Summary: God's Sovereignty puts a framework around our decision making. When we make decisions it must always be within the constraints of God's will being done on earth as well as in heaven.
A Sermon by Adam Cetrangolo
Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done
Down the street from my house, someone has taped a hand-made sign to a pole … a little piece of secular wisdom that I walk past most mornings and inevitably read on my way to the train station. It reads:
LIFE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT, TO BE WONDERFUL
And though it is a little random and worldly … there is some truth to it. Jesus often chastises his listeners when they think that blessing and prosperity go together or that sickness and sin go together. Certainly on particular occasions sickness is connected to sin. But Jesus is clear in teaching that we cannot automatically make that assumption, in fact we should assume the opposite. He tells his disciples in Luke 13 that the Galileans killed by Pilate were not greater sinners than those who were spared. And in this sense the little adage masking-taped to the pole in Blackburn Road rings true: life isn’t always perfect (by our own definition of perfection: success, happiness, no aches or pains, etc.) but on another level LIFE IS WONDERFUL – because LIFE AND ALL OUR PROVISIONS ARE GOD-GIVEN … GOD IS AT WORK. Even as we encounter suffering, the reality of disease, death, conflict, violence in our world, we know that God’s PLAN is bigger than all of that. And the glory that awaits will make the problems of today pale by comparison. So in light of this:
WHAT SORT OF DECISIONS – MORAL AND NON-MORAL – ARE WE TO MAKE?
1. GOD'S SOVEREIGN WILL
This passage that we have just heard read by Sam/Richard from the book of James [4.13-16] is not about business or money or planning. It is addressed to believers like us. And it is addressed to believers like us, who in very tangible ways, need to make plans and need to make money to survive. We are called to be good stewards. James doesn’t call them ‘rich,’ he doesn’t call them ‘greedy’ … the text doesn’t say that their business-practice was ‘corrupt’ or ‘unethical’ … he berates them because they are believers who act like non-believers. They make plans without factoring in God’s PLAN.
v15 says “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’”
Sometimes, as Christians, we say “We’ll do such-and-such … God willing.” But James is obviously suggesting something far more significant: what he is conveying is that a life centred in Christ and his people means that God’s Sovereign Will is a key factor to any decision. Our LIFE … our very existence … BELONGS TO GOD. Boasting about our great business plans and how much money we will make, without a thought for the body of Christ is arrogant and sinful. He is saying our corporate Christian life and our everyday decision-making go hand-in-hand if we are to be faithful followers of Christ. Because our lives BELONG TO GOD.
In our preaching series, we have been talking about moral decisions – for which we can determine the way forward through careful reading of the bible. And non-moral decisions – for which we can make reasoned, rational decisions based on the facts in front of us. However we also know that God has a Sovereign Will. Within his sovereign will, we see that God wants us to live by his standards, that the believers may be a sign and foretaste of the new creation (as Tim Foster encouraged us last weekend).
But can God’s Sovereign Will also impact on our individual non-moral decisions?
Well Heather’s sermon two weeks ago, showed us that through the Holy Spirit, who testifies to our spirit, sometimes God does reveal things that are pertinent to our individual non-moral will. So God might reveal to us through, through the Holy Spirit, that we should ‘go’ somewhere (for a reason unknown to us), later we discover that there was some specific work that we were to do there, some door that God had opened to us. And at other times, it may seem as though the Holy Spirit is closing a door for us. Often in hindsight, we can look back on a part of our lives and think … yes … God’s hand was in that. But how do we know?
II. READING THE SIGNS
Many of you have heard me talk about the circumstances of when we first returned to Melbourne at the beginning of 2009. However, what I may not have told you about was the series of events that happened beforehand …
On a Saturday in October of 2008, I had been asked to attend a youth Camp for the afternoon … when I arrived I was particularly impressed by the faith that these young people displayed and the way that they were ministering to one another and I had prayed with them and for them.