You've all read about genies ... figures that rise out of a cloud of smoke as a magic bottle is rubbed and who say to the one who holds the bottle:
"Ask for three things and they will be granted." Usually the story ends with the recipient wildly asking for foolish things and ending up with nothing at all.
Some people read their Bibles like children read Grimm's Fairy Tales. They think God is some kind of a genie who, if they stroke the prayer bottle with enough faith, will grant them anything they desire. They usually end up asking for some foolish self-serving thing that, after they have received it, becomes an empty nothing and brings no real satisfaction.
But supposing, just supposing, that the Bible is a bottle which, if rubbed by faith, will make anything you wish come true. Does it not say, "Ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you”? What wild and woolly wishing is produced by the name-it-and-claim-it crowd! Maybe the problem is that we look on the promises of God as being unlimited and that we can afford to waste our wishes on temporary and visible trinkets.
Supposing you were given only three wishes. Supposing you had to prioritize your wants. What would you ask for?
Now why am I talking this way? It is because I believe that God has three wishes ... three things that are referred to in God's Word as His will. Three times the word "predestination" is used and in each instance it refers to God's purpose and priorities. It is, and it has been, my desire that these three wishes of God be fulfilled in the continent of Africa. I want to want what God wants. I don't want to waste my wishes. And it is my prayer that every one ... if given only three wishes, would make God's priorities their priorities. What are God's priorities?
What are God's three wishes?
"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His will..." (Ephesians 1:15).
God's first wish is all sinners become sons.
"For whom He did foreknow He did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son ... that He might be the first-born among many brethren" (Romans 8:29).
God's second wish is that all sons become saints.
"In whom we also have an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will, that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ" (Ephesians 1:11,12).
God's third wish is that we should be to the praise of His glory.
"Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and be their God” (Revelations 21:3)
In other words—a father/family relationship.
So the three wishes of God can be expressed in this way:
In Mark the tenth chapter, we read the words "With God, all things are possible."
The key words are "WITH GOD." When we begin to want what God wants ... when we begin to prioritize our wishes and wish what God wishes ... all things are possible!
God is not willing that any should perish. I am not willing that any should perish.
Are you willing that any should perish? When Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, He was expressing God's will. God's first wish is that every sinner become a son. God wants Idi Amin to be a son. God wants Kadafi to be a son. God wants every Muslim to be a son. God wants every Indian to be a son. "But how shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent? " I'm talking to "senders" today and I'm pleading for more laborers. Are you praying the Lord of the harvest that He will thrust forth laborers into the harvest? God's first wish is that every sinner be a son. It's what the Great Commission is all about.
Those who think WITH GOD think missions! And its happening.
Then there is the second wish of God ... number two on His priority list. God wants every son to become a saint. This is why the Assemblies of God puts such emphasis upon the planting of churches. It is not enough to evangelize. It is not enough to say that there were 10,000 decisions for Christ. Sons must become saints. Sons must become mature. This is why we put such great stress upon Bible schools. We do not believe the work is done until we have planted local units of the body of Christ in every city. This is why we train leaders who can take new converts and bring them into conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. God wishes that every son were like His Son. It's high on His priority list.
When you think Bible schools you are thinking WITH GOD. When you invest in the training of national ministries you are wanting what God wants.
Finally we come to the "bottom line" in the purpose of God.
The third wish is the crowning wish.
It is the fruition of the first two wishes. His present purpose is found in the first two wishes. He wants sinners to be sons and He wants sons to be saints. To what purpose? You read about it in Ephesians 1:11,12 and see it pictured in Revelations 21:3 where the eternal plan of God is consummated and all that God purposed from the beginning comes to pass.
It is God's third and final wish that there be an eternal Father/Family relationship where there is eternal interaction of the Father with His children who live for the praise of His glory.
I can see them now ...
They come from the East and West.
They come from the lands afar.
To feast with the King.
To dine as His guest.
How blessed these pilgrims are.
Beholding His hallowed face.
Aglow with a light divine.
Blest partakers of His grace.
As gems in His crown to shine.