1 Peter 4:11 (NLT)
Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
Often you will hear or perhaps you have wondered just exactly what does God want me doing. Or perhaps, you are past all of that and certainly you know what God has planned for you or what He wants from you.
Both sides of this coin are answered in God’s Word, but it’s alarming how few ‘believers’ either have glazed over these instructions or for a variety of reasons decided that surely God wants them doing something else. The actual answer is both simple and monumental, but don’t be concerned, as Jesus said, “my yoke is easy and the burden is light” (Matt 11:30).
So, let’s look and see where The Word takes us.
Luke 9:23 (NLT)
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.
Christian is commonly defined as one who follows Jesus Christ. Here in Luke, Jesus tells us that if anyone wants to be His follower (that would be ‘Christian’), they need to disregard their own plans, take up their cross, and follow Him.
Not to worry you He says in Matthew…
“For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
If He had not have wanted us on the journey with him He wouldn’t have given us the directions for being a follower! There are three elements to this directive; the first and last are fairly easy to identify. They are:
- Give up old ways (obviously in favor of God’s way for your life).
- Take up your cross (we’ll discuss this below).
- Follow Jesus!
Taking up your cross – This is interesting to take notice of because it is a reference for us of something which at this point in the ministry of Jesus he hasn’t mentioned The Cross. This He used a symbol reference to both Christ’ obedience to the will of God by surrender of His will in favor of the will of the Father; while at the same time providing us with an example of what is needed for us in second bullet above. That would be that we need to surrender our will just to the will of the Father, as Jesus did.
We’ve defined what it takes to truly be a Christ follower and it is important that we pay attention to what Jesus is saying here, because later in Luke He also says…
And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
So, while these three directives are critical, we still want to drill down into just what is the will of God regarding me. We’ll zone in on that in the remainder of this discussion.
What is the will of God for us? Jesus knew his mission clearly, being God in the flesh he said this referencing the Cross he would give himself as our sacrifice on. But what is our mission? How do I discern my objectives are?
The intuitive thing we might consider is to employ the God given talents and abilities that He has bestowed on us. That sounds like a great start and it’s also scripturally sound. Just look at our opening passage in First Peter.
Would it surprise you if I said that isn’t it? Well, it isn’t it! While God absolutely expects us to use the talents and resources He’s blessed us with to further His will, don’t think it begins and ends there.
A few things to consider. First is perspective. He is after all; all knowing, as well as all powerful, as well as omnipresent (everywhere He chooses to be at the same time). To top all that off His ways are not our ways so how could we begin to think that we could fully understand each and every detail of what He has planned for ‘us’?
Yet, we consistently take what little information we have at our disposal and our assumptions as to what He would have us do; and we are off to do just exactly what ‘we think’ God has in mind for us. Is it any wonder He refers to us as His ‘children’? When you really consider it, we are exactly that! Impulsive, often running ahead, acting out, failing to listen, and yes, assuming based strictly on our comparatively short supply of wisdom that we know better that our Father!
I hear you. This isn’t telling us what we need to be doing! Let’s dig into some scripture to find those ‘things’ and don’t be too surprised if we end up back here at talents. So here is some scripture references to give us some guidance.
Disclaimer here; this is only a cursory look at the references in the bible that suggest God and/or Jesus desiring specific activity on the part of the believer. I’ve taken multiple specific references and combined them into more broad categories which encompasses the reference.
These categories include:
- Believe in Jesus as your savior, and obey God’s Word
- Love (The Lord, others, enemies)
- Rejoice, Pray, Give Thanks
- Share the Gospel
Believe in Jesus:
This almost doesn’t belong on this list because if there is no faith in Jesus, you can’t be his follower. It is the beginning of the journey the content of the journey and the journey’s end. Jesus only Jesus. But between believing in him and loving him which goes hand in hand it is the reason He is who He is and we are who we are.
John 6:40 (NIV)
For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
John 14:23 (NIV)
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Love (The Lord, others, & enemies):
Love is the key to reaching others. God so loved the world… Loves us! Spread that love everywhere. Return that love back to the Lord and it will flow back to you and through you to those around you. And yes, even those that are against you; especially those folks.
Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 5:44 (NIV)
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
Rejoice, Pray, Give Thanks:
Goes to the state that God wants his people. How infectious is the spirit that is joyful and thankful? The prayer piece is the key to that joy and thankfulness. If we are in constant communication with our Lord there is always going to be cause for joy and thankfulness. That fellowship with God is the very reason He created us!
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Spread the Gospel:
This isn’t a job relegated to pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. There is a clear expectation that every believer to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This may come in different forms but as he calls us to be different from the world, there is little doubt that that difference will prompt interest in why you are. There is always an opportunity when that happens to attribute the difference to Christ.
Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Now we have a framework for this following the will of God thing. We can combine our talents and these areas and we are good, right? What? There’s more?
Our God’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts… Remember?
Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Something God will routinely ask of his people is that they step out in faith and do whatever it is that God asks them to do. Time and time again throughout the Bible you will find God doing this. Yes, He expects us to use our talents and resources to glorify Him, and as you see there are specific things that he seeks of us regarding behavior and putting your faith to work day by day, but there often are situations where God will make it known to you that there is something or some things that He is calling out to you to do for him.
Think about it, the twelve apostles came from a varied background with few exceptions most were not into public speaking or crowd motivational activates. But He called to each of them and told them to follow Him and he would ‘make them fishers of men’.
Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Just as Peter stepped out onto the troubled waters to walk toward the master, Jesus wants our unconditional obedience. At times, that may be where we are most uncomfortable, unfamiliar, unsure of our own abilities. It is in that moment of taking those steps out on the water that His power is seen at its greatest potential.
Keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus, pick up that cross and follow Him. Follow Him because you love Him, follow Him because He is Lord. If He calls you out and you step out on the water, He will be there.
What is God’s will for you? Use your talents that he’s blessed you with. Love and obey the Lord and all the rest falls into place if you really are doing that. Just remember that he wants a relationship with you, that takes communication. He wants obedience, that may or may not be anything you are thinking of today, but if you’re having the conversation with Him, I’m sure He will bring it up when it is time.