Tag: follow me

Lead Me on Level Ground!

Scripture reading for March 30th:  Joshua 1-4, Psalm 143, Luke 14

Key Scriptures: Luke 14:25-30  “Now great crowds accompanied Him, and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.  Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.'”

Joshua 1:8-9 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”  

Jesus taught that there were priorities that must be decided upon if a person chose to become His disciple.  Family could not be first.  Our own life in soul and body must be placed lower than following Jesus.  There was a cross for each disciple that they must chose to bear.  Successful discipleship would come by full surrender and obedience to God’s Word and Christ’s teaching.

Faith confession and prayer:  Lord, I have set You and Your Word as my priority in my life.  Help me to keep Your Word in my heart and on my lips as I walk with You to the promised land.

Psalm 143:10  “Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God!  Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground!”  

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The Prophet to Obey!

Scripture reading for March 8th:  Deuteronomy 18-20, Luke 5

Key Scriptures: Deuteronomy 18:15-18  “”The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers–it is to Him you shall listen–just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said,’Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.'”

Moses was reminding the Israelites just before he was to leave them in Joshua’s hands about what happened at Mt. Sinai forty years earlier.  The people had begged Moses to go and hear from God for them and speak to them all that God said.  They were so afraid that they might die from God’s presence.  Moses told them God would indeed raise up another prophet like him who would speak the Word of God to them.  1500 years later, Jesus walked the earth ministering to the Israelites.

Luke 5:10-11  “. . And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”  And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.”  

Prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your fulfilled promise in Jesus Christ!  May we hear and follow His daily call and every Word.  Amen.

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“Follow Me!”

Scripture reading for January 6th:  Matthew 4

Key Scriptures:  Matthew 4:18-20

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew.  They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  At once they left their nets and followed Him.”

Jesus walked where people were at work!  He, Himself, was a worker!  He was a carpenter who helped His father to shape wood for various purposes.  He was walking here among fishermen who were busy at their trade.  He called out to Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew.   When they heard Him, they immediately left their trade and daily work and followed Jesus.  He called them to a new type of fishing–fishing for men!

When Jesus calls us to come after Him, we often make excuses.  How will we make a living?  Aren’t we supposed to be loyal to our family business?  How will others and our families eat if we don’t have fish to eat and sell?  The word of God is calling us to humbly trust Jesus and obey Him.  The new calling to fish for men requires an apprenticeship with the Master Fisherman!  Why not obey His call and let the great adventure begin?  Trust Him to provide all you need.

Observation for overcomers:  The call of Jesus goes deep into the heart and spirit of each person when they open their hearts to listen.  When we want what He wants, we will joyfully follow Him and overcome all fears and arguments!  “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart!”  (Psalm 37:4)

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“Feed My Sheep!”

Scripture reading for May 5th:  John 21

“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of His disciples which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name.”  (John 20:30-31)  John’s purpose was to help people know Jesus Christ as the Son of God and find eternal life.  He closes his account with a final story about Jesus restoring Peter and encouraging the disciples before His ascension.

Peter and James and John plus two other disciples had decided to go out fishing.  They had fished all night and had caught nothing.  Early in the morning, they saw a figure on the shore who called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”  “No!” they answered.  He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”  When they did, they were unable to haul in the net because of the large number of fish.” (John 21:5-6)  John told Peter that it was Jesus, and Peter swam to meet Him.  He asked for some of the fish, although Jesus had a fire with fish already cooking on it!  Jesus was a master fisherman and The Master who fished for men!

This was the third time Jesus had appeared to these men after His resurrection.  He asked, “Simon, Son of John, do you love Me more than these?”  (John 21:15)  Peter said simply, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”  Jesus then asked Peter to feed His lambs.  Jesus repeated this question two more times and Peter affirmed his love for Jesus as many times as he had denied Him. Jesus then prophesied how Peter would glorify God in death and invited him to “Follow Me!”  Peter would be a shepherd and a fisher of men!

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The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

Scripture reading for April 20th:  John 10

Tending sheep and caring for them is an occupation that is common in most places around the world.  Sheep are very docile animals that cannot defend themselves and sometimes they wander off.  They need someone to care for them and protect them.  They will willingly follow a shepherd and get to know his voice.  The shepherd also knows his sheep and calls them by name.   Jesus took this very common job and applied it to His own life and ministry.

The Jews who saw the healing of the man blind from birth asked Jesus if He thought they were blind too.  In response to this question, Jesus told them about sheep and shepherds and gates, making some strong statements to help them understand who He was.

“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved.  He will come in and go out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  (John 10:7-10)

“I am the good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me–just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father–and I lay down My life for the sheep.”  (John 10:14-15)

At these statements, the Jews were divided.  Some said Jesus was demon-possessed or mad, but others recognized the miracle and were wondering.  Jesus had said that only “His sheep” would recognize His voice and follow Him! Have you heard the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for “His sheep?”

 

 

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“Follow Me!”

Scripture reading for March 16th:  Luke 9

 “As they were walking along the road, a man said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.”  Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”  (Luke 9:57-58)  Many people think that following Jesus will be a power trip of miracles, signs, and wonders.  At the height of Jesus’ popularity, many were crowding around Jesus and like this man, vowed to follow Him.  Jesus did not let this man off easily.  He warned him about the road He would travel.  Each person must count the cost!

“He (Jesus) said to another man, “Follow Me!”  But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”   Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 9:59-60)  This man had a direct invitation from Jesus to become a disciple.  He had concerns about His own father and possible inheritance at his death.  Jesus rebuked him and gave a specific command to go and preach the kingdom of God.  We have no indication of whether or not he obeyed.

Another man proclaimed his willingness to foll0w Jesus but wanted to go say ‘goodbye’ to his family.  “Jesus replied, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”   (Luke 9:62)   Following Jesus involves full commitment  and sacrifice.  Serving Jesus means putting Him first above personal desires and family responsibilities.  Are you willing to follow Jesus?   It is not for the faint of heart, but the rewards are out of this world!

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Peter’s restoration!

Scripture reading for June 2nd: John 21:1-25

Jesus had appeared to the disciples several times.  He breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit and gave them authority to preach forgiveness of sins.  John records that Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples which he did not record.  All that he wrote were for the purpose of  helping us and others believe that Jesus was the Christ and Son of the Living God so that we might receive the gift of eternal life in His Name.  (John 20:31)

The last miracle recorded by John concerned a large catch of fish.  Peter had decided to return to fishing, their original occupation.  He and several of the other disciples had fished all night and caught nothing.  Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore near where they were fishing and called out to them  to cast their net on the other side of the boat.  When they did, the net was loaded so much that they had to drag it to shore.  (John 21:1-6)  That’s when John recognized Jesus and told the others.

Peter jumped into the water to race to the Lord.  Jesus had started a fire there and asked for some of the fish.  Peter helped bring in the catch: 153 fish!  Jesus invited them all to enjoy breakfast and he fed them bread and fish that He cooked!  This was Jesus’ third appearance to His disciples.

After breakfast, Jesus spoke specifically to Peter, asking him three times if he loved Him.  Each time Peter replied that he did love Jesus and Jesus asked him to feed His lambs.  After the last reply, Jesus spoke prophetically to Peter,  “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  “Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then He said to him, “Follow Me!” (John 21:18-19)

As Peter had denied Jesus three times, Jesus restored him with a three-fold confession of love.  He also emphasized the work that Peter was to do and how he would die.  The great catch would not be fish, but many souls!  On Pentecost, 3000 were to be brought into Christ’s sheepfold!

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God pays well!

Scripture reading for April 17th: Luke 18:18-43

It takes faith to give away your resources to help the poor and needy.  Jesus was asked by a certain ruler what he must do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus told him that keeping the commandments was a good place to start.   (Luke 18:19-20)  This man felt that he had been keeping them since he was a boy. “When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing.  Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow Me.”  When he heard this, he became very sad because he was a man of great wealth.  Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:22-24)

This rich ruler knew that Jesus was a great teacher and he must have respected Him enough to ask about his eternal soul.  Possibly he had been listening to some of Jesus’ prior teaching about the rich man and Lazarus and was pondering his chances of ending up in heaven or hell.  (Luke 16:19-31)  At any rate, Jesus answered his question by pointing him to the ten commandments.  This man felt that he had kept them all since boyhood!  Jesus, knowing the true state of his soul, pointed out one more thing that he lacked.  This one thing, selling all his many goods and giving them to the poor proved to be too much.

This man had placed money ahead of following Jesus.  He had an idol in his life that he was unaware of until Jesus showed him what he lacked.   He foolishly held onto that which he could not keep and lost the precious gift of eternal life!   Truth is not easy to receive when we have to let go of something dear to us.  We will be tested for our willing obedience and faith when we seek eternal life and a relationship with the Lord.

The disciples who followed Jesus were promised great returns for leaving their businesses and wealth behind.  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:29-30)  God pays well!

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Demands of following Jesus!

Scripture reading for April 2nd: Luke 9:51-10:12

“As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51)  Jesus was a man on a mission who had a goal in mind.  The end of this goal was death by crucifixion, a resurrection and return to His home in heaven.  He knew that He must prepare His followers to carry on the mission here on earth of reaching the entire world with the good news of repentance and faith.  These disciples must be fully committed and follow His instructions implicitly.

When the disciples went ahead into Samaria to secure a place for Jesus and themselves to stay, they found opposition and rejection in a certain village.  When James and John heard about this, they asked Jesus about calling fire down from heaven and destroying that village and people.  Jesus rebuked them!  Following Jesus was not just a power trip.  There would be rejection and suffering. He had not come to judge, but to save!

As they walked along, a man came to Jesus and said, “I will follow you wherever you go.”  Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” (Luke 9:57-58)  Jesus did not take every person who expressed interest in following Him.  He made demands on them and plainly told them of the difficulties of the journey.  Following Jesus may require great hardship and physical discomfort to reach those who need to hear the message.

Jesus asked another man they met to follow Him.  This man asked for time to bury His father first.  It is likely that the father was ill or maybe just old and this man felt the need to care for the father.  Jesus told him to let the dead bury the dead and to instead go and proclaim the kingdom of God!  Jesus demanded a willingness to leave even family responsibilities to do His will and work!

Another man said he wanted to follow Jesus, but wanted to go say good-bye to his family.  Jesus told him, “No one who put his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” When one chooses to follow the Lord there must be no turning back.  Fitness for God’s kingdom requires a focus and complete surrender.

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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 believed 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 caused them to examine if they were truly 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 denied His ‘self” daily in order to follow His Father’s instructions.  For Him to experience resurrection, He must be willing to lose His life.  His followers must willingly do the same, giving up seeking to gain the world and going for God’s approval instead.  This choice would eventually involve martyrdom for each of the disciples except John!  (and Judas)

Jesus’ crucifixion would involve shame and great fear of being identified with Him.  It would require great faith in Him to continue His work after the crucifixion and resurrection, but the end result would be eternal reward when Jesus returned!  As we read this teaching of Jesus, we must consider what it means to lose our life to gain it.  Are we willing to lose our plans, possessions, and even possibly our life to serve and follow Jesus?  The rewards are eternal for those who willingly chose Christ and take up a cross!

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