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What Does God Want For Me?
I never really saw myself as a good gift-giver. It might seem strange to say that, but it’s true. If I don’t know what a person wants, I will be very reluctant to give them anything. I remember when I was in my adolescent years, I had the most challenging time thinking of what to give my brother for his birthday and so ended up getting him something that looked sports-related and cool, but not very meaningful. Needless to say he was unimpressed and saddened by the gift. Did I mention my brother really likes receiving gifts? So when I realized how disappointed he was, I was filled with regret and thought surely, my brother will be upset at me for a while. The next day I remember going to him to sincerely apologize, and to my surprise, he told me it wasn’t a big deal and that he was completely okay. I’ll never forget that experience because I realized how I may see myself or a situation can be so different from what someone else might be thinking or what is really happening. I think that is the way it is with us and God sometimes. We may think that when we make a mistake, God wants us to feel really bad about it and stay in that place of guilt for a few days before we can come to Him again, but that is so far from the truth.
The Apostle Paul writes in the book of Romans 8:1-2, “With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death” (MSG). From these words we know that through the power of Christ’s death and resurrection, the condemnation and guilt that comes from having done wrong, has been dealt with. We can repent (genuinely turn away from sin and toward God), be forgiven and walk in freedom from guilt. This past weekend we celebrated Father’s Day and Pastor Dave spoke on the perspective of the father in the story of the Prodigal Son in the Bible (Luke 15:11-32). You can view the message HERE. When we read this story, and look throughout scripture, we discover that how we view God and how we think He views us can be very different from who God actually is and what He actually thinks of us. What we need to remember, no matter what, is this: God wants for me to be close to Him, God wants for me to experience His blessings, and God wants for me to fulfill my purpose by the power of His Spirit at work inside me.
God wants for me to be close to Him
You and I were created to know God, to be close to God, to enjoy God, to worship Him and to bring Him glory! One of my favourite verses in the Bible is found in John 1:12, “But to all who believed him and accepted him [Jesus Christ], he gave the right to become children of God” (NLT). As followers of Christ, we can view God as our Heavenly Father. For some, the word “father” comes with a lot of good sentiments, memories and emotions. But for others, “father” could be associated with pain, loss, anger, or bitterness. No matter our earthly experience, when we become followers of Christ, the word “father” takes on a brand new meaning.
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:15, “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father” (NLT). The original Greek translation for the word “Father” in this verse is “patēr”, which includes the following definition as it relates to Christians, “those who through Christ has been exalted to [an especially] close and intimate relationship with God, and who no longer dread him as a stern judge of sinners, but revere him as their reconciled and loving Father”.1 Wow! How incredible to know that God is a loving Father who wants to be close to us. He isn’t waiting for us to mess up. He isn’t perpetually mad at us for being imperfect. He isn’t holding our past sins against us, even when we’ve turned away from it and sought His forgiveness made available to us through faith in Jesus.
If these are all things God is not doing, then what does His love look like? The Bible is clear, God is love (1 John 4:8) and the definition of this love (Greek word: agapē) that God embodies can be found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (NIV). Let that sit in your mind for a moment. God’s love for us is greater, deeper, higher, and better than we have ever known, experienced, or hoped for. We could spend our whole lives trying to understand His love and we would never come to the end of our discovery. This is the God of the Bible, who wants to be close to you and I on a daily basis. Even when we mess up, it is God’s lovingkindness that leads us to repentance so that close relationship can be restored (Romans 2:4). And it is in this relationship that we are transformed more and more into His likeness.
God wants for me to experience His blessings
Throughout Scripture, we see that God desires to bless His people, and even when they disobey, He makes a way for them to be restored. As a church we are going through a series called, The Story, which is helping us see the bigger picture of God’s love and good plans for His people found in the Bible. You can watch previous sermons in this series on our church message archive (found HERE) and pick up your own copy of the book we are following as our guide, also called, The Story. So how do we know that God’s desire is to bless us and not curse us? Well, one clear piece of evidence can be found in John 10:10, where Jesus, speaks plainly regarding God’s people, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (NLT). Now we can stop here and think that this life that is being described here must mean a life full of the blessings this world can offer, but we would be missing the point Jesus is making here. The word “life” being used in John 10:10 is the same “life” used to describe “eternal life” that comes from God’s Spirit (John 6:63) or Jesus being the “bread of life” (John 6:35). In other words, the life that Jesus gives us is something this world cannot offer and is of greater value than anything in this world.
When I was a child, I always thought I would become a medical doctor. To be honest the desire came because I liked reading a book about bones and my grandpa jokingly called me, “Dr. Chen”. I liked the sound of that and it stuck with me for a long time. Years later I studied pre-medical courses and was on the path to go to medical school or physiotherapy school. When I started having trouble getting into medical schools, I began to feel lost and hopeless. Meanwhile, I did my best to make use of my time and my studies, volunteering, and taking additional courses however I could. In that time of struggle, I remember praying and having others pray with me. I knew God had good plans for me according to Jeremiah 29:11, and that all things would work together for my good as I continued to seek God and ask the Holy Spirit to lead me (Romans 8:28), but the waiting was challenging. Why would I not be able to do what I felt God had put on my heart for so many years? Why wasn’t the door opening? God was teaching me to walk by faith, to have patience and to humbly surrender my plans to Him. In the challenge, I came to know God’s peace, joy, and presence in greater ways than I ever did before. Fast forward a few years, through several divine conversations and prayerful reflection, opportunities arose for me to go to Bible school and work in church ministry, particularly with kids, something that I was passionate about as a volunteer for many years already. Since that time, through obedience to the Lord and faith in His good plans, my role grew and I eventually became the children’s pastor. While my journey is still unfolding, I can say that I can’t imagine being a medical doctor or a physiotherapist today. My calling and passion has been in family ministry. I am so glad God redirected me and what seemed like a “failure” initially in my mind, was actually God leading me toward His greater plan for my life. When challenges come, we can trust that God’s desire is to bless us, and that blessing may come in ways we won’t expect.
God wants for me to fulfill my purpose by the power of His Spirit at work inside me
Not only does God want to be close to us, experiencing His blessing in our lives, He also wants us to fulfill our purpose! He has a mission for us – work that is specifically for us to do. The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (NLT). Another word for “masterpiece” is “workmanship”. If we think of an artist who takes pride in his work and was thoughtful about every detail that culminated to his or her creation, we might have an idea of the way God feels about us. In our world today it’s all too easy to compare our lives with others and feel we lack somehow because we don’t have what someone else has. When we do this, we miss what God has given us and what He wants for us to do with what He has given us.
If you have ever played in a band or sang in a choir, you know that your role in the collective is only valuable when you are playing or singing your part. If you get too distracted with other people’s parts, you may forget your part or make a mistake. While it’s important to be aware of how your contribution fits with the whole, your primary focus is still on your part. Similarly, God has good works for you to do that are specific to you. Not only that, He wants to help you fulfill your purpose with the help of the Holy Spirit in your life! Jesus said, “If you [really] love Me, you will keep and obey My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor – Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever” (John 14:15,16 AMP). When God calls us to do something for Him, we can be sure that the Holy Spirit is always ready and willing to help us accomplish the task.
I recall during my college years, I had a clear desire from the Lord to be a light in my school. At the time, I felt in my heart that one of the important ways I was going to do this was to join the Christian group on campus, but apparently it was a dormant social group that needed a new sponsor and new club status. In order to obtain these, we had to approach teachers who were willing to endorse the group and an adequate number of students who were in support of the group. This was my first time embarking on a journey like this in a secular school, but I was so thankful God brought a few other Christian students around me who were a great encouragement. I could sense the leading and the grace of the Holy Spirit as we approached teachers, students and eventually a student union board, who would officially and unanimously decide to motion toward granting the Christian group club status! I specifically remember feeling nervous going into that board meeting with one other friend to state our case for the Christian group, but once again, looking back, it was the Holy Spirit that enabled us to present well and ultimately accomplish what God put in our hearts to do, all glory to Him!
We discovered that the Bible is clear on what God wants for us: He wants for us to be close to Him, He wants for us to experience His blessings, and He wants for us to fulfill our purpose by the power of His Spirit at work inside us. Perhaps a good question to think about is how do we live our lives remembering these things, while keeping the right godly perspective whenever challenges or even disappointments come our way? Well, coming back to God’s Word on a daily basis and spending time in prayer can certainly help keep us on track. In addition to this, being in community with other believers who can help us process whatever we may be going through is incredibly helpful too. At Coastal Church, Life Groups are an amazing way to find such community of like-minded believers who can help provide the encouragement and support needed in our lives, if you desire to join one, click HERE. As we journey through life, may we grow to know with greater certainty God’s incredible love for us, as well as the personal and global mission He has given us for as long as we live on earth! For “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NKJV).