Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
- What are some of the ways you’ve made some big life decisions in the past? If you had heard this sermon before you made a big decision, what would you have done differently?
- Read Romans 12:1-2. How can you tell if a decision is flowing from being conformed to the world or from being transformed by the Spirit?
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard on Sunday?
Javier is 18, just graduated from high school, has three college acceptances locally and two that are out of state. Also, the military recruiter has come and met with Javier and has promised him something for his future. Javier is wondering, "What am I supposed to do? Which direction am I supposed to go? What do I choose?" Latasha, she's 28. She's dating Jamal, and they have been dating for some time now, almost a year. She knows that Jamal is interested potentially in marriage, and she's wondering to herself, "Is this the right person? Is this what I'm supposed to do? Is this the direction I'm supposed to go?" William's 32. He's single. He's a Western New York native, graduated from a university here, and got a job with a local company in Western New York and has been working his way up, but recently a business headhunter found him from out West and said, "I've got another position for you out West. We'll pay you 15 to 20% more salary if you'll move."
William is wondering whether or not he should do that or whether he shouldn't. Anthony and Maria, they've been married for five years. She's pregnant. They're living in an apartment, but they're investigating whether or not they should buy a house. If so, which one? They're debating all of those things in their mind. Mr. and Mrs. Graham, they're retired, Western New York natives, have kids and grandkids in Western New York, and they're also kind of thinking to themselves, "What does life look like next?" They're active in their community. They're active in their local church, but they've been hanging out online a bit together looking at dream homes in Florida and trying to determine whether they should move there or whether they shouldn't.
You see, we've all been faced with decisions, and all of these decisions have some type of consequence at some level. Right? Whether I talked about a scenario that you have faced or you will face, all of us make decisions, and some of those decisions are really hard, and they're really complex. Some of those decisions are a little bit easier. The truth is that once we get to be a little more on the adulting side of life, decisions sometimes feel like they're more complex and more difficult and more challenging. We all look back and say, "I wish I could make decisions like I did when I was a little kid." You know how I made decisions when I was a little kid? I just decided, and I didn't care. That's what I did. I just decided to do something, and that's what I did.
Now, some of you may have, when you were little kids, made decisions this way. Anybody remember the Magic 8-Ball? Anybody at all, Magic 8-Ball? It's this little ball that you ask it questions, and then when you turn it over, there's this little thing inside, and it tells you the answer. This is an easy way to make decisions. It's probably a way that many of you have actually tried in your lives, and it really hasn't worked out so well for you. Let's give this a whirl. Shall we? See, it's got this little thing on the bottom. There's this little cube in there or something. It comes up through this murky blue water that's kind of freaky and scary when you turn it over.
I'm going to ask it a question. Are you ready for this? This is live. We don't know what's going to happen. Magic 8-Ball, does Edie still think I'm tremendously good-looking? The answer, "You may rely on it." Boom. This bad boy spits facts, spitting facts. Let's try another one because right now me and the 8-Ball are super good friends. 8-Ball, could I right now, as a 49-year-old man, try out for the Atlanta Braves and make the roster? The answer is, "Ask again later." When I'm 50? Are you out of your mind? Let's try one more. Will the Buffalo Bills win the Super Bowl before we all die? Magic 8-Ball says, "Very doubtful." You stay over here and keep your opinions to yourself.
This is no way to make decisions. Right? Except for the first one, that one was correct. This is no way to make decisions. Sometimes the way that people make decisions are not far removed from that. In other words like, "Hey, I've got a decision to make. What should I do? I don't know. Let's go eat Chinese food." Why? Because you like sweet and sour chicken? No, because I get a fortune cookie, and I can crack it open and figure out what I'm supposed to do with my life. Now, no one actually does that. We open them. You eat those stale bad boy cookies. Those are awesome. Then, you look at the little thing in the middle. I got one one time that was fantastic. I took a picture of it. I sent it to somebody, and I still can't remember what it was. I tried to find it before this, but I can not find it, so whatever.
Now, we laugh about this kind of decision-making, fortune cookie decision-making or Magic 8-Ball decision-making, but the truth is we're like, "Hey, we laugh at it because we're people of faith. We know how to make decisions." Hang on. Hang on, cowboy. I've been around people of faith all my life. I have been around church life all over the place, and I have had loads of conversations with people whose decision-making is the rough equivalent of Magic 8-Ball or fortune cookie decision-making. I've had these conversations. These aren't like, "Hey, maybe so. Maybe possibly." No, no. I've actually had these conversations. You know, when you run into the guy, it's like, "Pastor Jerry, I want to tell you about something that's awesome. It's so cool. It's incredible." They're the signs people. It's the signs people.
"It was so cool. I got to tell you about this. It's awesome. I have a big decision like, 'What am I supposed to do with my life?' I was out on a hike, and then I was looking up in the sky. There was a cloud in the shape of a pill bottle, and I knew God was saying be a pharmacist." I'm sorry. What? You got the signs people or there's some people that are like, "I would never do that. I'm going to consult with the Bible," but it's basically like the Bible Ouija board. You kind of crack it open and start rolling your finger around. "I'm going to stop right here. What does this say?" You know how dangerous that is? You heard about that guy who did that. He kind of cracked it open. He's like, "I'm just going to see what it says." He stopped on Isaiah chapter 20 verse number three, says, "My servant will be stripped and barefoot for three years."
He's like, "No, wait a minute. I can't do that," so he flipped it to the page, whatever, and started doing it again. He's like, "I can't do that." He stopped on Luke 10:37. It says, "Go and do likewise." "I'm not doing that." Then, he says, "I'm going to flip it again." He flips it again, and he goes over to John chapter number 13 verse number 27. It says, "Whatever you're going to do, do quickly." Don't use the Bible like that. There's context here, and it matters. This is not the way that we're supposed to make decisions, so how do we discern how to make big decisions or, maybe say it this way, how do we actually discern what God's will is for our lives? How do we get to those places? Well, if you have a Bible that's near you in a seat back or on a table or if you've got a device that you want to look it up, I want you to turn to the book of Romans. It's kind of early on in the New Testament.
If you don't know where the New Testament is, if you're new to all of this, kind of take your Bible and cut it in half, not literally cut it in half, but open it kind of halfway. You're almost to the New Testament. After you get past Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you're going to be right there kind of knocking on the door. After the book of Acts will be the book of Romans. Romans chapter number 12, and I want us to see something that's really clearly stated from the apostle Paul as he's writing to the church at Rome. I want you to listen to what he says in verses one and two. He says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship. Do not conform..." Listen to these words, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will."
We've got a passage of scripture right in front of us talking to us about how to understand God's will. Now, let me pause you for a quick second because maybe we need a refresher on the idea of the will of God kind of from a big picture standpoint. A number of weeks ago in another series that I did, I was talking about the will of God, and I basically said this. The will of God has kind of two different dimensions, if we could say it this way, two different dimensions. I'll make them simple. There's the sovereign will of God. Here's what that means. That means that this is the will of God that is going to happen no matter what. It can not be stopped. It can not be thwarted. It can not be messed up because God has intended for this to happen, and it will happen. God determined that Jesus Christ would come and be born of a virgin, live a sinless life, go to a cross and die, rise from the dead, ascend back to the Father, and one day will come again.
This is the sovereign will of God, when Jesus will return to consummate all of history and make all things new. This is what's happening. There's no changing it. There's no messing it up. That's the sovereign will of God. Got that? Then, there's the moral will of God. By moral will of God, it basically just means this. It means God's desires for human beings flourishing. In other words, I could say it this way. It's what God wants for you. God's moral will is what God wants for you, what he desires for you. That's the thing that's in view here predominantly when we're reading Romans chapter number 12. Now, what's interesting about that is that Paul says that we can test and approve what God's will is. Could you imagine that, test and approve what God's will is?
That phrase actually means this. It means that we can come to agree with God and understand his will with an eye toward doing what he says. That's really what that means. We can test and approve what God's will is. We agree with God and understand his will with an eye toward doing exactly what he says. How do we do that? Well, Paul gave us a negative application, and he gave us a positive application. In other words, he told us what not to do, and then he told us what to do. What did he say not to do? Here's what he said, "Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world." What does that mean? Well, quite literally speaking, the phrase "conformed to the pattern of this world" means this. Do not be pressed into the mold of.
How many of you when you were little played with Play-Doh? Those that didn't raise your hand, I'm just sorry for your childhood. I apologize in advance. Everyone should have played with Play-Doh. How many of you ate Play-Doh when you were little kids? You see my hand? Straight up. Not ashamed, by the way. Salty and decent. It's Play-Doh. It wasn't bad. Whatever. It may explain some things at this point in my life. You used to could buy some other pieces to go with your Play-Doh that weren't Play-Doh. They were plastic. You could take your Play-Doh, and you could put it into these pieces and wind it up. Then, it would do all kinds of stuff. It would make Play-Doh spaghetti it would spit out or it'd make little forms of things. When you put the Play-Doh in, what happened is this. Whatever this little plastic kind of apparatus was, it started pressing the Play-Doh into its mold such that when it came out, you had what you had.
Now, the interesting thing is that Play-Doh, if you just leave it alone, all it does is get hard. It's useful for nothing eventually. You know what you do? You just throw it out or lick it a couple times if you like salt. Then, you just throw it out, which, by the way, is exactly what the world does to you. It wants to press you into its mold of thinking about everything. By the way, once you've given yourself to that, and you're like, "Oh, man. Yeah. I'm just like everybody else. I'm just like the world now," guess what the world does. It's done with you at this point. I just wanted to conform you into me, and then I don't have any use for you at this point. It promises you the world and gives you nothing.
Paul says, "I want you to avoid that." It can happen to all of us by the things that we consume kind of in our minds and in our hearts and all of that stuff. If we're not careful for how we do that, we start finding ourselves being more and more pressed into the mold of the world. When I say the world, I'm not talking about the earth, like the big blue ball. I'm talking about the system that's set up that actually is in opposition to the nature of God. It's kind of the everything that's not God system. It wants to plunge you into its shape so that you look like it instead of looking like God. Paul says don't do that. Don't conform to the world. What did he say to do? He said, "Don't be conformed to the world, but instead be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
Now, this is a remarkable statement that he makes when he talks about being transformed by the renewing of our mind. This idea of the mind is not just about our intellectual capacity. In fact, Professor Douglas Moo, when he talked about this, he said this has to do with our moral reasoning and our practical righteousness. It's not just about the intellectual capacity we have to understand concepts. It's more than that. It actually involves the totality of who we are even though it's talking about the idea of our mind. You see, what we fail to remember is this. Our minds have been corrupted. Our minds have been poisoned by sin and the fall, and we don't even remember that. In fact, before we even came to know Jesus, do you know that your mind was actually sabotaged by the enemy? You're like, "What?" Yes, because he wants to blind your mind to the glory of who Jesus is.
Paul said as much, by the way, in 2 Corinthians chapter four. He said this, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they can not see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." Prior to coming to know Christ, the enemy of our soul, Satan himself, is endeavoring to blind our minds to the glory of who Jesus actually is. You see, there's a fight over how we perceive the world. The enemy wants us to be pressed into the mold of the world, but what God desires is that we actually are transformed by the renewing of our mind. What we have to remember, ladies and gentlemen, is that that's not just a once for all thing. Even when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we still have to fight for this ongoing renewal of our mind because we're constantly being poisoned by the effects of the fall.
Paul talked about this because when he was writing here in the book of Romans in chapter 12, if you look at what he said in chapter eight, he talked about this idea. He said, "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace." You see, we've got this choice to make. Paul, when he was writing to the Ephesians, talked about this idea as well. Here's what he said in Ephesians four, "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, and to be made new," look at this, "in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
Are you getting the picture that, not only here in the book of Romans but also in 2 Corinthians four and also in Ephesians chapter four, Paul is really serious about this idea of the renewal of our minds? We have to be transformed in the renewing of our minds, but how do we do that? Paul is serious about the renewal of our minds. How does that happen? Okay, yeah. I hear you, apostle Paul. You want my mind renewed, but how does that occur? Well, that word renewal that Paul uses, he only uses it one other time. In fact, it's only used one other time in the entirety of the New Testament. I was teaching last week out of the book of Titus, and I was in chapter two, but if I would have moved over to chapter three, you would have seen this exact same word in the Greek used, this renewal or renewing word used. Here's what Paul said there. Jesus, he's talking about, "saved us not because of righteous things we had done but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit."
Did you catch that? Renewal by the Holy Spirit. If the question is this, "How does my mind get renewed?" the answer is simple: by the Holy Spirit. That is how our minds get renewed. If that's then the case, stay with me here. I'm having to kind of take you a little bit on a journey of sorts. If that's the case, that our minds are renewed only by the Holy Spirit, that leaves us here in Romans chapter 12 with a real clear choice of the way of life. It's super simple. Here's the clear choice. Conform to the world or be transformed by the Spirit. Those are the options. Conform to the world or be transformed by the Spirit. This is what life looks like. Why is this important? Listen carefully. Because every decision you make will flow from one of those two places. If you are conformed to the world, then the decisions that you make will flow from that place, but if you have been transformed and are continuing to be transformed by the Spirit through the renewing of your mind, your decisions will come from that place.
You see how important this is? Paul set this up for us really clearly. Conform to the world or be transformed by the Spirit. Say, "Okay, Jerry. I get it. Only the Holy Spirit can do that, but what is the means that the Holy Spirit uses to transform me and renew my mind?" Glad you asked. It's pretty simple. The Bible tells us that the word of God is the sword of the Spirit. It's the sword of the Spirit. This is the very thing, primarily, that God uses in our lives to see the renewal of our minds. He primarily uses the tool of his word to change the way that we think. You see, the Spirit of God is working both externally and internally in our lives. Externally, the Spirit of God is trying to bring to light the revelation of the word of God so that it comes upon us. This is what's happening to us externally. Internally, the Spirit is testifying to our spirit that this is the truth of who God is and is moving our hearts from being hard and callous to being willing and submissive and obedient.
The Spirit of God is working externally and internally to transform us by the renewing of our mind that comes through the illumination of his word as he reveals to us the glory of Jesus. This is something we have to pay really close attention to. Now that I've kind of dug in exegetically and taught you a bunch of stuff related to this, I want to actually try to press this a little farther in our lives practically because I know when you come sometimes, it's like, "Dude, you're diving deep. You're kind of walking through stuff, and then I'm just like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa.'" Okay, but let's actually now ask some questions that could get us to the idea of godly decision-making.
If we want to make decisions that are consistent with the heart of God, what God wants for us, then there are some questions that you could look at as a matrix. That doesn't mean, by the way, every decision that you make in your life is not going to be, hey, you can open the Bible, and it's going to tell you in fine print what that's going to be, "Buy this house. You need a red car." None of that's actually in the Bible. Right? I get that. How do we actually process big decisions? There's nothing in the Bible that tells me, "Where am I supposed to work?" Nothing there. How do we process these kinds of decisions? How do we get to godly decision-making? I'm going to give you five questions that you can ask and that I would encourage you to ask of yourself whenever you're facing these big decisions.
Here's the first one. Am I ready to take God seriously? That's the first question that you need to ask of yourself. Am I ready to take God seriously? You say, "Jerry, that should go without saying in godly decision-making." I don't know. There's not much anymore in my mind that goes without saying. I've been around too many people who've made too many pill bottle cloud decisions, fortune cookie decisions Magic 8-Ball decisions, about big things that I don't think it goes without saying anymore because I've had conversations with people who are talking to me about big decisions, and here's what I came away from that conversation realizing. They're not actually taking God seriously. They're not taking God seriously in this decision-making process. This is actually the beginning point. We have to take him seriously.
The writer of Proverbs said this, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Do you know where wisdom begins? It begins by taking God seriously, reverently saying, "God, you're God. I'm not. I want what you want." This is actually the very beginning of wisdom, and then God begins to unfold it for us more and more. If we're not willing to take God seriously, we don't even have a beginning place to make any kind of godly decision. Does that make sense? Let me give you a second question. Has God already spoken to this issue? You want to make a godly decision? You can do it by saying, "Has God already spoken to this issue?" You know what? The Spirit of God, through the apostles and the associates of apostles and certainly through the Lord Jesus, has given us the word of God.
In other words, what we have now before us is we can ask this question about decisions that we're making, "Is there a command that I'm supposed to obey? Is there a promise that God gave me regarding this decision? Is there a principle that I learned from this that I can now embrace? Is there an example for me to follow here in this?" In other words, has God already spoken to this issue? We're kind of walking around asking questions about ourselves, "Lord, I'm not really sure. We've been dating for a while, and we're talking about being intimate and having sex. We're just kind of dating and stuff. I'm really just trying to work through this." Stop working through it. God's already spoken.
1 Thessalonians four, "It is God's will." Anybody unclear? "It is God's will that you should be sanctified," that means set apart, "that you should avoid sexual immorality, that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the Pagans who do not know God." God's already spoken. You don't even have to work it out like, "I don't know. Is that really clear?" I don't know. Is this clear? It is God's will not to do this. That's as clear as he can be. Right? Maybe you're thinking to yourself, "Man, I want to give my life to just chasing dollars, man. It's what I want to do. I want to have money, money, money. That's what I'm all about. I want to chase those dollars."
Well, if you want to get serious with God and ask the question, "Has God already spoken to this?" listen to the words of Jesus, "No one can serve two masters. Either you'll hate the one and love the other or you'll be devoted to the one and despise the other. You can not serve both God and money." God's already spoken. "I'm going to pray about it." You don't need to pray about it. Stop praying and start obeying. It's real simple. You see, we first kind of have to take God seriously with our decision-making process because the taking God seriously is actually the beginning of wisdom. That's where it all starts. Then, we have to ask the question, "Has God already spoken to this?" because if he has, my role is not to ponder. It's just to obey.
Let me give you a third question. Is this decision motivated by love for God and others? Is this decision motivated by love for God and for others? Let me explain what I mean. Do you remember when Jesus was asked, "What's the greatest commandment"? He was asked by teachers of the law, "What's the greatest commandment?" Do you know how many commandments there were? There were like 630-some odd commandments in the Old Testament. They're saying, "Which one of these is like towering over them all? Which is the biggest one?" Partly, they're trying to test him, partly trying to trap him. Do you remember what Jesus said? His words were recorded in Matthew 22, "Jesus replied, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment, and the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself.'" This is how Jesus summed up life. Love God with everything you have and love people.
If your decision-making around these issues is not thinking about, "Is my decision motivated by a love for God and a love for others?" then we're not really thinking with the mind of Christ. This is a part and parcel of how we have to think. In fact, when Paul talked about this idea, here's the great thing. We're not under the old law anymore. The Old Testament law does not have any binding on us. We've been set free in Jesus Christ. Right? The only law we're under is what Paul called the law of Christ. He said this in Galatians six, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." What's the law of Christ? Is this another set of rules that I have to obey? No.
You know what the law of Christ is? The law of love. Love God. Love people. There you have it, the law of Christ. That's why this has to be foundational to our decision-making. Is this decision motivated by a love for God and a love for others or is it just motivated by a love for selfish indulgence? Great question to ask. Let me give you a fourth. Do I have a community of godly counselors? This is a great question to ask. Do I have a community of godly counselors? You do realize that in life, we're not meant to be lone rangers. We're not meant to be completely and totally isolated, even in our decision-making. The writer of Proverbs said it this way, "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors, they succeed."
I think it's imperative for you and I to understand that when we're talking about big decisions in our lives, it's really helpful to have godly people around us that help us think about these decisions. We've got to make the decisions, but we need godly people around us. Notice what I just said, godly people around you. I'm talking about people that know the word of God, people that are walking faithfully, people that have been obedient, people that have a track record of faithfulness to Jesus. I'm not talking about people who know more names of the Kardashians than they do the disciples. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about people who love God, who walk with God, who serve God, who can speak into our lives the word of God to help be able to sharpen our lives. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." We need those people in our lives.
Do you realize that when Paul was going around on his missionary journeys and he was planting churches, do you know that he never planted a church with just a single leader? He planted them with a team of elders. Why? Because decision-making needs to be in community so that we can discern the voice of the Spirit. Do you know that when the church, the early church in the book of Acts, was facing a really difficult test about how you minister to Jews and Gentiles at the same time, do you what they did? Did just one person stand up and say, "This is what we're doing"? No. You've got Peter and Paul and James and all of these people gathering together, seeking, "What does the Spirit want for us in this process? What does that look like for us?" Together, they did that.
You know, I had heard recently about a story coming out of one of our community groups at The Chapel. In this particular group, there was a husband and wife, a couple, a family, that was considering purchasing a house, but they didn't really know for sure if they should or they shouldn't because they were trying to determine, "Is this the right stewardship of where we are in our lives, what kind of funds we have available, maybe our ability to be able to serve and give to the kingdom? Is this going to strap us? What's the deal?" You know what they did? Do you know that with other people in their community group, they actually opened up their entire financial portfolio and put it in front of them and said, "Would you help us think about and pray about all of this decision so that we do what God wants the way that God wants it"? Now, that's a choice that they made.
It's not something that you're compelled to do, or I'm not even saying that you have to use that as a model or an example. I'm just saying this is a great reminder of brothers and sisters who are godly, who love the Lord, who are in this thing together, and they got feedback from people who are praying with them and helping them think about this. They ended up, by the way, buying the house because everybody together sought the leadership of God's Spirit and felt like this was good stewardship, it was the right thing to do, and they moved forward in that. We need one another, godly people, not just anybody, not just your dude, your homie from high school. It's like, "Dude, yeah. We played basketball together. It was awesome. I'm going to ask him what I should do with the rest of my life," even though you've looked at his life, and you're like, "I don't want that to be the answer." Godly people around you.
Let me give you a fifth question. This one's going to seem odd to you, maybe. Do I understand the Father's heart? This one is one that I really, really, really want you to get. You see, here's why I say this. AW Tozer said at the beginning of his book The Knowledge of the Holy, he said, "Whatever comes to your mind, the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you." See, some of you have an idea about God that he's like a grumpy grandfather who's really old with a long beard, kind of up in heaven just kind of being basically Gandalf from Lord of the Rings. That's your picture. That's God. That's what you think about. First thing that comes to your mind, that's it. Some of you have the picture of some God who's really distant. You don't know quite how to formulate in your head, but he's just really distant. He's just looking for me to do something stupid so he can zap me.
Some of you have all kinds of different views about God. Some of you made God some kind of mushy, namby-pamby nothing who doesn't really care what you do. He just likes you no matter what, even though you know you're trashing your life and all that kind of stuff. He just kind of idly stands by and goes, "Whatever." What you understand about God is super important. This is why what Jesus did when he came is he revealed to us the nature of God. Jesus was God in the flesh, and he revealed to us the nature of God, listen to this, as Father. That's what he revealed. Do you remember when his disciples had seen him pray a number of times, and then they said, "Jesus, teach us to pray"? His disciples had prayed before. It's not that they never had prayed in their lives. They were Jewish. They grew up praying. They knew how to pray, but they didn't know how to pray like that. They would see Jesus, and they'd be like, "Teach me how to pray like that."
Jesus said, "When you pray, pray this way, 'Our Father...'" I'm imagining that their ears were set on fire at that point because, up until this point, nobody had talked so personally and so intimately with God, the almighty blessed God that was referred to in the Old Testament. Now Jesus is calling him Dad, and he's saying you can too. Jesus has come to reveal the Father, the nature of the Father's heart. Here's what you and I have to understand. Through all of, sometimes, the brokenness of the world that we live in, we sometimes have a really distorted image of what Father means because maybe we were abandoned, maybe we were abused, maybe we got kind of left out, maybe we had a bad relationship.
Sometimes we've got this really broken view, and I'm here to tell you that Jesus has come to reveal to us the perfect, glorious, good, loving heavenly Father who won't abandon you and, by the way, who sees you. He sees you and knows you like no one else. You see, why do I tell you this? I tell you this because every parent... Dads, I'll talk to you in particular. You know what this is about. We have this incredible love for our spouses, and then we have this child. You have a child, and the first time you see them, something detonates inside of you that you didn't know you had. It does for moms too, but it's dad's day today. I'm talking to us. Right? It detonates inside of us. We're like, "What?"
Now we've got this next level expansion of heart. It's like the Grinch. He gets the Christmas spirit, and all of a sudden, the heart starts getting bigger. You're like, "I didn't know I had this kind of love capacity inside of me." Then, listen, when those children are little, you know them better than they know themselves. You watch them. You see them. You know them. Every single one of us who's been a parent or a child who's experienced that gets it. We get a slight glimpse into the love the Father has for us, and it's a love that sees and knows everything. Maybe from a visual representation with a father and a child, it would look a little something like this. Take a look.
Daughter: Dad, do you love Mom?
Dad: I do.
Daughter: How much?
Dad: Gobs and gobs.
Daughter: Dad, do you love my brother?
Dad: Conner? I do.
Daughter: How much?
Dad: Gobs and gobs.
Daughter: Dad, do you love God?
Daughter: How much?
Dad: Gobs and gobs.
Daughter: Dad, do you love me? Dad?
Dad: I do.
Daughter: How much? I already know, gobs and gobs. Dad, how much is a gob?
Dad: Let me put it like this. Your favorite color is yellow. When you eat those Nutter Butter cookies, you always scrape the peanut butter out of the middle, and you secretly feed it to the dog because you think the dog deserves a treat too. At nighttime, I know before you go to bed, you always pull your Barbies all together because you don't want them to be lonely. Sometimes, when you get a little nervous, you bat your eyes like this, really, really, really fast. When you're happy and you're excited, you always twirl your hair right beside your ear, and you love Mom's red earrings, and you always seem to eat your green beans one at a time. You see, my love, I notice you, and I love being your daddy, and I will always be here for you. Even on your best days, even on your worst days, your daddy loves you and will always be here for you. That, my dear, that's what a gob is.
Daughter: I gob you too, Daddy.
Do you see on the face of that little girl how seen she was? Did you see it on her face? With her dad who knew more about her than she even recognized, did you see how seen and how loved she was? This is the heart of our Father. If we, as fathers who aren't even close to measuring up to God, if we know how to give good gifts to our children, Jesus says, how much more does our Father in heaven, who's perfect and good and beautiful and wise, know how to give good gifts to his children? You see, the reason I tell you this and why it's so important for decision-making, ladies and gentlemen, is this reason. If your picture of God is something other than the Father who doesn't change like shifting shadows, who's not checking out on us, who is constant and sure and good and perfect, if your image is something other than that, you don't want to come to him to consult with him. You're frightened. You're scared. You're hedging your bets.
When you know the Father through the Son Jesus Christ, you want to run to him. It's who you want because you know that he cares, and he knows, and he sees, and he has your best interest in mind better than you even know. Jesus said, "What father if his son asks him for bread will give him a snake?" You see, the problem is sometimes, ladies and gentlemen, when we come to the Father, sometimes the reason may be we don't quite hear right away what we are trying to hear is because maybe, inadvertently, we didn't realize it. We thought it was the best thing for us, but what we were asking him for was a snake. He wanted to give us something much better. He's a Father. That's how Jesus revealed him to us, and that's how we need to understand him because if we understand the Father's heart, it causes us to run to him, not away from him, and that's when we start understanding how to make decisions in his presence.
You might be here as a guest today. Maybe you came as a favor because it's Father's Day. Maybe, as a son or a daughter, you came or maybe, as a dad, you came. It's not normally your deal. I get it. By the way, we're thrilled that you're here. Here's what I would say to you. Maybe you've never come to that place where you've had your life changed, your life transformed by Jesus. I want to tell you this, and I'm not speaking out of turn here. I know what God wants for you. I know it because the Holy Spirit inspired his apostle Peter to write these words in 2 Peter chapter three. He said, "The Lord's not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. Instead, he's patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance."
Do you know what Jesus wants for you, what the Father wants for you? He wants you to let go of being conformed into the pattern of this world, and he wants you to be invited into a relationship with him that can see all of your sins forgiven because of what Jesus has done, that can see you seen and known and loved in ways you never could have imagined. This is actually what he wants for you, so much so that Jesus came and died to satisfy the justice of a Holy God so that through his death and resurrection and our belief on him, we could be reconciled to the Father who wants us and sees us and loves us. If you've never done that, I can't think of a better day than Father's Day regardless if you're a dad, a man, male, female, regardless, but on Father's Day, you come to the arms of the Father through his Son Jesus. Let's bow our heads together.
We're dismissed in just a moment, but before we are, if you're here and you've never before entrusted your life to Jesus, when I dismiss us in just a moment, I would encourage you to come right out into the atrium, and there's a place called the Fire Side Room where we've got pastors and some other friends in there who would love to take a moment and talk to you about what it means to entrust your life to Jesus, to have your sins forgiven, to have your life changed, to have your mind renewed so that you begin to see the world through God's eyes. I want to encourage you to do that. You won't be in there forever. We know you may be going to lunch or doing something special today. We get it, but there's nothing more important than this decision in the whole world. Nothing is more important. I encourage you to come by.
Father, may you write on our hearts the truth of who you are. May we be reminded that to take you seriously means that we press into your word and have our minds and our lives transformed and renewed because of your word to us. May we also be a people who makes decisions based on your heart, Lord Jesus, a love for God and a love for others, that we would do that by receiving the counsel of godly people around us, and that we would, most importantly, understand your heart, Father, the one who loves us, sees us, and knows us. You know better than we about the decisions of our lives and our futures. God, we want for our lives what you want for our lives. Would you make our want to your desires? We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.