I have had a strong desire to bring this message for some time now, and God has confirmed it to me in several ways. So, in light of the fact that we are beginning a New Year this week, and that we are living in some of the most chaotic, godless, fear-filled, uncertain times any of us have faced in our lifetimes, I believe it is not just advantageous, but absolutely imperative that we join our hearts and minds as God's people in learning to seek and do God's will for our individual lives and the Church.
Wanting to “know God's will for our lives" is one of the single most common topics of conversation and questioning I have shared with professing Christians. Questions about relationships, jobs, education, family, church, ministry—some are everyday questions, some life-changing moments. And yet with so much hanging in the balance, many are left with nothing but frustration, doubt and confusion when seeking. How many here are seeking God's will and direction in some area of your life even as we meet this morning? How many here have desperately prayed for Jesus to speak or lead you in the past, only to feel confused as to whether you were perceiving God, self, or Satan in your answer? Or you receive no answer or direction at all? Leaving you to doubt whether God still speaks, or in some ways even worse to doubt He ever wants to speak to you personally. Scriptures are packed with stories, illustrations, and even commands to follow the will of God. So why does it seem so difficult? Does He even still speak to us individually as He did at once? Or do we have His finished plan in this Book instead? The answer to finding His will is so vitally important for anyone who truly wants to serve God with all their heart that it deserves more than a quick, pat answer with a list of "How-To" steps. It requires more than hearing another Sunday sermon—it requires a life and heart change. And that is exactly why many do not hear Him speak; why they don’t find His will for their personal lives. For those truly interested, we are about to embark on a serious quest together which will take time, commitment and sacrifice, but can be a change point for your entire life if you are serious, expectant and faithful. We are going to begin: The Great Adventure. I pray you are serious enough about God to be "all in" with us on the quest.
Let's first Biblically, and clearly answer one of the most common question asked: "Does God still speak today? Personally, individually to each of us? Should we even expect to Hear from Him?" A few years ago I had a pastor scold me for even considering that God would still speak to me today. He said God was finished speaking now that His Word is complete, and that seeking His voice only opened the door for Satan to misguide us. Rather than argue and debate what has already been established, let's just allow Scriptures to speak for themselves. First of all, let me ask you a question to answer our question: "Does God love you and I as much as He loved people in the Old and New Testaments?" Of course He does. We do God and ourselves an injustice when we miss this major reason for communicating with us. If He loves us, do you not think He desires intimate fellowship with us also? Do you not think He cares for our every step and plan as He did those in Scriptures? Can we even have real fellowship with one-way communication? (Try with your spouse—it is impossible to have intimacy without sharing yourself). Think about this: if we are walking with Him intimately living inside of us, sharing our every thought, word, and action—how can we possibly think for one moment He would not share His heart with those He loves as well? How can we even think a caring God, who is walking with us, would not be there to guide, counsel and comfort us personally in that walk? Listen to this personal focus of God's voice here: Psalm 143:6-10; John 15:15; Genesis 18:17. If our God Who has become One with us says He has a special, deliberate, definite direction for my life, involving decisions and paths that are applicable only to me, will He not take responsibility in revealing those purposes to me? Psalm 139:16; James 1:5; Romans 8:14; Proverbs 3:5-6 (paths). It was a common and expected experience for God to reveal direction to characters of the Bible. But it was as they did His will based on all these verses—should you and I expect any different? How can we be effective in a literal war as God's hands and feet behind enemy lines when we don't receive our orders? What would happen if every Battalion of soldiers in the military was sent into combat, even with proper training with the simple, general orders to just: "Go, fight hard and win the war!" and no other directions, no objectives, specifically given to them? Would they stand much chance of achieving strategic victories or winning the war? What if Abraham had just been told, "Go, love God and do good?” Or Moses, or Paul? So, wouldn't it be a powerful tactic for Satan to keep God's will hidden from us in this War as well? Learning to hear the voice of God is where we begin to wee the true purpose of our lives and grow our faith in a tangible way because only God knows what direction will truly use the gifts and abilities He has placed in you. And learning to be obedient to what He tells you is how you grow in faith as He provides and protects while you follow. Let's seal this fact with the very Words of Our Lord and Savior: John 10:2-4, 26-27: So, yes, God definitely has reason and desire to still talk with us today—even after we have followed Him into Salvation.
Experiencing God's Will is not a proper formula or method, and you don't have to twist His arm, or manipulate, or make deals. When we miss the voice and will of God, it is usually for this reason: we are not truly ready to hear it or we are not truly wanting to hear it. Before we learn how to listen for God's will, let's first take the time and effort to prepare ourselves for receiving it. Usually when we say we are praying for God's will in our lives, in actuality, we are wanting His blessing or direction on what we have already determined for our lives; or what we already want (may be passionate, but for selfish reasons). So, at the heart, we are still self-seeking—not really coming in order to simply hear and serve. God shares His will with us for this reason: so that we may walk together in His ways, share in His journey through Intimacy, make His desires our goal as we live out the proclamation that we have died to self and we live for Him as He has already done for us. To truly find His will requires a new and deeply convicted desire to draw close and please God above all else, and an unswerving purpose to do that will, whatever it may be, when we hear It. To hear and know God's will is not for your benefit, it is for His benefit—to glorify Him, to accomplish His plan through our lives. If your goal in hearing Him is not to live for and serve Him more effectively, not to abide in Him and show love through your obedience—He probably will not speak to you yet because you are not ready to hear; because you will just stray from His path in your plans anyway. You will work in your own power and desires, and you will not accomplish what He has for you. It would be like throwing "Pearls to the swine," to be trampled under our feet: John 15:7-8. Understand that when you come to God sincerely asking for His will and direction, it may lead you against your own will and desires; it may take you where you didn't plan; it may not look anything like you expected; it may look to be more than you can handle; it may not be casual, familiar, or comfortable; it may cost you in time, money and sacrifice; it may change your lifestyle completely; it may require a change of priorities in your heart towards your own life; it may require a totally different view of your sin and its effects on your heart and mind. Your answer to follow Him may be a new calling to humbleness, suffering, learning to love through mistreatment or injustice, courage when others turn or fall, walking beyond what you can handle or control; seeking His will is not a one-time act or event in our lives—it is a mindset and lifestyle of ongoing surrender to Him that absolutely will require that you to separate from this world, separate from sin, and live for His will when it is revealed. Every major character in Scriptures whoever heard and did the will of God had a time of preparation in humbleness and emptying of self before God revealed His will. The disciples walked with Jesus for 3 years in humility and faith preparing for His will. Paul was stricken down physically and isolated from the world for a time to prepare his heart to hear and do God's will. David was betrayed, hated and chased into a cave in the wilderness of Adullam to grow in faith and courage for God's will. Joseph was taken from his life of recognition and comfort to be a slave and a prisoner in a foreign land, learning discipline and humility, to prepare for God's will. Moses was called away from everything he thought he could do, from all he had been given, from all the plans he thought God had made, to finally surrender to hearing God's will. Daniel was taken from his family and land to Babylon to cultivate resolve and conviction before he could hear and do God's will mightily. Jesus went away by Himself for forty days of fasting and prayer to prepare His Spirit and mind for God's will in His life as the Son of God. Everyone who learned to listen to and obey God's voice first prepared their own hearts and lives by separating from the world in a desire to become more like Him by learning selflessness in putting God and others before anything they desired; by learning humbleness, not having other people or their own strengths to rely upon, but having to trust God for whatever comes and whatever they were called to do; by leaving pride as they focused on God's glorification—not self-praise or recognition as their goal; by leaving sin as they lived for God rather than their desires; by learning discipline as they put aside things that weighed them down, preparing for loss if necessary; by coming to an end of themselves, dying to their lives—in reality in complete surrender to His calling—a call to oneness answered in abandonment.
So, no, nothing has changed since the days God spoke to men in Scriptures. Yes, we are loved by God as much as any before us. Yes, God is not only willing, but longing to reveal His will to us, but He won't cast His Pearls before the swine. We must be what those before us were willing to be before He will reveal His will—use us mightily. He won't reveal His will to those who do not long to follow. He will not guide and bless you in your own ways. We must prepare our hearts and minds; we must truly surrender our lives to doing His will; we must seek His will because we want to be one with him. And when we are serious—set apart and thirsty—then we can be expectant.
Will you join me on the "Great Adventure"? Spend one week in fasting and daily, heartfelt seeking—not for His will yet—ask what you need to do to prepare your heart and life for His will. Ask Him to reveal your deepest sin, pride, selfish motives, changes needed in relationships, attitude. Ask for courage and strength to do His will. Ask Him to reveal who you are currently trying to please or impress besides Him? Ask Him what you are relying on and trusting other than His sufficiency? Ask Him what you may be afraid to let go of in your life? Ask Him to reveal what you are currently living for in life—your will? Ask Him to help you totally and unconditionally say “yes” to whatever He will reveal as His will. Spend this week in prayer and fasting to set yourself apart—make yourself a vessel usable and ready for His will—a living sacrifice that has really died with Him. 2 Timothy 2:21; Romans 12:1-2; Do this whole-heartedly, then we will be ready for His Word next week. This is the key to living a life of true repentance; of turning from self—from your life—and embracing Christ.
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