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8. Black, White, Gray and Vinegar

Michael Dant
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Sometimes it seems that one of the most difficult and frustrating parts of the Christian life is knowing God’s will. How can we recognize God’s way? And what should we do when God is silent?

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Michael Dant

Embedded Computer Science Teacher at Southern Adventist University. 

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  • October 8, 2016
    11:30 AM
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Drowning in the will of the Almighty. Is one of the greatest privileges that you and I have as Christians. To give ourselves so wholly to him. That we are immersed fully in his will. But sometimes it seems like. Knowing God's will is one of the most challenging parts of the Christian life. Have you ever cried out Lord I'd be happy to do your will. If I just knew what it was. There was once a godly woman who was asked to travel to Europe during the summer. To help the churches over there. And at the time the she was asked to do this. She was not feeling well she was working on several important projects and she really did not want to travel. It was hot summer she didn't like to travel the summer was difficult for her especially when she wasn't feeling well. But she wanted to do what God want her to do. Should she stay home and work on her writing projects or should she go to Europe and help out the churches there. So she prayed about it and she said by day and by night my prayers ascended to Heaven that I might know the will of God and have perfect submission to it. Still my way was not made clear. I had no special evidence that I was in the path of duty or that my prayers had been heard. And then later on she wrote. Although I had prayed for months that the Lord would make my path so plain that I would know that I was making no mistake. Still I was obliged to say that God hangs a mist before my eyes. This woman of course was Ellen White. And Ellen White was given deep and powerful insights into many aspects of the Christian life. And yet she still felt at times that gun hands they missed before her eyes. If she felt that I may have my friends you and I will feel the same way. No wonder. George two at once wrote to know the will of God is the greatest knowledge to find the will of God is the greatest discovery and to do the will of God is the greatest achievement. In the Christian life there are three types of choices we have the white choices those are the choices we know are good. We have the black choices the bad ones we know that we shouldn't be making those choices but there's also a whole sea of these gray area choices we don't know for sure what God's will is in them are they black Are they white. How can we know. Ellen White had very good reasons for not wanting to travel to Europe. She was doing an important ministry there in her writing and also in her speaking appointments in that area. And of course she was not feeling well. So she had a good reason for wanting to stay but she also wanted to help the church in Europe. She had a good reason for wanting to go to Europe. So the choice was kind of hard for her to decide. You and I have all kinds of grey area choices. Just like Ellen White did we may want to know for example if we should take that new job. Or take that vacation at that particular time or accept that leadership position in the church or even buy a new refrigerator. We may want to know what kind of music we should listen to. We might want to know how to spend our time and Howard spend our money. We may even want to know how to eat more healthfully in one thousand different ways we have lots of choices in our life and not all of them are easy for us to know exactly what we need to do. We give you a practical example when I first gave God my diet. He began to convict me in ways that I could improve that diet. And one of the things that begin to come in my mind a conviction was about vinegar when I would even agree foods I would think is this really a healthy food to eat and I wasn't sure I didn't know. No but I began to be conflicted about it. So I decided that I was going to try to find out more about vinegar and what its health properties are or what its harmful effects are so I went on the Internet of course Internet knows everything. And if you ask the Internet. Going to do or is one of the healthiest food you can eat. It's a cure all for almost anything. Well not being completely. Clear about that I decided to ask Neil medley I can't meaning when I saw him once and he said no no no don't let vinegar near your stomach. At the time he didn't have any research for me but he said You really don't want this stuff in your stomach it's a it's a preservative. It has harmful effects of course I had already gone through the Bible never really isn't much in the Bible about going together and Ellen White didn't have much to say about it and what she did say was that very clear. So I really didn't know what to do. It's a great area for me. You know often when we talk about guidance we quote this verse here as say a thirty twenty one your ears will hear a word behind you saying this is the way walk in it. Whenever you turn to the right or to the left. You know that's what I want I want an audible voice in my head saying like that's the way to go that way but you know that's never happened to me although I have longed for that and prayed for that even it's never happened to me. I've never had that voice. Tell me which way to go and I know that God can do that and I know that some people have heard audible voices to guide them. God is completely able to do that but I've always wondered is there something wrong with me that I've never had that audible voice. Well you know I've studied this person as I've studied it. I've come to the conclusion that this verse is not talking about God telling us which way to turn. In fact whenever you see the words left and right in Scripture. It's usually a way you don't want to go. You want to stay straight for example. Deuteronomy be careful to do what the Lord God has commanded you do not turn aside to the right. Or to the left. Here's another one. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. This is talking about King Josiah he walked in the ways of his father David not turning aside to the right. Or to the left. Here's one in Proverbs do not swerve to the right or to the left. Keep your foot from evil. So this person I don't believe that is promising us an audible voice from God to tell us which way to turn instead it's say the Holy Spirit will convict you to keep going straight stay on the straight and narrow don't turn to the left or to the right. That's what the whole convict Holy Spirit. Going to convict us to do so there's three things that we should know about God's guidance. One is only God can do it. Only God has the data to be able to help us to make his choices to know His will. If God doesn't show us His will you and I are in trouble because only God can do it the second thing we should know about it. Oh except Jeremiah says I know Lord that man's way is not in himself nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps. It's not possible for a man to direct his steps. Only God can do that trust in the Lord with all your heart do not lean on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight to not be wise in your own eyes. Only God can do it. That's the first thing when you know about God's guidance only God can guide us and the second thing that we should know about God's guidance is that he longs to do it. He wants to to show us his will. More than we can imagine. Obviously he wants us to be as closely and carefully aligned to his will as possible so God longs to guide us. That's good news. The Bible says I will lead the blind by ways they have not known a long unfamiliar paths I will guide them. I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places moot. In Isaiah we read this is what the Lord says your Redeemer the Holy One a visual I am the LORD your God who teaches you what is best for you who directs you in the way that you should go. You see only God can do it and God longs to do it he will guide us in Psalms we read who is the man who fears the Lord. He will instruct him in the way that he should choose. So only God can guide us. Oh God loves to guide us. But the third thing that we should know about God's guidance is that we have to let him. Right. Only God can do it no matter what it is in the Christian life. Only God can do it but we have to let him. One of the keys to knowing God's will is to be willing to do His will to be submersed already in his will. There was once two men talking about ministry and. One of the guys said you know I just was don't feel called to minister and that way and the other guy turned to him and smiled said Are you sure that you're with him calling distance. Are you sure that you're within calling distance how about you and I. When God calls us are we sure that we are within calling distance. You know calling distances a common problem. It turns out in time Christian church. Jesus prescribes three cures for the church's latest C M. And one of those I said. He says I advise him you to buy for me I said to anoint your eyes so that you may see Revelation three eighteen. Why do we need that eye south. Well L Y says that the law is the sensitive conscience the inner light of the mind upon its correct view of things the spiritual healthfulness of the whole saw all and being depends. It's important for us to know God's will to be sensitive to God's will to have a sensitive conscience and so that I say have helps. Correct. Our sensitive conscience problem that we have a desensitisation to God's will. Notice that the Bible says we must buy this I advise you to buy for me this I said how do we buy these three wonderful cures for latest C.E.O. from God. What is the currency of heaven. Those whom I love every prove in discipline. Jesus says in Revelation three therefore be zealous and what repent. And Behold I stand at the door and knock if anyone hears my voice and opens the door. I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with me. This is how we bide the three cures a Revelation Revelation three we repent and we open our lives holy to God on reservedly unresistingly unrelentingly to go to God we are told. So as Christ by renouncing your own self sufficiency giving up all things. However dear to you you may buy the gold and Rayment and I say have so that you may see my friend surrender repentance are the currency of heaven with which we buy the three curers of lay to see if the Jesus talks about Revelation three only God can guide this God longs to do it but we have to let him. How does God guide us well he guides us in many ways Here are some examples of biblical principles the example and words are godly friends counsels of Ellen White inspired Christian writers opening and closing doors in these ways and many other ways God guides us but there is another way that God often guides us is not necessarily very well understood and that is guilt. You know when God convicts us. Sometimes it's not comfortable for us. Sometimes we don't like it it makes us still a bit guilty. But you can be a good thing in God's hands kill can be a good thing. Unfortunately for every good thing the. God has the devil has a counterfeit. So how can you tell between the godly guilt the good guilt and the false guilt that the devil wants to. To use on us. The difference is godly guilt builds up and encourages where as the devil's guilt discourages depresses God the devil tries to push so fast that we get overwhelmed. Whereas God works with us. Slowly exorbitantly patiently without pushing us too fast too far. God convictions come in waves. Sometimes he'll give you conviction in the no back off a little bit and a given to the conviction and then. Slowly but surely he leads us to the point where we realize this is truly a conviction from him and he teaches us his will this. Happened with Martin Luther. Martin Luther. Was a little list. He was a Catholic. He he was a strong Christian he wanted to do everything God's way exactly God's way and he believed that he had to earn his way into heaven by obeying God in everything. And once when he was in a monastery and he was torturing himself essentially to try to earn his way into heaven he read a Bible that was chained to the wall and he learned about this concept called righteousness by faith. The just shall live by faith the Bible says all the sudden Martin Luther's eyes were open. He says Wow. I am a legal list the just the shall live by faith. Well he was a sense not too long after that on a commission to Rome. And as he was on his way he had to stay at a convent a monastery on the way there and he was sickened by the conduct of those monks they were licentious they were greedy. And just actually make made him sick he was on his death bed. But as he was laying there is death bed thinking you know what is how. Happening to these Christians these are the leaders of our church look at how greedy licentious they are he said you know what the just shall live by faith and that gave them courage he got up off his deathbed he went on to Rome when he got to Rome. One of the first things you want to do is you want to go to pilot staircase which the pope says if you crawl up on your knees kissing the floors as you go that you can actually get repentance. You can get. Forgiven for your sins indulgences type of thing. And so Martin Luther want to do that he wanted these indulgences and so he went up on his knees use about half way up or so and all the sudden this this this The just shall live by faith boom in his mind and this time it clicked really click deep this to third time got a given his conviction to just sell it by faith. He got up off his knees he ran away in shame he realized that's not how you get repentance the just the show live by faith. Dubbing a who was writing the biography of Martin Luther said this about Martin Luther experience. He says it is often necessary that a truth in order to produce its due effect on the mind must be repeatedly presented to it. That's what God conviction that Godly guilt that God gives us helps to do. He gives us a little bit of a push and then he backs off a little bit and he gives us a bit more of a push. He backs off. He's a working with a slowly inexhaustible and. So how can we know God's will. Plead with God God wants to show his will he can plead with God so that you will know His will and don't resist him make sure that you're not resisting him in any way let God change your mind. C.S. Lewis once wrote There are two kinds of people those who say to God that I will be done. And those to whom God says all right then have it your own way. Which kind of person do you want to be you want to be the kind of person that says Lord I will be done. Already want God to say OK have it your way but you're asking for it. It's important to realize that there are ways that God guides us. But there are also ways that he does not guide us here a couple ways that he does not guide us through feelings feelings are based on circumstances a lot of times feelings can be based on how much sleep you got last night or what you ate for supper feelings are not reliable indicators of anything. Really they're not reliable indicators of your love for God they're not reliable indicators of your faith or is close to us or his to forgiveness feelings are not designed to help us to know God's will. They are not science indicators of God's will. The second way that God does not guide us is through the actions and choices of others. Not everybody around us is Spirit controlled you might have guessed that if we live in Lake Lay to see a lukewarm area of the church then we have to realize that a lot of those people around us are doing things that aren't necessarily aligned with God's will. So we can't look at others like our peers and our parents and even our pastors and say OK well they do it. Therefore it's OK for me to do it. These are not valid ways that God guide that he guides us in many ways but it's a personal experience for him to guide each one of us. So what happens when God is silent on a matter like what happened. Ellen White she want to know God's will. If the gray area. She pled with God She she she says. Lord I don't want anything between mean you I want your will to be done and yet she still seemed to have this veil over her eyes. Why is God sometimes silent when we ask him specifically to know His will. Whether several reasons one reason is that God may have already spoken. He's already. Said what he wants us to do. Maybe in his word or through the conviction or whatever he's already told us. And so we need to listen we can't say OK Lord but seriously what way. Should I go here. Abraham when he was called to active fight and sacrifice a son he had the same problem. He wanted confirmation. And he pled to Lord Lord what should I do here but God had already told him to go and sacrifice his son. We are told that in his doubt this talk about Abraham in his doubt and anguish he bowed upon the earth and prayed as he had never prayed before. For some confirmation of the command. If you must perform this terrible duty and he went to the place where he had several times met the heavenly messengers hoping to meet them again and receive some further direction but none came to his relief. When God clearly tells us his will. We need to go and do it without trying to find us a Sara Lee confirmation. The second reason why God may seem silent sometimes is that we are not fulfilling the conditions. If we're not already obey him and things that he has shown us he may not be willing to show us something else. There's a possibly fictitious story that I once heard that illustrates this well this man wanted to lose weight and the problem was he loved donuts and so he wasn't sure if God wanted him to give up donuts or not. So he said Lord if when I go by the donut shop there's no parking spaces there on my way to work then I'll know that it's not your will for me to get donuts anymore. Well guess what. Amazingly supernaturally it turned out it was God's will for him to keep eating donuts because every time he went past that donut shop there was an empty parking space. Sometimes he had to drive around the block twenty or thirty minutes but there was always a parking space at some point my friends. If that's what we're doing. If we're trying to play games with God. If we're not fulfilling the conditions that God has given us. Then he may remain silent when we ask him for further insight. Jesus says we find in Deuteronomy twenty eight two God says all these blessings will come upon you and overtake you. If you obey the Lord your God that obedience to God that spirit aspired love motivated to be and is a prerequisite sometimes to fill in the conditions of having God to guide us. Number three. God may be teaching us. He may be testing us. He may be increasing our faith. Our trust in him he may remain silent for a time. To see if we continue to cling to him. In a cell or in Cologne Germany World War two These words were written. I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when I feel it not. I believe in God even when he is silent. I believe in God even when he is silent. God does that sometimes he remain silent to test us to test our faith. Are we going to cling to him. God gives us sufficient evidence we are told to enable us to accept the truth understandingly. But he does not propose to remove all occasion for doubt and belief. Should he do this there would no longer be a necessity for the exercise of faith we would be able to walk by sight and sometimes God wants us to walk by faith trust him. Be patient don't run ahead of God wait on God let him show you his will and then when he shows it to you go that way. Don't run ahead. Don't like behind. The fourth reason why God might be silent is that we are not ready to hear the answer we may think we are we may plead with God For more information on the subject but he might say like he said to decide. He said his disciples. I have many more things to say to you but you cannot bear to hear them yet. So here again. Be patient be yoked to Christ walking with him. Not too fast. Not too slow. One chasing only attached to the Almighty God and He will show you the fifth reason why God might be silent is that God may not wish to command us on this particular matter. Let me give you an example let's say that you have a garden. And the garden the weeds are are growing faster than you can take care of them and you're busy not having that time to do that. So you say to your daughter would you go out today and weed the garden for me and she says sure I'll be happy to do that. She goes out she weaves the garden and she comes back and says I've done it and you're so happy I mean that's that's great. And that pleased that she obeyed you. But isn't it. Even nicer if you have this garden that's overgrown with weeds and you don't even ask your daughter and she goes out and she weaves the garden for you. She comes back and says we I know you're so busy today you haven't had a chance to look at the garden. So I went out and we did it for you. Sometimes God wants us to do things just because we love him just because of the spontaneity of our hearts and our desire to please him he doesn't want to command us in a matter. So these are some reasons why God may be silent. He's already spoken. We may not be fulfilling the conditions. He may be testing or teaching us we may not be ready to understand what he want what we want to know more about or God may not wish to command us on this particular issue. So the question is what do we do when we have to make a decision and God is silent. Well first we should prayerfully consider Are any of these reasons why God may be silent. Are we resisting God's will. Are we. Fulfilling the conditions are we already obeying what we know. Or is there some reason why God may not be able to get through to us. And if like our own why. Eight. We still cannot seem to get an answer on the subject. There is a. Decision I think that we can always make that is the best possible decision in these particular circumstances and that is to err on the side of healthy self-denial. In other words if you have a great life and God seems silent and he hasn't told you anything but you have to make a choice make the choice that goes the most against your sinful nature against your selfish desires. Makes a choice. That's hardest to make the self-denying choice the healthy self-denying choice. A Godly man once once you know if it was God's will for him to go to the mission field he got the call and he prayed about it. He didn't get any particular word on the matter so he said this he said if I'm willing to go. God can prevent me. But if I refuse to go God Himself will not force me not force my will. So the thing to do is to make that the choice that's hardest for us to make so that God can easily stop that God can easily say to us. That's the wrong choice go the other way the easier way and that's easier for us to do. But if we choose the easy way and then God wants us to go the hard way it can be a little harder to make that decision later that lease or a key phrase this morning. If all else fails. Err on the side of healthy self-denial. If all else fails. Err on the side of healthy self-denial and that's what Ellen White did she writes she decided to that even though it was hot and she was a feeling well and it was a long travel she decided that she was going to go to Europe to help them out. She got on the train. She says although I had prayed for months that the Lord would make my path so plain that I might know that I was making no mistake Still I was obliged to say that God has the mist over my eyes but when I. Had taken my seat in the car as the surance came. That I was moving in accordance with the will of God and the sweet peace that God alone can give was imparted to me and like a weary child. I found rest in Jesus. Ellen White decided to do the harder thing. It would be more comfortable for her to stay in her home to keep working on her books to keep preaching in that area until she felt better but she said you know. It's going to be a hardship to travel all the way to the year but that would be the harder thing to do and so I'm going to choose that way and God bless her for it. And that's what I did with this vinegar question. I had no particular guidance on this matter. It was still a great area to me but one thing I did know. I knew that I enjoyed vinegar and I knew that taking it out of my diet would be self-denying and so I said OK. I'm going to err on the side of self-denial. Do the saying that's hardest for me to do and if later on I find out the vinegar is good for me. The God wants to add it back into my diet no problem. It'll be easy to do. You know what happened. It's really interesting. After a few weeks of not eating the nigger and then we products like ketchup and mustard all those kind of things I began to realize that other foods that I used to eat that were very healthy for me like the. The fat fried foods I was I wasn't enjoying very much anymore because I didn't have my ketchup. I didn't have my main Ase I didn't have my. Mustard and so I wasn't enjoying them as much and so I actually stopped eating them all as well and I have not missed vinegar even in salads. I can make a very good salad dressing with just. Olive oil the lemon juice and some herbs. So I have not missed the nigger in the more I stayed away from it the more I am convinced that that was the right choice for me to make and I praise God for that. So the Christian life is full of choices good choices ones that we know are God's choices black choice is the one. We know are not God's choices and the gray areas and by God's grace. He can help those great area which questions get into the white or black category. He can teach us where they go when we are fully surrendered to Jesus. We can have the confidence that whatever it takes God will get through to us. God will supernaturally guide us without trampling our free will we can be sure that God is going to guide us he longs to do it he will do it. The amazing power of God is not that he gives us an audible voice to tell us to turn one way or the other I think the most amazing power of God is revealed when he is able to get us to do His will. Without trampling on our free will. So now in exorbitant he gets us to where he wants us to be without trampling on our free will and that to me is a wonderful thing but. Because we do have a free will. We can resist God we can we can easily resist God. And that's why it's so important. If we want to know God's will. To be surrendered to his will to be willing to do what God wants us to do in every aspect of our life all the time and then we can know without a shadow of a doubt that God will succeed in guiding us. By God's grace we can. Know God's will. We can be fully immersed with him in the center of his will abiding with him in the center of his will. Prayerfully seek to know god's will fulfill the conditions. Be patient. Wait for God to reveal Himself don't run ahead. If you don't have to make a decision right away. Put it off as long as possible until you have to make it. But let God give you some time to. To teach you to show you reveal his will to you wait and God. And if all else fails. Err on the side. Self-denial. Err on the side of the choice that's hardest to make for our natural self and God will bless that. Our friends it is a true privilege to be immersed in the will of God. To know that God will guide us to know that we don't have to lean on our own understanding that in all our ways we can acknowledge Him as Lord and Master a life and they he will succeed in guiding us. He will succeed in aligning us to His perfect will. And we will enjoy the blessing of that for eternity. Let's pray. Heavenly Father what a privilege it is to know your will. What a privilege it is to align our lives with your will and reservedly unresistingly unrelentingly thank you for that privilege. I pray that you will help us Father to do whatever it takes to let you be lord and master of our life to let you show us what your will is to let you in to give us the insights that we need the sensitive conscience that will help us to make your choices in every area of our life all the time. Thank you for these blessings in Jesus' name this media was brought to you by audio verse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse or if you would like to listen to more sermons lead to visit W W W audio verse or.

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