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Friday, April 24, 2009

White fence and horse pasture
A beautiful horse pasture around the corner from our house. After several days of rain we have a beautiful day and a great weekend projected, with temps near 80º. Everything around us is really greening up!

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"You Must Follow Me"

"Jesus answered, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me'" (John 21:22).

On Wednesday evening, in our Bible Study, Brooksyne selected hymns that were testimonial in nature; "I Know Whom I Have Believed" and "I Will Praise Him" were two of them.  She then asked for others in the congregation to share how they came to Christ. Lloyd, a man in his late sixties, spoke up.  He was eight years old at the time and he described his conversion experience like this:  "I felt a knocking at my heart's door and it wouldn't go away."  His mother had told him of his need for salvation and he eventually responded to the Spirit's knocking and he received Christ as His personal Savior.

Testimonies reveal how God has worked in the past or is presently working in our lives.  Our testimonies vary greatly depending on our different backgrounds, our experiences, and the various ways in which the Spirit of God speaks to our hearts. God is a God of variety and simply does not work in each of our lives in the same way just as our personalities, understandings, and receptivity vary. For instance one man may share of the how the Lord healed his wife of cancer and this joyous experience brought him to faith.  Another may share about God's comforting and sustaining grace that led him to faith after his wife died in a tragic accident.

After Christ's resurrection Peter had an interesting exchange with Jesus that was part of the restoration process following his denial of Christ.  Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him and three times he instructed him to feed and care for His sheep.  Then Jesus prophetically spoke concerning the manner of Peter's eventual death, which we dealt with in yesterday's message.

Peter had been given some idea regarding his future testimony.  Now he was curious. He must have wondered what kind of future testimony his peers in ministry would have.

Don't we all feel that way?  At this point he and Jesus were apparently walking along as they conversed together.  Peter must have turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved (John) was following them.  He then pointed or nodded in his direction and then bluntly asked, "Lord, what about him?" 

Peter and John, along with James, had been a part of the inner circle of disciples who on numerous occasions in the gospels had been allowed to get a little closer to Jesus, such as at the Mount of Transfiguration or the Garden of Gethsemane.  Peter, after hearing about his own manner of death, also wanted to know what was in store for John. * 

I can identify with his inquisitiveness, but Christ essentially tells him that it's none of his business: "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?" He then reiterates quite emphatically the central call to discipleship, "You must follow me."

That's such a needed word for us today.  So often we may wonder about God's leading or blessing in the lives of others.  Why did they get that promotion?  Why are they prospering in a manner greater than I?  Those of us in ministry observe that some appear to be more blessed with larger congregations or greater ministry skills and so forth. 

Or, we may consider those dealing with a very difficult trial or who face an early death and we may wonder about that as well. I consider the story of a newly married youth pastor here in Lancaster County several years ago who was working on the church van when it accidentally run over him.  Or the young man who was called to missions and prepared himself for service in Africa but died of cancer shortly after reaching the field.  Why? Why? Why? 

May we hear our Lord's stern, but loving command, "What is that to you?"  Note that this rebuke was not about something that had happened but rather Peter's inquisitiveness about what will happen in the future.

The very first recorded words that Peter heard personally directed to him from Jesus were "Come, follow me" (Matthew 4:19).  And the very last recorded personal words to Peter from Jesus were, "You must follow me."  This is a clear message to Peter and to us regarding the call to be His disciple!  It remains the supreme call of Jesus Christ to each one of us. 

Many years later when Peter was writing his epistles he again recalled this command to follow and wrote, "You should follow in His steps."  (This became the source verse for "In His Steps" by Charles M. Sheldon, one of the greatest Christian books ever written.)

Today may we again hear and heed His call to each one of us; "You must follow me."  Let us hear this call amidst all the other voices that contend for our allegiance.  Hear it simply.  Hear it clearly.  Receive it personally.  "You must follow me."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Jesus, when I chose to follow You, You changed the direction of my life.  I truly want to follow in Your steps because Your steps direct me in the paths of righteousness and blessing, rather than aimlessly wandering in the paths of wickedness and regret.  Keep my heart faithful and my eyes fixed on the paths marked out for me on this earthly journey that will lead me to my heavenly home.

* It's interesting to me that Peter didn't ask about James.  He was the first of the twelve disciples to die a martyr's death as recorded in Acts 12.

Robert with welder's hood
In the course of our work in corporate chaplaincy we have some interesting and sometimes humorous experiences. Brooksyne was visiting with a lady in the far corner of a large plant when I met up with her. We decided to walk back through the factory floor together and I introduced her to some men she hadn't met along the way as we walked. We came upon Robert, who was welding and had his welding hood partly up revealing his face. As he extended his hand to greet Brooksyne the hood accidentally flopped down startling Brooksyne and probably embarassing Robert a bit.  We all got a good chuckle out of it though!

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
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In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.

"I Will Lift My Eyes"  Video   A powerful expression of faith in the Lord by Bebo Norman.

"My Help"  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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