Hot Topics, Tough Questions

Nobody told you life would be so complicated or so full of questions. Sometimes you wonder whether anyone really has the answers. Someone does. God is big enough to handle even our hardest questions.

Hot Topics, Tough Questions goes beyond the expected to dig deep for biblical, workable solutions to applying God's truth to everyday life. Far more than lists of Bible verses, this book tackles some of the most asked questions of teens in youth groups across the United States. With all of life's challenges in today's fast-paced world, teens like you can't afford to wait for answers to these vital questions. This down-to-earth guide offers you real help and honest insights from an author you can trust. .

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Chapter 1: How do I find God’s Will?

How do I find God’s Will?

Howie was going to be a super jock. He had the bod, the brains, and the will. Every day he was at the local batting cage practicing his swing. Every day he'd work on catching flies, fielding grounders, running bases. Finally the first day of tryouts rolled around, and Howie was ready.

Of course, he was a bit surprised when the coach made him put on the helmet and shoulder pads. And a little confused when he was forced to line up facing seven other guys. But that was nothing corn-pared to what he felt when someone in the middle yelled "hike" and a 208-pound mountain of flesh slammed into him, ran up his chest, tap-danced on his head for half an hour, and finally ran down his back to tackle the guy with the ball.

By the time Howie was released from the hospital, the season was practically over. But as I said, the guy was determined. He began practicing his tackling, his passing, his punting. And by the time the next tryout rolled around, Howie was ready.

Of course, he was a little surprised to learn they were holding it in the gym. And he was a little bugged that they made him exchange his pads and cleats for shorts and basketball shoes. But what really ticked Howie off was that the coach threw him out of the game for tackling the guy with the ball. I mean, wasn't that supposed to be the whole idea?

Needless to say, Howie had a little problem.

It had nothing to do with his strength, his ability, or even his dedication. The problem was that he just didn't know what game he was playing. He didn't know the rules.

An absurd story? Of course.

But how many people sign up for this program called "Christianity" without ever really bothering to check out the rules, learn the objectives, or find out what the Coach really wants?

What does God want? Why am I here? What's the purpose? How can I find God's will for my life?

Important questions. And in our survey among Christian teens, questions about finding God's will ranked number one.

So let's see if we can come up with a few answers.

Why Are We Here?

First of all, we humans were created for one reason: to be friends with God, to have fellowship with Him, to give Him pleasure.

"Thou art worthy, 0 Lord, to receive glory and

honor and power: for thou hast created all

things, and for thy pleasure they are and were

created." Revelation 4:11 (KJV, italics added).

We used to give God that pleasure; we used to have that friendship-way back in the beginning, back in the Garden. But it wasn't too long before we told Him to take a hike, before we made it clear that we wanted to do things our way, not His.

And by doing so we pulled the plug on that special friendship.

And, being the gentleman He is, God stepped aside to let us have our way. It must be tough watching us slowly destroy ourselves with hatred, lust, fear, war.

And it must be unbearable hearing the very ones He created for fellowship use His name only when they're cussing someone out. But since that's what we seem to want, God is polite enough to let us have our way.

Still, for those of us who've realized that our way may not be the best, for those of us who want to return to that original friendship with God, He has provided a way-Jesus Christ. Jesus acts as a door, a passageway that leads us back into that friendship with God. All we have to do is be willing to walk through. Jesus does the rest. In fact, Jesus himself said,

"I am the door; if anyone enters through Me,

he shall be saved." John 10:9 (NASB).

"I am the way and the truth and the life.

No one comes to the Father

except through me." John 14:6

These are just two of hundreds of verses that make it clear there's a way to come back to God. Anyone can do it. All you have to do is ask Jesus to take the punishment for your sins and agree to let Him be the boss of your life. It's that simple.

And for those of us who have made that decision, for those who want to spend life as friends with God (both now and for eternity), the Lord has a very special plan. It's called,

"Come here, sit on My throne, and rule the universe with Me."

What?

The Eternal Plan

That's right. You see, according to the Bible, God's eternal, long-range plan for His children, for those who've chosen to return to Him, is for us to help Him rule the universe. Find that a little hard to swallow? I did. But it's right there in the Book:

"To him who overcomes, I will give the

right to sit with me on my throne, just as

I overcame and sat down with my Father

on his throne."

Revelation 3:21

Or how 'bout Romans 8:

"The Spirit himself ifies with our spirit

that we are God's children. Now if we

are children, then we are heirs-heirs of

God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed

we share in his sufferings in order that we

may also share in his glory."

Romans 8:16-17

There's more:

"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father

has been pleased to give you the kingdom."

Luke 12:32

And finally:

"Do you not know that the saints [that's us]

will judge the world? ... Do you not know

that we will judge angels?"

I Corinthians 6:2,3

That's God's ultimate plan for us. That's the object of the game-to share in His glory and to co-rule His universe.

Awesome? Yes.

Incredible? Yes.

Impossible? No.

Not with God. You see, that's the nice thing about having His own universe. He can run it however He wants. He can bless whomever He chooses. And for some reason He has chosen us.

There's only one snag. We're not quite ready We need to go through a little renovation, a little repair, a little scrubbing up. The centuries of sin have taken their toll on our bodies, minds, and emotions. Each of us is filled to the brim with fear, guilt, and sin. In short, the bad news is we're all in one sense or another spiritually sick.

But not for long....

The Lifelong Plan

You see, being a Christian is a lot more than getting to heaven and cashing in on those mansions. God's love for us is so great that as soon as we say yes to Him, He sets His lifelong plan for us into action.

Which is... ?

"... that you may be mature and complete, not

lacking anything." James 1:4

God wants to heal us. He wants to clean out and mend all the wounds the world has gouged into us. He wants us free and whole. In short, God wants to make us as complete and fulfilled as we were when He originally made us.

That's it. That's all He wants. Despite the rumors, He's not some ogre with a whip, demanding that we follow a bunch of outdated rules and regulations. He's not some screaming boot camp sergeant barking out orders to make sure life is unbearable. On the contrary, Jesus said, "I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly" (John I0: I0, NASB).

That's what God wants. He wants us to experience this creation of His, this thing called "life" at its absolute maximum. He wants us to experience the grea joy, the grea peace, the grea love.... He wants us to experience totally complete, totally full, totally ABUNDANT life.

That's why God hates sin so much. Not because He's against people having a good time. But because sin steals that life from us. It ties us up. It robs us of enjoying all that we could enjoy, of being all that we could be. Sure, sin may look good on the outside; it may be pleasant to the eye and sweet to the taste. But inside it always has a hook ... ALWAYS. And once we swallow that hook it starts to take control. Oh, it's barely noticeable at first, but gradually it starts to pull and control. And before we know it, sin gets its way-stealing and robbing us of that abundant life God wants us to have.

As we go through the questions in this book, keep in mind that God's answers are not intended to snuff out our good times. It's just the opposite. His answers are there to help us enjoy the pleasures of life more deeply He's on our side. He always wants the best for us. And He loves us so much that He will discipline or even fight us if we try to settle for second rate, for some-thing that will ultimately steal His very best from us.

OK, so God's eternal plan is for us to share His throne. And His lifelong plan is to make us whole and complete. Fine. But how does that help me decide what 1 should do for a living? Or what classes I should take next semester? Or whether I should go out with sexy Stan with the roving hands?

God's Immediate Will

Actually, knowing God's lifelong plan in your life really does help in the making of day-to-day decisions. If you know He wants you 11 mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:4), chances are you'll try to follow that plan.

But if you're still not I sure, there are six very easy ways to find God's immediate will in your life-six ways to help you make those day-to-day decisions. And if three or four seem to point in the same direction, chances are that's the direction you should be heading.

1. READ GOD'S WORD

This is easily the most important way of finding out God's will. There are several reasons for this importance, but the main one is the incredible power of His Word. Remember, it was with God's spoken Word that He actually created the universe.

And remember when Jesus and Satan were battling it out during Jesus' temptation? They didn't use guns, tanks, or bombs-they didn't even try to nuke each other. Instead, the Creator of the universe and the most evil force in the universe both knew the most powerful weapon in the universe. They fought with one thing and one thing only: God's Holy Word, the Bible (Matthew 4: 1 -1 I).

There's something terribly powerful, something supernatural about God's Word. First of all, it's "God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16). Somehow a part of God's very life is in those words. And since they have His life, as we read and study them, they begin to change us....

As we dwell on God's Word, we actually find our-selves starting to think more like Him, to act more like Him, and to make the decisions He would have us make.

It's like hanging around a close friend. We don't go around consciously trying to imitate each other. But gradually, as we spend more and more time together, we start to think more and more alike. We start saying and doing some of the same things.

That's the sort of friendship and closeness God is looking for. Not because He's an egotist and wants a bunch of God-clones walking around. But because He knows that when we think and act like Him, we tend to be much happier.

Unfortunately none of this learning and under-standing happens overnight. There are no pills for instant wisdom, no hot-line numbers for making godly decisions. God does not want mindless puppets. He wants friends. And as we spend time with Him in His Word, that friendship just naturally develops. We begin to naturally think and speak as He does. We begin to naturally develop "the mind of Christ." And, quite often, we begin to just naturally do what He would have us do.

So if you haven't started to read God's Word on a daily basis, do it. If you have, keep it up. It will give you clear guidelines and principles to help you in nearly every area of decision-making.

2. PRAY FOR WISDOM

Another way of finding out God's will is through prayer:

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask

God, who gives generously to all without

finding fault, and it will be given to him."

James 1:5

That's quite a promise. And it's true. Despite what it feels like sometimes, God is not into playing hide-and-seek with His will. Chances are He wants you to know His will even more than you do. So ask.

It's doubtful you'll be receiving any "angel-grams" or instructions carved in stone (although both have been known to happen). But somehow, some way, if you're really serious, He'll let you know what you should do. It may not be in your timing or in your way-but rest assured, you will know. You have my word on it.

Better yet, you have His.

3. SEEK COUNSEL

As much as you may be convinced that nobody has gone through what you're going through, chances are you're wrong. Other people have passed your way- maybe not the exact steps, but close enough. Take advantage of their experiences. Take advantage of their mistakes. That's one of the reasons God keeps us older Christians puttering around out there-so you can seek our counsel.

If you have a decision to make, talk to your pastor (that's what he's there for). Talk to your Sunday school teacher, or youth worker, or some older Christian you respect. In fact (and I know this may sound radical), try talking to your parents. Even they've been known to be right from time to time.

4. LISTEN TO THE HOLY SPIRIT

If you are a Christian, remember-you have a bit of God living inside you. Trust His guidance. Trust His nudgings. See if that "still, small voice" inside isn't encouraging you along a certain path. Sometimes this can be tricky because your "wants" may be so loud they drown out what the Holy Spirit is saying. But if you wait and continue to listen, there's a good chance you'll sense what you should do.

"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he

will guide you into all truth. He will not

speak on his own; he will speak only what

he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to

come." John 16:13

5. ASK, "DOES IT GLORIFY GOD?"

That's not a real popular question these days-especially with so many of us human types only looking out for ourselves. But if we were originally created to please God (Revelation 4:1 1), then we'll only be the happiest when we're doing just that.

Now, that doesn't mean we all have to become missionaries or start passing out tracts to every Tom, Dick, or Harriet. But it does mean "whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:3 1).

If it's cutting down trees or cutting out cookies, it's still possible to do it in a way that will glorify God. Maybe it's simply your attitude toward God as you're doing it. Maybe it's letting Him shine through you to your co-workers. Who knows? But if what you want to do doesn't glorify God, take a good hard look at it. It may not be what He has in mind.

The last way of determining God's will is ...

6. LOOK AT THE CIRCUMSTANCES

This can be the trickiest of all. Sometimes God

wants us to close our eyes against all the circumstances and just step out blindly in faith. Other times He wants us to look clearly at the facts and make a decision based on them. If I think circumstances are important in making a decision, I'll write a list of all the pros and cons. Then, only after I've put all the other methods to work (studying God's Word, praying, getting counsel, waiting on the Holy Spirit, and asking if it glorifies God), I'll make the decision.

These are six easy ways to find out God's will in day-to-day living. Again, you may not need to use all of them. If three or four seem to point in the same direction, that may be all the confirmation you need.

But whatever you decide, once you've waited on the Lord and made your decision, step out and do it. Don't be so frightened of making a mistake that you do nothing. If you're wrong, God's not going to clobber you over the head. He's on your side, remember?

He may correct, He may change your course, He may even do a little disciplining if necessary. But if you honestly seek His will, you'll always find it.

If you sincerely seek God's will in your life, it will be impossible for you to miss it. It's a promise....

"I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way

which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with

mine eye." Psalm 32:8, KJV

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the

LORD." Psalm 37:23, KJV

"For this God is our God for ever and ever;

he will be our guide even to the end."

Psalm 48:14

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