Where Are You Looking?

Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following… . Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”

John 21:20 – 21

The first thing you do after God speaks to you is critical. Jesus was telling Peter what type of ministry he would have and what type of death he would suffer (John 21:18–19). It was a sacred moment in Peter’s life, as his Lord pulled back the curtain to his future. His was not to be an easy life but a life ordained and blessed by his Lord and Master. Rather than responding to what Jesus told him, Peter looked around at his fellow disciples. His glance fell upon John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. “But Lord, what about this man?” Peter asked. Peter had just been given the somber news of his future death. How natural to compare his assignment with that of the others! This is the great temptation of God’s servants: to compare our situation with that of others. Did God give my friend a larger house? Did God heal my friend’s loved one and not mine? Did God allow my friend to receive appreciation and praise for his work while I remain anonymous? Did God allow another Christian to remain close to her family while I am far removed from mine? Jesus assigned Peter and John to walk two different paths, but both Peter and John have enriched our lives. Jesus knew how dangerous it is when a servant takes his eyes off the master to focus on a fellow servant. Where is your focus? Have you become more concerned with how God is treating someone else than you are with how He is relating to you?

Don’t Be Disobedient

“Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.”

Acts 26:19

God does everything for a reason. God met Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road for a purpose (Acts 9:1–9). Saul had planned to persecute Christians, but his encounter with Christ changed him forever. God did more in that encounter than save Saul from his sin. God began to reveal His will for Paul’s life. God’s assignment for Paul was clear: “He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:15–16). God’s plan for Paul, revealed through a vision, involved both testifying before kings and suffering persecution. Paul was to enjoy the thrill of performing miracles, preaching to large crowds, and starting churches. But Paul was also to be stoned, shipwrecked, whipped, mocked, conspired against, and imprisoned (2 Cor. 11:23–28). Would we accept this part of his assignment as readily as the first? We never hear of Paul complaining about his commission from God. He never asked that he be given a role like Peter’s, or James’s, or John’s (Gal. 2:9–10). It was enough for Paul that he be given any task in the kingdom of God. As he neared the end of his ministry, Paul could boldly state to King Agrippa, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” Oh, to have Paul’s tenacity and devotion to the Father’s will! What joy there is not only to begin well in our Christian faith, but also to end faithfully! It is God’s desire that each of us could say at the end of our lives, “I was not disobedient.”

Get Ready To Meet God

“And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.”

Exodus 19:11

Meeting with God requires preparation. God is awesome and perfectly holy. Barging into His presence unprepared is an affront. When the children of Israel were to meet with Him, God commanded them first to take two full days to prepare. Once the people were ready, however, God spoke to them with thunder and lightning, with fire and smoke and the sound of loud trumpets (Exod. 19:16–25). It was through this encounter that God revealed such marvelous truths as the Ten Commandments, establishing the standard by which God expected His people to live. You cannot spend day after day in the world without its affecting your mind and will and heart. It doesn’t take long to become disoriented to the ways of God. The world has a dulling effect on your spiritual sensibilities. God established the Sabbath so His people could take an entire day to refocus on Him and His will for them after spending six days in the world. How do you prepare for your times of worship? What fills your mind the night before? Often the last thing you put into your mind at night is still on your mind the next morning. Genuine worship requires spiritual preparation. Your experiences of worship reflect your spiritual preparation. Prepare yourself now for your next encounter with God.

Searching for Intercessors

So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.

Ezekiel 22:30

God looks for those whose hearts are prepared to be intercessors before Him. Intercessors have hearts in tune with God’s heart. They are so acutely aware of what is at stake, for their land, that they will stay before God as long as necessary in order to obtain God’s answer. That is why you do not volunteer to be an intercessor. God enlists you. Why do we not intercede as we should ? Perhaps we are afraid to put God to the test. We worry that God might not answer our prayers. Yet God promises that if we ask, we will receive (Matt. 7:7). We may fail to intercede because we believe the busyness of our everyday lives is more effective than prayer. Jesus warned that apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Without being intimately acquainted with God and His will, all of our labors are futile. Perhaps we fail to intercede because we misunderstand the heart of God. Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem as He interceded for it (Matt. 23:37). If we truly have God’s love within us, we will feel compelled to plead with God on behalf of those who face His imminent judgment. Intercession is a lonely business. There may be many days or even years when there appear to be few results for your labor. Yet intercessors can be the only ones standing between a family and God’s judgment, or between an individual or nation and God’s wrath.

Being Made Perfect

Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.

Hebrews 5:8–9

There is a positive aspect to suffering. We all endure suffering to some degree, but the good news is that through it we can become like Jesus. Are you willing to pay whatever price is necessary in order to become like Christ? There are some things that God can build into your life only through suffering. Even Jesus, the sinless Son of God, was complete only after He had endured the suffering His Father had set before Him. Once He had suffered, He was the complete, mature, and perfect Savior through whom an entire world could find salvation. If you become bitter over your hardships, you close some parts of your life from God. If you do this, you will never be complete. Some places in your soul can be reached only by suffering. The Spirit of God has important things to teach you, but you can only learn these lessons in the midst of your trials. King Saul was made king without ever enduring hardship, but he never developed the character or maturity to handle God’s assignment. David spent years in suffering and heartache. When he finally ascended the throne, he was a man after God’s own heart. Don’t resent the suffering God allows in your life. Don’t make all your decisions and invest everything you have into avoiding hardship. God did not spare His own Son. How can we expect Him to spare us? Learn obedience even when it hurts!

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