VIDEO “What Is That to You?”

Peter…said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “…what is that to you? You follow Me.” —John 21:21-22

One of the hardest lessons to learn comes from our stubborn refusal to refrain from interfering in other people’s lives. It takes a long time to realize the danger of being an amateur providence, that is, interfering with God’s plan for others. You see someone suffering and say, “He will not suffer, and I will make sure that he doesn’t.” You put your hand right in front of God’s permissive will to stop it, and then God says, “What is that to you?” Is there stagnation in your spiritual life? Don’t allow it to continue, but get into God’s presence and find out the reason for it. You will possibly find it is because you have been interfering in the life of another— proposing things you had no right to propose, or advising when you had no right to advise. When you do have to give advice to another person, God will advise through you with the direct understanding of His Spirit. Your part is to maintain the right relationship with God so that His discernment can come through you continually for the purpose of blessing someone else.

Most of us live only within the level of consciousness— consciously serving and consciously devoted to God. This shows immaturity and the fact that we’re not yet living the real Christian life. Maturity is produced in the life of a child of God on the unconscious level, until we become so totally surrendered to God that we are not even aware of being used by Him. When we are consciously aware of being used as broken bread and poured-out wine, we have yet another level to reach— a level where all awareness of ourselves and of what God is doing through us is completely eliminated. A saint is never consciously a saint— a saint is consciously dependent on God.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

We are not to preach the doing of good things; good deeds are not to be preached, they are to be performed. So Send I You, 1330 L


John 21 – Skip Heitzig

Powerful and Loving

You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness .Deuteronomy 4:11

In 2020, the Ecuadorian volcano Sangay erupted. The BBC described the “dark ash plume which reached a height of more than 12,000 m.” The discharge covered four provinces (about 198,000 acres) in gray ash and grimy soot. The sky turned dingy and grim, and the air was thick—making it difficult to breathe. Farmer Feliciano Inga described the unnerving scene to El Comercio newspaper: “We didn’t know where all this dust was coming from. . . . We saw the sky go dark and grew afraid.”

The Israelites experienced a similar fear at the base of Mount Sinai, as they “stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire . . . with black clouds and deep darkness” (Deuteronomy 4:11). God’s voice thundered, and the people trembled. It was terrifying. It’s an awesome, knee-buckling experience to encounter the living God.

“Then the Lord spoke,” and they “heard the sound of words but saw no form” (v. 12). The voice that rattled their bones provided life and hope. God gave Israel the Ten Commandments and renewed His covenant with them. The voice from the dark cloud caused them to quake, but also wooed and loved them with tenacity (Exodus 34:6–7).

God is powerful, beyond our reach, even startling. And yet He’s also full of love, always reaching out to us. A God both powerful and loving—this is who we desperately need.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

When has an encounter with God made you tremble? How did He also communicate love?

God, at times I’ve approached You too casually, assumed too much. Thank You for Your patience with me. And thank You for Your love.

Sunday Reflection: A Safe Haven

Here’s what godly friendship looks like: people who love, comfort, and lift one another up so both feel safe and edified.

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

As flawed beings, we’re inclined to judge and rebuke others more often than necessary. Sure, the Bible mentions our responsibility to confront others, but those instances should be heavily outnumbered by displays of support for one another. Encouragement is a primary responsibility of Christian friendship—and part of bearing one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).

Scripture says friends are to love at all times (Prov. 17:17), keep one another warm, and lift up their fallen companions (Eccl. 4:9-12). God’s Word also tells us to encourage and build each other up (1 Thess. 5:11). If we clung to these verses, imagine what friendship would look like—a true safe haven, where people would come for edification and rest. Is that how you think of your friends? Is that how they think of you?

We readily recognize the expectations and responsibilities of many roles in life—for example, parent, spouse, sibling, student, coworker, leader, child, and volunteer. When we view friendship as a ministry of presence and encouragement, it will become the refuge that God designed.

Think about it

  •  What can you do to celebrate and support a friend today?

The Marvel of Design

And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth: and the men marvelled one at another. (Genesis 43:33)

When creationists calculate the extremely low probability of the chance origin of life, many evolutionists scoff at the calculation, alleging that any one arrangement of the components of a simple, living molecule is just as likely as any other arrangement, so it is no great marvel that the components fell into this particular arrangement.

This is a puerile argument, of course, quite unworthy of the intelligent scientists who use it. There are at best only a few arrangements that will contain the organized information necessary for reproduction, compared to “zillions” of arrangements with no information at all.

This fact is beautifully illustrated in our text. Why should Joseph’s brothers “marvel” when they were seated in chronological order of birth by a host who (presumably) was entirely unaware of that order?

The reason why they marveled was because there are almost 40 million different ways (calculated by multiplying all the numbers, one through 11, together) in which the 11 brothers could have been seated! It seemingly couldn’t happen by chance.

Maybe an evolutionist would not “marvel” that this unique seating arrangement happened by chance, since he somehow believes that far more intricately organized arrangements than this happened by chance to produce our universe and its array of complex systems. Anyone else, however, would immediately have realized this, and so the brothers of Joseph “marvelled one at another.” So also, when we behold the wonders of design in the creation, we should “lift up [our] eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things” (Isaiah 40:26). HMM

Resolving To Worship

We heard of [the ark] in Ephrathah; we found it in the fields of Jaar. Let us go to His dwelling place; let us worship at His footstool. Arise, Lord, come to Your resting place, You and the ark [that shows] Your strength. May Your priests be clothed with righteousness, and may Your godly people shout for joy. Because of Your servant David, do not reject Your anointed one (Psalm 132 vv. 6-10).

Ephrathah? Jaar? What are these places with the strange-sounding names? They were towns where the ark (covenant box) rested in limbo until David moved it to Zion (2 Sam. 6). Ephrathah was an old name for Bethlehem, where our Lord was born. Jaar was also known as Kiriath Jearim—the “city of forests,” one of the four leading cities of the Gibeonites (Josh. 9:17).

The ark was God’s earthly dwelling, his footstool, in the sense that it was his earthly throne. Because it symbolized the awesome presence of God, the ark often went ahead of the Israeli army in battle.

The people are praying that God will reveal himself again to them, that their priests will be “clothe with righteousness,” and that their saints will “shout for joy” (v. 16). The prayer concludes with a petition that David, the “anointed one, will not be rejected. The word anointed in Hebrew is masiah which is transliterated “Messiah, anointed one.” Appearing only thirty-nine times in the Old Testament, this word is often a synonym for “royal office.” It is used especially to identify the royal line of David (Ps. 2:2; 18:50; 24:9; 29:10; 132:10, 17), These early saints were serious about their faith. Prayer and praise were not perfunctory, for worship was a priority in their lives. How human it is to take God for granted! Praise the Lord for the passionate leadership of King David!

Personal Prayer

Clothe me with righteousness today, O Lord, that I may shout for joy!

The Language of Music

Recitative

A rhythmically free declamatory vocal style for delivering a narrative text or a passage in this style.

Faith, Not Demandingness

Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.—Hebrews 11:1

I am frequently asked: “Doesn’t what you say about demandingness destroy the faith we ought to have when we approach God in prayer? Isn’t powerful praying the ability to insist on God giving us the things we know we ought to be receiving?”

There is a world of difference between “praying in faith” and demandingness. When we “pray in faith,” we have the assurance in our hearts that God wants to bring about a certain purpose for His own glory, whereupon faith reaches into heaven and pulls down the answer through fervent, believing prayer. Demandingness is another thing entirely—it insists on getting the answers that are in accord with its own desires rather than God’s purposes. It is an attempt to bring God in line with our will rather than bringing our wills in line with His will.

Dr. Francis Schaeffer, when advised that he was suffering from a terminal illness, became assured that his work on earth was finished and that soon he would leave this world and go to his heavenly home. Thousands of people prayed for his healing, and when he himself was asked why he did not claim the Bible’s promises concerning health and wholeness, he replied: “When I am in the presence of God, it seems uniquely unbecoming to demand anything.”

Some have interpreted these words as a lack of faith, but I think I understand what he meant. It is one thing to plead and pray with passion for something very personal; it is another to demand that the will of the Almighty be one with our own.

Prayer

Father, I see that the line between demandingness and faith is so fine that I can easily cross from one to the other without knowing it. Tune my spirit so that I will always be able to discern the difference between these two things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 143:1-10; Mt 12:50; Jms 4:1-15

What was the desire of the psalmist?

How does James put it?

Called to Follow

John 21:19

It is of interest to observe that the last command Jesus gave to Peter, “Follow me,” corresponded with the first command He gave when He called both Peter and his brother Andrew from their nets: “Come, follow me” (Matthew 4:19). Then, of course, they were told they would become “fishers of men” whereas now Peter the fisherman was to be Peter the shepherd.

Following is a very personal business, insofar as Jesus calls us to become disciples. Time, however, does not weaken the need to follow; indeed, quite the reverse. Furthermore, experience teaches us that as we develop our skills and become richer in spirit, following Jesus becomes even more satisfying because we follow more thoughtfully and fruitfully.

In Peter’s case, he was to follow Jesus to the cross itself (vv. 18, 19). Not everyone is called to die for Christ. But Peter could not resist asking the Lord what would happen to John and received the reply that the pattern of John’s discipleship was no concern of Peter. The fact is clear that just as we become believers on an individual basis so our discipleship continues to be distinctive, even though we are all members of the body of Christ.

God does not mass-produce or clone His disciples. There is a richness about our personalities which the Holy Spirit works to refine, reinforce and use in the Master’s business. Consequently, there is an important place in the body of Christ for all kinds of gifts and potentiality. Peter was not John, and neither of them was Paul, but each had his own distinctive contribution to make to the building up of the Church. Our individuality ought not to make us difficult, proud and self-indulgent, but rather should make us part of the rich mosaic of the people of God.

We know, Lord, we are wonderfully made,

We differ in both gifts and personality.

But with Your Holy Spirit’s powerful aid

His wisdom and originality,

Within Christ’s body we can take our place,

And witness to Your all-sufficient grace.

Harry Read, Words of Life