Stop Comparing and Competing!

SCRIPTURE

 “Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”

Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” John 21: 21 – 22

OBSERVATION

It is noticeable throughout the Gospel of John that there appears to be some jealousy and competition between John and Simon Peter.  I wondered to what extent Peter was jealous of the relationship between John and Jesus.

John 13: 21 – 26 depicts a scene where it is commonly believe that the ‘disciple whom Jesus loved’ is John and he is leaning on Christ’s breast.  Jesus has just told the disciples that one of them will betray Him.  Peter motions to John to ask Jesus who that person is.  Jesus  answers John in a private conversation to which Peter is excluded from.

John 18: 15 – 18 sets another scene where Jesus has been taken before the High Priest.  Peter follows and it is assumed that the ‘other disciple’ that followed was John.  John went into the courtyard with Jesus but Peter stood outside the door probably because he was afraid.  In his fear, Peter went on to deny Jesus three times compared with John who stood unashamedly with Christ.

In John 19:26 – 27 Jesus gives to John the responsibility to care for His mother in her old age, suggesting that He trusted him enough to do this.  Peter at this point in time was probably somewhere feeling disappointed in the fact that he had denied Christ.

John 20:3  tells us that Peter and John went out to the tomb to find out where Jesus’ body had gone.  They both ran together and John seems to take delight in expressing how he outran Peter. Nevertheless when Peter caught up, Peter went in front of John into the tomb.

In John 21:7  John tells Peter that it is Jesus on the beach,  Peter dresses as quickly as possible and runs ahead of the others to get to Jesus first.

The final liaison is in John 21: 20 – 21 when Peter is walking on the beach with Jesus, Peter turns around and sees John following.  He asks Christ who is going to betray him and suggests that it might be John.  Peter says “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”  Seemingly and for whatever reason, possibly jealousy, Peter was trying to sabotage Jesus’ relationship with John and make John look bad.  Peter’s poor insight into his own sin is clear, he is so worried about John taking Christ away from him, that he attempts to make John look guilty of the sin he actually committed – betrayal of Christ.

Jesus answers in verse 22 “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” In other words Jesus calls Peter out, He says even if He decides to give John eternal life on earth right now, it has nothing to do with him, Peter’s business is to follow Christ.

APPLICATION

Whether we realize it or not, we have all taken part in ‘one-upmanship’.  There is someone who gets under our skin, or we just feel the need to be better than they are, and if we are not better than they are, we need to bring them down to our level.  This is exactly what Peter was trying to do.

It seems there are several occasions where John, through no particular effort on his part appeared to have a steadfast relationship with Christ (let us not forget that John is writing about himself in this gospel.  The other gospels do not record John in such a favorable light). It seems that Peter was competing with him, even though John was just doing ‘his thing’.

I know I have experienced this in my life, where I’m just getting on with my life and people are competing with me or comparing themselves to me and I have no idea why and to be honest I really don’t care. God has given us all different gifts and He may be calling me to do one thing, and someone else to do another.  We’re not supposed to all be the same.  Jesus’ command is clear to us all.  ‘Don’t worry about what he or she is doing, mind your own business and follow Me’.

PRAYER

Dear Father in Heaven

Your Holy Book has a word for us in every avenue of our lives.  We are reminded that the disciples were human, just like us and were eligible to succumb to every sin as we are.  I am thankful that the Bible depicts them as real people who fail, just like I do, but who through repentance and forgiveness can be restored like Peter.

Teach us to be concerned about our lives and not to compare ourselves with anyone else.  Teach us to have a secure relationship and identity in you, such that we do not feel the need to ‘put others down’ in an attempt to elevate ourselves.  Lastly, teach us to pursue the gifts you have given to us, without trying to be like anyone else, recognizing that we are all different.  Help us to pray for those who may try to compare or compete with us and that we are not by distracted by it, but that we remain steadfast in our walk with You.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen

Taking a Cheap Shot at Jesus…

SCRIPTURE

“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”

They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.” (the devil)

Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.” (John 8: 37 – 41)

OBSERVATION

Once again Jesus was defending Himself, and again it was His birthright as the Son of God.  The Jews told Jesus that they were the descendants of Abraham to which Jesus agreed.  But Jesus said, if you are seeking to kill me then your father is not Abraham, because Abraham would not seek to kill Him.  Jesus told them that He does the works of His Father (God), and they do the works of their father (Satan), though they did not fully understand Jesus’ reference.  Nevertheless, they wanted to totally discredit Jesus and His claim to Heavenly Paternity.  The Jews decided to take a cheap shot at Jesus by saying to Him “we were not born of fornication” or in other words “at least I am not a child of illicit sex” referencing the spiritual conception of Jesus by His mother Mary.  Thankfully, Jesus ignored them and continued to testify of His Father.

APPLICATION

Some things never change. Jesus was trying to educate the Jews about their actions, after all they were the ones asking Him questions.  The Jews did not like Jesus’ answer, and in their bid to discredit and hurt Him, they decided to drag us His apparent ‘unsavory’ past.  How could you be a child of God and the Son of God at that – you are a child of immorality?

It reminds me of some of the churches I have read about that refuse to baptize or bless innocent babies/children, because their parents were not married.  I remember on one occasion, a group of brothers and sisters leading the youth in my church, refused to choose a particular young man to preach, because neither of His parents attended church. I was absolutely horrified that we could even begin to exclude or punish innocent youth on the basis of their parents actions, but if the Jews did it to Jesus, it can happen to anyone.

We need to be mindful that we seek to love people because they are God’s children, regardless of who their parents are or what they have done.  Our respect for people should not include creating a hierarchy of sin such that my parents sins are more respectable than yours, “for we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23).

PRAYER

Dear Father in Heaven

We are thankful that You sent Jesus to teach us about who You are.  We are thankful for Your sacrifice and moreover for the humiliation and suffering that Jesus went through because of Your immense love for us.  I cannot imagine how much Jesus had to fight daily to stay strong and to stay connected to You. Although I know that there are a lot of beautiful people here on this earth, it just seems that as a human race, sometimes we must be incredibly difficult to love, especially when we can be so insensitive and cruel.  Knowing this, it makes me realize that what Jesus went through to save us, He could only have done it because of Love, a love that in my immaturity, I cannot even begin to comprehend.

When we look at others, help us not to see them based on their sins or the apparent sins of their fathers,  help us to see Your face Jesus and love them as You have loved us.

Thank you for your Love.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen.

Have Faith in Jesus…Not the miracles…

SCRIPTURE

Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men. John 2: 23 – 24

OBSERVATION

Jesus was able to read the hearts of people and He made a choice not to place any importance on the ‘faith’ or ‘belief’ that people had in Him because of the miracles He did.  It seems that Jesus thought their faith was superficial, I can only assume because it was faith by sight and people were more impressed with the miracle and not the Son of God.  Before the miracles – I wonder how those people viewed and treated Jesus?

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says that “there is nothing new under the sun”.  I wonder to what extent our faith in Christ has changed.  Do we treat Jesus poorly until He provides us with a miracle and then our attitudes change?  How much do we need charismatic preachers and entertaining Christian music artists to feel that God exists and is available to us?  How much importance do we place on charming preachers and melodious voices to enjoy church and feel connected to God?

APPLICATION

While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a spirit-filled worship and praise session, if we take those things away, what do we have left? Will we still be able to connect with Jesus and be steadfast in our faith?  Or do we need to see or hear something as evidence or a reminder of His existence and power? I’m not saying that we should not use music, or sermons or feel blessed by His gifts of healing. I just want to be careful that my faith is in Jesus and not in His miracles.  As Job 1:21 says – The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  When God takes something away, what will I think of Him. Will I still respect Him?  I certainly hope I will.

PRAYER

Dear God

Thank You for being a Mighty Awesome God. Thank You for this opportunity to read and study and to seek new understanding. Lord, when You look into my heart, I want You to see someone who is desiring a new relationship with You, not based upon what I see or the miracles You perform in my life.  Even if You do no other miracle for me than allow me to breathe each day,  help my faith to be deep and grounded in You.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen

Let’s Spend Time in God’s Word…

Apparently it takes approximately three weeks to create a new habit regardless of whether it’s a positive or negative one.  We are nearing that wonderful time each year when we make promises for the New Year about how we are going to do things differently.  Well, I don’t know about you, but I need to re-create some new habits and I want to get in training now.  With busy schedules, it’s easy to put aside God’s Word, so whatever I do needs to be achievable.  So I’m making an accountability plan through this blog to spend time in God’s Word…daily.

On this basis, I’m inviting you to join me as I read one chapter of the Gospel of John each day, starting tomorrow.  This plan is not about the quantity of reading, but the quality of spiritual understanding and application to our lives. John happens to be my favorite Gospel and is an ideal place to learn more about the life of Christ.  Furthermore, it has 21 chapters, that’s exactly 3 weeks of training to create a new habit!

I will seek to update the blog daily with my thoughts by using the acronym S.O.A.P. which some of you may have used before:-

  • S – Scripture;
  • O – Observation about the scripture;
  • A – Application to my life;
  • P – Prayer of consecration.

Trust me, there are areas of my life that need S.O.A.P. and my prayer is that by the Grace of God, those areas will be washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb, for God has promised us all  “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18.

Share this blog with your friends or perhaps you could study together.  However you choose to do it, I welcome your thoughts and comments as we embark upon this journey together.

God Bless.