Maintaining Focus on Jesus Brings A Life of Love and Purpose

The Sea side post-resurrection appearance continues………Peter was distressed that Jesus questioned him 3 times, obviously he forgot he had denied Christ 3 times.  Here at the Sea of Galilee Jesus insisted the answer was “Follow me!”

John 21:17-19 “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?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 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.”19 (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.”   Peter was upset at the Lord’s insistent questioning of his love,  and Jesus replied with a prophecy about Peter’s life and death to come,  and how he would bring glory to God.  What Jesus required of Peter was obedience- ‘follow me’!

Peter then asked about John and received this rebuke from Jesus in verses 21-22. “When Peter saw him (John), he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”   Jesus wanted Peter’s focus to be on Him not on the future and what would happen to others.  As Jesus said, He would take care of John,  but Peter needed to focus on following Him.

John 21 22

Let us take encouragement from this scene for today.   Just like Peter, we need to focus our lives on following Jesus, being obedience to His Word and walking with Him daily.  We do not need to ‘worry’ about others or question Jesus about their work and walk.  We have enough to do to keep our own focus on Jesus.   This does not mean we are not concerned about others,  but Peter was just being nosy here and wanted to know what would happen to John in the future- is his life going to be better than mine?  Since the Lord’s answer was always “Follow me”, that is what is crucial in our life too.  Obedience to Jesus is what He desires.  We are to keep our focus on Jesus and not compare our circumstances to others.  Later Peter so beautifully wrote in 1 Peter 1:22-23 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” 

1 peter 1 22

Let us take seriously our walk with Jesus and His command ‘Follow me!” May we let the distractions of the world fall away as we walk forward in obedience with our Savior.

Linda

Joy in thinking about…

As Paul nears the end of his letter to the Philippians, he wants them to remember what they learned from him and his teachings, but he also desires them to refocus. He talked about rejoicing always, vs4, responding with gentleness, vs5, letting go their worries and stress, vs6, praying with a thankful heart, vs 6, and accept God’s peace that will guard their hearts, vs7. In today’s verses Philippians 4:8-9 Paul focuses on their need to conquer their minds. He knows Satan will try to use their minds to tempt them, to pervert their thinking and lead them away from God. Satan uses the same tricks and lies with us today. Here is God’s solution, Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

So many books have been written about the mind and the battles we face therein, but I thought I’d look at each of the words Paul uses to see if we can glean additional insight into what he is suggesting to us. Paul lists things that are worthy of our thoughts and he first lists what ever is true. John 8:31-32, 36 “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Thinking and mediating on the truth of Jesus and His saving work in the cross gives freedom to the mind and soul!

Whatever is honorable is found in Luke 6:45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” If we store good things in our heart, then we will have a storehouse to rely upon when our minds seem to wander.

Whatever is just. There are many reference to just and justice in scripture. Deuteronomy 32:4 gives us something to think about in reference to just, “God alone is our focus. “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong,  upright and just is he.” Thinking about God and His work will help us to think about what is just.

Whatever is pure. Scripture has many references to pure in the context of pure gold, pure wool, etc. These describe things that are fully what they are suppose to be without impurities. The references that focused on pure thinking that resonated most with me were: Psalm 119:8 “the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of are Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;” God’s Word is pure and can be a focus to keep our minds on track. Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” I know God can and will renew me when I trust by faith in Jesus. He creates in me a pure heart. This gives me joy and assurance of His love for me.

Whatever is lovely. Read these words from Psalm 84– truly something lovely to think about. “How lovely is your dwelling place,  Lord Almighty! Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.”

Whatever is commendable. Peter speaks of commendable acts that would be worthy of thought. 1 Peter 2:19-20 “ For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. Those who suffer or endure injustice are worthy of our thoughts and prayers.

Whatever is excellent. Titus 3:4-8 speaks of the most excellent thing we can think about – Jesus and what He has done for us. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Whatever is worthy of praise1 Chronicles 16:25 sums this up perfectly. “For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;  he is to be feared above all gods.”

I pray these verses have given you new, different and encouraging things to think about. Rejoice and may your joy be found in the Lord and may He direct your thoughts today.

Linda

P.S. This post was longer than I usually write but covering each word revealed a positive avenue for my thinking that I had not considered before. Thank you for indulging me by reading all the way to the end. Blessings to you.