“Anyone who is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Anyone! “To whosever believes…” (John 3:16) Whosoever! “To as many that received Him, to as many who believed in His name…” (John 1:12) To as many! “He would that none would perish” (2 Peter 3:9) None!
God did what He did for all, He has invited all into the His Kingdom. You have been invited. From wherever you were, whatever you looked like, whatever you had done. The only qualification is Jesus and He has been provided!
So, God does not disqualify anyone. God by nature and action has demonstrated His love for us in Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8). We disqualify ourselves. We disqualify other people. We drift into becoming just like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, always trying to look like we are in and proving that others are out. We look at our circumstances and the fruit of our lives and we say, not me. We look at others and the fruit of their lives and say, not them.
We become masters of taking short portions of scripture that fit our offenses or self hatred and we bludgeon ourselves and others. We create standards of righteousness that we demand we and others must meet. We always fall short. I wrote a song many years ago regarding this and one of the lines said,
“One foot in front of the other, gotta walk my straight line. I can’t meet my own standard but I’m convinced it’s mine. I’m lost inside, my heart knows it’s true. I’ll lie to myself, saying that I don’t need You.”
No wonder we are angry and feel as though God’s judgment has come and that the church is loosing. Whether we see it this way or not, it really leaves us living upon a works based righteousness that Jesus gave His life to set us free from. We listen to the wrong voices. We listen through our fear, offenses, disappointments.
I just wonder sometimes looking at Facebook, listening to conversations, how we behave and I wonder. Do we really know Him like we think we do?
In John 10:27-30 Jesus is dealing with people demanding that He confirm or deny that He was the Messiah. Jesus responds to their demand with a statement that should make all of us pay attention. He says, ““I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” These people had seen Jesus. They had been around him, heard him speak, seen how he responded to people, and witnessed miracles. They missed it. Jesus was standing physically in front of them talking and they didn’t know His voice.
“What does Jesus sound like?”
We need to be listening for and learning His voice. We need to fall in love with His voice. We need to become so intimately acquainted with Him that there is no mistaking His presence. This is a choice issue. God has come to us. He has drawn us with loving kindness. He has provided the Word to us both written and living. We choose to follow, listen, come, and engage or we become captivated with ourselves, problems, offenses, and fears. The Lord honors our will. He lets us have the things we choose. We hear what we want to hear.
What we are missing is discipline that flows from of the love for God. When we understand that we always have been, are, and always will be loved we can then live from Love not for it! Discipline is a choice we make and continue to make for the fruit it will bear.
We shouldn’t pray once and decide “it” didn’t work. We shouldn’t read our Bibles once and say there’s nothing in there worth reading. We shouldn’t listen once and decide that God doesn’t speak. These are things we practice out of our relationship that ever deepen our relationship God as we continue in them.
In the chapters leading up to Matthew 16, Jesus encounters people who have varying perceptions of who He was.
- Pharisees and Keepers of the law – Felt he was a threat and a fraud
- Cannanite Woman –Saw him as hope for her daughter’s healing
- Feeds the 4000 – They saw him as one who can miraculously provide
When Jesus comes to Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13-19), He stands in the midst of a place where temples of worship to many gods were in full swing and asks, “Who do people say that I am?” They answer saying that people conjecture that He is John the Baptist or Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the prophets returned from the dead. In other words, they don’t know! Jesus then asks them, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter, who tends to be a blurter, answers quickly. “You are the Messiah, Son of the living God.”
How did Peter know this? He had spent time with Jesus. He literally knew Jesus’ voice. He had spent time in Jesus’ presence. Peter watched, walked, and talked with Him. He had given everything to follow and become like Jesus. He was intimate with Jesus
If we are going to hear God, see what He sees, and walk in what He has for you. You need to know Him for yourself. Not on the basis of what I say, Not on the latest book, big church pastor, or favorite worship band……
But you, face to face with God. It’s your relationship with Jesus. Walk with Him and talk with Him. Not just one day, but day after day. When you fail, get up if you can and continue. If you can’t get up, just cry out and reach out to Him. Pursue intimacy with Jesus. Everything flows from that place.
Over the coming days, I’m going to cover some good disciplines for us as followers of Jesus that deepen our intimacy with Jesus, produce a greater awareness of His presence, and grows our ability to discern His voice.