Why are you following Jesus?

Written by: Tim Wood

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”  (John 6:26 ESV).

 Simon Sinek has written a New York Times best-selling book titled, “Start With Why”. His premise is that inspiring leaders start with why instead of how. Start with why something is done a certain way rather than how it’s done. Sinek points out that we cannot assume people know why.

Jesus doesn’t assume anything; he knows everything. Jesus offers challenging words for the people following him.  He had just fed 5,000 families with five loaves and two fish. Many of the people who ate this miraculous meal followed him to other side of the lake. It was there that Jesus addressed the issue of why. “You’re seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”

Some were following Jesus for self-serving reasons. People who were filled with urgent needs and knew that Jesus could provide. Some people were following for sensational reasons. The thrill of seeing the miraculous. The excitement of a mountain top experience. The emotional high of conquest.

Everywhere Jesus went he healed the sick, he exorcised demons, he provided for the needs of people. As a result, great crowds followed him, but why were they following?

What an inspiring question for us to ask ourselves – why am I following Jesus? Am I following for self-serving reasons?

One day Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). Peter’s answer is why we follow Jesus. He’s the Christ. We primarily follow him because of who he is, not for what he can do. This noble reason to follow him goes past sensationalism, selfishness or emotionalism. It’s a deep recognition that Jesus is the Son of God and therefore worthy to be followed.

When we know why we follow Jesus, everything else falls into place. It’s not what Jesus can do for me, it’s who he is that brings lasting satisfaction to our deepest hunger.

Why are you following Jesus?

Victory isn't Victory

Written by: Tim Wood

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.  (1 John 5:4 ESV)

 Victory is an outcome that most people desire - victory over opposition, addiction, sickness or struggles. Everyone born of God overcomes. Everyone born of God is victorious.  How is one born of God? Verse one in this chapter explains, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.”  Faith in Jesus as Christ is the key to being born again.

Faith is also the key to overcoming the world and experiencing victory over the world. Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 ESV). Jesus’ words are powerful. Faith in Jesus means I experience His peace. Living in the world means I experience tribulations. The world is full of unexpected twists and turns.  Living in this world we experience sufferings, accidents, diseases, selfishness, bitterness and more.  We gain victory over all these things by faith. A faith in Jesus that talks to Him, walks with Him, and abides in Him- that faith is the key to overcoming the world’s tribulations.  Faith opens up the presence and power of God into our lives. Day by day, we have overcoming victory in the world as we realize God is with us and for us.

Faith is the victory. Don’t miss the practical power of this truth. Victory doesn’t overcome the world. A winning outcome doesn’t overcome the world.  Faith does - faith in God’s Son, His plan, His Word. If I’m sick it’s natural for me to desire healing. But healing isn’t the victory. Faith in God during my sickness is the victory. If I’m facing a trial it’s natural for me to desire a resolution. But a resolution isn’t the victory. My faith in God during the trial is the victory. Our faith is the victory. Embrace it and walk in it.

Nike is the Greek goddess of victory. The Greek word “nike” appears twice in the verse above. The Greeks believed ultimate victory could not be achieved by mortals, but only by the gods. However, our God has given to us the victory that many believed to be unattainable and we experience our victory by expressing faith in Jesus.

 

The Game Face of Jesus

Written by: Tim Wood

But the Lord God helps me; therefore, I have not been disgraced; therefore, I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.   (Isaiah 50:7 ESV)

 Game face. A term used in sports to indicate a player is locked in; focused, determined to give their best. Flint is a hard type of sedimentary rock. When struck against steel, a flint edge produces sparks to start a fire.

Jesus put on his game face when he began to journey toward the cross. He exhibited a divine grittiness to finish his task even in the fiery furnace of trials.  Luke tells us that Jesus “set his face” to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).  He went there to suffer and die.  In Jerusalem he would be mocked, spit on, brutally beaten and crucified. But, he set his face like a flint to go there despite knowing what awaited him.

Jesus set his face like a flint for two reasons:

1) He knew His Father, the Lord God, would help him.  Therefore, Jesus was confident. He would not be disgraced by His Father or dismayed. He could set his face and be determined because he was assured of God’s help. Step by step, moment by moment, Jesus knew the Father was with him and for him.

2) His mission was worth it. Jesus set his face in determination because securing salvation for us was worth it.  Death on a cross was a heavy burden for Jesus but he knew it was the only way to save us. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:2 ESV). The joy set before Jesus is you and me. To Jesus, we are worth more than the pain he experienced, the suffering he endured, the cross he bore.

Jesus  put on his game face and journeyed toward the cross because he loves us. Because we’re valuable to him. He went through the fire and won for us the greatest victory imaginable, a life at peace with God for all eternity.

 Prayer: Thank you Jesus, for setting your face toward the cross for me. May my face be set on you with grateful devotion.  AMEN.

 

Being with Jesus

Written by: Tim Wood

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.   (Acts 4:13 ESV)

 The Sanhedrin Council, (they in verse 13), witnessed boldness in Peter and John. This is interesting because just a few weeks prior to Acts 4, Peter had denied Jesus before a young girl. No boldness whatsoever. He wept bitterly and fled in fear. Now, he’s filled with boldness. Now he’s teaching in front of the most educated people in his culture. Now he has an audience with the “power” people and he delivers a powerful message.

Compared to their audience, Peter and John had little education. Compared to their audience, Peter and John were common. They were average. But these “A listers” were astonished at Peter and John. Why?

They recognized that they had been with Jesus. They understood that Peter and John had learned from the Master of masters. It was more than just knowledge of him. It was more than just a casual relationship.  Being with Jesus produced a dynamic power in them that transformed them from the inside out. It had nothing to do with money or education or status. It had everything to do with them being with Jesus, following him on a daily basis.

Being around Jesus is not being with Jesus. Being around Christians is not being with Jesus. Being around Christian events is not being with Jesus. Being around the church is not being with Jesus. Being with Jesus is being filled with His truth and His grace in such a way that it changes you. It’s believing in Him in such a way that rivers of living water flow from us.

Have you ever felt like you are over your head when it comes to serving? Have you ever felt unqualified when it comes to matters of faith? Unprepared when it comes to being bold for Jesus? This verse offers practical hope to you. It’s not talent or education or wealth or status that qualifies someone to do great things for God. It’s being with Jesus. And that’s something we all can do.

Focus on God in your life

Written by: Tim Wood

Every day is an opportunity to focus on God. I can get up in the morning and set my mind on the love and goodness of God.  Here are three ways to positively set your mind on God.

1) God is with you.

Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Psalm 145: 18-19 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

No matter what you’re going to face today; God is with you.  What a truth to claim at the start of every day!

2) God is in you.

Philippians 2:13 For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (ESV).

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (NLT).

“God is working in you.” The word “working” in Greek is the word energos, from which we get the word “energy.” God is the energy driver in your life. You’re not just going on willpower. You’re not just going on your own power. God says he will give you the power you need.

3) God is for you.

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (ESV)

God is for me every day. His power is for me. His presence is with me. His promises are for me. God is allowing goodness and mercy to follow me all the days of my life (Psalm 23:6).

Every morning, get up and claim this truth about God in your life. God, you are with me. God, you are in me. God, you are for me. What a way to start the day.