Following the Will of God - Bible Study Lesson Outline
II Corinthians 11:27
I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
II Timothy 2:9
I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal...
II Timothy 2:3
Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Yahshua.
II Timothy 4:5
But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Lest some should argue that the apostle Paul was giving these instructions to a fellow minister, and they don’t apply to all Christians, I will provide a couple examples of similar instructions to the churches.
For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
WHY am I reading all these verses about suffering hardships?
- These aren't the verses that best-sellers (in the Christian book section) are based on
- These aren't the verses that churches typically put on their billboards or signs
- You will not often hear these verses preached on or talked about in Christian TV shows1
In order to enter into the glory of a resurrected son of God one must be conformed first to the image and likeness of God. This image and likeness is one of character. Christ must be fully formed in us before we can reign as members of Christ over the kingdoms of the earth.
This conforming process is difficult. Jehovah described it in the following way:
“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is afflicted that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”
The most common rendering of this Greek word is “afflicted,” and it is fitting to translate it this way in the verse quoted above. The way to life is an afflicted path.
II Timothy 3:12
We can only make the transformation from fleshly beings to spiritual as we are placed in situations where our character is tried. We must be brought into a variety of circumstances where the natural man will always respond with lust, fear, anger, and a host of other unrighteous thoughts and actions. But to pass the test, we must respond with patience, meekness, mercy, and love.
Yahshua was faced with two choices when He saw the cross before Him. He could say, “Father, save me from this hour,” or He could say, “Father, glorify Thy name.” Yahshua chose to glorify His Father’s name by going through the trial and manifesting the meek, humble and loving character of God as He was being subjected to terrible abuse and scorn. The Father was glorified beyond measure as His Son was being crucified and He declared, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” This single act was a triumph over the rebellious and self-centered attitude of Satan. By the righteousness, humility, and love of the Son of God all sin was shown to be exceedingly sinful. The nature and character of God was revealed to be infinitely higher and worthy of praise than the fallen nature of man.
we must first become mature sons in the image and likeness of our Father. This conformity is proven through many trials that seem grievous at the moment, but they yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
WHY must we suffer? Isn't it mean of God to make us go through hard times, suffering, unfair treatment, and other trials?
He rarely chooses to subject His sons in training to ease and comfort, riches or worldly acclaim. When life is comfortable, the sons of God tend to be at ease. When men and women have plenty, their tendency is toward pride and careless living. Yahweh knows our frame, and the waywardness of the flesh. He therefore chooses circumstances that are humble and which keep us focused on Him.
Why is it important to place yourself at the service of God? Why is it important to rely on Him? Why is it important to obey His will and look for His direction in your life?
Because when someone lives for themselves, directs their own path, and obeys their own will they will take the easiest path, the most prosperous path, and the way that will give them the most gain in this world. The Father's path isn't always easy and isn't always full of pleasure - but it improves us, has a purpose, and will bring eternal rewards. We only ever want comfort - now.
What path does the natural man choose for himself? With little exception man chooses the easiest way. Few would choose to walk through a thorny hedge if there was a clear way around it. Yet God will lead His sons and daughters through the thorny hedge that rips and tears at their flesh.
In scriptures, there are some examples of what happens when we take the wide, easy path. Ezekiel 16:49-50. Laodicea.
Don't believe it's important to give some things up? Then listen to what the Lord Jesus said.
Most Christians think that the Lord’s words to this young ruler were exceptional. They have been convinced by preachers of prosperity that this young man had an inordinate affection for the world’s goods and therefore he was required to give them up, but not all Christians need do so. What the saints have not understood is that the Lord is revealing a very general principle through these words, a principle with application to all of the lives of Yahweh’s sons and daughters. A life of material ease and comfort will hinder all men from coming to maturity in Christ. “The way is afflicted” which leads to life. Comfort and affliction are opposites. We cannot choose to live comfortable lives and expect to find the life of Christ revealed in us at the end of our journey. It will not happen.
I am convinced that a life of very humble circumstances provides the optimal environment for the maturing of almost all of the children of God. God wants us to be dependent upon Him.
"The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."
Yahshua, although being the Son of God, was content to live far below the standard of living of the people He dwelt among. Most Jews had a home of some kind, but Yahshua lived as a homeless man. God could have provided a house and a nice ministry center for His Son. Yet He chose that which was optimal to teach Him obedience, and to perfect Him.
Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation...
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
I have found that the Lord will lead us to experience seasons of material blessing and comfort. These often serve as intermissions in much longer seasons of leanness and difficulty. There are seasons where He places us in the fire of refining, and times when He takes us out of the fire for a season of refreshing. What is certain is that He will not choose for us the uninterrupted comfort and ease that the majority of Christians have chosen for themselves.
A day is close at hand when judgment is coming to the church. Many who have had an abundance will be reduced to great poverty. Is it not much better to freely surrender to the Lord’s direction in your life, than to have Him take what you have by force? There is great reward for those who release their possessions of a free will, for as the Lord told the rich young ruler, “and you will have treasure in heaven.” There is no reward if you cling to that which your flesh cries out for until it is suddenly snatched out of your hands.