You Are Not Your Own

Lord, I know that peoples lives are not their own, it is not for them to direct their steps. Jeremiah 10:23

When we surrender to Jesus Christ and accept the free gift of salvation, we commit to discipleship. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27. We are followers–sheep. Jesus Christ is our Shepherd. Like many of us, the original twelve disciples were a rowdy, self-seeking group of men that had their own agendas. Why would Jesus choose men like this? Especially Peter, who was prideful [And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Matthew 14:28]. Yes, Peter was impulsive and lacked self-control. Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” John 18:10-11].

Again, Jesus reprimanded Peter: But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.… “Matthew 16:23-25

The Apostle Peter who Jesus prayed for: “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”… Luke 22:32, wrote the Books of 1 and 2 Peter giving us instruction in the areas that pose the greatest challenges, “Living for God” and “Suffering for being a Christian.”

The reason that Jesus chose the original twelve disciples is that He knew eleven of them would eventually experience a complete spiritual transformation. And Judas Iscariot would fulfill the act of betrayal that was required for the redemption of the human race. Yes, they were wayward, but each went through a complete spiritual makeover following the crucifixion of Jesus [Judas died before–Matthew 27:5].

Jesus chose every human–past, present, and future to willingly give His life for. If only we could make a definitive choice like Christ did. Can you imagine Jesus wavering in His decision to die for us? No, it is unthinkable. Yet, many individuals never hesitate to satisfy their desires through willful acts of disobedience against God.

For those who made the commitment to serve God, but are in the valley of indecision: “You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.” 1 Peter 4:3. Is this Jesus’ disciple? Yes, but a changed man who allowed God to transform him into a spiritually converted Apostle.

We cannot serve God and seek after our desires. The Apostle Paul clarifies the status of Jesus’ disciples: Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

In accepting God’s gift of His Son, Jesus, we give up our natural inclinations to “Have it our way.” Full surrender and obedience are required, But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added. Matthew 6:33, which we willingly do because we love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Matthew 22:37.

Many will fall away from God because they want to belong to themselves. Even so, for those of us who are weary from suffering the negative consequences of disobedience, and believe that we fully belong to God [as evidenced by our faithful obedience] Jesus is waiting to give us the reward of Eternal life:

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Bible Readings: 1 Corinthians 2 and 1 Peter 4

Prayer: God, we ask forgiveness for seeking after our desires. We pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for your love, grace, and mercies. In Jesus’ name. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

The Changing Seasons

Walking through the rugged terrain of our spiritual journey remains a challenge for every believer. Yet, God is our Heavenly Father who has plans and purpose for each of us. We are promised immortality living in the New Heaven and New Earth, which requires Christ-like character. To be like Jesus is not easily accomplished. In fact, it is impossible to be righteous without Divine intervention. The Apostle Paul, who was incarcerated while writing at least five books of the Bible, provides vital information on suffering:

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10

Hardships appear to place us in the wilderness helplessly fending alone. And that is the mindset that Satan desires for God’s children to possess, but do not let the greatest enemy of humanity deceive you. The Apostle Paul encourages us, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.” 2 Corinthians 4:17. Just as our fingerprints differ, so do our tests and trials. My character deficits will be addressed by God differently than another believer’s weaknesses. Sadly, there are characteristics that most of us share: Strong willed, an independent spirit, and seeking after our desires.

Our strong determination places us out of alignment with the will of God. Eventually, God places hardships upon us that only He can solve. When our strategies fail, only then do we realize our limitations. Yes, a loving God allows our challenges to overwhelm us so He can save our souls. Through our trials, God sends two messages: 1. If you are my disciple, you must surrender, obey, have faith, and follow me. 2. I did not create you to live as if I do not exist. You must rely on me.

Do not rely on your feelings! Our emotional responses lead to self-defeat. The life of a believer does not stay the same. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 tells us it is a time and season for everything. We may ask, “How much longer must I suffer?” King Solomon answers our question in Proverbs 24:10: If you fail under pressure your strength is to small. Soldiers in God’s Army must be steadfast! We gain spiritual strength through study of the scriptures, prayer, faith, trust, obedience, and perseverance. The human effort of preparing for trials and temptations is accomplished by putting on our armor every day. Ephesians 6:11-18

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6‭-‬7

Whether in a season of stormy trials or tranquil peace, our faith and trust in God are dependent on our relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. Jesus serves as our Heavenly Intercessor. It’s only possible for Christ to intercede for us when we ask for divine intervention through prayer. Knowing that Jesus is just a prayer away provides us with His peace and the refreshment of living waters [John 7:37-39]. We have the Team–God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who promised never to leave or forsake us.

Sanctification is a life-long process of living righteously by faith. We can be thankful that our Team never gives up on us–they are with us in every changing season that we face. Victory belongs to Jesus. Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of shifting. James 1:17

God, thank your for your love, grace and mercies. We ask for forgiveness of our sins of self-reliance. Please give us reassurance and strength when we are feeling defeated. And help us to possess a spirit of gratitude whether in the stormy seasons or in peaceful times. In Jesus’ powerful name, we pray. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

“I Will Answer Them”

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

God knows that we are tired. Since 2020, we have been through tough times. And now, we watch as our Christian sisters and brothers endure persecution. The strain of continuously adjusting to change has many thinking, “Are better days ever coming?”

God asks, “Don’t you know who I am?”

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of all the Earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depth of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28- 31.

Praying is our only option! Begin this Sabbath with fervent and honest prayers for yourself and others. We don’t have to pretend that all is well. CALL on the name of Jesus! He has always been and will remain our only solution. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Peaceful Waters