Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Big Red Phone

 "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will."
Romans 12:2

Do you remember the big red phone that would show up in old TV shows and movies? Whenever there was a major crisis, they would cut to a shot of the main character sitting by a big red phone. This phone was a direct line to the President, and the main character was waiting to receive a call. The phone would ring and everyone would fall silent. This was the moment! The main character would slowly pick up the phone and receive instructions that would save the world.

Well, I wish talking to God was like that. I want a big red phone that gives me a direct line to Him. When I have a big decision to make, I want to simply send my question up in a prayer and then wait for His call- God's will for my life delivered nice and neat and in a heavenly voice. No doubts. No second-guessing. Just clear direction. Unfortunately, that’s not how God works.

Don't get me wrong. I don't believe that our heavenly Father wants to keep us guessing. But it does seem like either God doesn't communicate with His followers as clearly as He used to or we seriously need a lesson in how to tune our ears to His frequency. I think it's the latter. In fact, I think that numerous Bible passages (like the one above) promise that if we truly seek God's will, He will reveal it to us. It isn't always in our timing, but doesn't it make sense that if we want to do what God wants us to do that He would show us what that is?   

Yet, there seems to be confusion surrounding this issue on all sides. During my time in ministry, I have been asked more questions about knowing God’s will than almost any thing else. Many people I encounter feel like maybe they are less than good Christians because they haven't heard God speak to them in some amazing way. Other people, seem to find divine messages everywhere. They praise God for supplying them with a parking spot at the mall. They even tell of how He spoke directly to them while they were eating their lunch. Then there are those who seem convinced that God has told them to do awful things. They blow up buildings and murder abortionists because they heard "a voice from heaven". All of this leaves us very confused. Certainly, it would be easier if there were a “God” phone, but there isn’t. So how can we know when God is talking to us?

I wish that there were an easy answer to this question. There simply isn’t, but there are some Biblical guidelines that are very helpful. They have proven true in my own life and in the lives of those around me. I want to spend a few weeks detailing these for you. I hope they will illuminate your path to knowing God's will as well. 

This week I want to say that many of us rely way too much on asking God what His will is. We want some spiritual version of the magic eight ball that constantly tells us what to do. God doesn’t work this way. He has given us the Bible to guide and direct our lives; He wants us to use it. Many of the answers to our questions can be found in the Bible, and it should always be our first step in trying to figure out what God wants us to do. If you have a big decision to make, go find out what the Bible has to say about it first, before you do anything else. If the Bible deals specifically with it, then you already know God’s will. You don’t have to ask for some special revelation. He’s already told you what to do.

As we all know, there are times when the Bible just doesn’t seem to address our specific problem. The Bible can’t tell us who to marry for instance. It tells us what type of person we should marry; it does not tell us what their first and last name will be or when and where we will meet them. It is in these circumstances that we begin to seek God’s face for specific guidance. And it is in these circumstances that we most want a big red phone. But we must always start by being faithful with what the Lord has already given us.

Have you been faithful to search out God's Word for what it does reveal about His will? Maybe it doesn't give you specific direction about whether or not you should accept that job, but what does it reveal about Christians and work? What does it say about making decisions? Being faithful in this regard goes way beyond merely going to the Bible when we have questions. We must learn to feed ourselves a steady diet of God's revealed will from His word so that we will be prepared ahead of time for what He has in store for us. Romans 12:2 tells us that if we are transformed by the renewing of our mind, then we will know God's will. I believe that the way to renew our mind is to fill it with the truth of God's Word. If it is true that consistently studying God's Word renews our mind and transforms us into His image, then according to this promise, doing so will also enable us to know God's will. Stop and feed on God's precious Word today. "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8).

For further reading this week…

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