Friday, January 29, 2010

God's Will in Your Life

We are at the end of January 2010. This month flew by so quickly and the clearance aisles in stores that hold Green & Red colored items from last year's Holiday Season are quickly replaced with all-out Pink & Red, paving the way for Valentine's Day in February. Time is just flying by so fast and we're still trying our very best to get to the place we've always hoped and prayed for.

I know most of us have started out the New Year with yet another list of resolutions we (want to) consider. People even pray a lot about the new year hoping to find "God's will" in their lives. A lot of us have always wanted to be in the middle of "God's will." We talk about it, think about it, dream about it, and sometimes even pray & fast about it. 
We think twice about big decisions we have to make in life so as to make sure it was "God's will" we follow and not our own. We consider the subject of God's will too much that at some point in our lives it tends to become a cliche. We hear a lot of us saying "Hopefully, if it is God's will I will do this and that..."

Have you ever thought about REALLY knowing what God's will is in your life? I know most of our dreams and the plans we make revolve around this important factor especially if we profess ourselves to be christians. 

A make-or-break decision that we need to make in our lives will always lead us to a point where we pray and ask God to reveal His will for us at that moment. I believe, though, that most of us never really understood the meaning and idea of being in the will of God, especially when we think about the "what-to-do-next?" moment. 

I personally faced a very big dilemma lately and have sought God's wisdom and guidance for the right path through it. I, of course, asked God to reveal His will for me during that time. I fasted and prayed as I waited on the Lord to answer me with something I could take as "His Sovereign will" of the situation. Well, God did answer my request for guidance and wisdom, but He's also made sure that I understand what I was asking for regarding HIS WILL. As I went through my bible, God's Holy Spirit brought me to the point of understanding God's will in my life.  

The will of God our Father in heaven have been mentioned many times in the bible. If we read the gospels we encounter Jesus himself talking about the Father's will. He prayed about it in Matthew 6:10 when he taught his disciples the way to pray...

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, 
your WILL BE DONE on earth as it is in heaven." 
(Matthew 6:9-10, NIV; emphasis added)

He has made it a ministry to tell us that there is what we call the WILL of the Father and that there are even consequences for those who do not know what it is! Jesus spoke about this will in various passages in the bible...

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, 
BUT ONLY he who does THE WILL of my Father who is in heaven. 
(Matthew 7:21, NIV, emphasis added)

"And that servant who knew his MASTER'S WILL but did not get ready or act 
according to his will,  will receive a severe beating." 
(Luke 12:47, ESV, emphasis added)

"For I came down from heaven not do mine own will, but THE WILL OF HIM WHO SENT ME." 
(John 6:38, ESV, emphasis added)

Before the apostle Paul became THE apostle Paul, He was called Saul and was the No.1 enemy of christians during the time before his encounter with Jesus. He has persecuted christians in insufferable ways, arresting them and throwing them in prison just because they followed Jesus. Recalling his story, Saul was on the road to Damascus when he himself had a personal encounter with Jesus. And boy, did he really get a real one that time! For Saul became blind from the brilliance of Jesus' light as he appeared to him that day and as he got instructions to proceed to Damascus, Saul's life was never the same again. 

A believer named Ananias, who lived in Damascus,  was told by God to speak to Saul what God has appointed  him to do. And this is the message Saul received as his eyes were opened:

"Then he said: 'The God of our fathers has chosen you TO KNOW HIS WILL and 
to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. " (Acts 22:14, NIV)

Saul, who was renamed Paul, became one of our great teachers of the faith. He has written the important letters to believers in Galatia, Corinth, Ephesus , Philippi, Thessalonica, and even to his son in the faith, Timothy. And in his letter to the Ephesians he instructed us:

"Therefore DO NOT BE FOOLISH, but understand what the will of the Lord is." 
(Ephesians 5:17, ESV, emphasis added)

Many times it's been mentioned and many times we've been taught. The will of the Father is very important for us to consider and we've been instructed not to be foolish but to understand what the will of the Lord is. But what exactly is the will of the Lord? Here is a clue that will help you get to the answer to that very important question.

The Greek word "thelĂ©ma" is the word that is used in all of the verses above when they mentioned the word "WILL". On every one of them, the same greek word was used which means DESIRE or the PLEASURE. So, we have to understand that when Jesus spoke about the Father's will, or when Paul mentioned about God's will, they literally meant that which our Father in heaven desires or that which pleases Him. As much as 40 times in the New Testament that the word "will" appeared, the greek word to it means desire or pleasure. 

Therefore, it is not going to be difficult for us to KNOW God's will in our lives if we INTIMATELY know Him through His Word. The more we read our bibles, the better we know what pleases God. The more we DO what pleases God, the more we are living HIS WILL. 

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, 
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." 
(Romans 12:2, NIV, emphasis added)

Is it clear to you now? The will of God is not something we hunt for like a treasure chest. It is not something we have to struggle with to get at. It is not hidden from our sight that we have to grope for it. God's WILL for our lives is written all over the bible. Read yours to get to where you want to be - in the middle of God's will. 

The bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 that...

"It is God's will that you should be sanctified..."

Listen, friends, if it is God's will that we be sanctified, how is this going to happen in our lives? How are we going to reach this point of sanctification? Read Acts 26: 18. This is what Jesus was saying to Saul in the road to Damascus:

"To OPEN THEIR EYES and TURN THEM from darkness to light, 
and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may RECEIVE FORGIVENESS OF SINS
 and a place among those who are sanctified BY FAITH IN ME." (NIV, emphasis added)

It is God's will, my friends, that we all should know Jesus Christ...

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, 
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved 
and to come to a knowledge of the TRUTH. 
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," 
(1 Timothy 2:1-5, NIV; emphasis added)

When we open up our mouths to pray for God's will in our lives, may we understand that it is NOT for our pleasure that we seek His will on the various circumstances in our lives but what is WELL-PLEASING to the Lord. And when we face situations that call for an important decision to make in our lives, let God's Word guide you as to what His WILL is for that particular situation. 

Whatever it is that would bring pleasure, and glory to God, THAT is what you should decide on! Whether it be about who to marry, or what profession to take, or where to settle, our hearts should always be guided by the knowledge that whatever is PLEASING TO THE LORD, THAT IS HIS WILL. If the drive and intentions of our hearts to decide on something is because of our selfish desires, and that is will be for our glory instead of God's, then we should sit down and wait until we fully understand that it is all about HIM. One very important thing for us to do is to compare and contrast our heart's desires and our decisions on what the Word of God says. The book of 1 John in the New Testament can be very helpful in leading the way to our understanding of what pleases God... or simply put, what God's will is.

So then, when we pray and fast to gain wisdom and understanding of what the will of God is and to ask Him of something, we ought to understand now why the bible reassures us in 1 John 5:14 this way:

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's a New Year!!! Is there a New You?

Wow! Praise the Lord, O my soul! It's been weeks since I've posted something in this blog. I know some of you who regularly check the Cookie Jar might have already been disappointed for not seeing anything new. I do apologize because I was in the middle of settling down in a new job and a new apartment. 

Well, anyway, time really has flown by so fast! It is now the year 2010 and we're in the last week of January. Happy New Year, by the way. I remember trying to start writing on a post specifically for the New Year but never really gotten to the point of finishing it. Anyway, I'm just going to try to catch up on everything in this post. 

It's been quite a while since I've shared my thoughts with you regarding a certain topic that I come across with in my bible reading. I'm reading the gospel of Matthew again and has gone through the first few chapters already. There's so much that I wanted to share with you all but at this point I'd like to focus more on a sermon I heard from a pastor in Grace Community Church in Humble, TX. 

This was a story of a man called Zebedee. I was so blessed listening to the sermon online as it was such a reality to most of us today. It was what the pastor called "The curious case of Mr. Zebedee." 

If you haven't heard of Mr. Zebedee, he is actually a person mentioned in the bible. He was, in fact, one very significant person to consider because he was the father of James and John. The first few called to be the disciples of Jesus. Zebedee was the father of two of the three apostles who belong to the "inner circle" of Jesus. 

Here's the story of Mr. Zebedee and his sons in Matthew 4:18-22 when Jesus called his first disciples...

"While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to  them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him."

Zebedee and his sons were fishermen in their days. The family's fishing business was also quite successful as it was mentioned in the gospel of Mark that Zebedee had hired servants and they owned two boats at the time. When Jesus saw them, they were "mending their nets". Meaning, they already had a good catch earlier that day because their nets needed to be mended. Fishermen only mend their nets after a big catch which could have torn some portions of it.

What's amazing about Mr. Zebedee, though, was this. He was there when Jesus spoke to them by the Sea of Galilee. He has heard the voice of Him who brings salvation to men. He has heard and seen Jesus standing there and personally inviting them to follow him. He was there when Jesus called out to them! But what we see in their story was a father that's left in the boat as his two sons immediately left to follow Jesus.

Zebedee must have been too preoccupied with the fishing business and must have been consumed by the idea of managing his hired servants. The family's business needed someone to take care of it, after all, it's really been doing so well recently and stopping now to do something else will not be a good move. Mr. Zebedee was more focused on his career and his business that he neglected to hear the call of the Savior. He could have also left the boat and his hired servants and followed Jesus if he wanted to, but he didn't. What he decided on was to stay and take care of what's more important to him. 

That's the only thing you'll ever read about Zebedee. The rest of the story were mostly of his sons. His sons who followed Jesus wholeheartedly. His sons James and John who dedicated their lives to the Savior. The rest of it were of his sons who made it big in life by following Christ! 

John became the apostle that Jesus loved. Both him and his brother James made it to Jesus' inner circle of 4, that is - Jesus, Peter, James & John! How marvelous it is to know that they have become great and have accomplished much not because they decided to become prominent businessmen just like their father Zebedee, but because they have not thought twice about leaving everything behind to follow Jesus. 

None of the two knew what they would become as they followed Christ. They both only knew how to fish, period, yet they were never afraid to let go of what they've been used to the moment Jesus called to them. They have no idea about the career change they're going to have but they have given their entire lives to him, trusting wholly in His provision, His care, His sovereignty, His power, His majesty, His glory! The bible speaks more of the miracles and powers that these two brothers have encountered first hand while they walked with Jesus than the accomplishments of a prominent fisherman named Zebedee.

Zebedee, who was left in the boat with his hired servants missed it entirely. The book of Proverbs tell us these:

"He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor." (Proverbs 21:21)

"Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life." (Proverbs 22:4)

"Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle." (Proverb 23:4-5)

Are we like Zebedee, too? Are we more interested in things of this world that even when we hear our Savior call to follow him we decide to stay behind? Are we more preoccupied with getting the business running or our careers going that we become disinterested in the Righteousness of God?

May we think about the curious case of Mr. Zebedee and learn not from him, but from his sons' ways. There is much more to life than the hustle and bustle of making ends meet or building a career, or saving for that dream house or planning for a future here on earth. 

Listen... the Shepherd is calling... our Saviour stands before you with an invitation to follow Him. Are you going to keep doing what you've always been doing? Are you going to decide to stay behind because you're not interested in Him? Listen... it is eternity calling... 
Take heart,  for He's overcome the world... Take heed, and let not your hearts be hardened. 


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