1-3-16 “Finding God’s Will”

1-3-2016 “Finding God’s Will” John 4:34; Romans 12:2;

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“God Has a Will For Us”  John 4:34; Romans 12:2  1-3-15 Last night, NBC had a piece on the dangers of distracted walking.  One university had three stairs- one for rushing, one for walking, and one for texting.  The number of people having accidents while texting has doubled in the last year.  We all know about distracted driving.  There is distracted eating. Truth is, we are just a distracted people.  In the midst of our busyness we have lost our focus our purpose, our identity.  The theme for LMPC in 2016 is “faithful listening.”  As we enter into a new year, for the believer, the question is not “what do I want to do in 2016” but “What does God want me to do in 2016.”  Hopefully this would be the same thing, but often it is not.  Too often we make our plans and then we want God to somehow bless them.       When Jesus came, He came to show us that our lives are not random accidents- but that God has a plan and a will.  He came to show us that God loves us enough to care about what we do and the decisions that we make.  Jesus definitely believed God had a plan for Him.  But He also believed God had a plan for Peter, for John, for Thomas, for Paul, for Mary, for Martha, for anyone.  It is not that God can only think about a few good people- do not limit God like that.  When Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me”, He was setting us an example of how we should look at our lives.  We should get our energy, our nourishment, our refreshment, our joy out of not simply being left alone- out of not simply having time with friends or family- but in doing God’s will.  This is not only possible, it has been done by many- not just monks, nuns, and preachers.  In fact, if all the monks, nuns, and preachers only did the will of God that would be great- but that would not fulfill what God wants.  God wants people who will do His will whether we are fishermen, tax collectors, sellers of purple cloth (business people), or whatever.         There are some dead end streets we should not go down to find God’s will.  Here are a few.  Do not look only within to find God’s will.  The directions are not inside of us- and we are not God.  The silence within is just that– silence.  We did not make ourselves and the directions are not found in our thinking apart from God.  It is great to get alone with God- but that is not the same as getting alone with yourself.           Look for the sign that says, “Dead end” and don’t design your life around going down a dead end street.  There are lots of signs on the north side of the lake that say, “Dead end” or “road ends.”  If you are trying to get to Lexington or any place where the road continues- do not go down a dead end street.  So look.  Do not give your life to beauty- beauty ends.  Do not give your life for getting smart- intelligence will one day end. If you do not believe me, then take a visit to the Lowman Home or Presbyterian Home.  Go to the Alzheimer’s unit.  There you will find some of the once smartest people who cannot remember your name or theirs.  It is horribly sad.  I wish they could convey to me some of their knowledge but they cannot.  Do not give your life to things and material goods.  This is easy to say after Christmas when so many have too much stuff and too many credit card bills.  Last week I went to the beach and saw some beautiful homes with an ocean front view.  Homes that cost millions.  But the problem was the ocean waves were under these homes, and had eroded the foundation.  Some homes were completely gone.  Of course, many homes were still standing and healthy, but I counted ten homes that were gone or who were going.  It was so sad to see. They represented some life-long savings.  I thought about the flooded out homes in SC.  These are sad lessons for all of us- that are signs that say “dead end.”  Look, each of these things are sad- and some of you are wincing just thinking about them- beauty fading, intelligence fading, homes and stuff fading.  These are dead end signs for us- and attention grabbers.       But the good news is that there is a road that does not end for us.  In that road we find our purpose, our will, our strength, our joy, our hope.  It is the way of grace.  It is the way of Christ.        How do you find that road?  The most important first step on the long journey is simply say, “Lord I want to follow you.  Where you lead, I will follow.” I will quit going down the dead end streets of my life and go in your direction, your way.  Get on the right road.  Look to the Maker of the roads.  Look God made the road that doesn’t end.  He also made the dead ends.  He makes beauty, intelligence, the good things of life.  We can enjoy these things- but not as an end in themselves.  Get on the path that doesn’t dead end.  Look to the Maker and find your purpose and His will for you.                The Bible doesn’t give us ten steps to finding God’s will- ten steps to enlightenment.  Twenty things you must do. Instead of doing, the Bible asks us to know the director, the purposer, the Maker. Instead it tells us to simply find God- then listen to His voice and walk in His way.  Get your heart right with Him- and listen in scripture and prayer.  Trust in Him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.     How do you know if you will have a bad or good 2016?  It makes no difference if you don’t know that there is a purpose for your life.  You will not have a reference to measure goodness or badness.  So if I think a watch is bad because when I use it to hammer a nail it shatters, I have messed up the definition and purpose of a watch.  2016 is not good or bad because you feel good about it.  If you have fulfilled your call in the year- then it becomes a good year.  The beauty of this is not just a sober purpose. The beauty is that this is our joy. Think of when you first knew you believed in God- really knew it- it gave you purpose.  Think of when you got that first job- it was exciting knowing what you were going to do- you had some direction.  When you go on a mission trip or a Goodworks blitz- you have a purpose and it gives meaning and joy to life.  Knowing that God has a plan for you- and even if that road involves some pot holes- is a comfort.  God gives you some direction in your life.  These elders and deacons we install today- they have a purpose for their term.  It is a reason for being- to make this the best church possible- a church that honors, glorifies, and enjoys God with its whole being.        FAITHFUL LISTENING IS OUR THEME FOR 2016.  Listen in trust to our shepherd. Do not be distracted by other voices calling you to go to the dead ends of life.