There is freedom in the choices we make, but God is very clear on some choices. We discuss the principles of God's word that will help us make wise choices when the word isn't explicit.
Should I? - Part 2
Should I? - Part 1
How do we make decisions in the gray areas of life, when God’s Word isn’t as explicit as we would like it to be? To kick off a two-week look at how the book of Proverbs can influence our everyday choices, Blake Holmes shows us the first half of ten questions we should ask ourselves in the face of making decisions.
Good morning! My name is Blake Holmes. It is good to be with you here this morning. I'm going to open us up in a word of prayer. Then, we're going to jump in.
Lord in heaven, I thank you for the privilege and the opportunity to be amongst friends, people who love you and people who are also in this room investigating and curious, Lord, as to who you are and what your Word has to say. I pray, Father, you would just grant us wisdom today. I pray you would open our eyes and our ears that we would be receptive to what it is you're trying to teach us.
Lord, as we discuss today how to make wise choices, I pray you'd help us to walk away from here further equipped and better equipped, Lord, that we would steer clear of those things which could hurt us and we'd be a source of blessing and good counsel to our friends around us each day. In Christ's name, amen.
Every day, many times a day, we are confronted with questions that begin with two words. Those two words are, "Should I?" Some of the times you make decisions based on questions you ask yourself that you really don't even think about. "Should I brush my teeth?" Yes, you should brush your teeth. "Should I put on my shoes?" Yes, you should brush your teeth and you should put on shoes today.
"Should I have Italian or Mexican food?" Well, there's really no question. Right? You should have Mexican food! "Should I listen to country music?" Well, yes, of course, you should listen to country music! "Should I watch TV? Should I take a nap? Should I read a book? Should I go on vacation?" All of these are questions we ask ourselves, but sometimes we don't really have to put much thought into them. "Should I go out with friends? Should I stay home and save money?"
Those are pretty straightforward questions, questions that we ask and answer all of the time. Then, there are questions we ask and answer all of the time that seem to be a little bit more complicated and not as straightforward. "Should I get engaged to this person? Should I buy this house? Should I lease? Should I enroll my kids in a public school or a private school? Should I vote for this person or vote for this person?"
Sometimes the answer is not right there on the surface. It's easy when we ask our, "Should I?" questions and we can turn to chapter and verse in Scripture. We go, "Should I lie in this circumstance?" The answer is, "No." "Should I forgive this person who has hurt me? What does Scripture have to say?" The answer is, "Yes." "Should I steal?" No. "Should I give generously?" Yes.
All of those are really straightforward and pretty easy softball pitches. Right? We don't struggle there. We don't struggle with, "Should I love someone?" We know Scripture teaches us that we should be loving and we should be kind, but where we start to struggle is in the gray areas of life. Where we start to struggle is when we wrestle with this whole idea, "What is the will of God when his Word is not explicit?"
Some of you are in this room right now and you are weighing your employment options. "Should I take this job? Should I take that job? Should I stay in this job? Should I look for another job?" What would God's Word have you to say? That's where it starts to get a little tricky. We would love for God to show us chapter and verse. "Stay here for three years. You're going to get promoted. Then, you're going to move to this place," but it doesn't work like that.
How do we make decisions in the gray areas of life? That's going to be the subject for the next two weeks. How do you make decisions when God's Word is not as explicit as we wish it would be? Secondly, how do we counsel others who come to us looking for advice? How can we be a source of blessing to them? When somebody comes to us and says, "What do you think?" you don't want to give just what you think.
You want your answer to be based upon what Scripture teaches, and the good news, gang, is that God has given us a book, and that book is the book of Proverbs, and proverbs are like buoys in the water of a sea of choices. The Proverbs are wisdom principles for daily skillful living. They're not promises. They're not promises, but they are wisdom principles for daily living.
What do I mean when I say they're not promises? Well, Proverbs speaks of the wisdom of being diligent and working hard and how those who work hard are rewarded as opposed to those who are lazy, but it doesn't mean someone out there isn't going to somehow be blessed through some unexpected means even though they're lazy.
They are general principles. When you work hard, good things tend to happen. They are principles, and the Proverbs give us this lane to run on (these wisdom principles) so when we come across difficult decisions in our lives we can look at these and ask, "What would wisdom have us do when God's Word is not abundantly clear?"
Proverbs was written by a man named Solomon. If you know much about your Old Testament, Solomon was a king over Israel, and God described him as the wisest man to ever live and the wisest man who would ever live. You think about that for a second. People call in to talk shows. "Can you help me understand how I should make this decision?"
Imagine having the opportunity to pick up the phone to call into the talk show and Solomon is on the other end, the wisest man to ever live. How do you know it? Because God says so. If he writes a book, I want to understand what that book has to say, so what we're going to do over these next two weeks is I'm going to help you come up with 10 questions to ask yourself when you are wrestling with, "Should I [fill in the blank]?" These 10 questions I ripped right out of Scripture. They're based from the book of Proverbs (Solomon's words to his son).
Solomon wanted to help his kids understand how to make wise choices. Every parent can understand that. That's just what Solomon did. He recorded his words of wisdom in a book. The first question I think we should always ask ourselves when we are wrestling with a "Should I?" type decision is…
1.What biblical principles should inform my decision? I hope when you walked in today you got your Watermark News. I hope it becomes a great tool for you for a long time to come. I actually did this two-week series back in 2006. I still get emails from people who will ask me, "Can I have the PDF of the Should I? series you did back in 2006?"
I thought it was time to break this thing out again, and I hope it's a blessing for you. What I'm going to do is go through five questions today. Then, I'm going to give you three points underneath each one, and you, hopefully, can pull this thing out as you wrestle with, "Should I?" and you can be a blessing to other folks. The first question is…What biblical principles should inform my decisions?
What do I mean by that? Even though God's Word is not explicit in some of our, "Should I?" questions, there are still principles God gives us that will help us weigh our decision making. Let me tell you how this has worked out in my life in the past. I have four kids. As my wife and I in the context of community have wrestled about their schooling options, it's not that one school is necessarily God's will and the other school is God's will, like there's a right versus a wrong, but I do think there is a wisdom issue here.
What is right for one child may not be right for the other child. As we've wrestled with schooling decisions, it's, "Given this child and his or her unique makeup, is this the right school, or is the right teacher for him or for her?" We've wrestled with what Scripture would have us do with this. What does God's Word have to say?
Think about it in another way. Some people have probably asked this question in the past or have been asked this as you wrestle with who you are dating. Sometimes we want to know, "Is this person the one?" Right? "Is this the one God would have for me?" You can't chapter and verse that. "Marry Elizabeth." Or, "Stay away from John." You don't get that. You wish sometimes that were the case, but Scripture speaks and gives us wisdom as to the type of person we should date, be engaged to, and marry.
Second Corinthians 6:14 says, "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? " I can't tell you if you should marry Elizabeth and stay away from John, specifically, but I can tell you, "That person should be somebody who knows and loves Jesus." Scripture is clear on the type of person you are to marry.
I can't tell you that you should work at this specific company, but I can tell you the type of employee God wants you to be. First Corinthians 10:31 says, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." Let me ask you this. Before you leave that job, have you done all you can do in that specific role all to the glory of God? Do the people there know you are a Christ follower based on your actions, your words, your hard work, and your work ethic? Have you done everything there to the glory of God?
Scripture doesn't tell us the zip code we should live in, but it does warn us against debt. Proverbs 22, verse 7, says, "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender." If you're reaching to live in a neighborhood in which you can't afford, God's Word would warn you.
You see, the book of Proverbs speaks of wisdom like a woman who shouts out into the streets and who screams out to the naïve and to the simple and to the uninformed and to the mocker and the scoffer and the unwise and the wise. It's for everyone to hear, and we have to slow down and ask ourselves, "What would wisdom and God's Word inform us on how to respond?"
Proverbs, chapter 2, verse 6, says, "For the **** Lord **** gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding…" In all of these circumstances, but it's for us now to wrestle with. What does God's Word have to say? Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us we can trust the Lord with all of our heart. We're not to lean on our own understanding, but in all of our ways…all of our ways…we are to acknowledge him, and he'll make our paths straight if we will listen.
Compare, if you will, life's choices with playing billiards. When you play billiards, you know the object of the game is to hit in all of the balls that are either stripes or solids. There are some things I'm supposed to stay away from. I'm not supposed to hit in the black eight-ball. Everybody knows that. Stay away from that. If you do that, you're going to end the game. Within this game, if I'm stripes, I have multiple options. I can hit this stripe over here, that stripe over there, or I can hit this stripe here. There is freedom in the choice I make.
There is freedom in the choice with the question, "Where do you want to work? Where do you want to live?" You can live in this house. You can live in that house. You can live in this house. There are some things where God is really clear. When you make that choice, don't trip there. When you make that choice, you don't want to hit this ball in. Stay away from this house. Don't do that. Don't do that.
What are the principles of God's Word that would help me make a wise choice? Well, I don't want to get near that ball over there. This one is a safer shot, but there is freedom, so the first thing I would tell you, gang, is, for those of us who just want the answer and we want to know what God's will is like we look at it like a needle in a haystack, I would tell you…
A. Sometimes when God's Word is not explicit and we're looking for those wisdom principles, God's will is more like a circle than it is a dot. God's will is more like a circle than it is a dot. I want to encourage you when you're wrestling with these, "Should I?" decisions to ask yourself, "What does the Bible have to say about that?"
B. If I can't answer the question, "What does the Bible have to say?" or "How can I support this decision?" who can help me better understand what God's Word has to say about this decision? I do this all of the time. "I'm wrestling with this. I'm not sure how to see this. Can you help me think what passage of Scripture would help me to inform my decision so I can make a wise decision?"
I don't want to make a decision I'm going to later regret. I don't want to make a decision that even unknowingly I come over here and I'm going to hit a ball in that I didn't intend to, because our decisions have consequences. I don't live in a vacuum. I'm a husband. I'm a father. I'm a friend. "Help me make a decision based on wisdom principles (God's Word) that is going to be a blessing not only for me and my family but my friends and my community and this church. Help me as I wrestle with it."
C. Make sure you're not alone and you're not the only one who holds to your interpretation. What ends up happening sometimes is we can do funny things with the text and how we want to interpret God's Word, and we can justify all sorts of mess. The problem is we're just the only one who sees that text like that. When you're on the island like that, that's not a good place to be. The first question to ask yourself when wrestling with, "Should I?" type of decisions is…What biblical principles should inform my decision? The second question I would encourage you to ask is…
2._ Do I have all of the facts?_ Now, that seems pretty self-explanatory, doesn't it? "Thanks, Blake. I'm glad I got up early this morning to hear you say to me, 'Make sure you can get all of the facts,'" but let me tell you something. This is something we trip over constantly, is it not? Proverbs 18:13 says, *"If one gives an answer before he hears, * it is his folly and shame."He who gives an answer before he gets all of the facts, it is folly and shame to him.
Proverbs 18:17… Every parent in here can relate to this. "The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him." When the youngest sibling comes in yelling and pleading her case, any wise parent knows to not bite on the first story you hear, because the next sibling is going to come in with his or her version of the truth."The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him." Have I ever overreacted after the first story I've heard? Yes, because I didn't get all of the facts.
Let me tell you another way this has worked out in my life. My wife and I wanted to plan a vacation for our kids, and we wanted to find something that was close and affordable, so we got online and looked at different options and found a spot that we thought was perfect. It was the right price range. It looked really nice and seemed pretty new. Maybe this would be the place we should go, so we booked this. We recruited some of our extended family to go with us.
Well, it turns out we go down to this particular resort, and the front lobby area had been redone. The lobby area looked really nice. What we did not know, however, was that the rooms where we were staying had not been redone and did not look really nice, so when we walked in, the first thing I noticed was it was hard to even get the door open because the floor was a little warped. I thought, "Doors in houses and apartments shift, so no big deal!"
We had just gotten off the road, so we were going to get snacks for our kids, so my wife was pulling things out of the little condo unit in the kitchenette, and the plates had this strange film on them like they were really dirty. When you looked around, you kind of go, "Well, it's kind of dark in here, so I'm going to get a little sunlight." I opened up the shades, and there was a big air conditioning unit right here blocking the view.
I'm going, "This isn't so much what we signed up for." My kids were running around. They were missing all of the cues that Mom and Dad were a little less than excited about this place we had paid for. I looked at them. They were running around barefoot. They're sitting on the couch. Their feet literally are black with dirt. I'm like, "We paid for this? Let's just go home."
I have since learned about a little friend called Trip Advisor. Trip Advisor gives you the opportunity to get all of the facts. You can click this link for all of the hotel's professional photos. Those are worthless. Don't look at them. You can get all of the facts, however, on Trip Advisor when you click on this link, and it is actual customers and users like you and me. I can take a picture of black feet and say, "Stay away!"
Sometimes, gang, we don't make wise choices simply because we don't do our homework. We don't have all of the facts. Think about it. In business, we fail to read the fine print. In spending, we make decisions sometimes based on emotion rather than the facts. Sometimes in our relationships, we hear one side of the story (the first to plead its case). Then, we get angry or frustrated with this other person over here, and we don't take the time to get the facts. Then, it leads to regret, and we make poor choices. When you're making a decision or you're counseling others…
A. Encourage them to ask a lot of questions.
B. Don't fall prey to wishful thinking or let your emotions get the best of you. I know the pictures of that hotel room looked great, but you'll make an emotional decision with not all of the facts, and you'll end up with black feet and a bummer of a vacation.
C. Remember there are two sides to every story.
3._ Is the pressure of time forcing me to make a premature decision?_ Proverbs 19, verse 2, says, "Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, And he who hurries his footsteps errs." Amen? He who makes haste with his feet errs. Proverbs 21, verse 5: **"The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, But everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty."**
Advertisers know the pressure of time is an effective tool. That's why sometimes in sales you'll see, "Act now," or "For a limited time only," or "A once in a lifetime offer." What do we do? We bite, and they continue to put that on TV or the radio or on the ads. Why? Because the pressure of time forces us sometimes to make premature decisions we otherwise wouldn't make. That just leads to regret. We go, "How could I have been so foolish?" It's because we were pushed. We were pushed into making that decision.
Let me tell you how that has worked out in my life. My wife and I went a few years ago to investigate this gym that had just opened in our neighborhood. I wanted to just walk in. I'm really simple. I want to walk in, ask, "How much does it cost a month to be a part of this gym?" Well, there was nothing they could offer me that was written that would be very explicit and very helpful.
"Here are your options. If you want to join for a year or six months or on a monthly basis…" Nothing like that was offered. It was just a person at the front desk saying, "Let me get a sales associate for you." Okay. That was a little bit of a red flag. I said, "You don't have anything written down?" "No. Let me get a sales associate for you."
The first person comes and says, "I'm so glad you are here. We would love to discuss with you and show you around our gym." I was like, "Okay. Great. We just don't have much time." We take the tour of the gym, but I was like, "I just want to know how much it costs. That's all I want to know. Can we please go?" "Hold on. Sit down. Let me tell you about our special offers."
Now, I feel like I'm in this horrific time-share pitch. Have you ever been in one of those before? I'm sitting down in this chair thinking, "How did I get here? This was supposed to be two minutes in and out, and I've got good cop/bad cop in front of me," because the sales associate goes to get the manager.
The manager comes in, sits down, and says, "Let me just tell you something. I'm going to offer you something my friend, Kevin, was not authorized to offer to you. This is one of those deals. We want you to be a valued customer, so what I'm going to do is make this offer for you, but I'm just going to tell you that this is one of those special deals."
He writes down a number and slides it across like that. "Do you feel like that's a number right there that would be good for you and your family?" I'm just going, "Ugh." I go, "Thank you for the answer. I've got the information now. I will think about it, and I'll come back." He didn't like that answer, so he went with this strategy. "Mr. Holmes, I'm just telling you this. If you get out of that chair, I will never be able to make you this offer again."
I'm like, "If I get out of this chair?" Like that somehow kills the deal! He goes, "That's right." I go, "Well, I guess we're just not going to be members." What was he doing? The pressure of time, forcing me, saying, "Make this decision. Make this decision." To make a decision because of the pressure of time like that would have simply been foolish.
A. Be aware of the once-in-a-lifetime deal and the lure of instant gratification. You're thinking, "I must really be the special customer. He really likes me." Fools rush in.
B. Don't let the fear of missing out drive your decision.
C. When in doubt, leave it out. Get up and walk away. That gym has since gone out of business.
4._ What possible motives are driving my decision?_ Proverbs 16, verse 2, says, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives." Proverbs 20, verse 9, says, " Who can say, 'I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin'? "Who can say that? No one! The reality, gang, is that oftentimes we have mixed motives (some good and some not so good).
Even though something might be a right decision for one person based on the circumstance and their motives, that may not necessarily be true for me. Sometimes the desire to want to fit in can cause us to overspend. Sometimes the desire to escape can lead to an unhealthy habit. The desire for significance can drive us to work long hours which we'll later regret, and we'll sacrifice more than we intend. We have to check our motives. When you're making a decision or counseling others…
A. Acknowledge that you have blind spots. We all have blind spots. It's kind of like bad breath. You think everybody else around you is the one with bad breath. You never stop to consider, "Maybe I have bad breath." That's why your wife carries a purse with gum in it. I don't like gum, but every once in a while my wife will say to me, "Would you like a piece of gum?" "I don't like gum."
"I know, but would you like a piece of gum?" to which I say, "Say what you mean!" "You need a piece of gum!" I get it! Sometimes, gang, we don't have good motives. Whether we think we're squeaky clean and our breath smells like flowers, it doesn't. It's not just the other people out there who have bad motives. We have blind spots, so we need to acknowledge we have blind spots.
B. Honestly assess our motives both good and bad.
C. Give others permission to speak into our lives. This is so key. How many of you have real friends who won't just tell you what you want to hear but will tell you what you need to hear? Are you the type of person who has given other people permission to speak into your life, or do you just surround yourself with "yes men" out there who are going to tell you what they know you want to hear?
In processing school decisions with my kids, I wrestle. Sometimes I want to control. I want to control my kids' circumstances. Sometimes worry or fear can weigh upon me. I acknowledge that. When we're wrestling who this child should have for a teacher, I'm wrestling with that. "There are times I want to over-control this, and it's not healthy, so help me see that." The next question to ask and the one so many times, gang, we fail to consider is…
5 . _ How should past experiences inform my decision?_ Proverbs 26:11… I love this verse. "Like a dog that returns to its vomit Is a fool who repeats his folly." Do you guys have dogs? Have you ever seen a dog get sick? Have you ever wondered, "Why does the dog return to the place they get sick?" I mean, that's disgusting! It's like, "What are you doing? Why are you coming back to the place where you were sick?"
Do you know what, gang? We sometimes are like a dog. We don't learn from our past mistakes. We just simply repeat them over and over again. Other people on the outside look at us and go, "Hey, crazy! You've been here before. You've done this. The same song but the fiftieth verse. Stop! You're hurting yourself."
Proverbs 17:10 says, " A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool." Do you want to know what that means? Some people don't learn from their past mistakes. They just repeat them over and over and over again. Have you ever been there before?
If you're the person who has just bounced from job to job to job to job or from relationship to relationship to relationship to relationship or has ridden the financial roller coaster up and down, up and down, up and down, at some point you have to stop, look in the mirror, and go, "Maybe…maybe…I am the problem. Maybe it's not always the employer. Maybe it's not always the person I'm dating. Maybe I am the one who is continuing to hit my head on the same things, and I need to learn from the past decisions I've made." What I would tell you is…
A. Look for patterns of behavior in your life. Think back over your life and the decisions you've made and you go, "I'm not proud of that one." Look for patterns of behavior. What are those triggers in your life? Answer the question, "When I'm tired, I tend to do…? When I'm stressed, I tend to do…? When I'm hungry, when I'm lonely, when I'm frustrated, this is where I tend to turn. This is what I tend to do."
When I'm stressed out, I get quiet. I don't talk a lot when I'm stressed. I get quiet. Then, I get short. That leads to things I say that I later regret. There are moments when I can feel the tension build because I'm stressed. I just need to acknowledge that and go, "Hello! I've been here before. I've been here, and I don't want to make the same mistake. I don't want to say something to somebody I love or respect that I'm later going to have to ask forgiveness for."
B. Understand how your family background might influence your thinking. Think about this. Understand how your family background influences the decisions you make time and time again. If you grew up in a home where your dad consistently lost his temper, if you're not careful, when you're evaluating what you should do, you might just follow his example.
For the person who grew up in a home where the dad was passive and just simply withdrew, when you're in conflict with your spouse, you'd better be careful, because when you start evaluating, "What should I do here?" think about what past decisions and what mistakes have you made and what mistakes have I seen other people make that would inform me, "Don't go down this path, because it can lead to trouble."
C. Be willing to learn from your mistakes. JP told this story. As I told you all, the first to plead his case seems right until another comes and examines him. It has been a long time since JP told this story, and I have waited a long time to set the record straight. If you remember, he told a little story about one of his friends who caught his deck on fire. Well, that was me, and JP tells it a little differently than I would tell it.
I was grilling out, and I invited many people you know and respect, like Todd Wagner and John Cox and Jim Wimberley (not to name names), Kyle Kaigler and JP and Gary Stroope. All of these folks you know and have seen up here on stage are all great people, people who love Jesus. Yes! They were all coming over to my house, and I was going to make steaks for everybody.
I didn't get just shoe-leather steaks. I was going to get some steaks. We were going to eat and enjoy some time together. I got the charcoal grill all ready. I used the little briquettes that you light. Then, they catch on fire, and you use lighter fluid. You don't need lighter fluid. It makes your steak taste bad.
I was grilling on a Weber grill. It had a tray right here. I had everything lined out. There was a rack down here when you can store things. As I was cooking, I was really excited. I had music going. The house was set. The vegetables inside were grilling. My wife wasn't there to help me. She would have been proud. I had everything set.
It was just one thing I didn't think about. That is, where I typically store the lighter fluid. Well, genius here stored the lighter fluid underneath the grill. Yes. This person is laughing almost like from experience. This lighter fluid literally grew like a balloon. I'm sitting there bebopping along. I have shorts and sandals on. Yes, that's right.
I'm watching the steaks. I kind of take a step back like this, and I look down. The lighter fluid thing is supposed to be about this big. It's like this big. I think, "Oh, no!" I take some tongs. I'm like, "I just have to move this thing away from the heat. I just have to get it away from the heat. Otherwise, it's going to blow."
The moment the tongs touched the can the lighter fluid went everywhere. I jumped back. Thank God it did not burn my feet. I jumped back, and there is now fire all over my deck. Fire on a wooden deck. Wooden decks have 2-by-4 boards that go like this. The lighter fluid is now going in each crack where there is pine straw underneath, so the pine straw has now caught on fire.
Yeah. I have a big problem, so I run over here. I don't even think about the fire extinguisher. JP pointed that out in his last message. I love friends like that. I pulled this little garden hose about this long, and I am spraying this fire, and it's doing nothing but making it angrier at me. It doesn't like the water, and it continues to grow, but here comes the cavalry. All of my friends show up at the same time. I can hear them in the front yard. They're laughing, and I'm saying, "Help! Help!"
They are still laughing, and no one is coming. This is the truth, people! I find out later on that Wagner, your senior pastor, says to my friends, "When you go to Holmes' house, you just don't know if he's excited about the steaks or his house is on fire." That's a true story. Kaigler, I see you up there, and you know it's true. Say it's true! It's a true story!
Learn from your past mistakes. Don't make friends with people like them. That's right. That's fact. Here's the deal, gang. We don't learn from our past mistakes. I can promise you there is no lighter fluid underneath any of my grills. That stuff is stored so far away. Do you know what we do? We don't learn from our past mistakes, so the lighter fluid stays underneath there. We go to make dinner, and guess what happens. Poof! Our deck catches on fire.
Then, Larry, Moe, and Curly come over, and they are of no help. Thankfully, when they got there, they quit laughing at me, and we got the thing put out. At the first service, 50 people came up and asked, "What happened to your deck?" Well, they finally came outside. "Oh! His deck is on fire!"
Gang, we make poor choices routinely. Sometimes it's not easy to put out that fire, but God's Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, and God has taught us so many times before that he's not trying to rip you off. He's trying to set you free and trying to give you wisdom principles with questions you should ask yourself so you don't just jump in.
There is freedom in what God wants to offer you. You can hit that striped ball or that striped ball or this striped ball, but there are also rules, and he says, "If you hit this one, your house is going to catch on fire. Stay away from it." If you're here this morning and you've made some decisions here of late that you just go, "My house is on fire. It's a wreck. I need help," we want to help you.
I want you to know there is a God in heaven who loves you and who cares for you, and it doesn't matter if you've made 10,000 poor choices. Grace is extended to you, and you can have a relationship with that God not based on how nice your home is or where you've been and what you've done or what you haven't done or all of your performances. It is simply based on his love and grace for you and his offer to your for forgiveness if you'll accept it.
There are many of you in here who have accepted that gift of forgiveness. Yet, it almost seems too good to be true, so now you see yourself as an exception to God's grace. I would just tell you that you're not. You're not an exception. God has given us his Word. He has given us his church. He has given us his Spirit.
He has given us community around you to help you make wise choices. Trust him. Come to him. Let us know how we can help you. You came in with a Watermark News. You can tear off that perforated section and let us pray for you. Come to an Equipping class. Get in community. We want to help you. We want to pray for you.
Father in heaven, I thank you for these friends. I thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to stand up here and speak of the ways in which you have been faithful in my life and to be able to honestly share with my friends poor choices I've made, and I pray, Lord, you would help us to slow down, to consider what your Word has to say, consider the past mistakes we've made, consider our motives, and make wise choices. Father, it would save us from painful consequences, and we could be a blessing to others. Would you help us, Lord? In Christ's name, amen.
You guys have a great week of worship.