Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The real deal, part II

14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”
16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

We've been studying this passage and talking about reality versus pretense . . . let's dig in again!

Jesus tells us how to determine if something or someone is real, in verse 17: if anyone is willing to do His will, he will know if the teaching is of God, or of someone speaking for themselves. Now, this doesn't mean that if we happen to do God's will, we will know the origin of a teaching. It doesn't mean that if one of His hearers at the festival just happened to be in God's will at the moment, that person would know the origin of Jesus' teachings . . .
What He is indicating here, is a definite, purposeful act of the human will. It's a determined choice to do God's will.
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. Psalm 119:10
I will eagerly pursue your commandments because you continue to increase my understanding. Psalm 119:32
These verses are good examples of the attitude we are talking about; we are to be determined and eager to follow Him and to do His will.
How can we know His will? How many times have we asked ourselves that question?
The secret of knowing God's will is our being willing to do it. He doesn't give us answers just to get our approval; He gives answers to get our obedience. We simply must surrender and trust in Him. His will is true, but sometimes we must exercise our faith and act on that faith, before we will fully know what He plans for us.
I heard this illustration years ago . . . you may have heard it, too:

  There was a man who got lost in the desert. After wandering around for a long time his throat became very dry; about that time he saw a little shack in the distance. He made his way over to the shack and found a water pump with a small jug of water and a note. The note read: "pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it, if you do this you will get all the water you need". Now the man had a choice to make, if he trusted the note and poured the water in and it worked he would have all the water he needed. If it didn’t work he would still be thirsty and he might die. Or he could choose to drink the water in the jug and get immediate satisfaction, but it might not be enough and he still might die. After thinking about it the man decided to risk it. He poured the entire jug into the pump and began to work the handle, at first nothing happened and he got a little scared but he kept going and water started coming out. So much water came out he drank all he wanted, took a shower, and filled all the containers he could find. Because he was willing to give up momentary satisfaction, he got all the water he needed. Now the note also said: after you have finished, please refill the jug for the next traveler.” The man refilled the jug and added to the note: “ Please prime the pump, believe me it works”!  (Thank you to Sermon Central and Dennis Davidson for the illustration)
As followers of Christ, we must make that same choice -- shall we hold on to what we have, or do we trust God, even to the point of giving up what we have in our hands, anticipating what God has promised to us?
Obviously, our answer needs to be that we trust God, for then we can tell others to trust Him, too. Every time that we obey Him, and step out in faith, we will receive the blessing He promised, along with more confidence and faith.
We know that we need to be obedient to God's known will, for then we will develop discernment, as we studied in Proverbs. Then we'll be able to tell the difference between falsehood and truth.And we have the words of Jesus in verse 18: 
Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.
That is how we can know a religious pretender, a fake, from the real deal. A teacher whose message originates within himself is going to be seeking his own glory. He'll be out to increase his own reputation, and grow his own following.

Jesus was out to grow the glory of God. He wanted to honor Him. He certainly wasn't seeking the applause of the people, or He would have been speaking a completely different message!  His heart sought to exalt the Father -- the net result was that his hearers needed to humble themselves. We can't truly honor and exalt God until we humble ourselves.

So, how do we tell the real deal from fakes?
We should just ask ourselves, who is this person trying to honor?
The scribes and Pharisees, the religious leaders of the time, were not very interested in honoring God. They were far more interested in gaining reputation and fame for themselves. They were not real.
Jesus was interested in honoring God, and bringing glory to Him. He was (is) the real deal.

Tomorrow we'll conclude this study with some time spent looking at ourselves. I'll have the bandaids ready for all of us, including me.


Catherine Shepherd said...

I once heard a sermon that said that 90% of God's will for us can be found in the bible, just by doing what it says, although the catch is, we have to know what it says. It's the other 10% that's tricky. We had a few of those this past year. It's always dangerous to go with feelings, but there was a feeling of peace with the decisions we made, a feeling that "yes, this is the right thing to do",and the results have been fabulous.

Belinda said...

We discussed this in our Sunday morning Bible study recently. When you are unsure about something, and your head and heart are at odds over it, go with your head. We may know in our head the right way of it, but our heart tells us something else. Your heart can blind you to the truth sometimes, because we are basically selfish beings, we want what we want at times more than we want God's Will.

And as Catherine said sometimes you can "feel" what is right. That is when you aren't sure in your head and the heart knows.

The main thing is to ASK God. I am famous for pushing ahead with out stopping to ask. I've heard the saying that we "Make our plans and then ask God to bless them"...

guilty your honor....