“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Peter’s response to this piercing question is considerably different from the bold defiance he exhibited only a few days before when he declared, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Matthew 26:35; also see Matthew 26:33-34). Our natural individuality, or our natural self, boldly speaks out and declares its feelings. But the true love within our inner spiritual self can be discovered only by experiencing the hurt of this question of Jesus Christ. Peter loved Jesus in the way any natural man loves a good person. Yet that is nothing but emotional love. It may reach deeply into our natural self, but it never penetrates to the spirit of a person. True love never simply declares itself. Jesus said, “Whoeverconfesses Me before men [that is, confesses his love by everything he does, not merely by his words], him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8).
Unless we are experiencing the hurt of facing every deception about ourselves, we have hindered the work of the Word of God in our lives. The Word of God inflicts hurt on us more than sin ever could, because sin dulls our senses. But this question of the Lord intensifies our sensitivities to the point that this hurt produced by Jesus is the most exquisite pain conceivable. It hurts not only on the natural level, but also on the deeper spiritual level. “For the Word of God is living and powerful…, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit…”— to the point that no deception can remain (Hebrews 4:12). When the Lord asks us this question, it is impossible to think and respond properly, because when the Lord speaks directly to us, the pain is too intense. It causes such a tremendous hurt that any part of our life which may be out of line with His will can feel the pain. There is never any mistaking the pain of the Lord’s Word by His children, but the moment that pain is felt is the very moment at which God reveals His truth to us.
|FEBRUARY 27, 2015
The Day I Saw My Son Drowning
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Matthew 25:35-36 (ESV)
It all happened in a matter of seconds.
We stormed through the hotel pool’s gate with kids, towels, floaties and a stroller. Still wearing my street clothes, I played pool police while my husband, Luke, secured the little ones into life jackets.
Our 4-year-old son, who knows how to swim, waded down the steps with confidence. But this marked our first time at the pool since the previous summer, and time took its toll on Micah’s memory. He’d forgotten how to swim, but didn’t realize it until it was too late.
I spotted him first and shouted, “Luke! Micah!”
Since my husband stood only a few steps away, sporting a swimsuit, I figured he was the guy for the job. I assumed my tone would communicate the urgency of the situation and expected Luke to hop right in and rescue Micah.
But he didn’t.
Luke looked at me confused. He didn’t see Micah. He didn’t know what was happening. And every second I waited for my husband to save our son, Micah struggled to breathe.
I stood steps away, knowing he needed help. But because I reasoned someone else was more prepared or better suited for the job, I did nothing.
I share one of my worst moments as a mother because I often see the same struggles in our spiritual lives. We see someone drowning and, with good intentions, wait for the “right” person for the job.
But God put us in front of the ones who need air. We see them with our eyes. We understand the need. God chose us for these jobs. And while we wait for an expert to jump in, someone is drowning.
Like the new girl at Bible study who unloaded her burdened heart into the middle of our comfortable circle.
Just minutes earlier, I had greeted her with a smile and tried to make her feel comfortable. I didn’t know much about her, so I asked questions to ease the newness of it all. We grabbed some goodies then shuffled into the living room, where the group gathered in our usual circle.
We shared and prayed and pondered God’s Word and will for our lives.
Then the dam broke. The headache in the heart of this new face made her wince as the words poured out of her mouth. Floods of self-doubt and confusion gushed through the gaping hole in her soul.
She described the uncertainty of new things, the unsettled places of old things and the unraveling of too many things. When the words ran out and the tears came close to spilling over, she lowered her head and pleaded, “I just need to know what to do.”
And we all sat silent.
The girl who invited her should be the one to say something, I reasoned. Or surely the leader of the group will shed light on her situation. Or at least someone who’s known her longer than five minutes! I thought to myself.
Everyone else must have rationalized the same way I did. Because not one of us offered a life preserver or anything to help keep her head above water.
In today’s key verse, Jesus paints the picture of the day we stand before God. He says people will ask Him, “When did we see you hungry and feed you? Or when did we see you naked and give you clothes?”
In Matthew 25:40 Jesus shares the startling truth, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”(ESV)
Thankfully, my son Micah’s story ends brighter than the woman at Bible study. That day at the pool, a stranger rescued my son. He saw Micah drowning and took action. I wish it had been me, but I thank God for that man who chose not to hesitate.
The Bible study visitor never returned. She likely left disappointed and embarrassed. I pray God uses someone else to draw her to Him. I wish it had been me.
I urge you today, if you see someone drowning, jump into the water. Grab them by the hand and guide them to the only true Life Preserver. Whatever you do for them, you do also for the King of Kings.
Consider God’s Works
Streams in the Desert
Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked (Eccles. 7:13).
Often God seems to place His children in positions of profound difficulty, leading them into a wedge from which there is no escape; contriving a situation which no human judgment would have permitted, had it been previously consulted. The very cloud conducts them thither. You may be thus involved at this very hour.
It does seem perplexing and very serious to the last degree, but it is perfectly right. The issue will more than justify Him who has brought you hither. It is a platform for the display of His almighty grace and power.
He will not only deliver you; but in doing so, He will give you a lesson that you will never forget, and to which, in many a psalm and song, in after days, you will revert. You will never be able to thank God enough for having done just as He has.
We may wait till He explains,
Because we know that Jesus reigns.
It puzzles me; but, Lord, Thou understandest,
And wilt one day explain this crooked thing.
Meanwhile, I know that it has worked out Thy best–
Its very crookedness taught me to cling.
Thou hast fenced up my ways, made my paths crooked,
To keep my wand’ring eyes fixed on Thee;
To make me what I was not, humble, patient;
To draw my heart from earthly love to Thee.
So I will thank and praise Thee for this puzzle,
And trust where I cannot understand.
Rejoicing Thou dost hold me worth such testing,
I cling the closer to Thy guiding hand.
From: Through the Bible
Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV) 24“‘ “The LORD bless you and keep you; 25the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”‘
What an awesome blessing prescribed by the Lord Himself. This is His desire for His people. He wants to bless us! To the Hebrew, this blessing meant having every good thing in every way both physical and spiritual. It meant one would be happy knowing he had all he needed. (Phil 4:19)
“Keep you” means to protect physically and spiritually. What good is being blessed if we are not kept in that way? “Make His face shine upon you” is to be pleased with you, to show you kindness. His eye is upon your circumstances. His ear is open to your prayer. His mouth is speaking to your situation. “Be gracious to you”, we have learned from Christ how greatly we need the grace of God. How willing He is to show us that grace! It is grace that makes the rest of the blessing possible. “Turn his face toward you”, to see your need, hear your prayer, be mindful of you. Is your face toward Him? “And give you peace”, (shalom) to be in harmony with the will of God. It is to be in step with your created purpose, to have peace with God through the blood of Jesus. The opposite of peace is to be in turmoil and war within and without. God’s desire for us is peace, and so He sent us the Prince of Peace.
This is the blessing the priests were to pronounce over the people of God. It is as good for us today as it was for them 3500 years ago. Man has changed his world, but his heart has the same needs. Let the LORD, Himself, speak this blessing upon you and your family.
Meditation: As priest of your household, pronounce this blessing over your family.
Matthew 13:56-58 (NIV) 56Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” 58And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
At first, Jesus’ hometown folk were impressed with Him. When they figured out what He was saying, they looked for reasons to be upset with Him. A person that does not like the message will soon accept a critical spirit and begin to find fault in the messenger. The Greek word for ‘offense’ is skandalizo which comes from the noun skandalon.Skandalon is the word used for the trigger of a trap. It is the lever that causes the trap to spring shut. When we look for faults in others, we are searching for something to grab hold of for accusation. The accuser of the brethren is Satan. We don’t realize that when we seize that trigger, the trap closes in on our mind. From that time forward all that person’s perfections appear in our mind as flawed. We assign motives that were never in that person’s mind, thinking we are more spiritual. Remember, the unredeemed find fault in the church every day. It is not a sign of spirituality, but of immaturity.
Those hometown folk that were with Jesus did not accept the call on His life, even as He read it from the Word of God. “How could this man be the one Isaiah wrote of? We know His sisters! He didn’t study under a great rabbi! How dare He claim a relationship with God that is greater than ours and instruct us!” When Jesus shared that His message would go to the Gentiles and reminded them of examples of the same in their own Bible, they tried to kill Him. It is sad that He could not do miracles there because of their refusal to believe and have faith. The trap they had sprung on themselves not only kept the miraculous from blessing the city, but it prevented them and those they influenced from entering the kingdom of heaven. The very people Jesus had grown up among, as a living example of a holy child, teen and young adult, refused the salvation they had been waiting for.
Don’t reach for that trigger! If you already have, repent! God can free you from the trap, if you will confess your sin. The revelation of an error in another is the call to intercede, not condemn. Isn’t that how you would like Jesus to treat you? (Ephesians 4:32; Matthew 6:14,15)
Warning: Don’t let a critical spirit enslave your thought life. Always look for the good, not the fault. (Romans 12:21)