Wherever He Wants
Just before Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a group of ministers urged him to grant immediate freedom to all slaves. “It is my earnest desire to know the will of Providence in that matter,” Lincoln wrote. “And if I can learn what it is, I will do it … I must study the plain physical facts of the case … and learn what appears to be wise and right. The subject is difficult, and food men do not agree.”
Raise your hand if you have had an issue during your lifetime that you just wanted God to make clear to you what his will was.
The way some people attempt to know the will of God would make a great television series entitled ‘That’s Unbelievable.’ I read this last week of a lady who had a lifetime ambition of going to the Holy Land. She got a pamphlet on the Holy Land tour and read it over carefully. She had the time and the money to make the trip, but she wasn’t certain if it was God’s will. So before going to bed that night, she read again the pamphlet and noticed in the details of the plan that they would be traveling on a 747 jumbo jet, there and back. She wrestled through the night, tossed back and forth, wondering what God’s will might be. And she woke up the next morning, looked at her digital clock, and it read 7:47. It convinced her it was God’s will for her to make the trip. That’s unbelievable.
Who hasn’t heard of holding out a fleece before God to determine his will? A man who was wrestling with knowing God’s will, prayed as he was driving, “If it is your will for me to do this, then may the light at the next corner stay green until I get there.”
Another one wrestling with God’s will said, “Lord, may my phone ring at 9:21 tonight if your answer to me is yes.”
Last week, we began talking about “Where Do We Go From Here?”, a consideration of the vision and values of FCC’s ministry. Last week, we, specifically, discussed the authority of Scripture to map out our course. It is with those Scriptures that we begin to map out God’s purpose and will for our congregation.
What I would like to do today is look at several verses where Scripture uses a single English word – the word purpose. Each of these verses on purpose explains an element of God’s will for our lives and our church.
Where God wants us to go is revealed in His purpose and will. Living a life that follows God’s will is God’s purpose. God’s will is always attached to purpose. Our responsibility is to go wherever he wants.
“In him we were chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.”
God’s actions for our salvation transform us into an instrument of worship.
1. God’s will is that I honestly express my heart in worship. (Eph 1:11-12)
What God desires of our worship is defined in John 4:23 – “…true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” Spirit emphasizes the expression of our souls to God. Do we relate to God in worship in a manner that fits us? Or do we stifle our expression so that it fits others expectations?
Truth here is not in reference to content but authenticity. Is our worship honest with God?
David’s worship in 2 Samuel 6 as the Ark of the Covenant is being brought into Jerusalem. While David danced in his BVDs, Michasl is the one who is criticized in the story for her harsh assessment of David’s worship.
“…then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your interests, but also to the interests of others.”
2. God’s will is that I genuinely cultivate loving relationships (Phil 2:2-4)
What kind of relationships do we settle for in the church? What kind of relationships are we called to?
“And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had. They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity.” (Acts 2:44-46)
The depth of genuine loving relationships cannot be achieved on Sunday morning. That is why Acts 2 tells us that not only did the church meet in the Temple Courts, but they met from house-to-house. It was in their small group gatherings that relationships were forged.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, …”
3. God’s will is that I faithfully grow into the character of Christ (Rom 8:28-29)
What is not the target for growth? What is the target for growth?
“… we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13
This is not Timothy being proud of growing taller than me.
Christ-likeness is not cultural conformity. This is developing the revolutionary character of Jesus. Jesus was rejected, not so much be the secular people as by the religious.
“The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers …”
4. God’s will is that I responsibly utilize my God-ordained abilities to serve others within His family (1 Cor 3:8-9)
Context is people developing allegiances around people’s ministry.
The emphasis is that everyone plays a part. No part is more important.
God’s work involves many different individuals with a variety of gifts and abilities. There are no superstars in this task, only team members performing their own special roles. We can become useful members of God’s team by setting aside our desires to receive glory for what we do. Don’t seek the praise that comes from people – it is comparatively worthless. Instead, seek approval from God.
My encouragement to Bob Weber “His job is just as important as mine because people will decide whether or not they will come back to FCC based on his work before they ever have a chance to meet me.”
5. God’s will is that I sincerely share the love of Christ with those outside His family (1 Cor 3:8-9)
Based on Paul’s role as the planter.
“You are my witnesses”
So often, if we do engage in sharing Christ with others, it is only to salve our guilt. It isn’t because we really care for lost people.
How ashamed of us might Jesus be because of the way we view or treat those outside of his family?