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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Following Jesus on his Terms

So on facebook this morning I shared a post from 2 years ago through the "On this day app". It was the music video of Chris Sligh singing "Empty Me" which I have shared for you below. The song has always moved me especially when he sings "cause everything is a lesser thing compared to you compared to you". We are to empty ourselves of anything that hinders us from fully submitting our lives to God and ask to be filled with him. 

Tonight at church we went over what it means to really "Follow Jesus". We can't follow him on our terms we have to follow him on his terms. We have to be willing to sacrifice anything that he asks of us to follow him. We have to follow him unconditionally. We read Luke 9:57-62 and I have broken these verses down for you in red. 

Luke 9:57-62New International Version (NIV)

The Cost of Following Jesus

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
The man is saying I will follow you where you go and Jesus is saying to him "Oh really? Will you give up the comforts of your home and your life? I am homeless. Will you really go ANYWHERE I go? Are you really willing to do without for me? 
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Keep in mind here that Jesus knew the hearts of people and their minds. He knew where their hearts really were and where their priorities and motives lie. Jesus knew that this man was really going home to wait for his father to die so he could reap his inheritance. Jesus was telling him that he must devote himself to eternal things not earthly things. He needed to focus on what God wants him to do rather than what he wants to do. 
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus is talking about divided loyalties here. Plowmen required focusing their attention straight ahead so that the crop rows were straight. If they were to look back they would lose control of the oxen and plow. Jesus needs for us to be focused on him at all times and not on other things. The loyalty must be undivided. He is first. 
A really difficult task would be to take an inventory of your terms in regards to following Jesus. Ask ourselves "WHO'S TERMS AM I LIVING BY?" Make a list titled "Would I follow Jesus if..." then list difficult situations. Don't just list the ones you know you'd be willing to sacrifice but list the ones you are trying to tuck away. Remember Jesus knows our hearts. I am not saying he will demand these things of us but if you're heart is truly willing to follow him and say "no matter what I will follow you" then he will grant the desires of your heart. He knows. 
The purpose for this is found in Luke 9: 23-25
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?
If we choose to follow him we must give up our life to him. We have to be willing to pay the cost to follow him because he paid the ultimate cost. He gave his life for us so that we may eternal life. The only way to that eternal life is by following Jesus Christ. We follow him on his terms. You see its a trade. He died for us therefore we should die to ourselves for him. His will before our desires. He is a God of abundance and he wants to bless us. He doesn't want us to be miserable or do without. We simply must be willing to take up that cross and do without should he ever ask us to. That is what fully submitting is. That is trusting in him. 
Just this week I was talking to this amazing man in my life about the ropes course with the fire department. He made the statement that it's all about trusting your equipment to not let you fall. That my friends is called faith. When you go to sit down in a chair you don't test it first. You just sit down with the faith that it will hold you up. When you wake up in the morning and place your feet on the floor you don't test it to make sure it will withstand your weight. You stand. We must put this same faith in God and trust that what he says is the voice of truth. This is a matter of life and death. Eternal life or eternal damnation. He is worth the cost. The value of following Jesus is worth everything because without him we will die anyway. That is what Luke 9:23-25 is telling us. If we try to hold on to our lives (living for self) then we will lose it. If we follow Jesus then we will have life in eternity. That is the treasure. 
Phillippians 3: 8-9 tells us that everything is a lesser thing compared to Jesus. Just like the song I posted this morning...God is revealing his truth to me by reiterating it in this lesson
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
Where your treasure is there your heart will follow Matthew 6:21 **Jesus is our treasure
Read these Parables in Matthew 13

The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
If Jesus is our treasure then we will follow him. This is further explained by the parables in Matthew 13: 44-46. These people gave up EVERYTHING to possess the treasure they found. That is what we are to do to possess Jesus Christ (our Treasure) (Life). 
Jesus will not share us and he should not have to. He sacrificed his life because he loves us just that much. There is nothing of more value than him. Everything is a lesser thing compared to him so I surrender all. Empty me of me so I can be filled with you!