When it comes to following Jesus, what’s the payoff? What is that, when you’re 70 or 80 years old you look back and say: “I’m so glad I followed Jesus because ___________.” When your kids & grandkids are gathered around your deathbed and you tell them:...
Thoughts, Musings, & Tips For Finding More For Your Life.
Revelation 3:7-8: “What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.”
God’s Sovereign Will
Sovereign means God’s going do something with or without you. It’s His plan. A lot of religious people look at God like He’s a sugar daddy whose sole purpose is to serve & meet their needs. But God’s not here to fit into your plans. You’re here to fit into His plan. He has a plan for your life, a purpose, a mission, a calling. And your life will never make sense if you’re just out there living it on your own.
In a previous blog post, Course Correction, I talked about God’s moral will and finding that “sweet spot”. I used the golf analogy of getting the ball in the fairway. Check it out here. Once you find God’s moral will and line it up with His sovereign will, life will become easier and so much more enjoyable. We find God’s moral will inside God’s Word but how do we discover God’s sovereign will?
God’s sovereign will is a process. Out of Acts 20, I want to show you how you can narrow down God’s sovereign will to a 4 step process.
In Acts 20, the Apostle Paul is getting ready to leave the city of Ephesus where he’d been for a couple of years raising up a church. He’s giving his farewell speech in Acts 20:22-24: “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”
4 Stages of Walking Through God’s Door for Your Life
1) The Prompting of the Holy Spirit
It all begins with the prompting of the Holy Spirit. In verse 22, Paul is saying ‘I can’t explain it see it or touch it but I can feel it. I can’t tell you why, I just know I’m supposed to go.’ It’s the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Let me give you a picture: prior to becoming a local pastor, I traveled full-time speaking at different churches. I always flew with Delta and at their Salt Lake City hub, there was a special spot coming off the moving sidewalk where I could always catch a whiff like no other smell: Cinnabon. I would smell the warm rolls baking in the oven and suddenly know my life was about to be changed! My life would be better with icing! The aroma drew you in to the point that you’d forget you have a flight to catch. The next thing you know, you have this warm sticky icing filled goodness in your hand. Compelled, you know you have to go to Cinnabon even before you could see it.
That’s kind of how the Holy Spirit leads us. He will stir something in us. Our senses will tell us, and the signs will point to it. We will be compelled. The word compelled literally means to be drug away with cords. You just can’t help it. You’ve got to go here, you’ve got to do this. You’re compelled. So, the question is: What stirs you? What moves you? What compels you?
I am compelled by the local church being the hope of the world. I am compelled by lost people, healthy marriages, healthy families, building better people. I am compelled by bringing the life-giving message of Jesus to the people of the 920. I am compelled. This is how Job said it: “For I am full of words, and the Spirit within me compels me; inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst” – Job 32:18-19. The prophet Jeremiah said the Word of God is like a fire shut up in his bones: he couldn’t hold it in. What stirs you? What moves you? What compels you?
2) Certain Uncertainty
I am certain the next step is going to be uncertain. This is how God operates! He never gives you all the information. Never! He is going to make you take a step of faith. Paul said it this way in verse 22: “I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.” If you’re uncomfortable not having all the information, you’re probably never going to fulfill God’s plan and walk through the door God has planned for your life. Me? I want to be a spiritual entrepreneur! I want to jump, leap, blaze new ground, take risks!
There are a couple of reasons why God doesn’t give us all the information.
1) You’d Skip the Steps – If He told you everything He was going to do in your life, you’d go straight there and skip the steps He uses to train you & teach you.
2) You’d Think You Don’t Need Him – You’d just go & do it on your own. We’d be like kids. Kids think they know everything, don’t they? “I know, moooom.” “Yeesss, dad.”
Listen, if God gave us all the information, we’d spend our lives looking him off. By not releasing all the information, it keeps us dependent on Him. Look at all this uncertain language Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 16:5-9: “After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you – for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”
I’m just saying some of you feel a prompting to start a business, to go back to school, to finally get married. And you need to take a step of faith. But that’ll always involve some certain uncertainty.
Here’s the third stage of walking through God’s door for your life…you’re not going like this one, but it’s true and you can count on it…
3) Predictable Resistance
You’re gonna see all hell break loose! Aren’t you glad you decided to read this blog today? My name is Shawn and I’m here to encourage you. But truthfully, you’re going see all hell break loose because the devil doesn’t want you to walk through the door God has for your life. Paul warned us in Acts 20:23: “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.”
Resistance is par for the course. It’s just part of the journey. But too often we interpret resistance like it’s failure. So when we experience resistance, we tend to readjust. It’s why so many of us find ourselves on a different path because the devil took us on a detour. In fact, here’s what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 2:18: “For we wanted to come to you – certainly I, Paul, did, again and again – but Satan stopped us.”
The root word for “stopped” means cut a ditch in the road. So when we face the ditches in the road, what are our options? Get distracted? Be diverted? Take a detour? No! Psalm 18:29 says: “With your help I will run through an army, with help from my God I leap over walls.” When the devil puts resistance in front of you, don’t let him distract you, don’t let him divert you, don’t let him take you on a detour! Know that the resistance is coming so you can put your trust in Jesus and push back! Push back for you marriage! Push back for your kids! Push back for your health! Push back for your finances! Push back for your purity! Push back for your destiny! There’s going to be predictable resistance. It’s why James 4:7 says: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Resist and push back!
4) Focused Determination
We have a purpose. But we get so distracted by everything that’s going on. There’s so much causing us anger, angst, and animosity. The world is so vile, it’s so volatile. The world is so violent. People are vicious. But it’s not a surprise. 2 Timothy 3:1 says: “In the last days perilous times shall come.” It’s not going to be easy because evil is all around us. It goes on to say: “For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them Godly. Stay away from people like that!” We have to stay away from people like that! Why? Because they’re a distraction. We can’t afford to have any distractions! There’s no margin for error. The stakes are too high, the cost is too high. Eternity hangs in the balance.
Can you imagine what it would look like for an entire church to be going in the same direction? If we all had focused determination to get in the sweet spot directly between God’s moral will & God’s sovereign will? To find the right door and walk through it together? It might look a lot like what God’s doing in the 920. Thousands of people would be starting their Jesus journey. Thousands of people would focus on loving God & loving people.
As Acts 20:24 says: “However, [even though I have prison & hardships coming] I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus Christ has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”
We’ve been tasked with protecting what God’s doing in the 920. We are compelled to complete the task of testifying to the gospel of love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, forgiveness, – the gospel of grace. We’re going to continue to focus on Jesus & focus on lost people no matter the uncertainty or resistance ahead of us. Will you join us?