Human Relationship with God Regarding Work

Guidance Faith Work and Miracle

Would you end 2018 understanding that God defines work for every person, divides the work into task increments, initiates each task, and provides the person guidance to proceed and complete the task on time? Christ explains and illustrates this relationship through interactions with a man born blind. Each task, if completed, leads to a miracle and ushers in the next task. To receive and complete your tasks, you need to stay connected to God: by praying continually, interacting with other believers in fellowship, and living in the image of God. You will receive his guidance, follow with faith, and complete each task on time to receive your miracle and guidance for the next task.

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Jesus teaching
Jesus teaching
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We invite you to end 2018 learning from Christ’s teaching on human relationship with God regarding work, through interactions with a man born blind. Christ uses the interactions to lead us step by step through an illustration of the relationship. Apostle John provides an account of the teaching and illustration in the first 39 verses of chapter 9 [John 9:1–39]. In the teaching, Christ explains that God defines a work mission for every person, divides the work into task increments with a performance time for each, initiates each task, and provides guidance for the person to continue and complete the task on time. Each task completed on time results in a miracle and ushers the person onto the next task.

The mission for the man born blind appears to be to start proclaiming the gospel message to all, using his life experience as physical evidence that Jesus is the Messiah and to illustrate the work aspects of human relationship with God. He performed the mission in task increments as God guided him. The biblical account describes the first three tasks and the beginning of the fourth. We describe the three tasks using a sketch format to emphasize the relationship they illustrate.

Each task description identifies an objective, initiation, instruction, outcome, and miracle.

Task Objective represents the purpose to be accomplished through the task. The objective of a task could be identified at the end of the task but is usually not obvious at the beginning. For example, when Christ told the blind man to “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” [John 9:7], he did not tell the man the objective was to gain sight.

Go to pool of Siloam and wash
Go to pool of Siloam and wash
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Task Initiation represents something that God does to get the task started. For example, Christ anointed the man’s eyes with moist clay before giving him the instruction to go and wash in the pool: “He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay” [John 9:6]. We encountered an example in a previous bible study under Peter Escapes from Herod’s Prison, when an angel released Peter from prison and left him outside the prison gates to complete his escape from King Herod. God’s initiation of a task is at times contained in the miracle of a previous task. Anointing the man’s eyes with moist clay appears symbolic to illustrate task initiation by God. If all he wanted was to heal the man, he could have accomplished that just by touching him and pronouncing the healing.

Task Instruction represents a specific command to do something. God gives the recipient an instruction to do something: either a clear and direct instruction as in Task 1 or an instruction that becomes evident with the unfolding events as in Tasks 2 and 3.

Task Outcome describes the result of a task and includes a miracle.

Task Miracle Every task includes a miracle with the outcome. The miracle is an aspect of the task outcome that could not have happened through human effort alone.

Bold and confident before authorities
Bold and confident before authorities
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The outcome and miracle of Task 3 appear to have ushered him onto his next task of proclaiming the gospel message to all. However, the biblical account did not include information about his subsequent tasks. News of his expulsion from the synagogue and interactions with the Pharisees spread. Jesus heard the news and met with the man again. He explained himself more: “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you” [John 9:37]. Then he blessed the man for his mission: “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind” [John 9:39].

We can learn through the three tasks that the recipient (the man that was blind from birth) became aware of God’s guidance, understood the guidance, and followed the guidance faithfully to complete the task. He received the associated miracle on completing each task. Therefore, we surmise that receiving and following God’s guidance are key to completing a task and receiving the associated miracle. Hence, we focus the remainder of our discussion on understanding what a person needs to receive and follow God’s guidance in everyday life.

Receiving Guidance from God

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To start the first task, Christ spoke to the blind man physically (in vivid human communication): “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” [John 9:7]. Christ was in human form and addressed the man like any other human would. However, he has since returned to heaven but lives with us through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, subsequent communications with a person often occurs through the Holy Spirit. Generally, God chooses how to communicate effectively with any person.

Angel talks to Cornelius
God talks to Cornelius through angel
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As we discuss in a previous bible study under Peter Visits Cornelius, God can send a message through another human being, a vision, an angel in human form, the person’s thinking, the Holy Spirit with or without physical manifestation, or any other form of communication. For example, he sent an angel in human form in a vision to Cornelius and communicated with Peter through a vision and through the Holy Spirit. Whichever way the message is sent, the person is responsible for becoming aware of the message (by hearing, seeing, or perceiving in any way) and processing the message to understand God’s instructions. To do so, one has to live connected to God: by praying continually [1 Thessalonians 5:17], interacting with other believers in fellowship [Hebrews 10:24], and living in the image of God (e.g., see Keeping Watch by Living in the Image of God).

We discuss an example from Paul under “Message Processing—Receiving and Implementing Spiritual Guidance” in a previous bible study under On Mission Despite Threat of Impending Adversity.

Prophet Agabus dramatizes message
Prophet Agabus dramatizes warning to Paul
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The example illustrates personal responsibility to process Spiritual messages, make a decision based on the processing, and implement the decision. Other people can be relied upon to deliver Spiritual messages faithfully as they understand, but the recipient is responsible to process and implement the message. Paul first received direct communication through the Holy Spirit regarding his proposed return to Jerusalem. Later, he received warnings through other people (disciples in Tyre, Prophet Agabus in Caesarea, and, maybe, one or more of his companions) regarding adversity that awaited him in Jerusalem. The direct communication left him determined to return to Jerusalem to continue his ministry but also with a premonition of impending adversity. The second-hand messages appeared to emphasize only the premonition, maybe because of human concerns for Paul’s safety.

The premonition and Paul’s perception of a need to return to Jerusalem both turned out to be true. But his perception of the need to return won over his premonition as he relied on his faith of God’s purpose to suppress the premonition and focus on the objective of returning to continue his ministry. Receiving and processing God’s guidance requires spiritual connection that God grants to every person that lives according to the principles of living in the image of God. Every person is potentially able to receive and process God’s guidance. However, like a lamp that provides light while connected to the source of electricity, a person needs to remain connected to God in order to receive and process his guidance.

Following God’s Guidance

Ministering to neighbors
Ministering to neighbors
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We understand based on the discussion of the man’s first three tasks that following God’s guidance is key to completing a task and receiving the associated miracle. However, following God’s guidance may at times appear complicated. First, there may not be a guaranteed or obvious outcome. Notice that Christ’s instruction to the man did not mention an outcome. The man understood the command was important because of the reputation of the person that gave him the command: “A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash’…” [John 9:11]. He was not promised an outcome. He possibly expected that going to the pool to wash may do something for his eyes, but he didn’t know and was not promised. He followed the instruction because of his belief in the man’s reputation. He went to the pool of Siloam and washed because Jesus told him to do so. He obeyed the command because he had faith.

Ministering to authorities
Ministering to authorities
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Second, there often are one or more competing options, some of which may appear less challenging. For example, the man confronted the Jewish authorities knowing he was taking a risk of being expelled from the synagogue. His neighbors probably warned him about the risk. His parents were aware of the risk [John 9:22] and probably cautioned him. Therefore, a competing and less challenging option for him could have been to deny any understanding of the man that gave him sight. The Pharisees actually offered him such an option at a point in the confrontation [John 9:24]: “So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, ‘Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.’” Therefore, he could have just said “to God be the glory,” denied any understanding of Jesus, and gone back home. However, he knew at this time that the man that gave him sight was of God and believed other people should know the same. He understood the message of Christ and wanted to share the message irrespective of what might happen as a result of his sharing the message. He shared the message boldly because he had faith.

Let’s look again at Paul’s example. Paul relied on his faith of God’s purpose to suppress the premonition of an impending adversity and focus instead on the objective of returning to Jerusalem to continue his ministry: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me” [Acts 20:24]. His faith drove him to proceed to Jerusalem despite warnings of potential persecution. Faith drives a person to work according to God’s guidance: “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” [James 2:18]. You work diligently toward completing your task according to God’s guidance because you have faith.

Summary of What We Learned

Christ uses interactions with a man born blind to explain and illustrate human relationship with God regarding work.

He explains that God defines work for every person, divides the work into task increments, initiates each task, and provides guidance for the person to proceed and complete the task on time. Each task, if completed, leads to a miracle and ushers the person onto a subsequent task. To receive and complete the tasks, a person needs to stay connected to God: by praying continually, interacting with other believers in fellowship, and living in the image of God. The person will receive God’s guidance, follow with faith, and complete each task on time to receive the associated miracle and guidance for subsequent tasks.

More Information

Please watch this bible study on video at VIDEO_LINK 1 and VIDEO LINK 2, listen to or download the audio at AUDIO_LINK1 and AUDIO LINK 2. You can also download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation from PDF_LINK.

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