As the old story goes, a pastor stood before his congregation one Sunday and announced he was leaving them for another church. "But," he said, "This isn't because I don't love you. I'm doing this in obedience to God's will. The same Lord who called me to this church is now telling me to leave." In response, the congregation stood and spontaneously sang "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."
Jokes aside, there is great skepticism--even among the devout--whenever someone says, "The Lord told me to..." A politician announces that God has chosen him for a particular elected position. Does this mean that anyone who DOESN'T vote for him is sinning? A preacher tells his church that his vision for an expensive program or building is absolutely the will of God...and once the church puts itself deep into debt, he promptly hears "the Lord's call" to a larger, wealthier church. To be sure, "the will of God" is a phrase that is tossed around all too liberally in evangelical circles, used to justify any manner of self-centered behavior.
But don't let the abuses of a few distract us from the truth: God knows the decisions we face, has the wisdom to help us make the right choice, and loves us enough to guide us down the true path. So what should we do in order to make good decisions? When most people think of "Hearing God's Voice and Knowing His Will," this is what they're talking about: Finding God's guidance in their important decisions. But you will notice that I have saved this message for the middle of the series. There's method to my madness: More than good decisions, we need a good relationship with our Heavenly Father. The good news is that our Father wants to help us make good decisions, and this Sunday, we'll talk about how to hear Him. The REALLY good news is that no matter how many bad decisions we have made, He continues to be our Father.