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Inquiring of the Lord January 14 07

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Inquiring of the Lord

Asking God for Guidance and Direction!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Introduction: Today we continue on with our theme for this year which centers on worship—seeking to deepen our everyday life in Jesus through Praise, Worship, Prayer, and Service.  Our emphasis for 2007 will be “Changing our World through Prayer.” Prayer remains one of the great mysteries of our faith.  All of us have asked the same questions concerning prayer—how can prayer “change” the mind of God?  How can prayer modify or change events in history? How does prayer relate to divine sovereignty?  Yet as we study Scripture from Genesis to Revelations the Bible hardly recognizes such questions—instead the Bible emphasizes the simplicity of prayer.  Simply put—believers are to pray about everything—confident that God hears our prayers, cares, and is able to act.  We are to pray about all things and just as importantly, at all times.

          Many Sundays throughout 2007, we will focus together on an aspect of prayer and see what the Bible says concerning that aspect of prayer.  This morning our focus will be on “Inquiring of the Lord—Asking God for Guidance and Direction.”  As you study the life of King David, one of the things that you find is that David consistently inquired of the Lord for guidance and direction.  The same thing can be said of the earthly life of our Lord Jesus and of the Apostle Paul.  There is a simple premise behind the idea of inquiring of the Lord—it is essential in our relationship with God that we have an attitude of dependence on Him.   This idea of dependence on Him seems to be very important to God.  He wants us to depend on Him and in our dependence on Him, we will always find Him dependable.  It is the basis of faith—I will trust in God because He is always trustworthy—or worthy of my trust.   I believe there may be out there—among us—an attitude that says “when I can’t do something—after I have given my very best shot, then I will ask God and he will help me do it.  In the same flavor is the idea that God will not do what I can do, I will not do what God can do. 

          Prayer is never an excuse for inaction.  “I have so much to do today that I must set apart more time than usual to pray.”—Martin Luther

I think that surrounds the idea that we must act first, and then pray when we hit a wall in our action.  I think that argument does not hold up in Scripture.  I really think that idea is based on our desire to be independent people who really do NOT want to count or depend on anything or anybody else.  That thinking has little to do with God and a lot to do with us. I think too that we don’t want to ask because we don’t want to owe someone something.  I think that often we have a baseless fear that say that if we ask God and He answers, then we in turn are bound to do something for Him. The whole spirit of independence says that I will not be in debt to anyone—if I can’t do it, it does need to be done.

          A study of the Old Testament, and especially a study that centers on Israel suggests strongly that many (perhaps most) of Israel’s difficulties came because they (the people) failed to inquire of the Lord—they acted and made decisions without asking God.  Let’s look at the first of several examples.  Open your Bibles to Isaiah 30 verse 1-7

 “Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my direction, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation. For though his officials are at Zoan and his envoys reach Hanes, everyone comes to shame through a people that cannot profit them, that brings neither help nor profit, but shame and disgrace.” An oracle on the beasts of the Negeb. Through a land of trouble and anguish, from where come the lioness and the lion, the adder and the flying fiery serpent, they carry their riches on the backs of donkeys, and their treasures on the humps of camels, to a people that cannot profit them. Egypt’s help is worthless and empty; therefore I have called her “Rahab who sits still.”" (Isaiah 30:1-7, ESV)

          Look next with me in Joshua chapter 9 where the Gibeonites deceive Joshua and the Israelites.  "But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.” But the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a covenant with you?” They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?” They said to him, “From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God. For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth. So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants. Come now, make a covenant with us.” ’ Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.” So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them." (Joshua 9:3-15, ESV)

          The Lord is not in the bargaining business.  I do what I can and then He does what He can.  Rather God says, depend on me and together we will see the victory.  If you need direction—if you need guidance, you don’t have to wait until the situation looks hopeless. Please look at James 1 beginning in verse 5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach,( God is not going to literally throw it back in your face) and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8, ESV)

          Simply put—inquire of the Lord for guidance and direction—it is the desire of the Lord that we do so.  He wants to give us guidance and wisdom, He want to give direction for every aspect of our life. When you must make a decision, ask the Lord for direction, for guidance, and He will give it to you.  We make many decisions every day.  God cares about every single one of them.

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