With those three principles in mind, quickly let s review what we learned last week.

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1 1 Knowing God s Will for My Life 2 Welcome back in our two-part series on how we can know God s Will for our life. This has to be one of the most often asked questions that believers have for their pastors. What we as ministers of the Gospel must do is to ask a question before we answer one. Remember the question? Why do you want to know? Some want to know God s will out of idle curiosity. For them it is like checking the news or their . They just want to know. They may have no real interest in doing anything about it they just want to know. In a similar vein, there are those who really want to know what God s will is for their lives, but they want to know so that they can ratify it if they agree. They want to retain full rights and privileges to refuse. They want to know what God wants, and if they agree that it is OK and will not cramp their style or schedule too much, they will do it. Can I give you a clue about this matter? God is not in the business of exposing His perfect will only to be overruled by His creation. If you are interested in God s blessed will for your life only out of idle curiosity or so that you can do it if it is convenient, you may very well be disappointed in this process. Now here are three principles that we must proceed on. 1 God s will is not hidden. He wants you to know His Will for your life. 2 You must begin at the beginning so as not to short-circuit the process. We begin at the beginning as we discover what the clearly revealed will of God is as explained in the Bible. 3 - As you are wholeheartedly pursuing God s will that He has already revealed to you in His Word, then you are in the best place for Him to reveal more of His will to you With those three principles in mind, quickly let s review what we learned last week. First, It is God s Will for you to be saved! 2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." That is where God s will begins for all of us. We must do this first and foremost. Jesus must be Lord of our lives if we are to learn His will and accomplish His will for our lives. Secondly, it is God s Will for you to be Spirit filled! Ephesians 5:18 "Do not get drunk with wine for that is dissipation or excess, but be filled with the spirit." Paul s word for filled means to be controlled by, under the influence of. He then likens this infilling to being drunk with wine. Even as wine has the ability to control a drunk s attitudes and actions, Holy Spirit can control our attitudes and actions to bring glory to God. If you want a fuller explanation of these truths, go to our website and download last week s sermon and transcript. Now let s take up where we left off. Thirdly, God s Will for your life involves your sanctification. What s that? you may ask. Please turn to 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. Now let me remind you what we have learned. If you don't know God's will what are you? What was the word Paul used in Ephesians 5? Foolish! If we don t know God s will, we are foolish, unlearned, or ignorant. That seems harsh! Why? It is because God s will is right there for you to know in His Word. Now here is another blunt and straightforward statement. 1 Thessalonians 4:3. "For this is the will of God, your sanctification." Wow! Paul, could you be a little more clear or precise? Doesn't leave much

2 to speculation, does it? It's not hard to figure out. It's not obscure. It s not hidden. It s not hard to find. Here it is in black and white, right out of the Bible; This is the will of God - your sanctification. OK, Pastor but what does that mean? Sanctification is a big word that means separation. Separation from what? you may ask. In the Bible it clearly means separation from sin. God wants you saved, He wants you spirit-controlled and He wants you separated from sin. He wants us to abandon our old sinful way of thinking and doing things and be a dedicated Christ follower. You know I like to remind you to keep the text in context. So, when we begin this chapter we find that Paul is telling the church how they ought to walk (act) and in so doing to please God. Paul tells them that they ought to excel more at that lifestyle. Now what does exactly that mean? In this passage Paul gets real practical. In this passage when Paul talks about sanctification, he specifically addresses sexual sin and states four things that explain what it means to separate ourselves from sexual sins. One is that they abstain from sexual immorality. Now we're getting real practical. Stay away from sexual sins. Far enough away to be separated from all sexual sin - very practical. This is God's will. Sometimes you have a couple come in and want to get married and they sit in the office and I say, "Tell me a little bit about yourself. When did you meet?" And so forth and so forth. Through the years, I've always asked a question somewhere on the line, "Are you engaged in sexual behavior?" It's a direct approach. Then you see these, sometimes shining faces saying, "No," and you know, "They're waiting until marriage." Sometimes these faces fall and sheepish looks and my response is, "Well, if you're conducting yourself knowingly out of the will of God and are unwilling to obey the will of God which is revealed, then why would you assume that it's the will of God for this relationship to go on? How can you, while living in sin, dare to ask God to bless your sin?" "Are you committing sexual sin together? Why is that important? Because if they are living in rebellion, they are living outside of the will of God! They must back up and reestablish their relationship on a pure level. They must separate, confess their sin and repent by living pure and separate lives. Then they can come in their forgiveness and sanctification and ask the Lord with integrity to bless their union. Once again, if you are walking in obedience to the divine revealed will of God that is clearly revealed in His Word, then you are in a position to receive a clearer revelation of what God s will is for your life. So the first illustration Paul states that defines sanctification is to stay away from sexual sin. Then Paul gets more specific, verse 4, "Each of you should know how to possess his own vessel," that's your body, "in sanctification and honor." Handle your body to honor God. Handle your body in a pure way. Keep your body pure. Keep your body separated from sin. It is God s body! He has bought it with the blood of His Son. It is Holy Spirit s temple. Keep it safe! Keep it pure! Paul takes this even further in verse 4, "Not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God." Don't act like the godless heathens. Don't act the way the world acts. Stay away from sexual sin; handle your body to honor God. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul tells Christians to beat their bodies into submission if necessary. Don't act like godless pagans. Fourth Paul says let no man transgress, go across the line and defraud his brother in the matter. Wow, what does that mean? Simply put it means, Don't take advantage of other people. Don't take any advantage of any other people for any reason, particularly in the sexual area. I tell young adults, especially young ladies, you beware when some guy comes along and says, "I love you, I love you, I love," and then wants to steal your virginity. That's not love. That is lust, lustful passion that has nothing to do with love. Love is much nobler than that, much more glorious than that, much grander than that and a true and a pure love says, "I love you so much that I would not do that to you. I love you so much we will wait." That may seem old fashion in our society, but it is clearly the godly way of life and love. 2

3 This kind of defrauding that goes on is not the will of God. It is the will of God that you be separate from sin. Stay away from sexual sin. How far away? I Thess. 5:22 states, Abstain from all appearance of evil. I encourage even adults who are dating not to be alone in a home with the other person. The temptation is tremendous. Don t do it! Abstain from even the appearance of what might be sin. Handle your body in such a way as to honor God. Don't act like the godless heathen around you act. Do not take advantage of other people for your own gratification, your own lustful fulfillment. In 1 Peter 4:2, Peter says as I quoted earlier, "We are to live the rest of the time in the flesh." Listen, "No longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God." It's not about lust anymore; it's about the will of God. It s about your body being the temple of Holy Spirit, designed to bring glory to God. It is clearly God's will is that you stop lusting. Stop lusting and start pursuing sanctification. Verse 7, "For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification." By the way, verse 8, "He who rejects this is not rejecting man, but the God who gives his holy spirit to you." If you reject this wisdom, you're rejecting God Himself! You're not rejecting the man who wrote that. You're rejecting the God who gave you His Holy Spirit so that you have the power to be pure. So God s will for your life is to be saved, spirit filled, and sanctified set apart from sin and for His pleasure and glory. Number four, God s will is that you be submissive. In James chapter 4, it says in verse 7, "Submit, therefore, to God." That's the first point of submission. "Submit, therefore, to God." Also, Ephesians 5 says, "Submit to one another." This is talking about humility, folks. Be submissive. Be submissive to God. Be submissive to one another. Wives, be submissive to your husbands. And husbands, be submissive, in the sense that you love your wives and you seek that which fulfills their desire. Hebrews 13 tells us, verses 7 and 17 to submit to those that are over you in the Lord, to submit to the pastors and elders of the church who lead and direct you. Consider 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 13 for just a moment. It says, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, to kings, ones in authority, governors, etcetera. Then in verse 15, "For such is the will of God." It is God's will that you live a submissive lifestyle and particularly submit to the government so that you never, ever cause the gospel to bear a reproach. He says, "By doing this, you will silence the ignorance of foolish men." By being a good citizen, submitting to the authorities that God has placed over you in human government, you will silence those who criticize the Christian faith. You submit to government. You submit to the authority in the church. You submit in family. You submit to one another. You submit to Christ as Lord. You submit to God. Humble submission, your life should be characterized in all things by humility, submissiveness, on all levels. That's the will of God. Humble yourselves, humble yourselves and in due time, God will lift you up. This is His will. So let s sum up where we are so far. It is clearly God s will as revealed in His Word for you to bes saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, and submissive. Number five, His will is that you suffer. While you're in 1 Peter 3:17, "It is better," writes Peter, "It is better if God should will it so that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong." God wills our suffering. That's right. I know that flies in the face of this name it; claim it, God wants us all to be rich and happy deceptive teaching out there. This comes right out of the Word of God! God wills our suffering because He knows what it does for us. Back in chapter 2 verse 20 he says, "If you do what is right and suffer for it and endure that suffering, this finds favor with God." God is pleased when we suffer for goodness sake and we endure it. 3

4 This truth is clarified further in Chapter 4 verse 19, "Let those who suffer according to the will of God and trust their souls to a faithful creator in doing what is right." So you're doing what is right and you end up suffering for it! Sad, I agree. Have you heard that saying, No good deed goes unpunished? That is too often the case. But you keep doing what is right. You start to suffer for doing what is right and you endure that suffering and trust your soul to a faithful God. And you are, in a sense, following the example of Christ, who, being perfect, still suffered. Suffering is part of what God wants to do with your life. I know that sounds mean of God, but it is not! Suffering perfects you. Now I am not talking about suffering for sinful behavior that you have done and got caught. Suffering for doing what is wrong, that's discipline. God wants you to face this hostile world in such a godly fashion, living such a godly life that it will bring reproach and scorn and difficulty and alienation from family and friends and who knows where. And all of that suffering will enable God to perfect you. I know what you are thinking! There s got to be a better way! If I were God I would find a way to do that without suffering! The only problem is there isn t a better way. Those truths we learn in the crucible of suffering are precious and can be learned in no other environment. We can't have all joy. It is not possible. Peter tells us that we will fall into various trials, but Holy Spirit will have a perfect work through them. 1 Peter 5:10, "After you've suffered awhile, the Lord make you mature, perfect." Suffering for righteousness' sake, living such a righteous life in an unrighteous world that the unrighteous world reacts when confronted by such virtue and such devotion and such truth as we live and proclaim for Christ. Paul assures us in 2 Timothy 3:12 that, All who live godly in this present world will suffer persecution. Some will suffer more than others. So I have to ask myself, Fred, if you are not suffering, is it because you are not living godly in this world? It is the will of God that you suffer for doing what is right, that you might thereby be humbled and strengthened. In 2 Corinthians chapter 12 the apostle Paul tells us that he had embraced his suffering. He embraced it because he saw in it the hand of God. He says he was given a thorn in the flesh. He said, "I asked the Lord to remove it three times." But God said, "My grace is sufficient for you. My power is perfected in weakness." God knows that your spiritual power is dependent upon your weakness and your weakness is the product of your suffering. "Most gladly," writes Paul, "I would rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me so I'm content with weakness, insults, distress, persecutions and difficulties for Christ's sake. For when I'm weak, then I'm strong." Realize that I'm not talking about suffering from doing wrong, but suffering from doing right. Take that suffering and be bold and be courageous and let God do his perfect work. So what have we learned so far? God s will is for us to be saved, spirit filled, sanctified, submissive and suffering for righteousness sake. And finally, there's one other thing. God's will for you: that in all this (being saved, spirit filled, sanctified, submissive, and suffering) that you are saying thanks. Listen to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Can it be any clearer than that? Paul, what is it that you are telling me is God s Will for my life? To be thankful! A constantly grateful heart rejoices always. In everything give thanks. Constant joy, constant prayer filled with constant thanks. Is that what your life is like? Is that you? Are you just overwhelmed with thanksgiving? Are you just pouring out thanks? This is the will of God for you. There's no mystery here, folks. NO mystery at all. God's will is that you be saved, spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, suffering, and saying thanks all the time. That's God's will. Pure and simple! 4

5 Now I hear you say, "Ah, come on. You're cheating me. I thought I was going to get an answer about the girl I'm supposed to marry." Oh, I'm going to give you that. I'm going to tell you exactly what to do. You say, "I want a specific answer." Well that's good. There's one final principle and you will like it. If you're saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, suffering and thankful are you ready for this? Go after your heart s desire! Do whatever you want! Marry whomever you want! Go wherever you want! Work wherever you want. Choose whatever you want. You say, "Whoa. Are you sure?" Absolutely! Because if all I have bee preaching last week and today is true of your life, guess who's controlling your wants. God is! Holy Spirit is dominating you. Your life is fully surrendered to Him. You are a temple of Holy Spirit. He is in control of your body, mind and soul. So do whatever you want. Here's the verse. Psalm 37:4, you ready for this? "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Let me make this very clear to you. I am not saying that you can do whatever you want and it will be OK with God. I am not giving you a license to do as you please. Not at all! What I am telling you is this. If you are genuinely saved, if Jesus Christ is your Savior and He is the Lord (King, Boss, Controller) of your life, you have taken the first step into knowing God s will. If you have taken next step and yielded yourself totally to Holy Spirit in such a way that He is controlling your attitudes and actions in ways that are visible for all to see, you have taken the second step in knowing God s Will. If you have sanctified yourself unto God if you have separated yourself from sin and given yourself to God for His purpose and good pleasure, then you have taken the third step into knowing God s will. If you are living in submission to Him, to those in spiritual authority over you, to your family and employer, and all others in such a way that it is clear to all that you are seeking Him and the needs of others far above your own desires then you have taken the fourth step into knowing Gods Will. If you have obeyed God s will publically and privately, and in such obvious ways that all those around you know that you are totally sold out to Christ, even to the point that you are being persecuted for your stance of purity and holiness and your commitment to Christ, then you have taken the fifth step in to knowing His Will. If in all this you have learned the art of giving thanks in all these things and living a lifestyle characterized by a thankful heart, you are now in the place to receive more clarity and revelation of God s will for you life. As you do, you will find that His continued will for you in all ways is consistent with what has already been revealed to you. If you are wholeheartedly walking in all of God s will that you know, that has been clearly revealed to you in the Word of God, then your desires are His desires, your goals are His goals, your life is His life. So He can trust you and give you the desires of your heart. Let me put it in perspective in my own life. Valeria and I dated three years before we got married. We knew most of that time we were genuinely in love with one another, but we wanted more than anything to know it was God s will for us to marry. So we committed ourselves to doing God s will as it was revealed to us in His Word. We went through this process: saved, Spirit filled, sanctified (separated from sin but especially sexual sin), submissive to those in authority over us, suffering for living a godly separated life, and giving God all praise and thanksgiving. We were where we could clearly hear the still, small voice of Holy Spirit. Still we wanted to be doubly sure, so we separated, went to different colleges in different towns and dated other people. We wanted to give God every opportunity to speak to our hearts if this was wrong. Through all that we came to a clear confidence that it was God s will to give us the desires of our hearts, and we got married. I assure you that, if the Lord is your delight, He will give you the desires of your heart. Did I marry Valeria because it was God s will for me to do so? Absolutely! Did I pursue her because she was the desire of my heart? Absolutely! 5

6 I can assure you of that same truth as I came to be your pastor. Over 11 years ago we had been sensing for nearly a year that God was in the process of preparing us for a move. So we went into a season of obeying all of God s will that He had revealed to us: saved, Spirit filled, sanctified, submissive to those over and around us, suffering for living a godly separated life, and giving God all praise and thanksgiving. And we waited. In His time He brought three separate and different ministry possibilities to us. We didn t know what to do. We sought Him over and over until He told us to trust Him for the one that delighted us the most and that was you. Interestingly enough, when we cut off all contact with the other two, your committee got quiet as well. In that time of silence, we were still soul searching but wondering if we may have heard Him wrong. Finally we got a call from the committee and then everything went full speed ahead. Am I here because God called me to be your pastor? Absolutely! Am I here because God gave me the desire of my heart! Absolutely! So, let me go back to what I told you earlier: As you are wholeheartedly pursuing God s will that He has already revealed to you in His Word, then you are in the best place for Him to reveal more of His will to you. Begin at the beginning. Do not jump into this process in the middle. Take each step. When you are wholeheartedly committed to Him, wholeheartedly given to servanthood and wholeheartedly investing your life for the Kingdom, then you are in a place to start. Don t do this out of idle curiosity or with the aim of overruling God when He reveals His will for your life. Take each step carefully and totally. When you do the will of God you know, then you are in a place to receive clearly the next step He wants you to take. Then with all your power and might pursue it! Let me pray for you. 6

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