Faithful Works

John 14:21-23 KJV

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. [22] Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? [23] Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

How do we test ourselves so we can know if we are right with God? These verses make it clear that it is those that keep the sayings of Jesus that will be with him in the presence of the Father. The question arises, “which sayings do I need to keep?” This is an important question to answer because some of what Jesus taught seems to be cultural. If what he taught is cultural then it would not apply to us today.

Satan wants us to think of the Bible as a culture-bound document that is outdated and a relic. But we in Christ know that the Bible is the key to living a godly life. This belief marks us as different from the unbelieving world. However, we must pay attention to what we are believing. If what we believe is contrary to the Word, we are destroying God’s kingdom. However, if we keep the Word, Jesus promises to bring us to the Father.

So what? Now I am saying we are saved by works? No, of course not. There is no true salvation except that which is given to us freely by believing in Jesus. However, the writer of James tells us that, “Faith without works is dead.” (Jas 2:20) Dead things do not bring life. Reading the Word and failing to live the word causes many Christians to be disappointed with God. They assume they are saved by grace so then there is no responsibility on the believers’ side of the equation. Yet Jesus clearly says we obey him if we love him.

Lord, I thank you for your grace that leads to the saving of my soul. Help me show my love for you by leading me to keep your word. Forgive me for marginalizing your commandments. Teach me to fully obey. I hope to be in your presence one day. In Jesus’ name, 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.