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WHAT DOES GOD WANT?

A.     Introduction:  We are studying the character of God -- what God is like.
     1.     It is so important that you understand your troubles, tests, trials, do not come from God, are not                     “permitted by God” for some sovereign purpose.  God is not behind your troubles in any way.
          a.     God is a good God and good means good.
          b.     Tests, trials, hardships are just here.  They are part of life in a sin cursed earth.
     2.     Many Christians struggle in their relationship with God because they mistakenly think He is somehow                behind the troubles they face.
          a.     You cannot fully trust someone you think has or will do you harm. Ps 9:10
          b.     Accurate knowledge of God's character is vital for strong faith. Heb 11:11
     3.     We have been dealing with three related aspects of God's character:  God is good and good means                     good.  God is a Father who is better than the best earthly father.  God is faithful -- He always brings His           word to pass.
          a.     In the previous lessons we have emphasized the fact that God is good and good means good.  And,                in doing so, we have answered many of the “Yes, but what about...” questions which come up.
          b.     In this lesson we want to begin to focus more specifically on the fact that God is a Father.  
B.     Many of the inaccurate ideas we have about God -- what He is like, how He treats His people, what He does      to people -- come out of a basic misunderstanding of God's sovereignty.
     1.     We make statements such as these:  Because God is sovereign, He can do whatever He wants to do.
          Because He is sovereign, He can give you cancer or refuse to heal you or take your loved one or burn                your house down.
     2.     We mistakenly think the fact that God is sovereign means He can do bad to people if He wants to                     because He is God and He knows best.
          a.     The fact that God is sovereign means He is all powerful and in complete control.
          b.     It does not mean He can do whatever He wants to do even if it's bad because He's sovereign God.
               1.     God cannot contradict His word.  He cannot lie and He cannot act in a way which is contrary                          to His nature. Heb 6:18; Titus 1:2; II Tim 2:13
               2.     God does not want to do bad to people.  He wants to do good. Isa 64:4; Jer 29:11; Ps 31:19
               3.     Ps 35:27--God takes pleasure in the prosperity of His people.  Prosperity is SHALOM in the                          Hebrew which means safe, well, happy.  It can be translated health, welfare, prosperity, peace.
          c.     As we study the Bible we see that God uses His sovereignty, not to harm people, but to bless                          people and be kind to people who don't deserve it. Rom 9:15
     3.     We can clear up many of these misunderstandings by simply answering the question:  What does God                want?  If God is sovereign and can do whatever He wants, what does He want to do?
          a.     God wants a family.  God's plan, God's desire, God's purpose since before He formed the earth                     has been to have a family of sons and daughters conformed to the image of Jesus.
          b.     Isa 45:18; Eph 1:4,5; Rom 8:29--God created man for relationship, for fellowship, for sonship.                      We see in these verses a desire for relationship with man.
          c.     God is a Father who is making a family for Himself, and because He is sovereign (all powerful and                in complete control), He can cause everything to serve that plan, that purpose. Eph 1:11

C.     What does God want?  God wants relationship with man.  We can see that from Genesis to Revelation.
     1.     Gen 1:26,27; Gen 2:7--When we look at the creation of man, we see that God personally formed Adam           in His image so that relationship was possible.  Luke 3:38 calls Adam the Son of God.
          a.     God placed Adam in the garden with beautiful trees and good fruit to eat. Gen 2:9
          b.     The first place the word good appears in the Bible is in relation to God's creation (Gen 1:4).  The                     word good is used seven times in Gen 1.
          c.     God gave Adam work to do, animals to enjoy, and a helpmeet, Eve, for companionship.  They did                     not know fear, want, inferiority, or death. Gen 2:15; 18-22
     2.     Gen 3:6-8--But, Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God, and their sin separate them from God.                      Notice what God did.  He came looking for them.  He did not approach them in wrath or anger.
          a.     Gen 3:9-11--He questioned them (Where are you?  Who told you?  Have you eaten?).  God already                knew all the answers those questions.  The questions were opportunities for them to come to Him                     for forgiveness.
          b.     Gen 3:14-19--God stated the consequences of what they had done.  Curse is a consequence of sin.
               God did not curse them.
          c.     Gen 3:21--God made coats of skin, a blood covering, for their sin.  This is God's sovereign mercy.                1.     This covering with innocent blood gave them continued access to God.
               2.     Even after they left the garden, blood sacrifices of animals continued to give them and their                          children access to God. Gen 4:4
          d.     Lastly, Adam and Eve were put out of the garden, not as a result of God's anger, but for their own                     good. Gen 3:22
               1.     The phrase “man is become” in the Hebrew is literally “has” and it signifies was, not is.  That                          changes the whole meaning.
               2.     Adam Clarke's commentary gives this paraphrase:  “And the Lord God said, the man who was                     like one of us in purity and wisdom, is now fallen and robbed of his excellence; he has added                          to the knowledge of the good, by his transgression, the knowledge of evil; and now, lest he put                     forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever in this miserable                               state...”
     3.     That is how God began His relationship with man.  Now, let's look at God's plan for us after all the                effects of sin have been removed from the earth.
          a.     Rev 21:1-7--We see relationship, sonship, fellowship, blessing.
          b.     Isa 25:6-8--Isaiah describes this time, and we see that God is working toward a picnic with His                     kids.  We can see in all of this God's desire for a family.
     4.     As we read through the OT, we see tantalizing hints of God's desire for a relationship with man.
          a.     Gen 5:21-24; Heb 11:5--Enoch walked with God in a way that was so pleasing, God took him to                     heaven without him seeing physical death.          
          b.     Gen 18:17--God came down to Abraham to walk and talk with him about Sodom and Gomorrah.                      Abraham is called the friend of God in James 2:23, II Chron 20:7, and Isa 41:8
          c.     Ex 33:11--God spoke to Moses as a man speaks to his friend.
          d.     II Sam 12:24,25--Then David comforted Bathsheba; and when he slept with her, she conceived                     and gave birth to a son and named him Solomon.  And the Lord loved the baby, and sent                               congratulations and blessings through Nathan the prophet.  David nicknamed the baby Jedidiah                     (meaning beloved of Jehovah) because of the Lord's interest. (Living)

D.     One of the primary things Jesus did in His earth ministry was show God to Israel as a Father.  That was a      revolutionary idea to them.  To the OT saints, God as Father was a general and impersonal concept.
     1.     He was the Father of Israel as a whole as their Creator, Deliverer, and Covenant Maker. I Chron 29:10;                Mal 2:10
          a.     But, there was no concept of an individual father, son or daughter, relationship.  They did not refer                to God as their father.  They called Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob father.
          b.     And, they were not sons of God in the sense that we are.  We are born of God.  We have His life,                     His Spirit, His nature in us. John 1:12; I John 5:1,11,12; II Pet 1:4
     2.     Jesus came to earth, in part, to show us God, to show us God the Father.
          a.     At the end of His earth ministry, the night before He was crucified, Jesus prayed a prayer to the                     Father in John 17 and we see clearly Jesus' intention in His earth ministry.
               1.     John 17:6--I have manifested Your name -- I have revealed Your very Self, Your real Self --                           to the people whom You have given Me out of the world.  They were Yours, and You gave                          them to Me, and they have obeyed and kept Your Word. (Amp)
               2.     John 17:26--I made Your name known to them and revealed Your character and Your very                          Self, and I will continue to make [You] known, that the love which you have bestowed upon                          Me may be in them -- felt in their hearts -- and that I [Myself] may be in them. (Amp)
          b.     The Bible makes it very clear that Jesus is the visible manifestation of God. John 1:18; 12:45;                          14:9; II Cor 4:4; Col 1:15; Heb 1:1-3
               1.     Jesus repeatedly said He spoke the words of His Father by the power of the Father in Him.                          John 4:34; 5:19,20,36; 7:16; 8:28,29; 9:4; 10:32; 14:10; 17:4; II Cor 5:19
               2.     If you've seen Jesus, you've seen God because Jesus is God.
          c.     The Father wants to do for us the kinds of things Jesus did for people on earth.  Jesus shows us the                Father.  The Father is God.  Jesus is God.
               1.     Notice what Jesus did.  Jesus healed people.  He taught people the word of God.  He cast out                          devils.  He raised people from the dead.  He fed people.  He met the needs of people.  He                               encouraged and comforted people.  He had compassion on people.  He stopped raging storms.
               2.     Notice what Jesus did not do.  He made no one sick, nor did He refuse to heal anyone who                          came  to Him.  He did not set up circumstances to see what people would do or to discipline                          them.  He taught people with His word, not by sending bad circumstances.  He disciplined                          people with His word not with bad circumstances.  He sent no storms to teach people a lesson.                      He caused no donkey cart crashes.
          d.     These are the works of Jesus, but they are also the works of the Father because Jesus shows us the                     Father.  Jesus shows us how God treats people because Jesus is God.
               1.     If you want to know what God is like, you must look at Jesus.  Jesus is the complete                                    revelation of God.
               2.     Matt 11:27--You cannot fully know the Father without Jesus.  And, because you know Jesus,                          you can know the Father -- that He is good and good means good.
     3.     Isa 9:6--Jesus shows us an Everlasting Father.  God has a Father's heart.  He always has and He always           will.
          a.     Jesus tells us our Father is better than the best earthly father.  Jesus shows us how the Father acts,                     how the Father treats His people. Matt 7:7-11
          b.     Remember, when we look at God before time began and after time ends, we see a Father, an                          Everlasting Father.
     4.     Yes, but what about all the supposed contradictions in my life?  in other people's lives?  in the OT?
          a.     We don't get our information about God from people's experience -- ours or anyone else's.  We                     get it from the Bible.
          b.     Jesus shows us the Father and He is the place to start when getting to know your Heavenly Father.
          c.     If you see a seeming contradiction in your life or in the Bible, it means you do no yet have full                     understanding of the contradiction.
          d.     Your experience is subject to change.  God, on the other hand, cannot change.
     5.     If we look carefully at the OT, we can see God the Father at work caring for His people, just as Jesus                shows us in the NT.
          a.     Most of the OT (from Gen 12 to Malachi 4) records God's dealings with Israel.
               1.     Gen 12-50--God entered into a covenant with Abraham, the father of Israel, and promised to                          make a great nation of him and his descendents.  He promised him and his descendents the                          land of Canaan, and said that through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed.
               2.     Through a long series of events, Abraham's descendents ended up in bondage in Egypt.  But,                          God raised up Moses to lead Israel out of bondage in Egypt and to the promised land.
          b.     As we study, we find out that God's motive behind all of this -- His choice of them, His                               deliverance of them -- was love. Deut 4:37; 7:6-8
          l     1.     God referred to Israel as His first born son. Ex 4:22
               2.     In the wilderness, on the way to the promised land, God cared for them as a father cares for a                          son -- even after they refused to enter the promised land. Deut 1:31; 2:7; 32:10,11; Ex 19:4;                          Acts 13:18
               3.     After God brought them into the promised land, His heart was still toward them even after                          they abandoned Him to worship false gods. Isa 46:3,4; Isa 63:7-9; Hosea 11:1-4
          c.     Much of what we see in the OT which disturbs us was judgment against rebellion -- specifically                     worshipping false gods.
               1.     When God brought Israel into the land He warned them that if they worshipped false gods He                          would allow their enemies to overrun them. Deut 4:25-31
               2.     Idol worship was a rejection of God.  Israel actually called stones their father. Jer 2:26,27
E.     Conclusion:  We have not said all there is to say about God the Father, but as we close, consider these      points.
     1.     Adam and Eve plunged the whole human race into sin and death. Gen 2:17; 3:8; Rom 5:12
          a.     Sin separated the human race from God, but God had a plan in mind to bring us back to Himself                     through Jesus. Rev 13:8
               1.     Just as with Adam and Eve, God instituted blood sacrifices for Israel to cover their sins so that                     relationship was possible until Jesus could come and pay the price for sin. Rom 3:25
               2.     Jesus paid for our sins and removed them so that once they were gone, God could legally                               remove our sins and then put His life in us making us literal sons and daughters of God by                          birth.
          c.     Through Jesus God obtained His family. Gal 4:4-6
     2.     When we make Jesus Lord and Savior of our lives, we are raised back up to the starting point.
          a.     We are restored to sonship, to relationship with God and we go from there. Eph 2:4-7
          b.     God, as a Father, desires, longs for relationship with us, longs to demonstrate His love to us and                     for us as His children.  That is what God who is sovereign, who is a Father wants. I Cor 2:9