EMBRACING THE LIFE OF A CHRIST FOLLOWER
Recently, we began an exciting new journey through Scripture with the students of Marshall Baptist Youth about what it means to be a follower of Christ… what it mean to be a DISCIPLE.
We started by looking at the call of the first disciples to simply follow Jesus by faith on a lifelong, relational journey. Now, these teachings seem quite elementary for those who have attended church most of their lives; however, we read how Jesus spoke to His followers and gave them quite a challenge. Jesus told His Disciples (us) to “take up your cross daily and follow me” and unpacked the concept that discipleship isn’t an option—discipleship is for every believer, not just the “super religious.” As Christians, our lives should be marked by a total surrender to God’s plan for our lives, not just our own personal desires for which we aspire and exhaust much energy.
Dr. Luke pens the words of Jesus, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:23–27)
Matthew puts it this way, “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:38–39)
We were and should all be challenged by the passages that remind us that we live in an upside-down Kingdom and that we must lose our lives to find them. Throughout November, as you process those things for which you are thankful, think also about what God has called you to—think also about what it means to be a true DISCIPLE by asking some tough questions:
Many blessings and much love as you chase after and embrace Jesus.
From MBC Newsletter; Inspired by The Life; YM360, and Andy Blanks...
WHAT DOES FREEDOM REALLY MEAN?
So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Gal 4:7)
"Have you ever said, “It’s my life. I’m free to do whatever makes me happy”? After a while, whatever you choose to pursue--popularity, alcohol, relationships, living selfishly, or trying hard to be perfect--becomes something that controls you instead of you controlling it. Soon the choice doesn’t feel like a choice at all. Instead of being free, you’re a slave.
Before we commit our lives to Jesus we are slaves to sin. Even if we try to be good, we still aren’t free. Freedom is an illusion. We are tangled up in our sin, and it is impossible to set ourselves free.
When we commit our lives to Jesus, we are freed from our slavery. Only God brings real freedom. He frees us from everything we’ve been controlled by. Only God—who is absolutely perfect and all-powerful—can make us his children and save us.
Jesus forgives us. Jesus heals us. Jesus makes us whole. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see instant change. The more you know God, the more you will become the person God created you to be. He knows what your purpose is, what is best for you, what you are good at, and how your experiences will be used in the future. He will help you get past what holds you back. He will make you whole." (Taylor, S)
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (Jn 8:31–36).
What are some things you have been a “slave” to? Describe what you think it means to be a “slave to sin.” What will the truth do? How does it feel to know that you are God’s child whom he has set free?
Taylor, S. (2017). Brand New: A 40-Day Guide to Life in Christ (pp. 10–11). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Let the Adventure Begin
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Eze 36:26–27).
...If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Ro 10:9–10).
If you believe Jesus died and rose again to forgive you and to give you true life, if you have asked him to forgive you, if you have asked him to be the Lord and Leader of your life, then celebrate! You have begun an incredible journey with the Lord of the universe... the Master Designer of all that exists. No longer do you have to worry about whether you’re good enough for God or anyone else, because in Christ you are God’s own child! You matter... You are important... You are loved! Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. When you feel alone or when you experience guilt and shame, you can turn to God instead of running away from him. You are forgiven!
A relationship with God is bigger and better than any other relationship or anything you can buy or possess. It’s permanent and it will change you more than anything else in your life. It's a lifelong journey of adventure.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (Jn 3:16–21).
What are you excited about in your adventurous journey with God? What scares you about your journey with God? Why did Jesus come to earth? How do Jesus’ words in this passage comfort you?
Taylor, S. (2017). Brand New: A 40-Day Guide to Life in Christ (p. 7). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Pastor Shan Smith
Jesus follower, Husband, Father, Student Ministries Pastor at Marshall Baptist Church