Preacher on the Run…

Faith, Family, Ministry, and Everything in between



God’s Will: Three Wills of God

the will of godWhat has been considered the best selling toy of all time? It has sold more than 350 million worldwide. It has won the German Game of the Year for Best Puzzle. It was invented in 1974 and was originally called “The Magic Cube”. Still not sure? This puzzle toy was invented by Erno Rubik. It’s the Classic Rubik’s Cube. The six-sided, nine-colored, puzzle game reached the height of popularity in the 80’s but is now used mostly for speed competitions.[1] But imagine “the Cube” sitting on a table with you and three friends around that table viewing the game. You may view all blue squares, while one friend sees all white squares, while yet another perceives all red squares.  Why the different sights? Shouldn’t you all be seeing the same thing? Not exactly, because you each have a different perspective on “the Cube”. A similar thing is true when we discuss the will of God. While God has one will, it does have three differing aspects: God’s will of Decree, God’s will of Desire, and God’s will of Design.

First, God’s will of Decree is just that, God’s will that He has declared from eternity past (Isaiah 46:9-10). It encompasses all the decrees of God that He has proclaimed from the beginning. This will of God is that which is going to happen and cannot be stopped. It is also known as His secret will (Deuteronomy 29:29). While the entirety of God’s secret will is not revealed, man is still responsible to plan according to what is revealed and to allow God to ultimately work His will (Prov. 16:9). So God’s will of Decree covers all that He has declared to take place from eternity past. last-will

Second, God’s will of Desire includes all that God desires, but that He does not necessarily cause to happen. This includes items such as the salvation of all people (1 Timothy 2:3-4) and all children not perishing (Matthew 18:14). It is this will of God that allows some things to take place, even though sinful and wrong, for His glory. Take for example the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17). In this recording of Jesus’ line, we see names (and more importantly the stories behind those names) that reveal sin and actions that God is not pleased with and do not align with His “will”, yet somehow uses to bring about His glory through the birth of His Messiah, Savior, and Son. He does allow somethings that he does not desire, giving man freedom of choice (Mark 3:35, 2 Peter 3:9).

Finally, God’s will of Design is that will original to God’s design in creation (Ephesians 5:17, 1 Thessalonians 4:3). This will of God is that which He wrote and willed into the very design of everything He created. His will of Design can be obeyed or disobeyed. This will of God is revealed to us specifically in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and includes things such as sexuality, authority, etc. The Bible tells us that this will of God was not produced by man, but by God’s Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). This will gives us guidance to follow in our lives (Psalm 119:105). It is God’s will of Design that is written in the very nature of creation as revealed through His Word.


While seeing one side of a Rubik’s Cube may give you the idea that it is all one color, there are always five other sides to “the Cube”. The truth is that God’s will is similar to “the Cube”, not in the sense that God changes His will depending on how we see it, but because we do not have as full a perspective on things as the Creator. He is the one who has a perfect will for His glory. But there are three different perspectives or aspects of that will: Decree, Desire, and Design.

This was the second lesson in the “God’s Will” series. If you missed the first post “God’s Will: First Things First“, you can check it out here. Stay tuned for the continuation of “God’s Will” next week with “God’s Will: What is it?”.

[1] – Information taken from Wikipedia ( accessed October 27th, 2013.

God’s Will: First things First

the will of godWhat will I be when I grow up? Where will I go to college? What type of job will I have? Where will I live? Who will I marry? All of these questions and more were ones I remember asking myself all throughout my teenage years. But amongst all of the questions that I pondered during those years, there was one that I just could not shake…”What is God’s will for my life?”. That question was one that I dwelt on an awful lot. And to be truthful, from time to time I still think about it. However, I have recently once again realized I am not the only one who has asked or is asking this question. So what is the answer? Well, stick around the next few weeks as we work through this question and flesh out an answer that is both biblical and practical.

Before diving headlong into this series, we must first understand three truths: God’s Dominion, Man’s Dependence, and Our Desire.

When truly asking God about His will for our lives, it is important to stop and remember whose will it is…God’s. And by definition God is the ultimate authority and ruler of the world (Job 38:4-7); He is the One who has Dominion. God possesses dominion first and foremost because He is the Creator. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). As Creator He made everything good (Genesis 1:31). Being the good Creator means that God is also the Sovereign over all of His creation. In other words, God owns everything and needs nothing (Psalm 50:10-12). God is the only eternal, everlasting, and independent being of the universe. More

If God is the independent Creator, that means man lives in constant dependence. We live in dependence upon God for our existence. God is the one who made and gave authority to man (Genesis 1:26-27). In other words, the life we have and the authority we have is from God. However, we are not perfect supervisors. We only get to chapter 3 in Genesis before man messes up the responsibility he has been given. And as a result of that sin, sin and death spread to all mankind (Romans 3:10-18, 23). That is right–every homo sapien that has, is, or ever will walk the face of the planet is a sinner deserving death (Romans 6:23). Therefore, the fact that we live and have being simply shows the dependence we have on God each and every day (Acts 17:25, 28). In light of this, there is a great chasm to be spanned between our desires and God’s.

God’s desire is for good in all of His creation, but our desire is always for something other than God’s goodness. This creates the first problem when pursuing and wishing to know God’s will for our lives. Truth be told, our desires do not match the desires of God. Therefore, we must cultivate in our hearts the desire to be cooperative and to be submissive in order to know God’s will. Because we are sinful at our core, our desire is to do things our own way; however, Jesus teaches us that our will and desire must be for God’s will to be done (Matthew 6:8-10). In order for us to desire to be cooperative with God and His will, we must be submissive. The only way we can truly pursue submission is to recognize that it is God who made us and teaches us, not the other way around (Isaiah 40:13-14).


So before seeing God’s will for our lives, we must recognize God’s Dominion, Our Dependence, and where Our Desire must be. But the problem is we cannot desire cooperation and submission to God on our own. That is why God had to create a way to transform our hearts and desires. The only way He could do that was to eradicate the sinful way we relate to Him. In other words, a payment had to be made for our sin. But the only acceptable sacrifice was perfection. (Insert, climactic music here) Bad news: no human being could be a perfect sacrifice, we all have sinned. So what did God do? He paid the penalty Himself, by sending His Son Jesus Christ in our place (2 Corinthians 5:21; John 3:16-18; Philippians 2:6-8).

It is only when we see that God has Dominion, we are utterly Dependent, and that our Desire must match His that we can begin to know and pursue His will for our lives. Stay tuned for the continuation of this series next week!

Observation is hard work…Is it worth it?


Observe the two cards to the left. List all the observations you can think of in 1 minute. What do they have in common? What differences do they have?…Did you do it? Or did you just keep reading this post? If you are like most, you quickly glanced at the cards, but then moved on to continue reading. But go back and observe again, what differences and commonalities do you find in the cards? Do you see the difference in color? How about the different numbers in the top corners? You probably noticed the similar writing at the bottom of the card, and you may have even noticed the background picture was different. But did you observe long enough to see the difference in arch design in the cards? Or did you notice the way the 25s are circled, but the 40s have triangular shapes around them? If you did not observe all of these similarities or differences, why not? Is it because of time, energy, or effort? Let me ask the question this way…Why is observation so hard?

I have been mulling over that question recently, mostly because of a class I am currently taking on hermeneutics. Why does observation seem so difficult? And why does it seem so fruitless at times? But even more than that,  I am curious as to the contributing factors of poor observation in our culture, and specifically in the Bible study culture of the church. Why are people not observing the text of their Bibles very well? Here are a few reasons why observation is hard, why it is neglected in our culture, and some results of the lack of observation in Bible study.


Observation is hard for numerous reasons. The primary reason observation is hard is that it takes time and effort (two things our culture devalues, but more on that later). Much time is required to sit down quietly with God’s Word before you and just soak in the text in order to observe well. The effort it requires does not come naturally for most. Secondly, observation is difficult because there are many aspects to it that require deeper thought and reflection. It is rare to really think through what parts of speech are being used and how they are being used when you just read a book. But when you sit down to observe God’s Word you must make more observations than merely what big point is. Observations come not in just looking at the forest, but by examining each tree. So observation is difficult because of the time and effort it requires along with the deeper analysis than we routinely make in our lives.

images (1)All of the aforementioned points really are also part of the reason it is neglected in our culture. However, I think the two largest contributing factors of poor observation in Bible study is the “me-centeredness” and instant gratification of our culture. Everything in today’s world is about “me”. If you look at all the marketing strategies for large companies and food chains you hear things like this: “Have it your way”, “I’m loving it”, “the customer is always right”, and the list goes on. But possibly more detrimental to good observation is our culture’s infatuation with having things and having them now. While observation takes time, people want results and answers now. If we can get something one of two ways, we will choose the fast way every time. These two issues are why Bible observation is so neglected in our culture.

The worse part is this attitude of “me” and “now” creeps into Bible study. If we can just go to a text and ask , “What does it mean to me?”, then why do we need to observe what is actually there? If we can just go to any text and jump right into application for living, why take all that time on observation? The “me-centeredness” of our culture causes us to miss observing what God is doing in the text and see only ourselves there. And in so doing we often rush through what God has actually said, to what we think God has said to me!

Feature Friday (10/4/13)

JonahCan you trust your Bible? – Absolutely! “‘Christianity is based upon an account of something that happened, and the Christian worker is primarily a witness.’ Scripture tell us this account, revealing Christianity’s climax—its central, historical, and verifiable event: God’s gracious act of bringing salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ.” Encouraging and reaffirming article on the trustworthiness of Scripture and the God who authored it.

As always, be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

Jonah: Reaction is Flawed

ALEXANDER_TERRIBLE_HORRIBLEHave you ever read “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”? It is quite an interesting child’s story. Little Alexander just cannot seem to cut a break. Everything he hates seems to happen in one day. Everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. No matter what the circumstances, Alexander seems to have all the bad luck in the world in just one day. Ever feel like Alexander? It seems like if something could go wrong, it will and does. But how often do we get into a funk thinking everyday is like that, no matter what the circumstances? Often times we fail to see the blessings simply because of a few unexpected changes. This is the truth Jonah reveals to us in the final chapter of the story.

A man whose job (being the prophet that he was) depended on his obedience to God’s call and message, Jonah seemed to respond in all the wrong ways. God gives him a message to preach to Nineveh and what does he do? He runs the other way. He is given an opportunity to tell about the God of the universe and what does He do? He sleeps on the bottom of the boat. Over and over again, Jonah shows that Resistance is Futile. Two weeks ago we saw Jonah exemplify that God is still in the business of rescuing, even if the Rescue is Fishy! Last week we saw that with God Repentance is Favored! Today we will see that despite the positive results Jonah experiences (over 1/2 million people repent and believe in God), Jonah’s Reaction is Flawed! We will see this through Jonah’s Attitude and Jehovah’s Actions.

God’s plan for Jonah caused him to be quite possibly the greatest evangelist of all time (Jonah 3:10). Jonah spoke a mere five words and an estimated half million people repented of their sin and came to believe in God. So we would expect Jonah to have a joyful, worshipful attitude, but that is not the case. Instead of being full of joy and worship, Jonah’s attitude is full of bitterness and anger. He is displeased. Jonah sees what God has done, in relenting of disaster, as a great evil (4:1). Jonah thinks what God has done is wrong. He is showing the anger of a mortal man (James 1:19-20). It is here that Jonah reveals his heart attitude and why he is so angry. In a prayer to God, Jonah tells the reason why he originally ran from God…because he knew God’s character (4:2). Jonah knew God would be gracious, merciful, patient, loving, and forgiving to the Ninevehites, people who are Jonah’s sworn enemies. And the prophet does not like it. download

Jonah’s attitude is like mine was when I was a child at Christmas. I was so excited to get to Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Christmas day. I knew there would be great gifts for me. When I got there I could not wait to open my gift. With all the family around, I sought mine out, began to tear it open and was thrilled to begin to play with it. However, my attitude quickly change a few minutes later, when I realized my cousin, who was only two months older than I, received a gift from Grandma and Grandpa as well. “What gives?” I thought. I believed that Christmas, and specifically Grandma and Grandpa giving gifts, was exclusive to me. I did not like it that my grandparents generosity and grace extended to anyone but myself.

That is the attitude of Jonah here. He cannot believe that God would be gracious, merciful, and forgiving to his enemy. Jonah wants God to be gracious, merciful, loving, and forgiving, but he does not want God to be that all the time to all people. Jonah throws a pity party similar to Elijah after he killed the prophets of Baal. Elijah questioned if God had done all He had through Elijah just to see him on his own, secluded, and lonely as a righteous prophet (1 Kings 19). But God reminds Elijah, as he will Jonah shortly, that His grace falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).


While Jonah’s attitude was misguided, it is through Jehovah’s actions that we will see Jonah’s Reaction is Flawed. Jonah because of his anger, self-pity, and selfishness, he goes out from the city (and away from God) to continue pouting (4:5). But even when the prophet “runs” from God a second time here, what does God do? He appoints a plant to relieve Jonah’s discomfort due to the heat (4:6). Jehovah is showing Jonah grace and mercy despite his sinful attitude (Psalm 103:10). But God does not stop there. Next He appoints a worm to eat the plant and an east wind to teach Jonah a lesson (4:8). God is showing Jonah that the prophet is more content with creature comforts than with the Creator’s control. And even at this point we see the prophet’s Reaction is still Flawed.

Jonah responds to God’s blessing in the plant and discipline in the worm and wind by requesting to die one more time (4:8). However, Jehovah reveals His character once again by patiently dealing with Jonah. He simply asks Jonah a rhetorical question to get the prophet thinking (4:9). Then God drives home the lesson. He shows Jonah patience, love, forgiveness and grace, not by wiping the complaining prophet out, but by drawing the real life application from the real life illustration (4:10-11). God points out Jonah’s pity for the plant that he did nothing to create or sustain. Then God compares that to His own pity for Nineveh which He did everything to create and sustain. Jehovah’s point is this: Jonah cared more about a plant, than he did for people! Jehovah’s actions show mercy, grace, patience, love, and forgiveness unconditionally to all, both a disobedient prophet and a disobedient people.


While Jonah’s Reaction is Flawed demonstrated by his attitude, Jehovah’s actions are perfect. His grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness are all exhibited in His dealing with Jonah and Nineveh. And these attributes of God are exhibited perfectly years later on a hill called Calvary. It is at this hill and on a cross that God mostly clearly reveals His mercy, grace, love, patience, and forgiveness. And He does so not just for prophets and priests, but for the enemies of God (Romans 5:8). Have you recognized this love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness? More importantly, have you recognized yourself as the enemy of God in need of a great Savior who loves and forgives you? Or are you like Jonah, whose Reaction is Flawed? Are you grateful when God is gracious, merciful, and loving with you, but upset when He is with others? Do you realize the mercy God has shown for you a great sinner and desire for others to see that as well?

Thanks for joining us for this series on Jonah. In case you missed any part of this series you can find part 1: Resistance is Futile and part 2: Rescue is Fishy and part 3: Repentance is Favored by following the links. Thanks for reading! As always I love to read from my readers!

Feature Friday (9/20/13)

listening-300x201Did God Tell you? – “When we know that God speaks personally and powerfully through his Word, we don’t have to feel that our relationship to Christ is sub-par, or that we are experiencing a less-than Christian life if we don’t sense God giving us extra-biblical words of instruction or promise… We can consult the Scriptures and rest in the wisdom and insight the Holy Spirit is developing in us and feel free to make a decision.”

As always, be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

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