I have decided to follow Jesus! – 7/17/18

I have decided to follow Jesus!

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For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.

Romans 1:16 (NLT)


Note from Kip…
I woke up this morning to spend some quality time with the Lord. He does this on occasion. Normally it’s about 3AM when He does this.  This morning it was 2:40AM.

So, it’s not unusual for Him to do this, but I had a special treat somewhere between sleep and awake. It was a powerful imagery of not only what He was telling me to write about this morning, but a firm confirmation of where He’s been guiding me of late.

Let me relate this as perhaps a waking dream, as I was lulled to consciousness this morning.

I have decided, to follow Jesus.
I have decided, to follow Jesus.
I have decided, to follow Jesus.
No turning back. No turning back!

You likely recognize this as an old hymn you know. If you don’t that is okay too, but that is exactly what it is and what first was echoing through my head as I hung between slumber and opening my eyes this morning.

This was the song at an alter call. I found myself with my arm around another brother in the Lord and was praying with Him.

Lord we are so very thankful for your love.
You giving yourself so that we may be free.
We come before you with hearts full of your blessings.
Blessings we want desperately to share with others.
We want you to teach us to be your disciples.
We want to walk on the path that you called us to.
We want to help others find that path.
And assist them along the way
To be followers of you and not only believers!

All the while the song kept playing and at the end there was no way I was going back to sleep as the song continued softly echoing in my mind.

Disciples

How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers!

Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.

He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither.

Whatever he does prospers.

Psalms 1:1-3 (HCSB)

I’ve understood the delight in the Lord’s instruction for some time now. I would like to think that the point I find myself at this moment, is not unique for those who delight in the Lord’s direction for their lives. Let me put that a bit stronger, I know that is the case. I am a bit ashamed that it took me as long as it did to get here. But here we are.

When profound encounters with God took place people in the Old Testament would erect markers. They would create wells, pile stones, build alters to the Lord. Landmarks in their journey that they could return to later and see recall vividly what God had done, told them, and shared with them.

Not that long ago I started on a journey. My life was His. My salvation secure. My hope vested in Him. But it wasn’t what He was calling me to. Existing in the promise isn’t where we are supposed to stay.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Luke 9:23 (HCSB)

I’d come to the conclusion that my hearts desire was to be a disciple. I wanted to abandon common reasoning and accept the fact that He’s formulated a plan for me. Even though at times that plan doesn’t make a lot of sense to me it doesn’t have to. In His perfect timing He will and does reveal to us what he asks of us. We just have to be waiting and listening to respond to that calling.

I’ve fought with God and it’s not a pretty sight. I’m hopelessly under powered and He’s got the advantage from every perspective. It is only when I come around to His perspective that I gain those advantages to use for His glory and honor.

His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power, is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (HCSB)

What a combination! Our willingness to yield to His plan, His goals, His Holiness, and His providence in our lives, just to follow and be empowered by His Spirit living in us. To be His disciple.

What a deal! In exchange for our surrender and obedience, God gives us His power, His Peace, His Joy, and His Righteousness!

Defining Discipleship

Okay, so we’ve determine we want to be disciples. I guess I should say I hope that you’re with me on this, but if you’re not there yet I pray that you come to the same decision I have. As I eluded to before, it is my heart felt belief that every believer that is truly seeking the Lord’s guidance in their lives will at some point come to this juncture.

So yes, we’ve determined to be disciples, but what does that mean? Yes, yes! We know that it means to be a follower of Christ Jesus, but what does really following Jesus look like?

I have to guess that I couldn’t count on both hands the number of classes I was in, programs for which I enlisted, and sermons that I sat through that outlined a sequence of things that you adopt as your own and auto-magicly, proof, you’re a disciple, or you’re discipling others.

Don’t get me wrong, some of those things taught in these settings were wonderful lessons and in deed can be used to effectively be a disciple. If…

If we are consistent with the program. If we apply ourselves to the principles. If we maintain our diligence. if we follow these 10 steps!

Discipleship is not a program or a formula.

What it comes down to is simply this, total unreserved surrender to the will of Christ in our lives.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (HCSB)

This transformation that takes place when we give our heart, mind, soul and body to Jesus is nothing short of amazing. Things that were paramount in our lives become trivial in the face of serving the one who gives us life.  And not just eternal life, like we have to look forward to, but life right here, right now!

One of the most powerful moments for us as followers of Jesus is when He gives us the Great Commission.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)

Two key things here Jesus tells us. The first is that this thing is a done deal. It is completed. God the Father has given Jesus ALL authority in heaven and earth! Carte Blanche! Everything is now under Christs authority.

We have seen this passage time and time again, so nothing seems to strike us as unusual about what comes next, but think of context. Jesus, the Messiah had vanquished sin and death. He was standing right there in front of His disciples. All of them intimately aware of a kingdom that Jesus was sent to establish.

Well, this is awesome! Jesus now has ALL authority. He can set up that kingdom, right here, right now, there is literally nothing that stands in His way. If I was standing there, I’d be waiting for Him to raise His hands and speak the kingdom into existence.  That’s what I would have expected.

Instead, He says “I’ve been given ALL authority, so now, you go make disciples”, of all nations, in every nook and cranny, across every ocean, and on every shore. As well as, all the land between the shores. You go. You make disciples. Because all authority has been given to me, Jesus.

They had to be a little bewildered would you not think?

Then not long after that just prior to His ascension into Heaven, he gave resolution to this perplexing announcement regarding His kingdom.

So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:6-8 (NLT)

See they were still perplexed about the kingdom they knew he’d come to establish. After all they now realized that He had fulfilled everything told of Him by the prophets. Except for this kingdom part. Where is the kingdom?

The He tells me The Father sets the dates ad times of the kingdoms arrival.

But! You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. Then He reminds them of the commission to make disciples of all the world.

There Isn’t An Option

See, there simply is not an option if you believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you trust in him as your Lord and Savior then you must allow him to be Lord, not just savior.

If you believe the Gospel then there are people right outside your door that are heading to eternal destruction, not because your pastor or evangelist couldn’t get to them. If you believe the Gospel and do nothing, it is because of you. You decided to not warn them of their peril by not speaking the Gospel.

Oh how I love Jesus.
Oh how I love Jesus.
Oh how I love Jesus.
Because He first loved me!

If that is true, then you must obey Him.

“If you love me, obey my commandments.”

John 14:15 (NLT)

If you’re seek to follow Christ you must truely follow Him.

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.

Luke 9:23 (NLT)

What did Jesus do from the day He started His ministry? He made disciples. He didn’t stop short with the Apostles, no, He made disciples. Thousands of disciples. Literally, multitudes!

If you are going to follow and obey Him you simply have no option but to take the Great Commission serious, be a disciple and disciple others.

I have decided, to follow Jesus! No turning back. No turning back!

Blessings,
kip…


 

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