Deep, spiritual lives start with small decisions of conviction. Recognize the flesh and its power over you. Realize the presence of God in your life. Derive your intelligence from God. (Acts 9:1-6; Romans 12:1-5)
Speaker(s): Pastor Thomas Schaller
Sermon # 11454
11:00 AM on 4/15/2018
The Titanic went down 160 years yesterday. Why didn’t it make it? The master’s not on board. We’re going to make it from point A to point B because the Master is onboard, Jesus. How are you doing today? The Master’s onboard; you’re okay!
Do you like short messages? I just want God’s message, long or short. As long as it’s God. That’s a tall order. God will help us and minister to us. On your sermon card, we had a series of four messages. This one is called “Finding and Following God’s Will for My Life.” I think I’m done! That’s quite a subject. We’re going to hit some points on it and hopefully it will speak to your heart and help you. It’s not easy for everyone. I guess it’s our nature. We say God’s will and there are misconceptions. Sometimes we are afraid of it. Might be from my church before or as I grew up or experiences in life. Something I misunderstand about the subject. God’s will is amazing. We should say yes I will do his will. I’m submitted to God’s will but in fact there is a lot of things we need in our hearts to say, really. It reminds me of the man who said I’ll go whichever way you want me to go. He came to a fork in the road so he threw a stick up. He said whichever way the stick lands. He did it five or six times until he got it to land where he wanted it to land! I say I want God’s will but I got something else going on in my heart.
Acts 9, Saul is persecuting the church. He’s beating up on it quite a bit. This is before his conversion.
He fell to the earth, vs. 3-5, Who? This is what we want. Who are you? If I could know who he is, that affects my life in such a way that I ask the next question. What would you have me do? What did Jesus say to him?
vs. 6. He did not give him the 30 year plan. Paul, do you want to know what I’ll have you do the first five years, and then 20 years later? This is what you will do. Just go to the city. There I will tell you the next thing. God reveals his will bit by bit. Obviously, if I knew the whole thing, I might not like it. It’s too much of a bondage to me to know so much. I just want to know who you are right now and what is it that you have now for me. Being Spirit- filled and living by what you say. Being here with you is part of God’s plan for my life. To have something deep in my heart that is from God. The nature of Christ in us. This is his will that we would know this and walk in it. In some ways, life should be ordinary for us in the will of God. Sometimes there are myths. I’ll put down here this word “myths.” It’s hard to say for some. Pastor Carl in India wrote this book on Foundational Christian Truths and has a chapter on this subject we are speaking about.
He has six myths people have regarding God’s will. 1) The map myth. “Christians live with the idea that God is going to someday appear to them or speak to them and give them a full detailed road map regarding his plans and will for their lives all at once. However, God does not normally give us that.
2) The misery myth. “Many Christians think if I follow the will of God he is going to ask me to do something which will be very hard and painful. They will imagine that God is some sort of heavenly kill joy. They think, Lord, if I say I will do anything you want me to do, anywhere, anytime, anyplace, at any cause, I’ll end up as a missionary in some remote jungle tribe probably dying of malaria.
3) The missionary myth. “Some Christians think that God wills only for a certain category of people. God calls pastors and God calls missionaries. Does God have a call for ordinary people?” Let’s hear it from the ordinary people! I think that’s for all of us, of course. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Listen, God has a plan for the evangelist and the secretary, the preacher and the plumber, a plan for the Bible teacher and the banker and the businessman. God has a plan for all of us because we are all here representing him in every part of society. Another misconception people have about God’s will is how to find it is,
4) the miracle myth. “You must have something dramatic happen in order for you to know the will of God. You’ve got to see some sign or miracle or something like that. This is usually not the case. God may speak to you through a miracle but generally it’s the still small voice. Many believers look for a large sign: wind, earthquake, fire, miracles, but God usually speaks to the sensitive believer’s ear today through the still small voice. My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.” I like that in church life. This is what happened to me in my life. It wasn’t super-spiritual idea of miracles or signs but just being in a room like this one with a Bible being taught and it’s speaking to me and feeding me in his will. And I just got established in my faith. And I don’t know where he wants me to be but it’s promised in Ps. 37 that he orders our steps. Orders means he directs our footsteps. We’ll see that a little later.
Another myth. Listen to this one. The missed myth. Some Christians live with regret and guilt and believe they have irretrievably missed out on the plan of God. They say I have missed out on God’s plan. When I was young, God had a plan for my life but I was rebellious and wasn’t listening. Now I’m old. It’s too late to seek God’s will. No, it’s never too late for anybody whether you’re 8 years old or 80, God has a will for your life and every stage for your life.” Will all the old people turn to their neighbor and say that’s true! I think a lot of humorous things could be said about these ideas. They are somehow believable or reasonable to have these ideas. But it can’t be. If we understand God cares about us and put us here in this world, every one of us, every believer. As Pastor Gerry said in the offering, a glass of water in the name of a disciple has meaning. An elderly pastor in France smiling to an Islamic girl on a bike passing by and saying good morning was ultimately a seed planted in her heart that led her to become a believer and she said it in her testimony. I read Isaac and Abraham and Jacob and I think of how little they did and it blesses me. Many of us are active. What made you a great man? I wanted to have a son but didn’t get one. Tried hard. Didn’t happen. What else did you do? See these camels. I’ve been leading them around the desert. What else? Nothing. I travel from point A to point B. I guess God enjoyed that. I did it by faith. You didn’t build a civilization or army or govern a big territory? No, I didn’t have much. I had a hard time getting a family but it’s not the “what” primarily it’s the “who.” When you know who he is, what you do becomes valuable because of who he is leading you. Many would say this is ordinary and let’s make it clear, life is ordinary. I didn’t know about you but when I wake up and make a cup of coffee, there is not a lot of miraculous stuff going on. I get in the car and put the key in and turn it on and there is not fireworks going off. It’s called ordinary. Everything we are doing we are doing in the name of Christ in the Spirit of God. It’s the Spirit of God that is in us. A lot of life is made up of the ordinary and the simple. When we read in Heb. 11, “by faith Abel.” What did Abel do by faith? Offered up the blood. That’s all. That was a great thing. By faith this is a great thing. Noah built the ark. 120 year ark. Huge project. If you interview Noah, it was amazing. I did this but it was so clear to me. Every step of the way God was with me and I did it and it was the grace of God with me in Ge 6:8. Noah found grace in the eyes of God. Then Abraham and Sarah lived by faith and she had a child by faith. Isaac by faith. Jacob by faith. Moses. What I’m saying is these are just the results of a changed mind and heart. It was the fruit, it was an attitude that was what happened with these people. The last myth he mentions here is the
5) Mystery myth. “Some Christians think God’s will is a mystery. It’s like a treasure hunt. God says there’s something I want you to do but I’m not going to tell you what it is! I have hidden it and concealed it so well that you will have to search all your life to try to find it.” P. Carl writes, “That would be ridiculous. God is not trying to hide his will from the believer. He’s eager to reveal his will and plans for every believer. If as believers we make bad choices, for example, we marry an unbeliever, chose to live worldly and far away from God, chose to be deceitful in our relationships or live immorally, the Lord will allow you to do so but he’ll also let you reap the consequences of those decisions.” Sometimes we think throwing the stick up many times to get my will, but God will work deep in my heart so I would think about it and say I don’t understand the whole thing but I can trust him. If he doesn’t want me to marry an unbeliever even though I love him or her, I’m able to trust God. I can live a worldly life and do what I want, but at the end of the day we can ask that person, how are you doing? How is that working out for you? Are you satisfied? Are you enjoying it? Party time is Friday night but the empty pockets is Saturday morning. Party time another Friday night or where did my car go? Or what did I say to Jimmy? I can’t believe I said that. I drank too much or the car accident. I can’t believe that happened to me. You know all these consequences that happen because I say I want God’s will but don’t know how to do it. How could I desire these things that I don’t understand? How could I love the things of God? How could I set my affections on things above?
Rom 12:1, I beseech you therefore brethren. Plead, encourage, persuade, reinforce, and contest with you. Challenge you. I have God’s ways are described here regarding Jewish and Gentile people. God’s ways are amazing. I love it. I have no idea how many of us through these decades have followed God and found him again and again.
We beseech people or plead with them, vs. 1. The Jewish mind is presenting animals as sacrifices but now we are presenting our bodies. Jesus gave his body as the Lamb of God. We are willing to give up our life. The body is an important part of life for the natural man. The natural man is more concerned with his body than spirit. Cosmetics, health, vitamins, food. Our body is so much a part of life for the average person. What they look like, how healthy they are, are they comfortable. It has to do with our body. How did you sleep? Paul is saying give your body. Give it up as a living sacrifice. I have no idea what you mean. You will learn it. You are saying to God this body is yours. These hands, your hands. These eyes, your eyes. This tongue, your tongue. You might say I don’t know how that works. Be not conformed to this world. Conforming is external. There are elements in our life where we conform to the world and do what they do and say what they say and think what they think but instead we are transformed. Transformed. METAMORPHO, – remember metamorphosis in biology. This is transformed. Huge change. You can have an insect that is a caterpillar change to a butterfly. Huge change. The chameleon changes only its color. Change only cosmetically but this change is deeper. This is a real change of mind. This is the presence of God in my life. This is a change in my thinking. I think this way. I was recently excited about it. I don’t laugh about the joke that people are saying. That’s off color or vulgar or not complementary. Making fun of people. Or cynical. There is some change that has happened in our mind where we are able to have conviction in our heart. This is the will of God to be changed in our hearts. It’s explained here. Be not conformed like a chameleon to this world. People do what the group does or says. You and I are made in the image of Christ to have conviction or not be intimidated or afraid of having a different way of thinking about something. I’m not part of that. I don’t like it. I don’t mind being by myself and having my convictions in my heart and being persuaded. When I’m with others, I am still myself. I don’t have to conform to everyone. I don’t drink alcohol and I remember someone wanting me to. Following me around. Here, have a drink. No thank you. Here, have a drink. Please have some. Why don’t you have some? Chill out. Cool it. You got to drink. Wow. That’s amazing. What is your problem? Why do you look for that? What is your problem with me? Why can’t I be different and have my own mind on it? This is my life not your life. I have my mind. Where did your mind come from?
vs. 2. I have been persuaded, transformed and I haven’t been like this all my life. God transforms your mind. I have a mind under the influence of the mind of Christ and the Spirit of God. I have also my sin nature and the mind of my flesh. I recognize the difference. Sometimes. I am jealous. That is the flesh. I am looking for revenge against my enemy. That’s the flesh. I’m looking how I can cheat someone. That’s the flesh. Do you know what the flesh is? You should recognize it. When a man lusts after a woman, I know that is my flesh. Do you know what that is? If you recognize it. This is one of the blessings. I know flesh leads me to sin. It is sin and it leads me to death. I didn’t benefit from my sin. Sure, it’s party time but an hour later it’s misery time. After a couple of years of living or whatever many years you can say, how are you doing? Are you satisfied? In many churches in the U.S, pastors don’t speak like this because they are afraid of losing people. People don’t want to hear it. I’m happy about saying the truth whether we like it or not. That’s why we are here. We will gain something the world doesn’t have. We have gained something. The Spirit of God will lead us. We will find God’s will.
vs. 2. Renewing of your mind. Are there times when it’s clear to you that your mind was same old/same old, mundane, bored and then renewed and you got sharp. You woke up and realized God is here. I’m on it. It’s awesome. J.C. is real. Has it happened to you? If it hasn’t, it will. Keep walking by faith. Your mind will be renewed and you’ll realize the presence of God is in my life. That peace of God will govern in your soul and you’ll understand his will for your life. You’ll find it in attitude. Our body is given up. It will affect the mind.
If my body is a living sacrifice and our mind is affected by the transformation and that mind will affect our attitudes. Three attitudes: 1) Attitude toward yourself. Sometimes when people are in school, they are told they are stupid by the teacher or a class or their testing. They might say I am stupid. But when your mind is renewed, it really doesn’t matter. Intelligence is fluid; it’s moving. It’s from God. You don’t say I’m stupid. Your mind is renewed and you say I am a wise man or woman. I’m understanding something. I realize something important. This is a great attitude you should have in yourself. You are not frozen in what someone has said about you. He is changing us from glory to glory. It’s true.
2) Attitude about God. I’m starting to realize he is awesome. I’m not afraid of him. I love him. I’m not worried about what he has for me in the future. I trust him. He cares for me. He’s actually the only one that really cares for me. My attitude about God is changed. I’m not hiding from him or making excuses. He’s my Father in heaven and I love him.
3) My attitude about you. I have a new attitude about you. I love you. I see your potential. I look at you in the face and realize you are made in God’s image. We have potential in God. I can be a helper and encourage. You help me and we realize we are in this world for a period of time. I change my attitude about how valuable you are. I believe you are very valuable. This type of assembly is given to us from God and it’s called the Body of Christ. This is where the fullness of God is. I change my attitude about the church. I once had an attitude that was this way but now I am now with a renewed mind and realize this is a good place, a blessed place, a place of growth and increase and encouragement. I see it. I have an attitude like that. The next effect of this is the attitude affects my relationships in the Body of Christ.
Let’s stop and read from P. Carl. P. Carl was going to study engineering in the U.S. “When I became a believer, one of the most important things I did was attend an ongoing Bible study.” This was in India. “The pastor of our church was an anointed man of God. His messages were life transforming. As I continued to attend the Bible studies, I began to fall in love with the Lord as I got to know his heart and purposes. The Bible studies transformed me in terms of my identity, intimacy with God and my purpose for life. I realized this. This brings me to this first point. If you want to be guided in the will of God for your life, then you need to have your life transformed by the word, and that means you need an on fire for God Bible teaching church with a Spirit filled pastor whose walking with God over and over again.”
Listen. I am so thankful you pray for me. Do you know what your prayers will do for me? That will help you hear what I say. And they will help me say what I ought to say. Remove all the names. Look at the structure of this chapter of Romans. This chapter is constructed this way. That is God’s will for me to walk in his will and knowing him and hearing his voice in the local assembly I will have a governance happening in my life and be able to say no to the things I should say no to and yes to the things I should say amen to.
He says here “I firmly believe that the kind of church you attend will have a huge influence on your spiritual growth, the kind of ministry that you will do and consequently on your eternal rewards. Let me remind you of something important. Much of the will of God for your life is already found in your Bible. Never seek the will of God concerning something God has clearly commanded or something that God has clearly forbidden. That’s arrogance and dangerous.” Meaning, what is the will of God for my life? I can read it.
vs. 3. Not to think of himself more highly. Which is what we do all the time. Ever look at a family photograph. What is the first picture you look for? Why do people put so much stuff up on Facebook, Youtube, etc. to find out what I have done? I don’t mean to make a big deal about it. It is just the way we are. How important am I. Even though I’m here in front of you all and love it, decades of ministry was with small groups of people. I was teaching 3, 5, 7 people in Bible studies in New England and Finland and this is fine. We want to find the Lord in our fellowship and he fills the room. It’s not about numbers of people. It’s about the presence of God. A man was asked to do a Bible study to five people and he said no. The elderly man said if five people is too little, if you are too big to speak to five people than you are too little to speak to 500 people. We are not to think so much of ourselves at all. We are persuaded in God’s presence regarding his nature and work. So much work happens in this assembly in the back rooms and back street corners and in the woods in route 40. Someone gives $1000 for this person to do something. The kind of spirit that happens in the assembly. There are people disabled and watch this on the internet. We are thankful for your spirit, and heart and prayers. God knows our hearts and how we think. Don’t despise the small thing or ordinary thing. We are in his will and doing his will. Every one of us walking in his will. God gives us a measure of faith.
vs. 3. God gives us faith. The fruit of the Spirit is faith. We do God’s will by faith not from event to event but from the presence of God in faith walking with him in the ordinary elements of everyday life. It’s going to affect my family and then my job or vocation.
Let’s reach the world with the gospel means we are never unemployed. We always have a mission. Let’s be part of that reaching people with love. We are never without a purpose. Always with a job or God’s will.
vs. 4. None of us can glory in one thing. We don’t compare. Anu was Jesus in the play. Thank God. Leah was able to direct it. Thank God. Liam was an usher. Thank God. There were people in the prayer room. Thank God for the people in the prayer room. There was advertising and so on and thank God for every portion.
Please enjoy these sermon notes from the messages preached at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. These notes are provided to aid in your study and understanding of the Word. Note that these notes do not represent complete, word-for-word transcriptions. Also, they may contain omissions as well as some errors in spelling and structure, etc., as we attempt to provide them as soon as possible. Our hope is that these notes serve as a way to help you search and connect with messages on related subjects and passages. Thank you for your interest in the ministry of Greater Grace.