Section Three: The Lifestyle Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Four: Living Purposely.
Our reading for today: John 5: 30-32, 36 (MsgB)
I can’t do a solitary thing on My own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust My decision because I’m not out to get My own way but only to carry out orders. If I were simply speaking on My own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness. But an independent witness confirms Me, the most reliable Witness of all…(And that witness) is the work the Father gave Me to complete. These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent Me.
Without a doubt, Jesus of Nazareth is considered, even by non-believers, to be one of the most influential people of all time. Many, over the centuries, have studied the life and ministry of this common man from Nazareth, as recorded in the four Gospels, and concluded that no one in world history has been able to accomplish the amazing work that this one man of great passion and purpose has done.
Just think of it. An unpretentious Israeli child, born to a humble couple who did their best to carve out a simple life in the obscure village of Nazareth, goes on to become the founder of, what is today, the world’s largest religion. History shows us that within 300 years of Jesus’ humble beginnings, the Christian faith He first established in 33 A.D. had become the accepted religion of its day across the expansive Roman Empire! An amazing feat no one could ever have imagined back when The Way, as it was first called by some, was known simply as a small, non-impressive Jewish sect led by a handful of uneducated and untrained men and women.
Yet for those who study amazing stories like this, it’s apparent that the “works” of Jesus, (i.e. His three-year ministry, followed by His death, resurrection and ascension into heaven) so motivated these early Christians, that today, this same ministry of the Master has now expanded world-wide, swelling the ranks of Christ-followers into a global movement of 2.2 billion people; nearly one third of the world’s population!
Last time, we looked a bit deeper into this amazing ministry of this God-man, Jesus of Nazareth, and discovered, through His own words, that the secret behind His purposeful living was His ability to do and say only those things He first heard and saw His Father in Heaven doing (John 5: 19-20). And just in case we missed it the first time, the Master repeats this same truth here, once again, in today’s passage…
I can’t do a solitary thing on My own: I listen, then I decide.
Which now begs the following question for all of us who are called by God to obediently follow in Jesus’ footsteps (i.e. His disciples), continuing His work and ministry into our generation. I’ll state this burning question as gut-honestly as I can…
Sure, sure…I understand that Jesus only does what His Father is doing! But isn’t that because He is the Divine Son of God? How about little ole me? How in the world can I be sure of what the Father is doing?
My mentor, John Wimber, helped me immensely with this difficult question. So, over the next few blog sessions, I’ll share with you some of his thoughts on this subject and hopefully you’ll begin to see your way, like I have over the last 30+ years, through these troubling concerns.
First of all, when looking at what Jesus reveals here about His ability to only do what the Father is doing, John Wimber believed that the key phrase is this…
“I listen, then I decide.”
You see, the simple truth that stares me in the face each day is the fact that, when left to my own human devices, I rarely, (if ever!), stop my activity long enough in order to do what Jesus says He did on a regular basis. Deep inside every human being is a ‘doer’ mentality. Most of the time, that ‘git-r-done’ attitude works well for me, but quite honestly, that same ‘doer’ inside me becomes a rigid obstacle when it’s time to stop my activity and ‘do’ here what Jesus did…
1) listen for the Father’s leading, and…
2) decide (or discern) how to put the Father’s leading into action.
In recent years, I’ve come to realize that some of the most anointed men and women of God over the past centuries have been Christ-followers who have tamed their ‘doer’ while learning the fine art of Listening and Discerning. Yet sadly, these same two spiritual disciplines have been largely lost in this ‘get-r-done’ society where ‘telling’ & ‘selling’ are much more preferred over the gifts of ‘listening carefully’ & ‘asking great questions’.
So today, let me leave you with this one thought to ponder. In this busy society where the key to success seems to be best defined with the command…
“Don’t just sit there…do something!”
Consider carefully (Listen & Discern) the importance of the way I believe Jesus might state it…
“Don’t just do something…sit there!”
I’m finding in recent years that Jesus’ true success in only doing those things He saw the Father doing was not nearly as much a result of His divinity, but more on His Spirit-breathed ability to stop His own activity, taking the extra time He needed to listen for the leading of His Father and then discern how He might act on those things He was hearing.
Listen & Discern.
Anybody wanna take a little break here to practice these two fine arts?
My prayer: Jesus, I’ve heard it said that practice doesn’t make perfect…it makes permanent! I thank You so much that You’ve given us this secret to Your ability to do only those things You saw the Father doing. Yes, I believe Your divinity made for Your 100% perfection rate, but as for Your ability to Listen and Discern, I truly believe those were two spiritual disciplines You, like us, had to practice in quieting your flesh, in order to make them a permanent part of Your life and ministry. Teach me Your ways, Master, for Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Have I excused myself from doing Jesus’ ministry in my generation because I see it as something only the Divine Son of God can do? What might it look like to say ‘no’ to the things I’ve been doing out of my fleshly ideas of serving God, while beginning a new season of listening and discerning like Jesus did? And finally, what might it look like today for me to quiet my fleshly ‘doer’ in order to practice the fine spiritual art of listening and discerning?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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