May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Thank you for submitting this question. Scripture often refers to passages which give instructions on doing the “will of God”. For example; in the Old Testament we find, (Psalm 40:8), “I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”, and in the New Testament, Jesus said; ( Matthew 12:50) “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” In both Scriptures the word “will” is applied to the “Will of God”, where God has the power and authority of choosing and determining a strong purpose, power of self-direction, deliberate action, choice, disposition or attitude toward man. God’s purpose is carried out in such a way that man’s actions are affected.(1) Note that the “Will of God” or His purpose remains supreme from Genesis to Revelation. His purpose always becomes reality.
There seems to be a difference in the Old Testament and New Testament on how the “Will of God” is carried out.(1) In the Old Testament “the action or purpose is ascribed to God.” Therefore, you find verses like Isaiah 46:9-10 “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” The New Testament brings about a shift, as Jesus makes a conscience choice to be an instrument of God’s work and purpose, as in John 4:34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” Jesus also encourages others to join God’s purpose as in John 7:17 “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”
The early Saints of the church, in following Jesus, took up the theme as Paul notes in examples like Acts 20:27 – “For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” , Romans 12:2 -“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” and Ephesians 5:17 – “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
In II Peter 1:21 – “ For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”, it is clear that there is a “Will of God” as opposed to a human will. The questions are therefore; how do we as Believers reduce our will and come more in line with the “Will of God”? Or, how do I know what God’s will is, what does He want me to do?
I have found no easy answer to this question because unfortunately Scripture doesn’t put together a “how to” on this one. My experience in my journey has led me to four keys:
1. Listen for the God’s instructions through “The Holy Spirit”. For years I have always felt that something, somewhere beyond my Earthly world has had an influence on my life. There was always a guide, it just took me a long time to listen and depend on the guide. I have since early days in Church training and Parochial School, heard of the “Holy Spirit”. I even remember when it was announced, that we are not going to call Him the “Holy Ghost” anymore, because a ghost had implications of Satan. At that early age I was familiar with the King James Version of John 16:7 “Never the less I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”, but the verse never made any sense. I did, however, keep listening to the voice, especially when I was in situations away from home, by myself around people who were not family. I depended on the voice, and it always worked out. It was later when I read the NIV translation of “Counselor” instead of “Comforter” in the KJV, I began to understand what was giving purpose to my life. Today I know that the “Holy Spirit” speaks to me as often as it does to everyone. We just need to listen to God’s instructions through the “Holy Spirit”.
2. Study the Scriptures to verify that your instructions are God sent. When God speaks He will confirm the message through Scripture or send Scripture that will let you know that it is not His message. As he “Holy Spirit” speaks often, we must stay close to Scripture and in prayer to receive the correct conformation. If you are not a reader, get into a bible study that requires reading Scripture with the intent of studying a specific lesson. I have found quite often that the intent of the message is one thing, and your conformation or instructions to stay away comes through.
3. Be Persistent. God’s work is not for the faint of heart. I Peter 3:13 says “For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” Understanding why God wants certain actions from us is not easy. Stick to it and His understanding will come through.
4.Understanding the message has changes and addendums. Wherever God is taking you, whatever is His purpose for your life, won’t be known right away. God only gives us as much truth as we can handle. In 1972, I went looking for a part-time job while living in Macon, Ga., I got the job, but had no Idea that the part-time job would lead to placement of 30+ years in Saint Petersburg, FL and a ministry of Bible Teaching. God gave me the part-time job in in 1972, but if He had told me the rest of the story, my family and I couldn’t have handled it at the time. Glenda often reminds me that Abram, to please Sara, wanted a son. God had planned not only a son, but a blessed nation (Genesis 12:1-3) and …all people on earth will be blessed through you (Genesis 12:3).
Finally after about 30 years of personally searching the process, I finally found a “How To” presentation. It is Experiencing God, Knowing and Doing the Will of God by Henry Blackaby and Claude King. For the last 20 years this presentation has been one that I have taken and presented. It is one of the staples of Homewords Small Group Bible Study Ministry, which we study about every 3 years. Those who are familiar with this series usually give a positive opinion of the workbook and videos. If you are not familiar with this presentation, but want to learn more, please contact us.
1.The Interpreter’s Dictionary of The Bible, Volume Four, Abingdon Press, New York, 1962
2. NIV Study Bible, 10th Anniversary Edition, The Zondervan Corporation, 1995
Eight Anniversary Month
In September we will celebrate out 8th anniversary with two events in conjunction with our Bible Studies. Our “pot luck” Bible Study, will be held on Saturday September 7, 2013 and the “Kick Off” of the study of Esther on September 28, 2013. Visitors are always welcome, but are especially welcome for both of these events. The Bible Study Schedules are attached. For information call Glenda at 727-542-4683.
Question and Answer Blog
The first response to appear in our “Question and Answer” feature will be posted in September. The question, “How do I know what God’s will is, what does He want me to do?”
For a number or reasons we feel this is an important question, because as Christian growth takes place, we move from concentrating on “what God can do for me” to “as God’s creation, why did He create me and put me in today’s time and space?” We are answering this question first because we feel its answer is at the center of Homewords Ministry’s existence. We have found many disconnects between traditional church membership with traditional worship services, and true service to Christ and the cause of salvation. In truth we have found many Believers want to get on board to do the will of Christ, but feel that many traditional churches do very little to foster the growth and experience to do so. These churches spend much time concentrating on maintaining the organization instead of focusing on getting the people ready and helping to maximize their spiritual gifts for true Christian works. At Homewords, we feel that the key is knowledge and understanding of The Bible. Understanding what is expected is the beginning true service, so we welcome the challenge of this question on the September blog.
You will also note that scriptures are being posted often. Please note that because the focus of the “Question and Answer” in September is “God’s will for my life” our Scriptures are centered on the subject of God’s Will.
Thank You to All
Finally we want to say thank you to all who follow Homewords Small Group Bible Study Ministry. We come to you through WordPress, Facebook, e-mail and post mail. Please share the message that God has given us with others, as we would like to add to our posting. We ask that you pray for God to continue to guide us and that we stay in His will and way.
Frank and Glenda Brunson
2 Timothy 1:6
“For this reason I remind you to fan into the flame the gift of God, Which is in you through the lying on of hands.”
Recently I had a conversation with a Christian friend in his late fifties, who said he was perplexed by life, as he had a feeling that what he had accomplished in life was not enough. To most, his life would be labeled as successful. Forty-one year of marriage, four children, ten grand-children, two- great grandchildren, a successful owner of a once small business that experienced mega growth, regular and vacation homes. He was known for his service to his community though business and civic organizations, and most of all; a faithful hard-working member in the church where most of the family attended. Yet, he says he was puzzled because he felt that God seemed to be telling him he had not done enough or more specifically that there was unfinished work to be done.
In 2 Timothy 1:6 Paul’s letter urges Timothy in his work, by reminding him, his work was not done. Paul tells Timothy that he should “fan into the flame the gift of God…..” which reminded Timothy that the flame of his salvation needed a fuel source, which only God could provide. When I was of scouting age, we learned to make campfires by starting with a little flame in one small part of our wood pile, and fanned into the flame to provide more of the oxygen fuel source. The more we fanned the larger the campfire became. Providing God’s fuel source is the only way that the trying, unfinished parts of God’s call in our life can be accomplished. For the completion of some of God’s calls, the flame must be fully developed or fully-burning. Like fanning into the flame of the campfire made it bigger, “fanning into the flame the Gift of God” makes the previously undeveloped flames of life become full-burning. Contentment grows only as the gift of God through the Holy Spirit is enhanced, and it is mandatory to have God as the fuel-source which causes the small flame to reach a full-fiery blaze. It is only through God that one is able to feel their work in done.
My friend, in all that he had accomplished, has not adequately “fanned into the flame” to fully develop his God given gift. He forgot that age, and what was accomplished in the past doesn’t necessarily mean the gift of God has been fully “fanned” into his Christian life. John the Apostle did well as one of the 12 Chosen and a personal friend to Jesus; but it was after Jesus’ death and resurrection that he began to “fan into the flame the gift of God”. After he had fanned God into the flame of his belief, he became the prime candidate to receive Jesus’ Revelation, the final book of the New Testament. Paul life as a Pharisee was driven by love for God, although it was misguided. But it was after his meeting Jesus on the Damascus road that he began to “fan into the flame the gift of God” with missionary journeys, Christian church plants and letters which became the basis for much of the New Testament.
What about you and me? Have we slowed down or given up because of age or some circumstance in life? Do we feel we have done enough for Christ, but still feel incomplete? Could it be that the fire of our Christian walk has not reached a blaze yet? Remember, no matter what age you are or how long you have been saved, never stop “fanning into the flame” for Jesus.
Jonah is a familiar character from our childhood Bible stories. We remember him because the story says, “he was swallowed by a big fish (1:17). He spent three (3) days inside the fish. I’ve given little or no thought to Jonah until recently, and I’ve been bombarded with references to Jonah everywhere, it seems, for about a month.
Now that we’re all grown-up and our Biblical knowledge is increasing with continued study, let’s revisit Jonah in a brief study that I call, “The Jonah Complex”.
Like most ministers/prophets, Jonah received “the Call” from God. You’d think that Jonah would be excited to be used by God to preach, however, he was called to preach to the Ninevehites. God told him specifically, “Go to the great city and preach against it, because its’ wickedness has come up before me.”(Jonah 1:2)
Because Jonah, knew of Nineveh’s reputation (3:3) he “ran away from the Lord…”.The prophet Nahum (Nahum 3:1) refers to Nineveh as “the city of blood.” NIV footnote: “City of blood –Nineveh’s bloody massacres of her conquered rivals were well-known. Nineveh was never without victims. The Assyrians were noted for their ruthlessness, brutality, and terrible atrocities. Many of their victims were beheaded, impaled or burned. (3:3) piles of dead. The Assyrian King Shalmaneser III boasted of erecting a pyramid of chopped-off heads in front of an enemy’s city. Other Assyrian kings stacked corpses like cordwood by the gates of defeated cities. Nahum’s description of the cruel Assyrians is apropos”. Are we getting a sense of why Jonah disliked the people of Nineveh?
Jonah’s speedy exit on a ship headed for Tarshish (Jonah 1:3) shows us that he had no intention of obeying God. This blatant disobedience cost him his freedom, could have angered God, and put others in harm’s way. “Why”? We aren’t told the answer until chapter 4:1-3: “But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? This is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity”. Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live”.
Is Jonah’s complex very common today? We are called to preach the Word to bring others to salvation. The apostle Paul teaches us in Romans 1:14-16: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Do we take it upon ourselves to decide who should be saved or even more challenging, who should be restored after that person has fallen into sin; repented, and is striving to live a better life? Jonah was a self-appointed judge, jury, jailer, and executioner of the people of Nineveh. God only asked him to: “go” and “preach” (1:2). Jonah also wanted to see what would happen to Nineveh (4:5). He seems to want God’s wrath to ran down on that city. In his anger, Jonah endangered his life (4:8).
God confronted Jonah because he demonstrated more concern about a plant than the “hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left (4:11)”in Nineveh. Jonah could not show less compassion to the people he was commissioned to preach to. He showed the contempt he felt for them.
Let’s thank God for His faithfulness towards each of us, when we don’t know our “right from our left” and ask for more compassion toward others when they demonstrate the same.
Reverend Glenda Brunson