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Jack Graham - Divine Direction


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    Jack Graham - Divine Direction
TOPICS: Essential Gospel

Take your Bibles and turn to Romans, chapter 12. And what a great time of worship together. I just feel like we ought as the Scriptures says, "Shout to the Lord with a voice of triumph, shout to the Lord with the voice of praise". Because our God is with us and every battle belongs to Him. And whatever you are facing in your life personally or in your family regarding your faith, your future, this is true: that God is our victor, Christ has conquered sin and death and hell and the grave, and we are living now in this incredible victory in Christ. That's what the Roman road is all about, this Essential Gospel that we've been talking about. It's all about how we can be made right with God and live in the righteousness of Christ, growing in our faith and becoming more and more like Jesus every single day of our lives.

That's what the first 11 chapters of Romans is all about. And then we turn a corner in Romans chapter 12 and the first verses of that in particular talk about how we then bring our lives unconditionally to Him, fully to follow Him, devoted and dedicated to Him, committed and consecrated to the Lord our God. And Romans 12 is one of the great chapters in all of the Bible, isn’t it? If you know your way around your Bible, you know Romans 12 is an incredible passage of Scripture and I want to be a Romans 12 kind of Christian. What we read about in this great chapter, and really, the rest of Romans, has to do with now our personal accountability, responsibility to live for Christ in view and because of what Christ has done for us, how can we help but love and serve Him with all of our hearts, our minds, our soul and our strength?

The last message, I called it "All on the Altar", and I asked this question: Is your all on the altar? Make it personal. And voluntarily we are to bring our lives before the Lord not only at one time, but all the time, not only part of us but all of us. Remember the Hokey Pokey? It's not your left, right arm in, your right arm back, your right leg in, shake it all about, in and out of the Christian life. But we are to be all in and we talked about being a living sacrifice and how as living sacrifices this is a lasting sacrifice because our lives are then lived on the altar. We never leave there. I know Christ will never leave us at the altar. And He’s promised always to be our love, the love of our life. Christ is first, and therefore, those who are in our lives, we can love them well and love then better.

Peter who was a man's man if you would, he was unapologetically as am I, one to say, who having not seen, we love. We look forward to the day when we see Christ first face to face and we are reunited with Him forever. But this is that lasting and living sacrifice. It is a logical sacrifice we said, in that it is our reasonable service. Romans 12:1 says: "I beseech you, brothers, (or) I appeal to you therefore". This is in effect God praying. Think about it. God is beseeching us, God is appealing to us through the Apostle Paul. We pray to God and yet here God is appealing to us. He is in effect praying to us that because of the mercies of God, that you would present your bodies, from head to foot, all of you, the you of you, heart, soul, body, life "as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God who is or which is your spiritual worship".

And then look at verse 2 which is the content of the message today that we’re calling "Divine Direction": "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by the testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect". The good, acceptable and perfect will of God. This is "Divine Direction". And God has promised through and through the Bible that he will lead, that he will lead us. We're not left alone to figure it out by ourselves. God has a plan; God has a purpose. Even before you were born. These children, these babies, before they were born, God had a purpose and has a plan and a purpose for their lives. In the infinite heart and loving mind of God, God has a plan for every life, and that includes your life.

And as a believer and follower of Jesus, He has promised to lead you throughout the days of your life and making those decision, God's guidance is promised. And to live in the will of God, and to do the will of God is the only way to live. Your best life, your only life that is truly successful is the life given to follow the Lord. You know that your decisions determine your direction and your direction determines ultimately your destiny in life. And I'm talking, of course, about the big decisions that we make: Where we go to school, who we marry, when and if we have children, job, career, calling, all of these things. These are the big ones, right? And we often are called upon to make big decisions. Some of you right now are thinking about what you need to do with the next step of your life. And God has a plan and He will let you know. God's not hiding His will from you. He wants you to know His will more than you even want to know it.

So if you will give your life unconditionally to Christ, put your life on the altar and surrender your will to do the will of God, I promise you He's going to enable you and empower you to take those big steps in life. I look back on our lives, Deb and I, in our marriage, in our family, in our ministry, we have seen the Lord lead us all the way. Not one time has He failed us or taken us. We've gone on some detours. We can at times get off the path, but He always brings us back because He is (what?) "Working all things together for the good" our steps as well as our missteps, "He is working all of this together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose". That is, literally fitting in to His plan or purpose in our lives. But it all begins with this surrender of this presentation of our lives to the Lord. And that's really what I'm saying now is the first point that I want you ponder for just a moment, and it is that we make a personal presentation of our lives to the Lord. And when we do that, then we are on our way into the will of God. The goal for a Christian is to align ourselves with the purposes and plans of God.

So the heartbeat of this message is to help us all to do that, to challenge you. And I see many students here this morning, wonderful to see you. But to challenge whether you're young or old, to get in on the will of God. The will of God is not something you have to do; it's something you get to do. And I've often said, God will choose for you what you will choose for yourself if you had sense enough to choose it. God’s will is good and perfect and acceptable always. God knows what is best for everyone of our lives. So I want to challenge you to do the will of God, beyond the duty but as a delight. To joyfully obey God in what He is calling us all to do. To surrender to the Lord, to seek Him. And this will of God, this divine direction is referencing some of the big things, the big choices that sum up our lives. But it's also those daily decisions. It's those choices that we make every single day of our lives. And the sum total then of our character are the choices that we make in our lives and who we are.

And God is more interested in who you are than what you do ultimately with your life. And so as we make those choices, as we decide daily to joyfully obey God and to live to please Him, and to walk by faith, then we discover and do the will of God. Here's what I know over the years in walking with the Lord and seeking Him and His will for my life: That most of the time we make these decisions by faith. Often, we don't understand what the big picture may be or what the ultimate outcome could be. When we make decisions and whether it's a big one or a small one, we don't always know the end result, but we live by faith and trust in God, and this is a faith proposition.

So there's an opportunity or there is a challenge and you're facing that. What do you do? What's God's will? God, what do you want me to do? And through His word and by His Spirit (as we're going to note in just a moment) He begins to lead us through circumstances and choices that we make, we get to a place; ultimately, it's a faith decision. You decide to do what God is leading you to do. And you keep bringing your best and giving your best to Jesus every single day. That's the call; that's the challenge. It’s consecration. Verse 1, all on the altar, all about consecration and dedication and commitment. I like what my friend and Bible teacher-pastor John MacArthur says. He says, "The key to a productive and satisfying life is not giving more, but giving our all to God". The way I like to put it is: The question is not how much do you have of God because in reality if you’re a Christian, you have all of Him! We have everything according to scripture in Christ. So it’s not getting more of God. But the question is: Does God have all of me? Does God have my life?

There was a great evangelist of yesteryear by the name of D.L. Moody and he was preaching and some critical pastor, preachers can get very critical of other preachers, and some negative preacher was saying, "Well, you know, this Moody fellow, said... Does Moody have a monopoly on the Holy Spirit"? And someone said, "No, Moody doesn't have a monopoly on the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit has a monopoly on Moody"! That's what I'm talking about. That we would give ourselves totally and completely to the Lord. Does the Lord have all of you? Is your all on the altar? And so that's where you start with this divine direction. It is with this full surrender of your life to the Lord. But then with this personal presentation comes a mental transformation is the next word I want you to consider. Because verse 2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind". Remember, the Christian faith, Christianity, this is very important, is not behavior modification; it is spiritual transformation! So that you would be transformed. Don't be conformed to the world, but be transformed by a renewed mind, transformed mind, transformed thinking.

I like the way J. D. Philipps paraphrases this in the New Testament. He says, "Don't let the world squeeze you into its mold". The world wants to make you like itself. Even your friends want you to conform to their way of life. And it's the pattern of the world, and the world here, not the world of people that God loves, but it's the world system. It could be better translated actually this age, this present age. We know the god of this world, Satan, presides over a world system that is anti-god and anti- Christ, and opposed to the will and the work of God. So what does the world do? The world wants to con you; the world wants to confuse you; the world wants to conform you and the world wants to cover you. That's what the word conform here actually means, to cover. It's the idea of a masquerade. To cover. The world wants to cover us up, the light of Christ. The world wants to make us like itself, to masquerade us.

In contrast to that, don't let the world squeeze you, don't let the world cover you up, con you, confuse you or conform you to fit into its own pattern and ways and principles and philosophies and values. The world has a view. The world, this age has a world view and it's not God. I'm so grateful that here in our student ministry and Prestonwood Christian Academy at our school we have a world-view institute where we are helping our children to think biblically and intellectually regarding the big issues of our time. Where are they going to hear it if they don't hear it in Christ and in His church? So we're making sure that we are teaching world-view. The world wants to seduce us, to squeeze us, rather than becoming more and more like Jesus, we become more and more like the world, especially when we crawl off the altar.

Remember, we talked about that? And we’re living off the altar as a sacrifice and we’re on our own. That’s when the world begins to seduce us and squeeze us, and cover our light. So he says, don’t do that. Stop. It’s an imperative. If you want a straight up Graham paraphrase, he says, "Stop it"! Stop being conformed to this world right now. And instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Now, great word here, transform, transform. It in the language of the New Testament is the word in which we get our word metamorphosis. Now you know what a metamorphosis is. You've had eighth grade biology, perhaps and a metamorphosis is when a caterpillar, it's a beautiful, powerful thing in nature when a cat, made by God. A caterpillar crawls into a cocoon, wraps itself in a shroud if you will and in effect in this cavernous cocoon dies but out of this cocoon a metamorphosis takes place and life is born and a beautiful butterfly, a monarch butterfly.

What happens inside the cocoon is called a metamorphosis! All right, you got it. Very good class. So it is the fact that a caterpillar, inside the caterpillar, the caterpillar there is a butterfly getting out. The butterfly at one point was a caterpillar, but the caterpillar is born again. It is transformed into a beautiful butterfly. It's a metamorphosis that takes place. That's a transformation that takes place from the inside out. What you are on the inside then is displayed, demonstrated on the outside. It happened to Jesus. Did you know that? The same word translated here is metamorphosis or transformation is the word transfiguration. And Jesus took three of His disciples, Peter, James and John, to a high mountain, and there Jesus was metamorphosized. He was transformed. He was transfigured. It's one of the great events in the life of Jesus. The transfiguration and Jesus who was human.

If you had seen Jesus in a crowd, you might not have picked Him out. There was nothing particularly beautiful or comely about Him, the prophet Isaiah said. There was nothing about the physical appearance of Jesus that would have taken you aback. Jesus was a man, but on the inside, He was God, He was Deity. So what happened on the mount that day when Jesus was transfigure-ized, when the metamorphosis took place, is that everything that Jesus was on the inside is now displayed on the outside. And those disciples saw Him in all of His glory! And Moses and Elijah came and stood with Him, but He was shining like the sun! He was glowing as God, it's the man, manifestation and the transformation of Christ who was both God and Man. And for that brief moment on that mountaintop everything on the inside was displayed on the outside.

No wonder Peter said, "Let's just stay here". And Jesus said, No, I'm on a mission. Let's go to the valley. And down in the valley there was a broken boy and his family that desperately need the power of Christ. And there's a process. Sometimes we love staying on the mountain, students. I see some of you students today. I'd be great if we could just live in Freedom all day long, to experience that the glory of God in all of this, but God has a calling, and that is to go and finish the mission of Christ on earth. But this is a transformation that takes place.

You say, "What does that have to do with divine direction and me knowing the will of God in my life"? Here's what matters: You are the life of Christ; Christ lives in you; as a Christian Jesus lives in you. You are to be identified as a Christ follower, a Christian because Christ is living in you. But what happens is if we start conforming to the world and getting the world's masquerade party, then it covers Christ. We're masking who we really are! Sometimes we make the mistake with our friends. And this is not just for students or young people, but we do it as adults. You do it, perhaps, on your career path. You make concessions, you make compromises in your Christian faith and you cover who you really are! You're not living like Christ! You're not showing Christ! You're not lighting up like Jesus around your friends and your co-workers!

Don't be conformed, but be renewed in your mind; transformed in your mind! I want people to see Jesus in me. Don't you? I don't want the stuff of this world to cover my Jesus, the beauty of Jesus in me! So when you follow Jesus and begin to do His word, His lead, then this is liberating, it's liberating, because then you are now the person God made you to be. And with this personal presentation and this mental transformation, we then begin to know and do the will of God. Our minds are renewed. We now have the mind of Christ the Scripture says. We begin to think as He thinks and live in the power of His Spirit and we have this divine direction.

With the direction there's a dynamic. We have the ability to do it and the agility to walk with Christ and to obey Him. And when we fail, when we fall, when we stumble, we get back up and we keep going because our minds have been changed. We don't think the way, we don't. We now make choices between right and wrong, and what is good and what is best, between truth and lies! We know a path that should be taken or not taken because now our mind is renewed. You know, 90 percent of the will of God is above the neck! Did you know that? The way you think. And when you are presented to the Lord fully and completely and your mind is now transformed and you're not allowing the world to cover up.

You see, the world will cover up God's path and God's will for your life, but now you can see clearly the path. "The Lord our God is a sun and a shield. He gives grace and glory and no good thing with He withhold from them who walk uprightly". Now we're walking in the light. We're living in the will of God. And so the will of God in the big decisions, that's one thing, but in the daily decisions of life it's not so much what is the will of God for my life 10 years from now, 50 years from now, but what are you going to do in the next 15 minutes? That's the will of God. The daily choices and character builders in your life that then produce successful living. Knowing and doing the will of God. I've always defined success in this way: success is knowing and doing the will of God.
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