September 12, 2012

God’s will always points me to Jesus

A friend shared that God led him to take certain actions, but the outcome was disastrous. From that, his conclusion was that he misread the leading of God. Then he asked me what I thought.

At first, I was thinking of my own tendency to assume that whatever God asks me to do will have a “feel good” result, and never bring trouble or sorrow. Yet that is neither true to life nor biblical. Sometimes the outcome teaches me something, usually about myself. For instance, I have gone into something with great confidence only to later realize that my confidence was in myself, not in God. He led me in that direction so I might be humbled and learn to stop trusting myself.

Yet this explanation is not always for everyone. I don’t know their motivations and cannot play Holy Spirit with their questions. Finally, I said to my friend that God was not finished. I told him that he would eventually see God’s reasoning and that he would discover something he isn’t thinking about right now.

The friend continued to wrestle with this problem. He had trouble thinking that the will of God should have such a disastrous result. Then the Spirit ran a line through my head, “The answer can always be found in Jesus Christ.” With that, I said, “God clearly led His Son and Jesus followed that leading perfectly, and remember what happened to Him.”

Just like my friend considers his results a disaster, the disciples thought that Jesus’ death on the cross was a disaster also. Even before it happened, they wondered if He was out of His mind when He said these things…
See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day. (Matthew 20:18–19)
Jesus could have gone out into the desert or anywhere else but Jerusalem. He didn’t have to go there. He also knew what waited for Him. Still, He went. While others did not understand, He did this out of obedience…
I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. (John 5:30)
As terrible as Jesus’ words from Matthew must have sounded to the disciples, Jesus also told them that He would rise from the dead. For some reason, they didn’t hear that part. They were focused on the first words and missed the hope He gave them. For this lapse in hearing, Jesus also told them that “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).

The death of Jesus Christ shows me that following the will of God could lead me into difficult and unpleasant situations and appear to be a total failure. The resurrection of Jesus Christ shows me that even in the worst-case scenarios, God isn’t finished yet. He does not think like we think. He also made a promise and no matter what our situation looks like, nothing can thwart His plans.
 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… (Romans 8:28–29)
Today’s devotional reading says I am to walk through my world today strengthened, comforted, and inspired by Jesus Christ going up to Jerusalem. I’m also to remember that those apparently downward passages of life, where sorrow or even death lies before me, any descents made or endured in the Spirit of Jesus, are really up-going steps. When the will of God is leading me, eventually I will experience resurrection glory.

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