Pocket Full of Easter
Journey to The Cross: Following Instructions
I like instructions. I’m not a creative cook so instructions are my best friend. Through instructions, I’ve found a few recipes that are easy to make, turn out the same every time, and delight my guests. While variety isn’t anticipated at my table, consistency and a satisfied palate might be.
When we discern and follow God’s instructions, life is much the same way. Our lives may have less drama but will be more satisfying.
Read Psalms 119:167-168.
My soul guards and keeps all your instructions — oh, how much I love them! I follow your directions, abide by your counsel; my life's an open book before you. THE MESSAGE
• Ponder God’s instructions and let yourself love them.
• Allow your life to be an open book before God.
• Listen to His instructions for today.
• Ask God to make His instructions clear.
• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.
• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.
Morning Bible Study
Leaders have been giving instructions for as long as people have been on earth. Not following those instructions can have dire earthly consequences. God also gives instructions and when we follow them, the glory of God is visible. Read Exodus 16:9-10.
Moses instructed Aaron: "Tell the whole company of Israel: 'Come near to GOD. He's heard your complaints.'" When Aaron gave out the instructions to the whole company of Israel, they turned to face the wilderness. And there it was: the Glory of GOD visible in the Cloud. THE MESSAGE
• What were Moses’ instructions to Aaron?
• What were Aaron’s instructions to the people?
• Did the people follow these instructions?
• What did they see?
God even gives us instructions about what to do when the world’s instructions conflict with His instructions. Read Deuteronomy14:1-4.
If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. NASU
• When we get conflicting instructions, what is God trying to determine?
• What are God’s instructions to us in Deuteronomy 14:4?
On His way to the cross, Jesus too followed instructions. Read John 14:28-31.
"You've heard me tell you, 'I'm going away, and I'm coming back.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I'm on my way to the Father because the Father is the goal and purpose of my life. I've told you this ahead of time, before it happens, so that when it does happen, the confirmation will deepen your belief in me. I'll not be talking with you much more like this because the chief of this godless world is about to attack. But don't worry — he has nothing on me, no claim on me. But so the world might know how thoroughly I love the Father, I am carrying out my Father's instructions right down to the last detail. THE MESSAGE
• What was Jesus warning His disciples about?
• What comfort did He offer?
• How carefully was Jesus following His Father’s instructions?
• Why was Jesus willing to follow such difficult instructions?
While on earth, Jesus traveled the countryside, giving His own set of instructions. Read Matthew 10:37-39.
He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it. NASU
• What are our instructions?
• What is our promise?
Even in ordinary earthly celebrations, Jesus was doing the extraordinary. He gave His disciples specific instructions about how celebrate the Passover meal. Read Matthew 26:18-19.
He said, "Enter the city. Go up to a certain man and say, 'The Teacher says, My time is near. I and my disciples plan to celebrate the Passover meal at your house.'" The disciples followed Jesus' instructions to the letter, and prepared the Passover meal. THE MESSAGE
• How carefully did the disciples follow instructions?
Now read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
1 Cor 11:23-26
Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord's Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me.” After supper, he did the same thing with the cup: “This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup, remember me.” What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt. THE MESSAGE
• Where did these instructions come from?
• When Jesus gave instructions in Matthew 28-29 (above) for that last Passover meal together, what was He preparing the disciples for?
• What do you think would have happened if they hadn’t followed His instructions to the letter?
• When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper today, whose instructions are we following?
• What is the purpose of these instructions?
Like the disciples when they followed Jesus’ detailed instructions for that last Passover meal, we may not know the purpose behind the instructions we receive. To us, these instructions may seem insignificant while in reality, they may have eternal consequences.
I was late for the next session at the 2006 Florida Writers Conference. The previous session had not been what I’d expected. Instead of speaking about how to write, the speaker had discussed time management. Since the next session was supposed to be about Time Management, I wondered if I even needed to go. I was feeling the leading of the Holy Spirit to attend the class, so I gave in.
In my rush to get to the next class, I almost passed the Ladies Room. Deciding I’d be more comfortable if I paid it a visit, I slowed down and entered. While standing at the sink, I noticed a woman frantically splashing water on her red and swollen face. I didn’t begin a conversation because I was in a hurry. I heard a Still Small Voice whispering, Remember who and whose you are. You’re the “Pocket Full of Quarters Lady” and your calling is to minister to strangers.
In my haste, I shoved down the quiet voice. The woman’s voice was louder. “Are you part of the writer’s conference?”
“Yes,” I said. Knowing there was a church meeting in that same building and noticing she was not wearing the badge of the conference, I asked, “Are you here for the church service?”
“Yes,” she answered. “Are you a writer?”
“Yes,” I said, picking up my stuff to leave.
“What do you write about?” she asked.
“Christian living,” I answered, giving her the short answer and heading to the door.
“I wish someone would write a book on time management,” she said sighing.
I stopped, feeling a little queasy that I was still in a rush. “There are lots of books on that topic,” I said. “You could Google it and get some suggestions.” I disappeared behind the closing door and ran down the hall ignoring my guilt.
The class was well underway. As I grabbed the handouts, I heard the speaker saying, “Don’t get so involved with your writing that you forget to minister to people, or you won’t have anything to write about.” I froze, knowing I’d ignored God’s instructions to minister to that woman in the Ladies Room.
As I turned around to walk back out the door, I felt the speaker staring at me in confusion. Author and speaker Carla Williams is a friend and I worried that my leaving would distress her. Briefly, I hesitated but I knew I had my orders. Determinedly, I left and marched to the Ladies Room, praying she was still there.
I entered and saw her still struggling with her eyes. Through swollen tear filled eyes she said, “My allergies are acting up.”
“I can tell you’re miserable,” I said. “My calling from God is to minister to strangers. I was in a hurry a moment ago and didn’t reach out to you. I’m sorry.” I told her what the speaker was saying when I entered the classroom. “God sent me back here. You mentioned needing a book on time management. Are you struggling with that?”
She sagged with relief, hoping for an answer. “I’m also in a ministry. I’m a missionary but my life is overwhelming. I’m so busy with my family and responsibilities that I’m not getting any work done for God. I feel guilty all of the time and don’t know what to do.”
I smiled. “Ironically, both the last session and the next session were on Time Management. Both stressed taking the time to hear God and following His instructions. Are you having regular morning time with God?”
“No,” she confessed, shaking her head. “I’m too busy so I decided I didn’t have time. I know it’s wrong but I haven’t known what else to do.”
“I understand,” I said. “But God can’t tell you what to do if you don’t listen to Him. I too am busy but when I listen to God and follow His instructions, my time is like the feeding of the 5,000 with the tiny fish. God blesses it and there is always enough of it. When I’m running on my own steam, no amount of time is enough.”
I saw the moment the Holy Spirit convicted her. She smiled gratefully. “Thank you for being obedient,” she whispered.
“I just wish I’d been obedient the first time,” I confessed. “Is that a commitment? Are you going to have regular morning time listening to God?”
“Yes,” she promised, hugging me.
“Do you have a computer?” I asked.
“Absolutely,” she nodded.
“I’m writing a devotional called Journey to the Cross. I put out a new devotional every day. You might enjoy it.” I gave her a card with my website address and a quarter.
I went to the class late, having learned more about time management than the talented Carla could ever have taught me. At the end of the conference, we had a testimony time and I shared my experience with the entire group. Afterward, I apologized to Carla for leaving her class. “I was afraid you would be offended,” I confessed.
“No,” she smiled. “I was just worried about you. I prayed for you as you walked out the door.” Carla too followed God’s instructions and I entered that Ladies Room with someone praying for me.
What instructions has God given you today? Are you willing to follow them? Learn from my mistakes and be obedient the first time.