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If Only God's Will Came With GPS

GPS Blogpost

     If we had open access to your phone, what would we learn about you?  Of course we could check out the websites you frequent.  We'd likely see pictures of your pets, your friends, and your family...along with, for some odd reason, your meals (I'm still not sure why that has become a thing).  Perhaps the greatest insight may be gained by looking at your apps and the usage stats that your phone keeps on them.

     Are you a social media socialite?  Are you a chatter bug who spends all of their time messaging?  Maybe your phone is your mobile office, so you spend all of your time on email and productivity apps.  Perhaps you are a game addict who has made it all the way to level 6,478 in Candy Crush!  I'd be willing to bet though, that for many of you out there that are among the "directionally challenged" (you know who you are), your GPS app gets plenty of use.  I know a few folks who may not make it out of their own neighborhood without a little help from Siri.

     Regardless of how well we may have done in geography class, GPS has revolutionized the way we get from "Point A" to "Point B."  Not so long ago, we used to have to dig through our glove box for one of those "impossible to fold back up" paper maps!  I remember many trips from my childhood where I served as the navigator, trying to decipher the fastest route around the roadblock that was keeping us from getting to vacation bliss.  Now, you just type in your destination, set the cruise control, and let technology do the work.  Forget about that accident that is looming 50 miles down the road...your GPS knows it's there and has already set the fastest course to circumvent it.  Looking for a Waffle House (and if your last name is Parman you definitely are)?  You can find the next closest one and set it as a waypoint.  Now we travel worry-free!  Don't you wish everything in life was this easy???

     What if our lives came with a GPS feature?  Should I take the promotion that means more financial security, but also more time on the road away from my family?  Will my significant other ever commit...or is it time for me to move on?  Is now the right time to invest in a new home?  What dangers are lurking just around the bend: loss of job, loss of health, loss of financial security???  If only I could stroll through life knowing I was always on the "best" route to get me to where I want to go.  What a joy that would be!

     Unfortunately, life doesn't come with GPS.  Sometimes, discerning what is good and wise is a downright struggle.  Not to mention the fact that we have no idea what trials await us and threaten to derail everything we have set out to accomplish.  As believers, our aim should be to live our lives in the center of God's will, but, if we are honest, knowing what that is for us can sometimes feel like a game of pin the tail on the donkey.

     How do we know and discern God's will for our lives?  This is a legitimate struggle for all of us at one point or another.  There are, I believe several root causes that often make it such a difficult task.  I'd like to highlight a few of them:

1.  We don't know, because we don't ask.

     One thing that scripture consistently teaches us is that God is good (all of the time...and all of the time, God is good).  He wants us to reap all of the goodness that he has for us.  When we fail to do so, the problem isn't a lack of goodness in God, rather it is something that is lacking within us.  When we live in accordance with God's design for how all things are to work, we experience the blessing of his goodness.  After all, Genesis 1 informs us that everything that God created was good.  Sin has marred that goodness, but not erased it.

     One of our greatest weapons in the battle against sin is prayer.  James 4:2 says we do not have because we fail to ask.  God wants to pour out his blessing upon his children when what they desire is for their good.  Walking in obedience to God is always good, so God is always faithful to help us in that endeavor when we are willing to humbly ask.  If you want to know how to align your plans with God's desire for your life, simply ask.

     One of the best examples of faithful dependence on prayer is Nehemiah.  Begin reading and you will quickly see a pattern develop.  Nehemiah comes to a crossroads...Nehemiah prays.  That's it.  Every time.  He doesn't mull it over for awhile or consult with a trusted advisor.  The first thing he does is pray...constantly and consistently.  Perhaps we would be better at discerning God's will if we spent more time on our knees.  As one of my favorite teachers, Voddie Baucham says, "If you can't say 'Amen!,' say 'Ouch!'"

2.  We don't know, because we don't know.

     Well, that one makes sense, right???  We clearly don't know what we don't know.  That's not rocket science.  However, the question we need to ask is why don't we know.  Is what we desire to know unknowable?  Or are we simply failing to do the work of seeking for truth and knowledge?

     When it comes to God, there is plenty we can never know (at least not fully).  We need to be willing to accept that.  Let us join with the Apostle Paul in declaring, "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" (Romans 11:33).  However, for as much as we can't know of God, there is plenty that we can.  In fact, orthodox Christianity has long affirmed that in scripture we have everything that we need to know for salvation and obedience (we call this the Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture).  However, we must be careful to make the distinction between sufficient (everything we need) and exhaustive (everything).

     True indeed, the Bible won't tell you, for example, who you should marry.  It will, however, tell you a great deal about the marriage relationship and God's purpose in it, about the godly characteristics that we should desire in a husband or wife, and about our own responsibilities to both God and others in singleness, courtship, and marriage.  In this way, God has given us everything we need to faithfully discern what is good and wise when it comes to decisions regarding marriage.

     When we don't know what God's will is for our lives, it is often because we are poor students of scripture.  We don't seek truth in God's word, and instead are content to accept what we have heard about it, or what others believe it says.  We fail to devote adequate time to reading, studying, and meditating upon scripture...to our own shame and disservice.

3.  We don't know, because we don't trust.

     The simple truth is that for most of us (myself included), we don't know what God's will is for our lives because we aren't even bothering to look.  Rather than seeking wisdom in prayer, scripture, and the wise counsel of our brothers and sisters, when we need to make decisions, we just consult our most trusted adviser...ourselves.  I for one am guilty of this all of the time!

     As soon as I face a trial or important decision, my default response is to start processing information and analyzing possible solutions using the "complex" algorithms in my head.  You are probably familiar with those.   They are the "what's easiest" test and the "what costs me the least" test.  We always want what is easiest and least costly (and not just financially).

     The truth is, often what we find at the center of God's will is not easy and comes at a great cost.  It is often counter-intuitive and counter-cultural.  Our sinful self-preservation instincts and herd mentality won't point us in that direction.  We believe the lie that we know better...that what we want for ourselves (or worse yet, what the world tells us to want) is what is best.  We don't trust the goodness, faithfulness, love, and wisdom of God.  If we don't learn to trust God, we will never be able to dwell in the center of his will.

In Grace,
Chris Morris

If you missed this week's sermon (or just want to listen again), follow the link below to listen. Or subscribe to our podcast in iTunes.

Part 48 - Discerning God's Will

Questions discussed in this sermon:
1.  What is God’s will for your life?
2.  What happens when believers disagree on God’s will?
3.  How do we discern God’s will?

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