Tag Archives: discipleship

Micah 1,2,3; Acts 21:1-17

Prophetic imagery woven through scripture. Words that paint striking pictures, howling barefoot and naked. But nothing halts me like Paul. Several people prophesy about his journey to Jerusalem and warn him not to go.

But he said, “Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 21:13 NLT.

I recently participated in an online survey about my home church’s health, leadership and my own personal spiritual growth and engagement. I felt like some of my responses were a disappointing, personal failure. But nothing disturbed me as much as the question: Are you willing to give up everything for Jesus? I’m quite sure I hesitated. Not for lack of love, not for lack of conviction, but because I wondered, in real-life trenches, what would I be called to abandon? This question sparked days of deep thought and preoccupation, well after I selected my response.

On a good day, the answer comes easier. But having just walked through several years of pretty bad days, the wounding is still fresh–even if I don’t burst into tears as quickly. When the Lord put into our hearts the goal of a move, I expected a happy journey. What I got was a spiraling trial. The losses were deep, and the lessons life-changing. I had to abandon my expectations and my debilitating need for another’s approval. The Lord challenged me to look at my own heart and motivation. He showed me that He is all I really have (Father, provider, protector, friend), and ultimately the source of my joy (and rest). When friendships and dreams were the casualties of a spiritual battlefield, I finally see a death to self among the corpses.

Paul speaks of literal death, and that’s certainly one possibility of following Jesus. When I thought of that survey question, I think my first thought was of relationships and things–not so much myself and my desires.

What does it mean to give up everything for Jesus? What does it mean to you?

Father, your prompting on my heart was more than a relocation–it was a redirection of my life. It was a painful walk, but in hindsight, Lord, I’m so grateful. Your grace and love sustained me on days I had little strength. In so many ways, you saved me. You make everything new. Thank you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Micah, New Testament, Old Testament

Joshua 8, Psalm 139, Jeremiah 2, Matthew 16

 Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God  and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty. Jeremiah 2:19

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139: 23-24

  • Do I deny myself and follow Christ and his purposes or forfeit my soul by embracing the gods of mere human concerns that satiate the senses – shiny red stilettos, mouthwatering chocolate chip cookies, the quest for the approval of men?
  • Do I expect God to rescue me from the consequences and disgrace of seasons of sin?
  • Do I turn the salvation message into pharisaical yeast by using the blood of Christ as a license to sin and feign innocence?
  • Do I really think God doesn’t know exactly what is going on with me?

I weep with shame when I think about how foolishly I have behaved over the last several years. It’s like I have forgotten everything I learned over the last twenty years about who God is. In a quest to regain my lost youth, I have gotten lost in dissipation. None of this, of course has escaped God’s attention. There is no place I can hide from Him. He knows my every thought. I can’t plan anything that he doesn’t know already.

Life really is like the battles that Joshua and the Israelites fought. Without God’s constant direction and support, we will lose every time.

Lord, I am so sorry I attempted to live so schizophrenically, behaving like the world while claiming to be your disciple. Keeping my feet in two places at once is bound to tear me apart. Please forgive me. I am so like a sheep constantly going astray. Restore my life in Christ.

yicareggie

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Filed under Matthew, Psalms

Ex. 29; John 8; Prov. 5; Gal. 4

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”.”  (John 8:31-32 NIV)

We all come to Christ in various states of brokenness carrying with us emotional baggage that has enslaved us most of our lives. We come to Christ and find that He offers forgiveness and eternal life, a perfect life that lasts forever in harmonious fellowship with him and others. One day in the future, we will be set free from all the junk that presently enslaves us.

But if that is all Jesus came to bring us, I have a problem. I want to be free now. I don’t want to carry this baggage the rest of my life. It’s too heavy! It’s hurting me and those I love. How much longer can I survive weighed down by my relationally toxic emotional baggage?

When Jesus introduced his public ministry by saying, ‘I have come to set the captives free..’ He meant much more than eternal life when we die. He meant freedom from slavery now, He intended for us to begin discovering that eternal kind of life… in this present life.

And this is how:

If you hold to my teaching…” Jesus does not expect perfection. He does expect me to “sit at His feet”, to listen, to learn and to apply the things He is teaching me. As I walk with Christ through all of life’s experiences, He expects me to increase in knowledge, understanding and application in every aspect of my life.

“…you are really my disciples.” The essence of discipleship is found in being an eager and willing student. Life does not start and stop like the seasons. Lessons come when we least expect them. I don’t advise taking any semesters off from the Teacher. Turning back and doing life on my own is not only foolish, it’s dangerous and potentially damaging to myself and those I love.

“Then you will know the truth..” The complexity of humankind never ceases to amaze me. Just when I think I have something or someone figured out, another layer of reality seems to get peeled away revealing something previously unseen. I scratch my head and thank God for showing me more… more Truth. Truth I may never have seen on my own.

“…and the truth will set you free.” I’m a spiritual hedonist. I want the pleasures that only peace, joy and freedom can bring. I know He came to set me free, so it’s freedom I want. Why would I settle for anything less? It seems to me that settling for anything less than the fullness of His offer would minimize the price paid to deliver it.

Coming to Jesus with empty hands and open hearts takes humility, something many of his listeners lacked.

Holding to His teaching takes courage.

Discipleship is a lifelong commitment to emotional growth and personal change.

The kind of truth that sets us free, is not learned in books. It’s learned experientially in the classroom of life with Christ as our Teacher.

Jesus is the way, the Truth and the Life, and He came to set all of us Free!

Paul

(This post originally published March 18, 2010.)

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Filed under 66 Books, John, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

Genesis 8; Matthew 8; Ezra 8; Acts 8

 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”  He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.  Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. (Matthew 8: 31-34 NIV)

Wait, what? Jesus goes from place to place, heals a leper, heals the centurion’s servant from afar, heals Peter’s mother-in-law, calms the storm, drives out demons. Then “The whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they…” They what? I expect to see something like “praise him”, or “thank him for all he has done” or “congratulate him on his accomplishment” or “beg him never to leave”… but no! they pleaded with him to leave! Huh??

Earlier in the chapter Jesus prepares us for this. When some people say they want to follow Him he warns them that there’s a cost. The people of Gadarenes lost their livestock, and to them that was more important than the freeing of two men from the violent demons that possessed them. It makes me stop and think of how many times I’ve been just like those people in that town. How often am I too concerned about my own personal welfare or comfort to really absorb and appreciate the awesome power of Jesus around me? When am I more concerned about my pigs then the human beings around me that need freedom from their demons? Do I chase Jesus away because He seems to be causing trouble in my little so-called-paradise? The very Jesus that can heal, calm, and set free from bondage? Sometimes, maybe so….

Help me, Lord, to have the strength and insight to know in my heart that following you is well worth the cost. Don’t let me be blinded to your power and goodness with preoccupation with the things in life that are fleeting and temporary. Give me faith like the centurion!

Sue

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Filed under Matthew, Uncategorized