“Follow Me.” John 21:19
This past weekend, I had the privilege of spending quality time with my brothers in Christ up on the mountain in California. The Lord GOD Almighty met each of us there in a very powerful way. It was truly a blessing, and it was very humbling. The following tenant was threaded throughout the weekend’s teaching which covered being in the Word to proper worship and everything in between:
“Intimacy with God is the solution to every problem in life.”
Pastor John Knapp, CCGV, Las Vegas, NV
Now, as a regular reader of these things that the Holy Spirit teaches me, which I post in the spirit of sharing, you may not believe this, but I have to confess that a lot of the time, though I am blessed with insight from God into what the scriptures mean for me in my everyday life, I don’t always follow through with the application. I often turn to my own strength and continue to attempt to live out this Christian experience with worldly ideas and striving, forsaking the very discernment God gives. I see my error only after decisions are made, when the conviction is worse and I’ve already moved a little further from God. I have found that my level of intimacy with Him is often superficial, just like almost every relationship I have ever had with anyone on this earth, be they family, friend, or otherwise. So, this weekend was an eye opener for me, but let me share with you that Cephas, the rock, went through this, too.
You see, when the Apostle Peter was confronted with standing up for his Lord as He was being brought through the trial in the night, he failed. He had proclaimed that he would follow Christ, even unto death, and Jesus told him the truth that he did not yet see within himself, that there was still preservation of self within him and that when push came to shove, Peter would rely on himself and deny Christ. We all know that he indeed did, three times. But, there are words of comfort, provided by Christ, which are so much more powerful when viewed on the other side of failure. Christ said to Peter:
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Luke 22:31&32
God first authored that faith. God watered that faith. God gave the increase of that faith. And when we still rely on ourselves, and our faith wanes, and we fail to believe that God will move, He remains true, for He will not deny Himself Who is within us. (2 Tim 2:13) He does not quit on us when we make mistakes and missteps. He is longsuffering and His patience remains. He knows where we are heading, and without denying our free will, He allows us to walk, even into error, all the while correcting us and guiding us, as we work out our own salvation. So, He prayed for Peter and He prayed, and continues to pray, for us, that our faith won’t fail. We see in the scriptures that true faith will not fail. If it is a faith given by Him, it will succeed. We are His, chosen and paid for by the Blood of the Lamb. But, as we walk in the way of our own choosing, if it is not the way of God, then we forsake the intimacy with our God.
It is the intimacy with Him that fills our joy, for “in Thy Presence is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11) To be in His Presence requires us to be washed by the Blood of the Sacrifice, sinless. And since He desires this intimacy with us, He draws us through His Son, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world. We confess our wrong doings (our sins) and we are restored to fellowship with Him. We see this in Peter’s life, but Jesus shows us in His Words when He says, “Follow Me.”
These were of the first words spoken by Christ to Peter. He met Peter right where he was, laboring as a fisherman, fully ensconced in the world. When He meets Peter, He says, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men,” (Matt 4:19) to him and his brother Andrew. And so, they dropped their nets and followed. For three and a half years, they followed right up to the moment that Peter denied Christ. When that happened, Peter became sorrowful, but Christ addressed him again, after His resurrection. This time, Peter is humbled when asked about loving Jesus. He says that he has a fondness for Him, not an undying God-like Love, which is an open and honest self evaluation. Peter says it three times, even acknowledging the Omniscience of Jesus’s knowing the truth of that. Jesus says to Peter, to feed His sheep, just as He had before said to strengthen his brothers. He basically says to Peter that now that he is being honest and his heart is soft, he can serve the kingdom in spreading the Truth. He gives Peter the next step. No longer is he just a fisher of men, he is now also to be a shepherd of them.
Jesus says to him after all of this interchange of “do you love Me,” and “feed My sheep,” the very same wordsHhe used when He first met Peter. Jesus says, “Follow Me,” which is to say that Peter has done well in being transformed into a fisher of men, and now he will be transformed further to be a shepherd of men; and, even though he has made mistakes, and has not entered into true intimacy with Christ, Jesus has met him again, right where he is, and says once more to follow. How beautiful it is to hear the words that once beckoned us in the first place again.
This weekend, as I fellowshipped with my brothers, Jesus came to me and reawakened my spirit to those things that were not quite right. He helped me see that I need more intimacy with Him, for “intimacy with God is the solution to every problem in life.” Jesus met with us on that mountain, and in my heart, I could swear that I heard the words He once spoke unto Peter being spoken to me. Peter eventually did become much more intimate with the Lord, as written in his two epistles. He went through trials and tribulations, just like we do today, and sometimes, he’d find himself just a bit outside of God’s perfect will for him, even arguing with the Lord (Acts 10:9-16), yet he would push in and get closer to God through it all. When we find ourselves outside of the will of God, however slightly, if we earnestly and honestly review ourselves, and let the Holy Spirit convict us of those things that are not right, Jesus will meet us wherever we may be in those moments, and say again, “Follow Me.”
So, then, let us heed that call once more. Let us draw closer to Him, into a deeper relationship with Jesus than with anyone else, or than ever before. Jesus awaits us to do so, and He desires to be closer to us. Let us have ears to hear the call and may we have the conviction to forsake the world and to once more move for God and follow Him.