The Road Map of God's Will
Moving next week!
For the past month we have been discussing things that would prepare us for our move to Turner Bartels k-8. This is the last Sunday of us being here and it has been such a blessing.
It has been 195 days since we first started our church...
We have had a lot to be thankful for:
Our First Time Guest Booklet
Worship Team Development (Rebecca)
2 serve days
Teacher Appreciation at 2 schools
Gave over 15k in missions]
Since the church opened on January 21, 2018, we have endeavored to lead this church where ever God has been leading. We have been praying, we have been listening, and we have been watching for the signs that God is leading in the direction of his will.
And thats what we want to talk about today…following God’s will.
Is there a way to know it? Is there a way to decipher the mystery of God’s will?
Like Hansel and Gretel its all about following the breadcrumbs…or more like road signs…ill explain.
But to illustrate this point…lets play a little game.
Game - This or That
Understanding the will of God is a lot like the game we just played. It’s piecing together the information that is presented before you then making the jump…cause you’re never 100% sure are you, even when you were playing the game. And following God’s will is like that most of the time…now before you launch a rebuttal lets talk this through and see what God has to say to us today.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
2 weeks ago we spoke on the idea of transformation and how offering your body as a living sacrifice to God is our only reasonable, rational, act of divine worship to a God that has given us so much.
Last week we talked about how many of us needs a breakthrough in our lives and breakthrough requires purposeful prayer, perspective, and getting into position. And getting into position requires us to align ourselves with God’s will…and thats the confusion for many of us.
How do we know what God’s will is?
Someone once asked us, how do we identify God’s voice and we explained that knowing God’s voice is a matter of spending time with him.
My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me.
So we encouraged you and will continue to encourage you to read the Bible, pray and talk with God, and apply the things that you learn in the Bible and at church. We kept things simple, but this three step process is key to understanding something much more complex about God’s voice and his will.
Because identifying God’s voice is a matter of understanding his will and knowing his will help you navigate life with more clarity, focus, and wisdom.
So lets go back to the passage we looked at 2 weeks ago.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
See you must first be transformed by the renewing of your mind, before you acquire this new ability to test and approve what God’s will is.
Im going to do a little teaching today. Hope that is okay with you.
Lets discuss this word here that Paul uses to describe how our minds are to be renewed - transformation - meta-mor-thousthe in the greek which means to take on a different physical form or appearance
This word only appears three times in the New Testament:
It appears in - where Jesus is transfigured in from of Peter, James, and John - Matthew describes an incredible physical transformation of Jesus, his face shining like the son and his clothes became as white as light.
And in which says,
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
To be transformed - or better yet - to be transfigured - reflecting God’s ever increasing glory by becoming like him. How? By the renewing of your mind.
To be transformed is in the present tense, and its continuing - to be transformed. Some scholars and commentators write to “grow transfigured.” This beautiful idea of transfiguration not being complete, but an ongoing process of transfigurement.
What Paul is saying here is that you aren’t going to be completely changed at salvation. Becoming like Jesus is an ongoing process. Its a journey that we take every day. Your life will change, you will be transformed over time as your thinking is transformed by the gospel. Your life will be transfigured IN AS MUCH as your mind is transformed by your relationship with Jesus.
So friends, live deeply within the Scriptures. Learn to love the book that sits clean on your nightstand.
My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go.
Lets move on -
As you are transformed by the renewing of your mind, you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is.
Again, we have to break down what Paul is talking about when he explains God’s will.
There are three possibilities:
God’s Sovereign Will - The almighty power that works out everything in conformity to his purpose. That means God can take the worst things and craft them for his good. Remember God doesnt make us sin, but he can take our sin and work it out for the good of his purpose ()
The issue with God’s sovereign will is that we can’t know nor can we test all the ways that God intertwines lives and experiences in order to work them out according to His purpose. There is just no way for us to know the intricacies of the mind of God, nor can our finite minds understand how God will work out in our future what seems confusing today.
But in - Paul is talking about a will of God that can be tested…and because we cannot test the hidden things, the mystery of God, we can conclude that the Soveriegn will of God is not what Paul is talking about.
God’s Commandments - God has revealed his will through the Bible. He has shown us time and again what it means to be a follower of God and his commandments are clear. He tells us what he wants us to do…and he tells us what he doesnt want you to do.
Dont cheat on your spouse.
Be thankful always.
Forgive others as Christ has forgiven you.
Do not be like the hypocrites who love to pray standing in synagoges or on street corners to be seen by men, but pray in secret. ()
Bless those who curse you ()
Make disciples of all nations ()
And again, I dont think that Paul is talking about testing the commandments of God…why? Because the commandments of God do not need to be tested. I dont need to test what God has revealed clearly in the Scripture…
So if Paul is not talking about God’s soveriegn will because it CAN’T be tested, and Paul isnt talking about God’s commandments because we dont NEED to test it, then what is Paul talking about?
3. God’s daily will - This is the wisdom we need to discern what is best before God in life. These are the things that we have to apply, the principles of God, the principles of the bible, in our daily lives. This is the wisdom and discernment we need to navigate the gray areas in life that doesnt seem to have a single bible verse that we can apply to our modern, everyday, circumstances.
To discern what is best before God in life that we have to apply the principles of God in our daily lives.
So…if we are transforming or transfiguring to reflect the ever increasing glory of God, by the renewing of our minds…renewel becoming new and different, with the implication of becoming superior, THEN…then are are given or adopt the ability to TEST what God’s will is.
The Ability to Test
The Ability to Test
This is such an important idea because I grew up under the impression that to know God’s will required me to do 2 things…pray and just wait. I would pray and just listen for the Holy Spirit to direct my steps.
And Im not wrong in this. God does speak to us that way, but what Paul is suggesting is that there is an another way of knowing God’s will that is more rational, more concrete. That normally God’s will is given to us as direct revelation to our heart and mind, but something that we can test and approve of.
The word test and approve is actually just one word in the greek δοκιμάζω - do-ki-ma-zein - which means to regard something as genuine or worthy on the basis of testing. To judge to be genuine, to judge to be good, to approve.
Paul is explaining that God’s daily will can be tested to see if it is real and good.
How many of us have wondered if something that we were going through, maybe an opportunity, decision, or circumstance, was God’s will or not?
The ability to discern God’s will is shaped by the degree of the gospel’s influence on our minds. In other words, the deeper you’re relationship with Jesus, the clearer God’s will becomes.
Your ability to discover the will of God will become clearer as we mature as believers.
Lets think of it like this:
Say Joe is coming to Grace Empire for the first time from downtown Tampa. He knows GXE is in Wesley Chapel…He goes in the General Direction.
Then he asks a gas station attendant which direction he should go in…he gets Specific Street Signs.
Then he calls Pastor Ryan and asks for Confirming Landmarks.
Now a mind renewed by the gospel, enables you to know the general direction, the discern the specific street signs, and to recognize the confirming landmarks in your life.
Following God’s will always begins with a general direction.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Now when we have the general direction, we may not know EXACTLY where we should be going but we do not which way we are not to go.
And heres something important to note, you will never see the Specific Street Signs, unless you are moving in the general direction.
Theres no point in asking Joe to look for the Bruce B Downs exit if hes still in downtown tampa.
Specific Street Signs
Specific Street Signs
As you begin moving in general direction you can begin looking for specific street signs.
You can begin asking questions like:
What is God doing? What opportunities are presented before me? What resources have God put in my hand? What are other mature, discerning, believers saying?
And you can be confident because God is faithful and kind and he has made promises in his will that he will give you signs leading you into the right direction.
How do we know we are in the right place as we move forward? Confirming landmarks - like the dunken donuts and the hospital and the pizza joint.
What are the confirming landmarks - the blessing of God, the agreement of other believers, and other confirmations...
Then you will be able to test...
This is of obvious importance to our own lives, but this importance to US as a church.
What will Grace Empire look like in 5 years? We have general direction as a church
Advance the gospel. Fellowship with other believers. Make disciples of all nations. Worship with all your heart, mind, and soul. Minister to the weak and needy.
Now how are we going to do that?
The leaders of the church are looking for specific signs. What has the Lord done in our past? What is he doing now? What needs and opportunities has God placed before us? Where can we be most effective in our community? What resources is he placing in our hands? What burdens are being laid on the hearts of our leaders and our people?
Well how do we know if this what we are supposed to be doing? Confirming landmarks…is there spiritual growth? And are the mature, wise, discerning believers in agreement with us?
Approve and Delight
Approve and Delight
Now here is the last thing briefly, you will be able to test AND approve…its not that you will just know the will of God, you will find joy in it. Its not that you will just know the will of God, you will WANT to do it. You will find delight in it. You will find your purpose in it…you will say it is good, pleasing, and perfect...
This understanding has helped me as I navigate my life…
Anytime I feel like I’ve lost my joy - not happiness - I ask this question and it has only two outcomes.
Am I in God’s will? Or do I need to ask God to renew my mind?