It’s Time, But Are We Ready to Follow?

Recently, Susanne Schuberth posted an article on her blog about the kingdom of God and how we enter it. She wrote,

We only need His power of love and the rest will fall into its place. It is so simple, the kingdom of God: First He makes us see it and later He lets us enter. Eventually, when we have entered the Kingdom of God, He teaches all of us so that we can stop teaching each other.”

(https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/what-is-the-kingdom-of-god-about/)

As I read her words I was stunned at the simplicity of what she wrote. The photo at the head of the article was taken by her husband. She can see this church clock from her kitchen window in Germany. She calls it her “kitchen clock.” I was curious about the time he snapped the picture — 8:22. I felt led by the Lord to look up chapter 8, verse 22 in each of the four gospels and here is what I found:

 (St. Paul’s Church in Fürth, Photo by Paul Schuberth)

(St. Paul’s Church in Fürth, Photo by Paul Schuberth)

 

But Jesus said unto him, “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. (Matthew 8:22-23 KJ2000)

And he came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town… (Mark 8:22-23 KJ2000)

Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake”. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filling up with water, and were in jeopardy. (Luke 8:22-23 KJ2000)

Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he said, “Where I go, you cannot come. And he said unto them, You are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:22-23 KJ2000)

I don’t believe there is a coincidence to anything when God is teaching and leading us. Susanne’s message was all about listening, obeying God’s voice and following Him in His kingdom. Isn’t it interesting that a random picture of a clock on a cathedral could be used by the Spirit to further the lesson she shared?

In these four passages we see divine movement and progress as people followed Christ, and stagnation and death when they did not. In the Matthew and Luke passages, we see Jesus telling the disciples to follow Him and leave their attachment to the world and even their natural families behind. So as a teaching point, He told them to enter a boat and launch out across a lake. And what happened when they obeyed? Everything went well, right? No, a great storm blew up and was about to sink their boat. Jesus was asleep on a cushion in the bottom of the boat as it was starting to fill with water, ignoring their plight! Sound familiar?

Even when we obey the Lord and try to follow Him wherever He leads us, it will not be an easy road. It can even become life threatening at times. There will be many extreme tests of faith required of us. But notice Jesus’ words to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” Jesus only spoke what He heard His Father saying. Father did not say, “Let us go out into the middle of the lake and drown!” He was in perfect peace that they were going to reach the other side of the lake because that is what His Father commanded. God does not require us to do anything that He does not also give us the grace to accomplish, but there is usually a test in the process of obeying His will.

The whole boat ride was a divine setup to teach these men faith. After they woke Him up with their cries, He rebuked the storm into a flat calm and asked, “Where is your faith?” If we dare to leave all and follow Jesus, we will have our faith stretched. When this has happened, how many of us have said, “Did I hear Him correctly? I thought that if I obeyed His voice everything would be fine! But now, look at the mess He let me get into! I am not so sure I want to follow Jesus after all!” It is here that many falter. The test is too great for the depth of their commitment and they turn back. A nice spiritual boat ride on a sunny day was all they signed up for. Remember the parable of the four kinds of ground?

In the Mark passage we see Jesus take a blind man and lead him out of town so He could heal him. Again we see movement where faith is concerned. Isn’t this a curious thing? Why did Jesus have to lead him out of town so he could be made to see? Couldn’t Jesus heal him right where He stood? After seeking spiritual light, how many of us have been required to leave our comfort zones where we knew our way around (at least by feel)? God does that. He will always stir up our comfortable little lives if we are serious about following Him (see Deu. 32:10-12). Some of us had messed up lives before we realized that He was after us. He led me from the Sunday church system to go with Him outside the camp and bear the reproach that would go with it. He later gave me this passage to explain what happened.

“We have an altar, of which they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle… Therefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.” (Hebrews 13:10-13 KJ2000)

He took me outside the camps of Christendom so He could teach me how to hear His voice and give me spiritual sight. As long as I was listening to preachers that were not inspired by the Spirit in what they taught, though it was all familiar, I would rarely hear His voice and what He specifically had to say to me.

Again we see movement here in these passages. God requires progress and obedience. There is a cost attached to it, but the reward is spiritual sight. He leads us to an altar that those who insist on being taught by men have no access to. But remember, it’s when we boast and say that we see that we are blind. Humility always goes with true spiritual insight.

And finally in John 8:22, Jesus tells the religious leaders and their followers that where He goes, they cannot follow. “…you are of this world; I am not of this world.” Jesus is not of this world (He did not say earth, for the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. He said the kosmos – the world system under Satan). They were of their father the devil and destined to do his works.

If we are of Christ, we are from above, we are His sheep and we will follow the Good Shepherd wherever He goes because He loves us and we love Him. We hear His voice and will not follow the voices of strangers. As Susanne said, He leads us with His love for us. His love will never take us away from His kingdom, but always deeper into it and His heart. His love for us, as it is proven true, will always make our faith and hope in Him grow. “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13 RSVA)

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17 comments on “It’s Time, But Are We Ready to Follow?

  1. Very good! I was led to Amos again today where God “took me from following the flock” and said “go prophesy to my people” Amos 7:15. God sometimes has to take us out of religion to get us into direct relationship with him; to stop listening to the “canned” message of religion, to start hearing the still, small voice within to be who God created us to be and do what we hear him say!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Yes, Yvonne, so it seems to be the case. It is like how they train tellers to identify counterfeit bills.. they let them handle only the real ones over and over and when a phoney one comes along it is obvious.. Jesus’ voice is so real by comparison.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. A wonderful article, my brother! ⭐ Thank you very much for referring to my latest blog post and for the pingback, too.

    Michael, to be honest, there is a part in your post that made me laugh out loud (positively, of course). You said,

    But notice Jesus’ words to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” Jesus only spoke what He heard His Father saying. Father did not say, “Let us go out into the middle of the lake and drown!”

    Hahaha… If God really said such things – Pheeeeeew – I would run from Him, for sure! 😀

    Just today I was swimming in the deeper part of a lake as a climber (aka sea weeds) suddenly reached for my legs. YIKES! My heart skipped a beat and I was anxious at first because that feeling reminded me of my drowning experience as a little child. Also, a big carp shoved me unexpectedly today. 😛 But in both cases, out of the blue, I felt God’s comforting arms around me and my heartbeat quieted down again. It seems sometimes we do not only follow Him, He even follows us when the going gets tough or when we are in deep water. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Susanne, I have never liked swimming in deep water. I was in a small boat that was being swamped by high waves when I was young and that lake had claimed the lives of many fishermen to its bottom (it is a quarter mile deep) in its violent storms. of coarse we had no life vests. This event put a fear of deep water in me that only recently God has healed. But being pushed by a big fish I could not see… that would scare me for sure! I almost got bitten by a sea snake once in the Philippines while skin diving. That was enough of swimming with predators for me! 🙂

      I can imagine that not many people in Israel 2000 years ago knew how to swim. I bet those men were very afraid in that storm. Peter dared to climb out of the boat and walk on water toward Jesus once, but as soon as he started to sink He cried out for help. He did not swim back. I am glad that you are being healed of your childhood fears as well, dear heart. ❤ Fear can be a terrible torment. God is so good! If when we are in trouble and over our heads and like Peter cry out, "Jesus, help!" He will always be there for us. The key is to not borrow tomorrow fears for today, but to face each day as it comes with prayers and His resulting grace, wouldn't you say?

      You are in my prayers, dear sister,
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

      • Michael, I have never liked swimming in deep water, either. But I tried for decades to get rid of that inherent fear exactly by doing THIS: Swimming across deep lakes or far away from the shore in the sea. God always protected me, but the fear remained. I would not say it is completely gone, yet in those moments when I feel Him, there is no place for anxieties any longer. It’s all about His presence…

        Praying for you too ❤
        Susanne

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Ken Dawson says:

    In spoken or written words–it sounds so simple–but in living experiences–there are many a dimples

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Yes, Kenneth, there are many potholes in the road we must walk. I was reading my daily devotional by T.A. Sparks this morning and he had a profound truth about how we win this race…

      You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? (Galatians 5:7 ESV)

      Clearly, then, if you and I are going to persevere to the end we must have a greater power than that of our natural emotional life. The only hope is that it may be true of us, as of Paul: “The love of Christ constraineth” (2 Corinthians 5:14). There is all the difference between the natural and the spiritual in this matter of the energy of love. This word translated ‘constraineth’ is the same one used over the arrest of Jesus when it says: “the men that held Jesus” (Luke 22:63). So it is that the love of Christ should hold or grip us, conquering our natural emotions by the mighty power of the Spirit. Our feelings come and go. They may be strong at times but they can also grow very weak. If we do not know something of the mighty grip of Christ’s love, we will never go right through to the end of this strenuous race. After all it is the love of Christ which makes for the fullness of Christ. If we finally come to that fullness it can only be by the constraint and holding power of His love. “Ye were running well: who did hinder you?” The answer is, “You ran in the strength of your own emotions, you ran as your enthusiastic response to God’s call because it affected your feelings for the time.” The letter to the Galatians is devoted to emphasizing the place of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, for He alone can supply the necessary energy of love for us to go on running well.

      May Jesus’ love hold and constrain us in its grip to the end.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bernie Orr says:

    THANKS, FOR THE INFORMATION. IT IS ANOTHER CONFIRMATION FOR ME TO LIVE BY
    FAITH TO ENDURE THE NEXT TRIAL. IT IS EASY FOR ME TO SAY ABOUT THE DISCIPLES
    AFTER HEARING THE FACT THEY ARE TO REACH THE OTHER SIDE.. SO, THERE IS NO
    WAY THAT THEY WOULD DROWN! OTHERWISE JESUS’S COMMAND WOULD FAIL. SO,
    FOR ME I NEED FIRST TO CORRECTLY HEAR HIS VOICE WHAT HE WANTS ME TO DO.
    THEN, I NEED BY FAITH REMEMBER WHAT HE SAID WHEN TRIALS COME TO ENDURE
    IT SO I CAN FULFILL HIS WORDS TO ME.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      So the angel explained that it was the following message of the LORD to Zerubbabel: I am the LORD All-Powerful. So don’t depend on your own power or strength, but on my Spirit.
      (Zechariah 4:6 CEV)

      The older I get Bernie, the more scope that this verse takes on. Apart from the Spirit of Christ I can do nothing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Michael, I read this days ago, but still cannot find the words to express my feelings. I believe you have touched on something elemental about the power of God. He draws us beyond ourselves, beyond our natural capabilities into the realm of spirit. Part of us longs for that, another is frightened by it — just as Peter was frightened, once out of the boat. We find ourselves doing the impossible, swimming in deep water (both literally and figuratively). You have a profound understanding of the Word. Thank you for sharing it. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Anna,
      You said it so well, “He draws us beyond ourselves, beyond our natural capabilities into the realm of spirit.” In 1980 I prayed that God would show me my heart, I had grown comfortable with where I was in my spiritual walk and an old saint challenged me to pray this way. He did show me how HE saw me and it was an ugly sight. It was all flesh with a religious garment covering it up. I said, “God kill it! You don’t share your glory with any man.” He did. That prayer got me off my religious self-satisfaction and on the move in His kingdom once again…. downward. I spent the next 14 years dying to that old Adam in me in a spiritual wilderness.

      So, Anna, here I am, feeling moved to pray that same prayer once again that HE might draw me beyond my natural comfort zone as a blog writer, living in nature’s paradise in Idaho and have Him search deeper into my heart once again and draw me out into a greater reality of life in HIS kingdom. Paul wrote it so well,

      “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us… Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-11 KJ2000)

      God bless you my dear sister and thanks for your gracious reply. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Q's Corner says:

    Hi Michael, I just shared this article with a friend, who is in the throes of a sudden major move in their lives. This article is very timely for them, for God is moving them to the other side, totally uprooting them and suddenly! It is a whirlwind of change that has frighted my friend, this article will both enlighten her and comfort her.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Michael says:

    Thank you, Susie. Major changes and moves are not easy, but they force us to seek God’s help and peace and where He is in them when they happen. I went to seven different schools in 12 year as a child, always having to make new friends and leave old ones behind. Then there were the new neighborhood and school bullies with each move that I had to deal with. I was the original “90 pound weakling” that they all loved to pick on. I had some deep emotional problems as a result of these insecurities. But Jesus has since come into my life and changes are not as threatening as they once were for He is with me in them all. I pray that this will be a time of spiritual growth for your friend.
    Bless you dear sister!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Q's Corner says:

    I also shared it on Facebook, I am hoping that my son reads it. I am still waiting to see if my friend responds to it and what she might say. I think that she needs it, esp. sense there is someone who believes that they are out of God’s will and are finding fault with their decisions. Those kind of people really bug me and not in a positive way! Job’s comforters always think that they have THE word for other people. But what they think, say and believe just gets everyone upset! They spread a spirit of fear! It is wrong!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Pat Orr says:

    Bro. Michael, I continue to be edified and challenged by your writings. I thank you for your faithfulness in sharing the gospel of the Kingdom. My spirit is ready to follow. My flesh needs to die daily. I thank you for your fellowship provided in the writings.

    I count it a privilege to pray for you and Dorothy.

    Love in Him,
    Pat Orr

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thank you so much, Pat for your kind response. It it good to hear you are ready to follow Him. He will deal with your flesh.. and your spirit will be victorious! Thank you for your fellowship in your responses, dear sister. And thank you for your prayers for us, too! ❤
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

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