The last section of the Sea of Galilee post-resurrection appearance of Jesus involved both Peter and John. Still impetuous Peter inquired of the Lord about the things the Lord knew about, and Jesus refocused him. 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 distressed 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’!
Then Peter asked about John and received this reply 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.
How can we be encouraged by this scene 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 better than mine type stuff? 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. 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;”
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.
Being a blessed believer I’ve discovered has many layers. I began weeks ago with a definition of what blessing is in man’s eyes: a gift of divine favor, good wishes or approval, anything that gives happiness or prevents misfortune. Then I looked at scripture to see what God calls blessedness. All of God’s examples show divine favor towards us and His divine ways of having His blessings in our lives. Which ones have you seen, are seeing or hope to see in your life? When you do- you can count yourself blessed!
Blessed is the believer who: walks in His ways. Psalm 1 *whose’s sins are forgiven. Psalm 32:1-2 *who takes refuge in Him. Psalm 34:8 *who trusts in the Lord. Psalm 40:4 *who wisely listens, obeys and accepts the Father’s discipline and instruction Psalm 94:12 *who fears (reveres) the Lord and delights in His Commandments. Psalm 112:1 *who is blessed through his children (physical or spiritual). Psalm 127:5 *who fears God and walks in His ways. Psalm 128:1-2 *who does what is right based in His righteousness. Isaiah 56:1-2 *who is deep rooted in Him, standing firm in all seasons of life. Jeremiah 17:4 *whose sins are forgiven, dependent upon God for His righteousness in Christ. Romans 4:6-8 *who is steadfast, persevering and awaiting reward. James 1:12 *who is humble, sorrows over his sin and dependent upon God for forgiveness, hungers after God’s Word, merciful, has a clean heart before God, is a peacemaker, is persecuted for His sake. Matthew 5:3-10
What a list to take to heart and meditate upon. If you are not seeing some of the blessings God provides for believers, take that to heart, pray about it, search scripture and ask God what He would have you do so that you might partake in His divine blessings!
What does it mean when scripture refers to David as ‘a man after God’s own heart’? “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” Acts 13:22 What did David do that pleased God? I have concluded that God’s answer was also given here- “he will do everything I want him to do”. David was willing to submit to God’s will and do as He commanded. In 1 Samuel 15:22, Samuel was speaking to Saul about God’s heart’s desire. But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” God commanded the Israelites to do various sacrifice rituals to atone for their sins. It was a temporary fix to the issue of sin but showed their obedience to God’s laws and their devotion to Him. However, Samuel was telling Saul that following God and pleasing him was about more than following His laws. It was about following God with your heart in obedience. Obedience seems to be the key to God’s heart and our being willing to do submit to God’s will for our lives. If you look at David’s life, you quickly see that he did not do everything right and did not follow God’s laws all the time. He sinned big time with the intentional killing of Uriah and the lusting after Bathsheba. However, David accepted his discipline from God and was repentant. He was obedient in following the Lord and his faith never wavered. He trust God 100% and submitted to God’s will in his life.
What does that mean for you and me? Obedience in faith and worship = putting God first above all else and believing in His Son. Obedience in our daily walk = seeking to please God by loving Him and others. That means spending time with Him daily in prayer and in His Word. It also means having Jesus’ attitude of compassion and love for those around us. Obedience in service = working by ourselves and/or with other Christians to show the world Jesus by reflecting Him in our words and deeds. God wants all of our heart transformed to work for Him with joy, love, obedience, in purity, devotion, kindness, compassion, with forgiveness for ourselves and others, in peace, faith and humility. There is so much God wants for us and striving through the power of the Holy Spirit to live for God makes us a people after God’s heart. Those things are reflected in a heart of obedience, submission and love. It is a life-long process that brings and bears much fruit and blessings to us from God.
Striving to walk each day in obedience to God with heart that is pleasing to Him,
Do you think of yourself as obedient? Do you readily obey your parents, the codes of conduct in your society or even your own heart’s desires? All of those may be in conflict with God’s desires for your life and the necessary obedience needed to follow Him. Because we are sinners and live in a sinful world, obedience does not come naturally. It is against our sin nature to do what others desire of us or even what we desire ourselves for our future since we are rebellious at heart. So how do we become obedient to God and His Word? Peter gives us direction in 1 Peter 1:14-16 “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” God calls us to be holy and to follow Him in obedience. Peter goes on in verses 18-19 to explain to root of our ability to obey, “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” Because of Christ’s death on the cross we become His children through faith in Him and His redeeming work. We are given the godly motivation, godly direction and ability to be obedient from our heart through our faith in Jesus.
I love the way Paul explains this transformation in Romans 6:17-18 “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” Faith in Jesus sets me free from the bondage of sin that holds my heart and actions and frees me to serve with an obedient heart the Jesus I love.
What about you? Does your love and faith in Jesus cause you to desire to be obedient to Him and His Word? Do you find following Jesus hard? Even Paul stated in Romans that he struggled to do what God wants him to do because of his own sin nature. Romans 7:19-20 “19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” He summarizes his condition of faith in verse 24-25. “ Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” His final conclusion to this dilemma is profound in Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Jesus is the answer and He frees us from our bondage to sin.
May your heart be filled with the love of Jesus today so that you may live with a heart that is wholeheartedly obedient to Him.
In today’s portion of Psalm 119 verses 81-88, we get a snapshot of a believer clinging to God’s Word and his faith in Almighty God to help him weather the storms of life. At times he seems overwhelmed and defeated by his oppressors. I am worn out waiting for your rescue,
but I have put my hope in your word.
82 My eyes are straining to see your promises come true.
When will you comfort me?
83 I am shriveled like a wine skin in the smoke,
but I have not forgotten to obey your decrees.
He seems discouraged yet has hope in God and His promises! I get the picture in my mind of the cat hanging on by his tiny paws- ‘hanging in there’. He is being persecuted by unbelievers and pleads with God for stamina to resist and knows God alone can protect him. The unbelievers in his life are scoffing at God’s Word and lay traps to ensnare him. Do you feel that way sometimes? Do unbelievers think you foolish to study God’s Word and believe the Bible? How long must I wait?
When will you punish those who persecute me?
85 These arrogant people who hate your instructions
have dug deep pits to trap me.
86 All your commands are trustworthy.
Protect me from those who hunt me down without cause.
He ends this section with praise and hope in Almighty God who he knows in his heart will sustain and keep him. He knows God loves him. God will keep His promises so he clings to them in obedience. They almost finished me off,
but I refused to abandon your commandments.
88 In your unfailing love, spare my life;
then I can continue to obey your laws.
No matter how things look in this world the psalmist knows that God loves him and is in control. He is Sovereign, Loving and the only one who can save him. How about you? Do you know the Sovereign God of the universe who loves you beyond measure? Call upon Him today and He will answer. God tells us in Micah 6:8 what He requires of us. “He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? ”
May you walk in obedience today with Jesus by your side and His Holy Spirit in your heart knowing He alone is Sovereign and will guide you through this troubled world. Walking with God is a matter of faith and obedience, He promises to never leaves us nor forsakes us!
Clinging to Jesus all day long,