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Knowing Who You Are

Turning Point / David Jeremiah
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January 3, 2021 12:24 pm

Knowing Who You Are

Turning Point / David Jeremiah

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January 3, 2021 12:24 pm

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Please make your donation today at You are a one-of-a-kind creation, far beyond your fingerprints and DNA. God has a unique role in his story of salvation that only you can fill. Today on Turning Point, Dr. David Jeremiah shares how that truth is illustrated in the life of Peter the fisherman, who grew to fulfill his God-given purpose. From the life God blesses, here's David with the conclusion of his message, knowing who you are. Well, thank you for joining us, and welcome to a new week of Turning Point as we open our Bibles again today to the 21st chapter of John, we're talking about how to know who we are. From this experience in the life of the disciple, we're going to take some principles away and put them to work in our own lives.

And now, let's get going with today's lesson. This is part two of Knowing Who You Are. Whether we know it or not, we're all followers of something, aren't we? Peter had followed his family into the fishing business. Some of you, even today in our culture, you follow your family into your careers, or into your business, or into whatever it is that you do.

But we're all followers of something, and we all get in line behind someone to do whatever it is we do. Peter had followed his family into the fishing business, but one day he was asked to leave that fishing business, and he began to follow the Lord. The Lord is issuing to him the same challenge.

Now he is being called again by his Lord after his failure and his forgiveness. The word of the Lord comes to Peter the second time, and our Lord's words are, Follow me. And they must have brought back to Peter the memory, because if you go back to Luke 5, those are the very same words Jesus used when he called Peter in the first place.

He said, Follow me, and I'll make you fish or men. Now Peter's at the end of his life, and Jesus is saying to Peter, Follow me. It is this call that had dominated Peter's life. Between these two calls of following are all the ups and downs of Peter's experience. All of the progress and the backsliding, all the lights and the shadows which go to make up humanity are on display in Peter's impulsive life. Did you know Peter was always first, whether he was right or wrong?

Have you ever noticed that? Always first. He was first to give an answer at Caesarea Philippi. He was first to talk on the Mount of Transfiguration. Although John in his youth beats Peter to the empty tomb, Peter is the first one to walk into the empty tomb.

Peter's the first one to jump out of the boat when he thinks Jesus is on the shore. He denies first when his relationship with the Lord poses a personal threat. Peter's always first. Does that tell you something about how he's wired? It doesn't make any difference whether he's right or wrong.

He just wants to be first. And Jesus is probably the only one who could have ever put up with Peter. After the denial, we would have all written him off, wouldn't we? But Jesus forgave him, and Jesus restored him. Did you know that there are three ways in which he says to us today, follow me? First of all, he says to us, follow me in salvation, as he did to Peter back when he was fishing.

Follow me. It's a wonderful journey to follow the Lord. But he says to us in another way to follow him, and that is to follow him in service.

He said to Peter, follow me, and I will make you to become a fisher of men. And Almighty God is calling some of us today to follow the Lord in service. Oh, we followed him in our salvation, but then we've just sort of gotten inside the door of salvation, and we've gone dormant. And he's calling us now out of that passivity of our life, and he's saying, you followed me in salvation.

I want to ask you now to follow me in service. And then one day we will all, if we're Christians, we'll follow him to the Father's house, won't we? And the Bible says that where he is, we are going to be someday, too. Paul praised it, the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. We'll follow him one day into the Father's house. So here is Peter, and the Lord is speaking to him. He says, Peter, I told you to follow me once, and you got lost.

And we had to do some repair work to get you back on the road. Now here is my instruction to you again. Follow me. Where have you been? Where are you going? What are you doing?

Here's the fourth question, what is your purpose? Now here is one of the most amusing episodes in Peter's life. Up to this point, if you didn't know what was coming, you would say, you know, the Lord has finally gotten Peter straightened out. He's finally gotten Peter going in the right direction, and he understands what it's all about.

Watch what happens. Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved. Who is that class? This is John. He's talking about John. He's describing John. Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, but Lord, what about this man? And Jesus said to him, Peter, if I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? Follow me. Here are three principles that emerge from this last point that I hope you won't miss. First of all, God has a comprehensive purpose for your life. For your life.

It's not somebody else's life, it's your life. What is that to you, said Jesus? You follow me. Although the Lord's will is not seen by everybody, the Lord's will is sovereign over everybody, and Peter needed to review that principle. When the Lord said, follow me, apparently Peter began to do just that until he turned around and he saw his good friend, John, and he turned to Jesus and he said, well, Lord, what about John? Peter did not need to have his attention converted to the Lord's will for somebody else. He was having a hard enough time dealing with the Lord's will for him. Peter had a history of starting to follow and then getting off track. Back in Luke 5, when the Lord called him, Peter started to follow and then he got his eyes on himself and he said, Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinful man. And when he was walking on the water, when Jesus told him to come to him as he was walking on the water, remember what happened there? He was doing great as long as he kept his eyes focused on Jesus, but then he looked around at the waves and he began to sink like a rock. Peter was a good starter, but he didn't always stay focused. Have you ever been around people like that?

They get started real good, but it doesn't take much to get them off track. And this time Peter heard John walking behind him and he lost his focus again and he said, Lord, what shall this man do? And Jesus answers with a rebuke. And he says it, and I want to say it the way I think Jesus said it, I think Jesus said, Peter, what is that to you? What is that to you?

You follow me. And I think the Lord's frustration may have been borne out of all of the effort he'd put into Peter to get him up to this point and it looks like he's there. He's got himself figured out.

He knows who he is, but before he can really get far down the road, he gets his eyes on somebody else. And the Lord has to come back and rebuke him. These are strong words from the Lord. They are meant to convey to Peter the importance of his own personal obedience.

There's no time to worry about God's will for someone else when his will for us is still unrealized. This is a lesson that every believer in every age needs to take to heart. Friends, it is especially necessary for those of us who are in the occupational ministry how easy it is for us, no matter who we are, what we're doing, to look around and see that someone else is doing something that seems to be more successful or more exotic or more well-received or more recognized.

And we get our eyes off on them and we can almost hear the words of the Lord in the back of our minds saying, Jeremiah, what is that to you? You just follow me. You do what I want you to do. I haven't called you to do what someone else has done. I've called you to do what I want you to do.

But if you don't do what I want you to do, who's going to do that? Friends, I want to tell you something. This is one of the real issues in Christianity today, that we have lost the sense of the importance of our own personal identity with the Lord. He's gifted every one of us uniquely.

He's called us uniquely. He wants us to be his disciple, and our eyes are to be on him. When we stay focused on him, we won't get caught up in all of this other stuff that complicates so much of our walk with the Lord. It's interesting to me that I think Peter finally, finally got it. For later on, he wrote a letter called 1 Peter. I just found this little verse in 1 Peter that I was intrigued by.

1 Peter 4.15, he writes these words, but let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evil doer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. So I think Peter finally got it. He finally figured it out. He finally realized what God was trying to teach him. How many of you know it would be such a great thing if we could learn not to be a busybody in other people's matters and just stay focused on the Lord? God has a comprehensive purpose for your life, but number two, God has a creative plan for your life. He says, if I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?

You follow me. Now, if you read the rest of the passage, you realize that some of the people who heard this thought Jesus was saying that John was going to live until Jesus came back. And Jesus straightens this out in the text.

I love this. This is one place where Jesus corrects a misunderstanding about what he said. Jesus said, I didn't mean that he was going to live until I come back.

What I meant was, if I want him to live until I come back, then I can do that. What is that to you, Peter? That's all he was saying, a little bit of sarcasm there if you want to know the truth. The Lord used sarcasm. Can you believe it? Peter, if I want John to live until I come back again, what do you care?

Just follow me. Interestingly enough, there was a little bit of truth in that because John's the one who did see the Lord come back again, didn't he? He wrote about it in the book of Revelation.

He didn't see it in actuality. He saw it in prophecy, and it is true that he's the one who saw the Lord come back. Chinese evangelist Watchman Ni has written a book on this passage of Scripture.

I've forgotten it until I ran across it again. The book actually has the title of this passage. The title of it is What Shall This Man Do?

written by Watchman Ni, who was very popular many years ago. I don't want to go back through and give you the distilled version of his book, but simply to say that in the book, what he did was he distinguished the difference between Peter, Paul, and John. He pointed out that God had a different plan for all three of these very famous apostles. Peter was an evangelist.

The first time he ever preached the gospel, 3,000 people got saved, and later on, 5,000 men were converted. He didn't have the gift that Peter had for evangelism, but you know what Paul did? Paul was a builder. He was an encourager.

He was a teacher. Paul would go in where the evangelism had been preached, and Paul would teach. Oh, he did evangelism, but Paul primarily was the teacher. That's why we have all of the theology of Paul in the New Testament. Almost all the New Testament was written by theologian Paul. Paul wasn't Peter.

He didn't win 3,000 people at one time. Peter wasn't Paul. He didn't teach like Paul did. And then there was John. You know what John did? Watchman Nee says John was the mender of nets. What he did was he came back and he fixed things that were broken. He was always taking something that needed to be reworked and putting it back together. He was the lover. He was the peacemaker.

All of them were different. And Watchman Nee says the question that was asked by the Lord to Peter is the question that he asks us. You're not Peter. You're not Paul. You're not John.

You're you. What is it to you that God has called someone else to do something else? Your job is to follow him. Oh, if we could get that, folks, it would simplify our walk with the Lord so much, just to know that what we have to do is follow him.

God has a comprehensive purpose for your life and a creative plan for your life, but thirdly, God has a clear priority for your life. And I want to end this message by trying to help us all understand what this means. What is that to you? You follow me.

Follow me. Gandhi was asked one time by a very close friend this question. He said if you admire Christ so much, why don't you become a Christian? And Gandhi said if I can ever find a Christian who follows Christ, I will.

What an indictment upon all of us. Did you know that we can be quote-unquote Christians and still not be Christ followers? Did you know that today being a Christian just means you're not a Jew or a Muslim?

That's all it means, right? What are you? I'm a Christian. If you see the forms they ask you to fill out, what is your religion? You're not supposed to ask that, but sometimes they do, and they give you two or three choices, Christianity and then a few other religions that are around the world.

And people think, well, if I'm not one of those, I must be one of these. And so Christianity becomes not what you believe but what you don't believe. In his book, Following Christ, Joe Stowell writes, although we may hear a multiplicity of voices from both within and outside the church, if we're Christ followers, we only listen to one voice. It is the voice of Christ who simply said, follow me, no conditions, no negotiations, no particulars, no contractual exceptions, just follow. It was the first thing and the last thing that Jesus said to Peter, and it is the beginning and end of what it means to be a Christian, and everything in between is measured by it.

Are you following him? Are you a Christ follower? If your Christianity is dull and boring, if it is a burden and not a blessing, then probably you are involved in a project instead of a person.

Probably you're involved in a system instead of a savior, and probably you're involved with rules instead of a relationship, because Christianity isn't any of those things. Christianity is not a religious thing. Christianity is not a host of rituals and philosophies or the best choice among all the possible lifestyles. Authentic followers do not live for liturgy. Following is not celebration.

It is not contemporary or traditional. Following is not jubilant dance or compelling drama. It is not preaching. It is not praising. It's not obeying. It's not conforming.

Here it is. We are Christ and Christ alone. We are prone to embrace the forms. When people ask you, who are you? Do you say, I'm a Baptist? Well, it's okay to admit that, depending on the circumstances. But what you ought to say before you say any of that is, I'm a follower of Christ. I'll tell you what.

That'll open up some conversations if you'll use that answer. We are prone always to embrace the forms that functions as though they were the essence. But they are only the expressions. The essence is Christ. The essence is Jesus. So these words of Jesus to Peter, follow me, are a reminder that Christianity is Christ, not just believing in Christ in some abstract way, but believing in him to the point of turning our back on everything else so that we might follow him. That's what it means to be a Christ follower.

Today in our world of pluralism, it's almost become acceptable to be a Christian along with a lot of other things. But I want to say to you, men and women today, when you follow Christ, you turn your back on everything else. Following Christ is an exclusive walk.

You follow him and you turn your back on all else. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who suffered for his faith, said an abstract Christology, a doctrinal system, a general religious knowledge on the subject of grace or on the forgiveness of sins makes discipleship worthless. And Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. In other words, if you're not following Christ, you're probably not a Christian. Now, that doesn't mean you have to be a rip-roaring preacher or evangelist or whatever.

It just means that you got your eyes on the Lord and you're trying to find out where he's going so you can follow him and be obedient. A few years ago, Hollywood remade the movie Sabrina. And in the movie, Harrison Ford plays a second-generation CEO who is savagely addicted to the growth and gain of his inherited empire. When he meets the daughter of his family, Shofer, she intrigues him, and slowly but surely, she begins to demonstrate to him that there is more to life than the marketplace. And if you remember the film, as the lives of the commoner and the conqueror begin to merge, Harrison Ford follows Sabrina to Paris, drained and ready for more to life. He says brokenly in the film, Sabrina, I've been following in footsteps all my life. Help me, Sabrina Fair.

You're the only one who can save me. And this moving moment in this film is a metaphor of our relationship with Jesus Christ. We are tired and disillusioned in achieving success without significance.

We're addicted to what we thought were objects of liberation, and we're weary of working for an end that only leads to emptiness. And we look into the face of Christ who has promised abundant life, and in a moment of surrender, we say, Lord, help me. I have been walking in the footsteps of others all my life.

You are the only one who can save me. And we hear Christ say to us, follow me, follow me. Are you following him? Are you a Christ follower? I'm not asking you today if you're religious. There are so many religious people who don't know anything about following Christ. I want to tell you something.

This is the most liberating truth you will ever hear. It's not about all of the stuff that often gets talked about when we talk about church and religion and all of that. It's just about following Jesus. Are you following him? When people ask you who you are, do you say I'm a Christian?

That's okay. But I want to ask you to start saying this. When people ask you who you are, you say, I'm a Christ follower. It will catch you up short at first, and it will stop you to think, am I really? Am I really a Christ follower?

And then you will start to make some adjustments in your life. So let me ask you this question. I'm going to ask it out loud. Who are you? And I want you to respond. I am a Christ follower. Who are you? I am a Christ follower. You don't sound very convinced.

Okay, let me try it one more time. Who are you? I am a Christ follower. And I pray that you are. And I want to say to you that if you haven't started following him, this is the greatest day you will ever have. I don't want to call you to a church membership.

That might come down the road. I don't want to call you to a denomination. I don't want to call you to some creed or some practice or set of rules or legalism or catechism. Here's what I want to do. I want to call you to follow Christ.

Are you willing to turn away from all of the emptiness of your life, all the things that you thought were meaningful and say, I've tried it all and I'm sick of it and it's meaningless. And I want to start following Christ. Will you decide today to follow him? Some of you need to follow him in baptism. You're Christians already, but you have never been baptized. You say you're a Christ follower. He was baptized. You need to follow Christ in baptism.

Some of you are Christians and you were baptized, but you're just pew sitters. You don't do anything to serve the Lord. Jesus said, follow me and I will make you to become a fisher of men or a feeder of the sheep or a tender of the flock. So what are you doing to serve the Lord? Follow him. Every day get up and say, Lord, I don't know where I'm going, but you do and I'm hanging on for dear life.

Let's go. It will be the greatest adventure you ever had in your life. You will never turn back. You will always say, what was I doing before I started to follow Jesus? He cries out for you to come and walk behind him today and he says, take my yoke upon you and learn of me for my burden is light.

My yoke is easy. Will you follow him? Will you do that today? Tomorrow we're going to talk about taking the step of faith, which is kind of like, okay, you've decided to follow him.

Now here's what you do next. This is the series, The Life God Blesses. It's the inaugural series of 2021, and we're so glad that you've joined us on this journey. We are very excited to let you know that we have a magazine that we're so very excited about, very proud of it because it's designed in a really special way to help our viewers and our listeners move forward in their walk with the Lord. The magazine is now being read by over 450,000 families every month, the hard copy of the magazine. And then, of course, there are many who just download the devotions and I don't have a total for that, but almost a half a million people are reading this magazine and you can have a copy yourself.

All you have to do is ask for it. When you get in touch with us, tell us you'd like to have this magazine. We'll send you the next copy without any requirements or any obligation on your part, and you can see for yourself how valuable this magazine can be going forward in your walk with the Lord.

What a great way to start 2021. Well, as I mentioned, tomorrow we're going to move on to the next major lesson in The Life God Blesses, and we'll see you right here tomorrow. Our message today originated from Shadow Mountain Community Church and Dr David Jeremiah, the Senior Pastor. Would you like to tell us how Turning Point ministers to you? Please write to us.

Turning Point Post Office Box 3838, San Diego, California 92163. Or visit our website at forward slash radio. Ask for your copy of Jack Countryman's new book, God's Blessings, just for you. It features 100 inspirational readings and reflections, and it's yours for a gift of any amount. And if you still haven't requested David's new daily devotional for 2021, Strength for Today, there are still copies available. It's a great way to get a dose of biblical truth every day. Ask for your copy when you visit forward slash radio. I'm Gary Hooke Fleet. Join us tomorrow as we continue the series The Life God Blesses. That's here on Turning Point with Dr David Jeremiah. Thanks for taking time to listen to this audio on demand from Vision Christian Media. To find out more about us, go to
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