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If you would right now, take out your Bibles and turn in them to the book of Philippians and chapter number 2 in the book of Philippians.
How do I know what the will of God is? What does God want me to do? What life vocation does He want me to choose? Does He want me to look for a new job, or does He want me to hold onto the one that I have? What is the will of God? Does He want me make lunch or buy lunch? Does He want me to drive or try to take the bus? I mean, what about our children? Are we, according to God’s will, to put them in Christian school or to homeschool them or put them in public school? What is God’s will? Should we consider adopting? How do you know the will of God?
This whole subject matter is very, very fascinating. I read about one gal [woman], Margaret, who was wrestling with this whole idea of how to get a grip on the will of God. And she was working at a bank, and at her church she attended a missionary conference. The speaker at that conference challenged all the believers to become involved in world evangelism, and actually told them that he believed it was God’s will for everyone to justify why they are not serving the Lord overseas. So she got that message: this is the will of God. You need to explain why you’re not overseas. The next day she was reading in the newspaper about a hurricane that devastated the Marshall Islands. The very next afternoon a coworker was planning his vacation, and he left a brochure on his desk. It was a brochure for the Marshall Islands. She noticed it and began to wonder, “Could God be sending me a message that we are to go to the Marshall Islands?” And then that night her husband came home, complaining that the best lawyer in his office had been transferred out, a young man named Marshall. And she began to wonder, and so she said to her husband, “Honey, could it be, do you think that God is calling us to be missionaries in the Marshall Islands?”
How do you get a grip on the will of God? There’s a tremendous amount of interest in the Christian community about that, and there’s a tremendous amount of confusion about that. Are we to see a message from God in everything that we read and hear? Are we to see signs in the names of the people that we meet or we hear about? There’s not only a lot of interest and a lot of confusion—frankly, there’s a tremendous amount of frustration when it comes to getting a grip on the will of God. We want to really say to God, “Give me the formula. Would you please just send me a postcard, send me an e-mail, would you text message me? I just want to know what it is that you want me to do.”
And so we struggle with this subject matter, and thus we are involved in a short series of messages we’re doing, that we have entitled, “Divine GPS: Getting a Grip on the Will of God.” How do I discover the will of God? And we have started out our time together in this series by setting the foundation of knowing the will of God. And we have said that there are 2 pillars that support the foundation of knowing the will of God and getting a grip on the will of God. And those 2 foundations are the Living Book, the Bible; and the Living Person, Jesus. And when it comes to the Living Book, we get a grip on the will of God by searching the Scriptures. And when it comes to the Living Person, Jesus, we get a grip on the will of God by deepening our relationship with Him.
And last time we were together, we pointed out that the will of God is not so much a location or a vocation, it’s not so much learning a formula or a technique, as it is instead having a relationship with a living person. Now, just like any relationship, as you cultivate intimacy together in a relationship, as you grow closer, you know more about the other person’s perspective and you know more about their will for things. And so, when we’re talking about a foundation of getting a grip on knowing the will of God, it comes from searching the Scriptures and deepening our relationship with the Savior.
But if I were going to re-word that a little bit differently, I might put it this way: we get a grip on the will of God through the word of God, and we get a grip on the will of God through the working of God. His relationship with us. And what we want to do is we want to talk about that second dimension, this relationship dimension of knowing the will of God, and how He’s at work through that relationship. He’s at work both internally and at work externally with us. See where we’re going with this? We’re not necessarily talking about the one foundational pillar now of the word of God; we’re talking more about the working of God and His relationship with us, and we say He works on 2 dimensions in His relationship with us. He’s at work internally with us, and He’s at work externally.
The question we need to ask is: Are we aware of how He works? Do we know how God works internally in our relationship? Can we list the ways? Do we know how God is at work externally in His relationship with us? Can we name the ways that He is at work externally? See, these things are very important if we’re going to get a grip on the will of God.
Today, the plan is this. What we want to do is take a closer look at how God is at work in His relationship with us internally. And we’re going to see 3 ways that He works with us internally. And then, over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to take a closer look at the ways that He works externally with us in our relationship with Him. So, you see where we’re doing? We’re going to talk about how He is working through His relationship with us internally. We’re going to see 3 ways that He does that. So, knowing the will of God, getting a grip on the will of God, comes from a deepening of our relationship with Him. And He is at work in his relationship with us internally.
Now, last time when we were at the end of our study, we were in Philippians chapter 2, and verse 13, and I want to remind you of what it says there. It says that God is at work in you. You see that? God is working in His relationship internally, inside of us. Both to will and to work for or do His good pleasure. See what it’s saying? It’s saying that God is working internally inside of us to will, to desire His good pleasure, His will, and also to work for, to do, to execute His good will. See what it’s saying?…it’s saying He’s working inside of us internally to desire His will and to execute His will. He is at work in His relationship with us.
And so, what we said last time as we were ending, we said that when we’re cultivating a relationship with Him, when we’re submitting to His will in Scripture, when we’re pliable before Him, when we’re abiding in Him, when we’re walking by the Spirit—His will will be reflected in our desires. Remember how we said that? Well, another way of wording that would be to highlight one of the ways He’s at work internally in our lives, and that is He works internally, number 1—we’re going to see 3 things here, they all begin with a C—He works internally through compulsion in our life. Compulsion.
What I mean by that is He gives us convictions. He gives us desires. And that shouldn’t be any great big surprise. In Romans chapter 8 verse 14, it tells us that we are to be led by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. How does He do that? He is at work internally through compulsion, giving us convictions and desires. In Luke chapter 12, Jesus said to the disciples, “When you get arrested and you go before the authorities, I don’t want you to fret, I don’t want you to get worried, I don’t want you to be overly anxious about what you are to say to them. Instead,” he says, “the Holy Spirit will teach you what you ought to say.” What’s He saying? The Holy Spirit will be at work at you internally, giving you clarity and desire about what you are to communicate in line with My will.
And what’s really interesting is that Paul operated with the anticipation that God was going to lead in his life through compulsion, and God was going to lead through conviction, and God was going to lead through impression, and God was going to lead through desire. Did you hear what I said? Paul was anticipating that would happen. Now, turn with me to Romans chapter 15. I want you to see an illustration of that. In other words, Paul knew that God could be at work internally through compulsion, conviction, desire, in his life.
And I want you to notice Romans chapter 15, and verse 20. Now, he’s carrying on an explanation, really, of why he went to the Gentiles, and an explanation about among the Gentiles where he went to spread the gospel. What I want you to see here is, what he says in verse 20. He says, Thus I aspired—there’s a very key word—I think the NIV says, thus I had the ambition, to preach the gospel, not just anywhere, not where Christ was already named, but rather where Christ wasn’t named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation. Now, you see what he’s saying here? He’s saying, I had this aspiration. I had this conviction. I had this desire. I had this ambition, that I wanted to take the message where it hadn’t been before. And he saw that as the will of God for his life. He saw that as how God was working in his life.
Calvin used to say this, he used to say, “This is the way you operate in the Christian life: love God, and do as you please.” For some people that’s just like, “That’s shocking!” But he’s saying, “No, if you sell out [are whole-hearted] to loving God and cultivating that relationship, He is going to be at work in you internally, you see, and He’s going to be working in your desires and your convictions and your ambitions and your aspirations, so that you can therefore follow those things. We can pursue and depend upon our relationship with Him to deepen those things. He is at work in you to will, to desire, His good pleasure.
Now we’ve all heard, I think, classic stories over the years, of people who had a compulsion and a conviction that God was leading them to do something. G. Christian Weiss tells a story of a missionary in South America, and he just began to have this conviction, this impression from God, that he should take this trip deep into the jungle (which of course was a little bit dangerous to do), but that’s what he did. He didn’t really know why, but he took off deep into the jungle. And about nightfall, after this long, weary trek, he came upon a hut where there was an old Indian on his deathbed. And he walked into the hut, and the Indian turned his head to him and said, “Where’s the book?” And he said, “What do you mean, ‘Where’s the book?’ What’s been going on?” And the Indian said, “Well, I had this experience. I knew I was on my deathbed, and I cried out to God for help. And then I had this dream, and in this dream God said, ‘I’m going to send you a messenger who is going to bring a book, who will give you help.’” And he was told in the dream to believe the message in the book, and that he would be saved. And, needless to say, of course, the missionary pulled out his Bible and shared with him the message of Jesus Christ, and he trusted Christ on his deathbed.
So you see, God can be at work in us internally through compulsion to do things. I know a number of years ago when we were in Latvia, and money’s always been tight over there, but Talis Talbergs is the president of Latvian Christian Radio. He was telling me the story that they needed a vehicle because they needed to transport people around, and so they began to look for a used vehicle. And they had a little bit of money for that. They were praying that God would lead them to a special vehicle, and they found a 10-year-old Mercedes that was in excellent condition. And as he prayed about that, he had this sense of compulsion, this sense of conviction, that they needed to buy that car. And so, at the first of the week he committed to buy the car. The trouble was, he only had half the money in his hand, and he was going to have to by Friday of the week buy the car. But he sensed that’s how God was leading, and so by Friday they opened up the mail, and of course there was the other half of the money there to buy the car.
At times God will be at work in us through this whole area of compulsion. Many of you know some of the story of us coming to Wildwood for the very first time. When I was in seminary, I had a very deep compulsion, a deep conviction, a deep aspiration, that wherever I went in ministry, I wanted to go to a community that was a college community. And I had a number of opportunities to go to churches in really non-college-community situations, but I turned them down. And it turns out I ended up being out of school for some 6 months, and I had a brand-new baby girl. I had a lot of people looking at me like, “You must be completely nuts, you know. You turn down jobs because you have a compulsion, a conviction, about something?”
Well, of course, we didn’t know exactly how God was leading, and I heard about an opportunity at a church called Wildwood Community Church in Norman. I was down in Dallas in seminary, and I heard that the pastor there was resigning. And I wanted to know more about this church, and so–you want to talk about having a compulsion!—one Saturday morning in Dallas I told my wife, “I want to get up and go to church in Norman tomorrow morning.” So, we got up at 5:30 a.m., and climbed into the vehicle and drove to Norman, Oklahoma [a three hour drive], and attended the church service at Wildwood, which I knew was in the process of looking for a pastor.
And I can feel this the same today, it’s as clear to me, when we walked out of the church—the property we had was on Rock Creek Road, where Northeast Baptist is now—and I can remember walking out of that church that morning, heading to the north, out the door, and I just had a conviction: This is the place that God is going to send us. And I was a little bit shy about even asking my wife what she was thinking, but I did. I said, “What do you think?” without me telling her what I thought, and she said, “I think this is the place that God is going to send us.” That was a conviction and a compulsion, a sense of how God was leading. But, you know, it wasn’t always totally clear—even though that conviction was there, you see, from the very beginning. In reality, I didn’t know how this was going to work out. But I was following that sense of compulsion that God had given to me.
Now, we came to visit Wildwood in December of 1978, and they already had my resumé. In fact, they had told me after looking at my resumé that, “We have a certain criteria we’re looking for, and you don’t fit. We’d like to have someone who has 10 years’ experience in the ministry. But here’s the deal: we will call you if we ever change our criteria. We will give you a phone call.” Well, I waited through January, I waited through February, I waited through March, I waited through April. And the first of May came. And Janet and I still had this conviction that was where God was going to send us. That’s the place for your ministry. And so, by the first of May, I thought, “I just can’t ignore this. I have to act on it. Even with all the other stuff that’s gone on.” So, on the first of May I called—Jim Nickel at the time, who was one of the elders at Wildwood–and I said to him, “Remember me: Bruce Hess, the odd guy that got up at 5:30 a.m. in the morning and drove up from Dallas,” you know, blah, blah, blah [and so on]. “Ah,” he goes. “Yeah, yeah.” I said, “Did you, um [nervous sound], did you, um, ever think about changing about changing your criteria?” And he said, “Ye-e-ah.” And I said, “Well, you still have my resumé, right?” And he goes, “No, we lost your resumé.”
This is how they lost my resumé, okay? [sound of paper crumpling, thrown into trash can] That’s what happened to my resumé! Well, I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t followed that internal leading of God? I said to him, “Hey, how about let’s do this? No obligation. Let me come up, and let’s just have lunch together. Let’s just sort of meet one another.” And so we did that in May, and then we candidated in June. We moved—actually, we went on staff the first of July, commuted from Dallas for a month, and then moved up later in August.
See, God can be at work in us, giving us these compulsions, these convictions. And I think probably if we took time to get testimonies today, we would all tell of situations where we experienced a sense of compulsion. You know, where you had an impression that you should call someone, stop and talk to someone, drop them a little note. You know, and you did that, and later you found out that God really used that. You know what I’m talking about? I was just talking with my wife about one individual at Wildwood yesterday, and I said, “You know, I just think we need to call that person.” Because I’m anticipating, you see, that God is going to be at work internally in me to desire to do His will.
Now, we need to be cautious about this. We need to not be presumptuous. And, again, you’ll see in my story, I wasn’t being presumptuous. I didn’t walk up and say, “You guys are cotton-pickin’ [foolish] idiots. You don’t understand, I’m the one that God sent—” You know, none of that. I was pursuing it, but not being presumptuous. I didn’t assume things, until God later confirmed them. See, no compulsion, no desire, should be accepted without examination, without prayer. No compulsion should be responded to just indiscriminately.
I mean, it’s possible for us as believers in Jesus Christ to have a compulsion or conviction, and a desire, that may be an expression of our selfishness, the selfishness of our flesh. It may be part of the strategy of the enemy. You know, Satan filled your heart to lie, Satan gave you a certain compulsion. It’s possible that it could be that. I mean, sometimes people will say, “I just have this conviction, you know, that sex before marriage—it’s just, it’s all right. I mean, I prayed about it, and I think God wants us to go ahead.” In that case, we’re self-deceived, because it’s contrary to the Bible. Someone might say, “Well, I think it’s God’s will for me to marry Bill, or to marry Jill,” but the reality is that we’re just trying to escape maybe an unpleasant situation. Or someone might think, “Well, I think it’s the will of God for me to rebel against my parents. Yeah, you know, they’re just a little too strait-laced [strict] sometimes.” Or maybe, “I think it’s God’s will for me to buy something I can’t really afford. I mean, you know, I think it’s the will of God.”
We need to carefully cross-check our convictions with the word of God. Remember, it’s the word of God that is able to judge the thoughts and the intentions of our heart, as it says in Hebrews chapter 4, verse 12. So, we cross-check it by the word, and we remain open and pliable before the heavenly Father. Remember what David said in Psalm 19: “Acquit me, God, of hidden faults. Keep me back from presumption.” See, we have that attitude, that pliable attitude, and we’re cross-checking with the word of God. It will keep our compulsions in line. God is at work internally, leading us to have a grip on His will, and He does it through this area of compulsion, conviction, and desires. And it’s just amazing to me how many Christians just want to go, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, [stop!], I’m not sure I can buy that.” Listen, men and women, this is part of how God leads us into His will. He is at work in you, both to will and desire His good pleasure, and to do it. We need to anticipate that and we need to act on it.
The second way that He will lead us internally is very important for us to see. It’s not only through compulsion, but He will lead us internally through conscience. Through our conscience. And by the way, I would encourage you to just do a study of “conscience” in the Bible. You can take a concordance out, you can look up all the passages where the word “conscience” comes up, do your own study on that.
We don’t have time to do a massive study on conscience, but I would invite you to turn to Romans chapter 2. I want you to see Romans chapter 2, verse 15, as it addresses the area of conscience. Romans 2:15. It talks about the work of the Law is written in human hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them. What is their conscience? Our conscience is something that God has placed into the human heart. It’s an innate sense of “ought.” I ought to do that, I ought not to do that. It is an inner gauge that God has put there, of right and wrong. It’s an intuitive sense of rightness and wrongness regarding our attitudes and our actions. And notice what it says there in verse 15. It says their conscience bears witness, either accusing them or defending them. In other words, accusing is, “Uh-oh, that’s wrong.” Defending is, “That is the right thing.”
I like to put it this way: the conscience is the moral equivalent of taste buds. You know, if you put something sweet in your mouth, the taste buds will witness that for you: “That is sweet.” If you put something sour in your mouth, the taste buds will witness that: “That is something that is sour.” And so our conscience will work internally that same way. Our conscience might say, “Don’t do it.” Our conscience might say, “You ought to do that. It’s the right thing to do.” Our conscience could possibly say, “Wrong! Shouldn’t do that.” And even afterwards, it might say, “That was the wrong thing to do.” Or the conscience might say, “That was the good thing, that was a great thing that you did, a good thing that you said.” And so, He will work not only through the compulsion and the desire element and the conviction element, but He will also work through our conscience.
Now, let’s notice 2 things about our conscience. Number 1: our conscience is not infallible. It’s very much like our convictions and our desires. It’s not an infallible thing. In fact, I just want you to jot down these references, and you can look them up. In I Corinthians 8, it talks about having a weak conscience. It’s possible for us to have a weak conscience, and a weak conscience is one that has insufficient knowledge of what is right and wrong, and what is good and bad. And there was a time in my life, like for example, I remember thinking, “Marriage is just a piece of paper. What’s the big deal?” Well, when I learned a little bit more about what was right and wrong in God’s eyes, then I changed my perspective. At one point I had a weak conscience in that regard. And we can have a weak conscience, and we can have insufficient knowledge, and without regular biblical input, our conscience can be, on the one hand, too lenient. Sometimes I’ve heard people say this: “You know, I just grew up around pornography. I just kind of grew up around it, I’ve always been exposed to it, it’s just—I don’t see what’s really wrong with it.” See, their conscience is too lenient because it hasn’t had enough biblical input.
Or you might have a conscience that’s too restrictive, because it hasn’t had enough regular biblical input. You know, where someone might say, “Every tattoo is an ungodly tattoo.” Then you say, “Where does it say that in the Bible?” “Oh, I don’t know. But it’s true!” You know, “My conscience tells me every tattoo is an ungodly tattoo.” It can be too lenient or too restrictive. That’s what a weak conscience is.
We can also have a defiled conscience. I Corinthians chapter 8 also talks about that. A defiled conscience comes when we know that our conscience is telling something that is wrong, and yet we willfully choose to violate our conscience. And then our conscience can be defiled.
Another type of conscience can be a seared conscience. I Timothy chapter 4 talks about that. If we continue to defile our conscience over and over and over again, it can become seared. It can become insensitive. It can become calloused. You know, you can see that, I’m sure—I haven’t done a lot of reading on them, but with serial murderers, it’s probably true. Probably the first time they do that, it’s an incredible defiling of their conscience, but they keep doing it and they keep doing it, and then they get so hardened and so calloused that their conscience doesn’t even give them any kind of feedback anymore.
So, the first thing we need to notice is that our conscience is not infallible. Second thing we need to notice is that our conscience is indeed a tool that God uses. It’s a tool that God uses. And the apostle Paul felt like it was an important gauge regarding the will of God. I want you to turn to Acts chapter 23. And I want you to see how Paul said, “I pay attention to my conscience!” And I wonder how many of us, even this last week, had one thought about our conscience? I mean, did it even come up in our thinking? Well, notice the way Paul operated. Acts chapter 23, verse 1. Paul is before the Council here, he’s being called on the carpet [accused by the authorities], and he says to them, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” He says, “When I’m operating my life, I seek to have a good conscience.” Look at chapter 24 of Acts, and verse 16. He puts it another way. “In view of this, I also—chapter 24, verse 16—I also do my best—because I have my failures, but I do my best—to maintain always a blameless conscience before God and before men.” “I seek it as a goal not to violate my conscience, when it’s with my relationship with God, and when it’s with my relationship with men.”
Again, I want you to look over this to the book of I Timothy. Go over to I Timothy. Not only do we see this in Acts, as he’s just sharing his thoughts, but we see this in Timothy, I Timothy chapter 1, as Paul is training his disciple, Timothy. And notice what he says in chapter 1 and verse 5. He says the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith. He says, “When I’m living my life, you see, I’m taking into account how God is at work in me internally through the area of conscience. I pay attention to it.” And then in chapter 3 and verse 9 of I Timothy, he says, “This is the kind of leaders that you’re looking for, leaders who are holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. You want men and women who are in leadership in the church who have a clear conscience, you see.”
And so, when we want to get a grip on the will of God, we know that it comes through the word of God, but it also comes through the work of God in His relationship with us. And He is at work in us internally, and He does that work through compulsion. He does that work secondly through conscience. And then I want you to see there’s a third way that He’s at work in us internally, and that is through common sense. Through common sense.
Now, I want to just say this, this is really interesting to me. I think the whole area of compulsion is underestimated by the believing community. I think the whole area of conscience is virtually missed. We just don’t have a grip on the fact that God wants to work on us internally through our conscience to direct us into the will of God. But I’m telling you, we just seem to be completely disconnected from the third one, that God is at work internally in us through common sense.
Now, I want you to look at the book of Titus. It’s a little bit behind I Timothy and II Timothy. Titus chapter 2, and verse 12. Actually, verse 12 connects back to verse 11, so look at Titus 2:11. It says, the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men—and what does the grace of God teach us?—instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and—here it comes—to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age. Do you know what to live sensibly means? It means, use common sense. Use common sense. Peter, in I Peter 4, verse 7, said to the believers, be of sound judgment. What does that mean? He’s saying, “Would you use common sense!” Use common sense. J. Grant Howard put it this way. He said, “Common sense is not only practical, it’s also scriptural. Even common sense would cause us to assume it to be so. Who made our minds? (Think about it for a minute. Who made our minds?) Who gave us the capacity to think and reason and reflect? God did! Then who is the ultimate author of common sense? God is.” God is.
And a lot of times you see this surfacing in the New Testament. In Matthew chapter 10 when Jesus was sending His disciples into the cities and the villages, you know what He said to them? “If they listen to you, preach to them. If they don’t, go on.” Translation: Use a little bit of common sense. If they’re going to completely ignore you, move on. In Acts chapter 6, you might remember the story where the leaders are saying to the people, “It’s not desirable that we neglect the word of God to serve tables, so would you find some individuals who we can put in charge of this?” What were they saying? “This just doesn’t make common sense, you see. We’re being directed away from the charge that we’ve been given. It’s not desirable, doesn’t make common sense for us to do that. Rather, let’s get someone else to do that job so we can do the job that God called us to do.”
And then you might remember the whole situation in Acts chapter 15, when there was this controversy about what was to be considered right or what was wrong among the believers. And then, as they made a decision, it says there it seemed good to the apostles, elders and church leaders to choose some men to send with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch, and carry a letter with them regarding the controversy. Now, I want you to go back to that first phrase: it seemed good to them. What were they saying? “Common sense would just tell us, if we really want to get this controversy under control, this is what we need to do. God will direct us through this area of common sense.”
And we need to do that. We need to do that. It’s part of the way He’s at work in us internally. We need to apply common sense when it comes to getting a grip on the will of God. Does God want me to smoke? Is it the will of God for me to smoke? Let me use a little common sense. Is it the will of God for me to go without sleep regularly? Is it the will of God for me to marry someone the same day that I first met them? A little common sense would help! Should I buy—is it the will of God for me to buy an expensive home that is way beyond my ability to pay for? What is the will of God? A little common sense will help. Should I stay up almost all night when I have to take the ACT [school achievement test] in the morning? Or, when I have a pivotal business meeting, or I have to teach Sunday school? What is the will of God? A little bit of common sense would help.
What is the will of God? Is it the will of God for me to serve on the worship team when I’m unable to carry a tune? Where I lack some musical skills, I wonder if that is the will of God? A little common sense will help. Is it the will of God that we have a picnic today, although they’ve said there’s a 100 percent chance of a downpour? I wonder what the will of God would be? Is it the will of God for me to roller-skate in a buffalo herd? Roger Miller [American singer of a generation ago] used to sing about that. A little common sense. I’ll answer that question for you. We need to apply common sense. What’s the will of God about what I should eat? Should I eat this food, or should I not eat this food? Should I exercise, or should I not exercise? I wonder what the will of God is. Should I spend more time with my kids and my spouse than I’m spending? Well, maybe a little common sense would help. Should I make a minor repair on my car that could avoid major damage later? I wonder what the will of God is. See, a little common sense would help.
Now, I just want to give you a word of caution about common sense again now. And it is that God can lead us to do something that doesn’t really make logical sense at times. Like, “Let’s get up at 5:30 in the morning and drive to Norman, Oklahoma for church.” Or, “Let’s take a walk in the jungle, you know, at night,” which can be a dangerous thing. Or how about a widow who gave her little pennies in Mark 12:41-44, which was all that she had? Common sense might say, you really shouldn’t do that. So, we need to be a little careful with it.
But God works internally through common sense. What does God want me to do? How do I discover His will for me? How do I get a grip on it? Through the word of God, through the working of God in His relationship with us, He’s at work in us internally through compulsion, through our desires, our convictions; through conscience; and through common sense. And so what we want to do is we want to end today with some questions for reflection. So I encourage you to write these down, because this is where this gets applied to your life and to mine.
In the area of compulsion, I think we should ask ourselves, reflectively ask ourselves the question: Are there any convictions, are there any impressions, that I have been ignoring? Maybe I’ve been dismissing them. Maybe God’s been saying, “You know, you need to talk to somebody or you need to call somebody.”
In the area of conscience, we need to ask ourselves the question, reflectively: Are there ways that I have been violating my conscience? Could I be on the path to searing my conscience? Is it a daily goal in my life to have a clear conscience before God and before men?
And then in the area of common sense, we need to ask reflectively the question: Does common sense make plain some of the issues that I face? Maybe I’ve been wondering and worrying about things that I don’t really need to worry about, because common sense points the way.
Men and women, we need to be anticipating, just exactly like the apostle Paul did, that God is going to be showing us His will through compulsion, and through conscience, and also through common sense.
Let’s pray together. Father, we thank You again for the scriptures. We thank You for all that You’ve given us, way more sometimes than we even are aware of. And, Lord, we’re all men and women, deep in our core of our being we want to do the will of God, and yet we need to understand how we get a grip on the will of God. And I would pray that all of us might grow in this dimension of our spiritual life so that we can better understand how You’re at work in us internally. And we’re going to give You the honor, we’re going to respond, because we love You. And we pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.