Know What You Want
This is the rough draft of part 6 of Pastor Steve’s message from the series, '“The Last Arrow” from March 17, 2019. You can also watch the message here. We hope you find this helpful as you pursue your next steps in Christ.
“So, what did you want to be when you were growing up? I’m sure somebody asked you. Did you want to be a fireman or a business owner? Did you want to be an NBA star or a teacher? Chances are you were asked and you had dreams, but for most of us we really didn’t know. We just took aim and said something. That’s what our dad or our mom was. That’s what my friends say they want ot be, so I want to be that. I saw this cool tv show, and that’s why I wanted to be that when I grew up. Don’t we do the same to kids today? We ask them when they are 4 or when they are 8 or when they are 11, “hey, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
And I get why we do it. We want to know if kids are thinking about their future. If they are dreaming about what they could be. I totally get it. But do we realistically think that a child can fully know what they want to be when they are 7? Not really. I mean, that is an adult sized question thrown at a child. That is a question that revolves around purpose and dreams and regrets.
If we were honest, there have been moments in our lives where we couldn’t answer that question. It might even be our issue right now? We struggle with knowing what we want to be and we are 17, 27, 37, 47 or on and on. It’s really hard for a 7-year old and it’s equally hard of us today. We didn’t know what we wanted when we were 27. We don’t know what we want and we are 37. And here is the tension that we live with. If we don’t know what you want, then life has a way of telling you what it wants for you.
Sometimes when we don’t know what we want and so circumstances will force us down a path we never thought we would walk down. We end up in a job and we say; “I never wanted to work there.” Sometimes people who care about us, out of love, tell us what they want. But in reality, it’s not what we wanted or what God wanted for us. “I never wanted to become like that.” And what’s worse, the people who have hurt us leave us with pieces of our lives. They did that too us and we think, “I never wanted to end up here. Now what?” I believe this is a very real tension that we live within our lives.
Today we finish our series on what it means to live a life with fewer regrets. To live a life where we don’t settle. To live with more purpose. To figure out how we can experience all that Christ wants for us. Today here is the last thought; You must know what you want. If you don’t know what you want, life will give you something you don’t want. And that knowing of what we want rests in a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ. Today we are going to look at a passage where Jesus makes this abundantly clear. Do we know what we really want?
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us! Matthew 20:29-30
As Jesus is walking along connecting with people and doing ministry, his attention and the attention of others are drawn to two blind men. “Hey Jesus, would you show us some mercy?” A couple of things stand out to me. One, if they were sitting alongside the road, chances are they were pretty desperate. It’s most likely how they feed themselves. They begged for money as people passed. Two, how did this happen to them? Have they been blind since birth? Did it happen later in life? Last, why did they have to beg? Did they have no family? We are never given those detail of their lives. Maybe it’s not critical to the story, but it does pique my curiosity.
But here is what is even more curious to me. Why did they reach out to Jesus? Let’s be frank. They never saw him teach like so many others. They never got the chance to see his miracles first hand. What happened? Did they hear his teaching at some point and they were moved? Did they hear people telling stories about this Jesus guy as they sat along the road day by day? Something gave them the impression that Jesus was different and that Jesus could do something for them. So, they cry out in hope. Jesus, help us!
The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Matthew 20:31
The crowd tries to shut them down but the crowd’s attitude only makes them get louder. “Hey, Jesus!”
Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. Matthew 20:32
Now, those four words, when I read this passage this time, they made me pause. What do you want? Do they captivate you too? Do they cause you to ask questions as to why Jesus would ask them that? If you are newer to church or to faith, let’s establish a bit of a foundation here. When Jesus came to earth, he was both God and man. He was fully human and fully divine. God with us. In theological terms that’s called “incarnation.”
Which means if Jesus is fully God and fully man, he knows all. He sees all. He senses all. There are many verses in the NT that said as Jesus was in a crowd or having a conversation with someone that he could “sense what was in their heart.” The divine in Jesus surely knew what these men wanted and needed. So why would he ask?
It’s obvious Jesus, I mean come on. His question feels like the questions we often ask that are obvious. You walk up behind someone and intentionally try to startle them. They react. “Ah!” And you say. “Ha, did I scare you?” Yes, you did and the question seems obvious. How about this one. You call someone up in the middle of the night at like 1 am. They answer sounding all groggy. What do you say? “Hey, did I wake you up?” Of course, you did. That question is obvious. It seems Jesus question is obvious so why? In this case and so many more in scripture, it’s because Jesus wants to go deeper with these two men. He wants to go deeper.
So, let’s set it up in this way. Jesus knows what we want. He does. He’s divine. He’s big enough and personal enough to know what you want in life but... Jesus also wants relationship with us. Think about it. Why do we pray if God knows? Why do we cry out to him in our times of need? Why does Jesus ask a question that is so obvious if he sees their plight? In part, it’s because he wants relationship and relationship goes both ways.
Let me pause just for a moment before we move on. Because right here lies a central piece to the Christian faith. So if you are new to faith or have questions, this is important. God wants relationship with us but gives us free will to make that choice. So, that leads to some logical questions. Why does God give us free will to choose? Because he wants a relationship with us. Why doesn't he just force this world to clean up its act? I mean, look at all of the evil around. Because he wants a relationship with us. If you take away the choice to do wrong you also take away the choice to love. Relationships are never relationships unless there is choice involved right? It’s out of that desire to want relationship with these two men that he says, “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” 34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:33-34
They knew what they wanted and Jesus stepped up and healed them. Their sight was restored. Their lives were changed forever. They leave their lives and they follow Jesus right on the spot. It’s an incredible, incredible picture of what Jesus can do. What he did for them, I believe that he can truly do for us too.
As incredible as that miracle is, I want to focus on their response too; “we want our sight.” They knew what they wanted to see. So, they asked big. We want to see! That takes me to another key idea. Jesus knows what we want but... Jesus also wants us to ask big! Part of living this life with no regrets means taking bold steps of faith. It means asking for what seems impossible. Like sight!
Think about it, as much as they needed sight, they could have settled. They could have kind of given a half-hearted answer. “Hey Jesus, we heard that you came from a good family of carpenters. So, we were hoping that you could whittle us a nice walking cane. You know, so we can get around time.” They didn’t ask for that. They could have given Jesus a sorta faith-filled answer. “Hey Jesus, we have heard how awesome you are with people. People love you and follow you. Could you do us a favor? Since you are so good with people, can you just find us a long term caretaker? Someone that would be kind and compassionate to us. Thanks, Jesus.” Or maybe this. “We were thinking one of those power scooters? A seeing eye dog? To win the lottery?”
Now that seems ridiculous, right? But the reality is they could have asked for anything less than eyesight but they didn’t. So, let’s address the big fat tension in this story and that exists in our lives. I wonder if there are some things in our lives that we have not fully experienced because we asked God for a cane instead of full eyesight. Are you with me? We settled. Maybe we have gotten tired of asking because it seems that when we ask God doesn’t move? I get that. Maybe we come to God like it’s a bother to ask. “Hey God, it’s me. If you aren’t too busy I need you here. I don’t want to ask for too much.” Maybe it’s because we have ventured off of God's’ path and there is some deep sin in our life. And our sin has become a hindrance to God moving. Or maybe it’s a bunch of guilt we are heaping on ourselves and we don’t feel worthy to ask for that in faith.
Knowing what you want means asking God to do the “big things” that only He can do.
If you and I are going to live a life with purpose and minimal regrets, we have to think bigger. Pray bigger. Trust Jesus for bigger. That leads me to this. When was the last time you asked God for something big? This message and that question have made me think a lot about my prayer life and my faith. Am I really asking God for big things in my life? Am I asking God to do something so big, that unless he shows up, it’s impossible? I mean I’m a Jesus follower and I’m a pastor too. Shouldn’t I ask? So, I was driving my bike the other day to pick up my car as it was getting repaired and about a quarter of a mile into my journey my tire got flat on my back. I thought, ‘are you kidding me?” But what also popped into my mind was this phrase. ‘Steve, do you know what you really want from me?” I felt in the sense that God was challenging me to put some really big faith into this.
So, I was frustrated and hot and walking but I focused in. “OK, I want to believe you for some great things. So, God, I’m going to be specific. God, you know what? My son Aaron is graduating this year. God, I’m asking that you show up in his life so he knows what his next step is. He’s venturing into adulthood, he needs you to direct him. A career. A calling. A direction. God, I know what I want. I want all four of my kids to follow you all the days of their lives. I’m asking you, God, that no matter what temptations are out there that they walk with you. Surround them with people that will build them up instead of pulling them down. God, I know what I want. Will you lead the right spouse to my kids. God, first and foremost, a spouse that loves you. That puts you first.
God, when it comes to Turning Point Church, I’m so grateful that we are healthy but God you know what I want. I want this church to explode in SWFL. God, not for notoriety, I don’t care about that. But I believe you have called us here to impact the lives of hundreds and possibly thousands of people. God will inspire people by the power of your Holy Spirit to give to this vision. God will give each person the desire to reach one person this Easter. God will challenge leaders to step up. God will you inspire each person to serve in some way. God, will you help us as a church to always leverage vision for the lost over personal preference and style.
“Asking big” means that unless God shows us, there is no way it can happen.
Now, I recognize I have to do my part. I know I have to be faithful and ask. But I don’t want to ever underestimate God’s ability to move or do in my life or in this church. That leads me back to the question that I want you to personally wrestle with. When was the last time you asked God for something big? Something big in your business. Something big in being a parent. Something big on your campus. Something big in your family. Something big as you battle with depression or self-worth or an addiction. Let’s be people to ask for the big things. Let’s be people that ask for the miracle to see rather than asking for a scooter or a seeing-eye dog.
One more thought for today. Jesus knows what we want but... Jesus also wants his desires to become our desires. This is important. As we are growing in our relationship with Christ, over time, God’s desires become our desires. He does something transformative in us that we want what he wants for our lives.
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. 5 Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. Psalms 37:4-5 (NLT)
I love that verse, don’t you? And for many of us, our eyes are drawn to the word desires. I underlined those words on purpose. “Wow, God wants to give me the desires of my life. Yeah, baby!” But if we are not careful, God’s desires for us get lost in the process on what I desire for me. “Wow, my desire is to be rich God. My desire is to date her because she’s hot. My desire is to crush them in court. My desire is to be at the top of my class. My desire is to get that promotion.
Two things happen when we take that view. One, we see God as a meal ticket. That means God exists for our greed or our gain. Again, that’s not relationship. It’s a one-sided view of God where we look to God as Santa or the tooth fairy. Secondly, if God doesn’t deliver in OUR WAY, then we get disappointed with God. Maybe angry with God. “God you said, my heart’s desires. So, where is she? Where is the money? Where is the promotion?” In our disappointment, we don’t see that’s not healthy for us. It’s not God’s desire at all.
Just check out the other key phrases in these verses. Take delight in the Lord. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him. God honors our desires as we walk in relationship with him. God is going to fulfill the desires of our heart if they are desires that are in alignment with Him. With his character and with his teachings. This belief is not a get wealthy or healthy or get out of jail free card from God. It involves our commitment to him!
But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! John 15:7 (NLT)
The key to God moving in my life is my remaining. My following. My trusting. The challenge is we venture off in our own exits off of the roundabout. Take a look at our roundabout again. Here is what we do. I exit and do my way. I exit off and do my desires. I exit off and it’s my disobedience. That sin, is what gets us in trouble. It’s those kinds of choices that mess with this balance of desire and purpose in my life.
When my heart is right with God, my desires are right with God.
Why is that true? Because as you walk with Christ, it becomes more about what he wants than what you want. It becomes his desires living in you. That takes us to the ‘anything we want part of that verse.’ The anything you want part, only comes when I walk with him. When I lay down my greed, my lust or my hatred. The anything you want happens because I’m following. And really, the anything I want, it’s his desires growing in me. As I follow, his desires grow in me. His purpose and dreams grow in me. Over time, I want what he wants.
Someone asked me a few weeks ago, what led you into ministry? When someone asks me that question I often laugh. You know why? It was never on my radar. I remember early on thinking go engineering or medicine as my where I would go. It was part of my dream. But somewhere in my early teen years, I felt God calling me to pursue ministry. So, I did what a good Christian teenager should do. I ignored it and began to make my own plans. It might have been God’s desire but it wasn't yet my desire.
Little by little as I walked with Christ, that desire didn’t go away. I ended up going to a Bible College but thought to myself. I’ll serve in a local church. I can do that, but FT ministry, nah. Part of that was I’d seen my family hurt in ministry and I wanted no part. Part of it was I felt unqualified. Part of it was it was not yet my desire. Yet God did somethings inside of me. I ended up wanting tha and desiring that. His desire became my desire.
I graduated with a degree in Biblical/Pastoral studies and spend the next 15 years of ministry serving in some form of a staff pastor. It was hard, as all good things are, but I loved it! Somewhere in the middle of those 15 years I sensed God saying,”I want you to become a senior pastor.” Wow, I dismissed that thought right away. That can’t be God. God can’t be that crazy. I’m not qualified to do that at all. That’s more calling. That’s more responsibility and pressure. But I specifically remember a handful of moments talking with others and my friend Jeff. ‘Man, I want the chance to lead. I can do that. I’ve been on staff for so many years now. I want a shot. Where did that come from? God’s desire, over time, became my desire.
I said the same thing with planting this church. I began to sense God’s calling to do this years ago. What God, you want me to start something from nothing. Sure! I think you meant someone else. I have never done that before. Yet, that voice whispered. The desire grew inside of me. There is no way. I can’t do that. I don’t want to do that. That can’t be what God wants. I ended up wanting tha and desiring that. His desire became my desire. Do you see what I mean? Where I’m going?
God does the same in all of us who follow him. I’m no different than you. Here is what we know. There are times where God doesn’t do what we want him to do. Maybe it’s because there is a level of disobedience in our lives that we have to own? We also know that there are times where we hope God will do something to get us out of this difficult situation. And he may not. Why? It may not be the right timing. It may be that he’s trying to do some good out of this. Regardless of those kinds of moments in our lives, we need to ask God.
Shouldn’t we ask God for for too much rather than asking God for too little?
Don’t you think we should ask for the impossible? If God really is who he says he is, then let’s ask with faith. If Jesus came to give his life for us, then let’s hold nothing back. We only get one life to live, so let’s live it to the fullest. Let’s live with no regrets. Let’s know what we want and tell our Savior Jesus Christ.
Ask God Big. Follow God Big. Ask God Big Again.
Let’s pray today.