Summary: When God says "no" it's because He wants what's best for us.
Two weeks ago we looked at the story of Jonathan and his armor bearer charging the Philistines. It was one of those times in scripture when God said not just yes but maybe. Why did God say maybe? Because he wanted Jonathan to pick a direction and go. God was waiting for someone to choose to move. It would have been best of Israel if it had been Saul the king, but it wasn’t. That’s ok though the principle was still the same, when God calls He wants His people to move, and when we do He blesses it. For us this is an example of one of the words that I want to be a church value. This is the principle of abandon, an all out sell out. When God calls we go with Him so that He can do all that as the armor bearer said, all that is in His heart. That’s what we want here at Madison and that’s what we want in our lives. For God to be able to do all that He has dreamed. This can be difficult because think about how big God is, His dreams are not our dreams.
Today at Madison is one of those abandon days. We’ve just dismissed our kids to 252 for the first time. This spring we wouldn’t have pictured building a stage and pulling sound and lighting systems out of storage for our kids, but God did. Already I can tell you that God is moving there, last year when our Children’s Center held it’s parent night and Bryan and I got to talk with the parents about the church their reaction was, that’s nice pass the pizza, this year they wanted to hear what we had to say because they could see the investment that we as a church are willing to make in their kids lives and in their families lives. It may have become the dream of the staff and the many volunteers who helped get us to this point. But before it was our dream, it was God’s dream. I expect to see Him do far more in that program, why? Because God dreams big, as His people so should we.
It’s great when God says, “yes.” That was the sermon two weeks ago. But today’s sermon, today’s sermon is about when God says, “no.” It just doesn’t sound as fun does it. But when it comes from God is it really that bad? As we’re going to see, Paul wants to go one way in life and God keeps stopping Him until finally He finds where He needs to be. So it got me to thinking about the roads not taken. I mean, what if I wasn’t a pastor, what would that look like? And I’ll go even further since I was thinking about the road not taken, so I didn’t want to think about being an accountant again either. So what if those two things were taken off the table. What would I be?
Well I think that I would like to play my guitar for people. Yeah, just traveling and playing, but I like to be with a team, so I’d want someone with me (introduce Bryan), and neither of us can play lead so we’d need Randy. And we can’t hit the high notes so we’d need someone like Gary. Yeah, I’d like to play music with a group of guys like this. But then what would we sing? Well we’d want to tell people about Jesus, we’d want to tell people about the Bible, and at some point we might just come to Acts chapter 16 and we’d want to tell people about it through a song. So if we could do anything that we wanted it would probably come out something like this. PLAY “THE SOUNDS OF SILAS.”
Okay just because that thought of God saying, “no” isn’t fun doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun. The truth is that despite what some preachers may say, sometimes God says no. We don’t enjoy it, we don’t like it but there it is. It’s interesting but even in that fun song that we found, the author didn’t start with God saying, “no” but with the vision to go to Macedonia. We don’t like to think about God saying, no. But sometimes He does. Before we go much further though we also need to realize that sometimes God hasn’t said, no, He just didn’t say yes. Sometimes the pain, frustration and disappointments that we face in this world, are just because we live in a fallen world. Not all of our disappointments come from God. Sometimes these thing just happen. Some of you are struggling to find work right now, or to find a job to pay what you’re used to making, that may be from God, but I think it’s just the economy. It doesn’t mean that God can work in it to grow you and eventually bless you, but it doesn’t mean that He sent it. Some of us can’t sell a house or some other asset. You know what I refuse to believe that God is up in Heaven say, “J.D. you’re not going to sell your house, just ‘cause I want to mess with you.” I refuse to believe that, I think my house isn’t selling because the market stinks, all by itself. These things happen. That’s what I think, but I know something else, God will use our struggles, yours and mine, today’s and tomorrow’s, to grow us to be more like Him. To use us to be a blessing to other people, and that, in God’s economy, will be better. God never wastes a hurt.