world works here."
Exactly. God didn't ask you to work the way the world works. He asked you and me to be citizens of heaven; kingdom citizens. What do kingdom citizens do? They don't look like the world. So, oftentimes, what we do is we find a Scripture and we go, "That's not the way the world works," and then we reinterpret that bad boy so it fits more comfortably with our life. When, in reality, Scripture's there to give us reproof. And it gives us correction and it trains us in righteousness. It trains us in righteousness. Look at what it says here. "That the man of God may be complete."
God wants you to get into His Word so that you can be complete. Listen: Equipped for every good work. I always love Paul. There's nobody in all of Scripture that is more pro-God's love and grace towards people. He's overwhelmingly. In fact, Paul was such a preacher of grace that people misunderstood him. In Romans 6, he has to say, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid."
In other words, what they heard Paul saying was that grace is so big and grace is so awesome that we just keep doing whatever we want to do. Paul had to correct that. But, he obviously preached grace so much that it got misinterpreted at times. But, Paul always, when he talks about grace – all you've got to do is look around – he'll talk about after you get the whole grace thing that God wants you to be doing good works. And that's a struggle for so many people because we don't like the both/and. We like the either/or in life. You know? We like, "Is Jesus God or is He man? Which one is He?"
"Well, Scripture was written by people. Is it God's Word?"
"God's sovereign and we're free."
It's both. But, what we do is if you look at all the theological problems in America, everybody goes to one side or the other and can't live in the happy medium where both are true at the same time where it requires faith to believe that rather than just rationalism. So, what happens here is he says, "Listen, this is what Scripture can do for you. It can equip you."
In other words, it can give you everything that you need, spending time in this, to do the things that God has called you to do. So, can I learn it? Yeah. Paul says yeah. This is what Scripture does. Scripture will teach you, reprove you, correct you, train you and give you things that you need. You can learn this stuff. Everybody can learn it. Now, that's important. You may say, "Well, I don't know if I can learn it."
Can I tell you something? You could not live, all of us could not live in a better time to understand what God's Word says than right now. There's so many written journals, internet sites, videos, YouTubes. You could type in and watch the greatest professors in the world on YouTube teach you about the Bible. You can learn it. So, that's a question I think we can do.
The next question is "can I do it?" That's a big question. Because, when you start talking about "can I do it," people go, "Well, you know how sometimes I read this and I'm not quite sure. I don't really feel like doing this. A lot of times I go, 'Eh, I'm not doing it.'"
Okay. "I'm not doing it" is not the same as "I can't do it." That's an "I don't want to do it." So, here's what I'm going to do. Put aside whatever thought process you've got and let's just look at a biblical passage. Because, what I find – and it's always tough. It's just so tough when we read the Bible. Sometimes the Bible just messes up everything we believe. I can tell you, as someone who spent a lot of time in school studying the Bible and who teaches, I've changed my mind so many times. I don't even remember how many times I've changed my mind. Because, when I go to Scripture, I just can't get God in the box that I want Him to be in.
Can I get an amen on that one? He just doesn't fit. It's like, "Come on, God. How come Your arm's got to be hanging out of that box. Get in there. I want You to fit in my box that I like."
So, here's what I want you to do. Just look at what Peter says here to his church. We're going to ask this question: Can I do it?
Here's what Peter says: "His divine power..." – now, that's important. His divine power. Not you, me or whatever.
"His divine power..." – and that's pretty strong. God's power is strong. It raised Jesus from the dead.
"His divine power has given us everything required..." – now, that's important. Required. Because, when you have your requirements that you have to get in, that means you've got everything that you need to get in to then go do the things that you need to do. He says He's given you everything that you need, everything that's required, for life.
"Okay, well I don't think I can live out life."
"He's given you everything required for life. He's given you everything required for godliness."
You have everything you need. His divine power has given it to you. Not me. Not effort. His divine power has given everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Own glory and goodness. By these, His glory and goodness, He has given us very great and precious promises.
In other words, He's said, "Hey, look. I've given you everything that you have requirement of to live out life and to be godly and I've given you promises. I've given you things that you can trust me for so that you can share in the divine nature. You can look more like Jesus. You can share in that. And you can escape corruption that's in the world because of evil desire."
So, he's just like Paul. All the biblical writers say the same thing. They go, "This is true. God's given you the things that you require for life and godliness. He's done these things. He's given you promises. He's done this stuff."
That's what God has done for you. Now, look at what he says here, because this is important. He says, "For this very reason, make every effort..."
You say, "Well, I can't do it."
No, no, no, no, no. Don't limit God's grace in your life. Don't limit it. He says, "Make every effort."
Every effort. Man, if I could tell you how that's written in the original language, I mean, it's called, "Get after it."
What God has done for you is what He's done for you. He's given you all things that are required for you to live out the life that you need to live out.
So, "Make every effort to supplement..." – that word means to purchase; to buy. In other words, make every effort to get after it.
"...to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control."
Have you ever gotten to the place in your life where you start to follow God a little bit, you start to feel pretty good and, all of a sudden, you start to realize, "You know what? I'm actually overcoming some areas in my life that used to get me down. But, I'm only good for about a week."
You've done that before, right? Because, see, self-control needs something else after it. It needs some endurance. You follow what I'm talking about here? You need to be able to do that self-control. Which is interesting because look here: "Endurance with godliness."
Which means it's hard to be godly if you can't control yourself.
"Godliness with brotherly affection."
We go, "It's so hard to love other people. Man, it's so hard."
Well, hold on. If you don't have the knowledge and self-control and the endurance and the godliness, you're not going to be loving your brothers the way you're supposed to be loving your brothers. We go, "It's just so hard to do that."
"Brotherly affection with love."
We talk about love in Scripture and you go, "Man, that God, man. He's asking me to do some crazy things. I mean, turn the other cheek and not resist the evil person and love enemies. I mean, that stuff is crazy stuff."
Yeah. Well, it's crazy because if we're not making every effort to allow these things to happen in our lives, we're not going to be the people that God has created us to be. And look at what he says here. He says, "For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure,"
If. Make every effort. God gave you the things you need. God's grace has given you the ability to do the things that God has called you to do. Because, if these qualities are in you in increasing measure, look at what will happen. He doesn't say, "If they're not, you won't be a Christian."
He says, "They'll keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
See, when we adopt this idea that, "You know, I like this thing."
When you say, "I try to do it. But, whatever," what you're saying is that God's not given you everything that you've required to live life in godliness. And that's not true. Biblically, that's not true. He's given us everything that we need. We need to make the effort, then, to do the things. That's why the Church, for 2,000 years, has talked about spiritual disciplines. That's why we pray. That's why we read Scripture. That's why we have church. That's why we gather. So that we can become the things that God wants you and me to become. It's part of a growth process. For if you possess these qualities. God doesn't want us useless and unfruitful. He wants us to be able to be used for Him.
So, the question is, "Can I do it?" The answer, biblically, over and over again, is yes. Not of yourself. I mean, if before you were a Christian you tried to do things and tried to earn God's favor and all that stuff, that's a miserable existence. It's not going to happen. But, when you become a Christian, to say that God's grace has not given you the ability and God's Holy Spirit has not given you the capable power to do the things that God's called you to do is not being fair to Scripture at all.
And I'm not talking about in a legalistic way. I'm not talking about that we're not going to have our moments of failure and our moments of doubt and all those things. And grace is there for all of us. Peter doesn't say you're out of the Kingdom of God, he just says that sometimes when we're not doing these things, we're useless and unfruitful. We don't want to be that.
The next question is: "What's the payoff?" I always know whenever I teach something like this there's always somebody that goes, "Well, there shouldn't be any payoff for Jesus. We should just love Him because He's the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and all of this stuff."
Let me just tell you. Let me just go ahead and bust that bubble. Every single one of us has something on the inside that wants to know what's in it for me. All you've got to do is read the Scripture. They didn't come to Jesus because He was just this cool cat that they just wanted to serve. He was feeding people.
They said, "I'm hungry. I like this guy. He's healing people. I'm going to get in on that. He's got this stuff going on and I want to get involved."
Every single one of us – and listen, it can be perverted. But, every single one of us wants to know, "Well, what's the benefit here? What's the outcome?"
There's nothing wrong with that. Jesus didn't punish the disciples for asking what it would mean to be great in the Kingdom of God. He didn't squash their ambition. All He did was say, "You can't be great the way you want to be great. You want to be powerful and in control. You want to be great in the Kingdom of God, then you wash feet."
He didn't stymie their ambition. He just stymied their interpretation of what it meant to be great. Everybody in here, nobody wants to lose. I mean, I grew up in Kentucky. Basketball is like the biggest thing in Kentucky. I've got, really, two problems. I can't play and I'm short. So, I was always the last one picked and I hated being the last one picked. Why? Because, God wired you and me in a way that we don't want to lose. He wired us in a way that we want to succeed. So, what's the payoff? Let's look here. Let's look at what Solomon says here in Proverbs. Check this out. This is meaty stuff. We could really spend a series on this.
"My son," – and my daughter too – "if you accept my words and store up my commands..."
I'm not giving anybody any guilt. I'm not trying to be difficult. But, are we storing up God's Word in us? David said, "I store up Your Word. I've hidden it in my heart. What I find is the more I hide that in my heart, the less I start doing the things that I should be doing."
Am I storing up commandments?
"Listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding."
This is an "if" here. Salvation is not based on what you do. Okay? But, God's favor and God's blessing in our lives are often called to the if/then statements in the Bible. Listen to what He says:
"If you accept my words and store up my commands, listen closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; furthermore,"
I don't know if y'all ever get to that place we're you're going, "Come on, dude. Again? We're going to do some more ifs?"
"Furthermore, if you call out for insight and lift up your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasures,"
I'm going to ask you a question. Some of you all, it's going to be a little icky. Again, I'm not trying to give anybody a hard time. But, let me ask you a question. If I told you right now that right behind this wall, right behind the parking lot, two-feet deep somewhere out there is a big with three million dollars in it, most of you would not finish the sermon. You'd be out through those doors. Because, you'd be like, "I'm going to get me some of that."
Okay. Well, let me ask you a question. Again, I'm not trying to be negative. When is the last time you went to God's Word and you sought out God's Word like hidden treasure? It says, "If."
"Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding."
Listen. This is huge. Look up here. This is massive. He stores up success for the upright. Who doesn't want God storing up some success for them? All of us. What's the payoff? The payoff is, man, if you get in God's Word and you start doing the things that God's asked you to do, you start trusting God for those things and you start living by faith or whatever, He stores up success for the upright. And the beautiful thing about God is it's both now and in the age to come. He's a shield for those who live with integrity.
Can I tell you, in my life, sometimes I've not done all that and there wasn't a shield for Chip Bennett when it all went down. Why? Because, I bombed. God says, "I'll give you a shield for those who are living with integrity."
"So that he may guard the paths of justice and protect the way of His faithful followers."
Who doesn't want that in their life? Who in here wouldn't want God to be storing up success for you? And He dispenses it in the craziest of ways. But, He does because He's a good God. You say, "Well, can I learn it?"
"Can I do it?"
Yeah. What's the payoff? The abundant life. You see God work in our lives and everybody wants that. But, it just comes down to the question: "Has God really spoken to me? Because, for me to do it, I need to know it. Has He told me what it is that He wants me to do?"
Then it just becomes, "God, that power You've given to me, start working in me."
Start praying and watching God work in your life. And it's amazing. It's amazing what He'll do in your life. There's testimonies all through this church of people that have decided to follow God. So, here's the two questions I want you to ask yourself this week. These are take-home questions. Normally I do take-homes. These are the take-home questions. Just the questions. Here they are.
First: Do we – and you can personalize that to "do I" – have overwhelming evidence that God has spoken to us in a way where the majority of life's decision are addressed, at least, in a general fashion?
That's a big question to ask. That's really a big one. I want you to struggle with God this week. I want you to wrestle with God and ask Him, "God, is there enough stuff in here that I can believe that You have addressed in the majority of the things that I'm going to do in life, the majority of the things that I'm going to struggle with, have You addressed those in some sort of general fashion? Is that true or false?"
I want you to struggle with that this week. I want you to ask God to help you out with this. Is there overwhelming evidence, God that You've spoken to me and You've given me the things to do in every one of the things that probably are going to go on in life at least in some general fashion?
The next question that I want you to struggle with God on is this: If I believe God has spoken clearly on life's issues, then what am I going to do with that information? What am I going to do with it? What am I going to do when I go to Scripture and it says, "Love your wife?" What am I going to do with Scripture when it says to forgive? What am I going to do with Scripture when it says to handle it this way? Am I going to try to redirect it? Am I going to say, "I'm going to pray and find God's will. I need to find what God wants me to do. Because, I'm not quite sure that I like this."
Or, are you going to say, "Hey, this is what God wants me to do."
I want you to struggle with that. I want you to wrestle with God on those issues in your life this week. Here's what I want to pray for at the very end and we'll get out of here: I want you to think of an area in your life – we all have them – that we go, "Nah, this is probably an area of my life that I'm not really doing what God wants me to do. Uncle. I get it."
What I want you to do is I want you to see your Heavenly Father as not out to get you. He's not here to beat you up about that. He's not here to give you all kinds of guilt. There's no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. What I want you to see is that He's going, "Hey, I want to inspire you. I want to get you to the place where you're willing to jump off the stairs and let me catch you. That's what I want you to do. And I know some of those things are difficult, but if you'll trust me, I'm going to store up success for you, I'm going to put a shield in front of you, I'm going to protect you. You're going to see all kinds of things happen in your life. Just trust me. Jump off those stairs."
Just take that area, think about it for a second. Let's bow our heads and we'll end in prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would speak to us, Your children. You love us so much. You love us so much to not make this thing so difficult. Lord, we've made it difficult. We've made it so hard. And Lord, not only have we made it so hard, we've beat people upside the head with it, we've tried to tell them to do it on their own strength and power and we've done all kinds of things and gymnastics with Your word. Lord, it's not that complicated. It really isn't.
So, Lord, I pray that each of us, we've got that area in our life that we know is probably an area that we could get some help in, Lord, I pray that we would see You not giving us the guilt that maybe we feel like You would have given us, but, Lord, You're there to inspire and encourage us to trust You. Help us to trust You, God. Help us to walk by faith and not by sight.
Lord, we can approach the future in confidence, not because You've told us it, but because You know it. That's what gives us confidence. Lord, we can risk following You in Your Word because You don't risk. Lord, inspire us to see that it's not the finding, it's the doing. And help us to understand that You've told us those things and we can learn them, we can do them and the payoff is incredible.
So, Lord, we love You, we thank You, we praise You and we honor You for what You're doing in our lives. We pray, God, that You would continue to lead, guide and direct us in everything that we do. Bring us back safely to when we meet again and help us, Lord, to bring a few people with us to hear some of this life-changing freedom of Your Word. We thank You for everything. In Jesus' name, and everybody said, "Amen."
Give the Lord a big hand clap and tell Him you love Him.