A Painful Question; 1 of 3

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” (John 21:17)

We can focus on Jesus’ calling Peter to “feed the sheep”. We read in the Gospels and book of Acts how Peter became the leader of the young church and think that he was privileged to receive such a call (as indeed he was). But we can also learn a lot from his response to his call.

We need to consider the question:  Why was Peter grieved? Peter was hurt that Christ had to ask him the question three times. Eventually he answered:

“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” (John 21:17)

Peter was forced to look deep within his own heart. And what did he find? A consuming love for Christ. Immediately after this, Jesus said to him:

“Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” ( John 21:17-20)

Peter was martyred for his faith. Perhaps, being forced to see his love for Christ was what he needed to endure the later persecutions; he knew his faith was stronger.

Recently, I’ve been counting the cost of God’s call on my life. It’s hard to go away from family and miss out on special events in the lives of one’s friends. It has been difficult to accept that I may not ever own my own home, or even a car. But, through this, I have been forced to come to accept an even scary truth: regardless of what God asks me to sacrifice, I know that I’ll obey. That’s scary! That’s terrifying! Because when you read of what God has asked others to do…

Christians are not called to an easy life, but God gives us the strength we need to endure. He gives us the courage to step bravely out into an unknown future. And He reveals more and more of His character to us through our walk, because the more we see of Him, the more willing we will be to follow Him. When you have fallen in love with Jesus, you are compelled to follow Him.

God demands all of us, but He is worth everything!

I repeat the prayer of Maris Willis and pray that you will, too:

“Father, hear the prayer we offer; not for ease that prayer shall be, but for strength that we may ever, live our lives courageously.”

 

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An Invisible Bridge

In “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” Indy comes to a complete stop at a deep gorge, which cuts him off from his goal.

He looks down. Fear stirs in the pit of his stomach.

His response is: “Impossible, no one can jump this!”

Indy looks down again. He needs to cross the chasm – but how?

Then he realises, “It’s a leap of faith . . .” He sounds disgruntled as he mutters words closely resembling, “Oh, Jesu –”

Taking a deep breath in, hand over heart, he takes one large step forward out into midair – only to find a narrow bridge has materialised under his feet. He had not plummeted to his death; he was safe on firm ground, and proceeds across the bridge, back on track towards his goal.

How like our lives this can be! We have a promise from God, a call on our life, an end goal in mind; only, we don’t see how it is possible to get there. No effort of man could pave the way. We muster the courage and take one (rather small) step forward. The difference is no bridge appears. A single paver is beneath our feet with more air before us.

It can seem mightily unfair when God chooses not to reveal the whole bridge to us; at least Indy was able to see the immensely narrow bridge that he was on.

We forget the Lord, so focused are we on that gulf below. We take shuffling steps forward; making very slow progress, because we fear plummeting to our deaths if we were to step out too boldly.

So how do we overcome this fear (a fear which we classify as being “very reasonable” given the chasm below)?

LOOK UP!

Take your eyes from the bridge and look into the face of Christ. He is standing before you. Follow where He leads and your feet will be sure to find the firm ground.

I am foremost amongst those guilty of trying to downplay the great visions God gives to me. They seem exciting at first – until I realise the gulf that lies between where I am and the attainment of that vision. The moment I take my focus off God, fear rises in my throat. I slow my pace and downsize the vision.

We need to spend less time worrying over ifs, buts, and maybes. Instead, we must engage in daily worship and prayer. Fellowshipping with other believers in small groups and prayer meetings builds our faith. Listening to sermons gives us forward momentum.

And ALWAYS, ALWAYS, keep our eyes on our King. He walks before us, so there is no need or reason to be afraid. He has a net below, to catch us if we slip to the right or to the left. And the pavers appear beneath us as we take each step forward.

Do not be afraid to take one large leap after another towards that to which God is calling you. Reflect on what He has promised and cling to it. Do not let yourself be discouraged, for “He who has called us is faithful, He will surely do it”.

Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

(1 Thessalonians 5:16-24).

Did that Mountain just Move?

Are my eyes deceiving me? Did I see that mountain move? A little to the right, now a little to the left . . . I think I’m going crazy!

Could money have Mt Everest moved wholly from where it stands into the sea? I don’t think so. Can my God? Oh, yes, He can!

And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:21-22).

What would happen if we had such faith?

I worry about what people will think of me. What if I give up all I have to chase the dream God has laid on my heart? What if I do this and He doesn’t come through?

Oswald Chambers wrote:

“I may not understand what Jesus Christ says, but it is dangerous to say that therefore He was mistaken in what He said. It is never right to think that my obedience to a word of God will bring dishonour to Jesus. The only thing that will bring dishonour is not obeying Him . . .

“Many of us are loyal to our notions of Jesus Christ, but how many of us are loyal to Him? Loyalty to Jesus means I have to step out where I do not see anything (cf. Matt.  14:29); loyalty to my notions means that I clear the ground first by my intelligence. Faith is not intelligent understanding, faith is deliberate commitment to a Person where I see no way.”

Today we admire the prophets of the Old Testament. We see them as heroes of the faith. Their neighbours, however, mocked them, ridiculed them, beat them, killed them, spat at them . . .  They were persecuted for following the call of God.

God may call you to do crazy things. In fact, much of what He asks you to do won’t make sense at the time. Or the end goal will make sense but the path to the end remains a mystery. Don’t worry about the how – just take the first little step that you can see.

He does not shine a spot light right ahead; rather He lights only the section of path right in front of us with His lamp and asks us to trust Him to lead us safely.

As an example, take Redefined Ministries of the DRC, which we are currently seeking to set up. Last August I couldn’t see that I’d ever get the opportunity to go to the Congo. He was laying the nation on my heart but I could not see how it would eventuate. Now? I have visited the Congo, seen the potential places for the ministry, and we sit waiting for an arrival of money so that Innocent can take the registration documents in, and thus formally establish the ministry in the DRC. This is not by our hands – it is by God’s.

 Life is an adventure when you dance to God’s tune. He can do the impossible.

Step out in faith and trust Him to make your way straight.

So, to finish with Oswald Chambers:

Are you debating whether to take a step in faith in Jesus or to wait until you can see how to do the thing yourself? Obey Him with glad reckless joy. When He says something and you begin to debate, it is because you have a conception of His honour which is not His honour. Are you loyal to Jesus or loyal to your notion of Him? Are you loyal to what He says, or are you trying to compromise with conceptions which never came from Him? “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.”

Willingly Obedient?

This week lectures were on the Lordship of Christ. The subject could also be defined as discipleship. I really enjoyed the topic and, whilst not ‘new’ material, I’d be worried if it hadn’t left an imprint on me once more. It needs to be more than a topic, it needs to become a way of life, as we continually lay down our own will and our own rights in order to take up the cross and follow Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Willingly comes from the Greek word ekousios, which means “voluntarily” or “spontaneously”; Immediately; At once. God desires our obedience. There is no if, buts, or may bes. He does not only want our obedience, He wants it immediately. Delayed or partial obedience is no obedience at all. What if I was to obediently stop at half of the red lights on my drive home? Disobedience has consequences. To walk in obedience brings us blessings, greater intimacy with Him, and revelation of His character.

We are often so afraid – what will God call me to do? But WHY?
• Because we do not understand the call of God.
• God WILL NEVER call us to a place that He will not give us the grace and ability to do.

We also often believe that God is only interested in our hearts. But this is another wrong understanding. God wants all of us to be fully submitted to Him: our mind/ thoughts, our actions, our emotions, bodies, our plans and dreams, our imagination, memory and reasoning.

Matt 16:24-25 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”. – Lordship is submitting to the authority of Jesus over EVERY area of life.

God wants people willing to walk in obedience to His call on their life. It requires laying down our rights. We cannot serve both God and self-will. Ask God today what you may need to lay down at the foot of the cross. Be it the right to comfort, possessions, family, acceptance, comfort, to be ‘right’ in the argument, to receive praise for an accomplishment. Christ called us to a place of servanthood. He associated with the lowly, downcast and broken. He calls us to follow Him.

Does God want us to obey Him?
• God wants us to do EVERYTHING He commanded us to do
o Deut 5:32 You shall be careful therefore to do as the LORD your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
 Not half, not more, EXACTLY what He tells us to do.
• Obedience to God involves listening to what He says
o 1 Sam 15:22 And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.

End of the Matter = There is no point in learning more about God and digging into His Word if we are not going to walk in obedience! Obedience = love of God. Obedience is better than sacrifices.

Are you walking in obedience?