"I have but one passion - it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can most be used in winning souls for Christ."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday School Message #4

Introduction: OK, let’s get started. We have a lot to cover today and I want to make sure we have time to finish everything. We’re studying “How to think like Jesus”. We’ve seen so far that in order to think like Jesus, you must have a Heart for the Lost. And last week we saw that you must have a Heart for Prayer. Today, we’re going to study the third area that will help us think like Jesus: A Heart for God’s Will. We’re going to study the lives of 4 people from the Bible and what I want us to see is this – God has a plan for your life, and that plan is greater than any plans you could have for your own life. Let’s begin in prayer and we’ll start studying.

3. A Heart for God’s Will – Surrender
a. Abraham (Genesis 12)
i. Before God’s Call
- We see first of all that Abraham had a comfortable life. He had the typical life of a person who lived in that day. He had a large family who all lived near each other. He had a big herd of animals that provided his income. You could say everything was going well for him. For all we know, Abraham could have lived that life comfortably and happily for the rest of his life. But God had other plans
ii. Response to God’s Call
- In chapter 12, we see God’s call to Abraham. We’ve talked a little about this before, but I want us to review it again now. God spoke to Abraham and said, “Go from your land, and from your parents, to a land that I will show you...” God did not tell Abraham where he was going. He didn’t tell him how far. He didn’t tell him for how long. He just said, “Go…” Now to Abraham, this plan probably did not make sense. It was not logical. Why would God tell him to leave everything that he had lived for? Why should he leave the land where the rest of his family was to go to some other place? But God did offer him a promise at the same time. He said, “I will make you a great nation…” Now I personally believe that Abraham would have still obeyed God even if he had not received the promise. In our lives, when God calls us to do something, our obedience should not be based on a reward. Do you know what I mean? We should not answer God, “What will I get from you if I do what you say?” Our obedience should be immediate and unconditional. In this case, God did choose to tell Abraham what his reward would be, and Abraham had faith in the promises of God.
iii. After God’s Call
- I also told you before that Abraham’s faith was demonstrated again after he surrendered His life to God’s call. After God called Abraham, Abraham immediately surrendered to God, obeyed God, and then continued on. Verse 4 tells us that he traveled through , through , to and then God spoke to him again. Studying the geography of that land, we learn that Abraham traveled over 400 miles before God talked to Him again with further instructions. Abraham continued to show his faith in God’s promises even after he surrendered his life to God’s plans for his life. And in the end, we see that God was indeed faithful to Abraham. He did make him a great nation. He did multiply his descendants more than the stars in the sky. And it was through the line of Abraham that God chose to send His own son, the Messiah, the Savior of the world into the world. The plans that God had for Abraham’s life were much greater than Abraham’s plans for his own life.

b. Joseph (Genesis 37)
i. Before God’s Call
- In Genesis chapter 37, we learn about the life of Joseph. Joseph was one of 12 brothers in a very unusual family. We read in verse 3 that his father Jacob loved Joseph more than all of his children, because he was born in his old age and also because he was the firstborn of his favorite wife, Rachel. We see that before God called Joseph to the very special plan He had for him, Joseph would have lived a very comfortable and enjoyable life. Being his father’s favorite son, he was already receiving special treatment over his brothers. And we don’t typically understand the significance of the coat of many colors that Joseph’s father gave him. In that time, to have a very expensive and distinct tunic like this one was a symbol of authority. It meant that this person was the person in charge. It meant that this person is more important than the others. Occasionally, in our society, we can still see this type of symbolism. For example, sometimes in a restaurant or a department store, the manager will wear something that is different or more formal than the other employees. We can see how Joseph’s brothers responded to this when they said in verse 8, “Shall you indeed reign over us?”
ii. Response to God’s Call
- Now for Joseph, the call of God came in quite an unusual way. And in fact, it is possible to say that at the time, Joseph didn’t even realize that it was the call of God. But we see throughout this story that Joseph was completely surrendered to the will of God for His life – even at the times when it seemed that God was not in control or had made a mistake.
iii. After God’s Call
- The story of Joseph is one of my favorite in all of the Bible. He is the only character I have found in the Bible in whom we see no fault or sin. What I mean is that in every situation we find Joseph, he made the right choice and He trusted in the sovereignty of God even when he was unjustly treated. The plans God had for Joseph were to save the entire nation of Egypt, his entire family, and once again, the line through which Jesus Christ would enter the world. Joseph is a perfect example of faithfulness. He lived a life totally and completely surrendered to the will of God, even when he didn’t understand it. The plans that God had for Joseph’s life were much greater than Joseph’s plans for his own life.

c. David (I Samuel 16)
i. Before God’s Call
- Now let’s look at another famous character from the Bible – David. Where was David before God called him. He was out in the fields watching over his father’s sheep, playing music, and writing songs to the Lord. While we really don’t have any way of knowing what David had planned for his life, we see that he was already living a peaceful, typical life of any other youth of his time. He was the youngest of his brothers and was demonstrating a humble and obedient heart to his father.
ii. Response to God’s Call
- David had an advantage that most of us do not have. He was called very specifically by God at a very young age. When the prophet Samuel came to Jesse’s house that day to visit, God told him to anoint David as the next king of Israel. David knew exactly what God wanted for him and was surrendered to the will of God.
iii. After God’s Call
- But the thing I want us to notice with David was his trust and confidence in the timing of God’s will. Remember, from the time he was quite young, he knew that he would be the next king of Israel. So he goes about his life, continuing as a shepherd of his father’s sheep. One day, he hears that his older brothers and the army of Israel are at war. His father sends him to the battlefield to take food to his older brothers. David obeys. Have you noticed that David never said to his father, “Hey you shouldn’t be telling me what to do anymore, because I’m going to be the next king of Israel.” No, he continued on faithfully and obediently. When God uses him and he has killed the giant, do we see David trying to then claim the throne of Israel? No, he returned home and was faithful to where God had him. Later on, when King Saul starts to get jealous of him and tries to kill him, does he start a rebellion to take over the throne? No. So he flees into the mountains with his men. And then he gets an opportunity that most people would have taken. One day as he is hiding in the caves, King Saul comes into his cave, unaware of David’s presence and goes to sleep. David approaches with his men telling him, “God has given Saul into your hands. Take his life and take his throne.” But David’s response to them is, “How can I touch God’s anointed?” And he leaves Saul in peace. David not only surrendered to God’s plan, but to God’s timing.
- To be quite honest, this is an area that I really struggle with. Through various stages of my life, God has shown me the next steps He wants me to take in following His will. But my problem, then, has always been to trust God with the timing. As you all know, I’m 26 years-old right now. And obviously, I would really like to be married right now. But that has not been what God wants for me yet. In God’s timing, He will bring me a wife, if it is His will for me to be married. OK, so even more recently, I believe that God is calling me to move down here to Mexico and serve Him as a missionary. And to be honest with you all, I am struggling even right now with God’s timing for all of this. If it were up to me, I would go home next month, pack up what I need, sell what I don’t need, and move right back down here. But in God’s timing, it will probably be a year or more before I can get back here full-time. And I am learning to trust in God’s timing for even this next stage of my life. Once again, we see that God went on to use David for great and powerful things, including being part of the line that brought Jesus Christ into the world. Again we see that the plans that God had for David’s life were much greater than David’s plans for his own life.

d. Paul (Acts 9)
i. Before God’s Call
- In this last character, we will see the most dramatic change between the plans they had for their own life and the plans God had for their life. It is the man Saul, later known as the Apostle Paul. What was his life like before God called him? He was a very committed and dedicated Pharisee. He says of himself in Philippians 3 that he was “of the stock of Israel…” When we first meet Saul at the end of Acts 7, he was present and approving of the murder of Steven. He was convinced, as the other Pharisees, that Jesus was a false prophet and that all of His followers were a threat to their religion. Look together at Acts chapter 8 and verse 3: “Saul…” Now look at Acts 9:1-2.
ii. Response to God’s Call
- Somebody read Acts 9:3-8 for us, please. Here we see the very dramatic and specific call of God to Saul, this great persecutor of the church. Notice Saul’s immediate response to seeing Jesus face-to-face. He first says, “Who are you, Lord?” and then asks, “Lord, what will you have me do?” Nobody could describe better what should be our response to God’s call. “Lord, what will you have me do?”
- Young people, hear me. God has a plan for each one of your lives. And God is calling to each one of you, to do something special for Him. What will be your response? Will you answer, like Saul, “Lord, what will you have me do?”
iii. After God’s Call
- I don’t think any one of needs to be told what Saul, now called Paul, went out and did for God after he surrendered to His call. He literally changed the world. He became the world’s greatest missionary. He was used by God to write over half of the New Testament. In the end, he was killed for his faith, having lived a faithful life of service and surrender to the same Lord who appeared to him on the Road to Damascus that day. Again we see that the plans that God had for Paul’s life were much greater than Paul’s plans for his own life.


Conclusion: So the one thing I want all of you to learn from this lesson today is this: God has a plan for your life. That plan is greater than anything that you could dream or want for yourself. And there is only one thing that you need to do to begin to learn what that plan is. You must surrender your will to God’s will. You must be willing to do anything, to go anywhere, and to seek God’s will every day. Why would God show you His will for your life if you were not willing to do it? Now understand, He will not show you His whole plan for you all at once. He will lead you one step at a time, through His Word. And we’ll be talking about that more in a couple of weeks. God has a plan for your life, but you must be surrendered to that plan. Ask God in prayer every day, "Lord, what will you have me do?" Let’s pray…

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