About four years ago,
when we lived in Batesville, something very strange happened
I was out in my back yard grilling ribs
It was about dark, and Monica was inside
All of a sudden, this huge ball of light appeared in the sky above me
I was startled-I backed into the grill and burned my leg!
Suddenly, a booming voice came from the ball of light
"Chris, you must trust me. I want you to gather everything you need, pack it into your car,
And follow me to a land that I will show you."
So, we assembled our belongings and got into the car
From nowhere, a pillar of fire appeared in front of our car
The pillar of fire began to move, so we followed it
It took us down through Bald Knob, over to Beebe, then to Conway, then up I40 to Russellville
Once in town, the pillar led us to the doors of Church of Christ Student Center
All of a sudden, POOF, it was gone
We would have followed a star at night, but it only took us 3 hours, so we didn't need it
And that is how we ended up here
Ok, that's not exactly true, but in some ways I wish it were true
If it were true, that would mean God still reveals His will directly to us
Sometimes we think how
much easier that would be
But He doesn't deal w us that way anymore
God no longer speaks through pillars of fire or burning bushes
But He does speak through burning hearts
That's the point of our discussion today
Let's pray: "Dear God, as I speak today, if I present your Word fairly and rightly, may we all take it into our hearts forever. If my words are not Your Words, may they quickly be forgotten?"
Our college students
frequently ask me about this issue of God's will
"This summer, should I work at Camp Wyldewood or in my uncle's drugstore?"
"Should I marry her now or wait till we're out of school?"
"Should I do this mission trip or the internship I need for my job?"
Sometimes I just don't
know what to tell them
Trying to determine God's specific will for our lives is often very hard
For the past few months,
I've given this topic a lot of thought
A few months ago, Monica and I had to make a big decision
In making the decision, we struggled to determine God's will
I'll tell you in a minute how we finally made the decision
So recently I've done
a lot of thinking/reading/praying about God's will in my life
Given two seemingly equal choices, it's sometimes very hard to discover what He wants
In fact, parts of God's will are deeply profound and unfathomable
Romans 11:33, 34: "Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?"
Paul didn't say His
judgments are hard to search out and His ways hard to fathom
He said they're impossible to search out and to fathom!
Deut. 29:29: "The secret things belong to God."
There are some things
God just hasn't told us
There are parts of His will that He just has not revealed to us
Until we are with Him in Heaven, some things will remain a mystery
So you say, "Thanks a lot! That doesn't help me at all with my decision!"
I completely understand that sentiment. I've been there recently.
What God hasn't told is what makes this issue a difficult one
Should I take this new job?
Should we try to have a child?
Should I make this investment?
Should I continue dating this girl?
Should I go on this mission trip?
Should I continue taking chemotherapy?
Should I look for my birth parents?
These are the kinds of legitimate questions we all ask
We wonder: "How
do I know what God wants me to do?"
We know there are no direct answers to these questions in scripture
God never said: "Chris, go to Arkansas Tech and work at the student center."
But we should also be
quick to remember there is many aspects of His will God HAS revealed
Many of those things speak directly our specific issues of life
What we're talking about
is His GENERAL will
That is, His will for all people at all times-how to speak, act, live
If a college student
comes in and asks: "Should I be nice to my roommate?"
That's an easy one-it's covered by God's general will for all Christians
Yes, you should be nice to your roommate
Should I tell my neighbor
Yes, God's will is that we tell others about Christ-even our neighbor
Should I be faithful to my husband/wife?
Yes, God's will is that we honor the covenant we made w/ our spouse
4:3: "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that
you should avoid sexual immorality."
Sexual immorality will never be God's will
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Peter 2:13-15: "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by Him to punish those who do wrong, and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men."
So, there are many parts of God's will we know for sure:
1. Love your enemies (Matt. 5)
2. Don't worry (Matt. 6)
3. Don't judge your brother (Matt. 7)
4. Pray (1 Thess. 5:17)
5. Give to the poor (Gal. 2:10)
6. Come to church (Heb. 10:25)
7. Meditate on the Scriptures (Psalm 1:2)
8. Be Thankful (Phil. 4:6)
9. Spread the Gospel (Acts 1:8)
10. Obey your parents (Eph. 6:1)
11. Deny yourself (Mark 8:34)
12. Show love (1 Cor. 13)
We could go on and on with this list
So, don't wonder if
it's God's will for you to tell people about Jesus
Don't wonder if you should meditate on scripture
Don't wonder if you should care about the needs of others
But you're saying, "Yeah, yeah, I know all that stuff."
What you want to know
is how to decide between two morally neutral choices
You're about to graduate high school;
Should you go to Harding or stay at home and attend Tech?
Contrary to what some might tell you, this is a morally neutral decision
Your kids have moved to another state and want you to move to join them
Should you go ahead and retire or keep working another year?
Your mother is aging and quickly deteriorating
Should you put her in a nursing home or move her into your home?
These are the questions we all ask-and struggle with
Sometimes we take fairly ridiculous measures to discover God's will in these matters
Chuck Swindoll tells
of the man driving through Washington, D.C.
His car stalled in front of the Philippine Embassy
He took this as a sign he was supposed to be a missionary to the Philippines
Then there was the woman
debating a trip to Israel
She read the flight would be on a 747 jet
She woke up the next morning and saw 7:47 on the clock
This was her sign that she should go
Surely there are some better ways than these, however
So, how do we discover His will in these matters?
1. Immerse yourself in Scripture
Again, this is His general will for His people
But this is more than just knowing God's do's and don'ts
This is about KNOWING GOD
Great difference between knowing God and just knowing about God
Scripture lets us get to know God
Ex. I know my wife well enough to know what she likes and dislikes
In restaurant, I can usually guess what she'll order
It's the same w/ God
If we know Him through His word, many decisions are obvious
Once we allow the Word to soak in, we often realize it's simple obedience, not
Guidance, that's required
2. Be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit
Eph. 5:15-17: "Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit."
Sometimes you have a deep sense that something is right or wrong
Can't explain it, but you know it somehow
At those times the Holy Spirit may be at work within you
Col. 1:9: "For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding."
This sounds like the Holy Spirit at work!
3. Use common sense!
God expects some maturity in us
We're capable of making many decisions just by using our God-given brain
God doesn't care of you wear the blue shirt or the red one
Some things just don't matter
An 18-year-old who still needs the guidance of a 2-year-old is abnormal
God doesn't seek to guide every minute detail of our lives
So use common sense!
4. Seek the counsel of wise, Godly people
Wise, Godly brothers and sisters are a true blessing from God
We are meant to live out our Christianity in community
The church exists so we don't have to struggle/fight/figure things out alone
But we must be selective about who we seek out to give us advice
a. Must have proven himself to be a worthy, wise advisor
b. Should be mature in the faith-not a brand new Christian
c. Should probably be older than you-more likely to have gone through it
d. Should probably not be a family member in many cases--They are rarely objective
e. Should have nothing to gain or lose
5. Seek from God a sense of peace
Col. 3:15: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace."
The decision Monica and I made recently was finally decided in that very way
The choices were morally neutral
Either one would have been good for our family and for Christ's Kingdom
It came down to being led by a sense of peace
We felt at peace about one choice and uneasy about the other
Since we made the decision, we've only gotten stronger in conviction it was right
Doing the will of God should be our greatest desire.
Doing the will of God is rarely easy and uncomplicated.
But know this: God does
have a will for your life
It sometimes hurts, it's sometimes complicated, and it doesn't always make us happy
It's not always safe and it sometimes seems illogical.
But in the end it is always the best.
One thing I know for sure about everyone here is that it's God's will for you to come to Him.
It is His will that you should obey Him.
It is His desire that you be saved.
Will you come to Him today?