1. Hello, listening friends.
2. Thank you very much for tuning in to this broadcast.
3. We are in the midst of a series of messages entitled, “Looking Up” … when life knocks you down.
4. People often ask me, “How can you know the will of God?”
5. I have been asked that question many times;
6. and, today, I want to give you the biblical tools to help you answer this question.
7. We will do this by studying how the Apostle Paul discerned the will of God in his life.
8. There are four tools to help us discern the will of God listed here in Acts, Chapter 21;
9. so, if you have your Bible, please turn to it.
10. Here are the four tools.
12. you must submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
14. expect God to speak to you in some way.
16. test the spirits;
17. and, fourthly,
18. you must wait for the timing of God.
19. Let’s go through these one by one.
20. What does it mean to be “in submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ?”
21. It means that you are going to put your desires in neutral.
22. We all have desires and strong feelings.
23. We all want everything in our lives to work without problems
24. and none of us welcome trials and uncertainty:
25. but submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ means that you are willing to put your desires in neutral.
26. Why neutral?
27. Because when you place your desire in neutral,
28. you are allowing God to lead you to His perfect will for you.
29. We saw, in the last message, in Acts 20,
30. that, when Paul was talking to the Ephesian elders in Miletus, he said the following to them:
31. he said, “I’m going to Jerusalem,
32. and I know that I’m going to be facing difficulties and trials there...”
33. then he said,
34. “but God is calling me to go.”
35. Do you know why most people want to know the will of God?
36. So that, if they see a hint of difficulty, they can run away from it;
37. but Paul is saying that he knows the will of God and he’s still determined to go to Jerusalem;
38. but that’s not all.
39. Look at Acts 21:10.
40. There was a prophet by the name of Agabus.
41. He comes in a dramatic way and warns the Apostle Paul of the difficulties ahead.
42. Agabus takes Paul’s belt and ties it around his hands and feet;
43. and, then, he said, “This is exactly what’s going to happen to the owner of this belt...”
44. but that’s not all.
45. When you read verse 12 of Chapter 21,
46. the Christians in Caesarea began to beg the Apostle Paul not to go to Jerusalem.
47. They were saying, “We need you here, Paul.”
48. All his friends were telling him not to go to Jerusalem;
49. but, because Paul placed all of his desires in neutral,
50. he was determined to do what God called him to do.
51. Paul was not afraid.
52. Paul would not hide.
53. Paul would not be persuaded by all well-meaning friends.
54. There are some people who say Paul should have listened to his friends.
55. They say that Paul must have been outside of the will of God when he went to Jerusalem;
56. but, if you look carefully at the text,
57. not one time did the Holy Spirit say to Paul, “Don’t go to Jerusalem.”
58. If this had happened, Paul would have obeyed the Lord.
59. My listening friends, please listen carefully.
60. It is okay to express your preference to the Lord,
61. as long as you let God lead you.
62. It is okay to say to God, “God, I would rather be in this place and not that place,”
63. as long as you are willing to joyfully go whichever place He chooses for you.
64. Submitting to the lordship of Jesus Christ means making your desires be in neutral,
65. and that’s not easy.
66. There are people who think
67. that, if you go where God has called you and, there, you face some problem, you should second-guess your obedience;
68. but listen to me very carefully, please.
69. Just because you are at the center of the will of God does not mean that you will not face problems.
70. Sometimes, we get ourselves into trouble;
71. but, often, when we are at the center of the will of God, we will still face difficulties and trials;
72. and, of course, the enemy will come to you and will say to you,
73. “If you had disobeyed God, you would not have faced these problems…”
74. and I can tell you that the devil will do that to you all the time;
75. but, by placing your desires in neutral,
76. you will give God the opportunity to work in your life for His glory.
77. The second tool is this:
78. expect God to speak to you.
79. The Lord often speaks to me through His Word.
80. When I’m reading the Word of God,
81. and I’m wrestling with a problem in my life,
82. the voice of the Holy Spirit often says, “Here. Here is the answer that you’re looking for.
83. Here is the promise that you can appropriate today.
84. Here is the promise that you can apply to your situation.”
85. Occasionally, God speaks to me through godly friends;
86. but let me give you a warning.
87. Be sure that your godly friends are not speaking to you out of their own emotions.
88. Be careful, lest your godly friends are speaking to you out of their self-interest.
89. In Miletus, the Ephesian elders and Paul’s friends were trying to dissuade him from going to Jerusalem,
90. because they were emotionally attached to him.
91. I’m not blaming Paul’s friends for trying to dissuade him from going to Jerusalem.
92. I’m not blaming them for trying to protect their friend;
93. but they were not trying to discern the will of God;
94. and that is why, thirdly, you must test the spirits,
95. no matter who delivers a message to you.
96. If it is inconsistent with the Word of God, it is not from God.
97. If it does not glorify God, then it is not from God.
98. If it is going to lead you into sin, then it is not of God.
99. The Bible repeatedly exhorts us to test the spirits,
100. because Satan’s deception is so good that you can easily fall for it,
101. because Satan’s desire is to trick you and deceive you.
102. Paul tested the spirits and he followed only the voice of the Holy Spirit,
103. not even his dear friends;
104. so, let me summarize again.
105. First, you must submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ by placing your desire in neutral.
106. Secondly, you must expect God to speak to you in some way.
107. Thirdly, you must test the spirits;
108. and, finally, you must always wait for God’s timing.
109. Waiting does not come naturally for us.
110. It may come easily to some,
111. but some people confuse waiting for God with idleness.
112. The word “waiting” in the Bible does not mean “doing nothing.”
113. Waiting for the Lord comes from the term of a waiter in a restaurant.
114. A waiter has his towel around his hand,
115. and what is he doing all the time?
116. He’s watching you.
117. He’s waiting for you.
118. He is preparing to act when you call upon him;
119. but he is active and focused while he is waiting.
120. That’s what waiting upon the Lord Jesus means.
121. It means that you are always serving the Lord,
122. that you are always ministering to the Lord,
123. that you are always watching for the Lord’s direction,
124. that you are ready for His command any moment,
125. but you are working and you are busy.
126. You are serving and you are paying attention.
127. You are attentive to the voice of the Lord.
128. You are not sitting down and doing nothing.
129. Listen carefully to what I’m going to tell you, my listening friend.
130. Do you know that not a single person in the Old Testament, whom God called to serve, was idle?
131. They were all doing something and the voice of God came to them and said, “Go and proclaim the Word of God.”
132. When you are waiting at the Lord’s table,
133. you will be sure that He will let you know His will in His time.
134. He will tell you what He wants you to do.
135. He will tell you where He wants you to go.
136. He will tell you when He wants you to move.
137. He will tell you where to be.
138. He will tell you how to respond.
139. Paul knew that he was obeying the will of God.
140. He knew there were some difficulties ahead,
141. but these were incidental.
143. Because he knew, if he is going to be at the very center of the will of God,
144. God will be with him, and that’s enough.
145. When Paul got to Jerusalem, he was bringing an offering from all the Gentile churches;
146. and he places it, there, in the church of Jerusalem;
147. but do you know the first thing they said to him?
148. They did not say, “Thank you.”
149. The first thing Paul got was criticism.
150. Now, remember, Paul did not want to offend anybody;
151. so he went ahead, recognizing that the issues they were criticizing were not important in his Christian ministry.
152. They were not necessary for salvation;
153. so he went along.
154. Because Paul had learned to wait upon the Lord,
155. because Paul had learned to discern the will of God,
156. he did not allow their criticism to hinder him.
157. My listening friend, let me give you this advice as we close this program.
158. When you are waiting upon the Lord,
159. you will learn to choose your battles.
160. When you are waiting upon the Lord,
161. you will discern what is necessary for salvation and what is not.
162. When you are in the perfect will of God,
163. there may be storms brewing all around you,
164. but you’ll be at peace,
165. because you are in perfect harmony with your Maker;
166. and, when you are waiting upon the Lord,
167. He will let all things work together for good because you love Him.
168. Because you have placed your desires in neutral,
169. because you are determined to listen to His voice,
170. because you have tested the spirits,
171. and because you are waiting for His timing,
172. you will have the joy of the Lord.
173. Until next time, I wish you God’s richest blessing.