In this second part we will look further into who are those that do the will of the Father. Jesus himself identified these as his family. We should follow Jesus’ example and associate with those who have an earnest desire to obey the Word of God. To spend too much time with those that are not pushing forward in not just doing God’s will, but setting their minds to accomplishing that will have to be encouraged to return to what Jesus has said we must be about if we are to be obedient disciples.
19Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” 21But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” Luke 8:19-21 (ESV)
Who are members of the family of Christ? Who are the ones that do the will of God? It is those who hear the word of God and put it into practice. This is the key that has unlocked God’s will for my life. God’s will is not something specific in the sense that I will have one job rather than another. Or that I will marry one person rather than another. God’s will in not in the specifics of my individual life, but in the specifics of God’s purposes being worked out in my particular life. Will God provide direction and insight for the circumstances of my life? Yes, He will. What I must not do is expect God to provide the answer to every situation that comes up in life. That is not God’s desire. Faith is a “now” reality. To expect, and in some instances, demand that God provide this kind of direction is to make God our servant rather than remain His servant. The word of God provides for us the parameters by which we should live and the expectations for anyone that calls themselves a follower of Jesus. If we aren’t doing what it says, God is not under any obligation to provide further insight. Paul said as much to Timothy:
“16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV).
Proximity does not automatically guarantee provision. This is the heart of what Jesus said to his flesh-and-blood family. If we are not capable of complying with God’s word how ca we be trusted to obey anything else God would give for us to do?
16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
Here were begin to understand what it is that God desires for us to do. In this verse we find a three-fold description of what God desires for us to do. We are to rejoice always. The reality of what God has done should put the worries of the world into perspective. Paul makes some incredible statements in his letters, but the one that leaves the mind and heart wondering is found in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Paul details the treasure that God has placed in “earthen vessels” in 1 Corinthians 4:7-16. But after outlining the real troubles that will come he ends by saying that these “light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (4:17-18, ESV). Then in Romans 8:18 Paul tells us that “for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (ESV). Not only this, but we are to pray without ceasing. The necessity of constant connection with our heavenly Father should provide motivation to commune with God. We cannot build or strengthen our relationship with God if we do not spend time with Him. This is the challenge and the reward of prayer. If we desire to have relationship, then we must take the time and devote it to God. Finally, we must give thanks at all times. We are don’t have to give thanks for everything, but in everything. God doesn’t desire evil or wrong to happen to His children, but it does. Life is not fair, but God is just and He “will work for good” even the events of life that are contrary to God’s purposes (Romans 8:28).
14And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15 (ESV)
This is one of the most astounding truths in the bible. God not only desires for us to communicate with Him, but God also tells us that He wants to give us what we ask for! But here is the catch, what we ask for has to be in line with what God wants for us to be doing. When we are obedient to God’s will, as it is revealed in the Word of God, we are given boldness to ask and not just wish we received it. John says that we will have a renewed confidence in God’s ability to provide what we ask for. The answer will be as good as given because what we have asked for is not only something we desire, but it is something that pleases God. At its most fundamental level these are the prayers that God answers: those that please Him. I have heard it said that God responds to prayer in three ways: Yes, No and Wait. I think two of these are not right. God desires to answer, “Yes,” to everything we ask for. But not everything we ask for is worthy of a “Yes.” But that doesn’t mean that God has answered “no” or “wait.” It just means that God is the one waiting for us to get in line with His program. God is not telling us no or wait, He is the one waiting for us to catch up to His will as it is written down in His word. Look at what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:20:
For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. (NLT)
If we are to take this verse for what it says then we have to change our theology of prayer and make it conform to God’s. God has all the time in the world. So he is not telling us wait. That would imply that what we are asking for is something God would desire to say yes to. This may not be true. And if God answers “no” then we have a problem because then God is going against His word that He will hear and that we will have whatever we ask. The key here is how well do our prayers conform to God’s will. That is what will determine if we hear God’s resounding “Yes!”
34A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (ESV)
These are probably the most damning couple of verses in the New Testament. The evidence that we are doing the will of God; the proof that the fruit of the Spirit are being reproduced in us; the sign that the new life that Jesus has purchased for us has been deposited in good soil is given here. My love for my brother in Christ, which is the person doing the will of God (Luke 8:19-21), is the greatest demonstration that God has broken through the stony exterior of my sinner’s heart and has remade it into a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). When I look at the world and I wonder why it doesn’t take the church seriously I only have to remember these words and know the answer. I can’t say that I love God when I don’t have a rich and abiding love for my brother, whom I can see (1 John 4:20). So much strife and division in the church has tarnished the witness of the church to the world. I am not saying that there shouldn’t be denominations. What I am saying is that this should not be enough reason to not love one another.
Taken together all of these verse help to solidify the foundation of what God is looking for in His children here on earth. Any deviation from this is to miss the point that our brothers, sisters, father and mothers are those that have surrendered their everything to God purposes.
The Power of Patient Persistence (Pt. 1)
The Power of Patient Persistence (Pt. 2)