God’s Will – Simple But Not Easy
Simple – “trust and obey” – but not Easy.
FALSE WITNESSES CAME AGAINST STEPHEN WHO WAS FULL OF FAITH AND POWER:
ACTS 6:15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel. 7 Then the high priest said, “Are these things so?”2 And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’
This is the beginning of God’s people – Israel.
We often only see portions of God’s will not the whole picture.
God often leads us by withholding information.
Challenges are not necessarily an indicator that we are out of God’s will – Mary traveling to Bethlehem, or Abraham leaving.
4 Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He [God] moved him to this land in which you now dwell. It could read – “then he obeyed.”
After obedience, then you can ask, “What’s the next step?”
“Speak, for your servant is listening.”
5 And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him.
No immediate reward – God was his reward.
I’d rather live in a rental home…
Numbers 18:20 (NIV) “The LORD said to Aaron, ‘You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites.’”
THEY DIDN’T GET LAND – THEY GOT GOD!
One way to test faith is to see what we are willing to give up.
A study bible offers these five points on how the enemy, the flesh, and the world divert us from God’s will: 1. Doubt: Makes you question God and His goodness. 2. Discouragement: Makes you look at your problems rather than God. 3. Diversion: Makes the wrong things seem attractive so that we want them more than the right things. 4. Defeat: Makes you feel like a failure so that you don’t even try. 5. Delay: Makes you put off doing something God wants you to do so that it never gets done.
6 But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years [how is this God’s will?]. 7 ‘And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and serve Me in this place.’
Foretold to encourage His people – bondage & oppressed for 400 years in Egypt.
Then He judged Egypt – judgment helps us make sense of evil.
8 Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs.
Why mention circumcision?
It was a mark of their covenant relationship with God – In the O.T., “circumcise your heart” was to renew the covenant … repentance = removal.
Circumcision is removal and its painful – there is a cost to following God.
The New Testament sign is baptism.
9 “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt [how is this God’s will?]. But God was with him 10 and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.
A QUICK NOTE about self-created trials?
Give examples of those with felonies.
11 Now a famine and great trouble came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers found no sustenance [how is this God’s will?]. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. 13 And the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to the Pharaoh. 14 Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people. 15 So Jacob went down to Egypt; and he died, he and our fathers. 16 And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem.
Rest in the Sovereignty of God – God placed him there for a purpose.
Remember what God did.
Remember what God brought you through.
Remember His loving convictions? Don’t do what others have done.
Acts 7:51“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.
Open your heart and ears – STOP resisting God!
Many memorial services right now – Why do they call a Pastor?
“Well Shane, they’re about ready to die.”
We’re so stubborn and prideful that it takes death to finally humble us.
Humble yourself now:
An article read, “Deathbed conversion? Never. Christopher Hitchens was defiant to the last breath.”
I spent my father’s final weeks and days at his bedside and watched him draw his final breath and die, and can assure you that there was no hint of any sort of conversion (as I’m sure you have already guessed). In fact, we barely spoke about religion at all except for joint expressions of frustration at the god botherers who made the rounds in the ICU and other units where dying people could be preyed upon by vulturous Christians.
“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.