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I Spy ... and Other Christian Games

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
February 7, 2023 12:00 am

I Spy ... and Other Christian Games

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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February 7, 2023 12:00 am

You won’t find the answer to the question, “What is God’s will for my life?” in some self-help book. You’ll find it in Romans chapter 12. So join Stephen now as he exposits that passage for us.


The believer who is following the will of God will be under the influence of the Spirit. Wives will be submissive and respectful to their husbands, verse 22. Husbands will love their wives with sacrificial love, verse 25. Children will obey their parents, chapter 6, verse 1. Fathers will guide their children toward the things of the Lord, verse 4. Families or employers will treat employees fairly and honestly, verse 9. All of this is the declared will of God when you surrender to the Holy Spirit, and that happens to be the will of God.

How would you complete this sentence? God's will for my life is… When answering that question, where would you look for the answer? Well, you won't find the answer to the question, what is God's will for my life, in a self-help book. Where you will find it is in Romans, chapter 12. Do you want to know God's will for you?

You can, so I encourage you to keep listening. This is Wisdom for the Heart, and today Stephen concludes his series from Romans, chapter 12, verses 1 and 2. The title of today's lesson is, I Spy and Other Christian Games.

Here's Stephen. If you were to pick up a number of books on the subject of God's will, as I have read over the recent years, you'll discover as many opinions on how to discover the will of God, as you'll find in the number of books you pick up to read. I've read two books in just this last week on the subject of finding God's will, and they took two entirely different approaches, and that can be somewhat confusing. Maybe you found it to be true in your own life, as you ask people questions, you know, about how did you find the will of God, or how do you know the will of God, or how are you going to decide about the will of God about this. A lot of times you get a lot of mystical, somewhat strange, maybe even novel approaches to discovering the will of God. Some people have some rather strange testimonies about how they found it. The phone rang exactly at 1030 in the morning, and I answered it on the third ring.

It was from a company I thought about working for, didn't know if I was supposed to, but their address was 1030, and the suite was number 3. So that's God's will. I'm going to take the job. I had a woman come up to me after greenhouse class one night and say, pastor, I had a dream last night, and you were in it, and you were dialing the phone, and you were talking to God. And I said, really? She said, yeah, you were calling God. She said, I could make out the first three numbers, something like 862, but I couldn't make out the rest. I said, look, when you go back to sleep tonight, find the rest of that number.

I want to know what the number is. I'd love to call them. I'll never forget the response, rather strange response I received one day while in college from a young lady who had just gotten engaged. I knew her, and I knew her fiance, and I knew that they had only known each other for a few weeks. And I was rather intrigued by this, and I asked her, how did you know he was the one? And she said, well, we were in the mall this weekend looking at rings for fun, and he picked out a diamond ring, and I really liked it. And as the salesman was putting it up on the counter, I said to my heart, God, if it's your will that I marry this guy, let the ring fit. And the ring fit. I thought, that's great.

What if you lose the ring before the wedding? Well, then you're all in a tizzy. Many Christians I fear are waiting for a sign, some kind of momentous event in their life, some sort of feeling, something unusual happened, like walking through the house, slipping on a banana peel, landing on a map to China, and oh, that's it, God wants me to go to China. Maybe God wants you to sweep the floor and take out the trash. What I find interesting is that the apostle Paul never tells the believer, listen to this, he never tells the believer to discover the will of God.

He assumes we're just going to do it. He expects the believer to do the will of God. And he also makes it clear that the will of God does not come from some moment of revelation.

It happens to be a lifestyle of renewal and the reforming of the mind, which aligns itself to the word of God. In fact, we will discover more in the Bible than we are willing to obey. Our problem isn't with that will of God we do not know, our problem is with the will of God we do know. We've been learning in Romans chapter 12 that it is the renewal of the mind, which brings about certain things. In fact, in reading one particular book this past week, appreciated one author who talked about the fact that we do know a lot of things about the will of God and he gave several.

Let me give you four or five. He referred to Ephesians 5, 5 as he talked about the will of God being surrendered to the Holy Spirit. He said, therefore, be careful how you walk, not as on wise men, but as wise, making the most of your time because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And what is the will of the Lord that we're to understand?

He goes on to the chapter to spell it out. Don't be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit verse 18. In other words, don't be under the influence of wine be under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God. He goes further, the believer who is following the will of God will be under the influence of the Spirit. And then he specifically states wives will be submissive and respectful to their husbands verse 22, husbands will love their wives with sacrificial love verse 25. Children will obey their parents chapter six verse one, fathers will guide their children toward the things of the Lord verse four, servants and or employees will work with integrity and diligence verse six, masters or employers will treat employees fairly and honestly verse nine.

All of this is the declared will of God when you surrender to the dominating control of the Holy Spirit and that happens to be the will of God. Secondly, we're told in the word that it's the will of God to be sexually pure. Paul wrote, for this is the will of God, even your sanctification that you abstain from fornication. Fornication is any sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage.

First Thessalonians chapter four verse three. It doesn't matter what the world says, it doesn't matter what society says is all right or permissible. The Bible says any of it outside of marriage is sin and it would be absurd for any young person or older person alike who's living in sexual impurity to say, God, show me your will about my career. God, show me your will about my college major or any other choice. Such a person is not even doing what this text of scripture says is the will of God. Why should God disclose some further will? Paul broadens the pursuit of purity by writing at the end of that paragraph, for God has not called us to unclean living but holy living. So the declared will of God is to surrender to the Holy Spirit's control. Secondly, the declared will of God is to pursue holy living. Thirdly, the will of God, as he informs us in the word, is to obey the ordinances of the law of your own country or culture insofar as they do not require you to violate the law of God. Obey the ordinances of man. The Apostle Peter wrote, submit yourselves to every ordinance or law or rule of man for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king, if you have one, or unto governors as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do write, for such is the will of God. Obey every ordinance of government. This is the will of God. I wonder how many of us obey the ordinance of God this month as we filled out our tax returns and mailed them off to our government. I wonder about every ordinance. You know, I was listening or reading actually to Donald Gray Barnhouse as he talked about writing one day in the car with his wife who was following the speed limit and he kind of got on her.

Why are you doing that? She said, well, the Bible says it's the will of God to obey every ordinance of God. What about that one? Man, is that convicting? Are you convicted by, should I keep going?

Huh? Every ordinance of man is the will of God. I was convicted all over again. In fact, I was reminded this week by a man with a nice blue suit with shiny things all over him who pulled me over and reminded me of the ordinance of man.

I was sick, you know. And how can we say, Lord, I want to follow your will over here if we will not follow his will over there. Furthermore, it is the will of God for the believer to encounter suffering and tribulation. Peter wrote, after you've suffered the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, that is when he brings you to himself will perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. He also wrote in chapter four, those who suffer according to the will of God.

First Peter 4 19. Can we overlook the prayer of Paul who wrote with great passion? He said, I want to know the power of Christ's resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering. He wrote in Philippians chapter one, verse 29 for to you, it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake. This happens to be the will of God.

One more. These are just simply the declared will of God here. The will of God is a spirit of Thanksgiving. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in everything, give thanks for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

If you did your own search as I did of the will of God, you might uncover even more declared truth, but these four alone are enough to keep us busy, aren't they? It is the will of God to be submitted and surrender to the Holy Spirit's control. It is the will of God to pursue holy living. It is the will of God to obey the ordinances of man. It is the will of God to accept suffering. It is the will of God to have a spirit of Thanksgiving. I agree with one author then that if you as a believer desire to do these things and want to pursue these things, then when you have to decide something where you do not know what to do, do whatever you want, because your desire will be to please God.

And when your desire is to please God and be under the dominating influence of the Spirit of God and obey the ordinances of man and with a spirit of Thanksgiving, accept suffering, whatever it may be, then when you do not know what to do, do whichever thing you want to do. You say, that sounds way too risky, Stephen. That sounds way too liberating, maybe even a little frightening or maybe too grace oriented to do whatever you want to do.

I am not going to tell my kids you said that. Well, surely you cannot do what you want to do. I thought doing the will of God meant you never got to do what you really wanted to do. In fact, when presented with two options, the one that you like the least is probably going to be the will of God.

You know, it's just a test. It's a trick to see if you're going to mortify the flesh and choose the thing you don't want because that's got to be the will of God. Now, we can say with David, who sort of reveled in the fact that God was his shepherd, and he said, the Lord is my shepherd and I shall not what?

I shall not want. In other words, there isn't anything I really want that he hadn't provided because he happens to be my shepherd and I've got what I want in him and I'll trust him for what he doesn't give me. But how do you know what you want is really the will of God? Finding God's will for so many questionable things can't be that simple, can it? Well, the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 12, as we return to that text, gives us some guidelines to help us make sure that our wants equals God's will. As you turn to Romans chapter 2, and we're going to look at the last part of verse, Romans chapter 12, I'm sorry, we're going to look at the last part.

He thought we were starting all over again. Well, it's God's will that you suffer, okay? Might be what we do. All right, let's go to verse 1 of chapter 12 and sort of get a running start. I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your body as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. By the way, here's an excellent description and declaration of the will of God. Give God your body. Give God your life.

Give God your worship. In other words, don't ask God to show you something about his will unless you're giving him your life and your body and your worship. Now he tells you what not to do here in the next phrase, and do not be conformed to this world. That is, that's the opposite of God's will. Don't be, as Phillips paraphrased, and I reminded you of that a few weeks ago, don't be squeezed into the mold of the world.

Don't follow the herd, in other words. Don't ever confuse the will of the majority for the will of God. But be transformed by the renewing of your mind. That is, your mind is in the process of being remade with new thinking patterns, not according to the wisdom of the world, but according to the wisdom of God.

And now, watch what happens here in this original construction. This is the result, that you may be able to prove, or in order that you might be able to reveal or prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. The word prove means to accept as approved after testing. It means to take it out into the laboratory of life and discover that God's will is in fact these three things. But I need to warn you, in order to arrive at the conclusion that God's will is in fact pure or good and pleasing and perfect is not automatic. It requires the precondition or the progression of a life not conforming to the world and a mind conforming to the word. When your life is not being conformed to the world and your mind is being conformed to the word, you can say the will of God is good, it is pure that is, it is pleasing, and it is perfect.

These three descriptions, by the way, are three adjectives. They are used as substantives in the original language or as nouns to describe God's will. Let me paraphrase it for you and amplify it to enhance the meaning. When you, as we've already read, you're conformed and transformed, then you will know that you have found God's will.

For it is that which is good, that which is pleasing, and that which produces spiritual maturity. See, my friends, he is not talking about going out and trying to discover the perfect will of God. And only the clever find it. Only the perfect find it. Only the faultless find it. Only the clever ones, the consistent ones. And maybe, if you're lucky, you'll find the perfect will of God. That isn't what he's saying.

Paul is actually saying that as you are being transformed by the renewing of your mind, when you make choices along the way, you can be assured you are choosing the will of God when you choose what is good, what is acceptable or pleasing to him, and what will mature you as a disciple of Jesus Christ. That kind of takes the mystery out of it, doesn't it? That takes the weird waiting for the phone call or slipping on the banana peel out of it, doesn't it? You know, maybe you've sort of secretly thought of discovering the will of God something like a game of Yahtzee. You ever played that game? You know, if you're like me, you sort of close your eyes and roll the dice and hope it fits with what you need in your scorecard to win. I never roll the right combination. I just don't win that game.

I can never win it. Or maybe you think discovering the will of God is something like the game of Clue. You ever played that with your kids?

You know, if you're clever enough to move your game piece into just the right room and then you uncover just the right clue at just the right time, you can put the clues together before it's too late and you can figure the game out. Maybe for you, discovering the will of God is more like the game of Twister. You know, God says, put your hand over here and this hand over here and this leg over here and this leg way down there and you finally collapse out of torture. Or maybe you're finding God's will is sort of like trying to win the game of Sorry. Ever played that one? You know, you get halfway around the game board and you get nailed by somebody who steps on your spot or, you know, turns you back and you got to go all the way back to the beginning and you got to wait to roll a one or a two. I've had a lot of time to think about different games over these last two weeks.

You know, frankly, I think the average believer, including myself, at times, you know, thinks about finding the will of God most like a game I've played for years when my children were young. We used to play it while I sat up on the bathroom counter and they would be in the bathtub one at a time, supposedly getting clean. It was the game called I Spy.

Remember that? It's good games, cheap, you can play it anywhere you want, anywhere you are. During most of the early years of my three older children, we lived in a home that had one bathtub and the bathroom was rather small, which should have made playing I Spy simple. Not with my kids. They were cutthroat, they were going to stomp dad, and they would pick out something that was infinitesimally, that's the word I looked it up, infinitesimally small, just, just, very small. And I'd guess this and I'd guess that and they'd say no and they'd laugh and I'd guess something else, no. And finally I'd say, okay, I give up, we got to move to hot and cold. You remember how that worked? Where I'd pick something and they'd say, oh, you're cold. And I'd, oh, you're cold, oh, you're freezing, oh, you're freezing, you're freezing, daddy, you're freezing.

And so I'd go the other way. How about that? Is it that?

No. Oh, warmer. You're warmer. You're hot.

You're hotter. You're burning. That's it. That little piece of lint on the bathroom curtain is it. That's it.

We won, daddy. You couldn't guess it. You can stay in the bathtub till you turn into a prune for all I care. There isn't any verse that commands the believer to go out. And if you're clever, find the clues, maybe close your eyes and roll the dice and you'll come up with it. And maybe you'll hear a voice, maybe a phone call, you're warmer, thank you. What Paul is saying in Romans chapter 12 is that the transformed mind views simply the will of God is that which is good and acceptable and perfect. And in whatever believers choose to do as they pursue those things of God's declared will, they are to hold themselves accountable to the fact that it will indeed be the will of God if it in fact has those three characteristics that prove God's will for the believer. It will be good or pure. It will be acceptable or well pleasing. And it will be perfect. That is, it will be maturing. Let me take a closer look at those three with you.

Look there at the text. You want to circle those three characteristics of what his will truly is. The will of God is that which is good.

You could render that word pure. To call the will of God good, by the way, requires a divine perspective because sometimes the will of God will not seem to be anything like good. It will demand a divine perspective. It will demand the perspective of faith as well.

I like the way Fred Whitman said the Christian life sometimes is when you can't figure it out, you faith it out. Given God's will to Joseph, a convicted sex offender, guilty of the crime of attempted rape, how that verdict must have grated against his character. He must have shuddered with disbelief. Every time he was reminded of it, he was anything but that. In fact, he had run from that in order not to offend God.

That is his crime and it lands him in prison. Years later, you know the story through the providence of God, Joseph ultimately rises through the political ranks until finally he serves as prime minister of Egypt. His wisdom saves the empire from famine and the regions around come to be saved as well from starvation. And among those nations from around Egypt, here come his brothers, you remember? When Joseph eventually revealed his identity to his brothers, they expected revenge. They expected the worst.

It never came. Instead, we read that Joseph moved daddy Jacob to Egypt and the family and Joseph gave them a piece of very beautiful fertile land where they would multiply over the centuries from 70 some to several million. But then daddy Jacob dies and Joseph's brothers think, now the hammer's gonna fall. We will now cut our throats and they come to him and they fall on their knees before him and they say, we are your servants, which fulfills a boyhood dream that Joseph had had that had made them so angry.

They said to him, please forgive us for we did you wrong. Joseph delivers this divine perspective and what that divine perspective had produced in him and I quote him, do not be afraid for am I not in God's place? Literally, am I not in God's will? You meant evil against me, but God meant it for what?

God meant it for good. The will of God is good. That takes a divine perspective and that's why Paul says in effect that the ability to call God's will good is based upon the condition of having our minds renewed, radically altered and aligned to the word of God.

He gives a second description. The will of God is that which is acceptable or pleasing ultimately to God, but also to us. That which pleases God ultimately becomes that which will please us. This demands a divine goal, not just a divine perspective, but a divine goal. If it isn't acceptable to God, it isn't acceptable to us as believers. If it won't please him, it isn't gonna please us. I don't know how many people I've had tell me, I know this doesn't please God, but I'm gonna do it. The goal of the believer who truly wants the will of God is that which pleases God pleases him. I read recently of one believer who has taken the time to diligently write out into this calendar, this kind of accountability. Every 30 minutes, he makes a note to himself so that no matter what he's living or thinking or doing or saying or planning or dreaming or working on, the question appears, for the last 30 minutes, have I been pleasing God? This is not some, well, just go and do your own thing.

Let's just take the lid off. Do whatever you want. This is high accountability to the pleasure of God and that becomes our highest and our greatest goal in life. Paul adds one more characteristic to his list. He writes, the will of God is that which is perfect. It takes a divine perspective to call God's will good and discern it as such. It takes a divine goal to call the will of God pleasing and desire only that which would please him and it will require divine wisdom to call the will of God perfect.

Now you need to understand before we dive in here just a little further that there are several words in the New Testament that are translated perfect in your copy, your translation. One is the word acrobos, which gives us our word accurate. That's not the word used here. There is another word that refers to something being well fitted as a piece of a puzzle fits. That's not the word here.

In fact, if it were, we'd go look for that piece, wouldn't we? It's the word teleos, which means maturing or developing or being brought to completion. It's the same word found in James chapter one that comes as a result of growth. He says, and let endurance have its results that you may be perfect.

There it is. It isn't perfection, which some erroneously believe. It is progression. It is the process of maturing that James is talking about. And we need the divine wisdom to consider this, the will of God, because growing up in Christ is not easy. Can you imagine asking James, James, how do you know you're in the will of God?

James would say, well, because I'm going through trials and tribulation and God is forming me and giving me a desire for his wisdom. This will take divine wisdom. And by the way, may I warn you? There's plenty of wisdom around. There's plenty of wisdom. There isn't just wisdom from heaven. James goes on in chapter three to talk about the wisdom of the world and it sounds bright.

It sounds interesting. It sounds like it fits, but it is ultimately antithetical to the wisdom of heaven. And he describes it in James three. He says, this wisdom is not that which comes down from above. This wisdom is earthly. It is unspiritual. It is demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder in every evil thing. That's the result and fruit of the wisdom of the world.

What is it? The wisdom of the world says you have the right to any desire. You have the right to use power to get your own way. You have the right to use people to meet your own agenda. You have the right to accumulate wealth for your own acquisitions. You have a right to use your own talents and abilities for self-satisfaction.

You have a right to ignore the truth of God. This is the wisdom of the majority, if it's the wisdom of the world, right? Which means that we are surrounded by a multitude of counselors and they are wrong. I thought a multitude of counselors would bring you to safety. Not if you're a multitude of counselors is giving you the wisdom of the world. The person at work that says, oh, what you ought to do is this.

Some schoolmate that says, oh, what you ought to do is that. Is it pure? Is it pleasing to God? And will it develop maturity as a disciple of Jesus Christ? Never confuse the wisdom of the majority with the wisdom of heaven. I love the reality of Martin Luther, the way he wrote.

He wrote with his feet on planet earth, this converted monk of several centuries ago. He said this about the Christian life. He said this life is really not godliness. It is the process of becoming godly. It isn't even health, but eventually getting well. It's not being, but becoming.

This life is not a place of rest, but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. That was Steven Davey in a lesson called I Spy and Other Christian Games. If you'd like to reflect more fully on knowing and implementing God's will for your life, we have a resource that can help you. The lesson you just heard is the basis for a small booklet called I Spy, Discovering the Will of God.

Call us today for information on how to get a copy of I Spy. Our number is 866-48-BIBLE. If this will be your first time contacting us, this booklet will be our gift to you. We want to thank you for introducing yourself to us. That number once again is 866-48-BIBLE and I hope we hear from you today. Wisdom for the heart is the Bible teaching ministry of Steven Davey. Thanks for tuning in today. I'm glad you did. Join us next time as we bring you more wisdom for the heart. We'll see you next time.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-07 01:25:43 / 2023-02-07 01:37:39 / 12

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