– Hi, Saddleback Church (congregation murmurs in greeting) How ya doin’ today? – [Congregation] Good – Good to see ya, happy new year What a great way to start the year, beautiful day, great place to be You wanna pull out your message notes I wanna talk to you today about how do you find God’s will for your life? Anybody here wanna know God’s will for your life? Ya ever wonder? Does he even have a will for your life? And how do you find it? Have you ever thought, man, wouldn’t it be great if I could just open my Bible, drop my finger on a page, and just see the whole picture, from beginning to end, of what God has planned for me? Or better yet, if i could hear a voice from Heaven, just telling me, explaining to me, everything that God wanted me to do in complete detail I think all of us would, at some point in time, like to know what God wants us to do, how he wants to lead us, and God does have a plan for your life God does have a purpose for your life He created you He put you together, and he made you for a reason, and he loves you more than you’ll ever imagine He deeply loves you and he cares about you He cares about every detail in your life It all matters to him There’s nothing in your life that is insignificant to God He cares about you And he wants you to know his will for your life He really does But he wants to show it to you on his terms, not on your terms I can’t tell you, and I’m not here today to tell you, what God’s detailed plan is for you It would be foolish for me to even try I don’t even know what God’s detailed plan is for me, how could I know it for you? But what I do want to accomplish here, and I’m comin’ to you today as a father, as a brother, as a pastor, as a friend, as a fellow follower of Christ, and I’m comin’ to you today to help you get into a position to hear from God To get in the position to see what God wants to show you In order to see God’s plan for your life, it requires a new way of seeing He wants you to begin to see things the way he sees them To begin to think the way he thinks To think about yourself, about life, about God, about the people around you, about the opportunities that you face To begin to think about those things in a different way, in a new way To think about them and to see them the way God thinks and sees them Finding God’s will for your life begins with learning to see and to think differently Fact, I wanna show you this in scripture The first verse in your outline, and it’s here in your notes, is from Romans 12:2 It says, “Let God transform you inwardly.” So notice the transformation starts on the inside “Let him transform you inwardly “by a complete change of your mind “Then you will be able to know the will of God.” Now I wanna leave that verse up there for a minute, I want us to look at this “Let God transform you inwardly “by a complete change of your mind “Then you’ll be able to know the will of God.” I’ll often like to read verses backwards So if you read it backwards, what it says is, you’ll be able to know the will of God when you have a complete change of your mind, and God is the one who does that, he transforms you You see, discovering God’s will begins by learning to think in a different way God doesn’t wanna just change what you think It’s not just changing your thoughts and your opinions He wants to change the way that you think, how you think, the method for your thinking For example, when you’re facing a decision, or there’s a challenge in front of you, you’re tryin’ to decide where do I go, what do I do about this? How do you think? What is your default setting? Where do you start from? Do you start from a position of doubt, or of hope, and faith? Do you start with fear, or do start with peace? Do you start with chaos, or do you start with order? Is your first thought, when you’re facing this challenge or opportunity, is your first thought, “I could never do that.” Or is your first thought, “I can do all things through Christ “who gives me strength.” Where do you start from? God wants to change the process of your thinking in order to discover his will Not just the thoughts themselves, but how you think, he wants to change
that preset in your mind In fact, the Bible tells us this in Ephesians 4, it says, “Be made new in the attitude of your mind.” So God wants you to begin to think the way he thinks To think with the mind of Christ, because when you know how God thinks about things, it makes it much easier to discern his will about things For example, when you know how God thinks about relationships, well then it makes it easier to discern his will and make decisions in relationships When you know how God thinks about ethics, then it makes it much easier to discern his will and make decisions in your business or in your career When you know how God thinks about morality, it makes it much easier to discern God’s will and make decisions about behavioral choices If you wanna know God’s will, you have to know how God thinks And the best way to find out how God thinks is to know what he’s already said, is to get into the word of God, the things he’s already said Because as you know God’s word, it helps you understand his thinking I think in the 14 years that I’ve been preaching here, I’ve probably said this in every service, in every message, that the Bible doesn’t just tell us what God said, it tells us how he thinks So if you wanna know how he thinks, you’ve gotta know what his word is Fact, here’s the point that I want ya to write down, reading the Bible is reading God’s mind Reading the Bible is reading God’s mind You wanna know what God thinks about somethin’, read the word It tells you what and it tells you how he thinks It’s just like any friendship that you have, the longer you talk with somebody, or actually, the more you listen to somebody, guys, guys, the more you listen to somebody, I see women (congregation chuckling) doin’ the elbow here, all over the building The more you listen to someone, well, the better you understand how that person thinks And it’s the same way in the word As you come and you listen to God, as you learn to tune your ear to what God wants to say in the word, as you slow down and take the time to let him speak to you, rather than rushing through, but let him speak to you, you begin to understand how God thinks You begin to get his mind on things Now when it comes to God’s will for your life, we often wanna get to all of the juicy details We wanna know his perfectly designed plan just for you, which is different from God’s perfectly designed plan just for me And there are occasions, rare occasions, when God does reveal the big picture up front It does not happen very often It’s very, very rare that God reveals the whole picture Usually the way God shows his will to us is he shows it to us one step at a time, and it’s usually through closed doors or open doors A couple of months ago when I was tellin’ my story about the career change that was forced upon me, I donno if any of you will remember that I was talkin’ about the bird, ‘member the bird story? When God had definitely closed a door, there was no question about it, a door slammed shut on an old way of life, and I was looking, waiting, praying, seeking, asking God where’s the next door? What do you want me to do? Where do you want me to go? I wasn’t a part of Saddleback at the time My wife and I and my family, we were attending another church here in Southern California But there was an old guy in that church who knew what I was goin’ through, and he came to me one Sunday and he said, “You know, Buddy, “when God closes a door, “he opens another, “but it’s Hell in the hallway.” (congregation laughs) Anybody in the hallway today? You know what I’m talkin’ about? I been in the hallway I know that experience It’s not an easy place to be I want us to look at what’s gonna become the key verse today It’s in the Book of Proverbs, 4:18, it’s here on the screen The Bible says this, “The path of the righteous “is like the first gleam of dawn, “shining ever brighter “until the full light of day.” Let’s look at that again “The path of the righteous “is like the first gleam of dawn,” picture that What does the first gleam of dawn look like? It’s just a faint glow on the horizon
The sun hasn’t even come up yet, but as you look out ahead, as you look on the horizon, you can see that something is about to change, and over time, moment by moment, things become more and more clear until, as it says, shining ever brighter until the full light of day In other words, it’s not an epiphany, it’s not an all-of-a-sudden, full-picture revelation It happens one step at a time So I want you to write it down this way, God’s will dawns on you It dawns on you, it becomes obvious over time, one step at a time You see, we tend to think of God’s will, his plan, in terms of locations and activities, that we’re called to a specific place at a specific time for a specific purpose to accomplish a specific task of some kind But that’s not the way God looks at his call on your life Here’s the point I want you to get, is that God’s call is not necessarily to a destination Rather, God’s call is to a way of life It’s not the destination that is of the utmost importance to God, it’s the way of life That’s what he calls us to A way of living ‘Cause if it were just destinations, well then we’d just go from place to place without thinking about how we’re living What’s more important to God is how are we living, the destinations are secondary We see this in the life of Abraham When you go back to the Book of Genesis, in Genesis 12, God just shows up in Abraham’s life, out of the blue 12:1, it just says God came to Abraham and he said this to him, look at this verse God said leave your country, leave your people, and leave your father’s household, and go to the land that I will show you I want you to circle the words I will in your notes Go to the land I will show you You see, Abraham did not know the destination Abraham didn’t know where he was going God just said I want you to leave your old life I have a new life in mind for you I want you to leave the old values, the old ways, the old gods, because Abraham’s father was an idolater He said leave that behind There’s something new that I have for you There’s a new way I want you to live I want you to go someplace, and I’m not tellin’ you where it is yet Just go I’ll tell ya when you get there That’s what God says to Abraham when you read this passage He just says go, leave the old, step into the new The call was not so much to a destination as it was to a way of life What was more important to God was Abraham’s faith, was his character that was being developed So God said go, and Abraham went, and he trusted God And God said that man, Abraham, is my friend And Abraham made a lotta mistakes He messed up a whole lot It’s all there in black and white, you can read his story Abraham was a knucklehead Kinda like me, why do you think that I’m bald here? Okay, this is the knuckle on the head Abraham was a knucklehead, he made all kinds of mistakes But in his heart of hearts, he wanted what God wanted And God said yeah, I know he makes mistakes, but he’s my friend He follows me He’s my friend And that’s what God was looking for God honored Abraham’s heart, his desire And when Abraham got off track, which he did several times, God did not abandon him He didn’t wash his hands of Abraham and say well, he messed up too many times I’m gonna go find somebody else Instead, God just redirected him Got him back on the track that God wanted him to be on God stayed faithful to Abraham because in his heart Abraham wanted to be faithful to God I want you to look at this next verse that talks about destinations and ways Look at this next verse Some of us even have this on the fridge Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all your ways acknowledge him “and he shall direct your paths “In all your ways acknowledge him.” How do you acknowledge God? What does that mean to acknowledge him? What it means is that in all your ways, all your decisions, everything that you face, you seek his will You ask God, what do you have to say about this? What do you think about this? That’s what it is to acknowledge God in all your ways
And notice that it doesn’t say in some of your ways It’s not just the spiritual things It’s not just in the ways where you don’t know what to do It’s in the ways when you really think you do know what to do In all of your ways, seek God’s mind, and he’ll direct your paths In all your ways In fact, I wanna look verse again “In all your ways acknowledge him “and he shall direct your,” what’s it say? Huh? – [Congregation] Paths – Thank you, paths Notice what it does not say It’s also important when you’re reading scripture to think about what it doesn’t say It does not say in all your ways acknowledge him and he will lead you, or show you, the ultimate destination in full detail Doesn’t say that It says he’ll direct the path, he’ll lead the way In fact, let’s look at it in the New Living Translation “Seek his will,” that’s acknowledge him Seek his will in everything you do, all that you do, and he’ll show you which path to take The pathway Today’s English version says he’ll show you the right way So I wanna make sure that we’re getting this When you seek God’s will, he shows you the way So here’s the point, is that the way is more important than the destination The way is more important than the destination Where you end up is not nearly as important to God as how you get there Did you arrive there through obedience to him, or did you arrive there through compromise? Did you arrive there by seeking, acknowledging God, or did you get there by just makin’ things up on your own as you went? Jesus even talked about this in Mark 8 He said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, “and yet forfeit his soul?” So you have to think about the way that you’re living your life when you wanna know what God’s plan is What’s the way that you’re living? Do you believe that you’re living the way God wants you to live? Now I’m not talking about your economic status I’m talkin’ about your soul Your values Your morals Are you living in the way God wants you to live? Are you living by his values and by his instructions, by his way of living? You have to ask yourself that question If you find that you are moving further away from God, well then you can know that God is not directing your path, because God will always lead you closer to himself That is the ultimate goal He’ll always bring you closer to himself So if you’re drifting, if you find that you are distant from God, God has not led you there You can be sure of that because God will always lead you closer to himself God isn’t gonna bless something that he has already said is wrong So God’s will dawns on you, and the way is more important than the destination, and as you seek God, he paves the way one step at a time Just like he did for Abraham When God said go and Abraham didn’t know what the destination was, Abraham walked 500 miles That’s a long way He walked 500 miles That would be the same as walking from this building to the border of New Mexico, through the desert Anybody wanna do that? That’s how far he walked He didn’t know where he was going and he didn’t know he had arrived until God said, “Oh, by the way, you know that place “I was tellin’ you about, here it is “This is it.” There were no signs that said promised land, next exit Gas, food, lodging (congregation chuckling) None of that Abraham followed God until God said, stop, this is the place that I’ve had in mind for you all along So why doesn’t God reveal all of the details all up front, ’cause I mean, wouldn’t that be easier? If you just knew the whole picture, then you wouldn’t have to bother God and you could just move ahead with your life I think there are several reasons actually that God doesn’t show us the whole thing One of those reasons is because he knows that we would grow impatient We’d try to get clever, try to find a shortcut, help God out, all right? God told me where we’re goin’, he showed me the whole picture Now, lemme see if I can speed this thing up That’s what Abraham did When God told Abraham and Sarah
that they were gonna have a son, and time went by, and more time went by, and more time went by and there was no son, they finally got clever They came up with their own little shortcut idea Abraham had a fling with Fifi the maid, (congregation chuckling) and here came a son, and God said it isn’t what I had in mind That wasn’t the plan that I had in mind But Abraham got impatient I think God also believes he knows that I might argue with him, ’cause that’s what most of the people in scripture did when God showed them his plan When God told Moses the big plan, Moses argued with him Jeremiah argued with God, Gideon argued with God So many of them argued when God told them what he wanted ’em to do And I might not only argue, I might not like what God wants me to do, and I’ll just turn around and go the opposite direction That’s what Jonah did, he didn’t like God’s plan So he went 180 degrees in the opposite direction and he wound up as fish barf (congregation chuckles) ‘Member that story? Fish barf, ‘course, that even there is God’s mercy because after all, there are two ways out of a fish (congregation laughing) But if that’s how all of the great heroes of the Bible responded to God, impatience, arguing, run in the other direction, if that’s how all of those great people of faith in the Bible responded, what makes me think I’d respond any differently if God showed me the whole picture all at once? And I think there’s another reason Actually a bigger reason why God doesn’t show it all at once It’s because if I knew the whole plan in specific detail and I knew exactly how it was gonna play out, I wouldn’t need any faith, but faith is what’s most important to God In fact, the Book of Hebrews says this It says, “Without faith “it is impossible to please God.” You wanna please God with your life, then you gotta walk in faith The Bible says, in 2 Corinthians 5, that we live by faith and not by sight Faith is for this life, sight is for the next We live by faith, we follow by faith, not by sight It’s not by what we see, it’s not by what we’re hoping to look for, it’s by faith, it’s trusting It’s believing God As I have also said before, that faith, biblical faith is not placed in an outcome Biblical faith is placed in a person It’s relational It’s believing who God is It’s believing in his character, not the outcome that I’m hoping for And without faith, it is impossible to please God So the question then becomes, am I walking by faith in the light that God has already shown me? As this first gleam of dawn is coming up, as I’m beginning to see, am I walking forward in faith, or am I waiting to see the whole picture before I get moving at all? One of pastor Rick’s favorite verses is from Ecclesiastes 11 It says, “If you wait for perfect conditions “you’ll never get anything done.” But I think it’s also true that if you wait until you know every detail, you’ll never get started with anything And yet so many of us can be frozen in uncertainty We can be frozen in indecision and goin’, I don’t even know where to begin How do I begin to figure out what God’s plan and what his will is for me? How do I get out of this uncertainty? Well I wanna give you a few ideas Some things that you can do as you begin to follow in the way of God And the first one is this, you might wanna write it down, look for signposts Look for signposts Now lemme explain what I mean by signposts You gotta know where you are in order to know how to get where you wanna go If you were to call me and say, “Hey, Buddy, I wanna come over to your house, “how do I get there?” I’d probably say I’m not interested No, I wouldn’t say it I would say, (congregation chuckling) well where are you? Where are you startin’ from? You have to stop and take an inventory, where are you now and how did you get here? What lessons did you learn along the way? What were the successes that happened along the way? As you look back in your life, what are the successes, and are there any patterns that you can see in those things? What are the failures you’ve had? Are there patterns that you can see in those things? What gifts has God poured into you? What talents? What abilities? What are you passionate about, what do you dream of?
Those are signposts God put those things into your life If you’ve never taken class 301, we talk about that in 301 We call it SHAPE Your spiritual gifts, your heart, that’s your passion, your abilities, your personality, and your experiences And there’s so many more things that go into how God has specifically, uniquely crafted you The things he put into your life Why would he put those things in your life? Why would God give you talents and abilities and interests and experiences if he didn’t want you to use those for his purposes? They can be signposts that point you along the way If there are things you know that you’re really not good at, well then it’s a pretty good sign that you shouldn’t go that direction So look for those signposts There was a great movie in the 1970’s called Chariots of Fire, and it’s the story of an Olympic runner, and many of you, as I look at all of us that are over 50, have seen that movie, but probably every preacher in America has preached from that movie One of the most famous lines is when the main character, Eric Liddell, the runner, is talkin’ to his sister She says, “Why do you run?” And he said, “I run because God made me fast “And when I run, I feel his pleasure.” How did God make you? And what do you do that makes you feel God’s pleasure? That when you do it, you know it puts a smile on God’s face because you’re doing what he made you to do And how do you know, how can you see the smile, the affirmation on God’s face? How do you see his pleasure? Well I think one way is that you see God’s smile on the faces of his people Because after all, we are the body of Christ And when you are living and acting in the gifts and abilities and the shape that God has given you, other people light up and say, you’re doin’ what God made you to do You have a natural ability to do that You’re really good at that And you can see God’s affirmation and his pleasure in the eyes of his people So you look for those signs You also wanna see what are the opportunities that match the make up, that match the way God has made me? What are the things that align with my abilities, that align with my core values? And all of those things can become signposts that help you figure out what God wants you to do Here’s the second thing you do as you walk on this road, travel light Travel light Your packin’ for a journey, pack light You don’t wanna carry a bunch of unnecessary things with you Don’t carry the weight of the past The weight of failure The guilt Don’t bring the old idols from the old life That’s why God said to Abraham, leave all of that behind, I have something new for you You don’t wanna drag all of that into this new life The things that you have looked to for value, or for affirmation The old ways of thinking God says leave those behind If your hands are full of the wrong stuff, then your hands are not available for what God wants to put in them Look at this verse from Jonah 2:8 It says, “Those who cling to worthless idols “forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” So the question is, is there anything that I’m still holding onto that is causing me to forfeit the fullness of God’s grace in my life? What do I need to leave behind? What do I need to let go of? Time wasters Lies about me Things that I believe that are just not true that have held me back Old ways of thinking, old values Sinful behaviors, childish ways What are the things I need to let go of? Maybe I just need to grow up Paul says this, 1 Corinthians 13, he says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, “I thought like a child, and I reasoned like a child “But when I became a man, “I put childish ways behind me.” So pack light for this journey Don’t carry those old things with you The third thing you can do
is choose your travelling companions Choose your travelling companions Let me ask you, who keeps you on track? Who is it in your life that prays for you, that encourages you? Is there somebody in your life, do you have people around you that when you spend time with them, you come away feeling filled and refreshed and encouraged? Who are the people in your life who know and love Jesus, who know and love you, but they’re not impressed by you, so they’re not afraid to tell ya the truth Who are the people that encourage you along the way? Are you in a small group? Are you surrounding yourself with brothers and sisters in Christ that you can turn to and ask for wisdom and counsel, and who can encourage you and do life together with you? The Bible tells us to do this In Hebrews 10, it says, “Let us spur one another on “toward love and good deeds.” I love that word spur, because sometimes that’s exactly what needs to happen You need that spur, you need someone to kick your butt to getcha movin’ in the right direction To follow Christ, to get up and go forward instead of just sitting there doin’ nothing Who are the people in your life like that? And at the same time, there’s another side to that question Not only who is it that encourages you along the way, but who derails you as you follow the Lord? Who is it in your life that really doesn’t care about your walk with Jesus? Who are those people? You can usually figure out who they are because they seem to always be there when you mess up They seem to be there when you’re being tempted They always seem to be there when you wind up doin’ stuff you wish you hadn’t done Who are those people? Who are the ones who are not looking out for the best for you? Who are leading you in a wrong direction Now I’m not talking about getting rid of friends that don’t know the Lord God put those people in your life for a reason He wants you to lead them to Jesus What I am talkin’ about is the people that you invite into your counsel, the people you turn to for direction and wisdom Those folks Who are the ones who are derailing you with false ideas and old notions? Need to be careful how you think In fact, the Bible tells us this In 1 Corinthians 15, it says, “Bad company “corrupts good character.” So if you don’t wanna get stung, ya gotta stay away from the bees Who are the people you need to stay away from? Now where does prayer fit in to all of this seeking? Well, actually that’s the right word, because here’s the fourth thing you could do, is keep asking, seeking, and knocking Keep asking, seeking, and knocking There’s a process that we go through, and Jesus taught us about this in Matthew 7 He said this, “Ask and it will be given to you, “seek and you will find, “knock and the door will be opened for you.” A more accurate translation of that verse would be, ask and keep on asking Seek and keep on seeking Knock and keep on knocking He’s talking about a continual process that’s going on You ask with your words, you seek with your heart, and you knock with your actions So there’s a process, you begin with asking You come to the Lord, you’re facing a decision, you wanna know what to do, and you just ask him The Bible say if you lack wisdom, ask God So ask him, Lord, what do you want me to do? Help me to see your way And if in your asking and you continue to ask, if you’re still not finding the answer, well now you begin to seek You begin to seek that answer You begin to seek wisdom Seek the counsel of God by going to the word And by seeking wisdom from other brothers and sisters in Christ who love the Lord and who care about you, and who can help you in thinking through what you’re facing They can help give you the direction you’re looking for But in all of that seeking, keep asking And if you’re still lookin’ for the answer, now start knocking Start knockin’ on doors There’s nothin’ wrong with knocking on doors There’s nothing wrong with trying something new God knows your heart, you’re trying to find out what he wants you to do, so start knocking on doors Go ahead and make plans, go ahead and set goals, but hold them loosely before God Always asking, seeking in your knocking Lord, is this really what you want me to do? And what will happen over time is that your prayer begins to change
Lemme tell you what happened to me in my asking, seeking, and knocking, going back 14 years ago That in the beginning, my prayer was, Lord, open a door and I’ll walk through it Just open a door and I’ll start walkin’ That was the prayer But as time went by, and things began to become a little more clear and a little more clear, and I saw that there was an opportunity coming, and it matched the gifts and talents God had given me, it matched the passions that he’d given me It seemed to be clear that this was the door that God was opening for me It matched my core values, and you dare not violate your core values It matched the core values Now the prayer changed The change was, or the prayer was, God, open a door and I’ll walk through it The prayer changed to, God, I’m gonna walk through that door unless you close it Because everything seems to be pointing in this direction But you still, in all of your knocking, you’re still seeking his wisdom and you’re still asking, Lord, is this truly the right thing, is this really where you want me to go? While you’re waiting, you’re lookin’ for signposts, you’re travellin’ light, you’re choosing the companions, you’re asking, seeking, and knocking While you’re doing all of those things, be sure that you’re acting on what you already know from God So you might wanna write this down While you’re waiting for God’s specific instructions, be sure that you are following his general instructions Be sure you’re following his general instructions, and the general instructions of God are the things that he has said to all of us And you find them in the word of God The verse from Proverbs 4, the way of the righteous, the path of the righteous, like the first gleam of dawn The word righteous means a person who lives according to the word So if you want that will to be revealed to you, it begins with being a person of the word of God That’s what it is to be righteous Says the way of the righteous, the way of those who live according to God’s word The Bible tells us that the word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path, so turn on the light Keep the light on so that it sheds light into the darkness and helps you find your way Another great picture of the Bible is that the Bible is not a map, it’s a compass You can’t just open the Bible and see step by step, every single detail that you’re going to take The Bible doesn’t map your life out for you, it’s a compass that points you toward true north It shows you the direction that you should be headed So the more you know the word and use it as the compass, then every decision you make, every crossroad that you come to, every doubt that you have, every dream, every idea, you bring it to the word of God and say does it align with the truth of God’s word? Does it align with the compass of God’s word? He’s already shown you so much about his general will for you But if we don’t obey his general will, well then, it’s not likely he’s gonna show us his specific will Why would God show me something new if I’m not acting on what he’s already told me to do? So lemme give you some examples of this, while you’re waiting, of his general instruction I put these in your notes but they’re also here on the screen What is God’s will for you in hardship? What’s the general instruction when you’re goin’ through difficulty? Well it’s in 1 Thessalonians He says, “In everything give thanks, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Giving thanks is God’s will So the question you have to ask is am I thankful or am I resentful? Am I obeying the general instruction of God? What is God’s general instruction, his will, when you’re hurt by somebody? Matthew 5:44, it says, “Love your enemies “and pray for those who persecute you.” Pray for the people who give you a hard time So the question is am I holding any grudges? Am I refusing to forgive? Am I obeying his general instruction? What is God’s will for your mission in life? His general instruction is this, “Always be prepared to give an answer “to everyone who asks you to give the reason “for the hope you have “But do this with gentleness and respect.” So the question, am I prepared to tell my story? Am I doing what God has already told me to do and I’m prepared to tell the story?
What is God’s will in your daily interaction with people? Well he tells us in Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, “seasoned with salt, “so that you may know how to answer everyone.” So the question to ask while you’re waiting is can people tell I’m a follower of Christ just by hangin’ out with me? Am I following the general instruction? What is God’s will for you in the world? He tells us in Micah 6:8 “He’s already shown you, O man, what is good “And what does the Lord require of you?” Requires this, act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly Not stubbornly or pridefully Not fearfully Walk humbly with your God So the question is am I walking this way today? Am I living like this today? And what is of utmost importance to God? What is God’s highest will for you? Jesus told us this, this general instruction He said, “Love the Lord your God “with all your heart,” that means passionately “With all your soul,” that means willfully “With all your mind,” that means thoughtfully “And love him with all your strength,” that means practically In other words, live like you love him “And love your neighbor as yourself.” Those are his general instructions So the question there is do I love God, and myself, and my neighbor? You see, these general instructions, and there’re so many more in scripture, the general instructions are the guardrails along God’s pathway for your life And if you’re not living according to his general instruction and his word, well then you’re already off course You’ve already steered off into the ditch You need to get yourself back on course Just keep walking in the light that God shows you Remember, it’s the way that’s more important than the destination, and there’s so much that God has already shown you about his will for your life that’s in his word, and that’s in the way that he created you So while you’re waiting for God’s specific direction, be faithful to follow his general direction Now, I wanna talk about waiting Actually I’m gonna talk about waiting in a minute, so you’re gonna have to wait a minute (congregation chuckling) Because before we talk about waiting for God’s instruction, I wanna talk about the motivation Why do you wanna know what God wants you to do? Is it because you’re just stuck and haven’t been able to figure it out yourself? Is it so that you can weigh out what he says and kinda measure it, measure the success, measure the risk, and then make a decision whether you wanna do it not? Why do you wanna know what God wants you to do? I believe this, that hearing from God begins with a desire to hear for God Hearing from God begins with the desire to hear for God Lemme explain what I mean by that We often come to God with our own agenda Specific direction We’re lookin’ for God’s approval of our plan But that is not the way of a servant A servant hears from his master, not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of the master The servant receives direction and correction and guidance and encouragement, not for his own benefit, but in order to serve his master Hearing from God begins with the desire to hear for God The question that the servant asks is this, it’s in Joshua 5, is “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” It’s, God, what do you wanna say to me? You even ask that question when you come to his word You just open the word and say, God, what do you wanna say today? I just wanna hear from you so I can serve you And the prayer of the servant, Jesus taught us that prayer, it’s “Not my will, but yours be done.” That’s what God is looking for That surrendered open heart that is committed to doing whatever God says to do In fact, the Bible tells us in 2 Chronicles, that, “The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth “to strengthen those whose hearts “are fully committed to him.” The ones whose hearts are fully committed are the ones who are strengthened by the Lord And so he’s looking for that complete commitment He is looking for a predisposition to obey That we come to God, not saying tell me what you want,
and then I’ll say yes or no, but coming to God and just saying, yes, and then waiting for him to tell you what he wants you to do So here’s the important question, am I asking God to tell me his plan, or am I asking God to approve of my plan? What is the motivation for seeking the will of God, and have you already said yes to him? See, we wanna see the final destination, but God wants to know, are you willing to walk in the way? I’ll show you the destination when we get there Are you willing to walk in the way? So let’s go back to that primary verse in Proverbs 4 “The path of the righteous “is like the first gleam of dawn, “shining ever brighter “until the full light of day.” So how does he show you his will? His will dawns on you, but it usually happens after the fact It usually occurs to you what God’s plan has been all along as you look back to see, how did I get here? I can see signs that pointed the way all along to where I am today In fact, the Bible says that that happens Look at this passage from Isaiah 30 It says, “Blessed are all who wait for him.” Not the ones who rush off in all directions all at once He says, “Blessed are those who wait for him “You will hear a voice behind you saying, “‘This is the way, “‘walk in it.'” So the ones who are blessed by the Lord are the ones who wait on the Lord Blessed are those who wait for him Now what are you supposed to do while you’re waiting? You keep asking, you keep seeking, you keep knocking, you keep following his general instructions, stay in the word, worship the Lord And then, look again, let’s look one more time at that verse Blessed are those who wait for him, you’ll hear a voice behind you You might wanna circle the word behind You’ll hear a voice behind you saying, this is the way, walk in it Keep walking is what he’s saying Notice, first of all, that that voice is behind you confirming things It’s not in front of you revealing things And notice also that the voice is not saying this is the destination, come to it The voice is saying, this is the way, keep walking in it There’s a confirmation as you’ve been obedient to the general instruction of the Lord As you’ve walked in the light that God has given you through his word That God says, yeah, you’re on the right track, keep moving forward I will lead you in the way that you need to go And his will for your life will dawn on you and become brighter and brighter, until the full light of day And if you get off track, come back to the compass Find out where true north is Realign the direction to what the truth is, and move forward in that direction The path of God will definitely lead to destinations My experience in life is that God has actually led me through destinations, not just to destinations But the destinations are secondary It’s the way that is the most important thing to God When you stand before God, God is not gonna say, “So, did you get that great job? “Did you get all the stuff? “Did you impress all of those people?” He’s not gonna ask you that What God is gonna ask you is, “Did you follow me?” If you follow his way, you will reach the destination of his plan But if all you’re lookin’ for is the destination, then you could miss his plan altogether So here’s the last thing I want you to write down The way is God’s will for your life The way is God’s will for your life I told you we were gonna see things in a different way today It’s the way that’s the most important thing to God That’s what shapes your character That’s what builds your faith That’s what makes you the man or woman of God that he wants you to become It’s the way that is his will for your life The question of timing is his to answer But the question of faithfulness is entirely within your control So let’s pray about this And I wanna lead us in prayer in a couple of ways Here’s what I wanna do first, because as I look at a crowd this size,
I have to believe that there are some people here with us, and you’ve never even taken the first step along that way You’ve never given your life over to God at all You don’t have a relationship with him You don’t have a relationship with Jesus You know that You know if you have a relationship with Jesus just like you know if you have a driver’s license in your wallet, you either do or you don’t And if you’ve never started that relationship with God through Christ, you’ve never then taken the first step of the way It begins with surrendering to him And I wanna give you the opportunity to do that today To start a new year and to start a new way of life of following after God You might be here today because you were sayin’, I got myself in a box, I’m stuck in a corner, I don’t know how to get outta this Maybe God has somethin’ to say I think he’s just said it to you He loves you He knows where you are, and he wants to show you the way that he wants you to live And it begins with surrendering your life to him So I wanna lead all of us in a prayer, and as I pray, if you’re the one I’m talkin’ to, you can pray this way in your heart You just say these words in your mind, all right? And then after we’ve prayed that way, we’re all going to pray together the Lord’s prayer Because yesterday as I was finishing this message and I was thinking about how to close in prayer, my mind went back to the Lord’s prayer, the way Jesus taught us to pray Those words came back into my mind and I thought, you know, that really is a prayer of daily surrender to the way and the will of God So we’re all gonna pray that way our loud in just a moment, but first, I wanna take care of this first step for some of you So let’s all bow our heads, would you? And if you’re the one I’m talkin’ to, I want you to pray this way in your own heart right now Just say, God, I hear you today, and I know this message is for me, and I know that I have not been following your way and see where it has taken me And I need a new life, I want a new start I wanna follow you I wanna know your way and I wanna know your will And so today I’m making a decision, as much as I know how, I don’t get all of this yet I don’t really understand all of it yet I just know that I need you So, God, I’m opening my life to you right now I’m opening my heart to you Lord, I’m open And I ask you, would you come in? Would you move in? Would you save me? Would you point me in the right direction and show me how to live the life that you want me to live? God, I know that I’ve done wrong things, I’ve sinned, I’ve offended you, I made a mess of a whole lot of things and I’m asking you to forgive me And today I receive the forgiveness that you offer through Jesus Christ, and I surrender my life to you, and I ask you to give me that new start today Put me on the pathway Show me how to follow you And now for all of us, as we close this message and take these steps in following the Lord, I wanna invite you to join me, pray aloud the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray The words are here on the screen if they’re helpful to you But let’s pray together Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever Amen