Tag: follow Jesus

Standing firm before powerful men

Scripture reading for June 7th:  Acts 25, Psalm 114, Proverbs 21

Key Scriptures:  Acts 25:7-9  “When he (Festus) arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove.  Paul argued in his defense,, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.”  But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?”  But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried.  To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well.”  

Paul was in Caesarea, held by the Roman government as a Roman citizen.  Festus, the governor of Jerusalem, came down and offered Paul a change of venue if he desired to be tried in Jerusalem.  Paul declined.  The Jews had made many charges, some serious, but they had no proof.  To go up to Jerusalem when God had revealed to him he must go to Rome was not right.

Faith Confession:  Lord, thank You for this example of standing firm in faith before powerful men in authority.  I trust You to help me to declare truth and follow You in each difficult situation of life.

Psalm 114:7-8 “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.”    

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Following faithfully!

Scripture reading for May 3rd: John 21, Psalm 89, Proverbs 27

Key Scriptures:  John 21:17-19  “He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”  Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” and he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You.”  Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.  Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”  “This He said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.)  And after saying this He said to him, “Follow Me.””

Jesus lovingly restored Peter after his three denials after Jesus’ arrest by asking him three times if he loved Him.  Jesus used this occasion to also reveal that Peter would suffer a death as a martyr.  After the loving restoration and plain revelation of future suffering, Jesus still invited Peter to demonstrate his love by following Him.  Tradition says Peter was also crucified, but at his own insistence, upside down because he did not feel worthy to die as His Lord did.

Faith Confession:  Lord Jesus, I say along with Peter, Lord I love You.  Lord, You do know all things.  Help me to follow You in faith all the days of this life and to demonstrate my love through obedience.

Proverbs 27:1  “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”

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Faith to Follow Jesus

Scripture reading for February 19th:  Mark 8, Psalm 36, Proverbs 5

Key Scriptures: Mark 8:34-36  “And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospels will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  For what can a man give in return for his soul?”

Following Jesus is not for the faint of heart or the self-centered.  His way is the way of the cross.  It is a path of suffering and even leads to death.  It is a path of self-denial.  We can’t ‘have it our way’ and do God’s will.  There is nothing in this world that we can give to God to buy our own soul.  If we gained the whole world, it would not suffice!

Faith Confession: Lord, I count it a privilege to know and follow You.  Help me today to give my life, time, talent, and energy, to serve You.  Thank You for Your steadfast love and light!

Psalm 36:9-10 “For with You is the fountain of Life; in Your light do we see light.  Oh, continue Your steadfast love to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright of heart.”

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Jesus demands first place!

Scripture reading for March 23rd:  Luke 14

Key scriptures for over-comers:  Luke 14:25-27  “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them He said:  “I anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be My disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple.””

This teaching of Jesus appears to go against His command for all disciples to ‘love one another’.  (John 15:17)  But Jesus was really saying that our love for Him must surpass our love for our father or mother and even our wife and children.  We must love Him more than our own life–enough to be willing to take up a cross and march with Him to death in obedience to the Father!  Discipleship is not a casual pursuit!  Jesus calls us into the most demanding of all relationships!  It takes our whole-hearted devotion and love to be a disciple!

Observations for over-comers:  It is easy to be part of a crowd traveling with Jesus but it costs total devotion to become one of His disciples!  It is worth the cost!  “I am the Lord; that is My Name!  I will not give My glory to another or My praise to idols.”  (Isaiah 42:8)

 

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The reward of following Jesus!

Scripture reading for January 22nd:  Matthew 16

Key Scriptures:  Matthew 16:24-27  “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone would 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 Me will find it.  What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul.  For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done.”

Following Jesus is not a part-time calling!  We can’t keep one foot in the world and one on the path of Jesus.  Jesus’ path led to the cross and Christ called His followers to take up their cross in order to follow Him.  Jesus called for a complete sell-out and a denial of self-interest and pursuit of worldly wealth.  Nothing we gain here in that respect can purchase our souls, and in fact, we can lose them in the process!  Jesus, the Son of Man, will come with His angels to bring reward for those who overcome and successfully follow!  This ought to motivate each believer and test our hearts concerning our commitment to follow Jesus.

Observation for over-comers:  When we lay our life down for Jesus, we actually gain what money and fame cannot buy!  Let’s embrace our cross and follow hard after our Lord! “Do not wear yourselves out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.  Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”  (Proverbs 23:4-5)

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Turning loose is hard!

Scripture reading for March 1st: Mark 10:13-31, Psalms 44:8-26, Proverbs 10:20-21

The world and it’s goods have a powerful pull on us.  Having things and money bring security that we can control and can use to provide for our needs.  But sometimes our grip on material things keeps us from experiencing the best that God wants to give us as we walk by faith in His provision!

Mark records the story of  a man who came running to Jesus and fell on his knees to inquire of Him.  “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered.  “No one is good–except God alone.  You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'” (Mark 10:17b-19)  Jesus pointed the man to his need to keep God’s commandments.  This man felt that he had kept these commandments.

Mark records that Jesus looked at the man and loved him.  Out of His love, He told the man one more thing that he lacked.  “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow Me.”  At this the man’s face fell.  He went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (Mark 10:21-22)  Jesus put His finger on the idol in this man’s life.  His great wealth was hard to give up.  It would mean losing his security and ability to live life as he pleased.  He would have to trust God to help him.  For him, this proved to be too much to let go.

Jesus went on to comment on this man and others like him.  It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom.  The disciples were amazed and wondered if anyone could be saved if this was the requirement.  Jesus assured them that with God all things were possible!  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for Me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10: 29-30)  You can’t out-give God!  He pays very well– if you follow Jesus!

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Lose it all and save your life!

Scripture reading for March 31st: Luke 9:7-27

As Jesus was alone with His disciples, He asked them who they though He was.  Peter spoke up, “The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:20)  This confession brought a warning from Jesus about His coming suffering, crucifixion and resurrection.  Being the Christ of God would lead to some difficult experiences and it would also not be easy for His followers!   They would have to make a conscious commitment and really know who He was.

Jesus had some very difficult instructions for those that would follow Him as disciples.  Some of His instructions made them ponder who He really was and their conclusion determined if they were willing to follow Him. “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?  If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:23-26)

First, His followers must learn to deny themselves and their way of thinking.  The world puts ‘self’ first, but Jesus and His followers put God and His will first.  This choice is taken, even when it leads to a daily cross!  Jesus was daily denying His ‘self’ in order to follow His Father’s instructions.  For Him to enjoy resurrection, He must be willing to lose His life.  His followers must willingly do the same, by giving up seeking to gain the world and instead going for God’s approval.  This choice would eventually involve martyrdom for each of these disciples except John!  (and Judas)

Jesus’ crucifixion would involve shame and great fear of being identified with Him.  Jesus told them of their need for faith in Him to continue after the crucifixion and resurrection.  The end result would be eternal recognition when Jesus returned!  The willingness to lose life would bring great gain!

As we read these words of Jesus, we also ponder what it means to lose our life to gain it.  What does taking up our cross daily look like?  Are we ever ashamed to be associated with Jesus?

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