16 So He (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 18 “ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”– Luke 4:16-19,21 NKJV
There are many great lessons of faith that we can glean from this passage of scripture and volumes of great teachings taken from this text. I want primarily to focus on how Jesus found himself in the Word of God. Since Jesus was our example, there are principles from His life and ministry that will help us find ourselves in the Word also.
The first key to finding ourselves in the Word is not on the surface in this passage but comes from history. Many assume since Jesus deliberately turned to what we now know as Isaiah 61, that He was acting independently. I assumed for years that Jesus turned there for no other reason than as a text for a sermon. However, the truth is the scripture reading in the synagogue in those days was very structured. There were certain scripture passages that were to be read on certain days. So the Father God worked it out by divine providence that Jesus read that particular scripture on that day! You may be thinking, “That is interesting, I guess. But, what does that have to do with me?” The principle I want to draw from our example, the Lord Jesus, is also our first key.
*You will never miss God by submitting to the leadership, especially the Pastor, in the local church.*
Not submitting to leadership takes many forms. Some think it is not necessary to go through any proving period the local church requires before getting to serve. You may say, “I already know everything in that foundational class that the church requires. I need to be about preaching to the multitudes.” The point is not what you know or do not know. It is do you have the humility to submit to the protocol laid down by church leadership. It is, after all, the humble that get the grace.
6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”- James 4:6 NKJV
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. – I Corinthians 15:10 NKJV
We will never know who we are apart from God’s grace that increases through exercising humility.
2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.- Romans 5:2 NKJV
We cannot stand apart from God’s grace.
Others may say, “I can play the guitar a whole lot better than Brother Doo-didley. Why can’t I get on the platform? I’ve been here three whole weeks.” The very fact that you have that attitude proves you are not ready to serve in the local church. You are serving your own agenda not the agenda of the Kingdom of God expressed through the local church.
The truth is that God will often test your character. Don’t get me wrong, God does not send calamity, sickness and car wrecks to teach us. Nevertheless, sometimes, He will seem to promote someone you think is less qualified than yourself so you can see what is in your heart. The Holy Spirit spoke to me a while back and said, “Any chance to exercise humility is good for you” (It was not what I wanted to hear but it is true nonetheless). Proving time in the local church, be it through time or a foundational class, also gives you a chance to catch the vision of that particular local body. It is important that all the members of that local body say the same thing.
10But I urge and entreat you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in perfect harmony and full agreement in what you say, and that there be no dissensions or factions or divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your common understanding and in your opinions and judgments.- I Corinthians 1:10 Amplified.
*See yourself doing the works of Jesus.*
The second key to finding yourself in the Word of God is to look at what Jesus did. Many people who have bracelets that say W.W.J.D. (What would Jesus Do for those of you who have been vacationing on Mars the last 20 years or so) have a very limited view of that concept. They see doing what Jesus did as simply being good to your neighbor and not stealing his mule. We should be good to our neighbor and love one another. However, there is more to W.W.J.D. than just not being mean. We are to do the works Jesus did in His earthly ministry.
12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.- John14:12 NKJV
I know this is hard on religious thinking. But, as John Osteen used to say, if the Word of God rubs the cat the wrong way, let the cat turn around. This is Jesus. He will not have to give an account to himself for idle words (Matthew 12:36). When Jesus says “most assuredly”, that is big. Many Christians make the mistake of worshiping the works of Jesus. We are to worship the person of Jesus while demonstrating and duplicating the works of Jesus. Others believe that Jesus did the works He did because He was the Son of God. Yet Philippians 2:7 lets us know that Jesus emptied Himself of all His divine privileges in His earthly ministry.
7 but made Himself of no reputation (mar- emptied Himself of His privileges), taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. -Philippians 2:7 NKJV
7But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. -Philippians 2:7 Amplified Bible
7but did empty himself, the form of a servant having taken, in the likeness of men having been made,-Philippians 2:7 Young’s Literal Translation
Although Jesus never ceased being God, He willfully laid aside His divine privileges and operated as a man anointed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was totally dependant upon the Father and the Holy Spirit in His earthly ministry.
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.-Acts 10:38 NKJV
19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.- John 5:19 NKJV
Jesus demonstrated the faith life through His earthly ministry then died and rose again in redemption so that the faith life can now be duplicated in millions rather than just one man. The Book of Acts chronicles Jesus’ followers doing the works of Jesus. We are to be a continuation of the Book of Acts.
*Find yourself in the New Testament Epistles.*
Thirdly, you need to find yourselves in the New Testament epistles (letters) (Romans to Jude). You need to understand that the New Testament is written to us. It is a handbook for New Testament life.
Many times at shopping malls or amusement parks, you come across these large maps to help you get where you want to go. There is usually an arrow pointing to a certain spot on the map with a caption saying, “You are here.” I used to look around suspiciously as if to say, “How do they know where I am. They must be watching me.” (I’m being a little silly but stick with me it will turn out all right.) Then later my lightening fast reasoning figured out that if I am reading that sign, then I must be standing there. The same is true concerning the New Testament. If you are born again and you are reading the New Testament then you are in those promises. You are In Christ and therefore rightful heir to everything promised in those letters.
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.- John15:7 NKJV
18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.- II Corinthians 3:18 NKJV
18And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.- II Corinthians 3:18 Amplified
*Find yourself in the Old Testament.*
Fourthly, we need to learn to find ourselves in the Old Testament. Now, don’t let me lose you now. We’ve made it this far. Some New Testament believers think that the Old Testament has nothing to offer them. It is just good history that gets us to the important stuff. Others believe that it only applies to the Hebrew race and we Gentiles are left out.
Let us let the Bible speak for itself. First, consider the initial call of Abraham, through whom God initiated the Old Covenant.
1 Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” –Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV
See, that verse was sounding very Jewish to start with, (“I will make you a great nation”) but then he brings us in with “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”. Therefore, God’s blessing coming to all families was God’s plan from the beginning. This principle is also illustrated in how God built Abraham’s mental image.
17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. Genesis 22:17 NKJV
I always assumed that both the stars and the sand represented the same truth. According to *Kevin Connor, the sand represents Abraham’s natural, earthly seed and the stars represents his heavenly seed.
*Interpreting Types and Symbols, Kevin Connor
The heavenly seed is you and I who are born again.
3Jesus replied, “I tell you for certain that you must be born from above before you can see God’s kingdom!” John 3:3 Contemporary English Version
In Christ, we have a right to claim all the promises of the Old Testament.
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.-Galatians 3:13-14,29 NKJV
According to this passage, we have the right to claim all the blessings of the Old Testament and none of the curses!
16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law (Abraham’s natural descendants), but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”)… Romans 4:16-17 NKJV
20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.-II Corinthians 1:20 NKJV
*Finding your assignment*
Finally, I want to discuss finding yourself in the Word of God relative to God’s specific will for your life. Up to this point, we have talked about God’s general will for every believer. It is God’s will for every believer to be born-again, healed, prospered and victorious. This falls under God’s general will. How do we find what God has called us to do specifically in the Word of God? The first clue is desire.
4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.-Psalm 37:4 NKJV
When you are reading the Bible what passages strike a strong desire in you? That is a clue to what God has called you to do. I remember as a new believer listening to Bible on cassette (now I’ve dated myself). I used to get great joy listening to Jesus correcting the flakey doctrine of the Pharisees and building a scriptural defense from the Word of God. That was a signpost pointing me in the direction God was taking me in ministry. Much of the way I minister is apologetic. That is not to say I apologize for what I believe, but it is a term we get from I Peter 3:15.
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;- I Peter 3:15 NKJV
The word “defense” in this passage (translated “answer” in the original King James) is the Greek word “apologion” which simply means to offer a verbal defense for what you believe. So, the passage that brought me joy and made me say “I want to do that” was one way I found myself in the Word. What scriptures bring you joy and sparks you to action?
20 For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.-Ecclesiastes 5:20 NKJV
20For he shall not much remember [seriously] the days of his life, because God [Himself] answers and corresponds to the joy of his heart [the tranquility of God is mirrored in him].-Ecclesiastes 5:20 Amplified
True contentment comes from doing what God calls you to do. If you are discontented, seek God and make sure you did not get off course.
The Second clue is anger. According to Mike Murdock, whatever angers you is what you are assigned to correct. I get angry when I read about Korah, Dathan, and Abiram in Numbers 16. They rose up against Moses in rebellion. It angers me because I see so many people shipwreck themselves because they rebel against spiritual authority. This anger points to the fact that God has put a hunger in my heart to encourage believers to stay faithful to the local church and submit themselves to a pastor.
The third clue is the thing that grieves you. Whatever grieves you (also from Mike Murdock) is what God has assigned you to heal. I get grieved when I read Hosea 4:6 that God’s people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. So that points to my desire to teach. I also get grieved when Jesus sees the people scattered like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). This points me to the fact that I desire to see those who have not heard the faith message to hear it. What grieves you?
Review: Steps to finding yourself in the Word.
- Submit yourself to a man of God in the context of the local church.
- See yourself in Jesus’ earthly ministry.
- See yourself in the Epistles (letters) to the churches.
- See yourself in the Old Testament.
- Find your divine assignment by finding biblical accounts that bring you joy and make you say, “I want to do that”.