Robert Jeffress - Discovering Gods Will - Part 2
Hi, I am Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. God spoke to Moses through a burning bush. Mary received direction through an angel. God even used a donkey to talk to a stubborn prophet, but most of us have never seen such a clear sign from God. So how can you and I listen to God's will and discern how it affects our lives? Today, I'll share how we can better hear God's voice in every decision we make. My message is titled: Discovering God's Will, on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
They say what God's perfect will is what he wishes really would happen, but God's permissive will is what actually happens when God can't pull off his perfect will. Now, do you believe in a God like that? Do you ever believe in a God who has to settle for second best? A God who is so impotent he can't get his purpose achieved? The fact is God has one will, one plan that was formulated before the foundation of the world, and by the way God's plan was big enough that it encompassed the fall of Satan from heaven. It included the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden, it included Israel's disobedience in the Wilderness. It even included the torture and crucifixion of God's own Son.
God has a plan by which he's governing everything that happens in the universe and notice what Paul says. For the most part, it's a mystery. It's hidden, it's hidden, you can't know it. I would say in this broad category of God's providential plan would be such questions as the origin of evil, or the reasons for suffering or predestination in election. All of those things we can sit around, and theorize about and argue about, and fight about, the truth is none of us will understand it because it's a mystery. It's in the mind of God. The secret things belong to the Lord the scripture says, that's God's providential plan, but on the other end of the spectrum is God's preceptive plan.
Number two, his preceptive plan, and that's the part of God's will that can be clearly understood by everyone from the precepts, the teachings that are found in scripture. Do you realize that most of what we need to know about God's will has already been revealed in the scripture? Even many of the specific things we want to know about are already revealed in scripture. For example, in 1 Thessalonians chapter four, Paul says for this is the will of God. Somebody walking around saying to... And Thessalonica, oh God, show me your will, I want to know your will. Paul said, okay, Thessalonians here is the will of God for your life. Your sanctification, that is that you abstain from sexual immorality.
It's very clear God wants you to abstain from premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexual sex, pornography, that's God's will for you to abstain completely from those things. It's right there in scripture. Or maybe somebody comes to you and it may be a business partner. It may be a son or daughter who says, mom, dad, friend, I'm trying to get on my feet financially. I've just gone through crown financial program and I'm ready to get on my feet financially, but I need some help, I need some money and the bank says they won't loan me any money unless you co-sign this loan for me. Do you need to pray about that? Well, you don't have to pray about that because God already has said what his will is about anybody co-signing a note. In Proverbs 17:18, it says "A man lacking in sense pledges, and become surety in the presence of his neighbor". Don't co-sign a loan for somebody. If you want to give him the money, fine, don't co-sign a note for them.
As a pastor, I have people all the time coming and saying, oh pastor, I'm so excited, God has done such a great work in my life. I've been praying for a mate and God has brought that perfect guy, that perfect girl into my life, would you please pray for our coming marriage? I said, I'll be happy to, but tell me when did that person come to know Christ as his Savior? They kind of bow, well, they're not quite there yet, but I just know if we got married, or we started dating I just know I could have a great influence on them. I always say the same thing. I say, I'm not going to pray for you, you're not going to pray for me. You're a pastor, aren't you paid to do that? No, I'm not going to pay for your relationship because I know it's not God's will for you to get married. Well, how do you know that? Because the Bible already says it in 2 Corinthians 6:14, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers for what partnership has righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness"?
I don't care how much you pray about it, I don't care how much you feel the Lord's leading, it is never God's will for you to marry an unbeliever. He's already revealed that in scripture. God's perceptive will is that part of God's will that has clearly been defined in scripture, but the third use of the term God's will is the term the way most people use it and that's in reference to God's personal plan for my life. When we talk about knowing or discovering God's will, most of the time we're talking about God's personal plan for my life. Of course, I guess we ought to answer the question, does such a plan exist? Does God have a blueprint that governs every part of your life, even the smallest details of your life?
Some years ago, Gary Friesen, a professor at Dallas theological seminary wrote a book entitled, "Decision making and the will of God" and there are many helpful things in that book, but Gary Friesen argued that, yes God has a providential will, a secret will that governs everything. He has a perceptive or what Friesen calls a moral will, but Friesen postulates that there is no individual blueprint for your life. He uses logic. He said do we really think God cares what color socks we put on this morning, or what color dress we choose, or whether we order chicken or beef for lunch? I mean, what do we really think God has a plan that governs all of those things. He says, there is no blueprint that we learn need to learn to make wise decisions.
A few years ago, a publisher asked me to write a book with Gary Friesen which he would present his view of God's will, I would present mine and we would interact with one another. I thought it'd be an interesting project, but I had to decline. I didn't have the time to do it, I figured it wasn't God's will, so I declined that project. But had I done it, this is what I would've said. I would've said, of course God has a blueprint that governs every part of our life. How do I know that? Turn over to Psalm 139 for just a moment. Psalm 139:13-14, "For thou that's form my inward parts, thou that's weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are thy works and my soul knows it very well".
Psalm has said, when you were yet unborn, you are in your mother's womb God wove you to be the person you're going to be. Every detail of your life, the color of your hair, of your eyes, your emotional makeup, everything about you was according to God's plan and that means there is only one father, one mother who could have come together to produce you. By the way even if you're an atheist you have to acknowledge that. There is only one male and one female that could have come together genetically to give you the unique DNA code that you have. Everybody in agreement with that? I mean that's science. It's only one man, one woman at a specific time that could have come together to produce your unique DNA code.
Now, think about this. Think about all of the details God had to orchestrate to get your father and mother together at just the right time. He had to make sure they were born in the right generation. He had to make sure that they came into contact with one another. He had to preside over 10,000 details to bring your father and mother together to fall in love, to come together at just the right time to produce you and you're trying to tell me God doesn't have a blueprint. Now, sure, we don't pray about what color socks to put on, or what to have for lunch, but the fact that we don't pray about every detail of our life doesn't mean God hasn't planned every detail of our life. Yes, God has a blueprint, a plan for our life and that ought to give us great assurance.
Secondly, God communicates his will to us in a variety of ways. Now I'm going to call this section of the message preview of coming attractions 'cause we're going to look just quickly at about six or seven of the ways God speaks to us and then over the next few weeks we're going to look in depth at each of these ways. First of all, and primarily God communicates to us through his written word, through his written word.
I think it's very significant that when God wanted to reveal his plan for Israel, the laws by which they would live... When God chose to reveal the 10 commandments to Moses, he didn't appear to Moses in a dream or in a vision, but instead he wrote down those commandments on the two stone tablets. It was his written word that guided the people of Israel. In Exodus 31:18 Moses said, and "When God had finished speaking with him upon mount Sinai he gave Moses the two tablets of testimony, tablets of stone written by the finger of God". Ladies and gentlemen, don't ever fall into the trap of thinking that the Bible is a secondary means of discovering God's will. It is a primary means of discerning his direction for our life.
Secondly, God communicates through prayer. He communicates through prayer. James said, if you lack wisdom, talk to God about it. Ask him and he will give that wisdom to you. We see a great illustration of that in Acts chapter one. Remember, after the defection and the death of Judas the apostles had to find a replacement for Judas, so what happened? Well, they came together, the search committee reported back with two possibilities to replace Judas and the apostles had to decide, okay, which one of these is going to be God's will to be the next apostle? How did they determine God's will?
Look at Acts 1:24-25 "And they prayed and said thou Lord who knoweth the hearts of all men, show which one of these thou has chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas has turned aside". The first thing they did was to pray. Now, after they finished praying, they had to get up off their knees, and they had to make a decision. And how they made that decision is most interesting, amounted to they rolled the dice, but before they rolled the dice they prayed. It's the same thing for us. There are many things we can do to determine God's will. There are many things we should do after we have prayed, but there is nothing more important we can do until we have prayed. That's what the apostles did, they engaged in prayer.
Third, sometimes God reveals his will to us through special Revelation. Now, make some people nervous for me to talk about special Revelation, dreams and visions and supernatural signs, but as we look through scripture would it be wrong to say God has never done that? He certainly has done it in the past. In Acts 26:16-18 God appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus and said, "But arise in stand on your feet for this purpose I have appeared to you to appoint you as a minister and a witness, to deliver you from the Jewish people and from the gentiles". God said, my plan for you is to be a witness to the gentiles. He revealed it supernaturally to Paul. Again, it would be wrong to say God can never use those means in order to speak to us.
Number four, wise counselors is one way that God speaks to us. Proverbs 15:22 says, "Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed".
Number five, sometimes God speaks through circumstances. Now we're going to talk about the use and misuse of that phrase, open doors and closed doors. God opened this door, he closed that door. That's misused in Christian circles today, but God can use circumstances to tell us to proceed or to stop. I think about Paul's journey to Syria. He was planning to go to Syria until he discovered there was a plot to kill him. Listen to Acts 20:3, "And when a plot formed against Paul by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he determined to return through Macedonia". Paul was planning to go to Syria, he was sure that was God's will, but when he heard some people wanted to kill him he thought, maybe this isn't God's will for my life.
See, that's wisdom, that's looking at circumstances. Sometimes God uses circumstances to direct us, and finally God sometimes directs us through our own desires. I think this is perhaps the most overlooked way God gives direction, but also one of the most basic ways. God many times will direct us through the desires that he places in our heart. Philippians 2:13 and the Philips paraphrase says, "For it is God who is at work within you, giving you both the power and the desire to accomplish his purpose".
Do you realize God actually places certain desires in your heart in order to follow his purpose? You know that burning desire you had to start your own business, the preference you have for brunettes over blondes, your fear of speaking in public and enjoying small groups, do you realize all of those things could actually be desires that God has placed in your heart to lead you in the way that he wants you to go? How do I know if the desires I have are really God's desires or if they're Satan's deceptions in my life? There's a way to know that. What I'm trying to say to you today is it's a mistake to think that God only speaks in one way. The truth is he speaks in a variety of ways.
CS Lewis once wrote, "I don't doubt that the Holy Spirit guides your decisions from within when you make them with the intention of pleasing God. The error would be to think that he speaks only within, whereas in reality he speaks through scripture, through the church, through friends and books," which leads to a final thought and that is God reveals only what we need to know. God reveals to us only what we need to know.
I remember a few years ago our church hired a consultant and at breakfast one morning he said, Robert, do you know what the most important question any leader can answer? I said, what's that? He said, it's the question of next. What's the next thing I need to do? He went on to say, sometimes people get bogged down trying to determine what they're going to do in a year, five years or 10 years without knowing what that next step is they need to take and I think that truth applies to all of us. Have you noticed that God rarely unravels the whole blueprint of our lives ahead of time? Why is it God doesn't allow us to see what's going to happen 20, 30 and 40 years from now? Perhaps he knows if we knew we would be paralyzed with fear.
Matthew 6:34, Jesus said "Each day has enough trouble of its own". I hear an amen on that. God knows that, but I think perhaps another reason God doesn't tell us the whole plan ahead of time, or give us a way of discovering it is he knows that if we knew the whole plan we wouldn't be nearly as dependent upon him. Think about driving in a thick fog. If you're in a thick fog rarely will you travel at 80 miles an hour. Instead, you kind of inch along because you can only see a little bit ahead of you. On the other hand, when it's a bright sunlit day you tend to put the pedal to the metal, don't you? You don't think about your speed very much.
It's the same way in our relationship with God when we can only see the next step we're going to take it makes us more dependent upon God. It forces us to develop our relationship with God. In Psalm 119:105, the Psalmist said, "Thy word is a lamp to my feet. It is a light to my path". Have you ever been out in the woods on a moonless night trying to make your way along, it's difficult to see. There's no illumination from above, but hopefully you'll have a flashlight or a lantern that governs your steps. That flashlight or that lantern isn't powerful enough to illuminate the next two or three miles, but it does give you just enough light to take that next step, and that next step and that next step.
That's what the Psalmist said God's word is like, God's word, his voice doesn't illuminate the rest of your life. It doesn't tell you the whole plan, but it gives you just the light you need to take that next step and that next step, and that next step. Let me offer this disclaimer at the beginning of this series. If you're expecting this series to help you determine what you're to do the rest of your life, the next 15 or 20 or 30 years you'd probably be better off investing in some high quality key leaves than coming to this series, okay.
I can't tell you what God's will for your life is going to be 20, 30, or 40 years from now, however if you desperately, sincerely want to know what God's next step is for your business, for your family, for any area of your life, I think you're going to find these principles very, very helpful. Jesus said in John 10:27, "My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me". Never forget you have a God who is vitally concerned with every step that you take. He is a God who promises to give you the guidance that you need and he's a God who can be heard by those who truly belong to him.