September 8, 2019
The Gospels: Four Portraits – One Saviour
Pastor Bryan Watson
Good morning. Before we begin our sermon time, please bow your heads with me and ask for God’s blessing upon this time.
O Lord God, thank You for the privilege of standing behind this pulpit and bringing Your Word to Your Church this morning. Please help me to speak that which is true, and help me to do it in such a way that Your people are blessed by it. We are here today to worship You. May You be glorified through this message. Amen.
As we kick off our church year this morning, I really felt led to do a bit of teaching about the Gospels. I want to lay a bit of a foundation for why these four books are so critical to our faith. I want to answer a few questions, like Why are there four Gospels? How are they different? How do they come together to point to Christ? And with only 20 or 25 minutes to do this, we are really only going to scratch the surface. So let’s get started.
Our text for this morning is from John 20:30-31.
30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Bible scholar and professor Mark L. Strauss tells the following story: When my oldest son was two years old, we took him to a portrait studio to have his picture taken. Two-year olds are a bundle of emotions and getting them to sit still through a photo shoot is a real challenge. During that short session, my son went through a range of moods, from contentment, to laughter, to pouting, to anger, to tears. I remember getting the proofs afterward. The first showed him serenely content, smiling at the camera. In the second, he was laughing delightedly as the photographer waved a stuffed animal in his face. In the next, he was beginning to get bored and had put on a cute little pout. The fourth showed him downright angry with a defiant “just try to make me smile” look on his face. By the last shot, he had dissolved into tears. The poor little guy had had enough. Which of these pictures captured my son’s personality? The answer, of course is all of them! Each one caught a different side of his multifaceted personality. Together they give us an insightful glimpse into who he is.
This is a really good analogy for the four Gospels in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each of these books presents a unique look at Jesus Christ, and yet all of them point to Christ and Christ alone. Independently, each book identifies Christ as the Saviour of the World. And each of them looks at Christ through a different lens. Yet it is only when we look at Christ through all four Gospels together, that we can truly catch a glimpse of Who Jesus is.
Why Were the Gospels Written?
One of the first questions we should ask ourselves is, “Why Were the Gospels Written?”
Strauss suggests several other reasons that God inspired these men to write their accounts.
Historical: God knew that we would need a record of the life and times of Jesus… something that would outlive the Apostles.
Instructional: By providing a record of Christ’s life and teachings, Christians would have a source to refer to when it comes to the doctrines of the Christian faith. We are taught what to believe, and how to conduct ourselves, through the knowledge of Christ’s teachings.
Theological: By preserving a written record of the Gospels, Christians are able to identify false teachings that creep into the Church. By taking every thought captive and comparing it to the true Gospels, we can protect ourselves from false religions and heresies.
Apologetic: When people say that Jesus was not the Messiah, we can use the Gospels to respond. Matthew, for example, seemed written to respond to the Jews’ claims that Jesus was not the Messiah.
Evangelistic: The main, and obvious answer, was given in our sermon text. “These were written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ.”
Why are there Four Gospels?
One question people ask is: why are there four Gospels? Wouldn’t one single Gospel account be sufficient?
Well, we’ve already begun to address that question. Each of the Gospel accounts provides a unique perspective on the works and teachings of Jesus. Each arose within a different community of people, emphasizing different characteristics of Christ, as we shall see in a moment. Around AD 170, there was a well-intentioned attempt by a man named Tatian to harmonize these four books into one single Gospel account. In the end, the church chose to keep the four separate accounts in the canon of Scripture, because important themes and elements were lost when this harmonization was attempted. Frankly, there’s a lot more to it than that, but for the purpose of this message today, that’s the high-level answer to the question of why we have four Gospels instead of one.
Why are there only Four Gospels?
But that logically leads us to the question of why there are ONLY four Gospels? Why were these four books included in the canon, but not other so-called Gospel accounts?
Again, there is a lot that goes into answering that question. Much more than I have time to get into this morning. Our Adult Sunday School class has taken the better part of a year now to study the hows and whys of our canon, and I invite you to join us, if you haven’t already. But the simple answer to this is that church councils have debated various books with rigorous criteria over the centuries, considering criteria like historical accuracy, spiritual power and authority that indicates inspiration of the Holy Spirit, verifiable authorship, etc. For this reason, other so-called Gospels were left out of the canon of Scripture.
So, let’s take a moment and discover the portrait that each Gospel account portrays of Jesus.
The first three Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are called the “Synoptic Gospels.” Now, I know, “Synoptic” sounds like big word used by college professors who wear sweaters and smoke pipes. By they are called the “Synoptic” Gospels because they simply give a synopsis of Christ’s life. Ok, so what’s a synopsis? Well, the fancy word “synopsis” is simply made up of two Greek words that mean “view together.” So, these 3 Gospels can be viewed together to get an overview of Christ’s life. Where He came from. Where He went. What He did. Stuff like that.
The Gospel of John is different from the other three Gospels. John focuses less on what Jesus did, and more on His relationship to the Father. If Matthew, Mark, and Luke show Christ in action, then John shows Him in prayer and communion.
Let’s look at each of these four Gospels independently, and see if we can gain a more complete portrait of Christ as we layer each Gospel on top of the others.
Let’s start with Matthew. Who was the author of the Book of Matthew? Matthew wrote the book of Matthew. Matthew, or Levi, as he was originally called, was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. Once a hated tax collector, Matthew’s life was dramatically changed by Jesus.
Matthew wrote his book primarily to the Jews, because he wanted to demonstrate that Jesus was the Messiah. Matthew wanted to explain the Kingdom of God to the Jews.
That’s one of the reasons that Matthew starts out with the genealogy of Jesus. This demonstrates that Jesus was descended from King David, and therefore, would be part of the royal line.
Matthew shows Christ’s authority by reporting His miracles of healing the sick and the demon-possessed, and even raising the dead. Matthew shows Christ’s authority of death by recounting Christ’s own crucifixion and resurrection, thus establishing Him as the true Messiah.
Matthew emphasizes Christ’s teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven. In fact, Matthew’s Gospel is the only Gospel that uses the expression, “the Kingdom of Heaven.”
The book of Matthew serves as the bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament. There are over 60 references to the Old Testament, and more than 40 direct quotations from the Old Testament in the book of Matthew. A common phrase in Matthew is “that it might be fulfilled.”
Why did Matthew emphasize these things? Because He was writing to the Jews. The Jews would know and care about the Old Testament prophecies. Other groups, like the Greeks or the Romans, weren’t that interested in Jewish prophecies. The the Jews were keenly interested, because they were looking for their Messiah. The Jews were focused on the Kingdom, and so Matthew explained to them how Jesus alone fulfilled the prophecies; how He had divine power and authority, and how He would fulfill the role of King of the Jews.
Simply put, Matthew presents Christ as KING!
The Gospel of Mark was written by a man named John Mark. Mark was not one of the original disciples, but we do know him from his time with Paul and Barnabas. Most scholars believe that Mark received a significant amount of input from the Apostle Peter when he was writing his Gospel.
The book of Mark is primarily written to the Romans. Roman culture emphasized work over words… what one DOES is more important that what one SAYS. For that reason, Mark spends less time on Christ’s teachings and sayings, and more time on His actions: His Baptism, His temptation by the devil, His public ministry: healing, casting out demons, conflict with the religious leaders. Jesus feeds a crowd of 5,000, and shortly thereafter, He feeds yet another crowd od 4,000.
We see the Transfiguration, and many miracles; over illnesses, over demons, over nature, and over death. Finally, we see Christ’s betrayal, his trial, crucifixion, and Resurrection.
Mark completely skips over Christ’s birth and genealogy. Why? Because the Romans, to whom the book is written, really could not care less about His lineage, or Jewish prophecies. But they fully understand the concept of a hard-working suffering servant, and so that is how Mark portrays Him.
Simply put, Mark presents Christ as the Obedient Servant.
As you might have guessed, the Gospel of Luke was written by a man named Luke. But not just “any” Luke, but “Doctor” Luke. And that’s an important point. You see, the Gospel of Luke was written for the Greeks. By and large, the Greeks were Humanists, focusing on the greatness of man. Whereas the Greeks would be likely to overlook a Jewish fisherman or carpenter, they had respect for Dr. Luke’s position in society. That is why Luke emphasized Christ’s humanity.
As a Greek physician, Luke was very detailed in his analysis. Luke gave a very detailed genealogy of Christ all the way back to Adam, showing Christ’s identity as the Son of Man. When Jesus heals a man’s withered hand, Luke points out that it was his RIGHT hand. When Luke was referring to Jairus’ daughter, he tells us that she was TWELVE years old. Lots and lots of details.
Luke gives us a very detailed account of the supernatural birth of Christ, from the announcement by angels to Zechariah and to Mary, to a census declared by Caesar Augustus, to an angelic choir singing before shepherds on a hillside, all pointing to the miraculous birth of this perfect human.
Luke’s Gospel account tells us of Christ’s gathering of His disciples, the Great Commission, and His true identity. He goes on to give an account of Christs crucifixion and Resurrection.
Greek readers of Luke’s Gospel would be fascinated by the perfect life lived by the Perfect Man, and they would be fully aware of what Luke was getting at when the Perfect Man became the Perfect Sacrifice and then was later resurrected.
Simply put, Luke presents Christ as the Perfect Man.
Finally, we come to the Gospel of John. Written by the Apostle John near the end of his life, and after the other three Gospels were written, the Gospel of John does not give us an account of the life of Christ. Rather, it makes a compelling case for WHO CHRIST IS.
John is very clear about the purpose of his book, as demonstrated by our scripture text for today:
30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John’s Gospel is not directed to the Jews, the Romans, or the Greeks. It is a universal Gospel, written to all mankind. It is directed to YOU, that YOU may believe that Jesus is the Christ… and that by believing, YOU may have eternal life in His name.
The word “believe” is used by John almost 100 times in the Gospel of John. It is always used in a verb form, indicating that an action is being requested of the reader. “Believe on Him,” John implores his readers, because those who believe on Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
In fact, the word “Life” is used 36 times in the Gospel of John. John is truly wanting to emphasize that eternal life is only made possible through Christ.
John’s intent is to bring his audience face to face with Jesus Christ. John shares with us the “I Am” statements of Christ:
I am the bread of life.
I am the light of the world.
I am the resurrection and the life.
The opening section of the Gospel of John, Chapter 1, verses 1 to 18, identifies Jesus as the Word. And this Word is God the Creator, the one who gives life. We learn about conflict… about light vs darkness, about physical birth vs spiritual birth, about law vs grace.
Simply put, John’s Gospel is written to ALL men, and it presents Christ as God!
The Whole Picture
On the surface, it simply seems like four different versions of the same story. But when we look at how they weave together to show us a complete picture of Jesus Christ, we should be in awe of the incredible wisdom that God used when giving us The Bible. In my opinion, there is no way that this could just be the product of man’s creative imagination. The way the puzzle pieces fit together, especially when you consider that different men from different backgrounds wrote them… I find it overwhelming evidence that the entire Bible was inspired by and controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Christ is not just for the Jews, but also for the Romans. And not just for the Jews and Romans, but for the Greeks. And not just for the Jews, the Romans, and the Greeks, but for all mankind.
And we see the different characteristics of Christ. He is The King. He is the Obedient Servant. He is the Perfect man. And He is God.
If you would like to find out more about Christ, and about how You can have a relationship with the Savior of the World, come and speak with myself or Pastor Dennis, or now Pastor Nate, after the service. We would love to speak with you about the Jesus of the Gospels.
Amen. Let’s pray.
Heavenly Father, I give You thanks and praise for the way that You have put together these Gospel accounts to show that there is One Christ, and that He is the Saviour for all mankind. I thank You for being so clear that no one people group has solitary claim to Christ, but that He is the Lord of all! Thank You for showing us that He is King, Servant, Fully Man, and Fully God. In the powerful name of Christ I praise You. Amen.
September 22, 2019
Forks in the Road
Pastor Bryan Watson
Before we begin, let’s take a moment to pray.
Precious Lord, we come before You this morning asking for Your blessing upon this time together. Please let Your truth, and only Your truth be spoken here this morning. Help us to focus on Your will and Your Word here today. Holy Spirit, please guide each person here today through Your wisdom. In the name of Christ we pray, Amen.
In my personal Bible reading, I am currently working through the book of 1 Samuel. One thing that really struck me was the downfall of King Saul. Saul started out as just an ordinary farmer. The Bible says that he was tall and handsome, but that he also came from the least family within the least tribe of all Israel. He wasn’t looking to be a king. Prior to becoming the King of Israel, he had no visions of grandeur that the Bible tells us about. He was just a poor farmer trying to get by… minding his own business, as it were.
And although Saul started out well, he goes down in the annals of Israel’s history as one of the “bad kings.” Why? What happened? Did Saul just suddenly “turn heel” as pro wrestlers are wont to do… one minute receiving the cheers of the crowd, and then suddenly changing sides and becoming a bad guy? I don’t think so.
In Saul, I see an ordinary guy who is thrust into a role he didn’t ask for, and didn’t really want… a guy who lacks confidence in himself and faith in God… a guy who wants to do the right thing but keeps making the wrong decision because he is relying on his own wisdom, until finally, he can no longer recognize the way back.
In short, Saul’s life is made up of encounters with forks in the road, as ours all are, and for some reason Saul keeps taking the wrong one. There are many examples in Saul’s life, but let’s just look at three:
Saul’s Untimely Sacrifice
First, let’s look at Saul’s “untimely sacrifice.” In 1 Samuel 13, we see Saul preparing for battle with the Philistines. As part of the preparation, he is waiting for Samuel to come and offer the burnt offering. But Samuel is running late, and Saul and the people are getting anxious. Saul could wait for Samuel as he was instructed to do, or he could go ahead and offer the sacrifice on his own. Saul decided to offer the sacrifice himself. God is displeased. Why? On the surface, it seems like Saul did something noble by wanting to make sure that he sought God’s favour before the battle. So, why was this so wrong?
Well, in 1 Samuel 10:8, Samuel says to Saul, “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.” But when Samuel was late, Saul got antsy and proceeded without him. He did not obey Samuel’s command to wait until Samuel got there. And when Samuel appears and rebukes Saul, Saul blames his soldiers, and then he blames Samuel, but he never considers his own culpability.
Samuel issues a stern rebuke to Saul for his disobedience, and so begins Saul’s downfall. Saul’s sacrifice came at the cost of disobedience and doubt, and possibly even superstition, in that the sacrifice was more of a good look omen than it was an act of worship.
2. Saul’s Disobedient Plunder
Second, let’s look at Saul’s “disobedient plunder”. In 1 Samuel 15, God commands Saul to go to war against the Amelekites, and to totally destroy them, including all the livestock. Upon engaging in a successful campaign against the Amalekites, Saul faces a fork in the road. He can obey God and carry out the instructions to destroy them completely. Or not. Saul chooses disobedience, sparing the Amalekite King Agag, perhaps as a trophy, and also keeping the best of the livestock for himself.
Listen to these sad words from verses 10 and 11: Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: "I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions." Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.
When confronted by Samuel, Saul faces another fork in the road. What if Saul would have offered a heartfelt and true repentance, and righted his wrong? Would Saul’s legacy have been different? After all, we saw God still refer to David as a man after God’s own heart, even after David had committed adultery AND murder. But David’s repentance was genuine. So, we’ll never know what could have happened if Saul had truly repented, because Saul chose the other path. He lied to Samuel about what he had done, and then he lied to God about his motives, like his so-called desire to sacrifice. He blamed his soldiers for sparing the animals, but tried to take credit for the victory. “THEY spared the best of the sheep,” Saul says to Samuel, “but WE totally destroyed the rest.” It’s everybody else’s fault.
In response, Samuel says to Saul: "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king." (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
Saul tries a hollow apology, but the context of the scripture shows that he was more concerned about his reputation before the people than his relationship with God, and his rejection is confirmed.
3. Saul’s Evil Consultation
But third, let’s look at another of Saul’s forks in the road: that is, Saul’s “evil consultation” with the witch of Endor. This sounds like something out of Lord of the Rings, but this is a real event in the life of a real man.
By this point in Saul’s life, things have pretty much hit rock bottom. Bad decision after bad decision had led Saul down a path of self-destruction. Samuel is dead, and for all intents and purposes, Saul’s relationship with God is dead as well. Saul needs help and guidance from somewhere, and he seeks it in the form of a witch… a medium… a woman who makes her living by supposedly conjuring up the spirits of the dead.
One could argue whether or not God had permanently turned a deaf ear to Saul, but when I consider God’s nature of being slow to anger and abounding in mercy, I think Saul still had a chance to be heard by God. And when I consider 2 Chronicles 7:14, which says, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land,” then I think Saul still had a chance to be heard by God. But Saul’s heart was so hardened that he would not humble himself, and he would not earnestly turn from his wicked ways. Submission and repentance were not in Saul’s toolkit, and so he turned to the witch for help.
Needless to say, this was another poorly chosen path that ended badly for Saul, because within the next 24 hours, he would commit suicide.
So, the tragic reign that was King Saul led me to ask myself, “How is it that a man can go from God’s blessing to utter failure?” “How is it that a life so filled with promise and purpose ends up being merely a warning to others?” “What is it that is going to separate my life from that of King Saul?” And, “How does a person know which path to take when you come to a fork in the road? Because sometimes the right answer isn’t all that clear.”
In our scripture passage for this message, Matthew 7:13-14, the Bible tells us:
13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road
that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Or, as someone else put it, “Observe the masses and do the opposite.” As a general rule of thumb, that’s not a bad idea. Considering the stock market, If the general population is selling, then it’s probably a good time to buy. If the general population is buying, it’s probably a good time to sell. And in life, if the general population is promoting an idea, then it’s probably worth considering the opposite.
But sometimes it’s hard to tell the narrow gate apart from the wide gate. So, how do we navigate our own forks in the road such that we make more good decisions than bad ones? I want to give you six principles that may help you when you are facing a fork in the road.
Principle #1: Commit Your Decision to God
Are you praying about your situation? William Temple is quotes as saying, “When I pray, coincidences happen. And when I don’t, they don’t.” I find that so true in my own life. Sometimes it feels like God isn’t answering my prayers, but when I look back over the years, I can clearly see God’s hand in my life.
We need to ask for God’s wisdom in the situations we face. “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth,” David says in Psalm 86:11.
The Bible tells us to bring our requests to God. We read in Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
God wants to part of our decision-making process, but He is not going to force us to include Him.
Principle #2: Read the Bible
I believe that we could eliminate a lot of problems with this step right here, if we read the Bible with searching hearts. There are so many basic instructions for living in the Bible, and if we knew them, and understood them, our lives would be so much simpler. The 10 Commandments offer the basic guidelines for living rightly.
Are you considering having an affair, or sleeping with someone you aren’t married to? Exodus 20:14 – “You shall not commit adultery.” Hebrews 13:4 – “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
What about taxes? Are you faced with the temptation to overstate your expenses or understate your income? Leviticus 19:11 – “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.” Matthew 22:21 – “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Are you a Christian who is worn down by working in a secular environment, or for a taskmaster of a boss? Read about the lives of Joseph in Egypt, and Daniel in Babylon and Persia, and gain an understanding from the Bible about how you should conduct yourself in a way that sets you up for success and brings honor and glory to God.
The scriptures provide an untold wealth of wisdom and knowledge for almost every situation you will encounter.
As we read in Psalm 119:105, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.” But it won’t help you if it is sitting on a shelf collecting dust.
Principle #3 – Understand Your Circumstances
A few years ago, when we were working through the Experiencing God Bible study, we learned that God will sometimes work through our circumstances.
God will sometimes open and close doors of opportunities in order to guide you in the way which He wants you to go. In our own lives, Lori and I had the desire to move back to this area as far back as 2006. However, no matter how many times we tried, every single job opportunity dried up, until God finally opened a door when we least expected it. And the way in which He opened a door was far better than anything that we could have manufactured. And God’s timing was better than ours, because He had a purpose for us being here that I could not have imagined.
Some doors are not God’s will for you to enter them and God closes it for your protection. God knows everything and He knows if you’re on a path that leads to danger. Sometimes, it is a matter of timing. If God had provided an open door for us to move back here in 2006, our circumstances would have been completely different, and I would have missed out on several development opportunities that prepared me for the role He has me in today. I don’t think I would have been doing any pastoral work today.
In Revelation 3:7-8 we read, “These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. 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. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”
This tells us that God can and will open and close doors before us, but note the qualifier. “You have KEPT MY WORD and “HAVE NOT DENIED MY NAME.”
It’s neither fair, nor wise, to expect that God is going to open and close doors for us if we are living our lives without including Him. He is not some magic genie that only comes out when we rub the lamp. We need to keep His Word and live like His name is stamped on us. Then we can expect that He will open and close doors.
Paul, himself, experienced this in 2 Corinthians 2:12, where it says that when Paul went to Troas to preach, he found that the Lord had opened a door for him.
My final word on this note is a reminder that sometimes when our present circumstances are less than ideal, it may be because God is trying to teach us something, or get our attention. In Romans 5:3-5, Paul tells us, “… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
So, we need to examine our circumstances to see if we can discern God’s will through what is going on in and around our lives at the time.
Principle #4: Seek Godly Advice
You know, in my life, I have found through experience that it is very helpful to seek the advice of 2 or 3 godly people who I trust to have my best interests at heart. So often, it is only through the wisdom of others that I am able to gain a proper perspective of my own situation. I can be blinded by my own desires and emotions, and miss an obvious truth right in front of me. But I’ve been blessed to have a few people that I can go to who are going to tell me what I need to hear, which may be different from what I want to hear.
The Bible says in Proverbs 15:22, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” You still need to weigh carefully what they say, but I have always found that my perspective on a situation may change based on the sage advice of other people who are truly seeking after God themselves.
Again, the Bible says in Proverbs 12:15, “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.”
Proverbs 11:14 – “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.”
Proverbs 19:20 – “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.”
You know what? If you have a fork in the road, just sit down and read the entire Book of Proverbs. That is the best place to start for wisdom. And THEN go ask a couple of godly people what they think.
Principle #5: Seek Guidance from the Holy Spirit
Sometimes people refer to an “inner voice”, or a “gut feeling”. If you are facing a situation and you have a strong feeling about the right way to go, consider whether or not it may be the Holy Spirit trying to tell you something.
Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”
Isaiah 30:20-21 says, “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”
A couple of words of caution about this, however. First of all, you need to make sure that it is the Holy Spirit you are hearing, and not just your own desires or lusts disguised as wisdom. Always balance out this principle with the other principles I am giving you today. We still need to pray, read God’s Word, examine our circumstances, and seek wise counsel.
Remember, that God cannot lie, and will not contradict Himself. If the gut feeling you have directly contradicts what is written in the Bible, then you’ve already got your answer. Justifying your desire in a way that disregards or disobeys Scripture is a dangerous game, and you will get burned if you play with fire.
Principle #6: Trust God for the Outcome
After you have prayed, studied the Bible, examined your circumstances, sought wise counsel, and listened for the Holy Spirit, then you need to trust God for the outcome. Sometimes the correctness of our decision is only confirmed AFTER we’ve made the decision. But if we have truly been seeking God’s will, and doing our due diligence with these principles, then God will act.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
God has a unique ability to see His will through to completion despite mankind’s best efforts to mess it up. Just look at the people in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, and you will see God’s hand guiding the entire process all the way through to the manger in Bethlehem.
Just look at mankind’s best efforts to rebel against God, and you will see God’s hand guiding the entire process all the way through to the Cross at Calvary.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
So, no matter what circumstances you face, if you will acknowledge God and humble yourself before Him, and if you apply these common-sense principles, then you can rest in the assurance that God is going to look after you.
As we read in Psalm 46:10-11, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.”
If you are here today and you want to know more about having this kind of relationship with God, where you can bring your concerns to Him and know that He will guide you in your steps, the come and speak to myself or Pastor Dennis or Pastor Nate after the service. We would love to talk with you and pray with you about knowing and experiencing God.
Amen. Let’s pray.
O Heavenly Father, You are the God who Provides. You lead us in the way we should go, and You guide our steps when we earnestly seek You. Thank You, Father, for the confidence that we have because we are Your children. Guide us in our decisions this day, we pray, in Christ’s name, Amen.