Do you ever hear a recording of yourself and
think, “Is that me? Is that how I sound? Should I only send texts from now on?” I walk around the house preaching, and my
kids know sometimes… Abbey is the most attuned. She’s only 6, but she knows when I have left
the room but my body is still there and I’m thinking about a sermon. She’ll even call me out. She looked at me the other day and said, “Are
you working on a sermon in your head?” I was so busted, because we were supposed
to be watching this kid’s show together, this boring, awful television show that Abbey enjoys. I was trying to pretend to be watching it
with her, but I was working on something in my head, two things at once, and she said,
“Are you working on a sermon in your head?” I said, “Okay, yeah. How did you know?” She said, “I watched your mouth.” I said, “So I talk to myself when I work on
sermons in my head?” She said, “Ish. You make moves.” She started showing me how… I didn’t even realize it, but when I’m preaching
to myself I start making moves. Did you know that when God is about to speak
something, the people who really know him…? The people who really know their Father can
see when God is up to something. Tell your neighbor, “God is up to something.” I know it not because I feel it but because
I know my Father. There is this unique ability God will give
you through his Holy Spirit to sense when he is making moves. That’s what I would like to talk to you about
in this installment of Bars & Battles. I want to talk to you about Making Moves,
because for me it’s interesting to study the contrast between David’s destiny and his decisions. Have you ever thought about that? In a sense, he was anointed as a 16-year-old
kid, so he had no choice but to become king. God spoke it, so it had to happen. Wouldn’t that be a good sermon? It Had to Happen. There was a sense in which David’s decisions
either supported or sabotaged his destiny. We’ve talked about shortcuts, but today I
want to talk about decisions. I think it’s important that we look at David’s
decisions. One thing he said at the end of his life… Psalm 37:23 gives us some insight as to how
he looked at his decisions. I want to give this to you in the King James
Version of the Bible. It’s not necessarily a better translation. It’s just the one I first heard it in. It says, “The steps of a good man are ordered
by the Lord, and he delighteth in his way.” I love that Scripture. How many of you love that Scripture? I love it because I do believe that my life
is destined, that there is an outcome God intends or he wouldn’t have put me on this
earth. I believe that not only when it seems like
that, but I believe it when all evidence is to the contrary. In a court of law, you present the evidence,
and then the judge delivers the verdict. Well, faith actually works in the exact opposite
direction. It is that God has already established a verdict,
an outcome for your life, and now, as a child of God, you gather evidence to support the
verdict of God’s goodness. I already know God is good. I already know he’s for me. I already know I’m more than a conqueror. I already know God is with me. I found out that usually you will collect
evidence to support whatever verdict you’ve already decided to believe in your heart. David says at the end of his life, “The steps
of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in his way.” What’s interesting about the verse is that
everything in David’s early life seems to contradict the conclusion he came to at the
end of his life. If you think about David’s early life after
God anointed him to be king… He didn’t step right into his appointment
as king. There’s always a space between something God
shows you and the experience of it. For 15 years we’ve been following David over
the last several weeks, and it doesn’t seem like his steps are very ordered. In fact, it seems more like Saul is determining
his next move than God is determining his next move. In fact, it seems like he’s moving away from
the throne God told him he would ultimately occupy. We find him in 2 Samuel 2:1 in a place called
Ziklag. It’s a surprising place to find a future king
of Israel, because it’s Philistine territory. You may remember that Goliath was a Philistine
warrior. How could David be living in the territory
of the enemy he defeated? He’s on this border between Philistia and
Israel, waiting to see what God will do next in his life. He just received news while in Ziklag that
Saul is dead, which, I have to be honest, would make me want to throw a party, because
this is the guy who was coming at David’s head with spears while David wasn’t trying
to do anything but give him some mood music in the palace. This is the guy who told him, “I won’t mess
with you anymore,” and even while he was telling him, “I’m going to leave you alone” was heading
him off at the next pass. So while we are expecting David to celebrate
the news of the death of Saul… Not only has Saul fallen on his own sword
and taken his own life… I have news for you. You don’t even have to worry about fighting
against what comes against you. God will kill it when the time is right. Some of the stuff you spend your whole life
fighting against, God is going to kill it on its own sword when the time comes. So they tell David, “Saul is dead,” but instead
of celebration David goes into a period of sorrow and mourning, and he writes a song
of lament for his enemy, King Saul, and his sons, one of whom was Jonathan who was David’s
best friend. It should have been his rival, but it ended
up being his partner. When he received the news that Jonathan, who
was his friend, had died and Saul, who was his oppressor, had died… Usually, if you look right past good news,
bad news is right behind it, and they come at the same time. Have you noticed this? I’ve gotten to the place where I am suspicious
of good days. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad
thing. But for David, it’s not a very sweet moment
or an announcement that brings him joy. He writes what’s known in Hebrew poetry as
a lament. It becomes a national lament, because after
he writes it he teaches all of the people to sing it. Look at just a few verses, a few bars, if
you will, in 2 Samuel, chapter 1, verse 25. He says upon hearing the news of Saul’s death,
“How the mighty have fallen in battle!” He’s not celebrating good times. He is despairing over the death of someone
who was trying to kill him. That’s kind of strange. “Jonathan lies slain on your heights.” Remember, Jonathan was his guy. Verse 26: “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful…” It’s kinda hard with you not around
Know you’re in heaven smiling down Watching us as we pray for you
Every day we pray for you Till the day we meet again
In my heart is where I’ll keep you, friend. Is there something different on the screens? I must have switched out of 2 Samuel and went
into “2 Puff,” but that’s all right. Stay with me. There comes a shift where David knows, “I
have to stop mourning and move on.” There comes a time in your life when you must
stop mourning. Nobody can tell you when that is. Only God can tell you when you’ve cried over
Saul long enough. That’s what the prophet Samuel had to come
to terms with. I know you believed in Saul, and I know you
prayed for Saul, and I know you wanted more out of Saul, but it’s time to fill your horn
with oil and be on your way, because your plan B is God’s plan A. “I found a man after
my own heart, and his name is David.” There’s a shift that happens. Now David has to decide to step into what
God set him apart for. I’m hesitant to preach stuff like this, because
people will take and twist my words and quit their jobs. This is not a license for irresponsibility. I have received so many emails from people
who started a bagel shop because they like bagels and I talked about Peter stepping out
of the boat. That’s not what the passage is for. I’ve seen so many people blame God for bad
decision-making habits. I get it, but I think if God would be… This is just a theory I have. Let me read you the Scripture. When David needed to know what to do next… I just want to take a poll at Ballantyne. I wish I could do this at all of the campuses. Do you have a decision you need to make right
now? Raise your hand. It won’t be as big as David’s decision to
be king. I get it. You’re not that epic. I’m not that epic. We’re not that epic. But don’t you believe that the principles
that governed his epic rise and his dynasty are the same principles God would use to govern
your everyday life? The principles aren’t different. The stakes aren’t as high, but the principles
are no different. I want to watch what David did when it came
time for him to decide. “Saul is dead. Now how do I step into what God set me apart
for so many years ago?” That’s the issue: how to get there, when to
get there. Any conversation about trust must involve
a conversation about timing. Trust and timing are inseparable. Trust takes time. Stop giving your first date your family history. They have not earned that information at this
point in the relationship. Keep it really guarded for about six months,
and then tell them about your crazy stepmom, but not on the first date, because trust takes
time. That’s why Drake said “No new friends,” because
trust takes time. Let’s get back to the Bible. I feel carnality coming on the church. The Bible says in 2 Samuel 2:1, “In the course
of time…” Even that phrase would preach. I’m not going to preach it, but it’s a strange
phrase that is used throughout the narrative of David’s life to signify a shift. “In the course of time.” We don’t know how long. We don’t know exactly what period it’s referring
to, but it’s a significant phrase, because it took David some time to shift and to figure
out what God wanted him to do next. “In the course of time, David inquired of
the Lord. ‘Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?’
he asked. The Lord said, ‘Go up.’ David asked, ‘Where shall I go?’ ‘To Hebron,’ the Lord answered. So David went up there…” I’m like, “Well, yeah.” If God would speak to me that specifically
I would do it too. Wouldn’t that be cool if God would talk to
you like that? Let’s read it again. “‘Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?’
he asked. The Lord said, ‘Yep.’ And David asked, ‘Where shall I go?’ God said, ‘To Hebron.'” Wouldn’t you love to have that kind of clear
insight on who to marry? Wouldn’t that be cool if you were single sitting
over in this section and you could look over at that section and say, “God, should I ask
one of them out to lunch today?” and God would say, “Go ahead,” and you could say, “Which
one?” and God would say, “The cute one, 5’4″, brown hair.” Wouldn’t that be amazing if God would speak
to you so specifically like this? I think I could be a man after God’s own heart
too if he would give me this kind of direct information. Wouldn’t that be amazing if God would speak
to you about the important things in your life with this specificity? “God, should I start Aaron Rodgers?” and God
would just show you the important things. Write down the word strategy. David is asking God for his next strategic
move, because he wants to take the right next step. “I’ve been running for 15 years. I don’t want to waste any more time, but,
God, I need to know my next step.” “I need to know if the marriage is over or
if I should give it a little more time, because I need to know my next step.” “I hear the doctor saying my kid should be
on this medicine, but I’m not so sure if that’s the right thing.” Wouldn’t it be nice if God would say, “Yep,
Lexapro,” and just tell you, “Yep, Ritalin”? How easy would it be? You’d go fill the bottle and pop the pills,
and you’d go to Hebron and be a king. But most of us don’t enjoy this specificity
of connection with God, and the people who say they do are weird. They’re weird. The people who tell you that God told them
which color shirt to wear to church that day and they wore purple because it’s the color
of royalty are weird. They will often do something that contradicts
the written Word of God and blame it on an impression and call it the Holy Spirit, which
messes it up for the rest of us, because now I don’t even want to say God told me to do
something because I’ve heard so many people use that phrase to pimp their own decision
and put it on God, because now they don’t have to deal with the outcome. I’m just trying to say I wish it could be
this specific. I wish God could be more like Google. I’m just being honest with you. I have a great relationship with Google. Google knows what I want to ask it before
I finish the word. The first three letters. Now Google also knows so much about my life. Google also knows my blood type and the color
of my urine, but that’s beside the point about information secrecy. What I like about Google is Google seems to
anticipate what I need to know. God seems to be the opposite, because I’m
begging him sometimes to let me know what to do about this relationship, about this
decision. What if you could invest your money with the
kind of knowledge with which David went to Hebron? What if God would tell you which stock? What if God would tell you how to balance
the portfolio? What if God would tell you which position
to apply for? Wouldn’t that be amazing if God would order
your steps? Somebody sent us an Amazon Echo recently. I would suggest putting it on your Christmas
list. It’s an amazing device. This is not a product endorsement, but it’s
amazing. Do any of you have it? It’s voice activated, because sometimes you
can’t be bothered to have to use your thumbs. I like Alexa. That’s her name. I have a relationship with Alexa where I say
her name. I say, “Alexa,” and she lights up, kind of
like Holly when I say… I can tell her what song to play, what task
to perform. “Alexa,” and she lights up and answers me. She hears me when I call. She’s like the Lord. Well, yesterday I walked in and Graham was
doing his homework, but I want you to see something. I caught it on my video camera, because I’d
never seen anything like this before. Graham: If 88 minus A equals… I don’t know. Hmm. Alexa, what is 19 plus 9? Alexa: The sum of 19 and 9 is 28. Pastor Steven: Are you kidding me right now? Are you kidding me? Graham: About what? Pastor Steven: How you’re doing your homework. Graham: I am checking. Holly: He’s checking. Checking. Checking “I already did the work. I’m just checking.” I have a feeling when David inquired of the
Lord, “Where do I go next?” he was already on his way. He was just checking, because when you walk
in God’s ways you will know God’s will. All you have to do is check. Jesus said, “If I leave, I’ll send you the
Spirit of truth, and he’ll show you the ways to walk in.” I’m checking. See, I don’t have to ask God about every decision. I don’t have to stress about God’s will. When I live my life in God’s ways, I have
the confidence that my steps are ordered by the Lord because I delight in his way. You don’t have to worry so much about what
when you get your why right, when you walk in the ways of God, when you submit to him,
because God’s strategy is submission. The other S word is submission. In all of the steps David took away from the
throne for 15 years into the land of the Philistines, into the place of Ziklag, while it looked
like he was moving away from the promise God had made him, he was moving into submission. “The steps of a good man are ordered.” Wait a minute. That’s what they do in the military. Ordered. I found out a lot of people will rejoice over
the sovereignty of God but resist submission. To believe in sovereignty without embracing
submission is not faith; it’s fairy tale. If I say, “My steps are ordered by the Lord”
as a way of excusing my decisions, I have misunderstood the implication of Psalm 37:23. I wonder how much differently we would respond
to Psalm 37:23 if we considered the word ordered, because when David went to God, David didn’t
give God his opinion. He asked God for his next order. When you live like that, you can have complete
and total confidence in every move you make, every breath you take. Whether you’re moving away from your goal
or toward your goal you can know, “I’m in submission, so I’m at peace.” Submission brings peace. When you try to get the strategy before submission,
you’re out of order and it doesn’t work. When you say God orders your steps, understand
what you’re saying is not that God will take the step for you; it’s that he will tell you
which one to take. So when I asked God to heal my relationship
with my dad, God did not do it until I submitted to the way he wanted me to do it, which was
to humble myself and go in to my dad and, instead of proving how right I was and how
wrong he was, to find a point of connection. That required submission. When I submitted myself to God’s way, I experienced
God’s will. A lot of the things that are not working in
my life are because I’m out of order. Sometimes when your finances are out of order
you have the money you need; it’s just not in order. It’s because God is really not first in your
priorities. I can tell by your ledger. I can tell because everybody else gets your
first and God gets what’s left. When you give God your best he blesses what’s
left. When you give God what’s left, how can you
believe him for his best? You’re out of order. The three times that Holly and I have fought
in 15 years of marriage… I might be understating, but when we fight
it’s not because we don’t have a blessed marriage. It’s because something is out of order. There’s a step I’m skipping. When I talk to my wife and I need to work
something out, the thing I have to do before I can explain myself is to empathize, which
does not come naturally to me, to listen to your wrong point of view before I give you
the correct one, but sometimes there’s something I need to learn about how you see it so I
can come over onto your side. That’s why we have so much racial and religious
tension in our nation. We’re out of order. Before we even listen to one another we’re
giving a lesson to the other, but you can’t give the lesson until you’re willing to listen. We’re out of order. Now we’re frustrated because it’s not working
and we don’t know what to do. David’s life is a life… It’s interesting how when he was in order
everything had a flow to it. The oil flows when you are in order. The Bible says he inquired of the Lord, “Shall
I go up to one of the cities of Judah?” which was not, by the way, the ultimate capital,
because everything God does he does in steps and stages. It would be seven and a half more years before
David would come into the fullness of his calling. All you need for now is the next step. David had been making moves. He had been working toward this moment where
he would go to Judah, and he had sent the men of Judah gifts, and he was set up now. He asked God, “Is now the time? Because I don’t want to move until you want
me to move.” In one sentence God taught him his next move,
because for 15 years God had taught him to submit. If you can receive this message today and
submit your desires, God will tell you what to do when you delight yourself in his way. That’s what Psalm 37 says, that he delighteth
in his way. I’m so stupid. I thought that meant for the longest time… I don’t know why I can’t get this stuff the
first time. I thought that meant God delights in his way. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the
Lord, and he delighteth in his way.” I thought that meant that if I’m a good man
and my steps are ordered God will delight… Well, of course God delights in the way that
he orders. That doesn’t make any sense. It means that when I delight in his way… See, “He delighteth in his way.” Who’s he? The man whose steps are ordered. When I delight in God’s way, I will be in
God’s will, and my steps will be ordered. I can stay on this step as long as I need
to stay on this step, and I can stay in this season as long as I need to be in this season. “God, I don’t want to go into any greater
responsibility or influence until you say I’m ready. I don’t want to come out of this oven until
I’m ready. I don’t want to enter into the promotion until
I’m ready. When you say step, I step, and my steps are
ordered.” It’s a statement of submission, but it’s also
a statement of sequence. When you get her number, not only do you need
the right digits but they need to be in the right order, because if she gives you the
right digits in the wrong order you’ll be calling the wrong girl, sounding like a stalker. “Hey, remember I met you Thursday night?” She’s going to hang up on you, because it
has to be in order. David couldn’t be a king until he learned
to be a shepherd, because there was something he needed to get at the bottom that would
enable him to be who he needed to be at the top. Somebody shout, “My steps are ordered!” That means God not only knows where but he
knows what and when. Now I can trust him, because I have it when
I need it. I was thinking about something the other day,
how if I had known this 15 years ago how good it would have been, and I felt that voice
in me. It wasn’t out loud like David, where God just
speaks to you in complete sentences. It was an impression that God said, “You wouldn’t
have known what to do with it 15 years ago. It took 15 years of your foolishness to even
respect what I wanted to show you.” This is what I mean when I say my steps are
ordered. I mean that not only are the steps that feel
like this ordered but so are these. You can’t have one without the other. To say “My steps are ordered” means that not
only does promotion not come from the east or the west but comes from the Lord but sometimes
the pain comes from him too. My steps are ordered. God knows which is step three and which is
step one and which is step four, and if I start skipping steps I’m likely to end up
on my face, which is the next thing David said in Psalm 37:24. He said, “Though he fall, he shall not be
utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.” It means my confidence is not in the stability
of my feet; my confidence is in the sovereignty of his hand. Even when I fell, even when I tripped, even
when I stumbled, even when I missed it, my steps are ordered. When I fall, I fall forward, because God’s
hand is over my life. Order. It means sequence. God knows what to do and when to do it. There’s a sequence to things. Do you trust God’s sequence? Do you trust that in some seasons he needs
to move you away and some seasons he needs to move you toward? Some seasons he’s going to use things you
hate. Some seasons he’s going to use things you
love. Are all of your steps ordered by the Lord
or just the ones you like? Some of you feel like you’re going down today,
but you’re still in order. God’s order isn’t like your order. Peter said, “Jesus, you can’t go to the cross
yet. You can’t let them kill you yet. They can’t kill you until you establish the
kingdom.” Jesus said, “No, I can’t establish the kingdom
until they kill me, because I have to go down, like Jonah went down, to the belly of the
earth three days. That’s the only way I can rise.” My steps are ordered. My right steps, wrong steps, left steps, right
steps. My steps are ordered. That’s part of the reason LJ makes me so sick. I don’t mean to do this in front of everybody,
but I’m jealous of his talent, because we both play music but he plays it so much better
than I do. I can play a little bit, but after about 10
minutes I will have exhausted my knowledge of what I know to play. This guy took lessons the right way. My mom sent me to lessons, but I didn’t learn
the right way. It was my fault. It wasn’t her fault or the teacher’s fault
or anything like that. I wanted to learn certain songs. I wanted to learn “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” So I learned it, but I didn’t learn the theory. I just learned how to make the chords, but
I didn’t know how the chords functioned together. That’s Saul’s problem. He got to be king too soon. He didn’t have a chance to keep sheep while
he was waiting to be king. That’s the advantage… LJ learned all of the scales and the pentatonic
scale and the modes and all of the other things I didn’t pay attention to that I was supposed
to know. I just learned a G chord, and he learned… Show them a scale or something. See? Doesn’t that make you sick? How many of you took piano lessons and he
makes you sick? He makes me sick. He can just play stuff. Just play a few notes, anything you want to
play. Okay, do
it again. Do those same notes, but do them differently,
like a different order or something. Do it again. All right, do it again. Don’t change any of the notes. Do the same notes but do it in a different
order. Maybe switch the instrument. Do an electric guitar sound or something like
that, something a little more interesting. Yeah, like that. Do it again in a different order. Yeah, I like that. Now go up. Go up again, and then back down to the first
one. Lock it in right there. A little faster. Minor six, four, five, and one. That sounds like something. Same notes he was playing before but now with
movement and order. Shift, sequence, order. If you know it, you ought to sing. Those are the same notes he started playing,
but when he got them in order… I feel somebody’s life getting in order today. I feel somebody’s steps getting in order. I’m trying to show you that everything you
need is in your life and your steps are ordered. If I’m going up or if I’m going down my steps
are ordered. If you know your steps are ordered, shout
right now! Every step. Every move. God said, “I’m going to take you down sometimes
and you’re going to fall sometimes, but whether I’m taking you down or raising you up your
steps are in order.” I don’t know who it’s for, but you’ve been
going this direction. There’s something you need down here that
God is going to use. You’ve been stuck on a step, but this step
is ordered by the Lord. David said, “Should I go to Hebron?” and God
said, “Yeah.” Because when you’re walking with God, you
don’t have to fast 21 days to figure out what he wants you to do. You’ll know. When you walk with him every step, you’ll
know his will. The Bible says something in verse 4 that got
my attention. It says that after David had inquired of the
Lord, “the men of Judah came to Hebron, and there they anointed David king over the tribe
of Judah.” Where? In the place of his next step. Often we want God to give us confirmation
before we obey. That’s out of order. God said, “Your confirmation awaits your obedience.” “God, I’ll forgive them if you give me the
grace to forgive them.” That’s out of order. You forgive them, and then you get the grace. It’s a decision that leads to destiny, and
every step is ordered by the Lord. In fact, if we’re doing it our way, we would
praise God when he moved in our lives. Real praise comes from a place of faith. Real faith says, “God, I’m going to praise
you on credit because you’ve never failed me yet. So I’m going to take the next step by faith.” I’m taking the next step by faith, and my
steps are ordered by the Lord. Give him a great shout of praise and watch
the walls fall! Give him a great shout of praise and watch
joy come! Here comes the morning! “Shall I go up?” “Yeah, go up.” God says, “I’m already there. Your oil is waiting in the place of your next
order.” Father, I thank you for the word you gave
me today, for the Spirit of Christ that I feel operative in this place, touching the
hearts of people, meeting the needs of people. Lift your hands in the presence of the Lord. He’s speaking now. Be sensitive to his Spirit. He’s speaking now.