January 11, 2015
Seeing God’s Potential in Me for the First Time
Lesson Goal: To better understand that Jesus calls and is willing to change any heart that is willing to be changed.
While some found in Jesus all the excuse they needed to reject the Messiah, multitudes saw hope in Him. Having accepted the limitations of human flesh, Jesus could not personally instruct all of His followers. To multiply His ministry, He would need to instruct a select group of men and then charge them with the responsibility to do the same. By this time, the disciples of Jesus had grown into large numbers from which He had to select a few to be His closest companions. This up-close-and-personal training would transform a select group of disciples into apostles (Swindoll).
As you become more familiar with these twelve original apostles, you will notice some very interesting things. One important point of interest is that Jesus did not search in the temple or rabbinical schools for the up-and-coming theological scholars. He did not go to the Pharisaical training centers to find the most strict young Pharisees. Instead, He chose common guys who were raw in theological training but whose hearts were moldable. He did not search for the “perfect.” He chose men with visible defects and even some with questionable backgrounds.
⇒ What kind of person is Christ desiring to use as His servants in 2015?
⇒ How does Christ’s selection of the twelve apostles completely do away with many of our excuses for not following and serving Him?
Today we continue to look personally at the twelve apostles. Last week we focused on perhaps the most well known of the twelve—Simon Peter. Today we turn our attention to the remaining apostles.
In the four lists of apostles given in the New Testament, we know that Peter’s name is always at the top. The three names that follow Peter are the same on all lists, but notice the different order of Andrew, James, and John. Also note that some of the apostles are called by different names.
Hershel Hobbs makes a great point which I want to reiterate to each of you:
This was quite a diverse group. One thing which they had in common is that there was not a priest or theologian among them. They were ordinary in the popular sense of the word [laymen]. Among them were fishermen and a tax collector. Some vocations are not given.
One of the most unique contrasts of all the disciples would be Matthew and Simon “the Zealot.” Matthew was a tax collector and would have been considered a traitor by his own countrymen, because of his service to the Roman government. Then there was Simon “the Zealot,” a part of the fanatical zealots who were radical patriotic individuals seeking to free their land of Roman rule and domination. Simon The Zealot would have been a freedom-fighter revolutionist against Rome. Matthew and Simon The Zealot would have been total opposites. They would have been the most intense and bitter of rivals.
When we think of some rivals, who/what comes to mind?
Red Sox & Yankees? Packers & Bears? Vandy & Tennessee?
And of course the ultimate…Auburn & Alabama?
I hope you smiled as you thought of these rivals. Please know that the rival spirit between Matthew and Simon The Zealot would be unmatched by any of my superficial examples. But these two men were brought together by their faith in Jesus Christ. The point of emphasis is the power and love of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus could bring together men of such diverse backgrounds, hatred and animosity and form a band of brothers called Apostles. Look at what Jesus can do with those who are willing to have their hearts changed by His power.
⇒ How does the example of Matthew and Simon The Zealot speak to the diversity of the church in 2015?
⇒ How does the example of the twelve speak to the purpose of God’s calling and using of us for His kingdom work?
⇒ What do you believe was the thinking of the religious circles, and even the world, toward these twelve men?
Perhaps the greatest contrast and mystery of all is Judas Iscariot. He was the only Judean in the group. In each of the Gospel lists of the twelve, he is described as the traitor. His name is not found in the list of Acts 1:13, because of his death by suicide.
One question I have been asked throughout my ministry is: “Do you think Judas was saved?” The real question behind this question is: “Was Judas a Christian, a true follower of Jesus Christ?” My response, based upon my study of the Scriptures—Judas was not saved. He was not a true follower of Jesus Christ. Again, I refer to Hershel Hobbs: “It is evident from the scriptures that Judas was not a Christian. His purpose in following Jesus was purely selfish. Thinking of Jesus as a political-military Messiah, he evidently followed Him hoping for a prominent place in the Kingdom.”
The point I want to share with you concerning Judas Iscariot is that Jesus saw an initial potential in Judas, but Judas wasn’t willing to change. He never surrendered himself completely to Jesus Christ.
⇒ Please respond in prayer and then answer these all-important questions: What potential does Jesus see in you? What is it that He sees deep inside your heart?
⇒ Is Jesus offering you the opportunity to completely surrender to Him? Have you completely surrendered to Jesus?
Something to think, pray, and meditate on.
As your pastor and the writer of the Life Focus materials, I do not pretend to have all the answers to life’s question, but I ask you to consider this: What will it be like when God lifts the curtain and allows us to see all the potential He placed in each of our lives? What will it be like when true followers of Jesus stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and for the first time see clearly what “might have been” in our lives? What will it be like when we, for the first time, clearly understand all the potential that God placed within us, but that we never used or reached?
What will it be like when we see all that we were and all that God wanted us to be?
GOD, HELP ME NOW TO BE…
My beloved Life Focus classes, when I started writing today’s lesson, I had no idea where God would take us. I began with the intent to cover the biographical materials of the other eleven apostles, but God’s plan was a little bit different. Lord, let us always be open to following you!