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Discovering God’s Will: Practicing Wisdom, Part 1

Various   |   Shaun LePage   |   June 22, 2008

Discovering God’s Will: Practicing Wisdom, Part 1

Various   |   Shaun LePage   |   June 22, 2008

I.       Introduction

A.    “Life,” said Forest Gump, “is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” Don’t disagree, but prefer to say, “Life with God is like a hike. You never know what path He’ll take you down.”! I love this illustration so much (because “walking” is a common metaphor in Bible) that this morning I’ve decided to wear my backpack while I preach. Haven’t been hiking for years, so it gives me great pleasure to get some use out of it today—hopefully help you to remember message today (don’t overanalyze analogy).

B.    Talking about discovering God’s will—He is our Guide through life, sometimes clear and specific, sometimes general direction; sometimes we don’t know where we’re going—all we can do is trust that He knows and He’s directing our paths.

1.     First week: Presuppositions: can understand revealed; can’t fathom sovereign; permissive requires trust; moral requires obedience.

2.     Second week: Prerequisites: must be spiritual—saved and becoming Christ-like; must understand what we mean by God’s will—moral/revealed not sovereign; must be deliberate—studying, asking, seeking, knocking; must be committed to obeying—surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

3.     Two weeks ago: Preconceived notions, pt 1: popular ideas for discovering God’s will—impressions, peace/lack of, direct revelation (dreams, visions, voices), fleece; problems: subjective, unreliable and dangerous [illus: Jay Bakker “God spoke… homosexuality not sin”]; solutions: test by, transform thinking by God’s Word.

4.     Last week: Preconceived notions, part 2: 4 questions: Q1. Does Bible promise God will lead through impressions, peace? A1. No such promises; Q2. What about examples in Bible of people who received direct revelations? A2. Exception rather than the rule; We—who have completed Scriptures—have no reason to expect direct revelation; Q3. Haven’t lots of people testified about receiving clear, individual direction in these ways? A3. We must not base truth on experience; Q4. Can’t God—Father & Shepherd—lead us any way He wants? A4. Yes, discover His way.

II.     Body—The way of wisdom—overview of three key areas; revisit each individually next 3 wks—think of life with God (making decisions related to His will) as a hike—adventure!

A.    Thoroughly obey the God-breathed Scriptures

1.     Study the revealed will of God. Read the signs/warnings (signs & bears in Montana!)

a)     The Bible contains God’s complete revelation pertaining to faith and life

b)     Moral will: expression of God’s character; 1 Pet 1:16 “be holy because I am holy”

c)     Moral will (as expression of God’s character) governs more than external behavior; God is not just concerned with what we do, but why and how we do it as well—His moral will touches every aspect of life because it governs what and why & how.

d)     Must gain a good understanding; Many struggle/miss God’s will because they don’t gain that understanding of His revealed will—Heb 5:12-14; get thorough training

2.     Obey the moral will of God. Do what the signs tell you (signs in Montana clearly marked trail—to get to destination, just followed signs).

a)     2 Tim 3:16-17—“profitable so…(believers) may be equipped for every good work”

b)     Key to successful, fruitful living if obeyed! Remember Jn 13:17? Josh 1:8?

3.     So, thoroughly obey the God-breathed Scriptures

B.    Wisely use God-given freedom

1.     Recognize God-given freedom. No signs/warnings? freedom! (compass, day hikes)

a)     No moral law=no moral sin; we have freedom to decide (e.g., Gen 2:16-17)

b)     “All things” within the moral will of God are “lawful”—1 Cor 6:12; Mk 7:19 “(Jesus) declared all foods clean”; and “pure”—Titus 1:15. More in 2 weeks

c)     Only way to sin in a decision: break God’s moral law / make decision outside moral will of God through a wrong purpose, attitude or action.

d)     Some feel guilt fearing they’ve missed God’s will—even though their decision was not specifically addressed in Scripture. Recognize God-given freedom!

e)     Should lead to release from tension and accusations from enemy—freedom!

2.     Use God-given Wisdom. Keep eyes open for signs/look ahead/talk to other hikers/learn from previous hiking trips—become smarter hiker; 5 ways to investigate:

a)     Ask for it—Col 1:9-10 (“filled with knowledge of will…so you may ‘walk’…”)

b)     Explore Scripture—Ps 119:97-100 “wiser than enemies…than aged”

c)     Do outside research—Lu 14:28-32, practical wisdom for decision-making

d)     Consult wise counselors—Proverbs 11:14 and 13:20

e)     Learn from life—Heb 5:14 “because of practice…senses trained to discern”

3.     More later…about wisely using freedom.

C.    Humbly submit to God-directed plans

1.     Decide based on God’s moral will. If within moral will of God, examine your options and make a choice! You can’t make a wrong decision; pick a path and hike! God has given us a compass for our hike through life. Not a trail map with our exact route highlighted for us. Headed north (general direction God has revealed)? Go and enjoy!

2.     Submit to God’s sovereign will. God’s SW determines outcome of all decisions, so believer should humbly submit in advance to whatever God does; enjoy the path you’ve chosen—if path closed off enjoy the next one! But trust God’s sovereign plan!

3.     Since SW cannot be discovered in advance, it has no direct bearing on the consideration of our options or formulation of plans except we should pray and ask for protection and provision; Yes, God’s SW governs circumstances/provides open doors, but His MW and wisdom are our tools for the making of the decision itself.

4.     More in a few weeks about God’s SW as it relates to our decisions.

III.   Closing:

A.    Men’s campout, day hike, group got confused; most of group decided to take path to east; one friend said no—take north path. No one seemed to trust him but me. As the rest of the group headed east, I said, “Lead on!” He led and led and led—at times I doubted he knew what he was doing, but he kept going; just about the time I started getting seriously worried, we stepped out into a clearing and saw our destination—parking area and our ride (with extra water!); no one else was there for another 30 minutes—they had gone the wrong way because they didn’t follow the right guy.

B.    Life with God is like that hike. We don’t know the way. He’s telling us He will direct our paths—that we can trust Him. Follow Him in the way He leads (via moral will) and enjoy the adventure!

C.    Prayer

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