– You know life is a series of choices.
We make our choices and then they make us.
We make our decisions andif we make good decisions we become successful.
If we make bad decisionsthen you know, we're not.
And every decision has a consequence and the potential for error is great because obviously we're humanbeings, we're imperfect.
Some of you today are struggling with some kind of difficult decision about where do I move, what job do I take, do I get married, do Istay in this marriage, all of these different, wheredo we put our kids in school? And indecision is one of the greatest sources of stress in your life.
And yet your heavenly father doesn't want you to bestressed out by your decisions.
But when you have this tension and do I hold on or do I let go? Do I keep on doing what I'm doing or I try something else? Do I move on, do I get married? The Bible tells us in the book of James that a double minded man isunstable in all his ways.
And that word unstableactually in Greek means staggering like a drunk.
That's literally what it means.
That when you're pulledin different directions by a decision, 'causeyou just can't figure out which way to go, itcreates enormous tension in your life.
And then even after a lot of times you've made a decision, you start guessing, second guessing yourself.
Did I make the right decision? And then you just prolong the pain.
Now what is the antidote? Well the antidote is to let God guide you.
And we're gonna look at thatas we come to our 5th message in this series on livingin the goodness of God where we're going verseby verse through Psalm 23.
And the Bible tells usthat life is a journey.
And that God has given us a road map, it's this book, the Bible, this is our roadmap for life, that God has given us acompass, that's our conscience that keeps us headedin the right direction if we listen to it.
And that God has even given us a personal guidance counselor.
And he is the Holy Spirit.
And a personal guide iseven the best thing of all, that's better than a map.
If you have a guidetaking you through a city you've never been in, that's a whole lot better than you trying tofigure it out on the map or with a compass.
Now, the Bible tells us, that God wants to lead us in the paths of righteousness.
That means the right paths.
God doesn't want you to mess up your life.
What we're talking about in this message is am I gonna waste my life? Am I gonna spend my life? Or am I gonna invest my life? I don't want ya to waste your life and part of that meansmaking right decisions.
How do you get on the right path? How do you, the Bible says "he leads me in paths of righteousness.
" That means, a modern translation, he keeps me on track.
God wants to keep youon track in your life.
Now I know some of you say "Rick, this just doesn't work for me.
"I've tried to let God lead my life.
"Now I don't get it.
"How do ya let God lead?" Well that's what we'regonna look at this weekend.
Because there's some thingsyou need to start doing.
There's some things you need to stop doing in order to let God lead your life.
But really the question comesdown to why is it so difficult to figure out what Godwants me to do with my life? Why is God's will often it seems, hidden? Is God playing games with me? Is God playing cat and mouse? Is he playing hide and seek? Does God enjoy confusing me? Of course not, of course not.
And the real issue is we often look for thewrong thing from God.
Now, we are in this series of Psalm 23.
And I told ya we're gonnamemorize over 10 weeks, these six verses together.
Now many of you memorized this as a kid.
And if you memorized itin the King James version it's okay for you to say thee and thou and all that Elizabethan English.
It's just 400 years old.
But it's okay, as long as youmemorize this important verse.
Now I told ya a couple weeks ago, this is the most quotedpassage in funerals, Psalm 23.
But it's not even about death.
There's only one line in it, even though I walk through thevalley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thouart with me, you are with me.
This verse is not, thischapter's not really about death.
It's the most famousPsalm quoted at death.
But it's not about death.
It's really about how Godwants to guide you and lead you all the way through your life.
Now because God is a good God and that's what we're looking at.
God has good plans foryour life, not bad plans.
And God wants you tounderstand those plans.
And because he's good hehas promised to guide.
The good shepherd doesn'tjust feed us, he leads us.
He doesn't just correct us, he directs us.
He guides us.
And so this is part of leading, feeding and meeting our needs, whichis what the good shepherd does.
Now look at the top of your outline.
And we're gonna start withnow the first three verses.
So let's say it aloud together.
Remember we're trying to memorize this.
Let's say it aloud.
By the way it's on either side here at the Lake Forest campus.
And many of our campuses have already put this on their walls.
Let's read it together.
"The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.
"He makes me lie down in green pastures.
"he leads me beside still waters.
"he restores my soul.
" Now here's the verse we'regonna look at this weekend.
Read it with me.
"He leads me in the rightpaths for his name's sake.
" Now as I said, because God is a good God, he promises to guide us.
We're not left out on our own.
God says I'm gonna give you my guidance.
In fact, listen, if you'venever felt guided by God.
That's a problem.
Because one of the proofs, or one of the evidences that you do have a relationship with God, that you're in hisfamily is he guides you.
Look at this next versethere on your outline.
Romans eight, verse 14.
"Only those people whoare led by God's spirit "are God's children.
" Uh oh.
Let me read it again.
"Only those people whoare led by God's spirit "are God's children.
" So it absolutely vitally important that you learn what we'regonna talk about this weekend on how do I get guidance from God or how do I be led by God's spirit.
Only those people whoare led by God's spirit.
Circle that, led by God'sspirit, are God's children.
So you can see the importance of this.
On Friday I took a couplesguys from our staff and we just did a little day hike.
It was such a beautiful day after all the rain we've been having.
And I noticed that aswe were taking this hike that a hike or a journey or a walk is a composition of both starts and stops.
And when you're on a journeyyou're not always walking.
You stop, you slow down, you look at things.
You might pause.
And there's some thingson a journey of life you have to stop doing and there's some thingsyou have to start doing.
Life is composed of starts and stops.
And what I wanna do is takethat little metaphor today and talk to you about how doyou hear God speak to you? How do you learn to getGod's will in your life? How do you get God's guidance? Whether it's a business decisionor a relational decision or financial or a health decision, how do I get God's guidance in my life? How do I be led by God's spirit? Well, there are some things you need to stop doing in order to do that and some things you need to start doing.
So let's begin with the negative.
This may not be comfortable, but it's necessary if I really want to beled by the spirit of God.
Okay, so you might write these down.
Number one, these areright from God's word.
If I want to be led byGod's spirit, first, I can't follow a culturethat doesn't follow God.
I can't follow a culturethat doesn't follow God if I'm trying to follow God, if I'm trying to be led by the spirit.
So I've gotta stop that.
I can't run in twodirections at the same time.
You can't chase tworabbits at the same time.
You can't serve God and money, you can't serve God and anything else, you gotta decide what'snumber one in your life.
You can only have one number one.
In Exodus 23 verse two, the Bible says "Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.
" Now that's an important verse today because the whole idea is ifeverybody else is doing it, it must be okay.
If it's legal, it must be moral.
If everybody else is doing it, then I should do it.
You can't follow a culturethat doesn't follow God if you wanna be led by the Holy Spirit.
Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.
You know most people makedecisions in their life according to what is acceptable and I just wanna fit in.
And if they're doing itthen I'm gonna do it.
And if they're not doingit I'm not gonna do it.
'Cause I don't wanna stickout, I don't wanna stand out.
You don't wanna rock the boat.
When in Rome, you know do as the Romans.
And you know there aremagazines that put out what's in and what's out, to tell you this is now out, stop doing that.
This is now in, start doing that.
Wear this, don't wear that.
Say this, don't say that.
And there are greatpressures to make you conform to our culture.
You cannot conform to our culture and be just like everybody else and be led by the Holy Spirit, 'cause he's going ina different direction.
This problem was Israel's biggest problem for 2, 000 3000, 4000 years, in the Bible.
They kept trying to wannabe like every other nation.
And God said "No no, you'resupposed to be different.
"I don't want ya doing that.
" He gave them all kinds ofmoral laws and civil laws and ceremonial laws and he said"This is just gonna make you "different from everybodyelse and it's intentional" God said, "because you're my people "and I want you to be different.
" And so don't copy whateverybody else is doing, what other cultures are doing, what other people are doing.
Today, many believersaccept many of the standards simply because they'repolitically correct, culturally correct, they'rewhat everybody else is doing.
Here's what the Biblesays, Romans 12, verse two.
"Do not copy the behavioror values of this world.
"Instead, let God transform you.
" That means you're gonna be different.
"Into a new person bychanging the way you think.
" So you're not gonna thinklike everybody else does.
"Then you will know"notice, "Then you will know "what God wants you to do.
" Now let me pause right here.
The reason you don't knowwhat God wants you to do is 'cause you're tooinculturated with this culture and you can't think like the world and think like God thinks.
And so you have to decide life, do I wanna be popular with the world or do I really wanna do whatGod put me on this Earth to do? Do I wanna be who he made me to be, not try to be a poor carboncopy of somebody else.
Don't copy the behaviorsor values of this world.
"Let God transform you into a new person.
" How? "By changing the way you think.
" "Then" he says, "Then you'll know.
" You wanna know God's will? "Then you'll know whatGod wants you to do.
"And you will know how good and pleasing "and perfect his will really is.
" I want ya to circle those three words: Good, pleasing and perfect.
God's will for your lifeis good, it's not bad, God has good plans foryour life, not bad plans.
God's will for your life is good, it's pleasing, that means it's enjoyable, it's not a bad deal, it's not painful.
It can involve pain.
But it's good, it'spleasing and it's perfect.
That's what God's willfor your life really is.
You see one of the weaknessesof following culture is it's all temporary.
Whatever is in style now, next year it's gonna be what? Yeah, outta style.
So nothing is as worthlessas yesterday's fashion, unless you hold on to it for 30 years.
(crowd laughs) And then what goes around comes back and ties get wide and narrow and wide and hem lines go up anddown and all of that.
But the Bible tells us in 1st John 2:17, the world and all ofits desires passes away but the person who does the will of God shall live forever.
Really, you don't wanna care about whether I'm fittingin with culture or not.
People tell ya, "Well you'reon the wrong side of history.
" For you it's not importantto know whether you're on the right side of history orthe wrong side of history.
It's important that youjust be on the right side.
Because history is often wrong.
You ever heard of anything called Nazism? Communism? So many other, history is often wrong.
It's not important to be onthe right side of history.
It's important to be on the right side and if you're gonna let God guide you, you can't say well I'm gonnatry to let culture guide me, what I do think it'd be, and then to let God do that too.
It doesn't work that way.
Now, let's get a little more personal.
That was pretty easy.
This is getting tomeddling in your life now.
If I want to be led by God'sspirit, I can't follow friends who aren't led by God.
If my friends are going theexactly opposite direction that God is going, Ihave to make the choice, Am I gonna go the directionthat my friends are going or am I gonna go the direction of God? It's one thing to saywell you know I'm gonna be counter cultural.
But it's another thing to sayI'm not gonna let my friends influence me.
You gotta stop lettingyour friends set the agenda of your life.
One of the reasons youdon't hear God's will is 'cause you're alwayshearing what their will is.
Let's do this, let's do that.
Let's drink this, let's eat that, let's go here, lets talk like this, let's watch this TV show.
There's some shows youjust shouldn't watch.
Doesn't matter if they'rethe most popular shows on TV.
You're filling your mind with garbage.
We all worry about air pollution, water pollution, have you everworried about mind pollution? Some people are so openminded their brains fall out.
(congregation laughs) And all of, you're justletting the freeway go through your mind of all kinds, none of that stuff's forgotten.
That's why you've hadsome of those weird dreams over the years.
It's all, everything you've seen, ever rape, every murder, every violent act, every cuss word, it's all in there.
It's all there.
I can't follow friendswho aren't led by God.
Why am I making a big deal about this? Because one of thethings that causes people to miss God's will fortheir life, God's plan, God's perfect good and pleasingplan, is peer pressure.
You can get it in school.
You all know what that as like in school, when you felt pressuredby the kids in your class.
But you also get it at work.
There's a lotta peer pressure today and you have to say am Igonna listen to my friends, my coworkers, my team mates, or am I gonna listen to what God says? 1st John 3:7 says this: "Do not let anyone, "that includes friends, "lead you in the wrong way.
"Christ is righteous.
" That means he does what's right.
"So to be like Christ, youmust do what is right, " not what's necessarily popular.
"And anyone who keeps on sinningis being led by the devil.
" So if I've got a friendwho is habitually sinning, I mean they're havingone affair after another, and they're bragging about it at work and I'm listening to them, then I'm just following them.
Who are they following? The devil.
It says don't let anybody leadyou in the wrong direction.
What do you do? You gotta be tender without surrender.
You know there's a lotta bad advice floating around the world.
Everybody agree with that? I mean anybody can be a blogger today.
Anybody can write a column today.
I'm not making this up.
Yesterday I read an article called Why Everybody Should Have an Affair.
Oh that's the best advice I've ever heard.
Right there, boy that's, let me just tell you how muchdestructiveness that creates in the lives of kids.
Let me talk to the menfor just a minute here.
Guys, you know what's thenumber one need that you have and you may have never even noticed it.
If you're a daddy, ifyou're a husband and a dad, one of the biggest needsyou have in your life is you want your grown adultchildren to respect you.
I don't know a man who doesn't want that.
You want your grown adultchildren to respect you.
That should have a hamper onthe decisions you make now in a lot of other areas.
Notice how quiet it got when I said that? (congregation laughs) I had every attention of every man in the house for one second.
Alright, go back to yourball game or whatever.
(laughs) There's a lotta bad advice out there.
Proverbs 13 verse 20, look up here, it says this, "Keepcompany with wise friends "and you'll become wise.
"But if you associate with fools, "your life will suffer great hurt.
" You can't soar with the eagles if you're running with the turkeys.
Okay, so it says you knowwho you hang out with, you need to choose your friends wisely.
You keep company with wise friends, you're gonna become wise.
If I wanna follow God's direction, okay, I can't let culture get me off track and I can't even letfriends get me off track.
Make sure your advice isfrom the right source.
You know, now it bothers mewhen people get counseling, I've met believers whoare going to nonbelievers to get counseling for their life.
I'm going really? They have no spiritual insight on that.
The Bible tells us in1st John 3:7, it says don't just let anybody lead you astray, because you'll miss God's will.
Go ahead and get counsel, butget it from a mature believer.
Now, let me be really clearwhen I talk to us about friends.
It means I can't follow friends.
You mean I'm saying I have to give up all my non-Christian friends? Of course not.
In fact, you shouldn't do that.
Listen to me loud and clear.
God wants you to havefriends who are unbelievers.
In the first place you'recommanded to love everybody.
You're not allowed to not love anybody.
If you're a believer of Christ, you're to love everybody, in fact I'm even commandedto love my enemies.
I'm commanded to lovethe people who hate me, criticize me, attack me, I don't get a choice.
If I call myself a believer, a follower of Christ, I am to love everybody.
And God wants to use youto bring them to Christ.
But here's the difference.
Look up here on the screen.
Jeremiah 15:19 says "Youwill be my spokesman.
" To these non believing friends.
"You are to influence them "but do not let them influence you.
" Every day when you goto work, you're deciding am I gonna be a thermostator a thermometer.
A thermometer just reflectswhat the temperature is of the environment.
They're being, talkingdirty, I'm gonna talk dirty.
They're doing this, I'm gonna do that.
A thermometer just revealswhat the culture's like.
A thermostat turns the heat up or down.
God wants you to be a thermostat.
He doesn't want them to influence you, but you to influence them.
Now as I said, God commandsyou to love everybody.
Let me show ya somethingthat a lotta Christians and believers don't get.
I wanna show you two verses that look totally opposite of each other.
Up here on the screen.
1st John 2:15, by the waythey're written by the same guy.
John wrote the book John and he wrote 1st, 2ndand 3rd John letters.
In 1st John chapter two he says this, "Do not love the world "or anything that belongs to the world.
"If you love the world, youcannot love the father.
That's pretty clear.
Now that same guy who wrotethat, also wrote this, the most famous verse of the Bible.
"God so loved the world.
" Well what is it? I mean huh? That looks like a bigcontradiction right there.
God so loved the world and then he says, but you, you're not to love the world and if you love the world, the love of the father's not in you.
Well which is it? You need to understand themeaning of the word world.
The world is used two differentways in the scripture.
It refers to the world's value system and it refers to the world's people.
We are to love the people andnot love the value system.
Does that make sense? We are to love the people, no matter what kinda lifestyle they live, but we are to not love, in fact the Bible says we are to hate the value system of like prejudice and racism and injustice and sexism and peoplehurting each other and war.
We are to hate the thingsthat hurt people in the world.
Love the people, hate the value system.
You know what the problem is? We got it reversed.
We love the value systemand hate the people.
Christians do this all the time.
They're no different, they'rejust as materialistic, they're just as heathenistic.
You know they're just as involvedin everything in culture.
They love the culture and hate the people.
God says no, no, you got that all wrong.
You got it backwards.
Love the world, people.
Don't love the world's value system.
Okay, five things I have to stop doing.
One, I can't follow the culturethat doesn't follow God.
Two, I can't follow friendswho aren't led by God.
Number three, 3rd thing why Ioften miss God's will is this.
I can't look to other sources besides God.
If I'm looking for direction for my life the best place to lookis not on a TV talk show.
The best place to look isto read the owner's manual, that's the Bible, and talkto the creator, who made you, and that's where you're gonnafind out about your life.
I can't look to other sources besides God.
Now there are many othersources that wanna tell you how to run your life.
Many other replacements, ormany other substitutes for God.
A lotta substitutes for God in the world.
They're actually called idols.
I mean for instance, when you're looking for what am I supposed to do with my life, I've actually met some believers who think they can pray toGod and read a horoscope.
Really? That's like saying Ibelieve in reincarnation and heaven at the same time.
They're mutually exclusive.
You either believe in one or the other.
You can't believe in both.
That's illogical, irrationaland it makes no sense at all.
And so God says I want you to look to me and don't look to otherthings for your guidance.
Now when people look toanything else besides God for guidance for their life, do you know what that's called? When they're looking for divine guidance, but they're not actuallypraying or reading the Bible.
It's called divination.
You heard this word divination.
It means to try to find about your future without going to your creator.
That's called divination.
And there are countless kinds of ways to define the future, fortune telling and stuff like that, predictions and prognosises and things like that.
Do you know in ancient times, what was the most common way that people discerned the future? Anybody know what this is? It was called consulting the liver.
They would actually sacrifice animals, they'd cut out a liver, 'causethe liver was supposed to be the heaviest organ in the body, and then somebody would look at it and goes, um yeah, go to war.
Go to battle, you'll win this one.
Now I mean this is notsome little minor thing.
The Roman empire was builton this finding the liver.
No Roman soldier would go into battle without looking at the liver.
The Babylonians looked at the liver.
The Etruscans looked at the liver.
This was the most commonly used form of predicting the future.
And in fact it's actuallyeven mentioned in the Bible, look at this verse here on the screen.
The Bible says in Ezekiel21:21, "The king of Babylon "now stands at a crossroad, "uncertain of whether or not to attack.
" He was gonna attackJerusalem and didn't know.
"So his advisors will cast lots "by shaking arrows from the quiver.
" That was another popular way.
You take arrows in a quiver and ya throw 'em out on the ground, you go umm, don't go to battle.
Okay, and that was one, and the other, "and they will inspect thelivers of sacrificed animals.
" 50 ways to lose your liver, right there.
Or love your liver, or whatever.
So that was called divination.
Does that kinda stuff still happen today? Uh hello? You ever seen a palm readingshop or tea leave reading shop? Or a crystal ball, madam so and so? I mean that stuff's still around.
Tarot cards, horoscopes, these are called divination.
Looking to the futurewithout looking to God.
And God says no no, don't doany of that kind of stuff.
Don't go calling the psychic hotline.
By the way, here's a little tip.
If the psychic hotline says "What's your credit card number?" hang up.
They should know that.
(congregation laughs) I wanna, when they say, you tell me.
If you're so smart you tell me.
If he can't tell me my credit card, he can't tell me anythingelse that's valuable 'cause he has no ability at all.
I actually did a little research on this just for fun this week, looking at the modernthings of divination.
And there's some crazybizarre things out there.
For instance in Russia theythrow beans on the floor.
And then look at the pattern.
And I'm going, that's alotta beans right there.
Okay, you know that's apile of beans or whatever.
There's a thing called parrot mancy where you let a parrot out of its cage and it goes over and picks up a card and then you know whoyou're supposed to marry.
And why do the peoplego to all these other? Because they don't wanta boss in their life.
They want the future, but they don't want God.
They don't want a Lord, they don't want somebodythat they have to serve.
And so the ridiculousness of looking to other sources besides God.
Well the Bible warnsus, look at this verse, Deuteronomy 18 says this.
"Never look to psychics orseances or fortunetelling "or the stars or people who claim to be "in contact with the dead.
"People who do these things are doing evil "And God hates it with a passion.
" Now I doubt any of you are doing this, but I will tell you this, if you know a believer who's doing this politely, gently, lovingly tell 'em, you're heading down the wrong track.
You're never gonna knowGod's will through a seance, through a medium, through ahoroscope, through astrology.
If you are following the stars, you're not following the son, S-O-N.
You're not following the son, you're not following God.
These are counterfeits.
You know today, years agoGideon used that fleece to discern God's will.
People get fleeced all the time today.
Cults and fad therapies and Scientology and all kinds of stuff.
The Bible tells us in 2ndCorinthians 11, satan masquerades as an angel of light.
So we just gotta avoid that.
And the Bible tells us in1st John four, verse one, don't believe everything you hear.
That's a good thing toread on the internet.
Actually I read a quote theother day on the internet.
Don't believe everythingyou read on the internet, Abraham Lincoln.
(congregation laughs) That guy was way aheadof his time, all I'm say.
Alright, I know I'm takinga long time on this, but if you want to beled by the spirit of God, there's some things you have to stop doing before you start doing the other.
You can't follow culture, can't follow friends who are not following God, can't look to other sources besides God, like all those divination things.
And number four, this isthe one that would apply to a lot of us.
I must stop being led by my circumstances.
You know the other ones mayhave no been relatable to you, but this one is certainly, I must stop being led by my circumstance.
I'm amazed how manybelievers, the number one way they try to determine God's will is, well, what's my circumstance? You know I missed the plane, it must be God's will.
Uh the heavy traffic, it must be God's will.
The offering plate skippedmy row, that was God's will.
(laughs) I've had people, you know who were, you know I bumped into 'em in a cart in a, must be God's will webumped into each other.
I won't say anything about that.
But you know, I overslepttoday, it is God's will I don't go to church.
(laughs) You're skating on thinice, shallow, shaky ground when you build your lifearound your circumstances.
There are a lot of examples in the Bible where the circumstances were the exact opposite of God's will.
When I think about the story of Jonah, when God said to Jonah, "JonahI want you to go to Nineveh, "and I want you to preach to it.
" And they were the hatedenemies of the Israelites because they had oppressed them for years and Jonah said "I'm not going.
" It was literally racial prejudice.
"I'm not going.
" And instead of going east to Nineveh, he gets on board a shipheaded for Tarshish, which is a seaport on the coast of Spain.
He's going as far east as he can.
God said go west, and he goes east.
And but the circumstances, there was a ship waitingthere headed for Tarshish, he had the money for a ticket, they had space on board, he gets on board, they take him on, it must be God's will.
I've seen circumstanceruin a lot of businesses and business opportunities because it looked like a good deal.
Let me give ya another example from Paul.
I wrote the scripture downthere on your outline.
You might wanna read it.
Acts 27, it's about anotherMediterranean cruise about 2, 000 years later.
And Paul is being takento Rome as a prisoner and the night before the ship is leaving, God says to him in his prayer time, "Tell 'em not to go tomorrowbecause they're gonna head "straight into a storm.
" And Paul says to the sailorsand the captain on the ship, "Guys, if we leave today, "we're gonna go straight into a storm.
" But they didn't listen to him.
And here's what the Biblesays, up here on the screen.
"Paul said, 'Men, '" he'stalking to the sailors.
"'If we sail now, thisvoyage will be a disaster.
"'We'll lose the ship, the cargo, "'and maybe even our own lives.
' "But when a gentle breezecame up, they thought, "this is exactly what we wanted.
" Have you ever had a gentlebreeze come up in your life and think this is exactly what I wanted? And you were headingstraight into a storm.
"When a gentle breezecame up, they thought, "this is exactly what we wanted.
"So they launched out, thinkingit would be smooth sailing.
" Sound familiar? That new business venture.
"Thinking it would be smooth sailing.
"But at sea a violent typhoon storm arose "which made it impossible "to control the direction of the ship.
"'So we gave up and just let her drift'" That is the epitaph of many a believer who trusted in circumstances.
They just gave up and let her drift.
Because we thought it was right.
The circumstances looked good, but that was a disastrous business deal or marriage or whatever.
How 'bout you? How many times have you ever thought of something circumstantial was an open door and you laterfound out it was a trap door? You can't just trust circumstances.
I could give you example, example in the Bible about this.
Where David, he had senthis army to war in spring and he's at home lollygagging around in his pjs and he's upstairs and he looks out and he sees a beautiful womantaking a bath on her roof.
What's she taking a bath on a roof for? (congregation laughs) And he looks down fromhis palace and sees her and he goes, very pretty.
Her husband's at war, I'mhome alone, she's attractive.
And he falls into affair.
Circumstances can lead you the wrong way.
The fact is satan canmanipulate circumstances.
You just need to be aware of that.
And so you always check your circumstances against God's word.
And what I mean by that is thatyou don't use circumstances to discern God's will, but youuse it to confirm God's will.
Now let me give you one more stop.
If I wanna be led by God's spirit, I cannot be led by my feelings.
If I wanna be led by God's spirit.
I cannot be led by my feelings.
Because your feelingslie to you all the time.
Now every emotion is temporary, whether it's a good one or a bad one.
You can be elated at yourwedding and it will not last.
You can be elated atDisneyland, it will not last.
You can be elated at winning a game for a team that you wererooting for, it will not last.
And the same is true, if you're depressed, if you're discouraged, it will not last.
No emotion can stay at thesame level of intensity.
If you have a panic attack, one thing you need to know, it can't last.
You cannot stay in aperpetual state of panic.
This too will pass.
And so you can't be led by your feelings because they're not permanent.
They're just temporary.
And the most common mistake, and I even hear Christianssaying this today, was just let yourconscience be your guide.
I hate to tell ya this, yourconscience is often wrong.
So is mine.
The Bible says the heart is deceitful.
I've told you this many timesthat you lie to yourself more than you lie to anybody else.
Just because you thinkit doesn't make it true.
Just be somebody else thoughtit doesn't make it true.
Just because it's populardoesn't make it true.
Something is true because it's true.
Not what you think is true is true, now what you hope is true, not fake news says it's true, not whatever all these other things.
Truth is simply truth.
It's either right or it's not right.
Now, most people base theirdecisions on how they feel.
And I can't tell ya how many times and it sounds like a spiritual thing, say why did you do that? Well I just had a peace about it.
That's not enough friend, to make a decision on.
Well I had a peace about it.
Peace is a good thing.
But you better have morebasis for your decision than just a peaceful feeling.
'Cause you could have apeaceful easy feeling.
(congregation laughs) And I know it won't let ya go, so.
You are really old people.
If you know those lyrics, you are really, really old.
I'm feeling right at homehere right now, okay? You can't just go by your feelings.
It may be the resultof some burrito you ate or something, you know.
I mean you remember thatstory of Jonah I told you? Hey, here's a ship.
Hey, I got the money.
Hey, they take me on board.
And he goes down and he goesinto the bottom of the ship and he falls into a nice, peaceful sleep.
He's totally out of the will of God.
And he's at peace.
So that's not enough.
Peace is a good thing, but it's not enough to base your life on simply emotions, because he was totally disobeying God.
Satan can give you false peace.
Proverbs 14, verse 12.
"You may feel" circle the word feel.
"You may feel you're on the right" path, "the right road and still end up dead.
And the result of beingmanipulated by moods, look at the next verse.
"We've all strayed away like sheep.
"We have left God'spath to follow our own.
" Now why do we leave God'spath to follow our own? 'Cause we felt like it.
Those are things you have to stop doing.
If you wanna be led by the spirit.
What are the five things you start doing? Very easy to understand.
Number one, if I wannaget guidance from God, I want divine direction, number one, I must want to be led.
I gotta desire it first.
I must want to be led.
It starts with desire, it starts with longing, it starts with craving.
Have you ever had anybodyhold your head under the water so long that you go I have got to get air? When you get that desperateand when you cry out to God, say I have got to know, I've gotta know what you want me to do.
It's not like, I kinda would like to know.
It'd be helpful to know.
And if you don't have any intensity or passion in your prayerlife about knowing God's will, God's going well I guess it'snot that important to you.
But when you say I've got to have it, it's like I'm hungry andI've gotta have food.
I'm out of breath, I gotta have oxygen.
I don't know which way to go in life, God I've got to know your will.
I must want to be led by the spirit.
Psalm 40 verse eight.
"My God, I want to do what you want.
"And your teachings are in my heart.
" The reason why he wants it is'cause he's reading the Bible.
"Your teachings are in my heart.
" Number two, I must bewilling to do what God says.
I must not only want God's will, I've gotta be willing to do what God says.
I'm willing to obey in advance.
In otherwords, God before you even tell me what you want me to do, myanswer in advance is already yes.
So God doesn't tell you hiswill and then you get to decide whether you do it or not.
You have to decide inadvance, you pre-qualify.
God's not gonna show you whathe wants to do with your life and then you get to decide about it.
You say God, I surrendermy life to you completely.
I don't just want your will, I'm willing, whatever it is.
I don't even understandit, I don't even know it, but whatever it is, Iam willing in advance.
John 7:17 Jesus said this, "Whoever is willing to do what God wants "and chooses it" it's achoice, you choose God's will.
"Will know if what I teach comes from God.
So he says, trust me in advance.
I wanna be led, and I'm willing to do what you want me to do, evenbefore you've even told me.
Number three, if I wannabe led by God's spirit, I must look to God's word.
I must look to God's word.
God's will is found in God's word.
Psalm 119:105, "Your wordis a lamp to guide me, "and a light for my path.
" If you're not in the Bibleevery day, you're in the dark.
You're walking throughlife without a flashlight.
"Your word is a lamp to guideme and a light for my path.
" Proverbs 119, Psalm 119 iswhat that's supposed to be.
Psalm 119:133 says this, "Guide my steps by your word "so I will not be overcome by any evil.
" It's up here on the screen.
"Guide my steps by your word "so I won't be overcome by any evil.
" Now I wanna give you acouple statements real quick.
I could go into thisin detail but I won't, about the word of God.
Write these down, number one.
God's will is found in God's word.
God's will is found in God's word.
Most of God's will is already revealed.
No, the name of your spouse is not there.
But that's not, you'remisunderstanding what I'm saying.
The principles are there on how to find the right kind of man or the right kind of womanthat would be God's choice.
And as you read God'sword he speaks to you.
When you open your Bible, God opens his mouth and he starts talking to ya.
And when you close yourBible, God closes his mouth, he shuts his mouth.
We discovered the will ofGod in the word of God.
So let me just say it this way, stop listening for a voice and start looking for a verse.
Some of you want Godto write it in the sky.
Why would he need to write it in the sky? He's already written it in a book? But you won't even openit on a daily basis.
Stop looking for a voice.
Right it in the sky, gimme your word.
Start looking for a verse.
And God'll teach you the principles.
And by the way, God expectsme to obey what I already know before he shows me something new.
So if God's already shown you something, now I want ya to this andyou haven't done it yet, why is he gonna show you step two until you've done step one? Its already there.
You say God I need to knowif you want me to change jobs and God says well are you following what I've already told ya? Are you already doing that? And the key, if you wannabe led by the spirit, start doing what youalready know is God's will.
Just start doing what youalready know is God's will.
God's will is found in God's word.
And the other thing I wantyou to write down is this.
God's will never contradicts God's word.
If you get an idea and youcan't find a basis for us in the Bible, it's wrong.
Because God has already given us his word.
You know say well I had this impression.
People tell me all the time, "Pastor Rick I had this impression.
" Well what does the Bible say? You know this is how cults get started.
"I got this idea.
" The Bible tells us in Galatianschapter one verse eight that even if an angel shows up and tells you something, like here's some new books to add to the Bible, he saysyou don't even trust that.
Because if it's not in theBible, he says, you don't.
God's will will nevercontradict God's word.
And most of what God'salready wanted us to know is found in this book.
And if you read it, God will guide you.
You know, you say well, if I act on what God's already told me, then you're telling mehe's gonna tell me more? That's exactly what I'm saying.
Alright, number four.
If I want to be led by God's spirit, I must ask the Holy Spirit to be my guide.
I must ask the Holy Spirit to be my guide.
You remember in high school, they had a position on the faculty called the school guidance counselor? Anybody remember that? The school, they'resupposed to help you decide if you were gonna goto college or get a job or get in the military or whatever.
And they were the guidance counselor.
You have a guidance counselor for life.
He's called the Holy Spirit.
And you don't just have this book, it's nice to have this book, but what's even niceris to have the author speaking in your ear, goingthis is what this means.
And he is your guidance counselor.
But when I say I must ask the Holy Spirit, circle that word ask.
One of the reasons youdon't know God's will is you don't ask for it.
And in James four verse two, the Bible says "You do not have "because you do not ask God for it.
" You just need to understand God's interested in everydetail of your life.
He has the hairs on your head numbered and he knows everything about you.
He knows your details more than you do.
He knows the health problems you've got that you don't even know you got.
God knows them.
And one of the best ways toengage your guidance counselor is ask a specific question, in prayer.
Psalm 27 verse 11.
"Teach me Lord, what you want me to do "and lead me down the right path.
" Now how does he do that? How does God, lead me down the right path.
Well, there are a lotta different ways, but let me just mention a couple.
One of 'em is the primaryway the Holy Spirit guides us is by reminding us whatwe've read in this book.
Because you read stuff inhere and if you memorize it, then it's stored in the back of your mind and at the right moment when you're in that conflict at work, God can bring that verse to mind.
And Holy Spirit reminds us.
The problem is we'renot good at retention.
We have good forgetters.
But fortunately a partof the Holy Spirit's job is to help you remember.
Have you ever been talking to somebody and you go I don't know what to say and then all the suddenthe idea pops in your mind? The Holy Spirit just reminded you of that.
And the more this bookyou get in your mind, the more he can bring back.
Now if there's nothing ofthis book in your mind, what's he gonna bring out? Nothing.
So you gotta get in the book.
I can't tell ya how many timesI've walked into a meeting or a phone conversation or an interview or a skeptic on the street or anything and I hadn't the slightestidea what I was gonna say.
And I just shoot up a quick prayer.
Uh guidance counselor, whatdo you want me to say here? Holy Spirit what do you want me to say, and he'll bring something.
Some of you've never had that happen, as I said because you don'thave anything stuck there in your mind.
So God gives us ideas through his word and the other way is heputs ideas in your mind.
Yes, he does put impressions in your mind.
When God gives you an idea, that's called inspiration.
When the devil gives you an idea, that's called temptation.
When you get an idea, that's called dumb.
(congregation laughs) I'm just teasing.
God gave you your brain, he wants you to use it.
Satan cannot control youexcept suggest thoughts.
If you accept 'em, thenhe's controlling you.
God will not control you, 'cause he's given you that freewill, but when he puts an idea inyour mind and you respond to it, then he enlightens it.
Now, is there any way Ican speed up that process? That I get God's ideas quicker? Yes.
I'm gonna tell ya how youcan speed up the process of getting ideas quicker.
Like I need a new product, I need a new solution.
Two things, write these down.
Number one, ask humbly.
That'll speed up the process.
Proverbs 25, Psalm 25 verse nine, "God guides the humble "in what is right and heteaches them his way.
" The more humble you are in coming to God, the quicker God gives youthe information you need.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
God says if you'd just behumble, and say God I need ya, I gotta know this, hesaid I'll give it to you.
The Lord is my shepherd.
That's what we're just talking about.
He leads me in the rightpaths for his name sake.
And I just be humble about it.
Another way is ask in faith.
I ask humble, and then I ask in faith.
And I say God, I need to know what you want me to do in this situation and I'm expecting youto give me the answer.
Thank you in advance.
Thank you in advance.
You gotta have faith.
James chapter one.
"If you wanna know what Godreally wants you to do, " and I hope that's what it is for you.
"If you wanna know whatGod wants you to do, "ask him and he'll gladly tell you, "for he is already ready to give "a bountiful supply ofwisdom to all who ask.
" Remember ask humbly, ask in faith.
But, "be sure that you reallyexpect him to tell you.
"If you don't ask in faith, don't expect the Lord "to give you any solid answers.
" That's why you often don'tknow what God wants you to do.
You're not asking in faith.
I remember years ago, when wewere driving down the road, I think we were going upto Fresno or something, and Kay, Kay was looking down.
She was driving and she looked down and the gas tank was on empty.
And said where's the nearest gas tank, "I mean where's the nearest gas station?" And we'd seen a sign about a mile back said the next one is like 30 miles up.
I think we were going up on five.
30 miles down the freeway.
So then I put it intoone of these little apps and it said, get off the freeway, go 10 miles down that little road, and there'll be a gas station.
Now the question is, amI gonna believe the sign or the app? 30 miles down that road or 10 miles on the appand go down a little road? This is a test of faith.
And sometimes that'sgonna happen in your life because you'll say Godwhat should I do here and God'll tell you todo the exact opposite of what you think you oughta do.
One time if you wanna know God's will, just figure out what younaturally do and do the opposite.
Because you're often wrong, so that would be a good thing to do.
But you can always trustGod's guidance system.
He's never wrong.
You do have to believe him.
Alright number five, the 5th thing if I wanna be led by God's spirit.
I must listen for God's response.
And this is really a bigreason why we don't hear God is because we ask and thenwe immediately run off.
We don't wait.
We don't be quiet, we don't listen, we don't pause.
You say God I need to know this and then take off.
And then turn on the radio orstart listening to your iPhone or answering calls or reading texts or you know watching TV.
And all the circuits are jammed and God can't get throughto you for the answer.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of you taking some privatetime alone every day just to sit quietly.
I do this all the time and I sit down and I say God is there anything you wanna say to me right now? And I just shut up, I just listen.
I've read your word, I've talked to you all throughout the day.
Job 33 verse 14, "God does speak, "sometimes one way and sometimes another, "even though peoplemay not understand it.
" He uses the Bible, he uses teachers likewhat I'm doing right now, he uses impressions, hecan use circumstances, he can use pain, he can doall these different things.
But the key is to test it by the word.
Now I wanna close with thisPsalm 77, 'cause sometimes you say God I wanna know your will and you look out and you gothat doesn't make sense at all.
This is a test.
Psalm 77 verse 19 isactually a verse about Moses.
Do you remember the storyof the 10 commandments when Charlton Heston, you know stood up there and he put this thing in the water and the Nile turned red andall the different miracles and things like that, andwhen finally Pharaoh said after 10 miracles and all those miracles were making fun of false Gods, Pharaoh finally says, "Okay, you can go.
" And so a million Jews are leaving and they're heading across togo across the Sinai Peninsula, and all of the sudden they come up to a little, it's a cul-de-sacand they're standing with mountains on either side, the Red Sea in front of 'em, which looks impassable andPharaoh has changed his mind and the army's coming after 'em in back.
So they're hemmed in.
And they go "We're gonna be slaughtered.
"We got mountains on either side, "we got an ocean in front of us, "and we've got Pharaoh'sarmies and they're armed "and we have no arms andthey're coming after us.
" And they were in God's little cul-de-sac and it looks like it's a goner.
They're gonna be dead.
The name of that placewas called Baal Zephon, which means God's hidden treasure.
God had 'em exactly wherehe wanted 'em to be.
He was gonna do a miracle.
And suddenly, the ocean splits.
You know the story, andthey start walking through on dry ground and imagine, howin shock everybody had to be walking through that area.
And when they get throughthe other side, it closes up and you know the whole story.
This verse in Psalms talks about it and it says "Your road Lord, "led by a pathway through the sea, "a pathway no one knew was there.
" I love that verse.
There have been so many times in my life I have come up against enormous barriers.
Financial barriers, approval barriers, physical barriers, energy barriers, and I'm looking at this and I go God, there's mountains on either side, and an impassable barrier in front of me and the enemy's caving in, closing in very quickly.
And I'm in Baal Zephon, I'min God's hidden treasure.
And God says, "I've got you exactly, "exactly where I want you to be.
" "And you made a pathway through the sea, "a pathway no one knew was there.
Some of you are in Baal Zephon right now.
And you're going, "There's noway we're getting outta this, "we're going into bankruptcy.
" There's no way we're getting outta this.
It's, we've heard the C word, cancer.
There's no way outta this, we're headed for divorce court.
There's no, and you are exactlywhere God wants you to be.
He wants to do a miracle.
But there are five thingsyou gotta stop doing and there are five thingsyou gotta start doing.
Stops and starts, stops and starts.
And when you do that, you get God's guidance and he shows you a pathwaythat nobody knew was there.
Let's bow our heads.
God can make a way whenit seems there is no way.
Now we've just gone only into three verses of this incredible passage.
But out of that we knowthat because God is good, when I'm worried, he will meet my needs.
The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.
And when I'm stressedhe'll teach me to relax.
Makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
And when I'm empty, hewill replenish my strength and restores my soul.
And when I don't know whatto do, he will guide me.
He leads me in the rightpaths for his name sake.
Would you pray right now? Talk to God.
Why don't ya say something like this? Dear God I want to be led by your spirit.
I don't wanna go through lifeon my own ingenuity and power.
I've had too many dead ends.
I know that's not the solution.
And you have said only those people who are led by God'sspirit are God's children.
And because you are a good God, you guide us in your goodness.
Lord, starting today there'ssome stuff I wanna stop doing.
Help me to remember that Icannot follow the culture that doesn't follow you, to not copy the behaviorand values of the world, to love everybody, but tonot love the value system.
And Lord, help me to rememberthat I can't follow friends who aren't led by you.
I don't want anybodyleading me in the wrong way.
I wanna love people but Idon't want 'em leading me.
I wanna be an influence, not be influenced.
I wanna be a thermostat, not a thermometer.
Help me to remember that Ican't look to other sources besides you and come to youwith a clear conscience.
It's not horoscopes and prayer, it's not self help books and the Bible, they're not on the same level.
I wanna stop being led by my circumstances and most of all Lord Iwanna stop being mastered and manipulated by my moods.
I cannot be led by the spiritif I'm led by my feelings.
I'm sorry for the times thatI've made feelings my God and I did what I felt like doing, not necessarily what you wanted me to do.
And Lord today, I'm telling ya, I want to be led by yourspirit, I want to be led.
I've gotta be led.
More than that I'm willing todo whatever you tell me to do.
I don't have to understand it.
I'm telling you yes in advance.
Help me to look to your word every day.
Guide my steps by your word so I will not be overcome by any evil.
Your word is a lamp to guideme and a light for my path.
Be my flashlight.
Help me to remember that yourwill is found in your word, that your will will nevercontradict your word.
And so today I ask you Holy Spirit to be my guidance counselorfor the rest of my life.
I'm asking ya humbly, andI'm asking you in faith.
And help me to not be so impatient that I can't stop and justlisten for your response.
Help me to learn to wait on you, to be still and know that you are God.
Thank you good shepherd.
If you've never invitedChrist in your life, just say Jesus Christ comeinto my life right now.
I wanna get to know you, Iwanna learn to trust you.
And I wanna have a relationshipand a friendship with you.
And I pray this humbly in your name.
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