God will always act consistent with His Word.
The following quote struck a deep chord within me. “I sometimes wonder how hard it’s been for God not to act in history. How must it feel to see the glories of creation—the rain forests, the whales, the elephants—obliterated one by one? How must it feel to see the Jews themselves nearly annihilated?”
While shedding tears from both compassion and anger, God holds back from stomping perpetrators out, if only for the reason His love gives them another chance to turn back to Him.
Then I thought, “How must it feel when He sees me make less than stellar choices that He knows will only hurt me and those around me?” His so slow reaction time should lead to two responses.
One, we should give praise to God for His tremendous love and be thankful for the truth that He’ll always react consistently with His Word. And two, we should give grace and mercy to those whose bad choices affect us. Let’s give them the same room God give us to turn back to Him.
You show who you love by whom you listen and follow.
“The sheep of Mine the voice of Me listen I know them and follow Me” is the literal translation of John 10:27. The word order is quite revealing.
First of all it reveals who belongs to Jesus. Those who both listen to and follow Him are His sheep. Stated another way, those who listen to every other voice under the sun, including their own, rather than His, are not His sheep. Actions speak louder than words – are you listening to Him?
And then it shows why you’d want to listen to Him. He knows you intimately, inside and out. He’s aware of your existence and gets you. He knows what you’re thinking, feeling and experiencing. He also knows the future! Therefore, when He speaks, He knows what’s best and can guide you through life’s situations the best as He is the best.
As a Jesus sheep, you will practice listening to Him in His Word as well as in your heart/head. (Ya know, He lives inside you. Right?) As a Jesus sheep, you will practice putting what He says into your daily action steps. As you do both, your life will be changed for the better, even though your circumstances may not.
The Word Christian means follower of Christ. Right now, the world sure needs to see followers of Christ, true Jesus sheep, listening to and following Him. He’s worth following, as well, as He really does know you better than you know yourself.
Life has its gnats!
I was worshiping my God the other day when the Lord had me stop and sit on a shaded bench. It was a rather warm day where I had begun to perspire. So, I gladly accepted His invitation to continue worshiping while sitting down.
Those tiny water molecules on my skin, however, attracted lots and lots of large gnats and flies! As I was swatting them away, trying to stay focused on listening to the Lord, I heard Him say, “Leave them alone! Can’t you listen and follow Me despite those little distractions?”
“Lord, yes they are little, but they are a big annoyance! The buzzing, the crawling are very distracting.” Then I remembered how often I’ve heard Christians say, “I have to have good music in order to worship God; therefore, I’m heading to the church down the street because their worship is awesome.”
Here’s something to think about. Life is full of gnats and flies buzzing around and landing on us. Yes, worship can include music, but worship is any act of obedience to the Lord even one of sitting on a shaded bench full of gnats.
Jesus was worshiping His Father on the cross…despite the distraction of pain (and probably plenty of flies too!). He took care of His mother. He forgave the soldiers. He saved a criminal. And He fulfilled Scripture all the while responding how the Father wanted through acts of worship.
Life is full of distractions that want to draw our attention away from responding to the Lord. I could choose to focus on Jesus or the gnats. That was my choice at that moment as it is with every moment: I can choose to focus on His voice and follow Him or the distractions. It’s your choice too.
It takes guts to follow Jesus.
In the movie Dunkirk, the Allied coalition’s backs were literally up against the wall – a wall of water called the English Channel. 400,000 soldiers were sitting ducks on the beaches of Dunkirk trying to escape the German onslaught while waiting to board British ships to take them home. Ships that were, however, being sunk at alarming rates.
Because of this, non-military people were enlisted to sail their private boats to rescue the soldiers. One boat captain and his son were chugging along toward Dunkirk when they picked up a surviving soldier of a sunken ship. He asked, upon boarding, where they were headed. Dunkirk was the reply.
The soldier shouted, “If we go back there, we’ll die!” “The captain knew if he didn’t keep going, though, others would. He turned his head and kept chugging onward. He wasn’t a soldier and neither was his son, but they entered the battle to save lives. Because of boat captains like this, the Allied army lived to fight and win the war…another day.
“When Jesus saw the crowds (like those soldiers on the beach), He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless (defenseless from the planes strafing the beach and the torpedo boats sinking ships), like sheep without a shepherd (no one to take them safety home). Then He said to His disciples (the ship captains), ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field (rescue those soldiers!).’” Matthew 9:36-38
Why would Jesus ask us for such a prayer? Apparently He knew there would be war over sharing Jesus, a war to humble ourselves in order to save others! He understood His disciples would struggle to die to self. What will others think of me if I say the politically incorrect statement Jesus made, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” He is the only way to life both now and forever. People are not going to like that at all!
Jesus said it, not me, and He’s telling us to ask Him to send workers to bring the hurting, the helpless and those without a shepherd safely home to Him. That’s the easy part. Will you pray this prayer, say at 9:38 AM or PM every day?
And if He asks you to be one of those harvesters, will you go? All you have to do is share what Jesus has done in and for you and harvest those He’s made ready. This, however, will take the same guts (faith) as the boat captain sailing toward the dangerous beaches of Dunkirk. This will be my prayer for you and me, “Lord send us into Your harvest fields!”