Monday, July 7, 2008

Significance

by Charles E Ramsey

Midweek and I was mowing around one of our two gooseberry bushes and noticed the berries were ready. But I still had acres of mowing to do. Raining weather had put me behind, and company was coming at week's end.

Nevertheless, the thought of hot gooseberry pie with ice cream changed my sense of urgency. There is nothing like gooseberry pie to celebrate summer. On a whim, I stopped mowing and began picking gooseberries.

My philosophy adopted years ago is to pick all berries I see - both big and small. Some people only pick the biggest berries. I hear their argument. The small berries take longer to pick and stem. But if I don't pick them as I come to them, I'll loose sight of that little berry. I only have one chance, it's now or never. Hours later I still did not have enough berries for pies. The other gooseberry bush was wild, across the creek, surrounded by underbrush and stinging nettles and the grass is still growing.

Another day passed before I stopped mowing. It took a bit of self-convincing before I dared to continue my gooseberry project. Overnight heavy rain had washed out my pole bridge and driftwood obstructed my path to the wild gooseberry bush.

When I determine to accomplish something there is usually a way. I finally stood beside the volunteer bush, after struggling up the muddy creek bank. I was in for a surprise. On every branch large clusters of gooseberries were just waiting to be picked.

Was there a lesson in this? I have to admit when bigger berries became abundant they were my first choice. We had just a few hours to make pies before company arrived.

When our daughter and family left the next day I was ask to pray for my granddaughter, Hannah, who would soon be leaving for five weeks in Australia. I thought about the scripture that suggests when praising God others see Him. (Psalm 22:3). I prayed that Hannah would continually praise Jesus and others would see Him in her praise.

After they left I thought about my gooseberry experience and ask the Lord again what can this mean? After rereading the 1st chapter of John thinking--it's not the big things but insignificant things when given to God that make a big difference. I realized we need to look at daily events and see Jesus' involvement.

See the Lord Jesus Christ at work by Holy Spirit.


John 1:29-34 The next day John sees Jesus coming unto him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizes with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

The first event in John 1:29-34 John the Baptist saw Jesus. John announced Jesus as "the Lamb of God that takes away sin" I wondered 'Did John at this time realize that two of his disciples would leave him and become disciples of Jesus?' John was humble. No jealousy was in his heart Jesus said "Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." (Luke 7:28) John's calling was to introduce Jesus. He spoke with confidence because the Holy Spirit had revealed Christ's identity to him. Likewise we can speak with confidence when the Holy Spirit reveals truth to us from His Word.

The truth of the Holy Spirit was a new revelation. It was planted in the minds of these disciples but became a great experience a few years later. Great things start small. With God's direction they become what he intended.

Hear Christ's invitation to come and see.


John 1:35-37 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he said, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

38-39 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He said unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

The next event we see the response of John the Baptist's disciples. They heard John's declaration and left John to follow Jesus. Jesus saw them and heard their question. Jesus responded to their inquiry as to where he lived by inviting them to come and see. We may surmise that he showed them a simple quiet place outdoors where they could retreat and talk. He later revealed to all that he had no place to lay his head. John's disciples were impressed with something other than his dwelling. They abode with him that day. Hearing John's message, following Jesus, and abiding with him, reinforced the truth about Jesus being the Lamb of God and changed their life forever.

Abiding is necessary for each of us. We learn more when we abide in his presence. A decision to follow Christ is only a beginning. There is a need to abide daily in his presence. See the significance of God working in every day events. Our turning over to Christ Jesus daily activities for his blessing glorifies God and the insignificant becomes big.

Feel his presence by opening heart to others.


John 1:40-42 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

43-46 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and found Philip, and said unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip finds Nathanael, and said unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip said unto him, Come and see.

This selection shows us the deep feelings these disciples had for Jesus. After Andrew left to follow Jesus, he quickly told his older brother. Did Andrew think his main purpose in life was to introduce Simon to Jesus? Did Philip tell Nathaniel about Jesus in order to assemble the group called Twelve Apostles? These understandings came later. This group was formed by God's oversight and they will one day be judges over all the tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:30). These events are big in themselves but they arose out of abiding with Jesus. We seldom see God's purpose in little things until God makes them bigger than we can imagine. Our purpose is to see God at work in little things. Abiding in Christ will make our future brighter.

Simon and Nathanael had challenges for Jesus to overcome. Peter was impulsive, determined, proud and not a quick learner. When Jesus met him he immediately assured Simon of a new name. Nathaniel had a prejudice to overcome. Simon's name was changed by Jesus to Cephas. The meaning of Simon is 'obedient' and Cephas means 'stone.' Peter is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Cephas. His full name Simon son of Jona meant 'obedient dove.' Simon Peter means 'obedient stone.' Stone would be an important word in Jesus' teaching. Matthew 7:24-27 compares accepting Jesus' teaching to a house built on a rock foundation. Simon Peter would become one with a true foundation which is Christ.

Consider the significance of His promises.


John 1:47-51 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael said unto him, Whence know you me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when you was under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and said unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believe thou? thou shall see greater things than these. And he said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

The last verses in John 1 shows the significance of Jesus' insightful promises . Nathanael is called an Israelite indeed with no guile. Jesus knew Nathanael's heart. He was a serious man who reverenced the truth handed down by his forefathers. But he believed nothing good could come from Nazareth until he met Jesus. Jesus revealed to him something no one would know except God. Nathanael recognized Jesus as omniscient.

Nathanael's habit was to meditate under his fig tree. When Philip found Nathanael his thoughts were evidently on Jacob's dream and God's promise that all peoples on earth would be blessed through Jacob. (Genesis 28:10-22). When Jesus revealed that he saw him under the fig tree, Nathanael exclaimed "You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel." Jesus assured Nathanael that he would see and understand greater things than Jacob's dream of angels ascending and descending. Jesus implied that Jacob's vision was about angels ascending and descending upon the Son of Man of whom Jacob was a type.

This passage is full of little things that had great significance when God blessed them. Did I learn any thing in my week that included gooseberry picking? I'm sure to learn more, but I had to remember that God is able to do abundantly above all that I ask or think. He also uses our experiences to help us think of Him as the source of all good.

It is easy to think of myself more highly than I ought to think. I needed to see John the Baptist's humility of carrying out his calling. He knew that Jesus must increase and he must decrease. But why gooseberries? I realized I prayed more while picking gooseberries. I also listened more. It was like I was abiding in his presence, and that was what I needed. I needed to hear the message for myself about the significance of little events.

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