STRETCH: Faith and Fleece 1 Samuel 14:6-12, Romans 12:1-2

{Ryan was describing how making major life decisions, i.e., moving from California to Colorado, was affecting him— emotionally AND physically.} It was a Monday and I had my two kids in the backseat. I had Ethan, then three, and Avery, one-and-a-half, and was driving them to preschool. I drove right passed the preschool. I thought to myself, “What am I doing?” I turned back around—I kid you not—I drove passed it AGAIN! I thought to myself, “I’m in trouble here!” I finally got Ethan to where he was suppose to go and I completely forgot I had a second child!! I went to work and was just about to get out of the car and close the door, when I heard this little voice from the backseat go, “Hi, daddy!” I’ve watched on the news the stories of the people who left their kids in the car and thought, “How could you?” Now I know!! I know how you could! I was in another world, in another universe, so preoccupied with the decision that was in front of me.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, when we have those decisions to make, there would be a “yellow brick road” that appeared? Where we knew exactly what God wanted us to do and we knew exactly where God wanted us to go? That when the fork-in-the-road came, one of the paths was just paved with gold and we went, “Oh, there it is!! THAT’S clearly the will of God!” Wouldn’t it be nice if faith was filled with yellow brick roads? Has that been a reality for anyone? This has not been MY reality. There’s been a lot of times in life where I’ve made decisions where I felt like God was leading, but there was no yellow brick road. There was no neon signs pointing down saying, “This is the exact decision you need to make at this point in time. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was? If we knew exactly what job God wanted us to take. If we knew exactly—if you’re in high school—which person God wanted us to ask to prom. If we knew exactly the way to make the relationship right or head down the path of healing in a marriage that was broken. Wouldn’t it be nice if God made His will just a little bit more clear?? I don’t know about you, but there’s times when instead of a yellow brick road, I have a clandestine whisper from God, “This way.”

It’s a huge issue isn’t it? We live in a time in our culture where people would love to know what God wants them to do. In a survey done recently of any question you could ask God—One of the top four questions people wanted to ask God, if they had the chance to ask Him one thing, is, “God, what are you asking me to do with my life? Where do you want me to go? What do you want me to do? What’s your will for me?” That’s a tough question for us to answer, isn’t it? There’s a number of reasons why that’s a difficult thing. Let me give you for reasons from a great book that recently came out by a pastor by the name of Craig Groeschel, called Divine Direction. He said there’s four reasons making decisions is really, really hard for us. 1) We live in a world that’s filled with options. More options than people have ever had. Think about it. When I was growing up and we wanted to watch a movie at night, we would have to go to this place called Blockbuster. It was a physical building that housed VHS tapes. You know how you decided which movie you were going to watch that night? Whatever was there in that building. Now, you can hop on HULU, or Netflix, or Amazon Prime, and you can watch whatever you want to watch. What’s true of movies is true of the world we live in. Our options are vast!

The other thing that gets in the way is that we have this illusion of perfection when it comes to decision making, don’t we? This illusion that there’s this right decision and there’s a wrong decision, and if I make the wrong decision, the course of my life is going to be completely altered and the course of everybody’s life is going to be completely altered because I stepped out of the will of God. The illusion of perfection actually leads us to paralyzation, doesn’t it? Because instead of making the wrong decision, we just make no decision at all. So we have this idea….there’s so many options, there’s the illusion of perfection, and the third thing is that we haven’t developed the skill of decision making. This is part of my generation and the way we’re raising kids. We’re the helicopter parents, so we don’t let our kids make any decisions, we make them ALL for them. Which means when they eventually do have a decision to make, they’re going to have very little training in how to make wise decisions if there’s no yellow brick road in front of them. We aren’t trained in how to do this well.

The fourth thing is that we know how significant the decisions we make are. In his book, Divine Direction, Craig Groeschel says: “The decisions we make today determine the stories we tell tomorrow.” We know that weight, don’t we? We know that weight of saying yes or no to the job offer, of saying yes or no to the move. We know that weight of “What decision are we going to make?” It’s going to help shape the direction and course of our life.

If you’ve been with us over the last few weeks, we’ve been studying the life of Jonathan. If you have a Bible, turn to 1 Samuel 14, where we’re going to pick up the story again. Jonathan is the son of King Saul. He’s part of the Israelite army. The army is very under-resourced. They have TWO swords to their name—Jonathan has one and his dad Saul has the other. They are on one side of the valley and their enemy, the Philistines, are on the other side of the valley. The Israelites are in a place called Gibeah and the Philistines are in a place called Michmash. The Philistines have 30,000 chariots, they have 6,000 horsemen, they have numerous infantry army men just waiting to attack the Israelites. They are sending raids across every other day and are attacking the Israelites just to prove they are more powerful. There’s a day that comes where Jonathan refuses to just sit on the other side of the valley and exist. He decides he’s going to step into the gap and live. Last week, we studied this great phrase he says to his armor bearer….hey listen, maybe, just maybe, God will act on our behalf. And maybe He won’t. Maybe He’ll move and maybe He’ll work and maybe He won’t. We said last week that faith is not certainty that God WILL fill-in-the-blank, faith is the confidence that God CAN. He can do whatever He chooses to do. And He may decide to act on our behalf and He may not. But faith doesn’t have all the answers, it just has confidence that God has all the power. So, Jonathan, standing on that side of the valley, steps into it. He’s going to have a really interesting way of deciding where and how God is leading him.

Turn to 1 Samuel 14:6-12 and we’re going to pick up on decision making and the will of God according to Jonathan, son of the king. Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them. If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us.” So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” And the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you a thing.” And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.”

Pause. Can we admit this morning that that’s a very strange way of figuring out where God is leading and what God is doing? Let’s go to the enemy—who has way more resources than us, way more power—let’s show ourselves to them and if they say, “Come up to us, let’s fight,” we’re going to go up to them! And if they don’t say anything, we’re going to wait for them to come to us. Here’s what we typically like to do: We typically like to read a story from the Scriptures then we like to make a formula out of it. Here’s what we would do with Jonathan’s story. Here’s how I’m going to figure out if this is the job I’m suppose to take—I’m going to go and I’m going to stand at the door of that company (that I want to work for), and if they say, “Come in,” I’m going to know that I’ve got that job! Wouldn’t that be crazy? But that’s what we love to do with the Scriptures, we love to make formulas out of stories. This just in—the story that we read about Jonathan and the Philistines, in this passage of Scripture (1 Samuel 14), is meant to be descriptive. It’s meant to describe to us the way that this worked in the life of Jonathan. It’s not intended to be prescriptive. We’re not intended to make a formula out of this and then we can know exactly what God wants us to do at exactly any point in time. It would be like trying to make a formula out of Gideon putting a fleece out. The Bible tells us that story in Judges 6, not to tell us how it should work every time, but to tell us how it worked THAT time. And to give us principles by which to follow God. God doesn’t always work the way He worked for Jonathan. He doesn’t always do the exact same thing that He did. He doesn’t always work the way that He worked for Gideon—where sometimes the fleece is wet and we know exactly where to go and what to do. Sometimes God’s will feels a little bit more hidden than it does explicit.

As we read through the Scriptures, there’s four different types of wills of God. You need to know this as we embrace this subject and embark on it this morning. The first is the decretive will of God. This is the ‘Thus sayeth the Lord’ will of God. You cannot stop it, you cannot thwart it, you cannot change it. It’s what God has decided to do and what He wants to do, He will do. Because He’s God. The second is the permissive will of God, where God often says, “Hey, that’s not what I would choose, but I’m going to create space for humanity to make that decision.” ANY type of sin is the permissive will of God. He’s not pulling those strings. In fact, He’s saying, “Don’t do that! But I’m going to allow you to make choices and I’m going to allow you to step into the space where you have to follow me and you have to choose—what are you going to do?” The permissive will of God. The third is the moral will of God, where God says, “This is how I want you to operate and this is what I want you to do.” Think of the Ten Commandments. Think of the Sermon on the Mount. Forgive people. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. That’s the moral will of God. Paul illustrates this in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, where he says: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. You don’t need to pray about whether or not you should be grateful. You should! In fact, there’s a lot of things you don’t need to pray about whether you should do them or not, which is really helpful because you’re suppose to be praying all the time, so there’s things you don’t need to occupy your prayers with. Because God’s been really clear in laying this out for us.

The fourth is the specific will of God. That’s the question ‘Which job should I take?’, ‘Which person should I ask to prom?’, ‘How should I go about healing the relationship?’, ‘God, where are you leading us? What should we do and where should we go?’ We would LOVE, love, love, love a yellow brick road for the specific will of God, wouldn’t we? What should I do, God? Where should I head? But the reality is that living in God’s will is something we discover as we go, not a plan that we often know. It’s not a map that God gives us when we become a follower of Jesus and he’s going, “Alright, here’s exactly what I want you to do with your life at every twist and every turn.” I’m telling you what decision to make and what direction to go. NO! Living in God’s will is far more a discovery than it is a plan. It’s far more walking with God than it is executing this sort of plan that He drops into our lap. I’ll prove that to you, because you’ve often identified “Oh, this is God’s will,” in hindsight, haven’t you? Where we’ve walked through a season—maybe a season we wouldn’t choose or a season we would love to hit ‘fast forward’ through—and God starts to do something in our heart and our life through that season and we go, “Okay, God, maybe I’m starting to get the picture a little bit. You’re up to something in that time.” God’s will is something we discover as we go, rather than a plan that we know, or a plan that we execute, or directions that we take and just simply implement. It’s far more relational and, I would argue, it’s far better than just executing a plan that He gives us. Here’s the yellow brick road, Paulson, just check your brain at the door and now start walking. That’s not how He works.

This morning, I want to invite us to wrestle with this concept. If it’s not the way that Jonathan does it that we’re suppose to be prescribing for people, or if it’s not the way that Gideon does it, how in the world do we know ‘God, where are you leading? God, what are doing?’ if there’s no yellow brick road? How do we learn to really follow you? Will you turn to Romans 12:1-2 with me? Paul is going to wrestle with that question. At the end of this little section of Scripture (just two verses), Paul is going to say, “Then you will know what is the will of God, His good, His pleasing, and His perfect will.” At the end of what we’re going to talk about, Paul goes, “You’ll start to be able to test and discern and know what God’s will is, but there’s a few steps in the process of discovery and following that precede and then you will know.” Let me give these to you this morning, and I want to invite you to have a situation in mind, if you have one that you’re facing right now, and to hold it in front of God and say, “God, as we study your Scriptures, would you speak to this this morning?”

Listen to the way the Apostle Paul begins this section: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. {The NIV says: Therefore….in view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as living sacrifices.} Here’s what Paul wants to do before he ever gets to a discussion about God’s will, about the yellow brick road, as it were. He wants to remind you of where you stand. Before you ever seek to hear where God’s leading you, he needs to know that you know where you stand right now. Which is in His mercy and in His grace. So the very first step in saying, “Hey, God, where are you leading” is to remind our hearts and our souls that we stand right now in the grace of God. {Slide: Remember God’s grace.} When Paul points back to the mercies of God, he’s thinking of Romans 1-11, which laid out the reality that you and I are in desperate need and that God is a good God who steps into time and space, in the person and work of Jesus, to take our sin on himself and give us his righteousness. He reminded us in Romans 8:1 — There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. He reminded us that the Spirit of God lives inside of us, that it testifies that we are sons and daughters of the Most High God and that nothing can separate us from the love of God that’s in Christ Jesus our Lord. {Somebody say Amen!} That is great news!

Why does Paul start there? Maybe because he needs to. Maybe because he’s remembering back to not a ‘preacher of Christ,’ but a ‘persecutor of Christians.’ Maybe he’s remembering all the twists and turns that his life took leading up to this point. That he’s the chief of all sinners and that Jesus reached down in his mercy and grabbed him and rescued him. Maybe Paul needs to remember like we need to remember this morning, that our failure has not thwarted His faithfulness. Maybe Paul needed to remember like we need to remember, that His mercy preserves His mission in our lives. Make no mistake about it, friends, the decisions that we make have a very real effect on the course of our life. But no decision that you make can thwart the mercy and mission of God in your life.

So we start here because we have the narrative that often says, “I’ve screwed up way too bad to ever be back on that yellow brick road or on the mission of God.” We start at the grace of God because we have this sneaking suspicion in the back of our mind, the narrative that plays over and over again, “God could never use a person like me!” What Paul wants to do before we ever get to wrestling with what God’s will is for our life, he needs us to know that we stand in grace, therefore, God’s will is accessible for us! For YOU!! God’s will is possible for you. Here’s the way Paul says it in Romans 8:28 — And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. That means that God is the grand weaver. The successes, the failures, the joys, the pain, the celebration, and the lament….He brings it all together to work for your good in your life. His mercy opens the door for you to step into His mission. You stand in grace.

Here’s what he says next: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. He’s painting a picture of what a Jewish person would have understood very well. And that would have been walking up the steps of the temple with an animal, maybe a goat, maybe a dove, in hand to bring as a sacrifice. To say, “God, this is what we’re giving back to you to make ourselves right in relationship with you.” So Paul says instead of bringing a sacrifice now, you ARE the sacrifice. Your life is the sacrifice on the altar of God, that you get the chance to say with every decision that you make, every rhythm of your heart, every decision of your soul, “God, I am yours!”

So, here’s his invitation — first, remember God’s grace; second, relinquish your rights. Crucified living positions us to step into the abundant life that God has for us. Here’s the way the author/pastor G. Campbell Morgan said it: “Wherever there are hearts waiting for the Voice of God, that Voice is to be heard.” Here’s what he hits on. He hits on the reality that oftentimes the decisions that we make, or the decision to say ‘no’ to God, starts to harden our hearts to God. Maybe, just maybe, you’re in the place this morning where, instead of asking God, “God, where are you leading me and God, what do you want me to do?” we just get back to square one and say we stand in grace and the posture of our heart is “God, I’m willing to do whatever you call me to do, I’m willing to go wherever you call me to go.” The answer is YES, before I know what the question is. Surrendered lives lead to open ears. Oftentimes we’re not able to hear God because we’re looking for the yellow brick road so hard that we fail to just stop and say, “God, I’m willing to obey—wherever you want me to go, whatever you want me to do, I am yours.” Maybe the question this morning is not God, what’s your will for my life? Maybe the question for us to wrestle with is God, am I surrendered fully to you? {Would you look up at me for a second?} If you want to know where God is going to lead you in the future, be faithful where you are today.

I can remember as a college student that I was wrestling with God. I wanted to serve Him with everything that I had. I was serving in Young Life in the evenings, but in the morning, I was opening at Starbucks and was working as a barista there. Then I would go to school and I had to do this practicum internship where I was working at an Early Childhood Learning center. I’m thinking to myself, the entire time, “God, how in the world are these two things—coffee and kids—every going to come together to do something in my life? I want to follow you, Jesus. I want to spread the glory of your name.” Little did I know that over a decade later I would be working at a church that owned a preschool and a coffee shop! No clue! The journey for me, and maybe the journey for you too, just to be faithful exactly where you are. To say, “God, I’m not controlling this thing, you are. I want you to lead and I want you to guide and so I’m going to be faithful to follow exactly where I am today and trust that you will lead me somewhere else someday, if that’s what you have for me.” But my goal is surrender. Offer yourselves, Paul says, as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. The problem we have with that is that sometimes it just doesn’t move fast enough for us, right? Come on, God, if you could just execute it a little bit quicker that would be great.

Here’s the way Paul continues (verse 2): Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. {Quick time out.} Did you know that you live in a world that has a different set of values than that of the Kingdom of God? There’s different things that they hold up as preeminent, as good, as “the way.” What Paul says is that if you ever want to make a decision that puts you in the will of God, you first have to put the will of God in you! You’ve got to understand the way that He works. You’ve got to understand what He is like. So here’s what we do — First of all, we remember that we stand in grace. Second, we relinquish our rights and say, “God, the answer’s yes, what’s the question?” Third, we say, “We’re going to start to renew our mind.” Because if hearing God is sort of like God holding a walkie-talkie, renewing our mind is us getting on the right channel so we can actually hear what He’s inviting us to do, how he’s inviting us to follow.

Why is it important to renew our mind? Let me give you two reasons: First, as we renew our mind we start to understand the personality of God. We start to understand what God is like, the things that He loves, the things that He laments. That’s really, really important, because sometimes God’s will for us is not that we follow some yellow brick road. Sometimes God’s will for us is….we decide. Sometimes He goes, “There’s two great decisions in front of you. What do you want to do? You decide.” The second reason it’s so important we renew our mind is that it starts to align us with the way of Jesus. When God says, “You decide,” we know what’s in His heart. We know that His calling for us is that we would forgive those around us. We know that He’s the kind of God who invites us to love our enemies. In fact, He’s the God who, instead of killing his enemies, died for them. We know that He wants us, not to judge the people around us, to love the people around us, even those who are adamantly, vehemently against us. We know that He’s inviting us to rid ourselves of anger and rid ourselves of lust. We just try to download the Sermon on the Mount into our lives.

We often want to know what job God wants us to take, or where God wants us to move. I think sometimes God just says, “Hey, will you renew your mind? Will you forgive the people that have wronged you?” Will you release the tendency to judge? Will you do the things I’ve already told you to do, and in so doing start to understand who I am? Instead of praying what job to take, will you pray that my Spirit would empower you to forgive, to love? Here’s the way the great, early church father St. Augustine put it: “Love God and do what you want: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.” Maybe it’s not a yellow brick road that you’re looking for, maybe it’s a rhythm of your soul that you’re trying to cultivate.

So how do we do that? We spend time in the Scriptures, because we need to download this new OS, the Kingdom operating system, into our hearts and into our lives, because it’s completely contrary to the way that the world operates. So we spend time in the Scriptures, but it’s not just the token time in the morning that we often feel like we should do. It’s a discipline, a practice, where we start to learn and hear, “God, what are you like? What do you love? I want to learn to love you.” So it’s time in the Scriptures, but it’s time in silence and solitude. It’s time in just listening. God, what are you up to? What are you up to in me? What are you up to in your world? What are you up to in this community that you love? We start to renew our mind. God, what are you up to in my family? What are you up to in my kids? We start to develop rhythms of our life. It’s going to feel real awkward at first, but as you step into it it’s going to feel like life. We start to develop rhythms where we listen and where we hear from God.

I can remember when we were moving from California to Colorado in the early 90’s as a family. We had this little video recorder that we were documenting our trip with. It was fourteen hours of just ridiculousness, with a few comedic moments somewhere in there. I can remember as a kid, when we got here, wanting to tape a Bronco game (before we had DVRs). I grabbed this family vacation tape and I put it in. I was leaving and I wanted to see how the Broncos were going to blow whatever game they were in. I put it in there and hit RECORD. I can remember the next time that my parents went to watch that video, they were not happy with me!! I think that’s the way that downloading KingdomOS works in our life. As we start to read the Scriptures, we start to tape over the narrative that we often have of achievement, of power, of authority, and we start to say, “Alright, God, where do you want me to go? What do you want me to do? How do you want me to live? What are the rhythms you want me to set up?” Some of us have some things playing in the back of our mind that we need to tape over in order to be able to hear where God wants us to go. If you’re seeking direction, can I invite you to spend time with the author of life? If you want to know where to go, spend time with the one who holds the map. Allow Him to lead.

Here’s the way Paul ends this. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern…. {Just a quick time out.} Paul doesn’t say, “And then you will know exactly what God wants you to do and where God wants you to go.” Isn’t that a little bit troubling? We’ve soaked our soul in grace. We’ve surrendered our life to God. We’ve renewed our mind through the Scriptures and then God says, “Okay, now you’re ready. Not to know exactly what to do, but to just step into life and try it out.” That’s what that word testing means. It was the way that they would identify if a metal was legitimate, was genuine. If gold really was gold, or if silver really was silver. They put it through a series of tests. So God says, “Okay, after you’re soaked in grace, and after you’re surrendered to me, and after you have taken this disposition where you’re renewing your mind, THEN you’re ready to test.” Not to know. Why? Because God’s will is often discovery we make as we go, not just a plan that we get to execute. It’s a discovery we make, not a direction that we take from God. That by testing you may discern—you can try it out, you can step into life and see… As a writer of Proverbs says (16:9 NKJV) — A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. So step in and see and test. And then you’ll be able to know the will of God. Why? Because it’s good, acceptable, pleasing (is the NIV word). Where you step in and you go, “Oh yeah, that’s my God. That’s why He created me. That’s the life (even if it’s hard) He’s inviting me to live with Him.” We realize his good plan. I often tell people that knowing the will of God is a discovery we make from the inside, not information we get from the outside. That knowing the will of God is something we step into and go, “Oh yeah, this is the will of God for me. I taste and see that He is good.” Not, there’s the will of God for me over there and let me go try to find it. No! It’s something that as we live with Jesus, He confirms in our heart and in our life, “This is where I’m inviting you to go with me.”

So the question you may be asking is “Okay, Paulson, so we’ve soaked in grace, we’ve surrendered our life, we’ve renewed our mind, and now realize his good plan. Can you give me some handles on how to do that? Sure. Let’s go back to 1 Samuel 14:7. Here’s what Jonathan does in trying to figure out what God’s will is for his life. And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart.” “What do you want to do?” the armor-bearer says to Jonathan, “Let’s do that.” We’ve come up with this really faulty narrative in the church that says, “If I want to do it, it must be evil.” Right? Like this is my desire, so I’ve got to push against that with everything I have, because God would never want me to actually do something that I WANT to do. Okay. How’s that worked out for you? That sounds like following Jesus means drudgery. Yes, we’re intended to die to ourself to find out what it means to truly live, which means that as we walk with Jesus, we can trust our new heart that He’s given us—a heart of flesh that replaces a heart of stone. So we go, “Alright, God. I’m surrendered to you, I’m soaked in grace, my mind’s renewed, now where do you want me to go?” Sometimes He says, “What’s on your heart? Go there, do that.”

Here’s the second thing he (Jonathan) does. He says, “We’re going to show ourselves to the Philistines.” We’re going to be vulnerable. We’re stepping out. We are, as it were, looking for a red light from God, not a green light from God. We assume the light’s green until we get a red light. Do you know it’s just as easy for God to close a door as it is for Him to open it? He’s God. So if there’s a few open doors in front of you, which one do you want to go through? Go through it! Follow Him. Trust Him. Walk with Him. Then allow Him to close doors as He sees fit. Certainly, there are times when we are called to wait on God. I’m not saying that’s not a reality. I’m simply saying that we often choose to wait and be disobedient to where we sense God’s leading us to go, because we’re just paralyzed with fear about taking a step. What would it look like if we said, “God, we’re going to be vulnerable.”

Then he says, “If they say this….then we will go.” Not, hey, then we’ll have a prayer meeting and we’ll decide if we want to go. No. Once they do this, we’re going to follow you, God, and we are going to go. It’s immediate obedience. Because God’s will is not something that you look FOR, out there. It’s something that you find yourself IN as you walk with Him.

I don’t know what situation you have in front of you this morning, but can I invite you to just close your eyes right now. We’re going to close our time and come to the table in just a moment. Can I invite you to just take a deep breath. What would it look like to just remember God’s grace in your life right now? That His mercy over you preserves His mission through you. This morning, what does it look like for you to relinquish control, because the people who hear the voice of God are those who have lives surrendered to him. To renew your mind today is Jesus’s invitation to you. Not go here, or do this, or do that, but will you get to know ME? Will you get to know what I’m like? Finally, maybe you’re in the will of God—would you just celebrate that today? It’s good, it’s pleasing.

We’ll close our time with this — Maybe instead of asking, “God, what’s your will for my life?” maybe we change the question just a little bit and we start to ask, “God, how can I give my life for your will?” It’s a question Jesus asked in the garden on his way to the cross. He cries out, “Father, if there’s another way, let’s do it that way, but not my will, but yours be done.” What’s the bigger picture? What’s the story you’re telling? What’s the redemptive plan you’re executing? When we start to ask that question, ‘How can I give my life for your will, God?’ it starts to become all the more clear where God wants to lead us. So as we come to the table this morning to celebrate a God who says, “I love you enough to give my life for you,” will you say back to Him, “God, I’m surrendering my life to your will?” {Ryan interjects communion directions.} Let’s pray.

Jesus, as we come this morning, would you remind us that you’re good, that you love us. For those who are seeking guidance and direction from you today, may their lives be surrendered, may their souls be saturated in grace, may their minds be renewed, and then would you speak and would you lead and would you guide? We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.