Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 30 November 2022:
2 Kings 19:1 — As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the LORD.
Faced with a seemingly helpless situation, Hezekiah went straight to The Lord. Where do you go?
2 Kings 19:4 — Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.
Never stop praying.
2 Kings 19:7 – Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.
God can change hearts in ways beyond your power or understanding.
2 Kings 19:12, 13 – Have the gods of the nations delivered them…?
To the world, Christianity is just another religion, another belief system. The world will challenge your faith by comparing Christianity to false, powerless religions. However, as the Founding Fathers said, Truth is self-evident.
2 Kings 19:14 – Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord.
Place all of your problems before the LORD. The Maker of Heaven and Earth is in control and loves you unconditionally.
2 Kings 19:19 — So now, O Lord our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.
In our lives, God is always working on two things at once, He is working on our hearts, and He is working through our lives to reveal Himself to the world. In both efforts, He is bringing glory to Himself. We must never lose perspective that our lives are all about Him and not about us. We were created to bring glory to God and to serve Him. Had Hezekiah defeated Sennacherib through his own military might, Hezekiah would not have had to rely on faith, and the world would not have acknowledged the power of God. In Hezekiah’s prayer, Hezekiah seems to understand that the ultimate goal of his salvation is to bring glory to God. However, after God miraculously saves Judah from Sennacherib, Hezekiah seems to lose perspective and becomes self-centered as we will soon read.
2 Kings 19:22 — Whom have you mocked and reviled? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes to the heights? Against the Holy One of Israel!
When people fight against God’s people, they are fighting against God.
2 Kings 19:34 — For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake.
God’s work in your life is ultimately about Him, not you.
2 Kings 19:35-37 — The power and the beliefs of the most powerful man on the planet are absolutely nothing before God.
John 21:3 — Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Trained for three years as a disciple of Jesus, charged with seeking lost souls, Peter, in fear and doubt, went back to his old business, doing what was comfortable for him, doing what he knew he could do under his own strength rather than doing what now seemed impossible to him.
John 21:15 – So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”
“Jesus has a wonderful way of restoring us when we fail Him! He does not humiliate us. He does not criticize us. He does not ask us to make a resolution to try harder. Rather, He takes us aside and asks us to reaffirm our love for Him. Peter miserably failed his Lord when he fled with the other disciples from the Garden of Gethsemane. Later, he publicly denied that he even knew Jesus. Peter must have wondered if he had been capable of being Jesus’ disciple when he was unfaithful to Jesus in His most crucial hour….
You may be painfully aware that you have failed your Lord in many ways. Perhaps you were not faithful. Perhaps you disobeyed His word to you. Perhaps you denied Him by the way you lived. Jesus will take you aside, as He did Peter. He will not berate you. He will not humiliate you. He will ask you to examine your love for Him. He asked Peter, “Do you love Me?” If your answer, like Peter’s, is “Yes, Lord,” He will reaffirm His will for you. If you truly love Him, you will obey Him (John 14:15). Jesus does not need your resolutions, your recommitments, or your promises to try harder…. If your resolve to obey God last year did not help you to be faithful, it will not make you successful this year. Jesus asks for your love. If you truly love Him, your service for Him… will be of the quality that He desires.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
John 21:15-19 – When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Previously Peter denied Jesus three times; here Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him three times. In the original language Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him unconditionally, but Peter, now humbled by the truth of himself, can only say to Jesus that he loves Him as a brother. Jesus accepts Peter’s imperfect love and charges Peter to “follow” Him and to “feed [His] sheep.” This is Peter’s call to do more than just work for a living in order to meet his worldly needs. It is his call to accomplish his purpose in life to be Christ’s Ambassador. This is your call too.
“Do you truly love me (John 21:15-17)?” We can all agree that we don’t love Jesus perfectly, and every day we fail in our attempts to follow Jesus and to remain obedient in love. So, what do we do in the face of our failures? Don’t accept sin or make light of it (God doesn’t), but rejoice in your state of grace and keep trying. Seek to enjoy God and glorify Him better each day. Keep pressing forward, not looking backwards but keeping your eyes on the prize, Jesus, one day at a time. “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day (Proverbs 4:18).”
“He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.'” When you love someone, you care about what they care about. You earnestly desire to please them. Jesus said that the proof of our love for Him was revealed in our love for others. What could be more loving than to lead someone to Jesus, to disciple them in the Lord?
John 21:20-21 – Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following…. Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”
“The first thing you do after God speaks to you is critical. Jesus was telling Peter what type of ministry he would have and what type of death he would suffer (vv. 18-19). It was a sacred moment in Peter’s life, as his Lord pulled back the curtain to his future. His was not to be an easy life but a life ordained and blessed by his Lord and Master. Rather than responding to what Jesus told him, Peter looked around at his fellow disciples. His glance fell upon John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. “But Lord, what about this man?” Peter asked. Peter had just been given the somber news of his future death. How natural to compare his assignment with that of the others! This is the great temptation of God’s servants: to compare our situation with that of others. Did God give my friend a larger house? Did God heal my friend’s loved one and not mine? Did God allow my friend to receive appreciation and praise for his work while I remain anonymous? Did God allow another Christian to remain close to her family while I am far removed from mine? Jesus assigned Peter and John to walk two different paths, but both Peter and John have enriched our lives. Jesus knew how dangerous it is when a servant takes his eyes off the master to focus on a fellow servant. Where is your focus? Have you become more concerned with how God is treating someone else than you are with how He is relating to you? (Henry T. Blackaby)
John 21:22 — Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
Jesus does not want you to compare yourself with other Christians or to worry about what God is doing in their lives. Jesus wants you to follow Him one day and a time and to be faith with the resources, opportunities, and relationships that you have been given.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 November 2022: Today, focus on abiding in Jesus’ love and bearing fruit through His love.