world

What Does God Want Us to Do?

A question about God asked over and over in one form or another boils down to—What does God want us to do? It may get asked in different ways and with other words but it’s the same question.

This is reflected in the way many people describe what they think God expects of us what asked about their religious beliefs, God, or Christianity in general—be good and do good to others.

When I was a young believer in an introductory theology class, we looked into the meaning of the word religion. It’s generally used to describe the nature of engagement or relationship between people and God.

Different meanings can be found but the origin of the word religion is based on two words—relegere and relegare. The first means—go through again, as in reading or in thought. Relegare means, to bind fast, with the idea of an obligation on or a bond between humans and gods.

I came to realize religion could mean many things to different people but it spoke of humanity’s efforts to engage with God in some way. The emphasis being on humanity’s view of how to relate to God. And this is reflected by how many different religions exist in the world.

Scripture

When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into these boats and went to the city of Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus replied to them, “I can guarantee this truth: You’re not looking for me because you saw miracles. You are looking for me because you ate as much of those loaves as you wanted. Don’t work for food that spoils. Instead, work for the food that lasts into eternal life. This is the food the Son of Man will give you. After all, the Father has placed his seal of approval on him.”

The people asked Jesus, “What does God want us to do?” Jesus replied to them, “God wants to do something for you so that you believe in the one whom he has sent.” [vss 24-29]

The people asked him, “What miracle are you going to perform so that we can see it and believe in you? What are you going to do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the desert. Scripture says, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ”

Jesus said to them, “I can guarantee this truth: Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. God’s bread is the man who comes from heaven and gives life to the world.”

They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread all the time.”

Jesus told them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never become hungry, and whoever believes in me will never become thirsty. [vss 30-35]

(John 6:24-35 GW)

Key phrase—

God wants…you (to) believe in the one whom he has sent

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • Who goes to find Jesus and His disciples? Where do they go and how do they get there?

  • What do these people ask Jesus and what is His response to them?

  • What does Jesus say they should and should not work for? What do you think He means by this?

  • What kind of bread are the people asking for and how does Jesus answer them?

Reflection...

Stories are observations of a slice of time in life. Something can be learned from any and every incident but it requires good observation skills and an discerning understanding of what’s observed.

The dialog between the people who searched for Jesus and His responses to them reveal a lot about humanity in general. In general, we are more concerned with the immediate than what’s eternal. And, we’re more focused on the physical than the spiritual.

Perhaps this seems obvious in this story but I’ve found it to be true for myself as well—even though most of my life has been centered around ministry and spiritual things. It’s easier to see spiritual dullness and ignorance in others than ourselves.

I’ve met thousands of Christian believers in many places and cultures. I’ve realized the majority of them—even those with much Bible knowledge—still tend to wonder—What does God expect of or want of me?

The answer isn’t difficult nor deeply spiritual. This is what God wants—

Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29 NLT)

Taking it to heart...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • Does it seem like the people and Jesus are talking about two different things? If so, why do you think this is?

  • How does Jesus try to explain the difference between the bread people are seeking and what they should seek?

  • How does Jesus describe Himself? In what way does He answer the people’s questions?

  • Do you understand what Jesus means about coming to Him and never hungering again? How is this true in a spiritual sense?

Personalize it...

Meditate On This— If you still wonder what God wants from you, try seeing it from His point of view. Consider what Jesus says in response to questions people ask Him. The Lord desires for us to have a personal relationship with Him not gain anything from us.

Prayer Focus— When you find yourself desiring or hungering more of what this world has to offer, ask the Lord to help you see things from His perspective. Ask Him to give you His gracious and merciful vision to see you as He sees you and to see others with His eyes.

©2019—Word-Strong

Look—the Lamb of God!

Each of us has various roles in life—within our family of origin and at various points in life. Some roles are temporary and some endure. John the Baptizer knew his role in life. He was the "voice in the desert" who preceded and proclaimed the coming of Israel's Messiah.

John knew and accepted that his important but limited role would end when the One whom he proclaimed arrived. But how would he know for sure who this person was?

The Problem with Pleasure

We live like millionaires. I don't have a million dollars, nor am I expecting to any time soon. But compared to the majority of the world's population, the average American lives like a millionaire.

Fifty years ago, flight travel was uncommon for most Americans, not anymore. Looking back to the sixties, the average home was smaller than today, cars were bigger, gas was way cheaper, and salaries were a lot smaller.

Unless you've traveled to under-developed nations—what I call MOTROW—the idea that you live like a millionaire may seem hard to accept. But if you ask those who want to immigrate to the US, you might start to understand.

And yet, with all that we have and is available to get, we still want more. King Solomon, who was beyond wealthy and able to pursue as much pleasure as he wanted, realized the problem of pleasure.

Scripture

I thought to myself, “Now I want to experiment with pleasure and enjoy myself.” But even this was pointless. I thought, “Laughter doesn’t make any sense. What does pleasure accomplish?” I explored ways to make myself feel better by drinking wine. I also explored ways to do [some] foolish things. During all that time, wisdom continued to control my mind. I was able to determine whether this was good for mortals to do during their brief lives under heaven. [vss 1-3]

I accomplished some great things: I built houses for myself. I planted vineyards for myself. I made gardens and parks for myself. I planted every kind of fruit tree in them. I made pools to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves. In addition, slaves were born in my household. I owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.[vss 4-7]

I also gathered silver and gold for myself. I gathered the treasures of kings and provinces. I provided myself with male and female singers and the pleasures men have with one concubine after another. So I grew richer than anyone in Jerusalem before me. Yet, my wisdom remained with me.10 If something appealed to me, I did it. I allowed myself to have any pleasure I wanted, since I found pleasure in my work. This was my reward for all my hard work. [vss 8-10]

But when I turned to look at all that I had accomplished and all the hard work I had put into it, I saw that it was all pointless. [It was like] trying to catch the wind. I gained nothing [from any of my accomplishments] under the sun. [vs 11]

(Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 GW) [Context– Ecclesiastes 2]

Key phrase— What does pleasure accomplish?

[bctt tweet="What does pleasure accomplish?"]

Digging Deeper...

What is the spokesman's (Eccl 1:1) intended pursuit? What was his conclusion afterwards?

What does Solomon say was a constant guide to him? How was it helpful?

What are the things Solomon did and what did he acquire in his pursuit of pleasure?

What was his (Solomon's) realization, and what helped him arrive at it?

Reflection...

Way too many of us fantasize what it would be like to be really rich and powerful. Do you think not? Look at who and what we venerate. Athletes and entertainers make outrageous amounts of money, and live at a level we can only imagine. CEO's receive huge salaries and bonuses, and act as if they deserve it, even when their companies lose money.

Even within the church, many pastors and leaders of ministries receive well-above-average salaries, while churches claim to build bigger and better buildings for the kingdom. This tells me we haven't learned from the wisest and wealthiest king of Israel. The problem of pleasure, and wealth, is that it's never enough.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again to consider and answer the following questions

Do you secretly (or not so secretly) wish you could win the lottery, or get rich some other way?

What are the things you find yourself daydreaming or fantasizing about?

Do you envy or resent people whose lives seem better than yours? Or, do you envy and resent them?

What do you think is key to being content with the life you already have?