> 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 mobile app and the internet. We're in a four-week series called "Blueprint Myth." This is week number three. Many of you all know I like to sort of bring everybody back up to speed. Because, I'm under the impression that, at any given service, we probably have some visitors that have never been here. And the last thing you want to do is walk in and go, "It's week three of a four-week series. I'm going to be lost."
Let me put you at ease. I'll bring you back up to speed as to what we're doing so you'll be able to just walk right in here and be fine. I also, usually, am under the impression that there's a couple people that have probably missed a week or so just because of traveling and different things. So, I like to bring everybody up to speed.
Here's what we've been doing: I asked at the beginning of the series if you would take a journey with me to look at one of these issues that we Christians really struggle with if we're honest. It's a perennial issue in the church. It's an issue that has seized people up and just jammed people up and created confusion. It creates even more confusion because there's so many books written every year and so many sermons preached on this and they're all different and they tell people to do different things. It's this issue of God's will. What does God want me to do? Is God going to speak to me? Is He going to tell me? How do I know how to make good decisions?
All of these things sort of fall under the umbrella of God's will. What I've tried to do over the last few weeks is get us to look at this subject through a different lens. Typically, in Church, and it's sort of the folksy understanding that's passed down from generation to generation, is when we talk about God's will we need to talk about finding God's will. That we've got to somehow find it. That it's under a rock or you've got to pray a certain way or turn on the radio station and turn the knobs a couple of different ways and hope that the song comes out right or whatever it may be.
And I've said that I don't think that's the best biblical way to look at God's will. Because, nowhere in Scripture are we told to find God's will. And nowhere in Scripture are we told the steps that we would need to do if we were in fact to find God's will. What we're told in Scripture is to do God's will. That's a total different change than what we're normally associating with when we talk about this difficult subject. So, we've been talking about that. That we're moving towards doing God's will. Because, Scripture is pretty clear on about 95% of all the things you and I will struggle with. Scripture addresses, whether in general forms or specific forms. In fact, I would say that 100% of life's problems are dealt with at least in generalities in the Scriptures.
So, we've moved from finding to doing and we've also talked, during this series, about the difference here of God's will. Call it three buckets, if you will. There's the sovereign will of God. The sovereign will of God is that will where God knows what He's doing. It stands above time. It stands above history. It stands above choices. It's the things that God's going to accomplish no matter what. You and I are usually not privy to that. We just have to trust Him on some areas.
We've spent a lot of time, though, talking about the synergistic will of God. That's where God's revealed to you and me the things that He wants us to do. He's given us the ability and the equipment to be able to do those things. But, this is what most people, when they started coming here for the series, this is really where most of us were at: What do I do in the day-to-day decisions? What do I do for the right stuff and to make the right decisions? How do I know who to be with? How do I know what job to take? How do I know where to live? How do I know what to do with all of those things?
So, what we're going to do this weekend is we're going to, first of all, look at the Apostle Paul in a brief passage of Scripture and look at how practical he was. Then, the second part of what I'm going to do here is I'm going to give you some real, detailed steps to making great day-to-day decisions that still keep you in God's will. Then, next week, we're going to deal with this again. So, we're going to spend two real good weeks just making some good day-to-day decision. And my hope for you, and also for those who watch on the mobile app and the internet, is that these messages will be incredibly freeing to you. Because, a lot of times, we get jammed up with the stuff. And I really want you to walk out of here differently than when you came in.
Now, you don't have to raise your hand here. But, I know that many of you would. When you're reading a biblical book, oftentimes there are what I call "get me through" verse. Like, if you start off in Matthew and you're going, "I'm going to read the Bible. I'm going to read it all through."
You start off in Matthew and, all of a sudden, it's so and so begat so and so begat so and so begat so and so. And you're like, "Man, can I just get through this so I can get to chapter two?"
I'm not going to do a hand raise, but you know that exists in your life. So, unfortunately, on those "get me through" verses, sometimes we miss some really big nuggets. And, in Romans 1, there's what I call some "get me through" verses that most people blow through so that they can get to the meat of what's going on in Romans. We're going to look at a few of those verses and then we're going to sort of digest them a little bit and see how practical Paul is. And once we get that going and we get our minds in that way, we're going to talk about some steps that we can make to make some great decisions in life.
If you are a note taker, this is a great time to get out your pad and whatever and take some really good notes. If you're not a note taker, this is the time to learn to be one. Okay? So, there we go.
Romans 1:8-13. Paul says, "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because the news of your faith is being reported in all the world."
He's writing to the church at Rome. He's never visited the church at Rome. There's not be an apostolic visit to the church at Rome. In fact, we sort of have to deduce reading Scripture and getting really close to some things in the Bible to figure out how this church started in Rome. On the day of Pentecost, Luke records all the people from different places that were there on the day of Pentecost that heard Peter's message and converted. And it says, "Some were from Rome."
So, those people went back, started a church and telling people about Jesus. Paul wants to go see them. He says, "Hey, listen. I've been hearing about all the stuff that's going on in the church there at Rome."
"God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in telling the good news about his Son, that I constantly mention you..."
In other words, "When I'm out preaching and doing my thing and being an apostle and talking to people about Jesus, I mention you guys. I talk about you guys. Because, I've heard what's going on in the church there at Rome."
"...always asking in my prayers..." – this is important here – "...that if it is somehow in God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you."
"I've wanted to come see you. I want to talk to you. I want to know you. And I pray all the time that God will somehow let it be in His will."
That's God's sovereign will. Paul has no idea if he's going to show up or not. He's just trusting God and he's hoping to go there. But, he's believing God. But, he's always praying, "Hey, God. If, somehow, You could make it happen so that I could go. I mean, I'm going to try to go there. I'm going to do some things. I've been trying to go there because I want to at last succeed in getting there, but I've not been able to so far."
And listen, folks, this is what he tells them. He says, "I want very much to see you. I mean, I talk about you. I know what's going on."
"I want to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you – that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine."
I think that's awesome that the Apostle Paul, who could definitely go into a church and teach people about Jesus, says, "Hey, I want to make sure that we both share with each other."
In other words, Paul saw that he also needed the Roman Church. You know, we talk about communion and we talk about doing this thing together. Even Paul realized how important it was to be in relationship with other people. Then he says this:
"I don't want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, I often planned..." – this is huge because, I don't know about you all, but I grew up in a church that said Paul just walked around hearing God everywhere that he went and everything. And I was just like, "Man, it doesn't work for me that way."
Paul says, "No, no, no. I often planned to come to you."
In other words, "This is something I was planning on doing. I made plans to come but was prevented until now. I just haven't been able to get there. Life has just not allowed me to get there. That's why I'm always praying, 'Hey, God. If it's in Your will, because I don't know for sure in that sovereign will if I'm going to get there,' but I'm making plans and I'm praying about this thing in order that I might have a faithful ministry among you."
In other words, "I want to see you wall grow and I want to see other people come to Jesus just as I have had among the rest of the Gentiles."
Now, if we break this down – and this is huge, because we're just talking about practical daily living, let's just look at Paul for a moment. First of all, Paul was a planner. You know, I grew up in a tradition that just said, "You just trust God."
You know? Honestly, the preachers, oftentimes, you would ask them, "What are you going to preach on?"
"I don't know, brother. I'm just going to let God lead me."
You know? And you're going, "Really? Man, that is awesome. You're just going to..."
And then, when they preached, it sounded like they had trusted God to lead them and He didn't. You know? And you're going, "Okay, what are you trying to say here, dude?"
Well, Paul was a planner. He says, "I often plan to come to you."
Lean in here for a second. We're talking about day-to-day, practical stuff. We Christians need to be people that plan. I ask people all the time when they say, hey, you know, I'm trying to figure out who I'm going to marry, "Are you planning on being the spouse that you're supposed to be?"
"No, no, no. I'm watching bachelor hoping that somebody comes along that's good looking."
Okay. You can call that being led by the Spirit. I call that just being dumb. Okay? I mean, that's not being led by the Spirit. Paul was a planner. He planned. He thought about stuff. You know? Have you planned in your life how you're going to grow in the Lord? Have you planned in your life how you're going to get a better prayer life? Have you planned in your life how you're going to spend your finances? Most of us don't. We just sort of think that God's going to lead me.
Paul was a planner. Paul knew the way of wisdom. He knew the Old Testament. He knew the wisdom literature. The wisdom literature would say things like, "The inexperienced one believes anything. But, the sensible once watches his steps."
Let me break down what this means; what this actually means. This means that the person who is following God in the ways of wisdom is watching every step that they do. They're planning every step that they do so when somebody comes along and says something that sounds good, they're not going to be distracted; they're going to continue to do the things that are good. It's easy to get caught up and just believe in stuff. Paul says, "No, no, no, no. I'm a planner. I'm a planner because I know that's the way God wants me to live."
So, I'd ask you some questions here, when you're planning life, to make good decisions. How many know it's a lot better when you've decided to plan and you know where you're going to go and what you're going to do? When you have to make a decision, it's a far better decision than when you just make it on the spot. Right? So, first of all, you have to ask this question. Whatever it is that I'm planning – and I created this word – is it God's Wordable? What that means is is there anything in Scripture at all that would lead me to believe that this would be a good plan? And if so, am I being thoughtful about this? Have I really thought through the ramifications of all of these things?
You know, when I used to be a youth pastor a long time ago – and I was the world's worst youth pastor. You know? I realized that 16 year old kids didn't care about Greek and I did and that didn't work for them. So, it was like, "I need to go on and do something else."
But, anyway, as a youth pastor, I would always tell them, "Hey, don't put yourself into a situation where you haven't thought about the consequences down the road. Don't make decisions that you haven't thought about, 'Where's this going to be in five minutes, ten minutes, thirty minutes, an hour from now, five years from now.'"
So, have you thought through your plans? Have you done your due diligence? Are you just trying to take or are we trying to take the easiest path? Let me break this down in a way that really matters for you and me: A lot of people decide in life, "What job should I take or where should I move?"
Okay? That's something that we struggle with. Here's the deal though: More often than not, when they take the job or when they move to where they're going to move, they're making those decisions based on which one has the best money to it or the best hours to it or what's the place that I would like to live? Can I tell you the decision I never hear anybody make when they talk about taking a job or moving somewhere? I never hear somebody go, "I want to make sure that I've thought through this and done my due diligence to find the churches that are in that area so that I know there's a good one there that I can be equipped in my spiritual life."
See, we're not walking in the way of wisdom and we make choices. But, the choices aren't necessarily always the good one. Paul was a planner. Not only that, Paul prayed about the things he planned. He planned and he prayed and he prayed and he planned. He said, "I'm always asking in my prayers that if it's somehow in God's will, I may come to you."
And I think that, when I break this down when we're planning life and we're thinking about where we're going and what we're going to do and how these things are going to work in relationships that we have and finances and all of the things that we're doing, trying to go, "How do I live God's will?" I think the question we need to ask is, "Am I including God in my life or do I have..." – and, you know, I'm a pastor. So, I talk to a lot of people and I talk to people about the things in their life that matter and the things that they want to know, "Hey, what's God want for me?"
This is something I find very often in culture today. I find good people that love God that really want to come to church and really want to grow, but they've got their God compartment and then they've got their work compartment or job compartment or life compartments and it's like God's here, but He's not really involved here. Because, if He was involved here, "It might get a little weird, you know? Or I might have to do some things that might cost me or whatever. So, I'm going to keep God out of this part of my life so I can keep that sanitized and then I can do the God thing over here."
I think what Paul is saying is, "Hey, we need to make sure that we're including God in our lives in every area of the things that we do. Not only did Paul plan and pray about that, but he submitted himself to God's sovereign will."
He said this. He goes, "That if it is somehow in God's will."
In other words, "I've made great plans. I've thought about them. I've prayed about them. But, I'm laying them at the feet of God."
Because, even my best laid plans might not be exactly what God wants from my life, which is why we have to walk by faith and no by sight through a lot of the things of life. People always say, "What's the opposite of faith? Isn't it doubt?"
No. I think the opposite of faith is sight. "I want to see something. I want to see God. I want to see God rather than trusting God."
Not only that, but Paul's plans were based on spiritual goals. He didn't say, "Man, I want to come to Rome because I hear there's some great restaurants, man. I can do some Jesus stuff on the side and have some great dinner. It'll be an awesome trip, man. That sounds fantastic. Hey, aren't there some amphitheaters in Rome? I can catch a show and then I can preach a message and all of that."
No, no. All of his plans were spiritual in nature. He wanted to come to provide spiritual ministry to them. He wanted to establish and encourage them. He wanted to receive encouragement from them. And he wanted to win unbelievers to Christ. He wanted to have a fruitful ministry. It's like, "Wow. That's a pretty practical Paul."
You know? Those are those "get through" verses that you just don't pay attention to when you're reading Romans. You're like just trying to get to verse 16 for "the Gospel's the power of God unto salvation" so you can move on. The end of the book is like, "Yeah, this is awesome."
But, there's stuff there that we need to read about Paul that we just often missed. In fact, we miss a lot of things about Jesus. Do you know, in the Gospels, we have about two to three months of Jesus' life? That's it. Two to three months. And we had a ministry going on for about three and a half years. What happened in the other times? Well, that's where He's walking along the road. That's where He's just eating food or where He's just hanging out. So, you read the Gospels and you're like, "Man, everywhere Jesus went He's healing everybody and doing stuff."
And then we start believing that everywhere we're supposed to be going we should be healing people and doing stuff. No, those are the highlights. Those are the highlights. There's a normal life. Paul had a normal life. The Bible's not weird. We don't have to hang from chandeliers. We can be practical with this thing. Can you imagine if the church was just practical and we just talked about Jesus in practical ways? That'd be awesome for the world. I mean, we do crazy stuff. Right? I was thinking today as we were singing this – and there's nothing wrong with it. But, I was thinking that if there's somebody in here new and we're going, "Man, you need to be covered in the blood," they're like, "Are you all a cult or something? Whoa. What is that?"
But, the reality is sometimes we get into our own Christianese and our own stuff. We don't need to be weird. Paul wasn't weird. He planned. So, here's what we're going to do. Get out whatever you're taking notes on and these are normally what I would call "take-homes," but this is just making good day-to-day decisions. This is rubber meets the road Christianity. This is as real and raw as it gets.
When you are confronted with a decision to make, the first thing you have to ask is, "Is this God's will or God's call?"
This is so important that we get. Please listen to me. God's call in Scripture is never mistaken. Like when Moses is called to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt, God makes sure he knows that that's his call. When Paul is called to be an apostle to the Gentiles, he is blinded by a light. Trust me. If God has called you to do something, you won't have to worry about whether or not He's spoken to you. He will make it very, very, very clear.
Unfortunately, we read God's call and then we expect God to do the same thing for us in the day-to-day decision when we're just sort of choosing day-to-day stuff. That's not the way it works. God's call is very specific. And a lot of the Bible is all about God's call in different lives to show you how God's moving. Don't misinterpret what you're reading when you're reading those things. That's God's call.
Then there's God's will. Of course, God's call is under God's will ultimately. But, God's will is, "What do we do?"
So, there's three things that we've got to talk about. These are the wills. You know, they talk about, "Does God will that people be saved," and all that stuff. Those are things that we're not talking about in this particular series. We're talking about things that affect our lives and the way we relay to Him and can we make good day-to-day decisions.
First of all, there's going to be a sovereign will that you're not going to know. There's going to be a synergistic will that you don't even have to argue about. How to treat your wife. How to do your kids. How to do your finances. How to forgive somebody. All that stuff. All that's in there. You don't even have to think about it. God's already given you that. But, the day-to-day stuff, just the stuff that's the day-to-day grind that you and I have in our lives, we're going to have to make some decisions.
Here's the way we do it. So, we're going to say, "I want to make a great decision. I want to be in God's will in the practical, day-to-day stuff."
The first place we're going to start is the same place that we would start even in God's synergistic will. We're going to start in Scripture. Is there anything at all in Scripture that I can find to help support what is going on? David says, "I've treasured Your Word in my heart so that I might not sin against you."
I'm going to give you the 2017, Chip Bennett version: "God, I've really read the Bible so many times so I don't make dumb decisions."
Okay? So, here's the question I ask you: How does God's Word address this issue? Listen to me. We're sneaky people. We'll find ways to read the Bible to support the decision that we want to make. I don't get "amens" on that one, huh? It's true though. I had somebody one time go, "I'm going to go to Colorado and I'm going to get into pot sales up there in Colorado."
And I'm like, "Really? You're a Christian, right?"
"Yeah. Uh huh. I'm going to do it."
"Well, how do you figure that?"
"Well, in Genesis 1 it says that God created every plant of the field."
And I'm going, "Seriously, dude? Are you crazy?"
Because, here's the thing: How does God's Word address this issue? But, am I willing to submit my interpretation to the body? Uh oh. Uh oh. It's like that finger, "Oh, that's what God told me to do."
No, no. Why don't you sometimes bounce that off some people that you know are maybe a little bit more godly or in character or maybe know Scripture a little bit better. We don't like to do that, do we? We like Frank Sinatra. Man, I'm going to do it my own way. You know? We don't like to do that. But, if we're going to go to God's Word, then we need to ask, in principle or in general speaking, is there something that God says and am I willing to submit this to somebody and ask them before I make a decision? That's step number one.
Step number two is to pray about it. It's to pray, "God, will You lead me? Will You guide me?"
I want to show you how prayer works in the normal, day-to-day activity of a church. The epistles in the New Testament – those are not the wives of the apostles, okay? They're the epistles. Just making sure. Just making sure everybody's here. So, the epistles are what we call "occasional letters." What we mean by "occasional letters" is they were written for a particular occasion. So, when you're reading those epistles, they were not written to you. They were written for an occasion at a church at a time and a place. Before we can really start asking, "What do they mean to me," we have to understand what they meant to the original hearers.
The Epistle to the Philippians, Paul starts off to the Philippians, because he's heard news about the church that he needs to write to them and he's trying to correct some things that are going on in the church. Epaphroditus has come and visited him. So, he sends the Epistle of Philippians back to the Philippian church. He starts off with greeting everybody, the overseers and the deacons. He says, you know, "Grace to you and peace," and all the stuff that Paul does.
And in Philippians 1:6, he says, "I'm convinced that God's going to continue to do the thing that He started in you. God's got a better hold on you than you do on Him. I'm convinced God's going to get this thing going. But, I want you to understand something. I'm in prison right now. I'm suffering for the Gospel, which all of us will at some point because that's just the way it is. It's not about me. It's about Him. And I'm in prison. But, here's the cool thing: God's really working in my imprisonment. Even though I'm in chains, God's Word's not in chains. The Gospel's going out and even the imperial guard is hearing about this message of Jesus and there's people here in Rome where I'm at that are preaching Jesus and they don't like me. Then there's people that are preaching Jesus and they do like me. I don't really care about me. I just care that Jesus is preached. I'm happy that they're talking about Jesus because it's really not about me. Because, if it was really about me, guys, I'd rather just die and go on and be with Jesus because I know that's far better. But, I know how God works. God's more concerned about His people. So, I'm probably going to live and I'll be able to pour that into you."
The deal is, when we're in this bad situation or imprisonment, we need to shine really bright. Because, when people can see that even in the bad situations we're living for God and God's first, it really shows them all about what the Gospel's doing in our lives. So, therefore, in Philippians 2:1, he gives four ifs. He says, "If this, if this, if this."
"If there's any consolation of love. If there's anything, encouragement in the Spirit or any of that stuff, here's what I want you to do: Don't put yourself first. Put others before you."
Because, Philippians 2:5, "I want you to have the same mind, the same attitude that Jesus had, who, even though he existed in the form of God, he didn't exploit that. He didn't grab onto it. He humbled Himself and He became a man and He died for you and me. So, that's the lifestyle we're supposed to live, guys, The Philippian church, this is the way we're supposed to live. Like me. I'm ready to pour myself out as a drink offering. And Timothy, he's the only preacher I've got that'll put you guys first. And Epaphroditus, this dude was about to die for you guys being sick and he was more worried that you had heard he was sick than he was about being sick."
These people really were putting God first. That's the way we should live. This is what we should do. In fact, in Philippians 3, "All these great things that I had that I thought were so good, I was a Pharisee and I was of the Tribe of Benjamin and I had all of this stuff. I put all of that for loss, everything, so that I could win Jesus so I could be a follower of Jesus."
This is the lifestyle that we live because, Philippians 4:2, "There's two chicks in your church, Euodia and Syntyche, and I know about them."
Please do me a favor. Don't name your kid Euodia or Syntyche. Just don't do that. You know? You can always tell those who really know biblical names, you know? Because, they're like, "Our kid's named after the Bible."
"Really? Great. What's his name?"
"His name's Judas."
And you're like, "Oh, okay. Yeah."
You know what I'm talking about? Or his name's Goliath. You're like, "Okay, yeah. That's great."
But anyway, use some common sense.
"I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to agree in the Lord."
In other words, there's a problem. They're not getting along. They need to get along. And, look, he says, "And I ask you, true partner..." – probably Epaphroditus that took the letter – "...to help these women. These are good women. They love God. They've contended for the Gospel at my side. They've preached and taught with me along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers, whose names are in the book of life. I know these women. They're good women. But, there's an issue going on. We need to get along. We need to be like Jesus. We need to put other people first."
Listen, "Rejoice in God. Rejoice in God, girls and church. Rejoice. I say it again, rejoice. Be gracious. Let everybody know your graciousness; not that we fight."
Because, when we fight inside, the world goes, "They aren't any different than us."
Don't act like that. And then he says, "Listen, because the Lord is near. He's there in your midst and He's coming back one day. Get along. Be the right thing. Don't worry about anything. Stop it, girls. But, in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God."
Do you ever notice when you start praying about stuff and you're like, "Okay, I don't know if I'm supposed to love this person or not," and you start going, "God, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to love this person? Alright, God. I know I'm supposed to love this person."
Your prayers start convincing you. You know what I'm talking about? You don't even get an answer from God. You're just listening to yourself speak and you're going, "Yeah, this shouldn't be coming out of my mouth. This is not good."
And the good thing is God doesn't mind that stuff coming out of our mouth. You read some of those Psalms and they'll be like, "Go get 'em, God. Strike 'em down."
That's not what they're supposed to be doing, but at least they're praying. God wants to hear what you have to say. Speak it out. You'll start figuring out, "Man, hold on. This ain't working."
And then he says, "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
The word "your" here is plural. It's a church. He's saying, "Listen, get along, rejoice in God."
Have you ever found if you're having a bad day or whatever and you start rejoicing in God, things change? You start praying and things change. And all of a sudden now, if we can get Euodia and Syntyche to agree to act like Jesus and count all things as loss and not fight about what they think is most important to them, if we can do that and we can take this to God and we can pray about it, what we can do is we can start having God's shalom in the church again at the Philippian church once again. See how that works? And we like to take all these verses – don't we, honestly? We just yank them, pull them, stretch them and do all this stuff. They're written for an occasional thing.
Prayer. Tell God your heart when you pray. Whatever it is. "God, I'm mad. I'm frustrated."
Tell Him whatever your heart is. Tell Him your plans. "God, this is the plan that I've got. I'm going to go beat them over the head."
You know? And then you start going, "I can't do that. I can't do that. I can't do that. Okay?"
And tell God your ideas. "I've got a good idea of how to get them back."
He's going to go, "Oh, no. Chill out."
But then, at the end of the day, say, "Your will be done. God, Your will be done."
So, we're going to go to Scripture and we're going to go to prayer. Then we're going to go and get some godly counsel. We don't like to do that, do we? We like to do our own thing. "Don't get too close. I don't want to get too many people in my life."
Here's what the Bible says though: "A fool's way is right in his own eyes. Don't be a fool. But, whoever listen to counsel is wise."
Let me ask you a question: Who do you have in your life that you listen to? Who do I have in my life that I listen to? Here's the next big important thing: Are they God-first people? Because, a lot of people listen to people that have nothing to do with God and are not going to tell you anything biblical or tell you anything to be right and you're going to listen to them and you're going to make a lot of bad decisions because they're not God-first people.
Now, here's the gulp. Here's the big gulp, okay? And that's not a shameless plug for 7-11. Here's the big gulp here: What am I going to do when they disagree with me, the good, godly people? Am I willing to be humble enough to realize that the body confirms the call and even if I think something that I need to do is so important, if I've got godly people in my life and they're all saying it's a bad decision, am I willing to put that decision on the shelf and trust God? See, if we lived our lives like this, we would make a lot less bad decisions. We'd really start seeing how effective God's will is for our life if we just did the things He asked us to do.
Then we process all of these things and we make a decision. If you've done all these things, you make a decision. And you've got to trust God. Because, here's the situation: When you and I make a decision and we've done all the things that God's asked us to do, we've done all the things that we know how to do and we make a decision, some of it's going to be uncertain. Because, we really don't know God's sovereign will. But, what we do know is that no matter what the outcome is, we know that God is working all things for good for those of us who love Him and are called according to His purpose. That should give us rest in Him.
This is just basic. I know this is not like hanging from the chandeliers preaching. But, this is just rubber meets the road. This is just honest, good, biblical teaching. What we're going to do is everybody's going to have this tendency to want to go, "Oh, that's too easy. That's too simple. It requires too much of me to submit and pray and all that stuff. I just want to make some decisions. Could God just come down and tell me what to do?"
It's not going to happen. It's not going to happen. It may, every once in a while. But, it's not going to happen very often. The normal way is going to be just the way of wisdom and choosing the right things and doing what God has called us to do. And I'm telling you right now, if we would just employ these decisions in our lives and do the things that God's asked us to do, you'd be surprised how many great decisions you would make and how many great things you would see God do in your life by just honoring His Word and walking in the way of wisdom.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for everybody here. I thank You for this church. Lord, my prayer is what Paul prayed for the Galatians in Galatians 4:19. Lord, he said, "I travail in birth again that Christ would be formed in them."
Lord, I pray, as the pastor of this church, Lord, that You would form Christ in all of us. Lord, that we would not get jammed up and seized up on this stuff. That we would see that You really have made it more clear than we like it. The problem is us. That's why the Psalmist said, "Lord, teach me to do Your will."
The problem wasn't in the finding; the problem was in the doing. Lord, so often we want to run against this because it's just so easy. But, it requires a big submission to You. It requires us to really lay down our lives to You. And Lord, what we would love to do is to circumvent all of this stuff and just have You speak to us to tell us what's next. But then, we never grow in character, we never developed Christ's likeness, we never have any of those things go on in our lives. So, Lord, work on our hearts. Minister to our hearts. Strengthen our hearts, Lord, to walk in the way of wisdom.
So Lord, as we leave here today, I pray that You would watch over us and protect us, lead and guide us and bring us back safely to when we meet again for Your glory. I pray, God, that this week and next week, as we process how to live out Your will, that You would continue to speak to us and encourage us and move us, Lord, to be able to trust You in the things that You've asked us to do and to really believe, with all of our hearts, that if we do the things You've asked us to do, Lord, that life will be better that way than it would be the other way.
So Lord, we thank You for everything. We love You. In Jesus' name, and everybody said, "amen." God bless everybody. Give the Lord a big hand clap and tell Him you love Him.