May 29th, 2017
“And immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” -ESV
This section of scripture is one that for years I have just passed over and not really taken a second to ponder how this scripture could really impact my life. It’s one that recently has penetrated my heart deeply and makes me really question what I am doing and who God is. This whole chapter is really one that I could spend hours talking about and realizing that I am so lost but yet so beyond found and blessed by my Father. The realization that He calls and I need to answer.
The word that really caught my eye in this verse is IMMEDIATELY. A word that is so strong in it’s meaning yet so diluted and scanned over like it’s of no importance. This word is used 9 times in the first chapter alone of John. It’s used in many different contexts yet this is the one that stuck out to me the most.
I love the urgency that comes to my mind when I think about how the fisherman IMMEDIATELY left their nets and followed Jesus. Many times we read about how people follow Jesus and in reading it I have think “well, was it immediate or did they ponder it for a minute, question, doubt and then believe”. Then I look at myself and ask myself the same question…do I IMMEDIATELY go and follow Jesus or do I wait, ponder, doubt and then believe? I so badly want to be that person that just goes, no doubts, no fears, no hesitation. But that is not who I am. I have questions, I have fears, I have doubts, I hesitate. Yes, the fear, the hesitation and doubt can and has saved me from evil things but it has also held me back from going full force into something that the Lord has asked me to do.
When I read this scripture I am taken back to over a year ago when I did take that step of faith and allow God to take my fears, hesitations, and doubts and allow me to step into something that would only increase my faith. That “thing” would be IGNITE. I would like to think that I immediately got up, left my “nets” behind and immediately followed the Lord and His plan. But I didn’t, and I still find myself not immediately going after the Lord in absolutely everything. The Lord has allowed me to be blessed beyond belief because of that leap of faith yet everyday I still find myself hiding in a corner not wanting to step out into the light to see what God has for me because I am held back by fears, hesitation and doubts and the possibility of being pushed out of my comfort zone and possibly not getting what I want or thought was best for me. But each day that goes by it gets a little bit easier to step out of the corner that is so filled with fears, doubts and hesitations, to leave my “nets” behind because the Lord continues to remind me that I am in need of Him every second of every day that whether I am in good times or hard times I am in need of a physician(Chapter 2 verse 17). He will have my hand every step of the way and every time I find myself walking just a little bit astray He guides me back onto His path, a path filled with grace, love, mercy and a place that no matter how imperfect I am is guided by a God that is perfect.
“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.”
“For this reason because I have heard….” Because Paul had heard of their faith in the Lord Jesus and their love toward the Saints, he was not ceasing to give thanks for them and he was remembering them in his prayers. I had to laugh at myself when I read this and thought this thought. I thought how petty of me to circumstantially pray and give thanks. Yes, I thank the Lord everyday for His love towards me but how often do I thank the Lord for the love He has allowed me to feel towards others or towards Him or that I am loved by those around me. How often do I pray for someone just because or how often do I remember to pray for those that I have set reminders on my phone for. I am terrible at remembering to pray for anything other than what I need or want and even when I know I should be taking something to the Lord in prayer I’m stubborn because I don’t need help, I can figure it out on my own. The Lord eventually gets me to the point of finally committing whatever the situation is to Him but it still should not be about me. Now I have to ask myself do I, when I do pray for others expect something in return or expect them to just automatically pray for me. Paul didn’t pray because he was getting something in return, no he did it because of what he had heard, how they loved and how they had faith. So do I only pray because of what I have seen or do I trust what I hear from others or even what I hear the Lord telling me.
Paul prayed and asked that they would receive the Spirit of wisdom, revelation in knowledge of God, that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened, that they would know what is the hope to which they have been called, that they would know the riches of His inheritance, and the immeasurable greatness of His power. Paul wasn’t being selfish in his prayers. He asked that they would either receive or understand. Not that he would gain or receive anything in return. My prayer life should not be circumstantial, selfish, or plain old none existent in any way shape or form but it should be spirit lead, faith lead, but most importantly GOD lead.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
The only way I can enter in to God’s presence is through my Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. He has made access to the Father possible, and I can now come boldly, without fear or trembling into the presence of God. I now don’t have to come crawling to God on my hand’s and knee’s, even though I sometimes do, to be in the presence of God. I can enter confident and courageous. Jesus open this door when He died on the cross for my sins. There is a path I follow, lined with His precious blood that leads me home to God. Access is mine as I come to the thrown of grace and mercy searching for grace and mercy. Under the Old Covenant, only the high priest could gain access to the mercy seat and only once a year on the day of Atonement. But now we, as plain old human beings are able to enter boldly anytime we want, 24/7. In verse 15 it explains why we are able to enter boldly. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Because of Jesus I am able to enter in to the presence of God. It really blows my mind that Jesus, perfect in every way was tempted as I am tempted. I am a human, sinful in every way yet made new by the washing of the blood of a man who in no way committed the same sins that I have committed yet paid the price for me because He loves me. I get chills on every part of my body when I think about this because He got pain and aguish, I got love and washing of all my nastiness.
Lord Jesus, thank you for the price you paid of me. Thank you for making me new and making it to where I am able to enter into the presence of God without fear but boldly even though I don’t deserve it, thank you for loving me for the sinful person I am not asking me to change. I love you Lord.
Application: I will write, “boldly to the throne” on a note card and keep it in my Bible to remind me that because of Jesus I am free to enter boldly in to the presence of God.
~2 Corinthians 4:7~
“ But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”
Who am I that God would allow me to be to be trusted with the Gospel. Eternal life is a priceless treasure. And He puts it into vessels, or pots made from clay. He doesn’t put it into a beautiful treasure chest, but into you and I. There is no possible way for us humans, made from this earth, to be able to draw people to God without God doing the work. Its kind of like this.…you wouldn’t give someone a present that the packaging is more valuable than the actual present. It would be pretty strange if the person just kept going on and on about how beautiful the wrapping is and never actually opening the present to see what is inside. That is why God uses “clay pots” like you and I so that no one will glory in themselves or so that no one else will glory in them but that they will glory in who He is. It is foolish for me to exault myself. He chose me because I am not exalted; and if I seek to exalt myself it will render me useless to Him. He is my Creator all the glory and honor should go to Him not myself. I find this verse very fitting for the battle that I have been facing lately. A battle that comes when I start to think about myself and what is wrong with me instead of focusing on God and how great He is. I look at others and see the gifts that God has blessed them with and desire to have them and ask “why can’t I just be okay with the gifts He has given to me.” I am a broken vessel and I was made for one purpose and that is to glorify God in all that I do no matter what gifts He has chosen to give to me. I have to ask myself…do I want these other gifts for myself and to be exalted by others or do I want them because I want to bring God glory thought it. If I am completely honest it is for myself but I am slowly learning to be content with who God made me and glorify Him through my life no matter what.
Father, thank you for how and who you have made me to be. Help me to glorify you in all that I do and to not want to exalt myself through the gifts that you have given to me. Thank you for trusting me with Your beautiful Treasure and to be Your vessel, Your clay pot. Help me to show who You are in and threw all I do.
Application: I am going to write this verse out in my journal and I will reflect on it all through out this next week trying to remember it when the discontentment makes its way into my thoughts.
Psalm 37: 3-4
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
This verse really hit home for me. For years I had dealt with not trusting God. I couldn’t die to my own desires and wants to trust God that He had it all under control. It was my own selfishness that was holding me back. I had two dreams growing up. One, to become a college athlete. Second, to visit a foreign country and share the gospel with the lost. As the years went on the desire to becoming more and more real. My senior year of high school hit and it was time to make the decision. Follow my own desires or let Christ take over. I had made the decision to go to college and play softball. I was getting my dream. I beyond excited, but Christ had a different plan for my life. He was just waiting for me to come to my senses. I was two weeks from going to college and the Lord really pressed on my heart that if I continued to go down this path even though it was my dream it was not going to be good. I got scared. For years I had been following Christ but I was just now realizing that I hadn’t given myself completely to Him. A month later I was planing to go to Guatemala to spend a year of my life serving the Lord with my whole heart. He was giving me my other dream. Within a few months Christ had given me the choice to choose between both of the desires of my heart. One would lead me closer to Him and one would draw me farther away from Him. It wasn’t an easy choice but the one I made was the right one. I don’t and will never regret the decision to follow Christ completely. I found myself trusting Him more and more and finding my identity in Him. I was always worried about what the next step would be but not I know that the cure for worry is TRUST.
2 Corinthians 6:4&8-10
“but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in affliction, hardships calamities. (8-10) through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as imposters , and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying,and behold, we live; as punished; and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor yet making many rich; as having nothing but possessing everything.”
Paul is talking about his ministry here. The many trials, the problems, the provisions and resources that came, and the contrast between perception and reality. Ministry is a difficult thing. There are ups and downs. Some days are definitely better than others. There is a constant attack when you are in any sort of ministry. If there isn’t than you are probably doing something wrong. The attacks are what make you stronger and rely on the Lord. Up until this point in my life I was not involved in any ministry. Growing up in the church all my friends were in ministries, and all my family besides my younger brother where in ministry. I saw the constant battle that my friends and family faced while in ministry with others, themselves, and God and I said no thank you. We are all just human so when human and human are working together there is going to be some problems. I never wanted to be in a constant battle with my fellow believers, never wanted to be in a constant battle with myself and having to consider others before me, I never wanted to battle God when He would place convictions on my heart. I felt that it was better for me to just go to church every Sunday and Wednesday and watch as my family and friends dealt with the difficulties of ministry. Big mistake! It wasn’t enough for me to be the every Sunday and Wednesday Christian, I am a person that needs to be involved, if Im not I start to feel not needed so I will slowly and slowly drift away. This time spent in IGNITE has taught me that ministry is incredibly important! Yes, there is a battle with others, myself, God, and so on but when you get to witness the fruit that comes from that ministry is it so worth it. There are going to be those battles, those ups and downs, those good and bad days just about everywhere I go so why not have it be when I am in deep fellowship with God and around my fellow believers. Ministry is an incredible thing when it is centered around Christ and He is the one leading you.
Application: I have been thinking a lot about the ministry that the Lord would have me do when I return home so I am going continue to pray and ask the Lord where He would have be.
~Titus 3: 1-3~
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarrels, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.”
Confession…I have always had a hard time being submissive to authority, especially those that I know very well and who aren’t very good people. But God doesn’t always allow “good” people to be in charge. There is a reason for that because my role as a believer is to be submissive. To be obedient to those that are in rule over me, whether good or bad. That is until they order me to do something that directly contradicts the commandments of God in which I then obey God rather than man(Acts 5:29). I’m not gonna lie, I fall into gossip. I am only human and a good story about someone else’s down falls will make me feel better about myself. I have had friends that know it is wrong and friends that that is all they do all the time. The time I spent with those that gossip and speak evil of everyone were the times were I felt as if I was sinking in my walk. I knew it was wrong but I was trapped by my flesh. I have a very competitive nature and avoiding quarrels is one of my down falls. If I am not right then I will make it to where the other person is also wrong because if I am not right then no one is right. I have gotten better I promise, but I still do fail all the time at being okay with being wrong. Along with this competitive nature comes being aggressive. Gentleness…ha…this use to not be something that I would even consider because I always had to be the best and with always striving to be the best I would sometimes hurt others. Gentle is a word that comes to mind when I think of Christ. Gentle with children, gentle with you, gentle with me. Working with kids everyday for almost the past year has really shown me the love and gentleness of Christ. The fact that I am still able to love, be gentle, and show kindness to kids that can be little punks shows me that I would not be able to do it without Christ. “To show perfect courtesy toward all people”. Why ALL people? Some don’t deserve it. I have had to learn over the years that even though some don’t deserve it, Christ still died for those people and most likely they need the gentleness and perfect courtesy more than others! I was and still am foolish, disobedient, led astray, a slave to certain weaknesses, passion and pleasures but by the grace and mercy of God I am set free. Verses 4-7 “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to hope of eternal life.”
Application: I am going to write in my journal the areas of my life that I fall short and ask God to show me how I can withstand those struggles.