Archive for the ‘Power of God’ Category


Paul Harvey told about a 3-year-old boy who went to the grocery store with his mother. Before they entered the grocery store she said to him, “Now you’re not going to get any chocolate chip cookies, so don’t even ask.” She put him up in the cart & he sat in the little child’s seat while she wheeled down the aisles. He was doing just fine until they came to the cookie section. He saw the chocolate chip cookies & he stood up in the seat & said, “Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you not even to ask. You’re not going to get any at all.” So he sat back down.

They continued down the aisles, but in their search for certain items they ended up back in the cookie aisle. “Mom, can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you that you can’t have any. Now sit down & be quiet.”

Finally, they were approaching the checkout lane. The little boy sensed that this may be his last chance. So just before they got to the line, he stood up on the seat of the cart & shouted in his loudest voice, “In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?” And everybody round about just laughed. Some even applauded.

And, according to Paul Harvey, due to the generosity of the other shoppers, the little boy & his mother left with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies.

In this note, we are going to discover all the boxes of chocolate chip cookies God gives us through His Son, Jesus Christ!

Let’s read Romans 5:1-11 in the Phillips translation, and perhaps we can get a glimpse of all we have through Jesus Christ:

“Since then it is by faith that we are justified, let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things he has for us in the future. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys – we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Already we have some experience of the love of God flooding through our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us. And we can see that it was while we were powerless to help ourselves that Christ died for sinful men. In human experience it is a rare thing for one man to give his life for another, even if the latter be a good man, though there have been a few who have had the courage to do it. Yet the proof of God’s amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us. Moreover, if he did that for us while we were sinners, now that we are men justified by the shedding of his blood, what reason have we to fear the wrath of God? If, while we were his enemies, Christ reconciled us to God by dying for us, surely now that we are reconciled we may be perfectly certain of our salvation through his living in us. Nor, I am sure, is this a matter of bare salvation – we may hold our heads high in the light of God’s love because of the reconciliation which Christ has made.

Don’t Overlook the Excitement of Paul. The New Living Translation reveals it in verse 11:

“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”

We have a WONDERFUL NEW RELATIONSHIP with God through Jesus!

Martin Luther wrote…In the whole Bible there is hardly another chapter which can equal this triumphant text!

W E Vine observes that the fifth chapter shows what we have THROUGH CHRIST, while the sixth shows us what we are IN CHRIST. “THROUGH CHRIST” is the keynote of chapter five. Chapter 5 unfolds the subjects of the effects of the death and resurrection of Christ…(as Paul so richly described in Romans 3:21-25). (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson

Romans is a book of supernatural logic which is knitted together with a fine thread of “therefore’s” (term of conclusion)…

  • Therefore of giving over – Ro 1:24
  • Therefore of condemnation Ro 3:20
  • Therefore of justification – Ro 5:1
  • Therefore of no condemnation – Ro 8:1
  • Therefore of dedication – Ro 12:1

Paul reveals the main thrust of Romans in chapter 1, verses 16-17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the means of our DAILY salvation, whereby the righteousness of God becomes our righteousness!

The Power of God is on Display

Paul began Romans with the Power of God on display, the power to bring sinful man into a right and righteous relationship with God! Romans 5 reveals that this is all TROUGH Jesus Christ and how marvelous the benefits of that Right Relationship are! The result of Chapter 5 is that God now puts His Children of Faith on Display!

The word “therefore” reaches back to the contents of chapter four — therefore being justified (made righteous-the righteousness of God), not by works (1-8), not by rituals (9-12), not by obedience to the law (13-25), but by faith (our belief in the truth of God), we have peace. Your works, your rituals, even your following the law will never bring peace to your heart and soul.

All that follows from the 5th chapter, 1st verse to the end of the 8th chapter describes the fruit or results of justification, the inheritance of those who are justified. Having been justified by faith, that which Paul now discusses, chapters 6, 7 and 8, shall be true of us.

We must fully understand and envision what Christ has done for us if we are to live the Christian life that Paul will detail in Romans 6,7 and 8!

THEREFORE (Through Faith in Jesus Christ):

I. The Reality of Justification by Faith

To begin with, Paul sees justification as an accomplished work, “Therefore being justified,” or “since we are justified.” Justification is not hypothetical, not just a vague possibility, but a present reality for him who trusts in JESUS CHRIST. Justification is:

1. A legal declaration of righteousness. It isn’t that a sinner is merely made to ‘feel’ righteous in a subjective way. Rather, God “declares” the sinner to be objectively righteous in a forensic or judicial sense — regardless of his or her feelings.

2. A genuine righteousness.

  • God doesn’t simply decide to overlook the sinner’s sinfulness and “pretend” that he or she is righteous when that really isn’t the case;
  • He doesn’t simply “cover up” the sinner with the righteousness of Jesus in such a way as to conceal his or her real condition of sinfulness from His eyes — as though simply covering him or her with a “righteousness” coating.
  • When God justifies a sinner, He declares that sinner to be made really, genuinely, completely righteous, because that sinner is “in Christ.”

3. An imputation of righteousness.

  • To “impute” something means to ‘attribute’ it or ‘credit’ it to something or someone else.
  • If, for example, I had a ‘zero’ balance in my checking account, I would draw some money out of my savings account and have it “imputed” or “credited” or “attributed” to my checking account.
  • The only way that the checking account could have cash value is if it is “imputed” into it from another account.
  • When God justifies a sinner, he or she is not made “righteous” on the basis of anything that they do — nor on the basis of anything God enables them to do.
  • God completely “imputes” genuine righteousness to them — “attributing” it to them, or “crediting” it to their account.

4. A righteousness through faith as opposed to works.

  • Sinners are not “justified” on the basis of their faith — or on the basis of any other work they could do, for that matter.
  • They’re declared righteous before God on the basis of two things: that their sins were placed onto Jesus when He died on the cross; and that His perfect obedience and righteousness imputed to them — He became sin for them (and died in their place); and they became the righteousness of God in Him.
  • Faith isn’t the cause of justification;
  • Faith is the means by which the sinner comes into possession of that imputed righteousness.

As it says of Abraham in Gen. 15:6, when God made the promise to him that, even though he was childless, he would one day have as many children as the stars in heaven, “Then he believed the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness

Paul reinforces the proof of justification with three strong propositions:

  • Verse 6, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
  • Verse 8, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • Verse 10, “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”

II. The Results of Justification by Faith

1.  Peace with God

Romans 5:1 (KJV) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

A sign in front of a church said, “If life is a puzzle, look here for the missing peace” and spelled that last word p-e-a-c-e!

“It means to be in a relationship w/God in which all hostility caused by sin has been removed!”(Shepherds Notes, p 33)

ἔχωμεν- let us have (Word Studies)= let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace (eirene from verb eiro = to join or bind together that which has been separated) literally pictures the binding or joining together again of that which had been separated or divided and thus setting at one again, a meaning convey by the common expression of one “having it all together”.

  • “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace” (Ephes. 2:14-15).
  • “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Col. 1:20).
  • harmonized relationship between God and man (Vine’s).

D L Moody..A great many people are trying to make peace, but that has already been done. God has not left it for us to do; all we have to do is to enter into it

2.  Continuous Access to God’s Grace (place of privilege)

Romans 5:2a (KJV) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand…

It is only through Christ that we have access into this grace. The word “access” (prosagōgēn) means to bring to, to move to, to introduce, to present. The thought is that of being in a royal court and being presented and introduced to the King of kings. Jesus Christ is the One who throws open the door into God’s presence. He is the One who presents us to God, the Sovereign Majesty of the universe. POSB

It can refer to one’s “introduction” into a relationship or it can refer to “ongoing access” in an existing relationship. Paul’s use of the same term in Ephesians 2:18; 3:12 seems to suggest that what is in view in Romans 5:2 is continued access to God, and not so much on the initial introduction into the relationship.

A. Wonderful Grace

He hasn’t merely reconciled us to Himself and then left it up to us to keep ourselves in that state. He has placed us “in Christ”; and in Him, we have been made “the righteousness of God” And being in that state of righteousness, it’s only by His grace that we stay that way!

B. Continuous Access

  • Through Jesus Christ His Son, we “have obtained (place of continuous access to God).
  • We are not left to ourselves to keep from wandering in and out of God’s favor all the time. We’ve been introduced to a state of favor before Him through Christ; and in Christ, it’s in this state of favor that, by being in Christ, we forever “stand”!
  • Paul wrote to the Galatian church about this very issue.
    • The Christians in Galatia were fearful that, even though they were brought into God’s favor by His grace, they needed to keep the old Jewish ceremonies of the Old Testament in order to stay in God’s favor.
    • Paul wrote to them very strongly and urged them not to place themselves under those rules and ceremonies.
    • “Are you so foolish?”, he asked them; “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3).
    • “It was for freedom that Christ set you free,” he reminded them; “therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (5:1).

3.  Hope of the Glory of God

Romans 5:2b (KJV) …and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

We have a Whole New Outlook.

We now share together with Christ in His glory. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).That prospect comes from being “in Christ”. Jesus Himself prayed to the Father, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:22-23). It’s not called a “hope” because we merely hope it will happen. Paul’s meaning is that it’s a “hope” in the sense of a certain expectation;

Romans 8:29-30, “whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

Those whom God has justified will also be glorified!

I heard about an old, saintly Christian gentleman who said, “I may not be much to look at right now; but one day, I’m goin’ on parade!!”

4.  Rejoicing in Trials

Romans 5:3-5a (KJV) 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation(thilipsis-pressure) worketh patience(endurance, constancy); 4 And patience, experience(dokimos-approved); and experience, hope: 5 And hope(elpis-anticipate with confidence) maketh not ashamed…

Tribulation = word that means to “squeeze” or “press” something; Picture of pressing circumstances or distressing hardships. “It describes distress that is brought on by outward circumstances.” Look at the way God uses the “pressure times” in the life of someone that He has declared “righteous” before Him.

A. Tribulations produce “perseverance” or “patient endurance”.

  • Endurance-constancy
  • They produce the quality of learning to trust in God and wait upon Him, relying upon His strength in the knowledge that He has nothing in mind for us but our good.
  • The capacity to endure calmly, confidently, & w/o complaint.” (J. Sidlow Baxter, Awake My Heart, p. 180)
  • Tribulation is a thorny tree, but it yields sweet fruit.
  • A guitar string only fulfills its purpose when it is removed from its old package, stretched as tight as it will go, & then plucked!
  • When a storm comes at sea, a ship turns to face the tempest. If the vessel allows the storm to hit its side, it will capsize. If it turns its back to the storm, the storm will drive it wherever the wind blows. Only in facing the storm is the ship safe.

God is not punishing us.

  • All our punishment has already gone onto Christ, and He took our punishment for us.
  • And what’s more, His righteousness before God was placed to our account.
  • What a difference between the man who crosses the finish line and the one who drops out of the race ten yards from the tape, between the fighter who fights until the bell rings and the one who throws in the towel

We are Justified with God, so there’s nothing left to think about our troubles and trials but as things that our sovereign God permits to come upon us in order to make us grow into the glorious image of Christ that He has predestined us “in Him” to be.

B. Perseverance produces “proven character.” (Reveals what we really are inside.)

  • Dokimos-approved coinage, approved soldier

The difficult times of life don’t make us into anything different — they just show us to be what we really are. If someone comes out of their trials a bitter person, it’s because, deep within, they were already bitter in the first place — and the circumstance simply proved their true character. If someone comes out of their trials with a sense of confidence in God, giving praise to Him for what He has done, it’s because God developed perseverance in them through the exercise of their faith in Him — and the circumstance simply proved their true character.

C. Proven character produces “hope”.

  • Confident Anticipation that it will be worth it all!
  • This “hope” is the praise we’ll receive from Jesus for having been faithful to Him — even while undergoing a time of trial; His “Well done!”
  • This is a hope that “does not disappoint”, as it says in verse 5, “because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
  • It’s a hope that already has a guarantee of victory to it because He already loves us! All this, because He has declared us righteous in Christ!!
    • The present in no way jeopardizes the future (5:5).
    • Paul’s emphasis here is that in light of justification and the indwelling Spirit, God can actually use our difficult experiences in life to work a deeper hope in us—i.e., a deeper longing for him and desire to experience him.

5.  Confidence in God’s Love for us

Romans 5:5b-8 (KJV) 5 … the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

A.God Loves us the Same as His Son

“O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that you sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (17:25-26).

In fact, Jesus even prayed that the extent of God’s great love for us would become clearly known; “… that the world may know,” He prayed, “that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:23).
How can we help but gasp when we read that — that the Father loves us as much as He loves His own Son Jesus!!

Billy Graham said: “When we preach atonement, it is atonement planned by love, provided by love, given by love, finished by love, necessitated because of love. – When we preach the resurrection of Christ, we are preaching the miracle of love. When we preach the return of Christ, we are preaching the fulfillment of love.”

B. The Love of God is the Hope of the Weak and Powerless

Hope always burns brightly in those whose character has been developed through overcoming trials.

  • Paul is not talking about the objective love of God shown to us in the cross (3:25; 5:8), but rather the subjective apprehension (i.e., in our hearts) of God’s love. For Paul this is primarily an emotional experience with a force greater than the doubt inflicted through trials (cf. Phil 4:6-7).
  • Hope is not the tuition we pay as we enroll in the school of adversity. Rather, it is the diploma awarded to those who by the grace of God do well on the tests.

Priest and poet George Herbert wrote in The Temple (1593-1633), “He who lives in hope dances without music.”

How do we experience this great love as displayed by Jesus? We experience it as the Holy Spirit makes it known in our hearts. He literally “shed’ the love of God into our lives. As we place our faith in the blood of Jesus, the Love of God flows into our hearts and lives.!

  • There is a saying among Italian sculptors, who often miss the chisel and hit their own hands with the hammer: “When the blood flows out, the mastery enters.”
  • It was so with Jesus. It was his death on Calvary that made him the master of our souls. “There is power in the blood.”

6.  A Living Salvation

Romans 5:9-10 (KJV) 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

A. Saved by His Life: we will also be completely saved from sin and death by Christ’s resurrection life and our union with him

Salvation is not a one time thing that happens by our faith in a past action. Salvation is an ongoing process which is undertaken by our LIVING SAVIOR! His live becomes our life! His righteousness becomes our righteousness! Our Salvation will be consummated when our physical bodies are resurrected! Then we can truly say, “O death, where is your sting?”

If He so loved us when we were still sinners — which is the far greater thing; then now that we’ve been declared righteous by Him out of His love for us, He will surely spare us from His wrath against sin — which is the lessor thing. Just as God is gracious and ready to forgive, He is also just and is fully prepared to pour out His wrath on sinners that will not receive His merciful offer, but who continue to defiantly rebel against Him.

B. There Will be A Judgment

He declares His own character to Moses in this way: “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty upunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations” (Exodus 34:6-7).

This gives us cause to stop and remember that while He is always and ever ready to forgive any sinner that cries out to Him, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!”; He still remains a holy God and will not put up with sin. To those who will not turn from their sins and receive His gracious offer of “justification by faith”, there remains this warning of His wrath.

7.  Friendship with God

Romans 5:11 (KJV) And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

A. Our New Life in our Living Savior allows us to offer praise to God

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

B. Our New Life in our Living Savior allows us to Rejoice in our Relationship with God

Revelation 7:15-17; “… they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

C. Our New Life in our Living Savior allows us to enjoy the experience of ever-satisfying, ever-thrilling, ever-expanding fellowship with Him for all eternity.

  • John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
  • John 17:3 (ESV) And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
  • John 15:14-15 (ESV) 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

The Three Phases of Redemption

In these short eleven verses, Paul gives us the three phases of our redemption:

1. Justification, (freedom from guilt, imputation of righteousness);
2. Sanctification, the operation of righteousness and grace received when justified, which results in Christian growth
3. Glorification – the resurrection of our glorified body to dwell with God for all eternity

  • Justification, the beginning of the Christian experience;
  • Sanctification, the development of the Christian experience;
  • Glorification, the consummation of the Christian experience.

The Pit and the Pendulum

Edgar Allen Poe wrote a horrifying story set in a dungeon during the Spanish Inquisition.He takes us beneath a castle into a horrible dark, rat-infested dungeon. There we find an unnamed man who has been tried and found guilty.The stench of death and human feces is overpowering. He can hear tha rats scampering all around him. He tries to search the dungeon to see if there is a way of escape, but it’s too dark. He stumbles around and nearly falls into a huge pit in the center of the cell. He is knocked unconscious. When he wakes up, he realizes that he is strapped into a torture device that houses a swinging, razor-sharp pendulum. The pendulum gradually lowers closer and closer to his heart. The man goes mad as he watches the pendulum grow near.

He uses his free hand to wipe the remains of his last meal onto the strap that sits between his body and the pendulum. This attracts the rats, and they chew through the strap, freeing him. As soon as he stands, the pendulum is raised and the iron walls— which have been heated to a dangerous level—close in on him. The hero is forced closer to the pit’s opening. Just before he falls, General Lasalle’s French army arrives and rescues him.

Our enemy Satan has thrown mankind into a dark miserable dungeon of sin. He makes us godless, senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless, worthless and powerless. He binds us with our sins, he tortures us, and he is constantly pushing us into the pit of his Hell.

We are absolutely powerless to escape, to try to save ourselves. The walls are closing in, and all seems lost,

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. For… God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners…Romans 5:6-8 (NLT)

God has given us so much, so that we can have so much!

III. The Life of Jesus is our Salvation

1 John 5:11-12 “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Because He Lives and through our faith in Him, we know we have:

  1. Peace with God
  2. Continuous Access to God’s Grace
  3. Hope of the Glory of God
  4. Rejoicing in Trials
  5. Confidence in God’s Love for us.
  6. A Living Salvation
  7. Friendship with God

Are you content to hear the swooshing of the pendulum blade as it inches closer and closer to your heart? Do you enjoy the rats of sin? Do you enjoy the stench of death and decay? God wants you to enjoy Him, to enjoy His Love, His peace, His grace, His friendship. And it is all freely given to you through His Son, Jesus Christ! It is all yours by believing in God’s Word! Believe God, and it will be counted to you as Righteousness!

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Most people are on guard when they spend private face time with their Pastor. Especially if you are a bit older and have been in church a few years. You may have known a pastor who used your or a friends situation as a sermon illustration. You may have experienced the judgmental statements of a pastor. So we normally treat a visit with the pastor as an interrogation at the local police precinct. We watch what we say and what we do. We make sure everything is put up, nothing lying around that shouldn’t be.

Personally I would rather visit people when they are lying on a gurney waiting to be operated on. They tend to be more honest. You can tell if they are anxious. Transparent honesty is such a rare thing anymore. We wonder about our politicians, our church leaders, our teachers. We grow up learning to question people in authority, exactly because we have seen so much dishonesty

I know some of you question the truth of God’s will. To most everyone under the age of 35, the subject of God’s Will is strange, foreign, and for the most part irrelevant. They believe that life (shit as the saying goes) happens. God rarely has anything to do with it.

Let me assure you, whatever your concept about the importance of the will of God, what you think is not truth. We are easily deceived into believing any old lie the world or the devil wants us to believe. What matters is the Word of God!

This Word is Life, not just for after you are dead, but it is Life NOW! It is health, it is forgiveness, it is peace, it is hope, it is safety, it is security, it is the most powerful force this world has ever know. I can say this because this word says that Jesus Christ is the Word. No other person in the Universe ever lived a sinless life, ever faced Satan one on one and defeated Him, ever stared death in its face and defeated it! If you fail to give your life totally to Jesus Christ, you are robbing yourself of real Life. You are robbing yourself of the very presence of God! You are robbing yourself of ever being a part in the will of God. You may think you know God, but you are believing a lie. Your mind is dark, you are confused and stumbling over the falsehoods of your mind. One day instead of waking to an eternal life of joy in the presence of God, you will wake in the agonies of Hell, screaming in torment for all eternity, ever sorrowful because you knew the truth but you rejected it. There will be no second chance.

WHAT IS GOD’S WILL FOR ME?

We are looking at what the will of God for me is. And number one, the will of God for you is to know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. He doesn’t want part of you, even three quarters of you. He doesn’t want to be just one of your beliefs, and share space with Hinduism, Buddhism, humanism, or even you ism. He must be your GOD! Anything less and your mind is fooling you. You are lost in a lie. You will never know God’s Will. This is because you put your will first.

So what is the will of God for me and for you? It is to Put Him First! It is to Trust completely and confidently in Him.

Now I know you are thinking how much easier it would be if you could sit down at Applebee’s and have a nice long lunch with Jesus. I assure you that the football playoffs would not be the topic of conversation. Who is going to win the Super bowl would be the farthest thing from your mind. You would want to know what He thinks of your life, if you are going in the right direction. You would want clarity on His will for your life. You would want to know what you should be doing for Him.

If life was only that simple. So many decisions we must make. We make decisions and then our decisions make us.

  • Should I go to college? Which one? What should I major in?
  • Should I get married? Which one?
  • I can’t stand my job. Should I look for another, or should I just quit and hope something pops up?
  • A friend of mine wants me to share a place with him. Should I? Should I live at home?
  • I’m getting ready to retire? Can I afford to? Where should we live?
  • We have two children. We’re thinking about having a third. Should we have another one? Or should we think about adopting?
  • I feel like God is wanting me to go into the ministry. What does He want me to do? Missions, Youth, Pastor?

Here is how I taught my six children the importance of knowing God’s Will. I told each of my children that in order for them to get married, they had to go to college. I also did not want them to go to state colleges. I also wanted them to live on campus.

No state college because I wanted them to apply to colleges that were a bit more difficult to get into, so it made them work harder on their grades. Live in the dorms because I wanted them to grow up faster, face decisions on their own, what types of friends were best for them, how to manage money, how to do laundry, all the things they need to learn to live on their own.

So our children moved away, Pepperdine in Malibu, University of Denver, Emory in Atlanta, Mid America Nazarene,  Rockhurst, Texas Christian University.

It would have been much easier if I had just told them to go to KU, or if God had just sent a chorus of angels singing Pepperdine, Pepperdine! Instead I went with them to the College Fairs and we tried to see which colleges fit what their plans were. They had to apply and then wait to hear if they were accepted. They had to seek God in their decision. We prayed abouth where they were going to go. We also studied the colleges based upon they wanted to do with their life. They had to ask tough questions. That’s what it takes to have our eyes open to God and His Will.

I wanted my kids to learn something about KNOWING direction in life. I wanted them to learn Four simple things about discovering direction and God’s Will.

1) Honoring Parent’s is Really Important

What your parents desire is one of the greatest indicators of what God’s will is. If you are rebellious toward your parents, you are rebellious toward God. Anything you do in that state, no matter how righteous or well-intentioned, will be without God’s direction.

2) Make Decisions That Require The Lord

Jesus said to walk the narrow path. God always wants us to be in places where we must rely on Him. We are not made to live on easy-street. So put yourselves in places where you MUST rely on God for direction.

3) Finish What You Start

(The two youngest both started at one college and then after the first year transferred. That’s OK, because they still graduated. Four of my kids earned advanced degrees. They learned to finish what they started. I did not accept quitting, or delaying, or figuring out what they wanted to do.)

4) Life Has No Entitlements-No Guarantees

They are the key to becoming anything in this life.  There is no guarantee they will get a job, that Dad will always provide for them when they goof up, that there will be an automatic income, automatic retirement. They are the key to what life gives them. They need to have goals, ambitions, desires for the future. They can’t just sit around and hope the government will provide for them, or their parents, or a rich uncle. They need to look to themselves. Life is about becoming Men and Women of Character. It is by our Character that we accomplish anything in life.

NO MOANING OR GROANING ALLOWED

Sometimes moaning and groaning about not knowing God’s will is just an excuse for laziness, or selfishness, or stubbornness. God has probably been shouting at you through the authorities in your life but you don’t like what they are saying, so you are holding out for a better option.

God doesn’t operate that way. He doesn’t tolerate continual laziness, he doesn’t tolerate selfishness. And he certainly doesn’t tolerate disobedience. God will never drag you or browbeat you into obeying Him. If you chose to do what you want to do, so be it. You will have your chance to explain yourself at either of two judgments- the Great White Throne or the bema seat.

Did my kids make mistakes? Of course they did. I made mistakes when I was in college. I was even kicked out of Bible College. Would we have made those mistakes if we had gone to the college that God wanted us to go to? IT DOESN’T MATTER! THERE ARE NO DO-OVERS, ONLY DO-LEARN!

One More Thing:  Why because of a few failures would I think God had intended me to go to a different college? (or get married to someone else, or work somewhere else or _________?) How do I know that God wanted me to go to a different college? I don’t. I know that at the time I went to the college I thought would be according to His will. Was I 100% sure? NO! I had been accepted at another that would have offered a better education, more freedom. But I believed God wanted me to go to that college. The thing about the college I went to was that God used it to build character in my life because no matter the problem, I responded with humility and a willingness to learn from my mistakes.

We are such quitters in America! As soon as we experience problems we think we made a mistake. It can be our job, our marriage, the college we go to. I looked at going to another college after I was kicked out, but I believed God wanted me to finish what I started, and I did. I am so glad I did. God doesn’t like quitters either. He doesn’t like people who run away from their problems or their marriages or whatever is causing them fits at the time. Blessed are all those who ENDURE!

No matter where you go to school, or don’t go to school, or work, or marry, what defines you is not your education, or your spouse or even your job. What defines you is your character. What kind of man or woman am I becoming. That is God’s will for you-to become a man or woman of character. A man of character will always stand in the gate.

Here is what GOD values:

Psalms 11:7 The Lord is Righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His face.

I don’t care what my kids do in this life, as long as what they are doing develops their character and their righteousness. If that happens, I know they will behold the face of God! The same is true of each of us.

God brings this truth to our hearts through His Word to us:

  • Psalms 36:10 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
  • Psalms 140:13 “The upright shall dwell in your presence!
  • Prov 2:21 For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it!
  • Prov 3:32 The devious person is an abomination to the Lord, but the upright are in His confidence!
  • Prov 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them
  • Eccl 7:29 “I have discovered that God created people to be upright (or virtuous) but they have each turned to follow their own downward path.” NLT (ESV -made people upright, but they pursued many schemes.)

From these verses we discover the first truth of Knowing God’s Specific Will for Your Life:

TRUTH #1.  GOD’s Will for You is to be UPRIGHT!

If this is God’s Will for you, whatever you do will always work toward that end. No matter what happens in your life, you will be given the opportunity to walk uprightly before God. The way you respond to the events, the snubs, the hurts, the heartbreaks, your stupidity, your foolishness, your transgressions, will determine the state of your heart. Everything that happens in your life, good, bad, ugly, beautiful, is either a stepping stone toward an upright heart, or a stumbling block that will keep you from God’s presence and power in your life.

God doesn’t care how you appear to the world. You may think it is all about your profession, your house, your property, your car, but NO God prizes those of Upright Heart. All that stuff will be burnt up. God’s eyes run throughout the entire earth, looking for those whose heart is upright toward Him.

You are never as Upright before God as when your are before Him in humility and prayer. Being Upright does not refer to your physical stature but the condition of your heart!

WHAT ABOUT OUR FAILURES?

Will you make mistakes? Yes! Were they God’s Will? Maybe, maybe not. But as long as you allow God to teach your heart, God will work His will in your life.

God uses earthen vessels, and yes, cracked and broken vessels, so that the Excellency of the Power might be of Him and not us!

So God  uses our mistakes, even our failings to conform us to the uprightness of His Son. Now there is a caution as to the patience of God. If you keep making the same mistakes, watch out! Stubbornness will keep you from God’s Will.

Remember what happened to the Hebrews wandering in the wilderness!

FOUR MORE VERSES TO CONSIDER…

When you read the Proverbs you immediately notice a strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God over our personal decisions. Let’s look at four verses that help us see how God works in, with, through, and sometimes in spite of our decisions to accomplish His will in us.

Proverbs 16:9-“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” (HCSB)

The word used for determines is “kun, pronounced koon”. It is has a much stronger meaning than the way the KJV translates. The KJV uses “directs” which gives us the idea that God directs our steps along a path, but where we step is up to us.

The word kun is much stronger than that. It speaks of God’s control of every detail of the universe. It pictures the action of setting in place or erecting an object.

God determines and establishes your steps.

You can make your plans, you can have your life mapped out step by step, but in the end, God determines every step you take. You can only tack so far. Pretty soon you have to go with the wind.

Proverbs 16:33-“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” ESV

Casting lots was used in the Old Testament to determine God’s will. God even prescribed ‘casting lots’ to determine which tribe got which parcel of land when they had conquered Canaan. We believe it involved different colored balls or rocks, mixing them together, and then seeing which one fell out of the bag first. In that sense casting lots is like rolling dice. It appears to be a random act of chance. But God is behind those colored stones. He determines which one falls out of the bag first. This means that there are no “accidents” in life, no “random” events, and no such thing as “luck.” Even seemingly meaningless things fit into his plan.

To paraphrase Forest Gump, ’Life is like a roll of the dice, but God is in charge of how the numbers come up.”

Proverbs 19:21-“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

“You can make all the plans you like, but God gets the last word.” His purpose always prevails. Some translations say that God’s purpose shall stand. Most of our plans don’t stand. They are like the leaves that blow away in the autumn wind. But when God determines to do something, He will do it! There is no if ands or buts about it. Abraham knew that God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Why else would he keep lowering the number of righteous. God saw Abraham’s heart, and so He rescued Lot, but His purpose prevailed.

You can make all the 5 and 10 year plans you want, but just remember this. God always gets the last word. Better learn to be flexible. O, and another bit of advice, never tell God NO.

Proverbs 20:24-“A man’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?”

What this verse is really communicating can only be understood by understanding the Hebrew words. The word translated “man’s” comes from the Hebrew word gibbor, which refers to a mighty warrior, or a great leader. Solomon is saying that even the steps of a mighty man are directed by God. The word “anyone” in the second phrase comes from the Hebrew word “adam”, which is the generic word for man. The meaning is, “If God directs the steps of mighty men, how then can an ordinary man understand his own way?” The answer is, he can’t!

That’s the whole point of the verse. We’re like a man stumbling around in the darkness, bumping into things, tripping over ourselves, trying to find our way forward. We can’t say for sure where we’ve come from, where we are right now, or where we’re going to be tomorrow.

Only God sees the big picture of life.

So these four verses lead us to the next rule of knowing God’s Will for your life:

TRUTH #2: GOD IS GOD AND YOU’RE NOT!

Understand this and you’ll be OK. Forget this and you will keep lapping Mt Sinai.

When we forget that rule, we think that we’re in control of our own life and that everything depends on us. So we obsess, we hyperventilate, we try to control everything and everyone around us, we worry over all our decisions, and we spend hours fussing over the minutiae of life.

What a relief to realize that God is God and you’re not. Now you can rip that big “G” off your sweatshirt. You don’t have to play God anymore and you don’t have to try to control everything around you. You can sleep well when you realize that God is God and you are not.

Corrie Ten Boom was having trouble going to sleep one night because she was so worried about the affairs of her life. She tried praying but it didn’t help. Finally, the Lord said to her,

“Go to sleep, Corrie. I’m going to be up all night anyway.”

But I know there are some of you who would confess you need help. You are saying “Pastor Jim, I’m still needing some guidance about God’s Specific Will for my life. Can you give me any help?”

SHOULD I MARRY LYDIA?

When I was asking God if I should ask Lydia to marry me, I said, “God, give me a sign from your Word”. I prayed, and then I dropped my Bible on the desk so it would open to an arbitrary page. I looked down and the first verse my eyes came upon was Acts 16:14. Sure enough, there was her name Lydia. I thought, boy, you are good God.

“One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira (I thought, boy God you are really good, because she had a Chihuahua named Tyra.) a seller of purple goods (her favorite color was purple), who was a worshiper of God. Amen God, she must be the one. But then my heart sunk as I read the rest of the verse. “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul!Oh No! She’s going to marry some Paul guy!

Just kidding. I made this up to demonstrate this: If you wait for circumstances to tell you what to do, you open yourself up to being deceived. Satan can appear as an angel of light. Satan can even arrange circumstances to get you to do what He wants.

There was a woman coming to our church in Edgerton. She seemed very spiritual, very enthusiastic about God. I visited with her and was asking about her salvation experience. She shared with me that she had grown up going to church (not Baptist) but had fallen away through the years. Just a few months prior she was lying in bed when a bright light filled the room and she saw a miniature Jesus standing on her bed by her feet. She felt a warmth come over her and she knew from that vision that she was saved. I thought it was a very interesting story, and she seemed to know all the right answers as we talked more. However, as time went on she stopped coming to church, (she got upset about some piddly thing someone had said about her friend) and we still remained friends, but she fell back into her lackadaisical attitude toward God. Was she saved? All I know is that if she was depending upon that vision to save her, she could be very disappointed come judgment day. We are saved by Faith in the Word of God.

This leads me to some practical principles for knowing the Will of God for your Life. Never depend upon circumstances to guide you, never put your hope in a miniature Jesus standing on your bed.

PRINCIPLE #1:USE THE LIGHT, WISDOM AND INTELLIGENCE THAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU TO MAKE WISE DECISIONS.

Sometimes people talk as if you shouldn’t use your brain at all but should wait for some mystical sign from God. I know the Bible says, “lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5), but that doesn’t mean to throw your brain away either. It simply means submitting your will and your mind to God and what He wants to do. But you will still have to study the different colleges, etc, do legwork, use your experiences and the wisdom He builds into your life. God will use all of that to show you what to do.

Peter was miraculously rescued from prison hours before he was to be beheaded. Acts says an angel opened his cell, made the chains fall off of him, walked him right past the first and second sentry checkpoints, out the huge iron gate and finally out into the street. But then the Bible says “immediately the angel left him.” The angel didn’t even tell Peter where to go after that. In fact, Peter wondered if it was all a dream. What did he do next? Did he kneel down and say God, what do you want me to do? No, he used the good sense God had already given him and got out of their quick!

I have a friend that told me he was out to dinner with one of these “serious Christians” and when it came time for desert, this “serious Christian” had prayer to ask God what they should get. Do you really want to go before the throne of God for something so insignificant?

If you need to make a major decision, don’t wait for the angels to knock on your door. Use your head, study the situation, gather the facts, talk to your friends, seek godly counsel, and then submit it all to the Lord. Get yourself in a place where you wait for Him, with no personal pressure about what you secretly want.

I know from experience that often we give it to God, but we secretly have a desire to do so and so. So we wait just a bit, and when He doesn’t give us any clear direction, we do what we want to anyway. He knows your heart-and will let you do it anyway.

that’s what happened to the Hebrews in the wilderness. They said they would follow God, but they secretly wanted their old fleshly Egyptian lives. Psalm 106:15 “God gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul” Sometime we get what we want, but God sends leanness to our soul, hoping we realize we don’t need that fast sports car or huge house or Rolex watch. (Believe me, I know of what I speak.)

PRINCIPLE #2: SINCE YOU CAN’T SEE THE FUTURE, DON’T EXPECT 100% CERTAINTY.

I understand that if you are facing a life-changing decision–a potential marriage, a cross-country move, a new career, which college to attend, whether or not to begin chemotherapy–you want to without a shadow of doubt that you are doing what God wants you to do.

But  too often that leaves us paralyzed by an inability to make a decision. My youngest son would always take the longest time to decide what to order at a restaurant. We are not talking about, ‘come back in a couple of minutes’. We’re talking the rest of us are finished eating before he is ready to order. I’m happy to report that with our prayers and working with him, he is much better at making decisions. He can order with the rest of us.

I understand if you have trouble deciding what to do.  Some decisions are so important they can’t be left to chance, or be made in a moment. Some of us have the personal philosophy:

“When in doubt, don’t.” If you aren’t sure about the new job, don’t take it, don’t make the move, don’t say yes, don’t make any decision with less than total certainty.

But is that good advice? Is that the way God works?

LOOK AT THE HEROES OF OUR FAITH

  • Did Noah know all about the flood? No, but he built the ark anyway.
  • Did Moses understand what it meant to lead God’s people out of Egypt? No, but he said yes when the Lord called him.
  • Did Abraham have a road map? No, but he left Ur of the Chaldees anyway.
  • Did Joshua know how the walls were going to come tumbling down? No, but he marched around Jericho anyway.
  • Did Gideon fully grasp God’s plan to defeat the Midianites? No, he doubted it from the beginning, but God delivered his people anyway.
  • Did young David have a clue of what was to come when Samuel said to Jesse, “This is the one”? No, but the Spirit of the Lord came upon him anyway.
  • Did Jehoshaphat know how God was going to defeat the Ammonites? No, but he put the singers at the front of the army and sent them out to battle anyway.
  • Did the three Hebrew children know how they would be delivered?
  • Was Daniel totally sure the lions would welcome him dropping in on them?
  • Did Peter know he could walk on water?
  • Did Paul know what would happen when he finally got to Rome?

We could add a hundred other examples from the Bible!

NONE OF THESE GREAT HEROES OF THE FAITH KNEW THE OUTCOME! THERE WAS AN ELEMENT OF DOUBT, BUT THEY DID IT ANYWAY!

The life of faith means living with uncertainty even in the midst of doing God’s will.

That’s the whole point of Hebrews 11. Those great men and women didn’t know the future, but they trusted God anyway, sometimes in the face of great personal suffering. And because they kept on believing when circumstances turned against them, they received a great reward.

Too many people want what God has never promised–100% certainty before they will act. So they wait and dilly-dally and they stop and start and hesitate and ruminate. They might as well be transformed into a stupid cow or sheep. They refuse to go forward because they are waiting for 100% certainty. That’ why I believe that it is rarely God’s will to give you 100% certainty. That will leave faith out of your life every time.

PRINCIPLE #3: GOD WANTS GUIDABLE PEOPLE WHO WILL TRUST HIM (EVEN WITH THE DETAILS).

Are you GUIDABLE? I didn’t say GULLIBLE. I said G*U*I*D*A*B*L*E.

Guidable People are also teachable. Guidable people look to God and not to themselves. They understand that after they have done all they can, it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

  • Like Young Samuel, they say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant heareth.”
  • Like Isaiah they cry out, “Here am I, Lord, send me.”
  • Like the Lord Jesus they pray, “Not my will but thine be done.”

Guidable people always receive guidance from God! Always. Why? Because God always speaks loud enough for a willing ear to hear. Are you a guidable Christian? Or do you still feel like you have to be in the driver’s seat of life. If you are struggling with this, let me suggest these two simple prayers:

  • “Lord, let your will be done even if it means that my will is not done.”
  • “Lord, right now I’m not sure I want to do your will. But I am willing to be made willing. Do whatever is necessary to change my heart. Amen.”

PRINCIPLE #4: WHEN THE TIME COMES, MAKE THE BEST DECISION YOU CAN AND LEAVE THE RESULTS WITH GOD.

When the time to decide comes, when you’ve thought about it, prayed about it, talked it over, sought godly counsel, researched your options, looked at the circumstances, searched the Scriptures, and waited on the Lord, when you’ve done everything you know how to do and the moment of truth comes, take a deep breath, close your eyes if you need to, and then just go ahead and make the best decision you can make.

When you’ve done that, there’s one other thing to do-leave the results with God. Remember he’s God and you’re not. His purposes will stand.

I’ve already said that he wants you to know his will more than you want to know it. Knowing God’s will is His desire for your life. If you truly want to know and do God’s will, He will show you.

Jerry Sittser, author and professor at Whitworth College writes: “God has enough trouble getting us to do his will, without making it hard to find.

You are probably thinking, well, he lives in an Ivory Palace, has a comfy professorship. What does he know about finding God’s Will? How much faith does it take to be a college professor? A few years back Jerry was confronted with a horrible tragedy that no man wants to experience. He was in a car accident, and there on the side of the road, one by one, he held his Mom, his wife and his four year old daughter as they died in his arms. Following that tragedy he wrote with honesty and candor about the despair that threatened to overwhelm him-but amazingly never did. He survived because he believed in the ancient Christian doctrine of grace. He believed in grace because he lived it. And he named the book he wrote, “A Grace Disguised.”

He writes, “. . . Though I experienced death, I also experienced life in ways that I never thought possible before—not after the darkness, as we might suppose, but in the darkness. I did not go through the pain and come out the other side; instead, I lived in it and found within that pain the grace to survive and eventually grow. I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it.”

If you are willing to be guided by God, you will discover that he will lead you step by step by step. Even through tragedies. His Grace is truly amazing. It not only carries you to the cross and into the loving arms of your Savior, but it carries you every step of your life. All that is required is the same thing that led you to ask Jesus into your heart.

VALLEY OF DECISION

To know the specific will of God for your Life requires you to go to the Valley of Decision.  If you have never gone there now is the time. In this valley you must discover the faith that God wants you to have that is the beginning point of living in the will of God. The beginning point is believing by Faith that there is a Mighty, Eternal God who cares intimately and particularly about you and what happens in your heart and life.

If you can take that step, the battle is over, all that remains is for you to submit your will to His. Every day you pray as Jesus instructed:

May your Kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

How is God’s will done in heaven? It is done by the angels!

Psalm 103:20 says, “Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!”

When you pray for God’s will to be done on earth, you are telling God you want to obey His Word. It means giving up control of your own life. Oftentimes we’re scared that if we give God control of our lives, He’ll mess it up somehow. We wouldn’t say it that way, but that’s how we really feel.

More than once I have heard people say, “Pray for the opposite of what you want, because God always gives us the opposite of what we ask for.” Or they say “don’t tell God what you won’t do, becasue then that is what He will want you to do” We laugh when we read that because it seems so absurd. But many of us secretly wonder if it isn’t true. We’ve all known the frustration of unanswered prayer. Either God calls the shots or you call the shots. Either He is in control or you are in control. It’s not easy to pray like that because it means giving up control of your own life. But you aren’t really in control anyway. It only seems that way.

Bob Pierce is the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, Christian relief organizations that helps millions of people around the world. He was probably the most unlikely man to found and lead such large organizations. He didn’t have much education, he butchered the King’s English, and he lacked many social graces. In fact, he called himself a second-rater. When asked the secret of his life, he said that in his early years as a Christian he had prayed like this,

“O God, I give you the right to change my agenda any time you like—and you don’t have to inform me in advance. Amen.”

That’s the kind of prayer God can answer because it’s based on the truth that God is God and He has the absolute right to do whatever He wants. Many of us are unhappy because we’re fighting God at the point of His sovereignty. We’ve never surrendered our agenda to His control. When You Pray “Your will be done” you are trusting God to do what’s Best for You!

Many of us have gone through periods when we doubted that God wanted the best for us. Perhaps you are doubting even as I speak.

GOD HAS PROVEN HE WANTS WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU

God has SHOWED each one of us that He wants what is best for us. He showed us how serious he was when he sacrificed His only Son on the Cross. He showed us how Powerful He is when He raised Him from the Dead. He assures us that that same power can be ours. Power to conquer, power to overcome, power for joy, power for forgiveness, power to become like Jesus Christ.

Do you want that power? You knew what you had to do to receive Jesus as your savior-you had to humble yourself, admit you were a sinner, worthy of death, but rescued from sin, death and satan by the death and resurrection of God’s only begotten son, Jesus Christ.

If you can pray “Jesus, forgive me of my sins, please be my one and only Lord and Savior”, how hard is it to humble yourself again and say “Father, not my will but thy will be done?” Or did you simply ask Jesus into your heart to benefit your supposed eternal life? If you were motivated by selfish concerns and not by the fear of Eternal God, perhaps that is why you are unwilling to seek HIS WILL for your life! Perhaps you should check your heart condition!

WE MUST BE WILLING TO LET GO OF THE CUP

Jesus asked if the cup could be removed, but He never asked not to do the will of His Father. Quite the contrary, Jesus was quite open about ONLY doing His Father’s will. But the fact that He asked if the cup could be removed meant that it might have been possible to do His Father’s Will without the cup. However, God said, “No, you must drink of the cup of My Wrath!”

There is an amzing revelation about the Will of God in these verses. In order to do the Will of God we must be willing to let go our our ‘CUP’. So many times I have heard people say, “I want to do God’s Will as long as it means doing this, or having this, or not moving there.” We always seem to have conditions that we want to hold on to if we consider doing ANYTHING for the Lord.

God will show you, as He has me, that doing the Will of God means being willing to let go of whatever ‘CUP’ we are holding onto. In fact, God will often knock the cup over and even break it in order to get us to let go.

What are you struggling with right now? What are you holding on to so tightly that it almost makes your hands hurt? What is it that you are afraid to give to God? Whatever it is, you’ll be a lot happier when you finally say, “Your will be done” and open your clenched fist. But you’ll never know until you let go.

C. S. Lewis said there are two kinds of people in the world, and only two kinds: those who say to God, “Your will be done” and those to whom God says in the end, “Your will be done.” Which kind are you?

A Simple Prayer

Here’s a simple prayer that may help you loosen your grip on the things with which you are struggling:

O Lord, Your will be done–
nothing more,
nothing less,
nothing else.
Amen.

As always, if you pray that prayer you will be called upon by God to be part of the answer. When we pray, “Your will be done,” God will hold us to our word. The path will be straight if we let Him direct us, or the path will be filled with potholes and dead man’s curves if we stubbornly refuse His direction.

Your will be done …

  • in my life
  • in my family
  • in my finances
  • in my career
  • in my children
  • in my dreams for the future
  • in my words
  • in my friendships
  • in my world.

Are you brave enough to pray that God’s Will be done in your life? Are you brave enough to seek to know His will? Are you brave enough to stand in His presence! If you walk in His Son, Jesus Christ, you will never fear!


Back before there were vaccinations and skilled Physicians, there was the Power of God’s Word, and Faith in God. While wise use of medicine and Doctors is certainly a great way to stay healthy, perhaps we should also consider what David learned way back when…He set his love and trust upon God. He desired to know the Power of His Name.

I thank God for Doctor’s who are conscientious and caring. I even have a son who is an MD, and I certainly love him, but when it comes to our health, first and foremost we should set our heart upon the God who created this world, and you and me. Open your heart and hands to His power to save. He is the first vaccination we should seek.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation. Psalms 91:1-16 (KJV)


Parable of Prodigal SonSome suggest we no longer call this the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but the Parable of the Lost Sons.

I suggest that we should call it the parable of the Lost Son and the Selfish Child.

Jesus said the Father had two SONS, using the Greek word “huios” for both. Then the younger SON (huios) left, declaring his freedom, and in that culture became DEAD to his Father. When his Father saw him afar off, he leaped from his chair and ran to meet him. Rejoicing, he told everyone that this SON (huios) of mine was DEAD and is ALIVE again. (has come to life again – anadzah’o)

The younger brother was his SON again. This the Father demonstrated with the ring, the robe and the sandals. They meant the Father had RESTORED his RELATIONSHIP with his SON! WHY? Because our Father is is the Father of LIFE, of HOPE, of LIVING RELATIONSHIPS.

God of the LivingJesus declared this when he answered the Sadducees  “He is not God of the dead, but of the living.Matthew 22:32. The Word further declares:

Not only is God the God of the Living, but Paul declared this to the Romans: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit(Rom. 15:13).

Peter further explained that this is a Living Hope by the Resurrection:Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Pet. 1:3).

The ResurrectionGod is the God of Hope by the Resurrection — in other words, by the triumph of Life over death. This means that in every dark situation, God never despairs and never gives up. For our Father knows the tremendous power of Resurrection, of Life.

Huios vs TeknonThe Father had two SONS, but only one knew the power of RESURRECTION. In fact, when the Elder Brother argued with the Father, the Father called him my CHILD (teknon). Calling him a child was like saying “I know you are mine by birth, but you are not my SON, because we don’t have a REAL RELATIONSHIP!”

Jesus was never referred to as TEKNON of God. He was always called the HUIOS of God. We, on the other hand, are called the TEKNON of God by John to indicate we are BORN into the family of God:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name.  John 1:12.

The Elder Brother Refused to Go In

Elder Brother Refuses to go in

Both Younger and Elder Brothers were the children of the Father, but as our Parable ends, only one was the SON of the Father. The Younger was the Son because he had come back to life and had come into a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with his Father.

The Elder Brother was a child of the Father, but there was no RELATIONSHIP.

The shocking truth of this Parable is that only the younger son reflected the character of the LIVING FATHER. The sinner was more like his Father than the righteous Elder Brother. WHY? Because the Younger Son was ALIVE, while the Elder Brother was DEAD in his self-righteousness.

Like Father Like SonMatthew 5:9 & 45 use the word huios and it refers to those who reflect the character of God. The Greek word for child or children is teknon. In contrast to huios, it means the fact of birth whereas huios stresses the dignity and character of the relationship. Another aspect of this Greek word, huios,  involves “likeness.” The New Testament contains the concept expressed in the proverb, “Like father, like son” (Matt. 5:45,48). It was typical Hebrew usage to employ the word “son” to express likeness. For instance, those who are peacemakers will be called God’s sons because they are like God (Matt. 5:9). God’s likeness, His image, will be “stamped” upon those who have been brought to maturity and adopted as sons (Rom. 8:29; I John 3:2-3).

One way to understand the difference between the Elder and Younger is to understand another use of HUIOS with the addition of thesia or “huiosthesia” – “adopted or placed as sons”. In the Roman world, the father adopted as a son his own child. Birth made him a child (teknon); adoption made him a son (huios). Between the period of birth and adoption, there were stages of growth, education and discipline, until the maturity was reached for adoption into sonship. With adoption the son was recognized as one who could faithfully represent the father. He had arrived at the point of maturity, where the father could entrust him with the responsibility of overseeing the family business. The son becomes the “heir” of his father’s inheritance. Birth gives one the right to the inheritance, but adoption gives one the participation in the inheritance.

Elder Brother Child Corinthians BabiesThe Elder Brother assumed upon the FATHER’S Stuff because of his natural birth, because he was the first born child. But what the Father was declaring was the SONSHIP of the younger brother because of the RESURRECTION and their restored RELATIONSHIP.

Paul referred to the Corinthians as babies, still on milk. They had been born into the family of God, but had never matured, even though they had been enriched in speech and in knowledge of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:6). In fact, he said they were not lacking in any spiritual gift. The Corinthians probably saw themselves as the Elder Brother saw himself – the Mature Ones. But the Father called him a child, and Paul called the Corinthains babies!

Secret of SonshipWhat makes the difference? How do we Elder Brother Types become SONS? Paul gives us the clue when he says “you are still of the flesh.” What does that mean to born again children of God?

It means we are still walking around in our stinking rotting corpses. And the flesh is abhorred by the Father.  Paul shouts the secret of SONSHIP to all Elder Brothers:

And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. 1 Corinthians 2:12 (NLT)

We have a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with the FATHER of the LIVING, but it is only through the Holy Spirit! We must walk after the Holy Spirit to enjoy this Living Relationship with our Father. It is not on the basis of our works that we have this living relationship. It is on the basis of the Holy Spirit being allowed to LIVE in us!

The Father went outside and pleaded with his Elder Child. The word for plead is paraclete, the same word we use for the Holy Spirit! Picture the Holy Spirit pleading with all us EBT’s to reckon our flesh and works dead, and to FOLLOW HIM, to Walk in the LIFE of the Holy Spirit! This is the only way we will enjoy any RELATIONSHIP with the FATHER!

He is the FATHER of the LIVING, the FATHER of those who have died to the flesh, and now walk in the Living Relationship of the Holy Spirit within us! The younger brother experienced that death and so was welcomed to LIFE. The Elder Brother saw no need to die, and so found no LIFE.

Alive but actually dead to GodElder Brothers must realize they can be all righteous and moral but inwardly be walking corpses, dead to God!  Our morality is worthless without a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with our LIVING FATHER!

God is all about the RESURRECTION! He is all about LIFE! And ther can be no SONSHIP without the RELATIONSHIP! The Resurrection will bring all Elder Brothers (and younger) into RELATIONSHIP with the Father!

Most people who read and study The Parable of the Prodigal Son concentrate completely on the character of the younger son, his repentance, and the father’s forgiveness. And yet look at the text. It doesn’t end with the return of the prodigal. Almost half of the story is about the older son. The story is about two sons, who are both alienated from the father, who are both assaulting the unity of the family. Jesus wants us to compare and contrast them. The younger son is “lost”—that is easy to see. We see him shaming his father, ruining his family, sleeping with prostitutes, and we say, “yes, there’s someone who is spiritually lost.” But Jesus’ point is that the older son is lost too. Let’s learn from the text:

      1. A new understanding of Lostness,
      2. Signs of being an Elder Brother
      3. What we can do to join the Feast?.

1. A startling new understanding of LOSTNESS—verse 28.

  • The elder brother would have known that the day of the prodigal’s return was the greatest day in his father’s life.
  • The father has “killed the fattened calf”, an enormously expensive extravagance in a culture where even having meat at meals was considered a delicacy.
  • The older son realized his father was ecstatic with joy. Yet he refused to go into the biggest feast his father has ever put on. This was a remarkable, deliberate act of disrespect. It was his way of saying, “I won’t be part of this family nor respect your headship of it.
  • And the father had to “go out” to plead with him. Just as he went out to bring his alienated younger son into the family, now he had to do the same for the older brother.

Do you realize what Jesus is saying to his listeners, and to us? The Elder Brother is lost ! At the Very Least He is Missing out on Fellowship with His Father and Brother.

  • The father represents God himself, and the meal is the feast of salvation. In the end, then, the younger son, the immoral man, comes in and is saved, but the older son, the good son, refuses to go in and is lost
  • The Pharisees who were listening to this parable knew what that meant. It was a complete reversal of everything they believed. You can almost hear them gasp as the story ends.
  • And what is it that is keeping the elder brother out? It’s because: “All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed…” (v.29). The good son is not lost in spite of his good behavior, but because of his good behavior. So it is not his sin keeping him out, but his righteousness.
  • The gospel is neither religion nor is it irreligion; it is not morality nor is it immorality. This was completely astonishing and confusing to Jesus’ hearers at the time—and it may even be astonishing and confusing to you

Why is the older son lost?

New understanding of Lostnessa) There is No Relationship.
b) There is No Companionship.
c) There is Only a Selfish Child.

The Father Parakaleo – came along side, is a picture of the Holy Spirit, pleading! Come in, Fellowship with me!

The younger brother wanted the father’s wealth, but not the father. So how did he get what he wanted? He left home. He broke the moral rules. But it becomes evident by the end that the elder brother also wanted selfish control of the father’s wealth. He was very unhappy with the father’s use of the possessions—the robe, the ring, the calf. But while the younger brother got control by taking his stuff and running away, we see that the elder brother got control by staying home and being very good. He felt that now he has the right to tell the father what to do with his possessions because he had obeyed him perfectly.

So there are two ways to be your own Savior and Lord.

  • One is by breaking all the laws and being bad.
  • One is by keeping all the laws and being good.

If I can be so good that God has to answer my prayer, give me a good life, and take me to heaven, then in all I do I may be looking to Jesus to be my helper and my rewarder—but he isn’t my Savior. I am then my own Savior.

The difference between a religious person and a true Christian is that the religious person obeys God to get control over God, and things from God, but the Christian obeys just to get God, just to love and please and draw closer to him.

2. ARE YOU AN ELDER BROTHER TYPE?—verses 29-30.

Elder Brother TypesSome people are complete elder brothers. They go to church and obey the Bible—but out of expectation that then God owes them. They have never understood the Biblical gospel at all. But many Christians, who know the gospel, are nonetheless elder-brotherish. Despite the fact that they know the gospel of salvation by grace with their heads, their hearts go back to an elder-brotherish “default mode” of self-salvation.

Here is how to tell if you are infected with the Spirit of the ELDER BROTHER:

  • AN ANGRY SPIRIT (v.28—“became angry”).

But he was angry (ōrgisthē). First aorist (ingressive) passive indicative. But he became angry, he flew into a rage (orgē). This was the explosion as the result of long resentment towards the wayward brother and suspicion of the father’s partiality for the erring son.

If you believe God owes you a good life…
You will be angry…Why does my buddy have a better life…Why is all this going wrong…
Anger is a characteristic-frustrated, hostile
Elder brothers believe that God owes them a comfortable and good life if they try hard and live up to standards—and they have! So they say: “my life ought to be going really well!” and when it doesn’t they get angry. But they are forgetting Jesus. He lived a better life than any of us—but suffered terribly.

  • A Selfish SPIRIT (would not go in)

Would not go in (ouk ēthelen eiselthein). Imperfect tense (was not willing, refused) and aorist active (ingressive) infinitive. Selfish people are Fleshly People. They are Dead, but don’t realize it.

The Elder was dead and did not realize it. The Younger was dead, and realized it.

  • A SPIRIT OF Joyless and Dutiful Obedience (v.29—“I’ve been slaving for you”).

Duty without beauty.
Younger son – I’m not worthy, make me a slave, Father makes him a Son.
Elder son – I’m your obedient son, so he becomes the obedient slave.
You go to college to study to make money
In the world you spend money because it is beauty.
Totally results oriented, becomes a grind, a duty
Elder Brothers pray but not adoring God.
Prayer is a duty, not a beauty.
I obey and obey but I don’t get anything out of it.
Everything went wrong becasue he was faithful and obedient.

Elder brothers obey God as a means to an end—as a way to get the things they really love. Of course, obedience to God is sometimes extremely hard. But elder brothers find obedience virtually always a joyless,
mechanical, slavish thing as a result.

  • A SPIRIT OF Coldness to Younger Brother-types (v.30—“this son of yours”).

You Don’t Rejoice in what the Father Rejoices in. You have Religious and class superiority. If you ground your value in success or hard work, you have to look down your nose at the poor, the perceived lazy.  When you look at people of different races, classes, you look down at them or creeped out at them you are an elder brother.  The older son will not even “own” his brother. Elder brothers are too disdainful of others unlike themselves to be effective in evangelism. Elder brothers, who pride themselves on their doctrinal and moral purity, unavoidably feel superior to those who do not have these things. If you hate other cultural styles and customs, you are an elder brother.
You don’t grow in love in sweetness. Do evidences of the joy and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus doesn’t lash out at them, condemn the Parisees, the ones who will kill him. You are alienated from the Father’s heart, my child, While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us.
The Cross is the greatest challenge to us. We are so messed up that nothing short of the cross will save you. See the humiliation of the Cross, and the Affirmation of His Love for You.

  • A DOUBTING SPIRIT – Lacking Assurance of the Father’s Love (v.29—you never threw me a party).

As long as you are trying to earn your salvation by controlling God through your goodness, you will never be sure you have been good enough. What are the signs of this? Every time something goes wrong in your life you wonder if it’s a punishment. Another sign is irresolvable guilt. You can’t be sure you’ve repented deeply enough, so you beat yourself up over what you did. Lastly, there is a lack of any sense of intimacy with God in your prayer life. You may pray a lot of prayers asking for things, but not sense his love.

  • An Unforgiving, Judgmental Spirit.

The elder brother does not want the father to forgive the younger brother. It is impossible to forgive someone if you feel “I would never do anything that bad!” You have to be something of an elder brother to refuse to forgive.

3. What we can do about this spiritual condition?

How do we Go in to the FeastAnd he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ” Luke 15:31-32

First, we have to EXPERIENCE DEATH TO SELF

  • Jesus ends the parable with the lostness of the older brother in order to get across the point that it is a more dangerous spiritual condition. The younger brother knew he was alienated from the father, but the elder brother did not.
  • If you tell moral, religious people who are trying to be good, trying to obey the Bible so God will bless them—that they are alienated from God, they will just be offended. If you know you are sick you may go to a doctor; if you don’t know you’re sick you won’t—you’ll just die.
  • Moralistic religion works on the principle, “I obey, therefore God accepts me.” The gospel works on the principle, “I am accepted by God through Jesus Christ, therefore I obey.”
  • These are two radically different, even opposite, dynamics. Yet both sets of people sit in church together, both pray, both obey the Ten Commandments, but for radically different reasons. And because they do these things for radically different reasons, they produce radically different results—different kinds of character. One produces anger, joyless compliance, superiority, insecurity, and a condemning spirit. The other slowly but inevitably produces contentment, joy, humility, poise, and a forgiving spirit.
  • Unless a person and a congregation knows the difference between general religiosity and the true gospel, people will constantly fall into moralism and elder-brotherishness. And if you call younger brothers to receive Christ and live for him without making this distinction clear, they will automatically think you are inviting them to become elder brothers.
  • Must learn to see yourself through the eyes of the Younger Brother.

Second, we HAVE TO EXPERIENCE LIFE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

The Father Entreated (parekalei). Imperfect tense, he kept on beseeching him. This is a picture of the Holy Spirit pleading for the Elder Brother to surrender to His Control, to allow Him to be in charge, and thereby experience the feasting of FULL FELLOWSHIP with the Father and the Son.

  • Remember, again, whom Jesus is speaking to (vv.1-2). Jesus is speaking to his mortal enemies, the men he knows will kill him. On the one hand, this is an astonishingly bold challenge to them. He’s talking to those who want to kill him and telling them that they are lost, that they fundamentally misunderstand God’s salvation and purpose in the world, and that they are trampling on the heart of God.
  • But at the same time, he is also being so loving and tender. When the father comes out to the older brother, that is Jesus pleading with his enemies. He is urging them to see their fatal error. Jesus does not scream at his enemies, or smite them, but lovingly urges them to repent and come into his love.

Climb the Ladder to HeavenAnd so we have a foreshadowing of that great moment on the cross when he says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). This love toward his enemies made him vulnerable and cost him his life. On the cross, instead of blasting his enemies, he lovingly took the penalty of their sins on himself. While we were his enemies, Christ died for us (Rom 5:10).  Knowing what he did for us must drain us of our self-righteousness and our insecurity. We were so sinful he had to die for us. But we were so loved that he was glad to die for us. That takes away both the pride and the fear that makes us elder brothers.

We must stop trying to climb our own ladder to heaven. It is fruitless, it is hopeless. Only when we go to the cross and die to what we are and want and hope, and reach up and take the hand of Jesus – will we have the proper relationship with our Heavenly Father. We will be ALIVE, partakers of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.


Elder Brothers Adulterous Woman

Woman Taken in Adultery

saul-reproached-by-samuel

Saul was an Elder Brother

As an Elder Brother, I believe we think that sometimes we can get away with disobeying the rules. We tend to think we are above the law because we are naturally so responsible and driven. We don’t want some stupid rules getting in the way of what WE THINK is important. I know the Pharisees expected everyone to obey the laws they set forth, but secretly had laws that applied only to them. Who can say whether the arrogance of the Elder Brother was masking his own secret disobedience (remember the Elder Brothers bringing the adulterous woman to Jesus)?

Saul was definitely an Elder Brother. God was testing him as he does all Elder Brothers on two points: Faith and Obedience. Faith is needed to see and know the Father’s heart. Obedience is required because the Father is the source of ALL BLESSINGS.

But Elder Brothers hate to wait. Just ask them. Always in a hurry, always moving on to the next task. Saul was kept waiting for the Prophet Samuel in 1 Sam 13. He was told to tarry “till I come”. He failed the test of faith and obedience. Elder Brothers must learn to wait upon God, and not rely upon their own resources.

Saul disobeys God

Saul Failed Tests of Faith and Obedience

Then again in 1 Samuel 15, Saul was told to destroy Amalek utterly. Everything must be destroyed. But the bleating of the sheep gave him away. Saul was acting like the Elder Brother, focusing on the THINGS and not focusing on OBEYING the FATHER! He even believed he had obeyed, because most Elder Brothers believe they follow a different set of rules.

Saul learned too late that the Father values Faith and Obedience. The younger son realized when he reached the end of himself, and came home. The Elder Brother was home, but in his own self-reliance obeyed his own set of rules, and failed by FAITH to see the Father’s heart.

Are you an Elder Brother like me? Then the two greatest tests you will face are the tests of Faith and Obedience. There is no Word from God too small to be obeyed. We must learn to empty ourselves of any self-reliance, and cling totally upon the Lord. Then we must learn to wait. Waiting is the hardest thing for Elder Brothers to do. Always give the Father ONE MORE DAY to show His Power!