God sees and encourages human work and will intervene with a miracle as he considers necessary. If your motivation and methods and approach are consistent with Living in the Image of God; then focus on doing what you can humanly do, because your battle belongs to God and he will guide you to victory. We discuss these principles based on Christ interactions with the disciples in their encounter with two storms. Both ended in miracles. However, he scolded the disciples in one and encouraged them in the other. Differences between the two help us understand human relationship with God regarding faith, human work, and miracles. Also, we examine David’s motivation and faith in his victory over Goliath. He focused on doing what he humanly could and received a miracle to end the battle.
We conclude our study series on Following God’s Schedule with a discussion of human relationship with God regarding faith, human work, and miracles. We begin with a discussion of Christ interactions with the disciples in their encounter with two storms on the sea of Galilee. Both storms ended with a miracle. However, Jesus scolded the disciples regarding their behavior in the first storm but encouraged them in the second storm. We examine the different interactions in relation to the behavior of the disciples during the storms to understand that God encourages human work that is consistent with his purpose; is aware of the human effort; and will provide a miracle as needed based on his consideration.
The study leads to an understanding of the basis for faith as a driver for human effort. If the motivation for your effort is consistent with God’s purpose and you are committed to methods and approach consistent with the principles of Living in the Image of God, then the battle belongs to God (see Following God Schedule by Living in His Image). Therefore, he sees your effort and wants you to succeed. He will determine if you need a miracle and what, when, and how. Therefore, focus on doing what you can humanly do—with faith of God intervening as necessary according to his schedule.
We use this understanding of basis for faith to examine David’s famous victory over Goliath. He was motivated to fight Goliath to remove a “disgrace to Israel” due to Goliath’s defiance and confirm that Israel’s army was the “army of the living God.” He expected victory because the battle belongs to God, focused on fighting as he humanly could, and won victory by a miracle that manifested through his human effort. God sees your effort in human work, wants you to succeed, and will intervene with a miracle as he considers necessary.
God’s schedule often consists of a sequence of tasks, revealed incrementally but not in advance. Completion of a task opens opportunities and conditions for the next task, irrespective of perceived success or failure. God provides input to accomplish a task but expects human effort to combine with his input. We discuss Christ teaching in interactions with a man born blind to understand Following God’s Schedule by working with him incrementally. Also, we discuss Peter’s escape from Herod to illustrate working diligently toward receiving and utilizing God’s intervention.
In continuing with our study series on Following God’s Schedule, we note that God often will provide his schedule as a sequence of tasks, revealed in increments but not in advance. As we discuss in a previous study under Human Relationship with God Regarding Work, completion of a task opens opportunities and conditions for the next task. Irrespective of perceived success or failure, the outcome of a task always leads to opportunities for a new task. Recognize and commit to the new task to advance in following God’s schedule. We discuss Christ teaching in interactions with a man born blind to illustrate God’s schedule revealed in sequential task increments.
Furthermore, each task includes a direct contribution from God and a contribution to be accomplished by human effort. God’s contribution could be closely tied with, and at times indistinguishable from, human effort and could occur before, during, or after the human contribution. We discuss Peter’s escape from Herod to illustrate God combining divine contributions with human effort to accomplish a goal.
Also, the end of a task at times indicates several options for a new task. Some of the options represent an attempt by the enemy to divert a person from following God’s schedule, whereas the other options provide opportunities to continue on God’s path. David faced a similar situation following his departure from Saul. He needed to protect himself from Saul but at the same time continue to build his reputation as a potential future leader of Israel. He identified his immediate and long-term needs and made choices based on satisfying the needs. We discuss events following David’s departure from Saul to understand his choices and staying on God’s schedule toward becoming king of Israel.
David’s choices during the period illustrate Searching for Next Step in Following God’s Schedule. The current study focuses on Christ teaching through interactions with a man born blind and the example based on Peter’s escape from Herod, to understand God’s schedule as a sequence of tasks to be accomplished incrementally through combined divine intervention and human effort. The next study will focus on understanding David’s choices following his departure from Saul, which illustrate Searching for Next Step to remain on the sequence of tasks representing God’s path or schedule to fulfillment of his promise.
Interactions with human realities are important in working with God while waiting for his intervention. He often prepares a person for divine breakthrough as the person responds to real-life needs. We discuss an example from the life of David as king in waiting. Following termination of his army career under Saul, David sought to re-position himself on a path to kingship. He identified his immediate and long-term needs of protection from Saul, restoring economic viability, and continuing to build leadership reputation among the people. He cobbled together a force of four hundred to protect and provide for himself and followers and defend Israeli territories against foreign attack. He demonstrated leadership by molding the team into a formidable private army that produced the famous “mighty men” and eventually will propel him to kingship.
David sought to re-position himself on a path to kingship after he departed unexpectedly from his service in the Israeli army under Saul. He identified his immediate and long-term needs as protection from Saul, restoring his economic viability, and continuing to build his leadership reputation among the people of Israel. He relocated frequently to elude Saul while working to attend to the needs he identified.
First, he picked up short-term food supply and weapon from Priest of Nob Ahimelek. Second, he tried to escape into Philistine territory but realized on arrival that the Philistines could consider him a price catch instead of refugee. Therefore, he feigned insanity to win expulsion from the city. Third, he escaped to the cave of Adullam in Judah within close proximity of the Valley of Elah, site of his famous confrontation with Goliath. There he felt safe long enough to receive members of his family and gather a force of four hundred followers. Fourth, he moved to Moab, where he negotiated refuge for his parents with the king of Moab. He intended to take refuge in a stronghold in Moab, but Prophet Gad advised him to return to Judah. Therefore, he moved to his fifth stop in the forest of Hereth in Judah.
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.
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.
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.