CONTINUING WITH CHRIST
Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. —Matthew 16:25
As a child, my favorite week of the summer was the one I spent at a Christian youth camp. At the end of the week, I’d sit elbow-to-elbow with friends in front of an enormous bonfire. There, we would share what we had learned about God and the Bible and sing. One song I still remember focused on deciding to follow Jesus. The chorus contained an important phrase: “no turning back.”
When Elisha decided to follow the prophet Elijah, Elisha did something incredible that made it difficult, impossible really, for him to return to his prior occupation of farming. After going home and having a farewell banquet, Elisha “took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them” (1 Kings 19:21). Leaving his way of life, he burned up his plowing equipment. He roasted the freshly butchered meat over the blaze and fed everyone present. Then “[Elisha] arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant” (v. 21).
Giving ourselves to God, who deserves our devotion, often comes with a price. At times, it means making difficult decisions about relationships, finances, and living arrangements. However, nothing compares with what we gain when we continue on with Christ. Jesus said, “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 16:25).
Father, help me to see if there’s something You want me to leave behind to follow You completely.
Jesus is looking for fulltime followers.
God has given you the authority and power to change your situations. Instead of talking about how bad it is, start speaking life into your situations! If you are sick, say, “Sickness, be plucked out by your roots and be gone from my body in Jesus’ name! By Jesus’ stripes I am the healed of the Lord!” (Isaiah 53:5)
TRUST IN JESUS AS YOUR SAVIOUR ….
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? – Matthew 19:12-20
On the surface, it appears that this rich young ruler was “right on” in the way he approached Jesus and sought salvation. He ran, kneeled down to Jesus, and openly professed Him as a Good Master. What could be wrong with that?
First, he acknowledged Jesus as good but not as God. This is a pivotal point.
Every major religion of the world acknowledges that Jesus lived and will even admit that He definitely was a good man, but they won’t recognize Him as God. If Jesus was only a good man, He couldn’t save anybody. Jesus didn’t just come to show us the way to God. He was the way, the only way unto the Father.
No man could come unto the Father, but by Him (Jn. 14:6). Jesus had made this point publicly many times before. This is the reason that Jesus responded to this young man’s question the way He did. Jesus was saying, “God is the only one who is good. You must accept me as God or not at all.” Jesus was either who He claimed to be or He was the biggest fraud that ever lived. He has to be one or the other. He cannot be both.
Second, he asked what he could do to produce salvation. He trusted in himself and believed he could accomplish whatever good work Jesus might request. This is completely opposed to the plan of salvation that Jesus came to bring.
Jesus obtained salvation for us through His substitution and He offers it to us as a free gift. All we must do is believe and receive. This rich young ruler wasn’t looking for a Savior. He was trying to be his own savior. This is the reason Jesus referred him back to the commandments. He either needed to keep all of the law perfectly or he needed a Savior. Jesus desired to turn this man from trusting in himself by showing him God’s perfect standard, which no one could keep, so that then he would trust in a Savior.
CAST YOUR CARES …
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7
God cares so much about you today. Not only does He love and care about you, He cares about the things that you care about as well. If you have concerns, worry or anxiety about something in your life today; finances, relationships, your job or anything else, know that your heavenly Father already has a plan to take care of those things for you. It’s a good plan, and He wants to show Himself strong on your behalf.
The Scripture reminds us that the lilies of the field and the birds of the air are cared for, how much more will your heavenly Father take care of you? Today, cast all of your anxiety on Him by choosing to trust that He is going to take care of you. Refuse to dwell on your problems and don’t allow them to steal your peace and joy any longer. Instead, choose to meditate on His Word and confess God’s promises over your life. Cast your cares on Him and experience His peace, joy and blessing all the days of your life!
FOR AN IMPORTANT DECISION?
‘…if…you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.’ (James 1:5 GNT)
If you are, here are some suggestions to help you.
(1) Don’t ask God to bless YOUR plans, instead ask for HIS wisdom and direction! And remember, God will never tell you to do anything that doesn’t line up with what He’s already told you in His Word (Isaiah 8:20).
(2) Make sure your goal is to glorify God. Sometimes that’s hard to know, for the worst pride often masquerades behind feigned humility. The human body is amazing—just pat a man on the back and so often his head begins to swell. But God opposes pride. (James 4:6)
(3) Use your brain. God’s guidance transcends human reasoning, but it doesn’t exclude it. When God saves you, He doesn’t remove your mind, He renews it. (Romans 12:2) So pray, then put it to work.
(4) Seasons aren’t meant to be ignored. If it isn’t God’s timing, wait! In the right season, the plan will be clear, the people you need will show up and the funds will be provided (Ecclesiastes 3:1). God has promised it, so trust Him!
(5) Seek trustworthy counsel. Beware of those who patronise you for selfish reasons. Listen to those who value what you value and have been where you want to go (Proverbs 27:17).
(6) Never act without the facts, but never limit God to them. When knowledge won’t take you another step, faith will carry you through, for that’s what connects you to the power of God. Now listen again ‘…if…you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.’ (James 1:5 GNT)
LIFE WITH GOD IS EASY AND LIGHT
Matthew 11:28 – Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
It always warms my heart to know that Jesus sees the cares we carry in our hearts. He knows the worries you have for your family and for the future. He feels the heaviness in your heart as you struggle with the sickness in your body. He says to you, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Jesus wants to give you rest. And He says that the way you receive rest is to be yoked with Him, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:29–30)
What does it mean to be yoked with Jesus? Imagine a pair of oxen yoked together. The younger ox sees what the lead ox does and follows. If the lead ox turns left, the younger ox turns left. If the lead ox stops, the younger ox stops. When the lead ox starts moving again, the younger ox follows. Likewise, Jesus wants us to follow His leading and flow with Him.
It is not hard to flow with Jesus because He will not lay anything heavy on you—“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30) When you are yoked with Him and you flow with Him, you will find that there is nothing heavy-hearted, ill-fitting or burdensome from the Lord. When you flow with the Lord, you will find that things fall into place. You will not be weighed down, anxious or distressed.
You might say, “But Pastor, God has given me this heavy burden. It is weighing heavily on my heart!”
My friend, if the burden is heavy, it is not from God because Jesus said that His burden is light. The devil has probably given you the burden to crush you!
“Oh, Pastor, you are making light of how serious my burden is.”
No, I am not. Jesus did say that His burden is light and His yoke easy. So a life yoked with Him is anxiety- and worry-free.
Beloved, follow His leading and flow with Him, and you will find rest for your soul!
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR
Go and do likewise. —Luke 10:37
Mary enjoyed her midweek church group meeting when she and several friends gathered to pray, worship, and discuss questions from the previous week’s sermon. This week they were going to talk about the difference between “going” to church and “being” the church in a hurting world. She was looking forward to seeing her friends and having a lively discussion.
As she picked up her car keys, the doorbell rang. “I’m so sorry to bother you,” said her neighbor Sue, “but are you free this morning?” Mary was about to say that she was going out when Sue continued, “I have to take my car to the repair shop. Normally I would walk or cycle home, but I’ve hurt my back and can’t do either at the moment.” Mary hesitated for a heartbeat and then smiled. “Of course,” she said.
Mary knew her neighbor only by sight. But as she drove her home, she learned about Sue’s husband’s battle with dementia and the utter exhaustion that being a caregiver can bring with it. She listened, sympathized, and promised to pray. She offered to help in any way she could.
Mary didn’t get to church that morning to talk about sharing her faith. Instead she took a little bit of Jesus’ love to her neighbor who was in a difficult situation.
Lord, help me to be ready at any time to be Your hands and feet to those in need.
Faith is seen in our actions.
MARRIAGE IS A COVENANT …
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. – Matthew 19:7-9
Although adultery denotes one who has unlawful intercourse with the spouse of another, in its much broader term, it means to violate or pollute. Israel violated or polluted their covenant with God. Jeremiah says, “She (Judah) defiled the land, and committed adultery” (Jer. 3:9).
Adultery in relation to marriage also reflects a violation of the covenant of companionship. Sex outside of marriage is adultery because it violates or pollutes the covenant of marriage by introducing another party and bringing that relationship into the marriage. “They two shall be one flesh” (Eph. 5:31).
Divorce also adulterates or pollutes marriage because it disrupts or denies the divorced parties the right to be faithful to their covenant of companionship. Any time one divorces his mate (except for fornication) and marries another, he is guilty of adultery. He has polluted and destroyed a relationship intended by God to be permanent and pure.
Why the “except for fornication” clause? Jesus is not saying that if fornication is involved, we must divorce, but rather, when fornication is involved, that is the only time when the person getting the divorce is not guilty of adultery. That is because the partner who had an extra-marital relationship has already polluted the marriage vow. In God’s original design for marriage He intended marriage to be sacred, precious, pure, and permanent. The marriage covenant represents a final, irrevocable commitment where the man and the woman renounce the right to live for themselves and become “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7).