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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - The Shepherds Safety Net - Part 2

Robert Jeffress - The Shepherds Safety Net - Part 2

Robert Jeffress - The Shepherds Safety Net - Part 2
TOPICS: Discovering God's Will

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. In every season of life we face a number of important decisions. Where to go to school, whom to marry, which career to pursue, and it doesn't stop there. Some decisions are risky. It feels like we're walking on a tightrope, and one wrong step could send us plummeting. Well, today I'm going to describe the God-given safety measures that protect us when we appear to fall. My message is titled "The Shepherd's Safety Net", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

The sovereignty of God means God has a plan for my life and he has the power to accomplish that plan. Now, if I were to stop the message right here and issue the invitation, you might think, well maybe those deacons in that church were right. Maybe you are off balance if you believe in the sovereignty of God like that. But you see, the message would be incomplete if I stopped right there because the scripture does affirm the sovereignty of God, but there's also another truth the Bible affirms, and that is our responsibility for making wise decisions. You see, whatever you believe about the sovereignty of God, and I strongly believe in the sovereignty of God, understand that first of all, the sovereignty of God does not excuse us from making wise decisions in life. Write it down. The sovereignty of God does not excuse you from making wise decisions. Proverbs 4:5 says, "Acquire understanding, acquire wisdom".

I love the story from the late Bible teacher Dr. J. Vernon McGee. Do you all remember listening to Dr. McGee on the radio? You can still listen to him. Though dead, he still speaks on the radio. But Dr. McGee one time was teaching on predestination and election, and a young man came to him after the message and said, "Dr. McGee, I am so convinced of the sovereignty of God, I believe that if I went outside and stood in the middle of a busy highway and my hour had not come, God would save me". And Dr. McGee looked at him and said, "Son, if you go out and stand in the middle of a busy highway, your hour will have come". Don't test the sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of God does not excuse us from making wise decisions.

Ephesians 5 says that we ought to live our lives wisely with a sense of purpose. Number two, the sovereignty of God doesn't exempt us from the consequences of wrong choices. It doesn't exempt us from the consequences of wrong choices. Some people can take this idea to the extreme of the sovereignty of God and say, well if God is in control, if everything is predestined, I can do whatever I want to without any consequences. The scripture does not teach that. For a good illustration of that, turn over to acts chapter four. Acts chapter four. The setting is shortly after the day of Pentecost, just several months after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

I want you to think about how the apostles must have viewed the crucifixion of Christ. On that Friday afternoon as Jesus was taken down, limp, from the cross, I'm sure the disciples were disappointed. In an instant, all of their hopes for a new kingdom had evaporated. I'm sure they could have said to themselves, we know this may have been a part of God's permissive will, but certainly it wasn't God's perfect will. For his own son to have gone through such torture, humiliation and death. By the way, if you ever doubt the sovereignty of God and God's ability to take control of all circumstances, just look at his plan for his own son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I'm sure the disciples thought at that moment, this certainly couldn't be a part of God's perfect plan. It must be his permissive plan. That was on Friday. But several days later, from the perspective of an empty tomb, their thought changed dramatically about God's plan. And I want you to look at what Peter said in verses 27 and 28. He said to the same group that had crucified Christ a few weeks earlier, he said, "For truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus whom didst its anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate along with the gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever thy hand and thy purpose predestined to occur".

Now, here's the $64,000 question. Who was responsible for the death of Jesus Christ? Who was responsible? Well, verse 27 says very clearly it was the hand of Pontius Pilate, it was Herod, it was the Jews, it was the gentiles. They are the ones who physically nailed him to the cross. They were responsible, verse 28, but they were simply doing whatever God's hand and God's purpose predestined to occur. God took responsibility. It was God's plan for his only begotten son to be tortured and murdered on a cross.

Folks, if God is willing to take responsibility for the torture and murder of his own son, he's willing to take responsibility for the circumstance you're in right now. It's part of his plan for your life. I'm sure on that Friday afternoon the disciples would've said, God, well we don't want to worship a God who would do something like that to his own son. You see, the problem was they were speaking on Friday afternoon, not on Sunday morning, because from the perspective of an empty tomb, their belief in trusting God's plan changed dramatically.

There's some of you right now who are saying, I can't believe in a God, I can't trust in a God who would allow me to go through this experience. I have difficulty trusting in the God who would prematurely take a young mother and a young wife. I just can't serve a God who would say, I'm responsible for this. Reason we have trouble with that is we make our judgment about God too soon. We don't see the whole picture. And one day we'll be able to see how God causes all things to work together for good to those who love him, to those who are called according to his purpose.

The point here is though, even though God had predestined this event to occur, Pilate and Herod, the Jews and the gentiles, they were immediately responsible and they have to suffer the eternal consequences of their choice. They rejected Messiah, and even though it was part of God's plan, they are going to pay the price for that wrong choice they made. Well, pastor, I don't understand that. I don't understand how people can be held accountable for their own choices if indeed God has a plan that he's accomplishing through us. I can't understand that. Neither can I or neither can anybody else. And that leads to a third truth about God's sovereignty. God's sovereignty doesn't explain all of our questions. It doesn't explain all of our questions.

Folks, be very wary of anyone or any theological system that says, we've got the answers for explaining God's sovereignty and human responsibility. Just read this book or look at this diagram and I'll explain to you how God's sovereignty and human freedom are reconciled. These are irreconcilable truths this side of heaven. Both are true. We can't understand or comprehend how they work together. People have asked me through the years, pastor, are you a Calvinist? Are you a Calvinist?

I remember what my old theology professor Dr. Ryrie used to say at Dallas seminary. He said, "Men, don't ever allow yourself to be labeled as an Armenian or a Calvinist. Be known as a biblisist". Teach what the Bible says. And when you teach what the Bible says, you will affirm the sovereignty of God without apology, but you'll also affirm the responsibility of man. Romans 11:33 says, "How unsearchable of our God's judgments, how unfathomable are his ways"? But folks, the sovereignty of God is not some theological topic to debate. It is a truth to be embraced.

Now, I want to mention to you the three benefits of trusting in the sovereignty of God, especially when it comes to our decision making. First of all, a belief in the sovereignty of God frees me and gives me peace from my past. The sovereignty of God gives me peace from my past. I was talking to a husband not long ago, he had been guilty of infidelity in his marriage, and even though he was repentant, he still lost his wife and he lost his children. And he said to me, in honest repentance, he said, "Pastor, if only, if only I had been a faithful husband, I wouldn't have lost my family". And I shared with him the truth of Romans 8:28. Paul said, "And God causes all things to work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose". That phrase, "All things", doesn't just mean the good things in our life God is able to use.

That phrase, "All things" includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. God is so powerful that he uses all things to work together for good. One day I'm going to do a series here on how God has used people's failures in biblical times to accomplish his purpose. It's not in our strengths, it's in our failures that many times God is most glorified. The belief in the sovereignty of God frees us and it gives us peace over our past mistakes. One popular writer, in talking about David and his sin with Bathsheba says, "When a man or woman of God fails, nothing of God fails. When a man or woman of God changes, nothing of God changes. When someone dies, nothing of God dies. When our lives are altered by the unexpected, nothing of God is altered or unexpected".

God's sovereignty gives me peace from my past mistakes. God's sovereignty also offers me comfort for the present storms that I'm experiencing. It gives me comfort for the present. Remember the story, turn over to Matthew chapter 14, it's that familiar story of a sailing trip that the disciples went on at the command of Jesus. He told them to get on the boat and to go to the other side. And it was a beautiful day when they got into that boat and they were sailing along when suddenly out of nowhere, like often happens on the Sea of Galilee, the storms begin to gather and the thunder began to clap and the lash of lightning began to flash. And suddenly the disciples found themselves in the middle of this fierce storm. And about that time, Jesus appeared outside of the boat, walking on the water.

And remember Peter cried out, "Lord, if that is you command me to come out of the boat and walk on the water". And so the Lord commanded Peter to step out of the boat and walk toward him on the water. And so Peter climbs out of the boat. He takes that first step and that second step. He's doing pretty good, bobbing up and down on the surface of the water, as long as he looks at the Lord. But suddenly he starts noticing the boiling sea around him and he begins to sink. And in perhaps the shortest prayer in the Bible, but the most affected, he cries out, "Lord, save me". Now look how Jesus answers that request, verse 31. "And immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and he took hold of Peter and said to him, 'oh, you of little faith, why did you doubt'? And when they got into the boat, the wind stopped".

Now, I want you to notice the order here. It's crucial. Jesus didn't grab hold of Peter, still the storm and once it was calm said, follow me and I'll deliver you safely into the boat. No, they walked through the storm together, and only after Peter was in the boat did the storm subside. Many times you and I are sailing through life. Things could never be brighter. When suddenly out of nowhere, the storm clouds gather, the thunder begins to peel, the lightning begins to flash, and we find ourselves in a fierce storm of circumstances we never expected. It's only natural that we cry out, Lord, save me. Still the storm. It's been my experience, rarely does God answer that prayer request. Rarely is it God's will to deliver us out of the storm. What he promises to do is to walk with us through the storm until we reach the other side.

You see, the reason is God is much more interested in what is happening in you than in what is happening to you. Think about it. God could change any circumstance in your life he wanted to just like this. God could provide that job this afternoon. He could heal your body right now instantly. He could raise that loved one from the dead that you're grieving over. There's no circumstance God couldn't change if he wanted to. But God's much more interested in what is happening in you than what is happening to you. He's allowing you to go through that storm to produce that invaluable quality called faith, the assurance that God is in control even when we can't see him. And what you'll find is once God has accomplished his purpose in your life, once you make it to the other side walking through that storm with him, you'll find that that storm subsides as quickly as it arose. The fact that God is in control gives us great comfort for the present. To know he's in control, he has a purpose he's working out in our life.

And thirdly, God's sovereignty gives me confidence for the future. It provides confidence for the future. In Daniel 11:32, Daniel said, "The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action". Once you have sought God's will, once you feel like God is leading you in a particular area, you don't have to be bashful and hesitant and say, oh no, what if I make a mistake? What if this isn't God's will? The Word of God says if you know God, you can stand firm and take action, knowing that your every choice, even your mistakes, are protected by the sovereignty of God. That's what the sovereignty of God means. It means God is in control of every part of my life, and what a great comfort that is to us.

A. W. Tozar, as you know, was a devotional writer of yesteryear, and I found these words about predestination that Tozar had written. He said, "The person of true faith may live in the absolute assurance that his steps are ordered by the Lord. For him, misfortune is outside the bounds of possibility. He cannot be torn from this earth one hour ahead of time that God has appointed, and he cannot be detained here on earth one moment after God is done with him".

A few months after Tozar had written those words, he received a letter from a Methodist preacher who was complaining about Tozar's belief in predestination and election and saying that that's just some peculiar doctrine of the Presbyterian church. And this is what Tozar responded by letter to this Methodist preacher. He said, "Dear brother, when I said we traveled an appointed way, I was not thinking about predestination, eternal security, or eternal decrees. I was just thinking about how nice it is for the steps of a good man to be ordered by the Lord, and that if a consecrated Christian will put himself in the hands of God, even the accidents will be turned into blessings. I am sure my Methodist brother can go to sleep tonight knowing that he does not have to turn Presbyterian to be sure God is looking after him".

And isn't that the bottom line for all of us? We have a great shepherd who cares for us, who watches over us, who orders our every step. And even when we wander away from him, our movement away from him is within the boundaries of his love and his perfect will. Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice. I know them. I watch after them. I give them eternal life and no man shall snatch out of my hands those whom the father has given me". What words of comfort for those who truly seek to know and follow the master's voice.
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