Discerning God

John 6:43-45 WEB

Therefore Jesus answered them, “Don’t murmur among yourselves. [44] No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day. [45] It is written in the prophets, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who hears from the Father, and has learned, comes to me.

How can we know when the Father is teaching us something? In the above verse, Jesus says the Father will teach people directly. The problem is, how do we discern what is of the Father and what is our own selfish nature deceiving us? We all fall victim to our self-centeredness at times. And in that selfish state, we can interpret lust of the flesh as prompting of the Spirit.

How can we approach obedience when our flesh speaks so loudly? We have a helper, God’s word the Holy Bible. The Bible may not contain every truth, but every word in it is truth. When we feel prompted to a course of action, we can cross-reference the Word of God for direction. Having a knowledge of the Bible will protect us from following the flesh.

We can learn God’s directions, even when they come through the inner whisper of the Spirit. We have the Spirit and the Truth to direct us, and they will always agree. The Spirit of God will not tell us to do something that contradicts the Truth of the Bible. So our first line of defense against the deception of the flesh is to know the Word of God.

Lord Jesus, please help me press into reading and knowing your Word. Protect me Lord from the deception of the flesh. I want to follow you alone, please teach me how. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Humble Obedience

John 6:1-2 WEB

After these things, Jesus went away to the other side of the sea of Galilee, which is also called the Sea of Tiberias. [2] A great multitude followed him, because they saw his signs which he did on those who were sick.

We are sheep. We love to follow. We love to follow those everyone is following. We love to follow the rich, the beautiful, the talented. Jesus was talented. He could lay hands on people and heal their diseases. Everyone wanted to see a miracle. Both the sick and the well wanted to see a miracle, so they followed him.  

They did not follow him because they desired to do God’s will. They did not follow him because they realized he was the messiah. They did not follow him to humble themselves to his authority. They came to receive.

They came for selfish reasons, not because they wanted to come into obedience to Christ. Not because they desired to do God’s will. Many of the sick came to Jesus in the hope of being made well so they could rejoin society. And Jesus does not seem to mind.

However, I suspect Jesus dislikes when we try to coax people into the Kingdom by promising blessings without teaching the responsibilities of being a Christian. Promising goodies appeals to people’s selfishness, which is the opposite of Christianity.

Lord Jesus, please forgive my selfish behaviors and attitudes. Teach me to walk in humble obedience, submitting myself joyfully to your will. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.   

Seeing the Father

John 5:19 WEB

Jesus therefore answered them, “Most certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise.

This is one of those verses that is often ignored. It is a hard verse. How did Jesus see what the Father was doing? If he had supernatural insight, then he is doing something that we cannot do. On the other hand, if this verse can be explained apart from a supernatural event, then we can also see what the Father is doing.

So, how did he do it? How did Jesus see what the Father was doing? I believe he knew God’s written Word and it is from that scriptural knowledge he saw what the Father was doing.  If this explanation is true, then modern believers can also see what the Father is doing. Of course, it may be that Jesus looked at the circumstances and recognized the hand of God. If that is true, then it is also something we can do. Beyond knowing scripture and looking out of himself to see, Jesus also prayed frequently and for long periods of time. I suspect he heard from God in his prayer closet. And this too is something we can do.

We can join the work of the Father because we can see what the Father is doing. Like Jesus, we have the scriptures. One can truly know the Father with the Bible. If we can read scripture and recognize the difference between the culture and God’s responses, we get insight into how God thinks. The Old Testament reveals God’s habit of using the culture of the age to teach timeless spiritual lessons. Even that which is unsavory served the Father in the Bible. So, I can discern that God does not waste anything. Once that truth sinks in it becomes simple to steward resources well. We see what the Father does and then we do things in the same way.

We can also see the Father in the world around us. Jesus noticed. He saw the people around him. He saw events unfolding and recognized the work of the Father. In order to see others, he had to resist thinking about himself. That is something we can do. We can get our minds off our own affairs and see what is going on in the lives of those around us. When we see the hand of God we can partner with God, just like Jesus.

Also, like Jesus, we can pray. This is our lifeline to God. Jesus was dependent on prayer to know and understand God. Like us, he received comfort and grace. Also, like us, he probably spent time listening for the small still voice of God. I do not believe Jesus spent hours telling God everything he wanted. He sought God’s will rather than his own will during prayer.

All these earthly explanations for how Jesus saw the Father are available to us today. We can all read the Bible, pay attention to the lives of others, and seek God through prayer. We appear to have the same tools as the Lord for seeing what the Father is doing. However, Jesus had one more tool for recognizing God. Priorities. Jesus made God’s will and his interests his priority. We can do this as well. We can desire to build God’s kingdom more than we desire to build our own kingdom and then we will “see” what the Father is doing.

Lord Jesus, please forgive my self-focus and laziness regarding spiritual disciplines. Please increase my desire to build God’s Kingdom. Please help me see what the Father is doing. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.