We met over a chess board. I had pushed my knight down the board, threatening
him with a rook-queen fork. The next move would have taken out one of his major
pieces. He took a long look at me. “Let’s start again,” he said.
Thirty six years, eight pregnancies and six children later, we are still very
much in love. But even we had problems ten years ago when his job changed and he
began working 80 hours a week. He was gone before breakfast and almost never
home for dinner. He was trying to survive on four hours of sleep at night. Our
relationship was like ships passing in the night, a tired acknowledgement of
each other as we went by. Our marriage, as solid and loving as it had been,
began to feel flimsy. Something had to change.
Finally, we sat down together and realized that the sacrifice was too great. I
could take all the burden of the family off of him, I could handle the kids’
problems, do the school pick ups and drop offs and manage the household alone,
but I still needed him. I needed him just to talk to me every once in a while.
We rearranged our lives, rearranged his schedule, and decided that no matter
what, we would have an appointment to sit and talk at least once a week.
Gradually his hours became more flexible and his job less demanding. He still
often works 60 hour weeks. But we have found the formula that keeps our marriage
strong: time together, time just to sit and talk.
Where did Jesus’ power come from?
Was He born with it? I don’t believe so. When Jesus came down from heaven and
was born as a baby, He stripped Himself of all His own power, glory and
Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming
in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled
Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Later, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and we are told that as He came
up out of the water, “the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit
of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him,” Matthew 3:16
Jesus set aside all His power and glory, was born as a man, and then was
baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. We know this about Him as well: He was
well versed in Scripture, even from childhood, Luke 2:46-47, and knew Scripture
from memory. When Satan tempted Him, He used three different verses from the
book of Deuteronomy to ward him off, Matt. 4:1-10. He knew His authority, and He
knew the Word of God. Jesus spent a great deal of time in prayer, Matthew 14:23;
Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12; 9:28. We also know that Satan had no dominion or authority
over Jesus, because Jesus said that the ruler of this world was coming, but
“he has nothing in me,” John 14:30. Jesus was tempted, as we are, but He
never sinned, Hebrews 4:15.
I believe that believers who follow Jesus in His manner of life will also be
like Him in character, and will walk in His power. If there is a lesson to be
learned from studying Jesus’ life it is this: Know the Lord, be baptized, be
filled with the Holy Spirit, spend time studying the Word of God and in prayer,
and make certain that Satan has no dominion over you in any area of your life.
Know who you are in the Lord, and use your authority.
There is more: Jesus never did or said anything unless the Father did or said
that first. His motive was always to please the Father, to do what the Father
wanted, and to do it for His glory alone. Jesus was completely dependent on the
Father. This dependency is especially apparent in the book of John:
John 4:34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent
Me, and to finish His work.”
John 5:19, 30 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say
to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for
whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner….I can of Myself do
nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek
my own will but the will of the Father who sent me.”
John 6:38 ”For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the
will of Him who sent Me.
John 7:16, 18 Jesus answered and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His
who sent Me…..He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks
that glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness, is in
John 8:29 “And He who sent me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone,
for I always do those things that please Him.”
John 12:49 ”For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who
sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak….whatever
I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.
John 14:10, 24, 31 ”Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the
Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority;
but the Father who dwells in Me does the works….the word which you hear is not
Mine but the Father‘s who sent Me…as the Father gave Me commandment, so I
Here, I believe, is the principle for successful ministry: seek to do our
Father’s will, do what the Father asks, speak what the Father speaks, seek
always only to please the Father, and seek to glorify God and Him alone.
Why the complete dependence? This was obedience, certainly. It also was love.
Jesus loved the Father:
John 14:31 ”But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the
Father gave me commandment, so I do.”
He also loved us:
John 15:13 ”Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s
life for his friends.”
Something else to note: Jesus focused completely on the Father. Psalm 16 is a
messianic psalm, in that it talks about the Messiah to come. Peter quotes this
psalm in reference to Jesus in Acts 2:25-28 and 2:31.
I especially like the NAS translation of these two verses:
Psalm 16:8 I have set the Lord continually before Me; because He is at my
right hand, I will not be shaken.
Acts 2:25 ”For David says of Him, ’I was always beholding the Lord in My
presence; for He is at My right hand that I may not be shaken.”
In summary, a study of the life of Jesus shows us how to walk closely with our
Father God. First and foremost, love God. Second, focus on Him. Seek to please
Him in everything you do. Let the motive of your heart be to glorify God.
Develop a closeness in your relationship with Him: spend time in prayer and
Bible study. Seek to follow Him, always.
A life lived this way, I believe, is a life that is pleasing to God, which will
bear much fruit. The following are suggestions for a closer walk in Christ.
1. Choose to live for Christ.
This verse used to puzzle me:
Matthew 11:12 (Jesus speaking) “And from the days of John the Baptist until
now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”
The violent take the kingdom by force? Then one day I realized that there is a
kind of force available to every believer: the force of will.
Following Christ always involves our will. We can choose to ask Jesus Christ to
come into our lives or not. We can choose to seek Him. We can choose to grow in
Him. Jesus Himself said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny
himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
Choose to live for Christ, even if that choice means denial of self.
2. Fix your eyes on Jesus.
Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our
The context of this verse is a race, where the racer fixes their eyes on the
goal and runs with perseverance, laying aside “every weight, and the sin
which so easily ensnares us,” Heb. 12:1.
Have you ever watched an Olympic sprinter? I was watching Jackie Joyner Kersee.
I noticed that this is exactly what she did--she focused her eyes on the finish
line, and readied herself to run. She never took her eyes off of the goal, not
even to look at the people beside her. She just ran!
Hebrews 2:1 counsels us also not to drift. Here is another analogy: a person in
a row boat, rowing to a point onshore, let‘s say a lighthouse. If they don’t
focus on that point, they will have difficulty getting close to the lighthouse.
But if they fix their eyes on that point and row steadily, they will make
Jesus is our lighthouse. Would you like to get closer to Him? Then fix your eyes
on Jesus, and row steadily!
Continuing this metaphor, what could the oars be? Prayer and God’s Word! If
both are used with perseverance, then it is possible to grow in the Lord--and
get closer to Him!
Carrying on this comparison a bit further, what would happen if you only used
one oar, say prayer, but no bible study? Wouldn’t you go in circles?
Similarly, bible study but no prayer will not result in much spiritual progress.
And bible study without prayer and without faith is completely dead!
Hebrews 4:2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but
the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in
those who heard it.
3. Spend time with the Lord everyday. Pray.
Here is one definition of prayer: Prayer is a cry from the heart that is couched
in relationship with God.
Prayer doesn’t have to use words. Hannah, for example, was praying and moving
her lips, but no words came out. The priest thought she was drunk, 1 Samuel
1:13. God heard her prayer. Prayer can be with tears, Ps. 126:6, but it does not
have to be with words.
The most effective prayer, I’ve found, comes with brokenness, “The
sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, these, O
God, you will not despise,” Ps. 51:17. Do you recall Jesus’ account of two
men who went to pray at the Temple? One was self-satisfied. The other was humble
and prayed for God‘s mercy. Which one was justified before God? Luke 18:9-14.
Prayer is strengthened by relationship. Just as a marriage is strengthened by
spending time together, so is your relationship with God strengthened by
spending time alone with Him. The psalmist said, “Seven times a day I praise
You!” Psalm 119:164. Whether this is a literal number, or just descriptive of
a close relationship with God, here is a challenge for us all. The point is to
spend time with the Lord, from early morning to late at night, praying on the go
sometimes, but also spending time alone just focused on the Lord. Praise Him.
This is an effective way to come into prayer:
Psalm 100:4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with
praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name.
Here is a practical help if you have difficulty praying. Just thank the Lord for
His goodness to you, your family, your home, your life. Thank Him for His
kindness in revealing Himself to you. Thank Him for His character.
Also, another help. Try to find a regular time every day just to pray. It may
only be a few minutes at first. But pray, make it a habit. As in my testimony
above, even the best marriage suffers if there is not time alone together.
Similarly, your relationship with God will also suffer if you don’t have this
time with Him on a regular basis.
There are several hindrances to prayer. The biggest is sin:
Psalm 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.
As in the example Jesus gave in Luke 18:9-14, prayer filled with pride and self
involvement does not please God. And prayer from a sinful heart is not heard at
There is only one prayer that God hears from a person in sin: the cry for
forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 was written to believers:
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our
sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Also look at the next verse:
1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His
word is not in us.
I have found it useful to always ask God to search my heart as I go into prayer,
Ps. 139:23. I ask Him to show me anything that I need to change in my life as
well as any sin. Correction is a blessing, always, Ps. 141:5.
4. Spend time reading the Word of God everyday.
Psalm 19 expresses this so well. It says, “The law of the Lord is perfect,
converting the soul.” (Ps. 19:7).
In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul talks about our spirit, soul and body. Each of us
is a spirit. Each of us has a soul. Each of us lives in a body. When you asked
Jesus Christ to come into your heart and be your Lord and Savior, your spirit
became Christ’s. Your soul, however, is still in process of being sanctified.
Your soul is your mind, your will, and your emotions. Both Ephesians 4 and
Colossians 3 counsel putting to death the deeds of the flesh and putting on the
new man you are in Christ. This is the process of sanctification, becoming holy
in every part of your being. Going back to Psalm 19:7, see how reading the Word
of God everyday can help, for God’s Word converts the soul!
Reading God’s Word also strengthens faith. Romans 10:17 says that “faith
comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Here is how to grow in
faith: read God’s Word! Put it into practice. Love God by honoring Him and
obeying His commandments, John 14:15, 21.
John 14:15, 21 (Jesus speaking) If you love Me, keep My commandments....He
who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves
Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love Him and manifest Myself to him.
Didn't Jesus ask us to love God?
Mark 12:30 …you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all
your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
How to love God: read His Word and obey what He teaches!
Here are some suggestions for reading the Bible:
a) Always pray before you read and ask God to teach you. Thank Him that He will.
b) Pray as you read, especially when you find a passage that applies to your
life. Ask God to help you obey Him.
c) Obey what God teaches you in the Word. This is the fastest way to grow in the
d) Read every day. Don’t let a day go by without spending at least a few
minutes reading your Bible.
One last tip--may I suggest? If you have never read the Bible before on a
continuing basis, or if it has been a long time, start reading in the book to
John. This is God’s love letter to you. Read a chapter a day. Read slowly
enough to pray through passages. Honor God by obeying what He teaches you.
Once you have read through the book of John, read Matthew, Mark and Luke. Then
read the rest of the New Testament. Then start reading in Psalms and Proverbs.
Finally, read the Old Testament. Jesus said that every scribe (scholar) who is
instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven “is like a householder who brings
out of his treasure things new and old,” Matthew 13:52. Would that all of us
were able to delve the richness and the depths of both the New and Old
Testament! For both parts speak of Christ, from Genesis to Revelation, and both
testaments hold truths that can help us in our walk with Christ today.
5. Follow Jesus.
Jesus gave us the instruction to follow Him:
John 12:26 ”If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there
My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him my Father will honor.”
We follow Jesus as we obey Him. In a still deeper sense, we follow Him if we
live as He did, setting the Father always before Him, and never doing or saying
anything unless God was in it. Imagine the godliness of this kind of life.
Copyright October 2007