VIDEO Why Can I Not Follow You Now?

Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now?” —John 13:37

There are times when you can’t understand why you cannot do what you want to do. When God brings a time of waiting, and appears to be unresponsive, don’t fill it with busyness, just wait. The time of waiting may come to teach you the meaning of sanctification— to be set apart from sin and made holy— or it may come after the process of sanctification has begun to teach you what service means. Never run before God gives you His direction. If you have the slightest doubt, then He is not guiding. Whenever there is doubt— wait.

At first you may see clearly what God’s will is— the severance of a friendship, the breaking off of a business relationship, or something else you feel is distinctly God’s will for you to do. But never act on the impulse of that feeling. If you do, you will cause difficult situations to arise which will take years to untangle. Wait for God’s timing and He will do it without any heartache or disappointment. When it is a question of the providential will of God, wait for God to move.

Peter did not wait for God. He predicted in his own mind where the test would come, and it came where he did not expect it. “I will lay down my life for Your sake.” Peter’s statement was honest but ignorant. “Jesus answered him, ‘…the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times’ ” (John 13:38). This was said with a deeper knowledge of Peter than Peter had of himself. He could not follow Jesus because he did not know himself or his own capabilities well enough. Natural devotion may be enough to attract us to Jesus, to make us feel His irresistible charm, but it will never make us disciples. Natural devotion will deny Jesus, always falling short of what it means to truly follow Him.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

We can understand the attributes of God in other ways, but we can only understand the Father’s heart in the Cross of Christ.  The Highest Good—Thy Great Redemption, 558 L


Traits of a True Believer, Part 2 (John 13:31-38)

New Vision

I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

Wearing my new eyeglasses as I stepped into the sanctuary, I sat down and spotted a friend sitting directly across the aisle on the other side of the church. As I waved at her, she looked so near and clear. It felt like I could reach out and touch her even though she was several yards away. Later, as we talked following the service, I realized she was in the same seat she always sat in. I simply could see her better because of an upgraded prescription in my new spectacles.

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, knew that the Israelites stuck in Babylonian captivity would need a new prescription—a new view. He told them. “I am doing a new thing! . . . I am making a way in the wilderness” (Isaiah 43:19). And His message of hope included the reminders that He had “created” them, “redeemed” them, and would be with them. “You are mine,” He encouraged them (v. 1).

In whatever you’re facing today, the Holy Spirit can provide better vision for you to put the old behind you and look for the new. By God’s love (v. 4), it’s popping up all around you. Can you see what He’s doing in the midst of your pain and bondage? Let’s put on our new spiritual glasses to see the new that God is doing even in our wilderness moments. 

By:  Katara Patton

Reflect & Pray

What new things do you see cropping up even in your wilderness? How can adjusting your vision help you focus on the new rather than the past?

God of new beginnings, thank You for all Your promises. Help me to see the new that You bring about even in my wilderness moments.

For further study, read When God Says No—Broken Dreams to New Beginnings.

I Testify To Satan Personally As To What The Word Says The Blood Of Jesus Does For Me

In the Passover ceremony, the blood of lambs was collected in basins. Once the blood was transferred from the basins to the Israelites’ dwelling places, they were safe, on one condition: they had to stay inside their houses.

This truth is very important: the blood protects only the obedient. You are safe while you obey. Let’s look at 1 Peter 1:2. Peter was greeting the “pilgrims of the Dispersion [in Greek, diaspora]” (verse 1). He was specifically addressing the Jews outside the land of Israel, who were “elect [or chosen] according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”

Notice that obedience comes before sprinkling. The blood is not sprinkled on the disobedient. The blood does not protect those who go out of the house. It protects only those who are behind the blood or covered by it. So, bear in mind, although there is perfect protection in the blood, it is for the obedient alone.

Prayer Response

Thank You, Lord, for the blood of Jesus. I proclaim this day that I will walk in obedience to You. I testify to Satan personally as to what the Word says the blood of Jesus does for me. Amen.

Stay Focused

“… one thing I do …” — Philippians 3:13

Have you ever watched interviews of athletes who have won come-from-behind victories? What do these people almost invariably credit for their ability to win games? Focus. Concentration. Fixing their eyes on the goal, then playing their best to achieve it.

As Christians, we, too, need to focus our attention on our goal—to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The apostle Paul knew his goal. He pressed toward the mark, keeping “one thing” in mind, just as Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem. Paul was not distracted by past failures. Instead, he persistently reached forward, toward things ahead. He wanted to share the Gospel with as many Gentiles as he could. Though beaten, imprisoned, and shipwrecked, he never gave up; he pressed on with the “one thing” he had to do.

Think of the impact we could make if we imitated Paul just as he imitated Christ. Unfortunately, we often lack this kind of concentration. We begin something but get sidetracked and go on to something else. Then something new further distracts us, and off we go in that direction. In this way we hop from one distraction to another.

Does this sound familiar?

For those of us who feel this scenario hits a little too close to home, I believe we need to pursue the same thing pursued by athletes, the apostle Paul, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: self-discipline. How? By engaging in three actions that will contribute to our success. First, we need to carefully select definite and clear-cut goals, both long-range and shortrange, that lead to our ultimate goal—to glorify God and enjoy him forever. We must choose these goals with the intention of glorifying God and advancing His kingdom. Second, we need to stay focused. We must maintain a burning desire to reach our goals. If something distracts us, we need to return our focus to our ultimate goal. And third, we need to create workable plans. We cannot reach a goal without charting a course to meet it. I agree with the maxim “People do not plan to fail; they just fail to plan.”

Today take some time to evaluate your ability to maintain your focus. If you think you’ve fallen short, read through the three actions that lead to self-discipline, and prayerfully commit to one way you can cultivate focus in your life. Then put it into action, and wait for God to show you the results of focusing on that “one thing” in your life.

“”Plan your work, and work your plan.””

UNKNOWN

The Hidden Years

Matthew 2:23

MATTHEW covers our Lord’s childhood and youth with one rich sentence (2:23): “And He came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”

This prophecy undoubtedly involves a play on the word “netzer” or “rod” of Isaiah. 11:1. It is good to know that our Lord was content to grow up in a humdrum and despised village from whence nothing good was expected (John 1:46). He knew the daily grind of the commonplace and the problems of the common people. No wonder they heard Him gladly.

Luke goes more into detail and gives us one rich incident from these hidden years in chapter 2:40-52. This account begins and ends with verses which form a beautiful frame for the picture: “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Thus His complete development, physical, mental, spiritual and social, is declared.

Many questions arise concerning these silent years. Thirty years of simple living, next to nature and amidst humanity, and busy at work with time to read and pray—it is a life this feverish age does not know. It shows its flavor in the many references to sparrows, lilies, the sower, the fields; it is colored with the atmosphere of the field, the fisherman’s boat and net, the sea, the shop, the soil. If we had planned the life of the Son of God we would have put Him through universities, made Him a world traveler, put Him into society, into places of earthly position and power. Never would we have selected thirty years at Nazareth as the ideal course! Truly His ways are not ours!

The solitary incident in the temple reveals that He knew who His real Father was and what His own work was. Mary tells Him: “Thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” He replies: “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” He knew His true Father and His primary obligation. That they understood not what He spoke shows that He referred to His lifework as Messiah and Savior, and not merely to worship, which they would have understood.

But immediately follows what appeals more to me than His wisdom in the temple. You and I might have grown vain over our success in the temple, but the Son of God is willing to go back to the shop at Nazareth for many more years of its daily grind. To me He is even greater turning back toward Nazareth than in the temple.

Notice, too, how the Holy Spirit guards against any inference that He repudiated parental authority by what He said about His Father’s business, for “He was subject unto them.” No boy prodigy would have turned from such glory as Jerusalem to the grind at Nazareth. The hidden years at Nazareth carry rich lessons for us. If we would truly be of the sect of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5), we would do well to get into our lives more of the simplicity, the patience, the willingness to tread the common path, the quiet waiting of the Nazarene.


“Thy Maker is thine husband.”

Genesis 1:26-31

The Lord first prepared the world for man, and then placed him in it. He fitted up the house before he made the tenant. This is an instance of his thoughtful care for our race.

Genesis 1:26

Note the words, “Let us make.” The three divine persons hold a council; let us learn to adore Father, Son, and Spirit, as the One God. Man was the highest work of the six days’ creation, and was not fashioned without special consideration. He was made to be lord of the world; and if now the beasts rebel against him, it is only because he also has rebelled against his God.

Genesis 1:29

Before he sinned man did not kill animals, but lived on fruits; every meal of flesh should remind us of our fall.

Genesis 2:7-25

Genesis 2:7-10

Thus there was abundance of food and drink, and a pleasant variety of prospect: the garden was a paradise of comfort. “No herb, no flower, no tree was wanting there that might be of ornament or use; whether for sight, or for scent, or for taste. The bounty of God wrought further than to necessity, it provided for comfort and recreation.”

Genesis 2:15

Some occupation is necessary to happiness. Lazy people would not enjoy even Eden itself. A perfect man is a working man.

Genesis 2:16-17

This was an easy yoke. Only one tree out of thousands was denied him as a test of his obedience. The Lord’s commandments are not grievous.

Genesis 2:18

Before Adam knew that he wanted a companion, his tender Creator knew it, and resolved to find him one. Thus with gracious foresight does the Lord supply our needs.

Genesis 2:21-23

We ought dearly to love mother, and wife, and sister, and aunt. These dear friends greatly minister to our happiness; and boys and young men should always treat them with tender respect.

Genesis 2:24-25

We ought never to be proud of our clothes, for our weakness makes us need them; and they prove that we are sinful, since until we are covered we are ashamed to be seen. May Jesus cover us with his glorious righteousness.


Savior and Lord

For by grace are ye saved through faith… it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)

God chose His only begotten Son as the channel for His grace and truth, for John witnesses that “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ!”

The Law was given by Moses—but that was all that Moses could do. He could only “command” righteousness. In contrast, only Jesus Christ produces righteousness.

All that Moses could do was to forbid us to sin. In contrast, Jesus Christ came to save us from sin.

Moses could not save anyone—but Jesus Christ is both Savior and Lord.

Grace came through Jesus Christ before Mary wept in the manger stall in Bethlehem. It was the grace of God in Christ that saved the human race from extinction when our first parents sinned in the Garden.

It is plain in history that God forgave Israel time and time again. It was the grace of God in Christ prior to the Incarnation that made God say: “I have risen early in the morning and stretched out my hands to you!”