Listen to Jesus and not others who are not walking the talk.
I’ve been having a lot of fun this week, delving into the knowledge of God’s Word. A repeated thought in 2 Peter is, “Make every effort.” And I am reminded of Jesus’ words to the crowd that following Him in John 6:27, “Work hard for the food that endures to eternal life.” So many are caught in a snare of the devil. They are working hard for things that don’t profit past a day or possibly sustain their satisfaction for a few. The devil is good at taking our desires and dreams and causing an obsession that keeps us from true righteousness and grace. Christians can be caught in the error of their ways, feeling like it’s okay with what they are doing. But reading Scripture shows us that there is a food and labor we must seek that leads to eternal life. Not our imaginations or dreams we are caught pursuing.
In John 6, a crowd runs around trying to find Jesus for food to fill their stomachs. Jesus says to them, don’t work hard for the temporary but seek me for the food that will profit you eternal life. One thing I noted in my mind is that our Heavenly Father already wants to give us our basic needs, food, and clothing. “For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:32-33). But there is something we must do. When reading 2 Peter 1:6, there is this same thought of action, “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness and to goodness knowledge.” It continues with more growth and sustenance needed, “And to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness, and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” Is this the pursuit of the world? No, and it isn’t. And it will not produce the love of God in us.
The direction we must take is in opposition to this world’s dreams and hopes. We must be careful because, on the end day, Jesus will look at one thing – did you hear Him, and did you do what He said? Grace won’t cover us then because grace is given to change us from the wretched into the righteousness and holiness of God. It’s an impossible task on our own and takes place in an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ, seeking His righteousness first above everything else. We do this with our eyes off the world and the many examples in it, even many Christians. Our eyes and minds are to stay on the source of righteousness and feed on the Bread of Life from Jesus, believing in His Words and allowing them to develop in us. As I write this, I think of my song, “Fullness of You.”
I come and take the bread of life from You
You laid down Your life
So, I could be filled with You
The goodness of God
The mercy You bring to my soul.
(Sorry, I have yet to record this song – pray that I will.)
In 2 Peter 3:2, we are told, “recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.” We are talking about taking not of the complete account of the Scripture, the old and New Testament together. Nothing is out of alignment. All speak of the message of life found in Jesus Christ. There is no differentiation.
I fear so many are casual in their minds and are not abiding but seeking what they can get from those around them and success. They are blinded and confused by the devil to feed and satisfy their dreams and hopes.
Leo bought me a single stem rose the other day. It came wrapped in plastic. As soon as I unwrapped it and placed it in water, the rose began to bloom. In John Chapter 6:25, people were coming in Jesus for false hope. They were like this rose, wrapped in plastic. Jesus replies to these seekers, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (John 6:27). Jesus continues, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29). Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35)
Let me ask you, “Is your hope in the right place? Are your roots in the living waters of Jesus, believing His Words? Or are you clothed in the hope of the temporary and of this world?”
My daughter is giving a message this weekend to a group of young teenagers. She will give the same message that without coming to Jesus and believing in Him, we are like a single stem rose, a flower or plant, without hope of surviving. It’s the message I gave to a group of women in Haiti. Before I began the conference, I bought a bunch of flowers and placed them in a vase without water next to me. Throughout the three-day conference, these women watched these flowers wilt and slowly perish.
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”John 6:35
Come to Jesus every day. It’s so important to be feeding on the right source. God’s Word is the only thing that will endure forever, and we are like grass quickly withering and our youth and glory fading. Come to Jesus, hear His Words, and believe. It sounds simple, but it’s not when there is a road of traffic seeking temporary fame, speaking His name but not the reflection. So many have gone the way of Balaam. Their greed has taken them down a path that isn’t the righteous acts of the Saints, and they are leading many in the flock astray. Balaam was God’s prophet. He knew God, but his heart didn’t seek the righteousness of God. Come to Jesus, hear His message, and believe. In other words, make them your actions in your life. Obey them, abide in them, like the flower in a vase of living waters, and you will bloom. But not in an earthly manner, but heavenly.
When Leo bought me home this single stem rose, it spoke profoundly to my heart. God sees my laboring. So often, I am alone in my pursuits of what God is leading me to do – writing songs, producing them, sending them out, writing my book, blogs/posts, recording messages to teach. On and on it goes, and it’s lonely, unforgiving as I labor in a world against the righteousness of God. It’s not the path of worldly success, nor should it be because God’s ways are heavenly. They are offensive to the flesh and its desires and what the devil is trying to do in people. But what will it profit you if you die alone? (John 12:22) Alone without abiding in God’s Word and loving Him.
“No eyes has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him”2 Corinthians 2:9
I want to close with this thought because after I wrote my last paragraph about my suffering, I thought of Jesus going off on His own, alone somewhere on the mountainside. He didn’t have a home here to go to, and people so often didn’t understand Him. But at night, He sought His Heavenly Father, and they spoke together. I want to tell you through Jesus; God wants to have a relationship with you like this, the single stem rose where He’s sharing truth and His glory with you and how to be with Him forever. We have to choose this world with what we are pursuing – the righteousness of God or something else. And know that the devil is trying to use your heart like Balaam to get you to follow something of gain to self.
I fear a lot of Christians are being led astray by their desires. Paul wrote with tears, “For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:18). They love the things and the pursuits of this world. And they love them more than the sacrifice and obedience to the Lord who gave them the freedom to do His will above theirs. We are being tested here in what we love. Will we be found worthy at the end? It’s a question God is asking each of us like he asked Peter, “Do you love me for than these?”
I hope this is an encouragement to you to take the lowly position, the humble and selfless seeking of Christ who offered Himself for the well-being of others and labored for the will of God that didn’t lead Him to glory in this world but in the heavens.