Sunday, February 21, 2016, 1:21 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “A Believer’s Prayer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 9:57-62 (NASB).
Wherever You Go (vv. 57-58)
As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Jesus knows our hearts. He knows when we are making a profession of something which we will not follow through on. We might be able to fool ourselves, or fool others, but we can’t fool God. So, he cuts right to the chase, and he tells us exactly the cost of following him with our lives. This world is not our home. We are just passing through. We are not to lay up treasures here on this earth which will just rot, but we are to be storing up treasures in heaven. Following Jesus may mean leaving the comforts of home to go out into the unknown. Will we really and truly give it all up to follow him? If he said to just walk away from it all, would we? Would we follow him wherever he led us, even if it meant being hated, rejected, mocked, falsely accused, thought crazy, and spoken evil against, even by members of our own families, and by our professed brothers and sisters in Christ?
Are we now following him wherever he goes? Or, are we going our own way without regard to whether or not he is with us? If we were to examine our lives, and what we do each day, including in our free time, especially when no one else is looking, could we honestly say that we are following Jesus wherever he goes? Do we even consider where he might want us to go, or do we make all our own decisions? I am asking myself these questions. Do you think he would lead you some places where you now go regularly? Would he lead you to watch the TV shows and movies you regularly view? Would he lead you to all the internet sites you frequent? Would he lead you to have the conversations you have with other people, especially private conversations? Would he lead you to the refrigerator and food pantry as often as you frequent them? Would he lead you to have the discussions and arguments you have with people on Christian forum sites or on social media sites, on particular topics?
Remember the story about the father who told his son to go work in the vineyard, but the son said he would not? Later he repented and he went. He told another son to go, and he said he would go, but he didn’t. So, the question was asked, “Which one obeyed his father?” The reply was that it was the first son. God is not interested in our professions of faith in him, or our false confessions of loyalty and devotion to him. He is not pleased when we keep telling him that we will follow him anywhere, and then we don’t, and, in fact, we end up going the opposite direction. He chided the Israelites for lip service only. He said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” He said they worship him in vain, for their teachings are man-made. Jesus said that if we love him, we will obey his teachings. If we want to be followers of Christ, we need to find out what that means, and then we need to count the cost and see if truly we will follow him wherever he goes.
First Let Me (vv. 59-60)
And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”
I love the stories in the Bible of Jesus calling the twelve disciples to follow him, for I believe most of them, when Jesus called them, immediately left everything to follow him. This man hesitated. He had things he felt he needed to do at home first. We don’t know for certain that his father had even died yet, or if he was even close to death, but he wanted to wait until after his father’s death and burial to follow Jesus. So, Jesus told him to let the dead bury the dead, but he was to go proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.
Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, and take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our lives (of living in sin and for self) we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin and self) we will gain eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25). He also said his sheep know his voice, they listen to him, and they follow (obey) him (See: Jn. 10). The Bible teaches that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15). Paul said that when we come to faith in Christ, we die with Christ to sin in order that we might be resurrected with Christ to newness of life. He said that Jesus died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, for if we walk according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (See: Ro. 8:1-14).
Being a follower of Christ is more than just escaping hell and going to heaven when we die. It is more than just going to a church service once or twice a week and participating in church fellowships and ministries. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he bought us back for God, i.e. he redeemed us, so we are no longer our own, for we were bought with the price of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross for our sins. Although once we were enslaved to all kinds of worldly passions and desires, Jesus set us free from slavery to sin, and he freed us to now become servants of righteousness. When we accept his invitation to his great salvation, we make him Lord (boss) and Savior (from sin) of our lives. Now he has ownership over our lives, and we are his servants, to do what he says to do, when he says to do it, the way he says to do it. The Lordship of Christ over our lives is not something we can delay until a later date and time of our choosing. So, we need to decide to make him Lord today, and to do what he has called each and every one of us to do.
Fit for the Kingdom (vv. 61-62)
Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
God said we are to be holy. To be holy is to be set apart from (different, unlike) the world, because we are becoming like Jesus. Jesus said that he chose us out of the world, which is why the world hates us. If we are of the world, the world will love us as its own. Does the world hate you or love you? Paul said that, in view of God’s mercy toward us, we should give our lives to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is our reasonable service of worship of him. As well, we are not to be conformed to the ways of this world, but we are to be transformed in the renewing of our minds (See: Ro. 12:1-2). James said we are to keep ourselves unstained by the world. He said that friendship with the world is hostility towards God. John said we should not love the world or anything in the world, for if we love (agape) the world, the love of the Father is not in us. Paul said we are to come out from among unbelievers and be separate, and we are not to touch any unclean thing.
We can’t hold on to our past lives and be servants of Christ at the same time. We can’t be daily entertaining ourselves with the sinful acts of others on TV, in movies or on the internet, or in music videos, and still live holy lives, pleasing to God. We can’t delay following Christ with our lives until we have “sowed our wild oats,” so to speak, or until we get gray hairs on our heads. Holy living is not just for old fuddy-duddies (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuddy-duddy). God requires all of us who claim to be his followers to be holy as he is holy. It is a command. It is not optional. Too many people who profess the name of Christ live not much differently from those who make no profession of faith in Jesus Christ at all. This should not be. Why is it that those who follow Christ’s commands, and have separated themselves from partaking in the delicacies of this sinful world are now considered “extremists,” or “crazy,” or “weirdos”? And, by those within the church? And, so much of the church now mocks, rejects and ostracizes those who are unstained by the world, and they even try to get those who have separated themselves from the world of sin to reenter into immersing themselves in the culture of their day.
If we are going to continue to have one foot in heaven and one foot in the world, God can’t use us. If we are going to continue living like the world, and not like holy vessels fit for the Lord’s service, then we are not useful for God’s kingdom work. If our eyes and hearts are mostly focused on what is behind us, or what should be behind us, then we can’t see straight to go forward with God into his service, because we don’t have our eyes fixed on Jesus and on obeying his word. We have to get out of this mindset that our salvation is nothing more than an escape from hell and a free ride into heaven. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we continue to walk in darkness (sin), then we are liars, and the truth is not in us. If we walk according to the flesh, even after we profess the name of Jesus, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and we are walking according to the Spirit, we will live. A saved life is a life surrendered to Christ and committed to following him in obedience. It is not to be half-hearted, either. We are to love God with our whole hearts.
A Believer’s Prayer / An Original Work / July 31, 2012
With my whole heart,
Lord, I pray to be Yours,
And Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.
Love You, Jesus,
You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.
Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride,
I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.