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What Does God Want?
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep
Take a minute to imagine what the Garden of Eden must have been like. Can
you see the beauty of the garden and feel the peace that it offers? We are told in
Genesis 2:9 that “out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is
pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the
garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” From the very
beginning, God planned for us to live in the best environment, to have the best
food, so that we could take care of the land and watch over the animals. We
were made to live in a divine place without want, with the one job of keeping it
going and adding to it.
What happened? Well we were selfish and disobeyed God and ate from the tree
of knowledge. We destroyed God's first plan for us. But God did not give up on
us. God wants us reconciled to the original plan that is laid out from the
beginning. How God would have us to live is described throughout the Old
Testament, particularly in the laws known as the Ten Commandments. However,
it is in the life and teachings of Jesus that we are given the greatest and best
model for patterning our lives. Our purpose on this planet is to glorify God by
living in accordance with God's will. To assist in God's will being done we must
become disciples of Jesus Christ. God wants a world that looks like Christ, and it
is our job to help bring this image into reality here and everywhere.
O God Eternal, giver of all good and marvelous gifts, I thank you, I praise you
and glorify you. May your will be done in me this day. In Jesus Christ's name I
Week 42, Monday
You Must Believe
For God so loved the world the that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who
believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.--John 3:16
Most of us won't do anything we don't believe in. One of the reasons good
athletic coaches are so valuable is their ability to get players to believe in
themselves, in the team, and in their ability to win. When players don't believe in
themselves, they don't win games. We can see this same pattern in biblical
history. The Hebrews had difficulty staying on course in the wilderness because
they did not believe God. They did not believe they could defeat their enemies
with God's help, so they were, in a sense, paralyzed.
Jesus reminds us over and over again in his teachings that faith opens the
windows of possibilities to accomplish what we have been given to do. With faith
all things are possible. Faith permits us to take action. We will not follow Jesus if
we do not believe, and if we do not believe in him we will not work for God's
purpose, which is made clear through Jesus. We must believe in Jesus Christ if
we are going to help God's kingdom to come.
Because we are physical beings, we find it difficult to believe in the spiritual world
God has created and is calling us to. We ignore God's way, seeking to do things
our own way, making our own gods and establishing our own rules for successful
living. With all the love found in the gift of Jesus as our Savior, we must still
believe that he is our Savior and the model we are to follow if we are to fulfil
God's purpose. Without faith we will not act.
Almighty and everlasting God, thank you for your gift of Jesus Christ, and your
love for me. I step out in faith to be part of your kingdom and to respond to your
will. In Jesus Christ's name I pray. Amen.
Week 42, Tuesday
Why We Need Disciples
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.--Matthew 28:19
From the beginning God designed the world with the idea that we would
participate in the process of filling the earth with blessings (Genesis 1:28). God
apparently wants us to be active in the world. God could have filled the earth with
goodness without our assistance. Yet by his creative act, we have both the
capacity and the purpose to work with him to reproduce goodness in the world--
as his children, as extensions of his will in the world. God wants the world full of
goodness, and it is our job to assist in this process.
How do we do that? By following Jesus and inviting others into a relationship with
God through Jesus Christ. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are extensions of
Christ in the world--thus the name Christian. When we make disciples for Jesus
Christ, we are filling the world with goodness. It is important to hear that Jesus
commands his followers to make disciples of all nations. As men who believe in
Christ, therefore, we cannot be satisfied with the status quo, either in our
families, our congregations or our neighborhoods.
“Follow me,” is Christ's call to his disciples, “and I will make you fish for people”
O Holy God, I want to follow Christ and be part of filling the earth with your
goodness, your blessings, and your love. Help me to begin right here, right now,
with my own family. I pray in Jesus Christ's name. Amen.
Week 42, Wednesday
A Better World
And these signs will accompany those who believe.--Mark 16:17
If you and I belong to Christ and his Spirit is in us, there should be signs of that
Though there are thousands upon thousands of Christians who witness to the
goodness of God in the world and in their lives each day, it appears that there
are many more Christians who haven't gone far enough in their relationship with
Christ. They haven't put their faith into action. They don't understand that they
are to participate in the transformation of the world.
How is it that so many congregations can coexist with slum neighborhoods, or
neglect children who need love and care? What can be more devastating than for
a child to struggle without ever learning that he or she is loved? According to
scripture we are to participate in the wellness of the world. In order for this to
happen there must be some connection with the Holy Spirit through whom we
have access to power, love, and self control (1 Timothy 1:7).
Our congregations, that is, the communities of believers, must be places where
people experience the love of Christ. If those of us who say that Jesus Christ is
the leader of our lives do not show the kind of care and hospitality that reflects
the way of Christ, we do more harm than good--we destroy the hope that is
embedded in faith.
How are you demonstrating Christ's love?
O loving God, make me an instrument of your love, for Christ's sake. Amen.
Week 42, Thursday
Before You Can Lead
And he said to them, “Follow me.”--Matthew 4:19
If we are going to follow Jesus Christ, we must get to know Jesus so well that we
can act in the way Jesus would act. The first disciples of Jesus watched Jesus
pray, heal, and teach. They watched him in all of his interpersonal relationships
and they listened to his words of instruction. When they started making disciples
as Jesus instructed, they taught the new converts in the way that Jesus had
taught them. Beginners must be taught. The new converts had to learn how to
pray, to worship, to work together and share their resources. They were led into a
relationship with God that would allow them to receive the Holy Spirit in their
These are the same things that make for discipleship now. We men must not
only invite men into a relationship with Christ, we must make sure that they are
taught the same spiritual disciplines that we have received. We join fraternities
and other clubs where we are required to know the club's history and rules, and
to pay dues. But we can come into the church, be baptized and given
responsibilities, and know next to nothing about the teachings of Christ, or the
history of the church.
We must not only have models of the Christian life, we must also have classes
and mentors if we are to live in the world as men of God.
Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? I encourage you to seek out a class and a
mentor who can help you learn and grow. Then reach out to invite other men to
become disciples of Jesus Christ.
God, sometimes it is difficult for me to admit I need your help in following Jesus,
because I don't want to seem weak. But I do want to be a faithful disciple. Please
teach me. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Week 42, Friday
Get in the Discussion
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching.--Acts 2:42
Have you seen anyone wearing a wrist band with the letters WWJD? Over the
last several years I have seen quite a few of them worn by both young and older
people. What do the letters stand for? They are an acronym for the question
“What would Jesus do?” That's a question I have encouraged congregations to
ask themselves in every situation. It's vitally important that as God's men we
must learn how to respond as Christians.
Asking that question, though, brings up another one. How can we align our
behavior with Christ's if we do not know how Jesus talked or how he responded
in situations? The point is, how will you know how to respond like Jesus if you do
not know him as he is revealed through the Scriptures, if you do not know how he
lived and acted when he was on earth?
As God's men, we need to read and study the word of God in our private
meditative moments. But it is just as important that we also study it together, in
study groups at church, or around the table in our homes, listening, sharing, and
praying together for God to be made clearer to us through the Holy Scriptures.
Such groups are wonderful places for new and would-be Christians to learn what
the Christian faith is all about. But because the Bible is intimidating for some
people, when you invite others to Bible class, tell them that they do not have to
bring a Bible unless they want to. And don't ask them to read out loud unless
they are comfortable doing that. In other words, it is more important for them to
be at the place where the Bible is discussed and personal thoughts are
challenged than for them to feel anxious about reading from the Bible and
therefore not to come at all.
Thank you, God, for laying out your plan for me in your Holy Scriptures. Through
your Holy Spirit make your way clear to me and empower me to do your will. In
Jesus Christ's name. Amen.
Week 42, Saturday
Something to Do
Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.--Matthew 6:10
As God's men, we have something to do. We have a mission. We are the
construction workers for the kingdom of God. If we are to follow Jesus we must
be willing to work for the same things that he was committed to.
In the disciples' prayer known as the Lord's Prayer, Jesus instructed his disciples
to indicate their support of God's will to be done on earth as it is done in heaven.
In the remaining part of the prayer, we ask for help in doing God's will.
The Bible teaches us that we are not only to be hearers of the word but doers as
well (James 1:22). We have been created to do, to act. We must again hear the
message embedded in the question that Jesus asked Peter who had returned
from fishing: “Do you love me? If you love me, feed my sheep.” (See John 21:15-
17.) Through us the gospel is to spread throughout God's world. Through us the
kingdom of God is to be manifested in the world, beginning in our homes,
congregations, places of employment and recreation. We have a job to do and it
starts with you and me.
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be
my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy
will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And
forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever. Amen.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?