called, decision, discernment, disciples, faith, follow Him, Gospel, Jesus Christ, Kingdom of God, leaving all, life, lordship, preaching

20/20 Vision, Entry #8

He said to them, “Come and you will see.”

John 1:39 (context, 1:31-51)

The calling of the 12 was one of the more remarkable events in history. Some experienced amazing things–Nathanael for instance (1:47-48). But I suppose the most astonishing thing was how the disciples left everything to follow in the steps of God.

“Come” is a word of submission. To obey it they must trust him. Jesus wants these men to follow Him. He wants them to ‘travel’ with Him. Jesus deeply desires that these new disciples see for themselves the things of God. He wants them to engage in the work and experience the Kingdom first-hand.

“You will see.”

There is a need for people who can really look at things and ‘see’ what is real. Today it seems the world is living in a fantasy. There are very few who can understand things as they really are. For many the ways and presence of God are never real. The world never understands what the Kingdom is all about. They are truly blind.

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Seeing the Inside, #59

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

John 7:24 (context vv. 14-24)

We need to admit that what we see isn’t always the way things really are. Some of our issues come from basic human ignorance, and yet, we need to admit there can be a satanic element. He darkens our perception, so we can’t see reality.

Judging “by appearances” is a thread in our DNA. We see the outside, and we imagine the insides. We’re limited by our failure to see the interior, and our vision is never clear. I suppose this is how it works, we can’t see the inside of things (1 Cor. 13:12.)

“It is the unseen and the spiritual in people that determines the outward and the actual.”

-Oswald Chambers

We must admit our vision is often deceitful. Jesus tells the Pharisees that their analysis isn’t real, they aren’t making holy decisions. They won’t accept him, they rather debate instead believe. The Pharisees’ never could understand Jesus.

But Jesus suggests that there is a real discernment that must be used, but it’ll require bypassing what seems real, or at least what everyone thinks is real. Discerning the difference isn’t always easy, as people are never what they seem. A beggar sleeping under the overpass can have the heart of a king.

Making distinctions is necessary, but typically we evaluate superficially–we see the outside, and the interior goes unseen. With this shallow assessment, the Pharisees’ can’t see beyond anything Jesus taught. They had already decided.

We must have the gift of discernment; the world is confusing and we’ve lost our north star. We’re to be a people of perception, and we need to understand the times and seasons. We must learn prayer, and pray hard. God’s gift of discernment is always given to us for intercession, and never ever for fault-finding.

Me, on a good day.

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God’s Sign Language, #47

“You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”

Matthew 16:3, (context, vv. 1-12)

This disturbing union of Pharisee and Sadducee was telling–they were polar opposites. One group was ultra-conservative, and the other flaming liberal, the yin and the yang. They detested each other. To somehow unite these hated enemies must have taken someone with some flair!

Leadership could no longer discern between what was right and what was wrong. These men had gravitated into high office for selfish reasons. They were hypocrites; they loved the praise of men immensely, and would never dream of giving up the power and prestige.

Hypocrisy becomes my way of ensuring that I can retain all that honor. When our positions of oversight, direction and wisdom are taken over by confused leaders who haven’t the slightest idea of what God is speaking we are in critical danger. We need those who can interpret these things to us without caving into either the fear or praise of men.

The Jews of Jesus’ day had a saying that if all the hypocrites in the world were divided into ten parts, Jerusalem would contain nine of the ten parts. Jesus wasn’t the first one who saw the religious lies of His day. It was more or less understood by everyone.

Jesus the Messiah had truly come. He preached, taught and healed. He revealed Himself over and over to the Jewish people. He explained the Kingdom of God. The Jewish “leaders,” didn’t recognize Him, they refused to see. They were the hypocrites who gravitated to ministry for the prestige that was given; never for the responsibility of the office.

Truth is as critical to a church as love is.

We are to be known by our love, but we’re also to be understood as being people of truth. We must understand the difference between black and white. We need leadership who will look at these sticky issues and explain it to us. We need them to decipher the moment.

I don’t know what the future holds for the Church. Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be an adventure. Let’s keep listening to Jesus, reading the Word, and hearing each other. Let’s avoid hypocrisy as if it were the smallpox. Let’s pray for leadership that understands the moment, and that knows the dark evil of the praise of men.

“For not only does sound reason direct us to refuse the guidance of those who do or teach anything wrong, but it is by all means vital for the lover of truth, regardless of the threat of death, to choose to do and say what is right even before saving his own life.”

A.W. Tozer

  

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