Doing What You Know Jesus Wants You to Do

  • Doing What You Know Jesus Wants You to Do
  • 1 John 2:3-6
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • August 21, 2016
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8-21-16 sermon from LakeRidge UMC on Vimeo.

Click here to view Deeper, August 22, 2016

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1 John 2:3-6

3 And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. 4 If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesnt obey Gods commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. 5 But those who obey Gods word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. 6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

 

Most likely each of us have had times when we sensed God wanted us to be kind, or generous, to a total stranger, or to resist some sin – an opportunity to be obedient – staring us right in the face! Haven’t we?

Have you ever asked yourself why it is you just didn’t do what you sensed God was impressing you to do?

Could it be that almost immediately your mind was flooded with thoughts such as these – another voice:

  • You’re awfully busy. If you stop and do that you’ll end up further behind.
  • But I don’t know that person. What if I talk to them and they look at me as if to say, “What’s wrong with you?”
  • I know I should do it, but right now I really don’t want to.
  • I’m too tired to care right now.
  • Maybe tomorrow? I’ve got too many things on my mind right now to get bogged down with other people’s issues.

Here are LakeRidge we are launching our new church wide experience based on  the book, THE 10 SECOND RULE by author, Clare De Graaf. In it he says this:

“You know that voice. My guess is you’ve heard it too. It’s the voice of reason, I assured myself. It helps rescue me from foolish impulses. Its job is to make sure I don’t do anything stupid, or embarrassing to myself or others, and that I don’t get taken advantage of or miss out on some private pleasure I feel I’m entitled to. It’s the safe voice – the smart voice – the guardian of sensible obedience. It’s likely the same voice the Priest and the Levite heard on their way to Jericho.”

And then have you noticed this: If you procrastinate long enough, the broken down car disappears in your rear view mirror; you’re out of church and on to other things… the guilt fades away and life goes on.

 

By the way, when I speak of “this voice,” I don’t mean an audible voice. Some people tell me they’ve heard God speak audibly to them. I’ve not had that experience. So, I get a little nervous when someone comes up to me and starts a sentence with “God told me to…” That’s possible, of course, but personally I wouldn’t dare stamp “thus saith the Lord” on anything, with absolute certainty, outside of Scripture.

So when I use words like impression or voice, it’s more like a thought that arrives with a strong feeling that it’s coming from God. It immediately feels right and true.

These impressions often remind me of something I learned from Scripture: a story, a proverb, a parable, a command. And always, they’re consistent with what the Bible teaches us, and with godly character. If they’re not – they’re not from God!

In John 10, Jesus said that the Good Sheperd’s sheep “follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice… I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (verses 4-5, 14).

How, then, can we be reasonably certain we’re hearing the true Shepherd’s voice? Jesus’ followers recognize his voice because they’ve studied his words and his life so intently they’ve developed a spiritual ear for God.

Proverbs 2:1-5 says, “My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. 2Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.  3Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. 4Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. 5Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God.”

In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas came from Antioch to Jerusalem because other church leaders had been telling new Gentile converts that, in order to be saved, they needed to be circumcised and obey the Law of Moses. Paul disagreed with that, so the Council in Jerusalem decided to meet, pray, and talk it through. There’s no indication in Scripture that the Holy Spirit spoke audibly to them. Nevertheless, they were able to come to a conclusion and act on it, framing it in these terms: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” (Acts 15:28). Apparently they sensed, or had an impression, that the Holy Spirit was guiding them to act in a specific way.

Many of my responses to special instructions feel like that to me – they seem good to the Holy Spirit, and they seem good to me.

But, that still sounds mushy to some of you. You may be asking yourself right now, how do I know with certainty that God wants me to do something?

Here’s the answer you’re not going to like any better; you may not know with certainty. The need for certainty is often the enemy of obedience. Sometimes, just out of childlike faith, we need to obey these impressions.

But, think about it for a minute! Let’s just assume you misread god and this impression didn’t come from him. You’ve still done something kind or generous for another human being or you’ve kept yourself from making a sinful choice, you know full well is wrong. How can that not be the will of God!

That begs the real question; why is it when we have these impressions from God or the Holy Spirit to do something good for someone else – why is it we listen to the other voice so often?

Here’s the primary reason why: We know full well, don’t we, that obedience is going to cost us something – time, money, embarrassment, inconvenience – something!

And without really even thinking about it much, most of us, like the rich young ruler in Scripture or the religious leaders on that road to Jericho two-thousand years ago, we automatically, count the cost of obedience and find it too high. We choose disobedience, because it costs us nothing!

But, does disobedience really cost us nothing?

It’s been my experience, as a pastor, that people who are not faithful in little things will rarely respond with faithfulness when faced with a significant moral dilemma, or with a call of God on their life. And, do you know why? They’ve never learned the habits of obedience in little things.

Most of us dream of doing great things for God someday – going to the mission field, getting rich and being able to give away large sums of money, starting some amazing ministry, or singing powerful and moving music before the church. But, very few wake up each day longing to be faithful in the little things of life which are the building blocks of a godly person. So, let me say this to you:

Godly character isn’t won by doing great things for God. It’s won by the cumulative effect of being faithful and obedient in these little assignments from God. Once we’ve proved faithful in them – perhaps God will call us to greater things.

In The 10 Second Rule book, the author illustrates this truth with this personal story:

“My mother passed along to me the story of her godly grandmother who, during the Depression, felt that God was calling her to care for a neighbor woman and her children the next farm over – who were sick with tuberculosis, then a deadly disease – so that her husband could bring in the desperately needed harvest.

My great-grandmother and her husband prayed about it and came to the conclusion that, if Jesus told us to love our neighbor, then caring for them was what she must do. So, she moved in with this stricken family. For months she devoted herself to them. Miraculously, the neighbor woman and her family fully recovered. However, my great-grandmother caught the disease, and when she returned to her own family, she gave it to two of her own children. All three of them died.

I’ve often wondered how many hundreds or thousands of selfless, Christ-like decisions one has to make to get to the point at which you’re willing to lay down your life for another.

That’s really what the Rule is all about – it’s the recalibration of our character, one act of obedience at a time – slowly conforming us to the image of Christ as we trust that he has a reason beyond our understanding.

The author gives us this definition of faith: courageous obedience.

 

I’ve not yet given you the 10 Second Rule, but here it is:

“Just do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do.”
(And do it quickly – before you change your mind – hence the 10 seconds.)

The purpose of The 10 Second Rule is to help all of us develop the habit of obedience – “baby steps” of obedience. This is exactly what Paul tells Timothy.

“7 Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. 8 “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” (I Timothy 4:7-8)

The 10 Second Rule is training ourselves to be more godly.

When I was first reading The 10 Second Rule, I found myself eager to give it a try. So, later in the day when I needed to run to the grocery store for a quick errand I pulled up to the grocery store I prayed and asked God to show me if there was anyone that I was supposed to notice or speak to. I entered the store and it was like crickets in there. I grabbed what I needed and still, I didn’t see anyone, so I headed to the register to pay.

Just as I was beginning to think to myself that this whole 10 Second Rule thing is going to be a complete bust, I turned into the checkout lane and there was a woman named Carla that I knew from the front desk of my daughters’ former middle school. Immediately I knew what God wanted me to do. I smiled at her. I said hello and then took just a moment to tell her how much I appreciated everything she does to help make the school such a great place. She looked at me as if she really needed to hear someone tell her that.

Walking back to my car I thought to myself, I wonder how many angry parents or stressed out students and teachers she gets to deal with on any given day. I had always thought that she did a great job, but I had certainly never taken the opportunity to tell her.

I don’t share that with you to pat myself on the back. I share that with you because in that moment I realized that my obedience to God made a difference, and more than anything, i felt convicted about all of the times I had passed on such opportunities to do that kind of thing previously.

 

Now a word of caution before I go on to explain what I’d like you, as a member of this church and child of God, to consider. You will need to use the Rule with wisdom!

Some decisions in life are so serious and have such major implications for ourselves and others that we’ll need to take time to carefully and prayerfully listen to God. I wouldn’t advise the 10 Second Rule to make momentous decisions: whom you will marry, what job you ought to take, whether to serve in leadership, make a major investment, or adopt a child. You’ll need time, prayer, godly counsel, and wisdom to make important decisions such as those that may impact your family and others.

The 10 Second Rule is best reserved for resisting everyday temptations and for acting on Godlike impressions to be kind, encouraging, and generous. In other words, for “entry-level obedience.”

A few years back there was a whole movement known as  WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) It was a slogan that popped up on T-shirts and bracelets. You’ve probably heard it. But have you ever wonder where WWJD came from? Over 100 years ago Charles Sheldon wrote a wonderful novel, entitled In His Steps. It has since sold over 40 million copies.

In it, the pastor of a very well-established church is challenged by a homeless person who has been living on the streets who unexpectedly shows up at his church one Sunday morning and challenges him and the congregation to act more like Jesus toward people like himself.

The congregation is shocked that this man would just barge in and disrupt the service. But, over the next week the pastor, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, decides on a course of action that will eventually change his life and the lives of many others in his church.

The pastor gets up the next Sunday and announces that for the next year, by the grace of God, he will try to live and act, based on the answer to only one question, “What would Jesus do?” He acknowledged that he already knows he won’t be able to do that perfectly, but it’s his intention to try to be faithful to live by the answer God gives him to that simple question.

Shocking his congregation even more, he makes this announcement, “Anyone who has any interest in making the same pledge as I have, please meet me after this service and let’s talk about it together.” With that he sat down, and the adventure began.

Today, I’m making a similar pledge to try to live by The 10 Second Rule for at least the next 30 days  – and hopefully for the rest of my life. And, I’m asking you to consider doing the same. It’s what we’re calling Doing the Rule: 10430: Obey the 10 Second Rule, for (4), 30 days.

Here’s how it will work:

  • Read the book or download the MP3 file and listen
  • Participate in a Sunday School Class or short term discussion group
  • Join us in worship for the next four Sundays

If you are willing to take on this challenge, then I want to encourage you to not just keep it to yourself. One thing that I have learned over time is that I do better with things like this when I let others know what I’m trying to do. So I want to encourage you to use social media and post a picture of yourself with #LakeRidgeUMC  #10SecondRule #10430