The Question You Should Ask?
Ps Dermot Cottuli
30 December 2018
As we head toward a new year I thought it would be good for us to answer a question that maybe some of you have asked already but I’m thinking that most of us haven’t, not in any focused or intentional way at least. Your answer to this question will be invaluable to you in helping you to have your very best year.
Pease note I didn’t say your best year ever because it may not be. But you can ensure that it’s the best that it can be.
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The Question You Should Ask (Ps Dermot Cottuli)
As we head toward a new year I thought it would be good for us to answer a question that maybe some of you have asked already but I’m thinking that most of us haven’t; not in any focused or intentional way at least. Your answer to this question will be invaluable to you in helping you to have your very best year.
Pease note I didn’t say your best year ever, because it may not be. But you can ensure that it’s the best that it can be.
Often times with New Year resolutions we look at our lives, figure out what we’re missing and then determine to do what it takes to get those things, at least for a week or so. Statistically 80% of all New Year resolutions have already failed by February.
How many of you start the year off by asking God what it is that He wants from you?
Well that’s NOT the question that I want you to answer this morning.
The question I want you to ask and begin answering is a step back from that one. I think it’s one of the most important questions you can ever ask because of the answer you’ll receive when you ask it. The answer to this question has far reaching ramifications for all of your life and specifically how you relate to God.
I don’t want you to answer, “God, what is it that you want FROM me?” because quite often that question is what forms and shapes our response to God and the motive we apply to His perceived actions and becomes the driver of our relationship with Him, impacting the way we see Him and interpret his feelings toward us.
Too often it’s a question birthed out of insecurity or a cry for acceptance.
What do you want God? How do I keep you happy? How can I earn your approval? What do I need to do to stay as close to you as I can?
Those are all questions that stem from “God, what is it that you want FROM me?” and can set you up for a life time spent pursuing something that you already have, constantly feeling like you don’t measure up. There’s a far better question that you should know the answer to that will help everything else fall into place. Without knowing the answer to this question you’ll always struggle with your relationship with God and His intentions toward you.
The question you need to be answering is
“God, what is it that you want FOR me?”
Now some of you may already be thinking that this is quite a selfish question and if we’re truly spiritual we shouldn’t be asking it. And you’d be totally wrong.
In fact if you don’t answer this question properly you’ll end up in all sorts of trouble. You’ll never fully understand why God commands us to do certain things if you don’t understand what it is that God wants FOR you, not just FROM you.
You’ll never find freedom in your relationship with God if you don’t understand what it is that He wants for you because you’ll always be trying to earn His approval and second guessing what it means for your relationship with Him when difficult things happen around you.
To start off, let’s look at some of the things God doesn’t need from you. He doesn’t need servants or slaves to keep his kingdom running because in his kingdom everyone is free to choose what it is that they’ll do and regardless of what it is that you or I do or don’t do, His plan, His purpose for planet earth is going to come to pass, it’s not dependent on you. Deep breath everyone.
When was the last time that God MADE you do anything? Servants and slaves don’t get a choice but sons and daughters do. Now the bible does use the terminology of servants in the household of God but as we’re going to see, that’s more about a heart attitude to love others than a positional role that you’re forced to play. Remember that service, in the context of the Bible, is simply love in action. We love, therefore we serve.
If you feel that God is forcing you to work for Him because He has an agenda that he needs you to fulfil then you’ve completely missed the heart of God and the logic train, as it pulled out of the station.
God isn’t some despotic ruler wanting his minions to serve him so that he can live a life of luxury and get his own way. He’s not a Jewish Kim Jong. He doesn’t use up people’s lives so that he can have his own needs met.
The bible tells us that he’s all powerful, knows everything, is everywhere at once, created everything there is out of nothing, doesn’t grow weary, never sleeps, is in need of absolutely nothing that he can’t create for himself and yet in spite of all of that, we can end up feeling like we have to do stuff for Him or else He’ll spit the dummy and send us off to hell because His needs aren’t being met. Now we mightn’t put it in those words but the effect on our relationship with God tells me that many of us believe them.
Nothing could be further from the truth and yet so many of us live our lives under an incredible burden that eventually sucks the joy out of our relationship with Him.
There’s only one thing that God wants from us, and that’s a relationship. That’s it. Humankind was created in the image of God for loving relationship with God. God gave us the job of populating the earth and looking after it because it would be good for us. It would help us to grow and develop and would be a source of deep satisfaction as we discovered the joy of creation and explored our relationship with Him and each other.
Religion is all about our perception of what God wants from us whereas Jesus showed us what God wants for us.
So if God only wants one thing FROM you, what is it that He wants FOR you?
If you start to understand what God wants FOR you, you’ll begin to understand why He commands us to do certain things and live a certain way.
Why does God ask us to forgive others when they wrong us? Is it just some sort of arbitrary moral code that he came up with one afternoon whilst lying around in his hammock or is there a deeper reason? Could it be that God wants the very best for us and knows that harbouring unforgiveness in our heart will poison our very soul?
One of the most challenging scriptures in relation to this idea is
Hebrews 12:4-6 (TPT)
After all, you have not yet reached the point of sweating blood in your opposition to sin. And have you forgotten his encouraging words spoken to you as his children? He said,
“My child, don’t underestimate the value of the discipline and training of the Lord God,
or get depressed when he has to correct you.
For the Lord’s training of your life
is the evidence of his faithful love.
And when he draws you to himself,
it proves you are his delightful child.”
Our parents corrected us for the short time of our childhood as it seemed good to them. But God corrects us throughout our lives for our own good, giving us an invitation to share his holiness. 11 Now all discipline seems to be more pain than pleasure at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bringing a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield to it.
Understanding what it is that God wants FOR you will shape your relationship with Him like nothing else can.
It will change how you pray, how you approach Him, the way you feel about your failures. It will change your life expectation and bring incredible peace regardless of the storms that swirl around you. It will safeguard you from pride and give you the confidence to overcome sin. When you know what God wants FOR you, you’ll have the strength to face anything that comes your way, even death because you won’t be second guessing God’s intention toward you.
Here are just a few things that I’ve listed from the Bible that start to paint an amazing picture of God’s heart toward you. If you can grab a hold of just a few of these and then let them shape your expectation for the new year, then 2019 could very well be the year that changes everything for you.
These are just some off the things He wants FOR you
- He wants you to experience life in all its fullness
- He wants you to have a future and a hope
- He wants you to understand the natural rhythms of rest and work
- He wants you to live in harmony with others
- He wants you to enjoy a long and satisfying life
- He wants to save you from the devastation of your sin
- He wants you to join with Him in showing the world His heart through your lives and your actions that mirror His, by doing good to others regardless of how they treat you.
- He wants you to be full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control
- He wants you to have all of your needs met, including food, clothing and housing
- He wants you to be filled with His Spirit
- He wants you to know the truth
- He wants you to walk in freedom
- He wants you to be wise
- He wants you to persevere and last the distance
- He wants you to finish your race well
- He wants you to enjoy eternal life with Him
Are you starting to see a pattern here?
Everything that God wants for us is for our good, our benefit, our flourishing, our ultimate happiness.
John said that God is love and if that’s the case then it means His intentions toward you are only good. Love’s desire is to see the greatest benefit for the object of its’ affection. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son. Who does God love? Every human alive in the world today. If you fall into that category then you are loved by God and His heart for you is for your greatest good possible.
Knowing this now, how does this change what you might consider asking God for in 2019?
As Paul says so powerfully in Romans 8,
“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?
I want to challenge you to do something this New Year.
Write a list of the things you want to see change in your life this year that you can point to in the Bible as being a part of what God wants FOR you. And then start to ask God for them. And keep on asking Him for them all the way through 2019.
Two things will happen – you’ll either receive what it is that you’re asking for because you’ll have finally given God something to work with. That something being your faith, which you’ll activate when you ask.
And remember the Bible says that when we ask for anything according to His will then we’ll have what we asked for.
Or you’ll hear God speak to you about why you can’t have what you’re asking for now.
Either way you’ll experience God in a whole new way this year and your life will never be the same again. You can’t lose!