Finding Purpose in God's Will - Romans 12:1-2 - Nate Heitzig
You gotta hear this song.
Everybody said it. Everybody's heard it. It doesn't matter what age you are. Certain songs just have that timeless quality and so do certain biblical truths. And just like every generation discovers these songs, every generation needs to discover these truths. . Mixtape. Fresh perspective on timeless truths.
Mark your bibles to Romans chapter 12. We're going to be in verses 1 to 2 this morning for a message I've titled "Finding Purpose in God's Will." And we're kind of taking the idea of this song, "Dream On." The band played it at the beginning.
And the reality that so many of us are searching for something more. So many of us are searching for the next thing, what God's plan is for our lives. That song, "Dream On," was actually my mom's graduation song from high school. Isn't that funny?
Hey, have you ever looked at your life and asked the question, is this who I'm meant to be? Am I doing what I'm meant to do? Am I living to my fullest potential? Did I miss out on my purpose for living? Is there something more?
This quest for purpose is a driving force of our economy and our lives. Every one of us wants to make sure that we are living our lives to the fullest potential that we possibly can. We want to make sure that we are where we are supposed to be, we're doing what we're supposed to do, and that we're making an impact.
That song, "Dream On," describes the midlife crisis of so many when the song says, "Every time when I look in the mirror, all these lines on my face getting clearer, the past is gone. It went by like dusk to dawn. Isn't that the way?
Everybody's got the dues in life to pay. So sing with me. Sing for the years. Sing for the laughter. Sing for the tears. Dream on. Dream on. Dream until your dreams come true."
You know, I found that so many people in life get too caught up in the glory days. They get too caught up in the past, in where they've been, in what's happened in the past, either good or bad, and who they used to be or in what they could have done or been if things would have just been a little bit different.
It's like Napoleon Dynamite's uncle. Man, if I would have just got one more shot, I could have made it. I could have been in the big leagues. I could have done something.
They get so caught up in the past, they forget about the present and they miss out on their purpose. I find so many people thought that they missed out on their purpose in life. but in reality, they didn't. They still have a purpose in life, but they get so caught up in the past that they forget about the present, and they actually miss out on their purpose in life.
Let me ask you this. Have you ever tried to run from God and his will for your life thinking that maybe you had a better plan than he did? Maybe it was certain truths that were taught in scripture that you didn't want to follow. It might have been the calling of God to do something or go somewhere or to not do something or not go somewhere. It might have been a calling to serve Him, but you said no.
Why is it that we as human beings are like that? Why is it that we think that we know best, that we have the best plans for our own lives? What is it that in our feeble little human minds makes us think that we know better than God?
I think for some, it might be that we have a warped concept of who God is, of what God's nature and purpose is. I remember when I was a little kid, I always used to think that I knew better than my parents. I was determined that my parents don't know what's best for me. I know what's best for me.
And so we're walking down the street, and there's a dog. And my parents say, hey, Nate, don't go touch that dog. I think, they just want to keep me from touching that cuddly, cute little man's best friend. I'm going to touch that dog. Touch the dog. Bite, bite, bite. Bleed, bleed, bleed. Cry, cry, cry.
Have you ever noticed how we can question God the same way that many kids question their parents? Sometimes, the decisions that God makes, the direction that God leads doesn't make sense.
And that brings up some valid questions. Does God still speak to us today? Is God interested in what happens to us as individuals? Is it possible to know that he has a future for us? Can we actually know the will of God?
When you talk about the will of God, it becomes this mystical idea that, ooh, what's the will of God, like it's a floating cloud that you've got to look at the sun and measure the weather and find the will of God. And, boom, I'm in it. I'm in the will of God. Everything's set.
And it's this mystical idea, but the reality is we all need guidance in life, in the great questions of life. And these are important questions. They're not easily answered. Questions like, who should I marry? Should I make a certain move? Should I take a certain job? What ministry does God have in mind for me?
And I really wish that I could give you a very simple, easy, 1, 2, 3 method that I through study and divine insight had discovered on knowing the will of God in every situation. I wish I could give you a special prayer, that every time you prayed this prayer God would speak to you audibly and reveal his will to you.
But I've seen in my own personal life, in my own walk with Jesus, that the will of God happened more as I took steps of faith trying to the best of my ability to live by the principles of scripture. There have been times when he's clearly spoken to me in a tangible way. But most of the time, it's been a journey of faith.
It's been difficult. And I found God reveals His will when you get to those difficult crossroads, those decisions in life, and the world wants to pull you one way. Your flesh, your heart, your desires want to make you make one decision, but you choose to live your life based on the principles of God. You choose to abide by his word. You choose to do what's right, what's written in scripture.
And when you do that, it's incredible how God reveals his will. It's incredible how God steers your path. He directs your footsteps. And you make decisions based on God's will for your life.
The word says the just shall live by faith. And our title today, again, is "Finding Purpose in God's Will." And in response to some of the earlier questions I raised, the answer is a resounding yes. God can and God does speak to us today in very real, tangible, and vibrant ways.
He does have a unique plan and a purpose for your life. And we need to learn how to find purpose in God's will. As a matter of fact, just as God led men and women in scripture, He wants to lead us.
The problem, however, that I found is that we face a barrage of constant voices within our lives urging us to go this way or that, urging us to do this or to do that, the voice of your friends, your spouse, your boss, your parents, your own conscience, the devil, and, of course, the voice of God. And the reality is that many of these voices that claim to bring you happiness actually lead you astray.
So my question for you this morning is, what voice are you following in your life? Who are you trying to please? In the Bible. Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd, and he describes us as his sheep. And Jesus says, my sheep, hear my voice. And they follow.
My sheep, hear my voice. And they follow. See, I think if we're having a hard time finding the voice of God, there's probably two problems. Either we're not listening or we're not following.
We're not hearing God, what he's already said to us. Or, if we are hearing it, we're not following it. And so the problem with finding the will of God is hearing and following.
Is that the case with you today? Could that be said of your life? Are you hearing His voice? Are you knowing His will? Perhaps God seems silent to you. There's no direction, no guidance, no word, just an icy silence.
If that's the case, before we look at the primary principles of God's will, we have to examine the prerequisites of God's will. And that's our first point, the prerequisites of God's will. Turn to Romans 12:1 through 2. And let's read our text this morning.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." Verse 2. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
I want you to notice before we go any further the order that Paul lays out here for discovering the will of God. First is the living sacrifice and then the will of God. First, we present ourselves. First, we offer ourselves. And then we prove, then we find, that perfect and acceptable will of God.
In essence, God says, give me your life and then I'll show you my will. See, it's when we learn this lesson, it's when we understand this reality and this truth that we become ready for the exciting life that God wants to unfold for us. We become ready for the will of God, the path that God wants to lead us upon.
I found it's a lot like a secret vacation that you plan for your family. If you tell your kids, hey, we're going to go on vacation, if your kids trust you, they don't have to know where they're going. They know that it's going to be fun. They know that it's going to be good.
Now, if your kids don't trust you, they say, well, wait a second. I don't know if I want to go on vacation with you. Because where are you going to take me? Where are we going to go? Are you going to go leave me out in the desert somewhere?
No. Kids trust parents, right? So when you tell your kids, we're going to go on a vacation, if you're a good parent, the kids trust you, that where you're going to go is going to be good. So your kids present themselves to you and say, sure, let's go for the ride.
And then the parents reveal we're going to Disneyland. Whoo. Kids go crazy. Have you ever seen those videos where kids find out the surprise that they get to go to Disneyland? They start crying and weeping and speaking in tongues. It's the strangest thing in the world.
When we present ourselves to God, when God says, hey, I want to go on a journey with you-- I want to take you somewhere. I'm not going to tell you where. I'm not going to tell you how we're going to get there. But I want you to trust me.
So get on board. Present yourself to me. Offer yourself to me. And then I'll show you my will.
The word present here is the language of an offering. And that is something we do willingly. It's something we give, not something that's taken. See, God wants our heartfelt gift. He wants the gift of our life, our time, our resources not out of duty but out of love.
And understand this. If you don't want to do this, you don't have to. If you don't want to give your life to God, you don't have to. If you don't want to give your time and serve in the church and give your resources to the church, you don't have to. If you don't want to tithe, you don't have to.
You don't have to do those things. God won't force you to do it. But on the other hand, if you don't do it, you're going to miss out on all the benefits of complete surrender to Jesus, including His revealed will within your life.
It continues on in verse 2, and it says to not be conformed-- to not be conformed-- to this world. That is speaking of this world system, this world that is spiritually bankrupt, that's hostile to God.
We've already talked about that at times, we in the church can come to church, can serve in church, can give to the church, and yet still be living self-centered lives, still be living lives that are given towards our desires. The Greek verb here conform refers to the act of assuming an outward appearance that doesn't accurately reflect that which is within.
See, in the Christian life, this means seeing things, doing things, going places that doesn't reflect what Jesus has done within your life, that doesn't reflect the change Jesus has brought in your heart-- when we begin to act like the world and yet Jesus Christ has changing our heart.
In other words, Paul is saying this. Don't let the world squeeze you into its mold. Don't let the world take the work that I've done, take the clay that I have shaped with the potter's hands, and press that clay back into its rudimentary form and squeeze it into its mold and make it something that it's not.
Understand this. When Jesus Christ comes into your heart, He makes you into a new creation. How foolish would it be for us to take this new creation, this masterpiece that God is in the process of creating, and smoosh it down, press it down, turn it into something it's not, and then allow the world to take this ugly Play-Doh mold and turn this beautiful masterpiece from an artist into a Play-Doh mold?
My kids love playing with Play-Doh, but I wouldn't say that any of the molds that Play-Doh produces are masterpieces. It's all snakes and hearts and spiders. Imagine taking a Ming vase and melting it down into clay and putting it into a Play-Doh mold. That is in essence what Paul is talking about here.
In this day, where it's acceptable to openly mock and deride Christians, it's a real temptation to not stand up for what we believe. 2nd Timothy 2:12 says, "If we endure, we also will reign with Him. If we disown Him, He also will disown us."
We as believers should not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Mark 8:38 says, "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the son of man will be ashamed of him."
See, so much of this world's thinking can cloud our reason as to the will of God. For instance, if someone's having problems in their marriage or they see someone else they're attracted to, they say, well, you know what? I'll just get a divorce. Or worse yet, some people will say, the Lord led me to get a divorce.
Understand this. That is not the Lord. That is the world. And that is the definition of being conformed to this world. Instead of following suit and doing as the world does, we have to be transformed from this world's warped and selfish way of thinking and instead be transformed or literally transfigured.
So the question-- how do we keep ourselves from being conformed into this world, and how can we instead be transformed? Well, I think most simply, our minds will be transformed as we spend time in fellowship with God and with His people. See, if our lives are conformed to this world, we're going to have a really difficult time hearing from God.
And I found in my own life and in most other people's lives whatever voices you allow to speak into your life will always be the loudest ones. If you're constantly allowing the world to speak into your life, that voice is going to become so loud that the still, small voice of God will become unrecognizable.
But if you pay attention to that still, small voice, if you listen to the voice of the Lord, if you pay attention to what God is speaking to you, eventually that voice will become so loud that the temptation, the draw of the world and that system will begin to quiet within your life.
When we saturate our lives and our thoughts with the word of God, then and only then will we begin to know God's will for our lives. Why? Because we can finally hear it.
Some people don't know the will of God for their lives because they can't hear God because they've given voice to so many things in the world, so many other voices that they can no longer hear what God is telling them. See, we need to realize that our prayers can't be divorced from our lifestyles. Our prayers flow out of a close walk with God.
The Bible says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." See, obedience to God plays a part in answered prayers. 1st John 3:22 says, "Whatever we ask, we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and we do those things that are pleasing in His sight."
If we give a listening ear to what God is saying to us, God will give a listening ear to what we are praying to God. We need to listen to what God says if we want God to listen to what we pray. Rejecting conformity to this world system and instead being conformed into the image of Jesus will cause me to begin to know God's purpose for me.
Let me ask you a follow up question. How does God speak? How does God speak to us? Is there a special Jesus dance that we can do that will summon down God to speak to us, maybe a secret verse in the Bible that if you read it backwards it will reveal God's will for your life?
Or maybe Jesus has an Instagram or Twitter that he's daily revealing little pieces of His will, or maybe He's just taking pictures of fish and bread. It's just foodstagram. I don't know.
How do we hear God speak? Again, first and foremost, God speaks through His word. The Bible says, "Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." And obviously, God will never lead us contrary to His word. His word is our litmus test, our bedrock, our absolute. Now, you wouldn't know this by the neglect of the Bible by so many believers.
Let me ask you, if you had a personal note from God, would you wait until there was nothing else to do before you got around to it? Would you wait till there is no other options if God hand wrote a note, sent it down from heaven, and you had it sitting in your sock drawer and you were in a crisis? Would you wait till the very last moment to pull that note out?
No, it would be the first thing you did. It would be the first place you'd go. And yet, some of us sit around praying that God will speak to us when He already has through His word.
And then we get mad and say, well, God isn't speaking to me. I never hear from Him. The truth isn't that God hasn't spoken. The truth is that you haven't listened.
Write this down. How you respond to what God has to say affects how God will respond to what you have to pray. I'm going to say that again. How you respond to what God has to say affects how God will respond to what you have to pray.
Now, of course, there's always the danger of misinterpreting the word of God, taking it out of context. This is what the devil did with Jesus during the temptation in the wilderness in Luke 4:9 that says, "And he brought him to Jerusalem and set him on a pinnacle of the temple and said unto him, 'If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down from here. For it is written He will give His angels charge over you to keep you.'"
Understand this. The devil knows and is capable of quoting scripture. And that should scare you a little bit and say, OK, well, now, I've got to be careful as I'm reading the word of God to make sure that I'm reading it properly. But remember this. Scripture will never contradict itself.
That means that if you find some text and you build an entire case on it and you say, well, doesn't the Bible say that God wants me to be happy, well, guess what? Having sex outside of marriage is going to make me happy, so that must be the will of God.
Before you do that, before you build an entire case on a verse, on what God has told you, ask yourself, does it coincide with the rest of scripture? And if it doesn't, it's wrong.
If it doesn't coincide with the rest of scripture, if another part of scripture contradicts it, like living in fornication or adultery, then you know that that word from the Lord that you got is actually a word from the devil. And who do you want to be listening to, God or Satan?
Too many Christians are far too cavalier about what God has supposedly told them. The Lord told me this. Be very careful before you make a statement like that because scripture warns us about those who say, thus says the Lord when God hasn't spoken to them.
The second point we see, that's the prerequisites for the will of God. Number two, we see the principles of God's will. Look at verse 2. It continues on.
After it says, "don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind," it says that you may prove what is the "good, acceptable, and perfect will of God." The "good, acceptable, and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2 in the NIV says, "His good, pleasing, and perfect will."
I want to point out that it's described as the good will of God. And the first thing we need to understand is that God's will for us is good. Psalm 34:8 says, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man that trust in Him."
Jeremiah 20:9 to 11 says, "For I know the thoughts that I feel towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of"-- oh, come on. You guys don't know that verse? "Thoughts of good, not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." God's will for us is good, acceptable, and perfect. No plan of ours can improve on the plan of God.
Now, it's one thing to say that when things are going well. It's another thing to say that when things are going bad. But understand this. Even when things are bad, we can only see bits and pieces. God sees the whole.
We can only see fragments of the past. We measure things by the narrow horizon of our present vision. He sees past, present, and future in its total context as related to all of eternity. He sees when, where, and why we touch the lives of others. He weighs all actions. He controls all circumstances.
And understanding that, can you realize how easy it would be for us in our finite wisdom, our limited knowledge, that we could actually find ourselves praying against the will of God, even if we have the best interest of someone else in mind?
For instance, if you were Joseph's mother, no doubt you would have prayed that he would have been kept safe from all harm, that he would have been protected and lived a perfect, good life in your home. You would have wondered if God was paying any attention to your prayers when you saw that he was mistreated by his jealous brothers and sold into slavery.
Or, had you been Moses' mother, how your heart would have broken when you saw your son raised in Pharaoh's court instead of in your own home. Or, had you been Jesus' mother, imagine the anguish you would have felt to see your precious son, who you nursed, nurtured, and loved, hanging on a wooden cross.
How easily any mother would have prayed that these things would never happen, but they did. And it's important to note not only did they happen, but it's important to remember that these were not mistakes, oversights, or indifference to the prayers of those who only saw it from a limited point of view. These events were providential.
Had Joseph not been sold into slavery, he wouldn't have been able to save thousands in a time of famine, including his own family. Had Moses not been taken into Pharaoh's court, he would have missed a vital part of his training to lead Israel out of slavery. Had Jesus not been crucified, we would have all remained dead in our trespasses in sin. So God knew and God knows what He is doing within their lives and within our lives.
This is why it's always wise to preface your prayers, Lord, let your will be done. Even Jesus did this. He said, Lord, if this cup can pass from me, that'd be great. But if not, let Your will be done.
Can we start to pray those prayers and say, God, this situation you have me in, do you have me here for a purpose? If you don't, Lord, please take me out of this because this is really hard. But if there is a purpose here, let me fulfill Your will.
Now, although that's true, another truth in scripture is the fact that prayer can dramatically change situations, people, and sometimes even the course of nature. The Bible likewise is filled with stories demonstrating the power of prayer.
A woman named Hannah is unable to have a child. She prays, and a baby named Samuel is born, a baby who one day would become Israel's greatest prophet. Samson prays, and in spite of his previous disobedience, God gives him his strength back. Paul and Silas, imprisoned for their faith, pray, and in moments, an earthquake comes and they are free.
Peter is in prison. The church prays, and he is released. A man named Elijah prays, and the rain stops. He prays again, and it starts. He prays again, and fire comes down from heaven.
Maybe you're grappling with doubt right now, but remember there's light at the end of the tunnel. Just ask Frank Reich in the 1993 Buffalo Bills. Somebody is going to Google that. Don't do it right now. Wait until you get out of church.
When difficulty tackles you on the field of life, don't sit on the sidelines thinking about how things should have gone. Pick up the ball and run the race because it's not over till it's over. And with Jesus, there's always another do over.
So stop looking at what happened and start looking at what's happening. Turn your fear into faith because God wants to turn your interruption into an opportunity, an opportunity to show himself strong on your behalf.
The Bible's full of stories of God changing people's stories. Jesus gave Peter the name far before he grew into it. Peter meant rock, which spoke of something stable, dependable, sure, but Simon took a while to grow into that truth.
It was the same way with the angel finding Gideon hiding from the Midianites, being greeted by an angel with these words-- hey, Gideon, you mighty man of valor-- as he hid. It was also true of Jacob, the heel catcher or the deceiver, who had his name changed to Israel, one who rules with God, a prince with God.
God always takes our objections, and he uses them as qualifications to show himself strong. We see a faithless Simon. God sees an apostle Peter. We see a cowardly Gideon. God sees a mighty man of valor. We see a blank canvas. God sees a masterpiece.
Your interruptions are God's opportunities. So it's time to stop doubting the interruptions, and it's time to start trusting the opportunities. Stop looking at your problems through the lens of interruption and start looking at your problems through the lens of opportunity so that you can say, like Joseph, what you meant for evil against me, God meant for good.
Understand this. Life's pain will always point to the Lord's purpose. Life's pain will always point to the Lord's purpose. And we need to find purpose in God's will for our lives even when it's painful.
Trust that God is going ahead of me. God is preparing the way to which I am coming. He's turning my setbacks into setups so I can turn my letdowns into comeups. So even though I might be case down, I will not be destroyed. Even though I might be pressed, I refuse to be crushed. Even though my soul cries out within me, I believe that God will restore my soul.
Don't ask God to change your circumstances. Ask God to change you. Let God have His loving way with you. Don't be afraid to completely surrender to the will of God for your lives.
Yield to the strokes of His brush, the molding of His hand. He's only seeking to help you fulfill your reason for existence. He's simply putting the finishing touches on you, His masterpiece. Don't be afraid to say, Lord, not my will, but yours be done.
But at the end of the day, a lot of us still wonder what God's will is for those unknown areas of life. Well, for our last point, why don't we begin with what's as plain as the nose on your face, that which is clearly revealed in the word of God? Here, we see our last point, the particulars of God's will.
And for this, I'm going to take you to a few other places in scripture so we can see some specifics of what God's will is for your life. You wonder, what specifically is God's will for my life? I'm going to give you a few specifics of God's will for your life. Because one thing that God might be waiting for before he reveals His specific plans for your life individually is that you would act on what He has already revealed in scripture.
Sometimes, people come and ask me what the will of God is and they say things, like, hey, Nate, can you pray for me? I'm trying to decide if it's the will of God for me to move in with my girlfriend. And yet, the Bible already says to abstain from all appearances of evil.
And they might respond with, well, we're not going to do anything physically. It's just economical. It just makes more sense for our finances. But the Bible also says whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart and also to flee from sexual immorality.
And Romans says to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. And so if you're going to move in with your girlfriend and you tell me, well, I'm not going to be attracted to her or desire her sexually and I'm forced to flee sexual immorality, do you think it's a wise idea to live with somebody that you want to have sex with?
And do you think that that might look bad to a world who's looking upon your life and wondering, oh, I bet they're just doing it for economics? I bet they're not fooling around.
No, we're supposed to flee sexual morality. We're supposed to live in a way that doesn't cause others to stumble. And let me tell you, living in the same house with someone you're sexually attracted to and having no one else around is setting yourself and that person up to stumble and fall.
Oftentimes, God's will is clearly stated in the Bible. We just don't like the answer. We just don't like what God is telling us. But how you respond to God affects how God responds to you. So if you want to know God's specific will for your life, start by abiding His word.
Let's look at a few passages not in depth, but rather lightly, to get a sense of some specific things the scriptures reveal about the will of God for our lives. The first one is going to seem obvious, but we can't miss it. Otherwise, all the other ones don't really matter.
And that is number one, you must be a believer. Mark down 2nd Peter 3:9. 2nd Peter 3:9 says, "God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Scripture also tells us that God wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
Many people ask me, how could a God of love send so many people to hell? Understand this. He doesn't. You choose to go there. God's will, according to 2nd Peter 3:9, is that all would be saved, that you would be saved.
His desire is that you would be with Him so much so that He sent His son to die for you. But if you live your entire life choosing to want nothing to do with God or His plan or His will for your life, He is going to honor that choice in the afterlife.
So number one, you have to be a believer. Number two, you must be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit. Mark down Ephesians 5:15.
Ephesians 5:15 says, "Be filled with the spirit. Speak to one another with songs, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ."
It's significant that this phrase "be filled" is in the Greek present tense. So the accurate translation is "be constantly filled with the Holy Spirit." It's also in Greek a command. In order to be a true believer in Jesus Christ, you must be constantly filled with the Holy Spirit. It is the will of God, even his command, that every believer be constantly filled with the spirit.
Number three, you must live a pure life. 1st Thessalonians 4:3-- you can mark that down-- says, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that is that you abstain from sexual immorality."
The word sanctification means holiness, consecration, and dedication to God. And this speaks to single people who are to remain sexually pure until marriage and faithful to one spouse after. And there are no exceptions to this rule of scripture.
God didn't lead you to do something that He clearly forbids, period. God didn't lead you to somebody else in your life if you're still married. God didn't lead you to be sexually immoral with somebody if you're not married. God isn't going to do it. It's not in accordance with His will.
Number four, the will of God is that we would have an attitude of gratitude. 1st Thessalonians 5:18 says, "In everything, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." This is simply an attitude that recognizes that God is in control of all circumstances that surround your life. He both leads us to still waters and the stormy seas.
If you were with us last night of freedom celebration, we had Ryan Stevenson. And he wrote this beautiful song, "In the Eye of the Storm." And it really captures this idea that God is with us and that actually we are within the will of God in both the good times and the bad times, in the clear skies and the bright sunshine, and the stormy seas and the clouds and the rain.
God is with us in those areas. And God wants us in those times in those areas to find the ability to be thankful, to find the ability to be thankful. I want you to think about that.
I want you to think about what we tell our kids, to always be thankful, that at times bad things happen, but they should still be thankful. What should they be thankful for? Well, some basic things. If you're a kid, even if things go bad, even if things are hard, there's things that you can always be thankful for as a child.
You can be thankful for the love that your parents have for you. You can be thankful for the fact that they've given you clothes. They're giving you food. They're giving you a place to live. There's always things as a child that you can find thankfulness within your home.
And our relationship with God, even though we don't understand the things that happen sometimes, the things that God might bring or allow into our lives, we still need to find thankfulness in both the still waters and the stormy seas. It's all a part of the process making us look more like Jesus.
Now, having established what His will is in some areas of our lives, you might still be asking the question, well, Nate, you still haven't given us any 1, 2, 3 steps to follow. You haven't given us a special will of God dance or a prayer or any of those things that we thought we were going to get from this message.
And the answer is, no, I didn't because God doesn't really work that way often. Rather, what we need to do is to prepare the ground of our hearts for His will by acting on what's revealed in scripture. Dedicate yourself to Him. Don't be conformed to this world system or thinking, but rather be transformed by the renewing of your mind as you search the scriptures to find what He has clearly told you.
Now, when I was a young man, right when I graduated high school, a pastor named Jon Courson came and talked to me. Anyone know who Jon Courson is? Incredible Bible teacher. A great guy. His son is going to be here next weekend, Ben Courson.
Jon Courson asked me when I was graduating high school-- he said, hey, Nate, do you want to know what the will of God is for your life? Now, of course, I said yes, right? In that moment, I thought that he had received some specific revelation from God about the person I was going to marry.
Hey, Nate, you want to know what the will of God is for your life? That person at the end, you're going to marry that person. Or that he was going to give me some revelation about where I was supposed to work or where I supposed to go or what God's specific plan was for my life, what job I should take.
But he responded simply by saying this. Nate, the will of God for your life is that you would love God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. And then do whatever you want.
And we've talked about this principle for the past few weeks in our mixtape series. The number one, the chief, and the foremost will of God for our lives is that we would love Him with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and with all of our mind. And the next step is to do whatever you want.
And you say, Nate, isn't that contradictory? You just told me to do what God wants, not to do what I want, so how can I do both? Understand if you are loving God with all of your being, the things that you want to do will be the things that God wants you to do. The places you want to go will be the places God wants you to go. The people you want to spend time with will be the people God wants you to spend time with.
Finding the will of God isn't as mystical as praying, Lord, where shall we eat today? Because if I go to Taco Bell and you wanted me to go to McDonald's, there's going to be a problem.
Finding the will of God is simply living in the sovereignty and grace of God and then moving, taking steps of faith, trusting that the decisions, the places you go are going to be the places that God wants you to go. Why? Because you are loving Him with everything that you've got.
If you're presenting yourself to him, loving him with your whole life, then the things you naturally want to do will be the things He wants you to do. Finding purpose isn't about rerouting God's GPS for your life. It's about sitting in the back seat and asking, are we there yet as you live in the joy of the purpose of God's will.
So on this trip, on this vacation, on this place that God wants to go, instead of doubting our Heavenly Father, can we just trust Him? Can we just jump in the backseat? Can we just play some games on the way, draw in some coloring books, and every now and then just say, Lord, are we there yet?
I don't have to know where we're going. I don't have to know every turn by turn. I'm just along for the ride. I trust you. I believe you. I trust where you're leading me. I trust where we're going. And I trust that at the end of the road is my Father's house.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because, yea, you are with me. And at the end of that valley, we get to be with Jesus. Amen.
Now, I'll close by saying this. If you're here this morning and you don't have a relationship with Jesus, that means you're missing the first step to finding God's will for your life. Maybe you've been asking, what is God's plan for me? What am I supposed to do? Where am I supposed to go?
But the first step is letting God take the wheel. I mean, come on. It's kind of cheesy, but the country music song had it right all along. Jesus, take the wheel.
Maybe you're here this morning. You need to let Jesus take the wheel. You need to let him take control. And once you do that, once you come to that place of submission, once you finally get to that place of letting God lead, God is going to lead you in paths of righteousness for His namesake.
He is going to lead you to show you His perfect, good, and acceptable will. He is going to show you the future and the hope that He has planned for you. But in order to find that, you need to stop trying to find your future for yourself, and you need to allow God to reveal it to you.
So if you're here this morning and you don't have a relationship with Jesus, today is the day to stop trying to drive the car of your own life. It's time to get in the backseat. And it's time to trust that to a way better driver than you. His name is Jesus.
Lord, we thank You for Your word and the truth that it reveals, the places it leads us to. Lord, as I look at Your word, I just think of that kid's book, "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"
Lord, the places we'll go with you, the places we'll see with you, the things we'll do with you are beyond our imagination, our comprehension. It's better than anything we could hope or dream for. And we just want to let you drive.
So Lord, I pray right now for anyone who is here this morning and they've been in this place of searching, trying to discover what it is they're meant to do, where they're meant to go, who they're meant to be. But Lord, they've been asking the wrong questions. The question they should be asking is, who's going to take them there? And that answer is You.
And if we don't have a relationship with You, it doesn't matter how hard we try. We can never truly live within your will and purpose for our lives. So Lord, I pray that this morning, You would help people to find purpose in God's will.
And if that's you this morning, if you're here and you don't have a relationship with Jesus, maybe you go to church, maybe you're religious, but you haven't truly allowed God to take over, to lead you, to guide you, to take the driver's seat, and so you're constantly caught in this place of asking, what's next, what's next, what's next, this morning, I want to challenge you to ask the question, who's next, and who is Jesus?
He wants to forgive you of your sins. He wants to come into your life. He wants to fill you with purpose, with hope, with belonging. He wants to reveal His plan and His will for your life. But the first step is accepting Him.
So if that's you this morning and you want to accept Jesus Christ either for the first time or you want to rededicate your life to Him and say, Lord, I want to give myself back to You, I want to allow you to step back into my life, to lead me, to guide me, to show me Your will-- if that's you this morning, just raise up your hand so I can see it.
You're saying, Nate, pray for me. I need Jesus in my life. I need to be forgiven. Over here in the back to the left. Lift it high so I can see it. A couple of hands in the back to the left. Anyone else? Come on.
If God is speaking to you-- in the balcony up there. Right here in the front to my right. If God is calling you right now, you respond to that call. God wants a relationship with you. He wants to lead you. He wants to guide you. You just have to allow him to.
Anyone else, you want to allow God to do that within your life this morning? He's a gentleman-- amen-- right here. He's not going to force his way. I said before you don't have to do this. But if you don't, you miss out on God's will. Right over here to my right.
Lord, I thank you for all these hands. Lord, give them courage, give them strength to truly begin to walk within Your will. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Hey, will you stand? We're going to sing the chorus of a song. And as we do, I'm going to ask you quickly, if you raised your hand up-- I saw many of you did-- I'm going to ask you to get up from where you are, come down here to the front, and say a prayer to either accept or to reaccept Jesus Christ into your life, to rededicate your life to Him so you begin to walk in His will.
Right now, you come. Come on. We're going to clap for you. Right, church? We're excited for those who are going to come. Right now, you come. You cement this within your life. You get your life right with God. You know that when you leave here, you're going to be led by God into the plans that He has for you, that you're going to begin to walk within the perfect and acceptable will of God. But the first step is that you would present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is your reasonable service. Come and present yourselves to Him and allow God to reveal himself to you. You come right now. Come.
[MUSIC - BETHEL MUSIC, "NO LONGER SLAVES"]
(SINGING) --so I can walk right through it. My fears were drowned in perfect love, Jesus. You rescued me so I could stand and say I am a child of God. Oh, I am a child of God.
Amen. Well, a few people have responded to this call of Christ in their lives. And we're not going to sing this again, but I saw several more who raised their hands, as well. And my question for you, a question I ask people a lot, is, what's holding you back?
Because something spoke into your heart that made you realize you needed to do this, but something right now is holding you back. What is that? Is that a false pretense? Is that a belief that you're too good for this or that you're too bad for this? Is that a belief that, well, what's the person next to me or behind me going to think?
I've said this before, but it doesn't matter what the person next to you or behind you thinks. They didn't die for your sins. Jesus Christ did that. They can't get you into heaven. Only Jesus Christ can do that. And guess what? They can't reveal God's will for your life. Only Jesus can do that.
So if you want to leave here knowing that you're forgiven, knowing that you have purpose, right now, we're not going to sing, but you come. We're going to cheer you on. We've all been in this place. We've all made this decision.
We're excited for you. God is doing a work in you. Don't allow something to hold you back. Don't go home today driving in your car saying, I should have done that. You do it right now.
Anyone else before we pray? Anyone else? Amen. Come on, church. Let's get loud. Let's cheer them on. We're a family. Come on.
Amen. Amen. Well, hey, for those of you who have come forward, I want to lead you guys in a prayer to accept Jesus Christ into your lives. And this is a simple prayer. Again, this isn't like a crazy Jesus dance that you're going to have God come down and speak to you in an audible Darth Vader voice and tell you what to do after church.
Rather, what's going to happen is Jesus Christ is going to come into your heart. He's going to fill you with His Holy Spirit. He's going to begin to reveal to you His plan for you as you walk within His word. And so as you say this prayer, I want you to say it out loud. Say it from your heart, and say it to Jesus.
Just say, Lord, I know that I'm a sinner. I know that I've done many things that have hurt you. But Lord, I believe You died for those things. I believe you rose from the dead.
So I ask you to come into my life. Forgive me of my sin. I turned my old life, and I turned to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, and help me to live for you. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. Amen. Come on. Let's give them a round of applause.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at email@example.com. And, just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.